Hayden Gafford aka William Gafford; phony wounded veteran

| July 24, 2015


Updated; 6/2/2018; This post is three years old, but William Gafford doesn’t go by Hayden Gafford these days. He goes by William Gafford, I thought that I’d help him get the fame he craves.

Someone told us about this fellow, William Hayden Gafford, who goes by the name Hayden Gafford and tells folks that he has a Purple Heart from his year and a half of Army service when he left for medical reasons. here’s the DD214 that he flashes for that purpose;

William Gafford DD214

Well, at least he didn’t alter the reenlistment code “3” which means he’d need waivers to reenlist. And I guess he thought that two awards of the National Defense Service Medal would throw us off his tracks. the National Personnel Records Center disagrees with the DD214, though;

William Hayden Gafford FOIA

William Hayden Gafford Assignments

The word around town is that he claims to be a Navy SEAL, too, but there’s nothing to prove that statement, well, except this;

Gafford claims

William Hayden Gafford

Category: Phony soldiers

Comments (69)

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  1. sj says:

    Dos NDSMs? Sweet. He’s the real deal.

    • thebesig says:

      OK, the guy does not have a expert auto rifle badge, but he does have an Army Service Ribbon. He’s an Army Service Ribbon Veteran, that alone should make him proud. Sheesh, some people’s kids. 🙄

  2. ChipNASA says:

    I have two NDSMs bitches….but then again, I was in for 23 years…not 23 months….and shit stain here didn’t even make that.

    • thebesig says:

      Same here, 2 National Defense Service Medals, 23 cumulative service and counting. But, even if I didn’t have them, at least I have my Army Service Ribbon. 🙄 Some people’s kids simply can’t appreciate what they have. 🙄

      • thebesig says:

        I meant “years of service”, darn speech to text.:roll: Dragon NaturallySpeaking not being cooperative today, but hey, at least I have my Army Service Ribbon. :mrgreen:

    • Snotcrow says:

      How do you become a corporal with only 18 months in?

      • Tom Huxton says:

        PFC after or during AIT, then a year or so service. Corporal is only E-4, after all.

        I made E4 after 10 months and E5 at 22 months.

  3. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    I’m holding off on this one…

  4. Josey Wales says:


  5. Martinjmpr says:

    LOL @ the “Navy Purple Heart” Didn’t know each service had their own?

    Question: Even your FOIA request shows he has a GCM. WTF? He shouldn’t rate one unless he had 3 years of prior active service OR was mobilized out of the reserve components and served a year mobilized.

    DD214 shows 4 years prior service. If true that could account for his GCM and also his rank of CPL since I can’t imagine a guy with less than 2 years of service even making it to E4 unless he has a lot of college credits. Prior service would also explain the 2nd NDSM if he served during the first Gulf War and then post-2001 since AFAIK those are separate award periods for the NDSM.

    • Jordan Rott says:

      1 deployment or just a year on active when your in the guard or reserve can get you a AGCM.

      • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

        That’s true, I got another Good Cookie on my tour in A-stan.

        • Martinjmpr says:

          Unless they changed the reg that only applies for the first award of the GCM. If you already have at least one GCM, you don’t get another one for a mobilization. Been there, done that, had the award revoked. 😉

  6. Martinjmpr says:

    Oh, one other thing for you Sailors/Marines out there: Is it even possible to earn a PH in the Navy without also earning a CAR? CAR means you were exposed to hostile fire, yes? So wouldn’t the PH pretty much automatically mean he got the CAR too?

    • radar says:

      As it was explained to me when I was in, the CAR requires you to both receive and effectively return fire, so I believe you can be awarded an PH without a CAR. An example would be an indirect fire attack. If you were on a base in Iraq and were wounded by a mortar in an IDF attack, you’d get a PH but not a CAR.

      I may be mistaken, that was just what was explained to us by our master guns when I was in Iraq. If I am, someone correct me.

      • Hondo says:

        My background is Army, but I seem to remember senior USMC and/or USN types saying much the same in past comments here at TAH. Seems I also remember reading that it was only recently that IED strikes were made qualifying events for the CAR. Still not sure about IDF.

        • CB Senior says:

          Hondo: Correct, there was a change for IED’s. IDF could sometimes earn a CAR but the return fire is pretty hard and fast on it.

  7. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    In that pic of him behind the pickup truck, he looks like some rear echelon GEARDO posing in the back forty of some camp in Kuwait, a “HEY MOMMY, LOOK AT ME!” kind of photo!

    • Andy11M says:

      Judging by the length of that barrel I’m going to say that’s a civi AR and not a M-4 of any sort of military issue. I think alot of these guys who fantasize about having been a SEAL etc, love to do mil sim or be gear queers with these other gear queers who spend stupid amounts of money on weapons and gear.

