Former Green Beret Sets the Record Straight

Former Green Beret Who Inspired Kaepernick’s Infamous Kneel Sets the Record Straight

Former Green Beret Who Inspired Kaepernick’s Infamous Kneel Sets the Record Straight

By Debbie Gregory.


San Francisco 49ers’ superfan and former Green Beret Nate Boyer was the one who advised Colin Kaepernick on how best to protest racial inequality.


Disappointed by the former quarterback’s decision to sit during “The Star-Spangled Banner” before an NFL exhibition game in 2016, Boyer got the opportunity to meet face-to-face with Kaepernick after the former penned an open letter to the NFL star in the Army Times.


Kaepernick and his teammate, Eric Reid, met with Boyer in San Diego. Boyer explained to Kaepernick that veterans might feel “you don’t have their perspective and their understanding, just like they don’t have yours.”

Kaepernick asked Boyer if there was another way he could protest. Boyer told him to kneel, rather than sit.

That next game, Kaepernick knelt during the anthem, with Boyer alongside him on the sideline.

Boyer doesn’t believe that he told Kaepernick what to do, rather he offered an alternative.

“What I did was meet with him, make suggestions on different ways to do it after he was already protesting,” said Boyer. “And worked with him to kind of come to a middle ground.”

“He’s not protesting the national anthem. It has become an anthem debate, but that’s not what the protest is about. It’s about racial inequality, police brutality.”

Whether people agree or disagree, Boyer wishes the message hadn’t been intercepted.

“It’s not fair to Colin, it’s not fair to me, and it’s not fair to the cause,” he said. “And it’s not good for our country.”

Boyer is involved with a number of charitable causes, including MVP: Merging Vets and Players and Waterboys, L.A.Ram’s Chris Long’s foundation that provides clean well water to East African communities.

Boyer is also working in the film industry, with a special emphasis on telling the stories of veterans.


Green Beret Rewarded for Heroism on Highway

Brave sgt

By Debbie Gregory.

There was no time to wait for emergency personnel or to see if others on the highway would stop.

“We were the first there,” he said. “It was my responsibility.”

While his wife called 9-1-1, he ran to the wreckage and went to work.

“I just did all I could do,” he said.

Thus unfolded the events of October 10, 2016 when a single vehicle accident west of Asheboro, NC claimed two lives. But due to the actions of a brave Fort Bragg Green Beret, two lives were saved.

Staff Sergeant Adams, a member of 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group sprang into action without regard for his personal safety. To protect Adams’ identity, only his last name has been used.

Adams pulled Lillie Mingin, 33, and her surviving son, 7-year-old Eric, from the wreckage. Army officials said the pair likely would not have lived were it not for Adams, who rescued them from the vehicle and provided lifesaving medical care.

The Special Forces soldier has now been awarded the Soldier’s Medal, the Army’s highest award for heroism outside of combat. The Soldier’s Medal requires that a soldier do more than save a life. The soldier also must voluntarily risk his own life to save others.

During the ceremony at Fort Bragg, Adams’ heroism was celebrated by more than 100 Special Forces soldiers and members of his family.

Front passenger seat, Brittany Goodman, 26, was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. Mingin’s 12-year-old son, Colby Springle, died shortly after the crash. The accident report quoted witnesses as saying Mingin was not speeding at the time of the accident, thus speeding is not suspected as being a factor.

“It takes a special person to do what he did,” said Army Maj. Crocker, acting commander of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group.

“Staff Sgt. Adams saw four of his fellow human beings in desperate need of help,” Crocker said. “And in trying to save them, proved that the Army’s “capacity to do good in this world is not limited to the battlefield.”

And that is what a hero does.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Stolen Valor Forces Honor Guard Group to Shut Down

Wright stollen

By Debbie Gregory.

Do the ends justify the means? The question is usually considered when it comes to premeditated voluntary actions of questionable ethics taken with a defined objective in mind.

Take the case of  Papotia Reginald Wright, an alleged retired Green Beret command sergeant major who started the 8th Special Forces Regiment New York Honor Guard to perform burial services for veterans.

A noble goal, to be sure. The problem is that Wright was a total fraud. Although he did serve in the Army, he never served in any combat role, never was awarded a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star or any of the other 19 medals, badges or tabs he claimed to have been awarded.

