Camouflaged, Gun-Toting Oregon “Militia” Exposed as Faking their True U.S. Military Service
By Nate Thayer
January 9, 2016
The heavily armed protestors strutting around dressed in military camouflage in Oregon have one thing in common: many have lied about their service in the U.S. military, falsified combat duty service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lied about being captured, held as POW’s, and being wounded in battle, according to official U.S. military documents and veteran groups who investigate false military service.
The “Patriots” and “Militia” members routinely refer to their status as combat war veterans and invoke rhetoric of defending the Constitution in the American homeland but are, in truth, a rag tag group of military wannabees who are largely fraudulent “internet warriors” who never served in the U.S. armed Forces.
“These guys don’t question one another because they would expose each other as the frauds and liars they are,” said Mary Schantag , chairwoman of the POWNetwork.org. “The real veterans would leave as soon as they heard these guys ridiculous stories.” Schantag runs an organization of military veterans devoted to exposing frauds and perpetrators of “Stolen Valor”.
The occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon is led by three sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who in 2014 gained national media attention for resisting Bureau of Land Management efforts to restrict his families use of federal land to graze their cattle.
Ryan, Mel, and Aamon Bundy and a handful of militiamen from other states arrived last month in Burns, Oregon intent on gathering media attention for their political and religious agenda. They are surrounded by about two-dozen armed self-styled “Citizen Militia” and “Patriots” who converged in Oregon to serve as Bundy’s “security” team.
These core “leaders” who pose in militarized uniforms and carry automatic weapons include Ryan Payne of Montana, Blaine Cooper of Arizona, Brian “Buddha” Cavalier of Arizona, Joseph Rice of Oregon, and Jeffrey Edward Prosen of Texas.
All have lied claiming to be combat veterans of the U.S. armed Forces, according to official U.S. government documents.
They were all present at the Bundy Ranch confrontation in 2014 and are all high-profile armed participants of the current occupation of federal property in Oregon. All of them were previously affiliated with the Oath Keepers, a group of largely former U.S. military and law enforcement who espouse anti-federal government politics, but a rift within that organization, which began during the Bundy Ranch occupation, resulted in the Oath Keepers national leadership disavowing any connection to the Oregon siege.
Blaine Cooper says he is a “militia adviser” to the Bundy’s and “head of security.”
Cooper also says he is a U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran.
He never was.
Cooper did sign up for the U.S. Marine “Delayed Entry Program,” but never appeared at boot camp in 2006.
Cooper is a member of the Arizona Border Recon*–a Militia group, among numerous other “Patriot” and “111%’er” groups, and has been a prominent figure in the Bundy Ranch confrontation, the current Oregon occupation, anti-Muslim demonstrations, and anti-immigrant armed militia patrols. In a YouTube video, Cooper is seen rubbing bacon on the Koran before setting it on fire and shooting the holy book as a “message to Muslim extremists”. Cooper publicly called for the arrest of U.S. senator and Vietnam War POW John McCain for being “guilty of treason”.
But, in fact, Blaine Cooper is not his real name. His real name is Stanley Blaine Hicks, and he changed it to Blaine Cooper in 2006–the Hollywood screen name of Jesse Ventura’s character in the 1987 movie “Predator.” It was that same year that Stanley Blaine Hicks failed to show up for his signed agreement to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps and changed his name to Blaine Cooper.
Under his real name, Hicks has at least 16 felonies arrests, according to Arizona court records. These include supplying Liquor to a minor; falsifying reports to police; Criminal damage; Assault with intent of reckless injury; Failure to appear; Intimidation/harassment/threats by phone; Assault; Disorderly conduct; Threats with intent to injure; Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with intent to injure; Kidnapping; Unlawful imprisonment; Aggravated assault; Disorderly conduct; Interference with judicial hearing; Criminal damage; and Contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
“Having a badge seems to be a free ride to be above the law but soon we may have to stand against a shit load of federal agent’s and cops in the war for freedom, so get ready we may not have a choice,” Cooper said in a Facebook message. “Enough of the Nazi police state, I’m fighting back on it, we have our militias in place. I hope officer’s will stand with us because if it happens lots of people are going to die if there is an armed revolution, but what needs to be done needs to be done…Will the American people actually have to shoot Federal agent’s and police officer’s one day or will they stand with us?”
In addition, other members of Arizona militias accuse Cooper/Hicks of being a federal informant and stealing from their organization. “(Fellow Arizona Militiaman) KC Massey is locked up, he’s still got 41 months to go, Blaine — and I have no doubt that it was your mouth that put him there,” Hildinger said. “I don’t know what KC thinks, but I’m sure that he hopes you live forever”, adding “Everybody’s got a past, but goddamn, boy — you’re a habitual criminal.”