      • Martinjmpr says:

        Concur with the above. That’s not a military rifle and I’ll bet my next paycheck that’s not a military truck. No GWOTEM or ICM means it’s not Kuwait, Quatar, or Iraq, either.

        More like San Bernardino if you ask me. 😉

        • Hondo says:

          Minor quibble: no GWOTEM on his DD214 doesn’t necessarily mean he never made it to Kuwait if he was discharged in late 2003. It’s possible he could have been there less than 30 days and got sent home for non-medical reasons. Plus, I don’t think the admin award procedures for the GWOTEM and GWOTSM (and the KDSM) were final in 2003 – I know personally of one case where an individual demobed in Nov 2003 and had to request a DD215 not long after to add the GWOTSM and KDSM to their demob DD214 because the issuing installation hadn’t implemented them yet.

          Now, about that picture of him in ACUs in the desert somewhere. This guy was discharged in Dec 2003. I believe the ACU made it’s first appearance in June 2004. So if that’s him, I’m pretty sure it’s not a photo of him on active duty.

          • OldSarge57 says:

            In 2003 we were still wearing BDU’s when I retired. I transitioned to Active Reserve status in 2007 and we were still transitioning to the ACU. The vest sitting in the truck looks like old USMC issue. Although it is a civilian truck, I can definitely tell you some special forces do use Toyota Hilux mods. It sure as heck isn’t an M880. All that aside, awards like the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, etc. aren’t specific service branch awards so there is no such thing as a “Navy Purple Heart” any more than there ia a “Navy NDSM”. I’m willing to bet you this guy uses that DD214 to get additional VA benefits.

            • Martinjmpr says:

              As for the truck it’s not a Hilux or a Tacoma, it’s some kind of full sized truck with what appears to be a chrome bumper and bedliner. And the rifle barrel is too long to be anything Uncle Sam issued.

              • OldSarge57 says:

                Yep. I did a pixel view and it looks like the license plate has been photo-shopped out.

          • Martinjmpr says:

            Hondo: When I was demobed after serving in AFG with the COARNG in June of ’03 the GWOTEM was on my DD214 (the ACM had not yet been created.) So it absolutely should have been in place in December of ’03. Also I only saw ACUs once in Kuwait in all of 2004 and that was late in the year, I think it was a visiting flag officer or CSM who was “modeling” the new uniform. Even after I got back to CONUS and started drilling again in March of 05 nobody in the unit had ACUs until probably July or August of that year. So the pic of him in ACUs in the desert is most likely somewhere in the American Southwest.

            • Hondo says:

              Good to hear that your state AG had its act together. Unfortunately, some Army installations did not – even as late as Nov 2003.

              Concur with your assessment of US southwest for the photo.

            • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

              I deployed to A-stan 05-05, and we were issued ACU’s for that tour, we were told that we were the first unit going there to be issued them and the unit we RIP’ed was wearing DCU’s.

      • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

        I’ve done two tours in the ME, and we were NEVER ISSUED vests like what he’s wearing in that pic, I’m sure he got it off the clearance shelf of some military slurpus/Airsoft Commando supply store, he looks like he’s ready to muster with his Trailer Park Militia!

  8. Andy11M says:

    Wow, a Armament Repair guy? And someone in his support battalion saw fit to make him a corporal? I wonder what was the reason for the med-sep? He got out with his rank, so I’m assumeing it was a med-sep, and not a adverse action, and I’ve seen it take a year plus for one to go through, so he could have spent the majority of his enlistment, waiting to get out.

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      He might have been a “Sick Call Ranger”, whose motto is “Ride ’em Profile!!”.

      • Andy11M says:

        Think he was such a broke dick he had a “no breathing” profile?

        • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

          Another one of those critters that would be a perennial Gold Medal Rodeo Champion if he could ride a bronco or a bull as hard as he rode a Medical Profile, my Platoon in A-stan was infected with one of those for a while.

        • nbcguy54ACTUAL says:

          After hurting my back in a helicopter crash at Ft Carson in 1988, my profile stated “no standing, sitting or laying down for more than 15 minutes.”

          I asked the Doc what the fuck was I supposed to do – hover?

          • Andy11M says:

            but you were permitted to continue breathing, right?

            • nbcguy54ACTUAL says:

              Yep. About the only I was allowed to do…

              • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

                Damn, what did they want you to do, lay down at the position of attention?!

                • nbcguy54ACTUAL says:

                  They were pissed because I didn’t want to stay in the hospital for a week or so. We crashed Friday, I was walking Saturday, and checked out Sunday. Told the doc I could hurt like this at home and not go outside to smoke.
                  He wasn’t pleased-but I was. Had a hard time complying with that profile too.