Wright’s lies allowed him to become a prominent figure in the local military community. It gave him entrance to swanky galas and even field access to the New York Giants. But under the Stolen Valor Act, it’s a federal crime to lie about military heroics for monetary or other tangible benefits. And it’s just wrong, wrong, wrong!

Wright was exposed after the Guardians of the Green Beret, a watchdog group that works to expose people pretending to be part of Special Forces, was alerted by another watchdog group called Guardian of Valor that Wright was exaggerating his military service to promote the 8th Special Forces Regiment New York Honor Guard.

What was the one dead giveaway that Wright was an imposter? The beret he wore was black.

Papotia Reginald Wright can now take his place in the Guardians of the Green Beret Hall of Fakes, Frauds, and Phonies.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Green Beret Amputee Set for 5th Deployment


By Debbie Gregory.

Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Lavery  has three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and a Bronze Star with Valor for heroism in combat. Lavery has received the James E. Cotter Courage Award from Boston College High School, where he played football as a strong safety. He was also inducted into the Military Alumni Hall of Fame at his alma mater, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he was an outside linebacker.

And he’s about to deployed for the fifth time, despite having lost his right leg.

The 35-year-old Green Beret weapons sergeant’s story is one of determination, courage and selflessness. Even before his right leg was shattered in Afghanistan in 2013, Lavery took shrapnel in his shoulder from a rocket-propelled grenade during his first deployment in 2011.

“It blew a lemon-sized hole out of my right shoulder,” he says. He refused to be evacuated for medical care, instead plugging the wound with some gauze. Finally, he was sent to Bagram Air Base to be patched up.

One month later, he was hit by a bullet to the face chasing down an insurgent.

Then, in 2013, his team was training local forces when an Afghan police officer opened fire with a machine gun. Although Lavery hit the ground, a young soldier next to him froze. Lavery put himself between the soldier and the gunfire, and dragged him to safety.

That’s when Lavery was hit, several times, in the leg. He knew his femoral artery had been severed and he’d soon bleed out, so he applied a tourniquet from his kit. He had 20 surgeries at Bagram, and several more at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Lavery refused a medical retirement.

In January, he will deploy once again. In the meantime, he’s pursuing his master’s degree at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and spending time with his wife, Army Master Sgt. Toni Lavery, and their 6-month-old baby boy.

Vietnam Special Forces Veteran to Receive Medal of Honor

gary rose

By Debbie Gregory.

As Director of Employer Engagement for California Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), I had the pleasure of meeting Retired Army Capt. Gary “Mike” Rose at a September ESGR event.

Rose, a Vietnam veteran, will receive the Medal of Honor on October 23rd.

In 1967, Rose decided to volunteer for the Army.  Thanks to high aptitude test scores, jump school and Special Forces training followed, and by October 1968, he was a Special Forces medic.

In 1970, Rose, a Green Beret, participated in Operation Tailwind, a classified mission in support of the Royal Lao Army, creating a diversion aimed at North Vietnamese Army troops.

While serving as a medic with Military Assistance Command, Vietnam — Studies and Observations Group, 5th Special Forces Group, Rose “repeatedly ran into the line of enemy fire to provide critical aid to his comrades, using his own body on one occasion to shield a wounded American from harm,” according to the White House.

Despite being wounded on the final day of the mission, Rose helped move wounded personnel to a helicopter extraction point.

“As he boarded the final extraction helicopter, intense enemy fire hit the helicopter, causing it to crash shortly after takeoff,” according to the White House. “Again, ignoring his own injuries, Sergeant Rose pulled the helicopter crew and members of his unit from the burning wreckage and provided medical aid until another extraction helicopter arrived.”

Over the four-day battle, Rose is credited with treating between 60 and 70 wounded troops, saving numerous lives.

Rose has asked the White House to include his fellow MACV-SOG veterans in the ceremony, as well as the Marines and Air Force personnel who supported the mission, particularly the A-1E Skyraider and AH-1 Cobra pilots who were there.

“To me, this medal is a collective medal, and it honors all those men who fought.”

In spite of the fact that Rose has only just taken up playing golf in the last few years, he is no stranger to hitting a hole in one.   I suggested he might consider buying a lottery ticket.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Green Berets Keep Fallen Soldier’s Promise to His Stepdaughter


By Debbie Gregory.

Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar of the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group made a promise to his stepdaughter, Octavia Osborne.

“He told me he’d be back in time for my graduation from Niceville High School,” Osborne said with a slight smile. “He promised.”

