Rodney George Clark was not a Navy SEAL (Updated)

| August 3, 2017

Someone sent us their work on this fellow Rodney George Clark who passed recently. Here’s part of his obit;

Rod graduated from Lewiston High School in 1966 and joined the U.S. Navy. After completing boot camp, Rod was accepted into the Navy SEAL Training Program in Coronado, Calif. Rod went to Vietnam in 1967, where he did two tours as a Special Forces Navy Seal. Among his many duties, he specialized as a frogman. After his discharge from active duty, Rod served in the Naval Reserves until 1971.

Don Shipley says Rodney is not a SEAL, but it looks like he was a Navy salvage diver. His records say that he was assigned to Harbor Clearance Unit One which was in Vietnam during the time he was there. After a year he continued with HCU-1 in the Philippines.

Rod found an even deeper peace and place of belonging when the CVR (Combat Vet Riders) Motorcycle Club found him in 2005 and opened their hearts and arms to him. He knew from that day forward he would never have to look over his shoulder again. He knew his military brothers and sisters would have his back until he joined his SEAL teams again in heaven.

He was close to being a SEAL, but not quite.

Here’s an article from while Rod was still alive and his hometown honored him for being “the last living Navy Seal from the Vietnam War in the northwest”.

A screen shot from the video at the link of Rod’s vest;

Category: Phony soldiers

Comments (51)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. JacktheJarhead says:

    He went to Vietnam, sounds like he did something important. Why embellish it?

  2. Combat Historian says:

    He was not a SEAL, but close to it. The guy’s passed on, so I’ll just let it go at that…

    • Yef says:

      I disagree.
      Posers need to be chased all the way beyond the tomb, otherwise we set the new standard that is ok to embellish when you are near the end of your days.

      Think about it, why does a guy who knows he is dying embellish his record?

      Because he enjoys the thought of being remembered after his death as what he could have been in his mind, instead of what he really was.

      Stolen valor is stealing from the ones who sacrificed to achieve.

      We cannot reward valor thieves. They must know they will be unmasked even after their deaths, and they will be remembered as thieves and not as heros.

      • Mark Lauer says:

        I agree.
        Aside from tarnishing the good reputation of others, he has now tarnished his OWN reputation. His memory will forever be clouded by this final betrayal of trust, rather than a clean record of Service To Country that he actually provided with honor.
        He has tainted his own legacy.

      • Green Thumb says:

        I agree as well.

        This shitbag is shaming his family from beyond the grave.

        I be they feel fortunate.

      • rgr769 says:

        I agree. There has to be some penalty for this shit. The Supremes have made it mostly legal, so exposure and ridicule is about the only deterrent we have. These POSers should get all the bad kharma they deserve, whether dead or alive.

  3. CB Senior says:

    Navy Diver and he needed to crap on that?
    Shame. They just don’t hand out Scuba Gear and call you a diver. That shit is earned.

  4. Hondo says:

    Sheesh. He was a legit Navy Diver – a job that requires significant physical skills and cojones muy grandes – and served as same in a combat zone (Vietnam). And he STILL felt the need to claim more.

    No matter how common that kind of behavior is, I will never understand it.

    • Yef says:

      Totally agree.

      In the Army we educate our Soldiers about accurate reporting and the importance of information accuracy as part of the decision making process.

      Inaccurate information leads to bad decisions. Yet so many people embellish and shit all over their record.

      Recognizing our shortcomings allow us to address and correct our development as Soldiers and as leaders.

      Better to say I failed Ranger school and work to correct my shortcomings than to shit all over all the other good things I have done and make a fool of myself while losing all my credibility and self-respect.

  5. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    What HCU-1 did was some amazing work, what I’ve read indicates that some of these guys ended up under fire on patrol boats…sounds like this unit did some impressive work in Vietnam.

    Honorable service and dangerous work, no need to make unusual claims.

  6. Mark Lauer says:

    Salvage diver is nothing to be ashamed of! That is some dangerous, and scary work! Hard work as well! Not many men can do that.
    Perfectly honorable military service, and now this….

    May God have mercy on his soul.

  7. Ex-PH2 says:

    I don’t get it.

    Idiocy piled on a perfectly good career, because he somehow felt ‘inadequate’?

    I will never understand it.