                  BTW Jonn – I hit “report” by accident.

                  • CLAW131 says:

                    Was a “No lifting anything over five pounds” a part of the profile?/sarc

                    Complying with that portion in the male latrine can also get dicey at times.

                    If so, say hello to your pet iguana for me.

                    • nbcguy54 says:

                      That weight restriction would not have affected me, trust me.

                      On a serious note Claw, had the crash been in any other A/C besides a Huey, I don’t think we would have survived.

                    • CLAW131 says:

                      Yes,Sir, that’s why I was a 67N.

                      Regardless of condition, she always brought me home safe and sound.

                      Live long and prosper, Hueys.

  9. Hondo says:

    I got curious, so I took a close look at his DD214, did some thinking, and a little math.

    Interestingly enough, the phrase “NAVY GOOD CONDUCT” would fit perfectly where his purported DD214 now says “NAVY PURPLE HEART”. (God, I love monospace fonts like Courier – they certainly make figuring out what will and won’t fit in a given space easier. [smile])

    Both phrases end in the letter “T”. And while the letter “T” in the text “PURPLE HEART” lines up fairly well with the rest of the text on the same line, the “PURPLE HEAR” portion seems to me to be just slightly misaligned. (The “T” may be misaligned as well, but that one’s hard to tell – the “PURPLE HEAR” part seems to be at a slight angle, but since the “T” is at the end of the word I can’t really tell if the “T” is also at an angle or not.) Curiously, the first 11 or 12 characters of other lines on the form don’t seem to have that problem.

    I’m thinking we have a guy here who enlisted in the Navy during the Gulf War NDSM period (maybe July 1994 or so), did 4 years AD, went into the USNR to finish his MSO – then decided after about 3 1/2 years to enlist in the active Army in March 2002.

    If his assignment in the Navy was to a shore billet – like, say, a Naval Reserve Center on a TAR tour, or maybe at NRPC/Millington or another Navy shore command – I believe the only awards he’d have from his 4 years in the Navy that would transfer to the Army likely would be his NGCM, NDSM, plus any unit awards and personal decorations he’d received. It’s also my understanding that unit awards are rather rare for shore commands in the Navy.

    That leaves the NGCM, NDSM, and any personal decorations which would transfer. And if he didn’t have any personal decorations such as a NAM or NCM, that would only leave his NGCM and his 1st NDSM.

    I’ll not speculate regarding how that text “PURPLE HEAR” (or “PURPLE HEART”, if all of the phrase is misaligned) managed to become misaligned on the DD214 if I’m right about his prior Navy service. Or how his NGCM managed to be omitted from same.

    I have my own theory about that, but for now I’ll just keep it to myself.

    • GDContractor says:

      I bet Dave’s girls get the vapors after reading that. Well played!

      YOU are Hondo and there is only one Hondo!

    • GDContractor says:

      Hondo – Upon reflection, I am sorry if my previous comment was out of line. It was offered in humor and genuine admiration.

      In support of your hypothesis, the 2-1 from NPRC does not show basic training, only shows direct to AIT. Also no advancement in rank, which would make sense if your theory is correct. I think the observation about the letter substitution and spacing was brilliant.

  10. Skippy says:

    Oh Crap here we go again… They are dropping out of the sky today

  11. Combat Historian says:

    I’m sure this turd will claim he was a Navy SEAL during his prior USN enlistment, but that any records related to that tour is TOP SECRET SUPER SQUARREL and only the CNO and/or SecDef will have access to his USN personnel file hidden away in a vault somewhere in a saltdome cavern underneath Nevada or something…

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      I wonder if Don Shipley (SCPO, USN, Ret.) will lock on to Gafford if it turns out he’s been calling himself a former SEAL?

      • Friend S. Wilkins says:

        Oh God, if Senior ever got his hands on this little bitch boy, Hayden Gafford, it would probably look something like this….the action begins at 0:52.

      • Mike Kozlowski says:

        Proud Infidel,

        From your lips to God’s ears.

        Or Chief Shipley’s, whomever is senior. 🙂


  12. Jordan Rott says:

    No CAB to go with the purple heart? Cmon man, even thought it didn’t even come out until this guy was out. I am pretty sure this guy typed out his own Dd214 because something with the spacing and how it’s lined up it just looks off. And at least on my DD214 it is fully typed out Army Good Conduct Medal.

  13. HMCS (FMF) ret. says:

    Another “Call of Booty” anal buttsekks warrior… service record is probably “triple top sekrit” that it can only be viewed in one of them thar classified “E” ring shitters at the puzzle palace.

