Bryan Lee Bondurant
Article by Chuck Hardin.
Bryan Lee Bondurant, known on Bullshido as ar549, was a controversial poster. His odd combination of virtues and vices made him a memorable, yet ultimately frustrating, member of the Bullshido community. His obsession with military service dominated his agenda, yet he was evasive about his own military past. He often demanded disclosure from others that he was unwilling to reciprocate, and this contributed to his unpopularity. A recent military records search has disclosed the truth behind the mystery of Bondurant's Army background.
In The Beginning: A Mixed Presentation
Bullshido members were initially inclined to accept Bondurant. When he provided useful information on AMOK!, a reputable weapons training facility, he got a generally positive response. However, he began to display quirks of character which eventually made him unpopular.
He was attached to his identity as a retired Army soldier to a suspicious degree. He criticized Phil Elmore for his lack of military background. This is hardly relevant to Elmore's numerous failings as a martial artist. Bondurant also referred to his area of residence as his "AO" (area of operations). This was an inappropriate use of the term, and it did not go unremarked by other members. He even threatened one Bullshido member for speaking badly of the Army's martial arts training program.
His obsession culminated in an attempt to blame Marc Denny for allegedly shielding a fraud. Denny, a founding member of the Dog Brothers, was supportive of teacher Dr. Maung Gyi, a talented martial artist who lied about past military service.
Denny grudgingly acknowledged Gyi's past fraud, but pointed to Gyi's public admission of guilt and his demonstrable martial arts skills as reasons to continue working with him. He also cast blame on Gyi's investigators, including Bondurant and the POW Network, which was unjust; it was not their fault Gyi lied.
In response, Bondurant made a lengthy effort to taint Marc Denny and the Dog Brothers by association with Gyi. Most Bullshido members were resistant to his efforts; the Dog Brothers are popular on the forum, while Bondurant was a relative unknown. He did not help his case when he admitted that his dispute amounted to "a personal feud with Denny". His attempt to turn Bullshido against the Dog Brothers was ultimately unsuccessful.
Secret Agent Man
Bondurant asked many questions about the military background of others, but would not comment much on his own. When Bullshido member Red Elvis first raised this question in the Denny thread, Bondurant ignored him, then refused him, but claimed that he would "try and anser them if I can" to people who "ask questions in a respectable fashion" . Only when Samuel Browning asked did he respond, stating that he was a "Veteran" (capitalization in original) but not providing any details. He eventually declined to explain his background altogether.
Whatever the result Bondurant hoped to achieve with this evasiveness, he probably failed. The questions about his background did not stop, and his reputation on Bullshido was seriously compromised.
Bondurant made himself unpopular in other ways as well. Whether he was giving out generic muay thai training and travel advice or presenting the results of elementary Google searches as his own knowledge, he met with harsh responses. He claimed to live in "a compound with a 7ft concrete wall around one half acre and steel security bars on all windows and doors", which sounded like a militaristic fantasy concocted by a child.
Bondurant got a lot of his facts wrong when criticizing others. He incurred criticism for his imprecise use of gun terminology, his recommendation to choose a pistol on the basis that it was effective for pistol-whipping, his advice to carry a fire extinguisher full of pepper spray for self-defense, and various other ridiculous statements.
This made Bullshido members wonder all the more about Bondurant's background and credentials.
Put Up Or Shut Up
People had enough of Bondurant within a month and a half of his first appearance. Bullshido member Red Elvis demanded that he give his credentials for making so many claims of expertise. Bondurant remained evasive, while simultaneously continuing to make tough-sounding claims:
- "I have to obey the UCMJ unlike some other civillians", implying current military service or obligations. (The UCMJ, or Uniform Code of Military Justice, is the foundation of military law in the United States.)
- "At the time I had just spent a few years breaking horses..."...irrelevant, but invoking the romance of the cowboy image.
- an offer to show his military credentials to anyone who would meet him "inside a secured U.S. Military Compound in Bangkok", implying access to secure facilities and a need for such security.
Bullshido member fatherdog took Bondurant up on that offer, additionally proposing that they spar in order to establish his martial arts abilities. Bondurant initially accepted the offer, but later said that he would only offer a DD-2 as a credential. A DD-2 can establish anything from active to retired status, but does not contain details of a soldier's service, which would be necessary in order to establish subject matter expertise.
fatherdog therefore asked Bondurant to bring his DD-214. This request was met with hostility, panic, and a retraction of the offer to meet fatherdog, extending even to the offer to spar.
Ducking a sparring offer after accepting it is a serious matter on Bullshido, and fatherdog called Bondurant out on his cowardice. Bondurant's responses were unconvincing, and he was ultimately assigned a blinking pink caption announcing him as a liar and a coward.
