Eric Schmitt-Matzen; Santa Claus

| January 1, 2017

Eric Schmitt-Matzen

You probably remember the story of Eric Schmitt Matzen and while in his role as Santa Claus held a dying child in his arms during the child’s last moments on Earth. The story was in the Knoxville News Sentinel. In the story, Eric said that he was a Ranger for four years;

Schmitt-Matzen Ranger

The Ranger Regiment confirmed that he had served with them in some role, when I got his FOIA, I had some questions;

Eric Schmitt-Matzen FOIA

So, I did a telephone interview with Mr Schmitt-Matzen.

The FOIA only mentioned his Army Reserve service and his time as an ROTC cadet – he admits that he wasn’t commissioned. He was in a five-year engineer program at Tennessee Tech, so he dropped out of the ROTC program when he had to make a decision on one or the other but not both.

He tells me that he went to Ranger School in lieu of attending Advanced Camp for ROTC cadets, since the Regiment confirms he had some kind of contact with them, I have to think that it was possible. The Army used to do that, substitute Ranger School for Advanced Camp, however, the FOIA doesn’t support his completion of Ranger School.

Schmitt-Matzen doesn’t remember his Ranger School class date and the Ranger Regiment has pulled the post on Facebook about his service with them. He admitted that he didn’t serve with the Rangers for four years like the interview says – he claims that he didn’t tell the reporter that part.

He’s still standing by the story of the child dying in his arms, so I have to support him in that, unless the media can dig up evidence to the contrary. I did my part.

The 75th Regiment folks sent me this message on Facebook;

Unfortunately, we are unable to fill in the gaps. We had been told by a couple of former Rangers that he had served with 2/75. We pulled the story because it had not been confirmed by a second source and we were unable to officially verify his service in the Army.

Category: Who knows

Comments (52)

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  1. We might forget our mother’s name, or forget to pee before we go to bed, but a Ranger will never forget his class number. Not after that 62 days of hell.

    • Club Manager says:

      The first hint he was bogus was, “Ho ho ho, Rudolph Leads the Way”

      • rgr769 says:

        The only people that forget their Ranger school class number are the ones who want to forget it because they did not complete the course or receive the tab. During the time frame “Santa” could have gone to Ranger school as an ROTC cadet, I think there were only about 12 classes per year. I doubt that he could not remember a number between 1 and 12.

  2. Ncat says:

    Well that kinda sucks.

  3. Deplorable B Woodman says:

    Even the article says he served WITH the Rangers. Doesn’t say he WAS a Ranger. He could have been a cook, or admin, or anything.

  4. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Ranger schmanger. The real question here is whether this fellow is Santa Claus. Santa goes by many names and there are many Santa subs but, having met the real Santa many years ago, his countenance is forever etched into my memory. And this gentleman is Santa Claus. No question about that whatsoever.

  5. NotaLeg says:

    What share of “stuff” did he see going through Ranger school as a cadet? Even if he did graduate? Even if he wasn’t in for four years, and the reporter misquoted him? He’s implying combat experience which is clearly bogus. He’s a fraud.

    • Claw says:

      Well, they were still issuing C-Rats during that time.

      Maybe the “stuff” he saw was the congealed lard on the top of a can of Ham &MF’rs or a can of Beef&Shrapnel.

      It could happen. C-Rat PTS is a real thing.

      • rgr769 says:

        Ubetcha, I still have nightmares about some of the C-rat potluck stews my radio operators and the company medic cooked up. Fortunately, they never had a dish that included Ham & MF’rs, or I would prolly have caught that dreaded PTS disease.

  6. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    I concur with Frankie, NO US Army Ranger School Grad will ever forget his class number, they’d forget their birth date before that! Hell, I was just another leg and I still remember my OSUT class number back in *COUGH*.

    • Your Creepy Uncle says:

      Roster # 132

      E/3-32 INF Sand Hill(ton)

      “Queens Own”

    • rgr769 says:

      Anyone who went to Ranger school and can’t remember their class number is someone who is trying to forget the experience because they didn’t complete the course and/or weren’t awarded the tab. Ranger school had a larger impact on me than the fifteen months I served in RVN. Back when he claims he went, there were only about 8 classes each fiscal year. That’s not exactly a big number to remember, 1 through 8.

  7. OldManchu says:

    Looking more and more like a tickle monster every time we learn more about this dude.

    • 2/17 Air Cav says:

      The same can be said about every Santa. I see nothing that supports that horrendous statement. Please share what you have.

      • OldManchu says:

        It was a joke not a chicken wing. Don’t choke on it.