Unfortunately,  on April 8, the 37-year-old Green Beret died of injuries from enemy small arms fire while his unit was conducting counter-ISIS operations in Nangarhar Province.

Octavia’s mother, Natasha, and De Alencar had a “yours, mine and ours” situation, with both of them having children from previous relationships, as well as having two children together.

Natasha was contacted by a member of an Army care team shortly after De Alencar’s death to make arrangement for some of her late husband’s brothers-in-arms to attend Octavia’s graduation ceremony

“They asked me if I would ask the school administration if there would be enough room for some of the Green Berets from the 7th Group to attend,” Natasha recalled. “I asked how many, and he said ‘about 80.’ I was like, ’80? Really?’ ”

On May 25th, the contingent from the 7th Group included not only the Green Berets in their dress uniforms, but many of their spouses and children as well.

“When my name was called and you heard this uproar from the stadium, it caught me off guard,” said Octavia. “I didn’t know if I should be embarrassed, starstruck or what. But it was really like an exciting rush.”

“When her feet touched those steps on the way to the stage, those men began to rise,” said Yolanda Thornton, Octavia’s grandmother. “And then they let out this roar, like she’d scored the winning touchdown. My grandbaby had scored the winning touchdown!”

Thornton added that she shared a silent thought with her son-in-law. “I thought, ‘Mark, you gotta be looking down and smiling down on this one.’ ”

In addition to his wife Natasha and step-daughter Octavia, De Alencar is survived by his sons Rodrigo and Marcos, daughter Tatiyana, and , stepson Deshaun.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Army to Reconsider Discharge of Paralyzed Green Beret


By Debbie Gregory.

The Army is reconsidering the case of Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Brumit, a Green Beret who was paralyzed from the chest down last year when he dove headfirst into shallow water to save a drowning girl.

Brumit now faces an “other-than-honorable” discharge from the service that could threaten his medical care.

In July, 2015, a sudden storm at Crab Island churned up winds and crashing waves. Hearing screams that a child was drowning, Brumit rushed to help. Without a second thought, he dove off a pontoon boat near his post at Eglin Air Force Base, after spotting the 13 year old girl struggling in the surf.

“When I dove in, the water seemed to slip away and the sand bar was right there, and there was no turning back, and I hit my head,” Brumit said. “I tried to shake it off … and realized I’d heard something break. I thought, oh my God, I’ve broken my neck.”

After his head hit the sand, a fellow soldier pulled Brumit’s body onto a surfboard to wait for help. Other boaters saved the girl.

The Army deemed his actions were reckless and negligent because of alcohol and drug use.

Authorities determined Brumit had a 0.1 percent blood alcohol content when he decided to jump into the water and found traces of cocaine in his system.  Army officials obtained Brumit’s toxicology report without his permission as they visited him in the hospital, leading to the veteran’s year-long battle against a potential discharge.

Media attention on the case led Lt. Gen. Kenneth E. Tovo to urge U.S. Army Human Resources Command to “reconsider” the determination.

In a letter to Army Secretary Eric Fanning, California Rep. Duncan Hunter is pushing for an honorable discharge for Brumit.

Brumit suffered from PTSD and TBI, and had self-enrolled in a drug and alcohol program. But the Army refused to acknowledge that he had any issues, and ordered him to return to duty.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

From Media Scandal to Medal Of Honor?

gary michael

By Debbie Gregory.

The Medal of Honor could be the final vindication in the battle to clear the name and reputation of a Green Beret soldier who served in Vietnam 47 years ago.

In September, 1970, Green Beret Gary Michael Rose was the lone medic for a company of Special Forces soldiers and indigenous Vietnamese fighters, called Montagnards,  in Laos. Rose, who himself was badly injured, helped bring all the soldiers back alive. He received the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest military honor, during a ceremony at the time in Vietnam.

But in 1998, Rose and the other men of Operation Tailwind were wrongly accused of taking part in war crimes.

Stunning claims were alleged that the Green Berets were sent to Laos to kill American defectors and that the military used sarin gas during the mission. The charges were fully discredited.

The story, which was co-written and presented by famed journalist Peter Arnett, was retracted by CNN and Time. But you can’t un-ring a bell. The retraction never erased the allegations in the view of soldiers who conducted Operation Tailwind.

The highest recognition of heroism is close for Rose. In Congress’s final version of its annual defense policy bill is legislation that clears the way for Rose to receive the Medal of Honor. While lawmakers remain deeply divided on many defense and veteran issues, there is agreement that the Green Beret medic should have his Distinguished Service Cross upgraded.

