Article by Chuck Hardin.
Christopher Holmes is a Kentucky kenpo instructor. He claimed to have been a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy SEALS. He posted the attached photo on his MySpace page, complete with SEAL insignia and several rows of decorations. These claims are false. Holmes was a gunner's mate and was discharged at the rank of E-3. He earned only three decorations, none of which were for exceptional personal merit. He never served as a SEAL nor even entered SEAL training. Furthermore, his claim of a legitmate kenpo Black Belt is dubious, given what we know of his martial arts history.
Steve Robinson, also known as Bullshido member BlacksmithSEAL, was informed of Holmes by Tony Ramey, a Hapkido instructor and retired Senior Chief Petty Officer of the US Navy. According to Ramey's letter (page 1, page 2), he met Holmes at Will Schneider's kenpo school in London, Kentucky, and heard him claim eight years of active duty and assignment to SEAL Team Six. Ramey asked him several questions about his service. Holmes gave vague and unsatisfactory answers.
Robinson confirmed that no "Christopher Holmes" had ever served in the SEALs. He did further research and found a MySpace profile for Holmes, complete with the photo at the top of this article. He forwarded the information and his evaluation to the POW Network, who published his findings on their list of phonies and wannabes.
Bullshido member Samuel Browning called Judge Michael Caperton, who had met Holmes, on March 2, 2010, and he confirmed that Holmes is the man in the photo. Will Schneider has also confirmed this identification.
A close examination of the picture discloses several interesting facts to those familiar with Navy insignia. For one, Holmes is wearing the collar insignia of a Chief Petty Officer and the trident insignia of a SEAL. Additionally, his supposed decorations are identifiable:
- Top row
- Second row
- Navy Marine Corps Commendation http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cb/Navy_and_Marine_Corps_Commendation_ribbon.svg/106px-Navy_and_Marine_Corps_Commendation_ribbon.svg.png
- Navy Marine Corps Achievement http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/55/Navy_and_Marine_Corps_Achievement_ribbon.svg/106px-Navy_and_Marine_Corps_Achievement_ribbon.svg.png
- Combat Action Ribbon http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b5/Combat_Action_Ribbon.svg/106px-Combat_Action_Ribbon.svg.png
- Third row
- Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fa/Navy_Meritorious_Unit_Commendation_ribbon.svg/105px-Navy_Meritorious_Unit_Commendation_ribbon.svg.png
- Navy E Ribbon http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/44/USN_-_Battle_E_Ribbon_4.png/106px-USN_-_Battle_E_Ribbon_4.png
- Navy Good Conduct http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f6/Navy_Good_Conduct_ribbon.svg/106px-Navy_Good_Conduct_ribbon.svg.png
- Fourth row
- Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm (!!!) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/37/Vietnam_gallantry_cross-w-palm-3d.svg/106px-Vietnam_gallantry_cross-w-palm-3d.svg.png
- Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9e/AFEMRib.svg/100px-AFEMRib.svg.png
- Afghanistan Campaign Medal http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0b/Afghanistan_Campaign_ribbon.svg/150px-Afghanistan_Campaign_ribbon.svg.png
- Fifth row
- Iraq Campaign Medal http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c4/Iraq_Campaign_ribbon.svg/150px-Iraq_Campaign_ribbon.svg.png
- Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/93/Global_War_on_Terrorism_Expeditionary_ribbon.svg/106px-Global_War_on_Terrorism_Expeditionary_ribbon.svg.png
- Global War on Terrorism Service Medal http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/90/Global_War_on_Terrorism_Service_ribbon.svg/106px-Global_War_on_Terrorism_Service_ribbon.svg.png
- Bottom row
- Coast Guard Sea Service Ribbon http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e7/Coast_Guard_Sea_Service_Ribbon.svg/106px-Coast_Guard_Sea_Service_Ribbon.svg.png
- Navy Expert Rifleman Medal http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Navy_Rifle_Marksmanship_Ribbon.svg/106px-Navy_Rifle_Marksmanship_Ribbon.svg.png
- Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/04/Navy_Pistol_Marksmanship_Ribbon.svg/106px-Navy_Pistol_Marksmanship_Ribbon.svg.png
If all of these decorations were valid, they would make Holmes one of the most highly decorated veterans of the Navy in history, and exceptional even for a Chief Petty Officer of the Navy SEALs. On the other hand, each decoration Holmes did not earn is a separate violation of the Stolen Valor Act, and each is punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine.
What The Records Show
Early in the investigation, it was obvious that Holmes had not made the rank of Chief Petty Officer. Rob Acox, also known as Bullshido member AMF and an active-duty member of the Navy at the time, checked the official lists of Navy personnel who made that rank; Holmes' name was not on it.
Holmes' full service record did not contain any surprises. It falsified almost all of his claims.
Holmes served from September 18, 1998 to September 27, 2002, as a gunner's mate. He was discharged with a rank of E-3. He earned the Navy Pistol Marksmanship Medal, the Navy E Ribbon, and the National Defense Service Medal.
Steve Robinson had some observations about Holmes's record:
The man only served 4 years and 10 days… no prior service. He made E-3 on 13 Sep 2002, and he left active duty on 27 Sep 2002. The DD-214 states (near the top) in box #9 COMMAND TO WHICH TRANSFERRED “NA”… meaning “Not Applicable”. All military enlistments are for SIX YEARS… whether they are broken into 2 yrs ACTIVE with 4 yrs RESERVE, or 4 yrs ACTIVE with 2 yrs RESERVE, or ALL RESERVE (except for the time necessary to attend boot camp), or ALL ACTIVE.
If there is anything else listed, then something happened… it could be due to any of a variety of things. Maybe the Navy broke him (medical) and couldn’t use him anymore, or he did something that pissed them off and they showed him to the door. There’s a chance that he left for a failure to meet physical qualifications of some kind (fat boy discharge) ... there’s just no way to tell with the limited information that is presented on the DD-214. Discharge with a hitch that’s been cut short is unusual, but it doesn’t necessarily mean discipline was a problem. There’s no evidence of his being transferred to a medical facility… so it’s unlikely it’s medical (illness) in nature. He didn’t make pay grade E3 until 2 weeks before his discharge. For a stretch of 4 years that seems like poor progress in a skill rating. All I can say with certainty is that it was cut short… and that’s not normal.
Out of seventeen medals Holmes wore, he had only earned two of them, and he was not entitled to wear the rank of a Chief Petty Officer or the Navy SEAL emblem. His claims are therefore egregiously false, as well as illegal.
Holmes's Kenpo Instruction Credentials
Holmes offers his services as a kenpo instructor, but it is unlikely that he has sufficient martial arts experience to teach at all, let alone to run a school. As recently as 2008 or 2009, Will Schneider ranked Holmes as a yellow belt in Hapkido after less than four months of study. At that time, Holmes told Schneider that he held a yellow belt in BJJ from an unnamed school, and never claimed to have a black belt in any martial arts style. If he has acquired a black belt in the interim, it is likely to have been purchased, or otherwise acquired without demonstrating real merit; it is extremely unlikely that Holmes could go from such a low level of competence to being able to teach within a year or two.
Bullshido therefore believes that he is probably unqualified to teach kenpo or any other martial art.
Christopher Holmes is certainly not a Navy SEAL, as he had claimed, nor did he earn any but a small fraction of the medals he wore in at least one photograph. Additionally, he is probably too inexperienced to teach martial arts.
Many thanks to Dave Humm, Samuel Browning, Steve Robinson, Chuck and Mary Schantag of the POW Network, and Rob Acox for their considerable contributions to this article.