  8. Jay says:

    Rest in Peace Mr. Clark. I hope whatever validation you were searching for here you will find on the other side.

    Legit Navy Diver, something to be proud of.

  9. Mayhem says:

    Did I miss something? Did he write his own obituary?

  10. Mick says:

    And once again there’s a leather vest, a motorcycle, and a doo-rag involved…

  11. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    He could have been honest and held his head high, now he’s shit on himself from beyond the grave.

  12. ChipNASA says:

    Not to play devil’s advocate here BUT as was said above, did he write his own obit?
    If not and probably not the family did it.
    Did they maybe *assume* that because he was an underwater navy diver during Vietnam that he was a SEAL?
    What if they weren’t particularly well versed and assumed that UDT/SEAL and HCU could all be lumped in together, as if it was all similar?
    We all know that UDT and SEAL are similar, but close but no cigar as in Scruff Face claiming to be a SEAL.
    Just making that observation.

    • Combat Historian says:

      I did not jump on the guy in my post above precisely because I’m not sure he made the SEAL claim while he was alive or that he wrote his own obit. With those factors unsure and with him dead, I’ve decided to move on…

      • gitarcarver says:

        I’m with you on this one, Chip.

        There is nothing that says that Clark made the claim to be a SEAL. Even the article Jonn cites doesn’t have him making the claim and the article says he suffered from dementia at the time others said he was a SEAL.

        Perhaps his family didn’t know the difference or perhaps they embellished the claim or didn’t know the difference and was unable to correct them.

        • OAE CPO USN Ret says:

          That article has a video. He’s wearing a SEAL Team One patch on his vest.

        • UpNorth says:

          His wife is a Navy veteran, his brothers served, at least one of them in the Army, and the article says the other brother served, but doesn’t say which branch. The family also said Rodney served 3 tours in Viet of the Nam. And wanted to go back for a fourth, if his brother in the Army didn’t have to go.
          I don’t how much of that BS is from the family, and how much he may have pre-written. But, the family knows better. Deep down, they know better.

        • Jonn Lilyea says:

          I didn’t see him sewing the SEAL TEAM One patch on his vest either. Maybe he didn’t know it was there.

    • Jonn Lilyea says:

      ADDED: For the doubters, here’s an article from while Rod was still alive and his hometown honored him for being “the last living Navy Seal from the Vietnam War in the northwest”.

      A screen shot from the video at the link of Rod’s vest;

      • Combat Historian says:

        I’m afraid the guy really was an embellishing liar; totally unnecessary on his part, and now his family will have to live with it…

      • Mick says:


        – ‘During Elk River Days this Saturday, the small north Idaho community stopped to honor a local hero. 67-year-old Rodney Clark served three tours in Vietnam between 1965 and 1968 as a Navy seal.’

        – ‘But they weren’t Rodney’s only brothers at Saturday’s gathering. His motorcycle group, the ‘Combat Vet Riders’ were also there to retire Rodney’s beloved bike, and made him a patched member for life.’

        – ‘Quilt of Valor’

        – ‘But still for Greta, also a Navy veteran, every moment she spends with him she cherishes. “It’s an honor to be his wife,” said Greta. “And for me, it’s an honor to have met a man who sacrificed so much for me, and you.”‘

        Sorry doubters, but this has phony/poser written all over it. It’s difficult not to believe that he knew exactly what he was doing when he needlessly embellished his record and lied about being a SEAL in Vietnam. Those phony SEAL claims didn’t just appear out of nowhere.

        And his ‘Navy veteran’ wife and his veteran brothers, all of whom should have known better, probably knowingly enabled/facilitated all of this phony SEAL nonsense.

        The sad thing here is that there was absolutely no need for any of this poser bullshit; his actual record of military service was more than enviable just as it was. Why couldn’t that have been good enough?

        • Poetrooper says:

          There’s also a “special forces” patch to the left of the SEAL Team One patch. We all want to give him the benefit of the doubt but the hard truth is, the guy was a poser, a fact that does not change upon cessation of breathing.

      • Graybeard says:

        Oh well.
        Now his family gets to live with the knowledge that he lied about his service, when what he did was perfectly honorable and a heck of a lot more than others.

        IMHO, it is our families we hurt worst with our failures.

