Armando H. Diaz; phony SEAL at immigration rally in Austin

| February 24, 2013

Armando Diaz

Derek sends us a photo from the Austin American Statesman which says that Armando Diaz is a Vietnam and Korean Wars veteran. He has a SEAL trident pinned to his VFW cap. So we sent the photo to Don Shipley, who, in turn, emails us back that Armando isn’t a SEAL, as if we really had to ask. Don also says that the VFW post on his cap is from Arizona, but he lives in Midland, TX (not Mission, TX like the photo caption says).

Armando demands immigration reform and I demand Stolen Valor reform.

Derek has written to the Austin paper to let them know and we’ll see if anyone bothers to fix the story. We’re working on his his records, so look for an update.

Category: Phony soldiers

Comments (43)

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  1. MAJMike says:

    The Glorious People’s Republic of Travis County is full of phonies, both elected and unelected.

  2. Maytag says:

    Just another P.O.S. who wants to be someone. How come His VFW post don’t run him off. Being a fake where we live will result in catching crap and being made fun of!

  3. LIRight says:

    Two on my sons gave me hats a couple of years ago, one from 5th SFG and the other a generic SF hat. I don’t wear them so that no one can accuse of claiming that I was a Green Beret.

  4. LIRight says:

    Editing dumb error:

    I don’t wear them so that no one can accuse “me” of claiming that I was a Green Beret.

  5. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    @3. I was thinking something similar about Diaz. I have no idea what claims he may have made but what you describe is rather sad. I see no reason why you should not wear caps your sons gave to you. When someone asks whether you were in that unit, what’s wrong with saying, proudly, “No, but my son was and he gave me the cap.”

  6. Green Thumb says:

    An old. gnarly shitbag.

  7. Marc says:

    What is that flag in the background? The red one with the black bird in the center?

  8. rb325th says:

    The Flag is from the “United Farm Workers”

  9. Anonymous says:

    @8. Man, I looked and looked after I saw the question and I was ready to give up. I saw your answer and then googled it and, needless to say, you are correct. Thanks. Stuff like that drives me crazy–er, crazier!

  10. NHSparky says:

    I can’t wait to hear his excuse why he’s wearing a Trident he didn’t earn. Again, thank God nobody tries to impersonate nukes and/or bubbleheads.

  11. A Proud Infidel says:


  12. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    @8. That was me in cmt 9, not Marc. I have this thing for Anonymous sometimes, it seems.

  13. Dave Thul says:


    hard to be sure, but the number I see on the VFW hat is 10267. VFW national website says that post is in Riverside California. I thought the number could be 10287, but there is no such post in the VFW.

    Post 10267 does have an active Facebook page, maybe they know more about the guy.

  14. Jonn Lilyea says:

    The VFW Post on his sombrero is 102-8-7.

  15. FatCircles0311 says:

    Why not throw in some fake valor into the fake patriotism rally.

  16. Dave Thul says:

    According to the VFW membership statistics page, there is no post by the number 10287. Could have been closed, but if so he would have been transferred to a new post and should have gotten a new hat. Although I suppose wearing the wrong VFW hat is the least of this guys problems with the truth.

  17. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    @14. VFW Post 404 in Mohave Valley, AZ is at 10287 S Barrackman Dr. I’m guessing this the VFW 10287 on his cap.

  18. Ex-PH2 says:

    OK, I looked up the one ribbon (orange-green-orange) I couldn’t see clearly on his VFW hat. He has the Vietnam Campaign ribbon and Vietnam Service ribbon, and the third one is the Navy/MC Achievement ribbon — achievement for what? If you were there, you generally got other things, too. He also has a Navy officer’s crest (hat pin) on the front, so are they really his, or did he buy that hat in a thrift shop?

    Something does not seem right. My inquring mind wants to know.

  19. NHSparky says:

    Is that a “Life Member” rocker on the cap? Frankly, I thought Life Members got white caps, but then again, they have the red rocker Life Member too.

    And yeah, that’s a NAM ribbon up front. Nothing huge. Also saw what looks like a subdued scuba diver pin towards the back of his cap. Not sure what the ribbon above the pin (behind the VN service ribbon) is, but it’s not Korea Service.