        Of all the sarcastic descriptions we all make on this site and you jump on my post for proof.

        • 2/17 Air Cav says:

          Your target has a name. He is not some anonymous fellow. Whatever his shortcomings, he was volunteering at a hospital, dressed as Santa at Christmastime. To suggest that he is a child molester, as you did, is a lousy thing to do. How ’bout we label you a suspected child rapist? You’re anonymous and I’m guessing that, despite that, you wouldn’t much like it.

          • OldManchu says:

            I said a tickle monster. Not a child molester.

            And my “target” didn’t randomly become a name instead of anonymous. He sought out attention with his “ranger service” and “seen things” comments that had nothing to do with his role of being Santa for sick children. The minute he used sick children to back door sneak in some self glory about ranger service that he DIDN’T have, he invalidates his Santa role.

            I believe in Santa also. This ain’t him!

            • 2/17 Air Cav says:

              “I said a tickle monster. Not a child molester.” Maybe you don’t know that tickle monster is a slang term for a molester of little boys. If not, now you do.

              • OldManchu says:

                I agree with you I realize it’s slang term. I see them as a process on both sides of a dividing line where law is broken. Prior to breaking the law, all pedophiles go through a tickle monster process. Infiltrate otherwise pure volunteers at churches, hospitals, foster homes, schools, family relationships etc.

                Befriend the child. Be a buddy. Gain trust and credibility. That is the process of a tickle monster. When they cross the line and erase all doubt by breaking the law and violating a child, they become a molester. One of the early signs is volunteerism that can’t but help simultaneously seek credit / attention for their “good work.” When they reach that point my radar goes off! I’ve been the victim of that process decades ago as a young boy and I’ve intervened twice as an a adult when the sirens went off. I was called out for being paranoid and judging. Both times I was right and the accused had pedophile records in other states and they fled when I showed that to those in doubt who were responsible for the child being groomed. So when k say “looking more and more like a tickle monster every time we hear about him”, I mean it and I stand by it. The best thing that could happen is I am wrong and turn out to be an asshole. The alternative is much worse for an innocent.

    • Semper Idem says:

      As someone who remembers the molestation mania of the 1980s – and the dozens of innocent people who saw their lives forever changed – I expect hard evidence every time I hear someone suspected of the worst offense against childhood innocence.

      So…evidence or shut up. Your call.

  8. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    “[H]e claims that he didn’t tell the reporter that part,” that he served with the Rangers for four years. I have no doubt that is true. My experience with reporters is that they often will write what they want to have read,not necessarily what the interviewee actually said. (Hey, that rhymes.)Santa talked with Jonn, which is more than many will do unless they call to demand a retraction, to threaten a law suit, or to beg for removal of the embarrassing post.

    • Ncat says:

      We can certainly agree that the press tends to get it wrong, but this is pretty specific. Did the reporter just pick the”four years” quote out of the air? Maybe. Dunno.

      I’d like to believe this guy, but it doesn’t look good.

    • Poetrooper says:

      In the ten years I was associated with a United Way agency, involved in many activities to help the poor and elderly, I was personally involved in many situations that received news coverage, both print and television.

      They never once, not one single time, got the facts straight. That convinced me to always consider all news reporting suspect.

      • Casey says:

        You spent 10 years with United Way? By some standards that makes you a potential tickle monster too, what with all that volunteerism… :-/

    • OldManchu says:

      Santa talked with Jonn yes but how many posers also gladly take Don Shipleys phone calls also?

  9. JimV says:

    He was discharged as a Cadet? What is that, an E-0? Sounds kind of strange to me. His four years of service was in college I’m sure.

  10. 2/17 Air Cav says:

  11. Slick Goodlin says:

    Hey, this is like being a little bit pregnant.
    Either you were a Ranger or you weren’t.
    You you did military service or didn’t.

  12. Blue6 says:

    Yes, this story seems a bit fishy, but I have to disagree with those who say a Ranger School grad would never forget his class number. I would not hold it against someone if he couldn’t spit it out immediately upon begin asked. I saw those comments and realized I didn’t know my class number. It’s not hard to find out, though, even if all your paperwork “was lost in a fire.” All of the Ranger School class photos since the first one in 1950 are posted to the RTB website. All you have to do is Google “Ranger School graduation photos” and look for your year (everyone should at least remember that). There are only about a dozen classes per year, so it’s not hard to find your photo marked with the class number.

    • rgr769 says:

      You are correct about class photos for 1978, which is the only year he could have attended Ranger school. The Ranger School class photos for my class and all other classes other than class 12-69 are missing for that fiscal year. My class 7-69 had a graduation photo taken, but it is nowhere to be found on the intertube.