This left unresolved the matter of Bondurant's actual service. Nobody had seen his detailed records, and for almost three years, nobody would.
Sometime Investigator, Sometime Instigator
Bondurant continued his vendetta against Marc Denny, criticizing him for failing to screen the purchasers of his knife-fighting DVDs, continuing to decry his connection to Maung Gyi, and so on. He broadened his scope to include other respected martial arts figures, such as Rick Faye and Carl Cestari. He also attacked Filipino martial arts as a whole. None of these efforts produced any new information or resulted in an interesting investigative finding.
Bondurant was undeniably capable of good investigative work. He had worked with the POW Network on exposing military frauds, including Gyi. He disclosed Gabiel Suarez's criminal background to Bullshido. He was good at finding official records, as he was in the investigations of Robert Redfeather and Moni Azik. In fact, the POW Network disagrees with our assessment of Bondurant as an investigator.
Unfortunately, his investigative judgment was generally poor and he displayed little ability to distinguish promising subjects from unpromising ones. In some cases, he targeted people who might warrant investigation, but never supplied any useful evidence or leads to do so. In others, as in the cases of Denny and Suarez, his underlying agendas prevented him from performing any useful followup or producing an article.
This tendency was never more apparent than when he targeted Neal "Phrost" Fletcher, the proprietor of Bullshido, for allegedly making false claims about his military service:
This investigation is in the final stages. Here are some of the initial results, this is also a chance for Neal Fletcher to add any documentation that would help set the record straight on his military background.
Subsequent activity on the thread revealed that Bondurant had not established any sort of case against Fletcher. Furthermore, Fletcher himself promptly supplied supporting documentation upon request, and even more when it too was demanded. This made it clear that Bondurant had never requested this evidence before he entered "the final stages" of his investigation.
Bondurant was in turn asked to produce his own documentation. If he demanded it of others, surely it was reasonable for him to supply it. He refused, and on September 3, 2009, Fletcher banned Bondurant from Bullshido.
Chuck Hardin, also known as Bullshido member Cy Q. Faunce, decided to find out the facts about Bondurant's service, with or without his cooperation.
Military Service, Of A Sort
Hardin's FOIA request for Bondurant's military records from the National Personnel Records Center produced the following:
Bondurant told the truth about certain, limited things. He was retired from Army service with a rank of E-2 (Private). His history of duty stations suggests a possible reason for the apparent inconsistency:
|Date||Duty MOSC||Principal Duty||Organization and Station or Oversea Country|
|860211||-||Enlistment||USARECSTA FT DIX NJ|
|860221||67700||BCT||CO E 4th Bn 3d Bde, Ft Dix, NJ|
|860418||-||CASUAL||ENR TO FT EUS TIS|
|860419||67T00||AIT STUCLS #48-86||Co H 2nd Bn TS Bde Ft Eustis, VA|
|860811||--||CASUAL||ENROUTE TO GERMANY|
|860808||67T10||TAC TRANS HEL RPR||B CO 205th TRANS GERMANY|
|870612||--||PATIENT||WRAMC WASH DC|
|870803||--||PATIENT||MHC WRAMC WASH DC|
|880119||--||OUTPROCESSING||ASSIGNED STP FT SILL, OK|
|880119||--||PLACED ON TDRL|
For those unfamiliar with military terminology, a translation follows:
On April 18, 1986, Bondurant was transferred to Fort Eustis for MOS-specific training. Specifically, he was trained to be a helicopter repairman, and he apparently did well enough, for on August 8, 1986, he was transferred to Germany to serve in that MOS (67T10).
On June 12, 1987, we see a problem: Bondurant was sent to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. This suggests a serious issue; a hospital in Germany could have dealt with most ordinary medical issues. His further transfer to the "MHC" could refer either to a Mental Health Clinic or to the Medical Holding Company.
Eventually he was placed on the Temporary Disability Retirement List. This is a measure taken by the Army if they believe a service member's disability might be resolved within five years. Bondurant would have been required to undergo an examination within 18 months of separation, followed by other exams as the Army required them, to determine if he was fit to re-enlist. The Army is not required to re-enlist people on the TDRL even if they recover, and apparently Bondurant didn't tempt them to give it another go. His service ended there.
To sum up: Bondurant spent less than a year in any phase of military service which did not involve delayed entry, training, or hospitalization.
Bondurant was an inconsistent member of Bullshido. He was capable of doing good research and was commendably dedicated to outing military frauds, but his tendency to engage in witch hunts and his poor judgment in general led to his downfall. His attempts to conceal the secrets of his military past made it easier to dismiss his demands that others disclose theirs. He made many boasts, but the facts of his military service suggest that his word was not to be trusted. His story is a cautionary tale for any would-be investigation participant.