Brian Cavalier, who represents himself as the “personal bodyguard” to Ammon Bundy, has publicly stated he is a Marine combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan.
He is not.
Cavalier never served in the U.S. military, according to the US Marine Corps.
Cavalier, in truth, is an Arizona “tattoo artist”. Arizona authorities do have him recorded for convictions of driving while drunk and theft.
Cavalier, who was also a high-profile “security guard” for the Bundy’s in Nevada, refused to give his real name to reporters during that 2014 showdown with federal authorities. Calling himself “Booda” and the “Raging Unicorn” during that time, the camouflaged, heavily armed, 6 foot tall, heavyset Cavalier repeatedly claimed he was a U.S. Marine combat veteran. “I’m a retired United States Marine, I can rage,” he said.
He was confronted at the Oregon occupation this week with Marine Corps records that showed he never served in the armed forces. “That’s unfortunate that someone would say that. I’m not commenting on anything. I told you what it is,” Cavalier told reporters. “ We both have a job to do,” he told inquiring reporters. Then, after he was exposed as a military fraud on January 6, Brian “Booda” Cavalier fled the Oregon compound and is reportedly holed up in a nearby Oregon motel drinking heavily.
Ryan Payne has repeatedly publicly claimed to be a veteran of the elite Army Rangers.
He never was, according to the website thisainthell.us, run by U.S. military veteran Jonn Lilyea. Lilyea’s website is devoted to exposing those fraudulently claiming U.S. military service. “Payne was not a Ranger by any measure of the word, but, I guess militia folks don’t care about veracity,” said Lilyea.
Payne never served as a U.S. Army Ranger. Payne claimed he was a “former assistant team leader in a long-range surveillance unit for the XVIII Airborne Corps.”
Back during the Bundy Ranch kerfuffle, Ryan Payne declared himself the unofficial “leader” of the militias present at the Bundy ranch. Payne has been a prominent figure in the media during recent militia events. He is a member of the West Mountain Rangers, 41st Mountain Field Force militia group, and the Arizona Militia. These groups promote an anti-federal government philosophy highlighted by anti-immigrant, anti-tax, and anti-Muslim philosophies. Payne started Operation Mutual Aid, a coalition of militias that travel across the country to provide defense of “public and private property, lives, and liberty.’”
“This is duty,” Payne was quoted as saying.
Payne’s bombastic rhetoric includes threatening to shoot federal agents in the back while he was working as “security” and “militia adviser” for Cliven Bundy during the 2014 standoff at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada. “We had counter-sniper positions on their sniper positions. We had at least one guy—sometimes two guys—per BLM agent in there,” Payne told a Montana weekly, the Independent. “If they made one wrong move, every single BLM agent in that camp would’ve died.”
In 2014, Payne told the Missoula (Montana) Independent that blacks “didn’t view themselves as slaves“, that Jews “control the world”, that taxes were “legal plunder”, and that “in most states you have the lawful authority to kill a police officer that is unlawfully trying to arrest you.”
In Oregon last week, Payne said he was prepared to do “whatever it takes” to defend Oregon ranchers Steven and Dwight Hammond. But after the Hammond’s said they didn’t want the Militia groups involvement, Payne and his comrades took over the wildlife refuge anyways.
Joseph Rice says he is a twice-wounded combat veteran of the first gulf war where his helicopter was shot down and Saddam Hussein held him as a prisoner of war.
But Rice never served in the Iraq war, was never wounded, and was never a POW, according to thisainthell.us, the website run by West Virginian veteran Jonn Lilyea devoted to outing fraudsters who claim military service they never had.
Rice was first a mechanic in the National Guard and then trained as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army reserves, but he never left the U.S. In addition, he left his military reserves service in 1988—two years prior to the beginning of the 1990 war with Iraq, according to his military service records.
But that didn’t stop Rice from displayed Oregon state “Purple Heart” license plates on his car before he was outed as a military “Stolen Valor” fraud by the thisainthell.us website.
Rice’s self promoted biography says “he most recently worked in Afghanistan flying mission support for the War on Terror as part of the International Security Assistance Force with the Department of Defense. He is the Coordinator for Oath Keepers of Josephine County, a member of the Patriot Guard Riders supporting fallen service members and the Executive Officer of the 186th Battalion, Oregon State Defense Force.”
Jeffrey Prosen is another of the core leadership of the rag-tag Oregon contingent of armed anti-government “citizens Militia”.
“Do you know how many brothers and sisters I have lost in combat? My best friend died in my arms,” Prosen told an interviewer last year. “You have no idea what that feels like.”
“God forbid you would ever have to walk a mile in my boots. You wouldn’t be able to handle the nightmares, I promise you,” said Prosen, dressed in army combat fatigues at the time. “I did all this because we believed we were protecting America.”