      • Blue6 says:

        Hmm–you’re right. Didn’t notice it before—the photos are mostly complete, but there are some gaps, including this FY entirely and most of last.

    • Green Thumb says:

      I never forgot.

    • Green Thumb says:

      Santa Shitbag.


  13. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    I’ve been there a few times when something happened and read about it in the news later to see that what was reported was far from what actually happened. More often than not Reporters are far more interested in getting a sensational “Scoop” to brownnose their Editors and blow off the task of being as factual as possible. Did “Santa” claim to have been a U.S. Army Ranger anywhere other than in the article or did some Cub Reporter substitute “75th Regiment” in place of ROTC?
    NOW if he did falsely claim service as a U.S. Army Ranger I’m all in favor of a tarring and feathering.

    • Blue6 says:

      Apparently he claimed Ranger School attendance when John interviewed him, but it’s not clear if he claimed to have graduated. If he did graduate, I would think it would be on the FOIA, but cadets are in a weird status, so I don’t know. But if he did graduate, he could easily find his class photo online. Reporters get a lot of things wrong, but I have had hard time imagining a reporter can mistake “ROTC cadet” for “Ranger.”

    • jonp says:

      How can even the stupidest reporter mistake ROTC for Ranger School? He might as well as said Space Shuttle Pilot or Submarine Captain

  14. jonp says:

    I threw a flag on this guy a few weeks ago. There are so many holes in his story that it’s not funny and if he lied about his service he is a liar. Wanting to believe a story doesn’t make it true.

  15. ex-OS2 says:

    Fuck Santa.

    He didn’t bring me a full motion Airbus A320 simulator for the third fucking year in a row.


    • HMCS(FMF) ret says:

      I asked for a 2017 Dodge Charger Hellcat… he gave me a Hot Wheels car.

      Fuck the Wish List…

  16. HONEST GUV says:

    The problem here is the story can not be verified and may even be untrue. Questions arise in Snopes. Various other sources have retracted their assumptions that the story is true- “We contacted several hospitals in Knoxville for comment. Both the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and the University of Tennessee Medical Center confirmed that a visit like the one Schmitt-Matzen described did not occur at their respective facilities. Tennova Healthcare, which manages several hospitals in the area, told the Washington Post that it did not take place at any affiliated facility.”
    “Since publication, the News Sentinel has done additional investigation in an attempt to independently verify Schmitt-Matzen’s account. This has proven unsuccessful. Although facts about his background have checked out, his story of bringing a gift to a dying child remains unverified. The News Sentinel cannot establish that Schmitt-Matzen’s account is inaccurate, but more importantly, ongoing reporting cannot establish that it is accurate.

    Therefore, because the story does not meet the newspaper’s standards of verification, we are no longer standing by the veracity of Schmitt-Matzen’s account.” is even more sceptical.
    “The story went national. One problem: It may not be true. The Knoxville News Sentinel attached to its online version a note saying additional reporting could not verify the tale. CNN, which had run the story, said its reporting, which included calling all Knoxville hospitals, also came up empty. Schmitt-Matzen stands by his account. But a reporter at Snopes, a fact-checking website, became suspicious when he could find no second source. The lesson for the public is to take in news with a dose of skepticism, especially when the tale is amazing and just one person is telling it. For journalists, the lesson goes back to J-school: If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”
    I say this Matzen character dug himself a hole, and tried to wriggle out of it when discovered. I say LIAR LIAR. PANTS ON FIRE! I quess you caught the fake out too but are a bit kinder than I am.

  17. Casey says:

    The original paper is backing off the story? How embarassking for Santa…

    • HMCS(FMF) ret says:

      If he’s lying about the Santa story, he might as well shave off the beard… nobody is going to hire him in his AO.

  18. Jonn Lilyea says:

    The 75th Regiment folks sent me this message on Facebook;

    Unfortunately, we are unable to fill in the gaps. We had been told by a couple of former Rangers that he had served with 2/75. We pulled the story because it had not been confirmed by a second source and we were unable to officially verify his service in the Army.

  19. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    And Rudolph was a communist. That’s why his nose was red.

  20. IDC SARC says:

    Geez….nothing surprises me anymore

  21. Wood2/75 says:

    This is a week post at best. It just sounds like a dumbass reporter heard that he went to Ranger School and latched onto it. He didn’t even say that he graduated afterward, just that he went. I’m gonna chalk this one up to bad media coverage until I’m shown otherwise.