  20. Hondo says:

    NHSparky: I’d guess that’s the ribbon for the RVN Campaign Medal. That was a foreign decoration awarded by the govt of the RVN to most US troops who served in Vietnam. It was awarded to any US troop who served 6 mo in country.

    People qualifying for the VSM generally have the RVN Campaign Medal also. The only exceptions would be those who did less than 6 mo in country (or directly supporting operations in country) without being WIA, captured, or KIA. The VSM only required 1 day attached/assigned to a unit or ship in country – or 30 days continuous/60 days noncontinuous TDY in country – so it was possible to qualify for the VSM but not rate the RVN Campaign Medal.

    The RVN Campaign Medal ribbon on this guy’s hat might be missing the “1960- ” device. I don’t think it’s there, but I can’t really be certain if it’s there or not given the photo’s resolution.

  21. Ex-PH2 says:

    Yeah, Hondon, he doesn’t have the 1960- bar on the campaign ribbon, but the one I can’t figure out is the Navy/MC achievement ribbon.

    Those three ribbons look like they’re just stuck on there as an afterthought.

    I don’t get this one. It looks all thrown together.

  22. Hondo says:

    Ex-PH2: if he was actually in Vietnam and in the Navy, he could have earned a NAM while serving there. That would explain why he’s got a NAM with his VSM and RVN Campaign Medal.

    Alternatively, he may simply be clueless and be wearing a borrowed hat (or one he found at Goodwill or the Salvation Army and liked) with a bunch of stuff he found at an Army-Navy surplus store stuck on it.

    Or he could just be a LSoS.

  23. Dave Thul says:


    Life members get the red tag on the side. White caps are for all state or all American post commanders only. I could go further and say the yellow striping means he is only at a post level; district, state or national officers have different color piping on the hat.

    VFW hats are all ordered and made by the VFW catalog, so it’s impossible that a guy could get an official hat made with the address instead of the VFW post number.

  24. fm2176 says:

    #5 2/17 Air Cav,

    An older friend of mine from the VFW displays 101st, Ranger, and Bronze Star stickers on his SUV. His son is an officer, and though my friend served in the Fifties with no combat service (he doesn’t even qualify for the VFW, but does his part in the Canteen), he is proud to display some of the honors his son has earned. Heck, if I’m in my mid-seventies and have a twenty-something year old Captain for a son, I’d have a window full of stickers too.

    On the other hand, my best friend’s uncle started developing dementia during his last few years. Drinking exacerbated things, and his only son had died a few years after his wife, so I think he wanted to recreate himself. The guy was a proud Navy veteran (even displaying his Honorable Discharge on his wall), but started laying claim to being a SEAL during his last year or two of life. I even emailed Captain Bailey to confirm what I already knew, but there was little else my friend or I could do. He had the SEAL cap and was proud to have “been one”, but never said much other than that he was a SEAL (no elaborate stories of being “in the ‘Nam” or of secret squirrel missions). Sadly, he passed shortly after my friend (his caretaker) was incarcerated for the umpteenth time.

    #19 NHSparky,

    The regular cap can be worn by Life Members:

    I thought about ordering one when I attended the occasional meeting at the Zachary Taylor Post in Baton Rouge. I’m a Life Member of the Salisbury, MD post, though, and plan to switch over when I retire, so I decided to save the money for now.

  25. Ex-PH2 says:

    OK, Hondo, I’ll accept that, but the article also says he’s a Korean War vet, however he doesn’t have the Korean War service ribbon or the UN ribbon on the cap. It seems to me that he would have those if he had been in the Korean War.

    The other thing is that the cap is green and all the other VFW caps I’ve seen are either navy blue or white. I don’t recall seeing a green one.

  26. NHSparky says:

    Dave and fm…thanks for the clariication. Embarassing to admit I’m a Life Member and can count the number of meetings I’ve been to on one hand and don’t have either my VFW cap, or Legion one for that matter.

  27. fm2176 says:


    Don’t feel too bad. I haven’t even joined the Legion yet. Joined the VFW nine years ago, as a young recently return Specialist, though.

  28. Old Trooper says:

    Well, in defense (a feeble attempt, anyway) of Mr. Diaz: Don doesn’t have a problem with Jesse Ventura running around claiming to be a SEAL and wearing shirts and hats with the Trident, even though he was UDT, which is still badass; so maybe Mr. Diaz was UDT?