Prosen told a press interview in 2010 that he “left high school to enlist in the U.S Marines. He said he was assigned to a special tactical team after basic training when his Huey gunship was shot down during maneuvers.” Prosen claims he is “retired from the U.S. Marine Corp” after having “attained the rank of Gunnery Sergeant” after he “lost many good men”, including “my best friend (who) died in my arms” while “fighting overseas”.
But according to MilitaryPhonies.com, there were no aircraft accidents the year Prosen claims he was shot down and the National Personnel Records Center say their records do not show Prossen ever being a combat wounded veteran or any helicopter shot down.
“I am a proud former U.S. Marine Corps and disabled veteran. I am standing here in front of you a free man who has fought for our country. I love that flag and the men and women who have fought for it before me and died. I have lost many friends. I am tired of losing friends,” he said while at the Bundy Ranch confrontation.
Further, Prosen claims to have a website “dedicated to helping disabled armed forces veterans”, but his ex-wives and children vehemently assert Prossen is a fraud. “He never gave a dime to the charities. He pocketed the money. He’s 100% disabled with the Veteran’s Association and receives 100% disability on Social Security and can’t understand why no one will hire him and pay him cash under the table. With that said he clears over $2,400 a month. So on top of that he would give his sob story of being wounded in combat,” wrote one of his sons. He said Prossen was injured in boot camp.
“…Jeffrey Edward/Mouse Edward Anthony Prosen is a gun-toting convicted felon, associating himself with the Oathkeepers on the Pacific West Coast. He’s a liar, a thief, a con man, and goes way out-of-the-way embellishing his military career which lasted all of 18 months.”
“The doctors didn’t think I would ever walk again,” Mouse stated. “But I can take a beating and keep on ticking.” Prosen “suffered extensive injuries to both of his legs, a shattered right shoulder, a broken neck, two broken wrists, and severe internal injuries among other wounds. Over the next 31 years, Mouse had 18 surgeries, the most recent in September of 2008,” wrote one article profiling Prossen. “He has gone under the knife 18 times, and says the only thing that keeps him going is his Mustang named Saphira, and his wife, Alena. ‘She’s stood behind me the whole time,’ Prosen said.”
For more on Prossen, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ix9U9Z9sHbI
Then there is Jon Ritzheimer, who claims he was “forced out” of the U.S. Marines Corps because of a revised tattoo policy.
In recent months, Ritzheimer has organized an armed protest at a Phoenix mosque in collaboration with the Ku Klux Klan, threatened to “arrest” President Obama and U.S. senators who voted for the Iran nuclear agreement, and was intercepted by the FBI as he headed in a car, ranting and displaying weapons, to New York to confront a Mosque. The FBI issued an alert of a “potential threat to law enforcement,” according to the New York Daily News.
Jon Ritzheimer is indeed a former U.S. Marine, serving in the reserves from 2004 to 2013 and a veteran of Iraq, where he was a “motor vehicle operator”, according to U.S. military records. But military records show he never earned a “Combat Action Ribbon,” which would indicate he engaged in combat while in Iraq.
Ritzheimer claims he was “forced out” of the Marines because of a revised tattoo policy, but will not reveal what tattoos he claims forced him to leave active duty service.
U.S. Marine Corps Tattoo policy includes: “Any tattoos that are racist, sexist, drug-related, vulgar, anti-American or are associated with any extremist group or gang are already not permitted on Marines. Tattoos/Brands that are sexist (express nudity), racist, eccentric or offensive in nature, express an association with conduct or substances prohibited by the Marine Corps drug policy and the uniform code of military justice (UCMJ), to include tattoos associated with illegal drugs, drug usage, or paraphernalia, are prohibited.”
Ritzheimer is perhaps the most disturbing member of the core leadership in Oregon if one is to peruse his social media and public profile, where he routinely breaks into tears between screaming anti government bombast, brandishing weapons, and posting what appear to be suicidal memorandums.
“I am an American Patriot who has everything to lose,” Ritzheimer wrote on a website for the III Percent militia group in late 2015. “I’ve had to kiss my family goodbye on 3 occasions now and didn’t know whether I would see them again. I am now planning on doing it again.”
“I’ve worn my gear, I’ve done my time — that’s the easy part,” he said on a YouTube video he posted while putting on a bulletproof vest and displaying and cocking a weapon. “You’re too busy rolling around out there shooting at tree stumps that you can’t sit there and do the real work…that’s where the militia come in.”