  14. 11B-Mailclerk says:

    I took a quick look at that picture. Resolution is low, so details are lost.

    Civvy pattern AR

    T-shirt collar looks white/civvy.

    Uniform fabric/pattern/cut looks wrong.

    Black gear carrier, appears civvy and ill fitting. Shows a bulge where the beer belly would be.

    Trousers unbloused.

    Civvy shoes. Laces flying.

    Person standing behind subject is in civvy shoes, solid color tan pants, and what looks like a woodland pattern shirt. (Elbow visible to viewer’s left of subject.

    Truck has civvy bumper and trailer hitch, and appears to have a US-proportioned tag (very hard to make out due to low-res picture).

    11B-Mailclerk evaluation: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

  15. FatCircles0311 says:

    POGs. POGs never change.

    Separated for medical not because of enemy involvement?

    Translation: Seperated due to sandy vagina

  16. Bobo says:

    That’s the first time that I’ve ever seen someone with a PH and no awards for service in a combat zone in his DD-214. Somehow he was wounded without getting his ICM, ACM, or GWOT Expeditionary Medal.

    • Jordan Rott says:

      They must’ve classified everything except the Purple Heart.

    • nbcguy54 says:

      Granted he doesn’t rate PH, but the “domestic” terrorism events (Ft Hood especially) will make those DD214 entries a reality.

  17. Messkit says:

    DD214 shows 45K-10 Armament Repair course. This designator is Army. No such numbers in the Navy….so he ain’t Navy. In 2002, this would be conducted at Ft Lee VA.

    His uniform looks Air Force tiger stripe. Notice, no hook & loop patch on the shoulder.

    The rifle is soooooo not US military. Magazine is MagPul, not available in 2003. Pack in truck is coyote tan, not a offered color in 2003. Vest is fully padded, form fitting, and black, also not an option yet. While it looks like a PVS/2 on the handguards, they were not issued in sage green, only black. Headset and microphone is a remote crewman’s set, designed to be worn under a K-pot and plugged into an armored vehicle’s commo system with its unique locking plug. It had no ability to be used as a satellite system. Medical pouch is desert tan, also not an option in 2003 (we barely got anything tan colored in 2004!) Lastly, and I could be wrong, but the IR flag on his chest was not issued in 2003. We didn’t get them until early 2005. Oh, and NOBODY wore shiny rainbow reflecting sunglasses in the desert.

    • Skippy says:

      Uniform is ACU dig Print issue date September 2005 start army-wide issue including clothing and sales March 2006, looks as if maybe a contractor 2007-???? My guess

      • nbcguy54ACTUAL says:

        Civilian shooting range for wanna-be’s in SW USA?

        • Skippy says:

          You win…
          Yea you are probably right on this. Looked last night did some homework sure is a lotta sand

        • CLAW131 says:

          Scanning the horizon for a Starbucks in the vicinity of OP Barstow.

          • Skippy says:

            I’ve been all over Ft Irwin. Training and being the trainer I just don’t remember sand dunes now there was a few dry lake beds. The other area that at time would train civis was Yuma and Indian springs both have sand dunes the Vic in the pic is a Ford or a GMC Product.

  18. CLAW131 says:


    Prior service Navy, maybe a PO3 CIWS(Sea-Whiz) repairman.
    Decides to go Army when things start heating up.
    Based on prior experience, Army lets him back in as an E-4 on a four year enlistment.
    Doesn’t have to do Basic Training, heads off to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland for four and a half months of 45K Turret and Weapons Systems Repair training.
    Reports to Fort Hood, is assigned to A Company (Ground Maintenance), 404th Combat Support Battalion(DS/GS).
    Was so far back from the Front Line of Troops that even if the entire 4th Infantry Division and the 1st Cav had deployed, he would have still been stationed at either Red River Army Depot or Vilseck repairing Abrams and Bradley turrets.
    Reported for duty. Only man in section. Was made a Corporal to be section/shop leader in anticipation of getting some Privates into the repair shop later on.
    After getting tool box issued from supply, is carrying said tool box back to the shop, and trips and drops box on ankle/foot.
    Spends the remainder of his One Year, eight months and 13 days of active duty in medical hold limbo. Medical Review Board decides that since he can’t walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, he gets a Medical Discharge, collects $21,886.00 in Disability Severance Pay, and he goes back home a happy camper.
    Later on he decides he deserves a Purple Heart for his injury, so he doctors up his DD214, concocts a great story, gets a picture taken while on a road trip near Barstow, and “Viola, instant sympathy” from all who believe his Bullshit antics.

    Final analysis: POS loser who got over.