      • ChipNASA says:

        Well I guess that answers THAT question.
        Thanks Jonn.
        What an embellishing asshole

  13. Martinjmpr says:

    Is he rocking a trident or any SEAL gear on his vest? It doesn’t appear so from the photo but it’s hard to see.

    OTOH it’s hard to believe that the SEAL claim came out of thin air.

    • MrBill says:

      In the video the accompanies the second article, he’s wearing a Seal Team One patch on his vest. I didn’t see a trident.

      • Hondo says:

        In the first photo there’s something above the eagle patch on the left side of the vest that might be a Trident. Can’t tell for sure that’s what it is, though.

  14. Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

    When I was on the LPH 3, Around 1964, we had a rep. from UDT who were looking for sailors to enter a new Sea Air Land unit which they were putting together. We used to have UDT Sailors do hull checks when we were down in the Carribean, and they were the ones I think who operated out of Rosy Roads that did the recovery of the 3 Marines that didn’t make it out of the Huey that went down off the port side of the ship during an excersize. Eventualy they were formed into the SEAL Units.

  15. chooee lee says:

    Looks like six years of service and he made it all the way to E3, an over performer for sure.

  16. Silentium Est Aureum says:

    I’m torn about this one.

    Yeah, while he was alive, he’s a fucking shitbag for claiming this. But what good is it doing now? Guy is dead.

    Just like a case I sent to Jonn not long ago. Guy who had just died claimed TEN (yes, 10) Purple Hearts in Vietnam. Included being honored by local chapter of MOPH, who should have known better and at least checked the guy’s story. Worst part is, I had to explain to a friend who is working with his Congressman that 1–highly unlikely, 2–DD214’s get forged all the time, 3–without actual orders of the awards, no changes to his BCR will happen.

    • rgr769 says:

      Nobody got ten purple hearts. That would mean you were wounded by enemy fire on ten separate occasions. No one is that unlucky and lives to tell the tales.

      • Silentium Est Aureum says:

        IIRC, Colonel Hackworth got 8, but between Korea and Vietnam. There were two who got 8, all in Vietnam, but both were also MOH recipients.

        There is one man who got 9, but between WWII and Korea, and he was a Marine.

        • rgr769 says:

          Yes. But that was two different wars. Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t think you get more than one PH, if you receive more than one wound in the same firefight. But then of course, Lurch got his first one for no firefight, according to the men in his boat that night.


      You’ve got me worried!

      I didn’t save any copies of my orders, except for the one awarding me my Good Conduct Medal, because it doesn’t have a certificate or citation, which my other medals do have.

      It never even occurred to me that anyone would lie about their military service and/or forge a DD-214.

      I always figured I was okay with just those certificates and citations.

      Of course, in addition to my DD-214, I also have my Form 20, so I reckon that’s sufficient proof, as no poser knows what a Form 20 is.

      Gosh, gee whillikers, now that I think of it, I do remember a Special Forces guy in Viet Nam warning me that there were fakes back in the World.

      He told me you could always spot a fake, because if you ask them what unit they were in and where they were stationed, they always responded by saying they were at “an outpost”.

  17. Stephen F. McCartney, M.D. says:

    I always feel bad for the poor family members who want to remember their lost one in the best light as far as service. This was a mess he made. I have all my personal awards in the original folders, my DD 214 and as many FITREPS as I had available covering 30 yrs..ALL wrapped up with a thick rubber band around it. Just so my Navy officer son and grandkids never have to go thru this. CAPT “Bones” USN (ret)

  18. jdm says:

    Poser checklist-do rag-black vest-beard/pony tail-patches that don’t match- SF/SEAL one Army/Navy . Oh yea motorcycle got to have that.

  19. Wayne says:


    Although I have not read all the responses and comments, I can FULLY respect the broad range of emotions being expressed here. Military honor is earned not fabricated.

    That said, allow me to introduce myself. I am not a direct family member, but my wife is. My wife just found her father Rod Clark, about 1.5 years ago and has only had a handful of visits with him. She was adopted out before he deployed in 1965. From the beginning we were led to believe he was a SEAL. However – here is where it gets a bit obscure. Since Rod suffered from medical conditions that would prevent him from articulating such information with any level of confidence, we have no idea how long he or his wife have propagated the claim of being a Navy SEAL. If he has been doing this for decades…he’s guilty as charged and I agree, one can only speculate why in the world someone would need to make this claim when the actual achievements are quite honorable in and of themselves.