  29. Hondo says:

    I’ll also offer one possibility that might explain Mr. Diaz’s conduct, should it turn out he’s neither SEAL nor UDT.

    He claims to be a Korean War vet. If true, that would almost certainly mean he was 18 years old or older in 1953.

    1953 was 60 years ago. That would make him 78 or older now.

    Dementia is not unknown in people that age.

  30. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Mary says she’s not getting a Korean War vibe from his name in her database thingie.

  31. Hondo says:

    Old Trooper: one of the Navy folks here can correct me if I’m wrong, but unless he was UDT before BUD/S began I believe he’d have had to go to BUD/S and would thus show up in Don’s database.

  32. Hondo says:

    Jonn: unfortunate if that turns out to be the case, ’cause that would mean he’s either “lost it” mentally or is simply a LSoS.

  33. A Proud Infidel says:

    @27, you’re not alone, I was a VFW member and i let my membership lapse after I moved further South, but i just recently joined a local post after two more overseas tours, and I’ve still yet to renew my Legion membership!

  34. NHSparky says:

    Hondo–IIRC, the SEAL database contains the names of everyone who had graduated BUD/S since the school was formed in 1962, along with UDT/frogmen who served between 1943-62.

  35. Hondo says:

    NHSparky: thanks. I was pretty sure that the database was comprehensive back to the beginning of BUD/S. Wasn’t aware it also had pre-BUD/S UDT and frogmen. That’s good to hear.

  36. OWB says:

    PH (@ #25): The hat in the pic looks like the standard VFW brown from here. White hats, as others have explained, are for commanders only.

    To further clarify – when I looked into ordering a VFW cap, you just filled in blanks for what you wanted embroidered on it. So, if you gave them a street number instead of a post number, would anyone catch the error? I dunno. Seems likely that the order would simply be passed along from one person to another to give the customer what they paid for.

    The larger issue for me is that he is wearing the hat to a political event of any sort. There is probably a lot of variation on this, but it is against the rules. The post I most often associate with is VERY strict about the VFW disassociating itself from any activity which could remotely be considered political in nature.

    All just to say that the hat should not be at this event no matter who is wearing it.

  37. Old Trooper says:

    @31: I agree, Hondo, but what I was saying is that Don doesn’t have a problem with Jeese Ventura calling himself a SEAL and wearing SEAL garb, so I was offering up that as a possible explanation for Diaz sporting the Trident. Not agreeing, or disagreeing with anyone else, just a possible alternative.

  38. Hondo says:

    Old Trooper: understood, but IMO there’s still a problem.

    Given the new info NHSparky provided I don’t see how Diaz could have been a frogman/UDT, either. If Diaz was UDT post-1962, he would have gone to BUD/S and would be listed in Don’s database. Assuming NHSparky is correct, Diaz should also be in there if he were a pre-1962 UDT/frogman. That means Don should have gotten a database “hit” on the guy if he was ever a UDT/frogman.

    I’m thus forced to conclude Diaz likely wasn’t ever UDT or a frogman, either. If he were, I’d guess Don would have mentioned that in his reply to Jonn – e.g., “he was a frogman in Korea (or whenever) but never was a SEAL”.

    This guy doesn’t seem to be in the same situation as Ventura. As I understand it, Ventura did complete BUD/S and was UDT but never a SEAL. It’s beginning to look like Diaz was never either SEAL or UDT/frogman.

  39. Dave Thul says:

    Shameless plug for the VFW here: you can become a member and never attend a meeting or work an event if you choose. Much like the NRA, the power to lobby Congress comes in the number of members a group has, the more the better.

  40. RunPatRun says:

    #39, agreed; and one doesn’t need to choose a Post, but can be unassigned _______< state. If later decide to attend meetings, do service, attend activities, etc; can always transfer from unassigned to a Post. Legion and VFW both actively lobby for us. Strength in numbers.

    And pretty sure Diaz shouldn't be wearing the cap at the rally.

  41. Questioneer says:

    Quick question, if I get a navy or army hat because I have a friend that is there, can I use it making sure that if asked I say I’m not a SEAL/OP/Marine but I support them? is that valid? or how can you show troop support without stealing valor?