I wrote about Jake Diliberto a few weeks back. He’s one of the founders of “Veterans for Rethinking Afghanistan” which is a group of veterans who seek to have the US withdraw from Afghanistan. He appears on al Jazeera, the old, failed Olbermann show and Russia TV, like the clip above in which the presenter at about 1:18 into the video calls Jake an “Iraq and Afghanistan veteran”. Here’s screen shot that Hondo found from Jake’s time in college when he told the publication’s writer that he was in the Marines as a special operator;
And here’s his HuffPO profile which says that Diliberto is a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq;
EDITOR’S NOTE: Since I first took the above screen shot of Diliberto’s bio on HuffPo, he’s changed it to read that he served in “Af/Pak” in 2001 because I told him that I was publishing this and sent him a copy of the draft of this post.
I’m having trouble getting his records, but I’ve got something better – I’m getting emails from his former platoon sergeant and squad leader and his battalion commander who tell me things that I wouldn’t find in his records anyway. It seems that Jake was a big shitbird and he was a shitbird before the war against terror even began.
Some folks overheard him telling his mother that he was calling from a secret mission in Cuba in the Spring of 2001. When this was reported to his squad leader, Diliberto was punished for lying to his mother by being placed on guard duty, during which he fell asleep and was rewarded with Non-judicial punishment (NJP) which means he was fined and restricted with, perhaps some extra duties.
In another incident, he was telling stories to a person he thought was a civilian about his time with Force Recon. Turns out that she was actually the battalion commander’s daughter. The BC was pretty angry about that and called him on the carpet.
His squad leader also caught him on leave wearing a Force Recon T-shirt on his way home when he thought he was safe from his unit’s scrutiny.
The unit deployed immediately after 9-11 by ship. his leaders put him on duty in the kitchen of the ship where he intentionally lanced his hand to get out of working there. When they got to Pakistan prior to their deployment into Afghanistan, Diliberto locked and loaded his weapon and threatened his corporal which resulted in the unit giving him another NJP action and included a bust to Private. His unit went on to Afghanistan while Diliberto went back to working in the ship’s kitchen.
In 2002, when his unit got back on the ship, they heard stories from the sailors with whom he interacted about his wild tales of daring-do in Afghanistan. they also discovered evidence that he was emailing back to the States the same tales and that he was working with SEALs, so they took away his privileges to put an end to his antics. For the remainder of the cruise, Diliberto spent his time on paint duty. Here’s a statement from one of his senior sergeants describing his shitbird behavior;
Our platoon was responsible for tracking throughput of all personnel and equipment from ship to shore or across a port or air terminal. From time to time, we were also responsible for performing helicopter external air transport operations.
I did two back to back Mediterranean deployments with this unit in this capacity. After my initial nine month work up phase and subsequent six month deployment, roughly half of my platoon was on their second deployment. Once we returned they were issued orders back to their parent commands, either to process out of the Marine Corps at the end of their enlistment or carry on. It was shortly after I did a turnover of Marines that Jacob Diliberto checked in to my platoon. I am not sure if he was a Lance Corporal at that time or not but I do know that he was new to the Corps. He came in and immediately started telling stories to boost him up and appear more seasoned to the Marines that had been in the fleet longer and maybe had experienced more. One thing that sticks in my mind but I didn’t give credence to it at the time was he told us that he had just been transferred to us from Marine Recon. Earlier in my career, I worked in a para loft and knew many of the parachute riggers that worked at the few units on base here that jumped. I also was a drill instructor prior to this duty and served with a few Marines who were in the reconnaissance community, so when I double checked these claims, they turned up just as I had suspected. Lies. Each member of the platoon has a record jacket that is kept internal to the platoon (separate from their official Service Record Book), to keep up with shots, dental status, annual qualifications i.e.: gas chamber, physical fitness tests…etc. In them there is also a section for each Marines squad leader to annotate infractions on a counseling sheet. These were kept “in house” but were nonetheless there in the event that something became a trend and needed to be taken care of through non-judicial punishment. The counseling statements were there as proof that something was addressed and corrective action was discussed. Other than the cursory initial counseling that I gave to all of the members of the platoon, which outlined what I expected of them on a day to day basis, this integrity violation was probably his first derogatory entry.