In September 1970, Rose, 15 Green Berets and their company of Montagnards were on a classified mission to take pressure off the CIA, which was running operations in the Laotian highlands, by drawing the attention of at least two North Vietnamese Army regiments in the area, according to retired Maj. John Plaster, a former Special Forces sniper and military historian who served with Rose in the Studies and Observations Group.

Rose and his unit, backed by U.S. air power, almost never stopped moving for the next four days while taking small arms, mortar and rocket fire.  By the second day, about half of the Green Berets were wounded. Many more of the Montagnards had injuries. By the fourth day, all of the American had been wounded.

Plaster said, “Gary kept them moving, it was emergency medicine on the go. Think of how many people could have put up with that much stress and stay organized and cool and treat all of those people.”

Rose was wounded multiple times and had treated about 60 injured troops. The Marines had lost three Sea Stallions. But all of the soldiers had survived.

Rose’s lifesaving actions on the battlefield will become the new face of Operation Tailwind and turn a national media spotlight on the missionl.


Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Should Iraqi Who Saved US Servicemember’s Life Receive Asylum?


By Debbie Gregory.

Chase Millsap is on a mission. The former Marine and Green Beret, a veteran of three military combat tours in Iraq, wants to save the man  who saved his life.

“The Captain,” a former Iraqi military officer who had worked with the Americans, is currently living in Turkey, and is trying to seek permanent asylum in the United States.

For the past two years, Millsap has been trying to help the 37-old married father of two

expedite his refugee application.

Millsap formed the Ronin Refugee Project with a few other military veterans, a non-profit dedicated to helping those who fought alongside Americans find safe harbor here or in other Western countries.

First on the list is the Captain.

“He’s one of millions that’s stuck in a system that is broken and he’s just gonna continue to wait,” Millsap said. “And so we decided to step up, me and a few other veterans.”

Millsap is looking to repay a debt. After a sniper tried to take Millsap’s head off during a routine patrol, the Captain pushed him down and ran towards the gunfire and saved Millsap’s life.

The sniper, seeing an angry Iraqi soldier charging at him, chose to run rather than shoot again.

“And that,” Millsap added with a laugh, “is when I truly realized that this guy’s OK.”

Millsap left the Marines after his second tour to join the Army’s Green Berets, rising to the rank of captain. The two captains didn’t cross paths but kept in touch by phone and email until the Captain almost died when an improved explosive device blew up his Jeep.

Although he recovered, when the Captain and his family began to receive death threats, they fled to Turkey.

He and Millsap Skype once a week. During a recent call, he praised Ronin Refugee Project for not forgetting him.

“I feel like you are my family. You are my brother. You and the other group of Marines are really gentlemen,” he said before his voice began to break.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Green Beret’s Career Saved


By Debbie Gregory.

Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland’s Army career changed course during his second deployment to Afghanistan in 2011.

The Green Beret was facing discharge for striking an Afghan local police officer, one who had allegedly confessed to raping a boy and then beating the child’s mother for telling authorities.

Called bacha bazi, or “boy play,” the custom is practiced in Afghanistan and Iraq. Academics say the abuse of these “tea boys” is a product of sexual repression in traditional cultures and also poverty, as it is poor children who are usually preyed upon.

Martland has served in the Special Forces for 11 years. Many of his teammates say that he is the finest soldier they have ever served alongside.

Martland had fallen under the Army’s Qualitative Management Program, a process that can be triggered by derogatory information on their record. Though technically not a draw-down tool, it is aiding in force reduction efforts by weeding out less desirable soldiers; a black mark on their record, such as a relief for cause, can trigger a formal QMP review and result in involuntary separation.

After a fight to save his career, the Army has reversed from an earlier decision that raised ire in some corners, including U.S Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, who introduced legislation on the soldier’s behalf.

Hunter, who led the fight to save Martland’s career, praised the Army’s move.

“They did the right thing. We finally kind of broke through the bureaucratic bulls–t barrier that they’ve created,” Hunter said. “This lets me know that there are people in the Army and the Defense Department and (acting Army Secretary) Patrick Murphy … they understand warfare. It’s not a game.”

U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote to the Army on Martland’s behalf. The Veterans of Foreign Wars organization also advocated for the soldier.

Justice has prevailed for an outstanding soldier who did the right thing for the right reasons.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.