    If the claim of being a SEAL has only come about in the last few years, then I am not sure who/where the claim originated. I would suspect that it might not be with Rod and maybe another family member; not sure. I am not sure, but I do not know what his mental condition was when they honored him with that ceremony.

    Last, I can see where his condition could have blurred this reality. Did he lie his whole life about this? Not sure. Did he say this in a confused state during his illness? Not sure.

    I can tell you first hand, that the time that I met him – his state of reality was not based in reality and he had been this way for some time. I can also attest that he said a number of things that were way out there and his wife just let it be. It may very well be that his wife let him have these visions as it was easier letting him do this, than combatting him on his bad days.

    Again, I can fully understand one’s desire to maintain the honor of one’s title. A SEAL is a SEAL. That title is earned, not claimed.

    None-the-less – I ask that you take into consideration the facts that you do not know, before you fashion a noose to hang the person or their legacy.

    My wife (his daughter) came across this blog just by searching his name. Although she has the least amount of emotional investment and can stomach the stark reality of what FOIA has revealed, I know that the revelations made in this blog would not sit well with many in the family. Especially since the post and comments are quick to convey guilt before taking into consideration the complexities of someone living their last years in such a god-awful mind-robbed state.

    I know that the goal of this blog and of this type of investigative work is to maintain the honor of those who have earned that honor. As someone who has not served, but has all the respect for those who do, I think a better approach would be to take your investigation and effort one step further by actually reaching out to surviving family members. Tell them that you are a veterans group that validates stated military records against claimed military records. Alert them of the discrepancy and kindly ask that they correct any/all such claims. If they tell you to go pound sand, then let the shaming begin. You never know what you may be told or informed of after the fact – before you make it a point to essentially publicly shame someone.

    Again – I understand why you would take the approach you have, and quite frankly, I do not blame you. I am merely responding as I can offer some (limited) insight into this particular instance. Neither I, nor my wife (at this point) have enough knowledge to know how far back the claim of being a SEAL actually goes and my wife is mulling over the best way for her to go about broaching the subject with some of her “newly acquired” family members. Such information, we anticipate, will not be taken well…but that should not be anyone’s concern really. It’s more important to let the facts be known (in my opinion).

    Thank you for your work. Quite honestly, I wish we had not seen this blog, but I know it is a good thing that she know this. She in now way is upset about any of the information revealed in the article nor any of the harsh comments – she understands. They are what they are and it is a very sensitive subject (as one would expect it to be).


    a “Son-in-Law”

    • IDC SARC says:

      “My wife (his daughter) came across this blog just by searching his name.”

      convenient timing for a name search.

      • Wayne says:

        Perhaps you did not read the fact that she is adopted. She has been doing searched on him and other family members for a long time now. She is also in the middle of trying to find out more family history for health reasons.

        Again, please take a moment to think twice about your comment. I get that emotions are running high on this topic, (you feel strongly about it, as you have every right) but your comment insinuates that I am bs’ing you, when I’m not. I could have very easily not posted my response. It makes no difference to me one way or the other. I have nothing to lose/gain really. I just thought I would share the little bit of insight I do have.

        Seriously – let’s maintain a respectful dialog.

    • Animal says:

      I don’t mean this invidiously, but it seems your appearing here would’ve been better timed after you’ve had a chance to investigate how long this has been occurring. If your intent is to ask for a degree of caution to be shown for the sake of family members coming to terms with an unpleasant situation, having evidence in hand would’ve accomplished that more effectively.

  20. tony says:

    Sorry to hear about Rod most of the people I knew are dead or dying it has been a little over 50 years 1967 the Delta Vietnam. We were not Seals we were the other guys the misfits, Harbor Clearance Unit One. The US Navy wanted a salvage force for the rivers and we were it. Everybody wants to be a Seal or UDT 11 nobody wants the other guy. I have a photo of Rod from that time period- you say Rod was strange– Rod and another person tried to bring a large bag of marijuana into the Philippines after days of intense questions with nobody on his side he broke. The other guy only had a couple weeks left on his enlistment and left Rod to hold the bag