If one name was always on my mind during this time it would most definitely be LCpl Jacob Diliberto. On a daily basis, I was filled in by the NCOs’ of the platoon of what “Diliberto did this time”. The list of his infractions is immense, some were as mundane as having a dirty room, not shaving properly or being late to work but I will just touch on the ones that are blatant misrepresentations of the truth. To those not very familiar with the workings of the military, I will try to further illustrate something for you. There are really only two times that the commander, in this case, a Lieutenant Colonel, and the unit Sergeant Major would know the name of such a junior member of the command as well as they did this Marine. Those are he did something so outstanding that he was recognized in some sort of meritorious way or he was continually doing dumb things and his Platoon Commander and Platoon Sergeant were “on the carpet” explaining his actions. This individual was far to the right hand side of the latter category.
At one point in time during one of our times back in garrison, LCpl Diliberto went to the base swimming pool on his off time and struck up a conversation of an unsuspecting young lady, who if memory serves me correctly, was underage. He is a very prolific speaker. Just “Google” his name and you will see countless other unsuspecting folks being filled with his untrue stories as well. But, I digress. It seems that in the course of his conversation with the girl at the pool he told her that he was with Force Recon in his attempt at impressing her. I would have probably never heard of the incident except for the girl that he was talking to was none other that the daughter of the MSSG Commander. My Captain and I were obviously brought in and then the LtCol had a piece of him. The bigger of the two offenses was the age of the girl and then the constant lying.
During the course of our work up training to become a Special Operation’s Capable MEU we had to do various field exercises, integrations with the Navy by boarding the ship for a week or two here and there and things such as this. The special operation designation is in no way as sexy as it sounds although, I am sure that it was booster fuel for the war stories that LCpl Diliberto was concocting up. For a MEU to become a MEU (SOC) it has to meet certain criteria and able to perform various functions. Some of these for example are to conduct non-combatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance and mass casualty assistance to name just a few. Before boarding ship for the last time, the MEU is evaluated on each of these functional areas and must pass them before setting out to sea. On one of our field operations to Fort AP Hill, Virginia to train for some of these tasks, we were getting settled in the open squad bay billeting and the Marines were afforded the opportunity to explore the area, make phone calls, check out the PX and things of this nature. I was with some of the NCOs’ by a bank of pay phones and we saw LCpl Diliberto on the phone telling his mother that he was about to go into Cuba on a secret mission. Lying to your mother is bad enough but spreading misleading information about what we do for a living isn’t part of what we do for a living. We allowed him to finish his call and then questioned him and once again made the appropriate counseling statements and put them in his now ever growing folder. When we are billeted in an open squad bay situation, roaming guards called “fire watch” are posted when the lights go out and are rotated every hour. Obviously the ones that are continuously doing dumb things get the least desirable time slots. For lying once again, LCpl Diliberto was placed on fire watch at some point during the night. He was found asleep on post. An egregious infraction. For it he was awarded his first NJP. Being his first time, he was docked some pay, given some restriction, had to do some extra duty and put on a suspended reduction in rank. Meaning, that if he kept his nose clean for X number of months he would remain at his current rank.
Another incident that took place after work ups and prior to us leaving. It was during a period called block leave. Half of the unit gets to go home for a set amount of time and when they return the other half gets to go. One of my NCOs’ grew up in northern Wisconsin and LCpl Diliberto grew up in Illinois. His NCO saw his car pulled off of the highway and parked erratically in the ditch. He knew the vehicle because of the vanity license plate that was easily identifiable from the road. As the NCO approached the Jeep Cherokee, he saw the Marine sleeping in his vehicle dressed in black silk running shorts as well as a FORCE RECON shirt and combat boots. The rest of the Marine Corps wears green silk shorts as part of the physical training uniform. An optional item that is favored by the recon community at the time was the black silk shorts. I can just imagine the tales that were told on the trip from Camp Lejeune, NC to that spot on I-65 north, close to his home of record.