“History will be made here in Burns, Oregon. 2016 will be a great year for America. God Bless America and God Bless those willing to stand for freedom,” he said last month. “We are not asking for money, so if you can send supplies or anything that will help the militia and those taking a stand then please send it to: General Mail Jon Ritzheimer or Blaine Cooper , Burns, OR 97720.” Ritzheimer then added “We will humbly accept monetary donations at www.rogueinfidel.com. “Again, not asking for money and care packages would be greatly appreciated. Things we could use: cold weather socks; snacks; energy drinks; equipment for cold weather; snow camo gear; anything you think will help. Thank you all for the support. Rogue Infidel, P.O. Box 1953, Sun City, AZ 85372”
“This is John Ritzheimer here. Just to let all of you know, I served 11 years in the Marine Corps. I also did two deployments overseas. My time and my service to my government did not stop there. That’s why I am up here continuing to serve and protect the constitution,” he said about his high-profile presence in Oregon.
In October, Ritzheimer released a YouTube video saying, in part: “I am a 31-year-old United States Marine Combat Veteran. I served honorably for 10 years and was forced out do to a tattoo policy but still received an honorable discharge. I have a beautiful wife and 2 beautiful daughters ages 3 and 5. I have a 3000 sqft house in Arizona and I am living the American Dream. Why are you telling us this, you may be asking? Because I am showing you that I am an American Patriot who has everything to lose. I’ve had to kiss my family goodbye on 3 occasions now and didn’t know whether I would see them again. I am now planning on doing it again….. We are planning on arresting Senator Debbie Stabenow, who voted yes to the Iran Nuke Deal. She will be arrested for treason under Article 3 Section 3 of the Constitution. We have chosen her as our first target due to our strong ties with the Michigan State Militia and their lax gun laws that will allow us to operate in a manner necessary for an operation like this…we will continue to move across the country and arrest everyone involved with the Iran Nuke Deal, even the President who brokered this deal.”
Ritzheimer promised to make his attempt to arrested U.S. elected officials at gunpoint “as smooth as possible so we don’t have another “Shot Heard Round The World” situation…I am not seeking fame or fortune…I am humbly accepting donations to help with fuel costs for our convoy at www.rogueinfidel.com but more than any amount of money I would rather have fellow patriots join me and go shoulder to shoulder with me…We The People are what will fix the problems in our country. Not some election. make a buck. But now I am following my heart and not just blindly going where some politician is pointing the finger. I am fully prepared for whatever may come my way. Even if that means death. Because it will at least be for a noble cause.”
For more on John Ritzheimer see:
THE OREGON STANDOFF
The plight of the Hammonds’ in Oregon was raw meat for far right groups who repudiate federal authority, and who are loosely organized in political organizations that call themselves ‘Patriots’, Militia’ groups, ‘Sovereign Citizens’, ‘Survivalists’, and Constitutionalists’. These groups are often linked to ultra nationalist Christian fundamentalist and White Supremacist organizations.
The 2014 showdown with the federal government in Oregon have attracted conspiracy theorists, Birthers, white supremacists, anti-Semites, anti-Muslim, Christian fundamentalist, and anti-government extremists, many who believe that President Obama is a secret foreign-born Muslim who is conspiring with the United Nations to impose a Socialist dictatorship in the U.S. backed by armed federal government powers.
The extreme right-wing conspiracy theorists who have seized federal land in Oregon have their roots firmly in the 1980’s and 1990’s anti-federal government, white supremacist armed extremists which peaked in the U.S. in the 1990’s during the 1993 federal government assault on the Christian Branch Davidian cult compound of David Koresh in Waco, Texas and the 1992 federal government initiated armed confrontation on white separatist Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, Idaho.
This culminated in Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, killing 168 people.
The reincarnation of these movements emerged with the election of Barack Obama in 2009 with the border Militia’s and groups like the Oath Keepers whose members are riddled with racist, anti-federal government conspiracy theorists who believe there is a secret plan to impose a socialist agenda in a New World Order controlled by the United Nations.
In 2009, the Oath Keepers were founded claiming to be a people’s armed militia who pledged allegiance to the Constitution, but rejected what they referred to as a New World Order and excessive federal government overreach. Also emerging in 2009 were various “patriot” and “militia” groups, many of whose members espoused anti-tax, anti-federal government, fringe Christian fundamentalist biblical interpretations, and racist, white supremacist, and anti-immigrant views.
The antigovernment “Patriot” movement has increased from 150 disparate groups in 2009 when Obama became president to more than 1,200 in 2015.
In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis produced an assessment titled “right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” The report warned “right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. … The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.”
The report was never released due to objections about the focus on domestic rather than foreign threats from radicals, but it was leaked.
*Correction: Earlier versions of this article said that Blaine Cooper aka Stanley Blaine Hicks was a member of the Arizona State Militia. Although Cooper/ Hicks had claimed such affiliation, leaders of the Arizona State Militia contacted the author and provided evidence that Cooper/Hicks is not now nor has been a member of that Militia organization. Cooper/Hicks now identifies himself as a member of another Arizona-based militia–the Border Recon Patrol. Apologies for that error.