Upon our collective return to base, we were tying up loose ends and getting ready for our six month deployment. We were within weeks from departing and the unfortunate events of September 11 happened. We left at our regular scheduled time but where we would end up was uncertain but there was a good possibility where we’d end up.
During the transit over there the ships computer administrators had set up an “Any Sailor/Any Marine” email system. We began receiving emails from supportive folks in the states. One of my fellow Gunnery Sergeants told me that he got an email from a woman that had also been having an email conversation with LCpl Jacob Diliberto. She indicated that he was telling her that he had already been ashore and inside of Afghanistan and in combat. This was well prior to any ground forces, other than legitimate US Special Forces, being in country. We once again counseled him for his continual lying and had his email privileges revoked.
Our first stop was a multi-national operation in Egypt called Bright Star. After that we set out on ships again and were ordered to the Arabian Gulf, an area outside the normal operating area of an east coast MEU. We were to join the 15th MEU (SOC) out of Camp Pendleton and conduct combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
While we were steaming toward there, the air campaign was well under way and the news was pretty focused on the region.
We hit the beach in Pakistan via landing craft in the last few days of November 2011. My platoon was responsible for coordinating the movement of equipment from ship to shore and then from an airfield further inland to other areas within the theater of operations via fixed wing aircraft. We lived at the airfield about eight miles inland and worked throughout the night during the initial push. Every evening selected Marines would work the beach and the others would stay behind and work the airfield. One evening when we loaded up on the trucks, one of my Corporals told me that LCpl Diliberto had “locked and loaded” his weapon and pointed it at him. We were authorized to carry our M16’s in Condition 3, which is weapon on safe, bolt home on an empty chamber, magazine inserted and ejection port cover closed. By his actions he made his weapon ready to fire. I immediately took his weapon and rounds away from him and informed my Captain of what had happened. The decision was then made that it would be best to send him back to ship, as at this time we were pretty much over babysitting him. We called the ship and informed the command of the incident and our intentions and were cleared to send him on the first landing craft available. Upon getting back on ship, the MSSG Commander met LCpl Diliberto and lifted the suspension on his reduction in rank. Thus creating Private First Class Diliberto.
He spent the remainder of the deployment working below the decks of the ship busting rust and painting things. In the twenty years I spent in uniform, I have served with, led, mentored and trained countless Marines. In that time, I have never before and never since come across a more dishonest, deceitful individual. It disgusts me every time I receive a phone call or email from someone, telling me that they saw Jacob Diliberto on CNN with Larry King, General McCaffery and General Clark, Winter Soldier and the various other television news programs and newspapers that obviously don’t screen their guests or do any kind of fact checking. I have seen him referred to as a veteran of Afghanistan, which I know for a fact is a lie. I have seen him referred to as a retired Corporal which I know is a lie. With his reductions in rank at the point of his 4 year enlistment makes it almost impossible for him to even have been promoted to Corporal. After we parted ways though, I cannot verify that. I have seen him talk about being part of Special Forces units, which I know for a fact is a lie. In short, we need to stop him and expose him for what he is. A fraud that has no problem with stolen valor.
And, oh, I’ll add that I had a discussion by email with Diliberto once in which he admitted that he never served in Iraq either. Apparently, the closest he got was Kuwait where they had him pulling guard duty somewhere he couldn’t mess shit up. He made it sound like it was some high speed security detail, but given the character of his service before 2003, I’m guessing he was pulling security about three layers back from the front, some place like the port.
I’m sure every one of you have had a Jake Diliberto in your platoon, and now he wants to be responsible for our war policy. And he hides behind his religious studies.
For the record, every step of the way, I’ve been in contact with Diliberto to give him an opportunity to respond and all I get is crickets…so….
Hondo has requested a FOIA on Diliberto and we’ve been waiting for it, as soon as it shows up, I’ll post it, but in the interim, I’m guessing that statements from the folks who’ve served with him are probably more important than any military records at this point.