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Prepared by: EvolvedTactical - via MilSimEvent Forum
I'm sure many people here know Shane Vanaman. He goes by the nickname "Bushman", and from what I hear, he displays a fair amount of skill at airsoft "sniping". By all accounts, he has always been helpful to other players, willing to share his knowledge and technical savvy to all who are interested.
If this was all I knew about Shane Vanaman, I sincerely doubt I would have ever heard of him. Unfortunately, what first brought Mr. Vanaman onto my radar was his varied and sundry claims to Special Forces super-stardom.
As I said in my intro post, I am not from your area. I'm an airsofter from California, and a small business owner. I also happen to be a US Army vet. I first heard of Mr. Vanaman through a colleague on another website that is oriented towards America's various war-fighters. This colleague was requesting help in verifying some of Mr. Vanaman's claims. Among the various claims that were made were that Mr. Vanaman:
A) Achieved the rank of Master Sergeant in the US Army
B) Served as a member of 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
C) Served as a Special Forces soldier in an undisclosed ODA
D) Participated in the events of Operation: Gothic Serpent
E) was a US Army qualified sniper
F) Served in the US Army's counter terrorism Special Mission Unit, commonly referred to as "Delta" or "Special Forces Operational Detatchment- Delta"
G) as a result of (D), Mr. Vanaman claimed to have a standing invitation to attend the airsoft event known as Operation: Irene, free of charge.
I began my due diligence, and contacted Mr. Vanaman on 09FEB2012 on Facebook to get his reply. His immediate response (received the same day) was that he never claimed to be a MSG, had never been in 2/75, had never been in Mogadishu, and that he never claimed to be invited to OP: Irene. Mr. Vanaman invited me to get to know him better, and not rely on second hand information that can easily be misunderstood. This sounded like an excellent idea, and since Mr. Vanaman appeared to be in such a forthcoming mood, I took him up on his offer. On 10FEB2012, I asked Mr. Vanaman 3 direct questions:
1) Was he ever awarded the B4 or W3 Additional Skill Identifier? (as a sniper, he would have been awarded one or both of these)
2) Was he ever awarded the Special Forces Tab from the John F Kennedy Special Warfare Center? (as a Special Forces Soldier, this event would have happened)
3) Had he ever served with the US Army's Counter-terrorism Special Mission Unit?
In an effort to avoid any misunderstanding, I asked Mr. Vanaman these very direct questions, all of which have easily verifiable answers. For the record, the answer to all 3 questions is a resounding "No". However, getting those answers from their respective sources in the US Army was easier than getting an admission from Mr. Vanaman. I knew the answer to all 3 of those questions before I asked them. It took Mr. Vanaman 4 days, and a threat to expose him if he didn't respond, before a reply came. In that reply, Mr. Vanaman acknowledged that he had never been awarded the B4 or W3 ASIs, and that he had never been awarded the Special Forces tab from the JFKSWCS. He never came out and fully answered the third question. Further, Mr. Vanaman alleged that he had never personally made claims to ever being Special Forces or a sniper, and that it must be another misunderstanding that came about from his dedication to the airsoft sniper role.
My response to Mr. Vanaman was simple: I was no longer going off of second hand information, and instead was using direct quotes from Mr. Vanaman. In posts taken from this and other forums, Mr. Vanaman made such claims as:
"In my 8 1/2 years as a Special Forces sniper"
"After serving our country within the US Army for nearly a decade, I have had the honor to uphold and aquire indepth first hand knowledge of both the role of a Combat Infantry Marksman, commonly refered to as a "Designated Marksman" and as an LRSD Counter-Intelligence Sniper within SFOD-Delta."
"I began constructing "Ghillie Suits" in 1995, after learning the craft as a U.S. Army Sniper."
These claims, as well as a plethora of others, were all made by Mr. Vanaman. They are direct quotes from him, and not some second- or third-hand information that was misconstrued or taken out of context. I pointed this out to Mr. Vanaman, as well as the fact that he had allowed his colleagues at the Airsoft Corps radio show to refer to him as a "Special Forces sniper" without any correction. Regardless of how those gentlemen came to the conclusion that Mr. Vanaman was a sniper of any variety, his failure to correct them is a lie of omission.
At this point, I pointed out to Mr. Vanaman that airsoft requires, above all other things, a sense of honor. If someone does not have the honor to be forthright and honest about their background, how in the world can we expect them to be honest about calling their hits? With that in mind, I decided to give Mr. Vanaman one last chance to salvage what little remained of his honor. The best way to make amends for a lie is to confront it, take ownership of it, and correct it. I told Mr. Vanaman that within 25 hours, I wanted to see him starting to make things right. I wanted to see him post on this forum, and on others where he had made the same claims, setting the record straight. I wanted him to make a post over on SOCnet, introducing himself and what he had done, and to ask forgiveness from those SOF warriors for attempting to steal their honor. In short, I wanted him to take ownership of his mistake, so that he could salvage what was left of his honor.
Mr. Vanaman agreed that he needed to take the above steps, but made one request: He asked that I give him until today. His reasoning made sense to me: he had to admit things to his friends and team mates first, and that needed to be done in person, not over the internet. I agreed, and gave Mr. Vanaman until noon today, Pacific Standard Time. That message was sent at 11:00am on Wednesday, 14FEB2012.
As of now, nothing that Mr. Vanaman has agreed to do has come to pass. In fact, he spent the better part of Wednesday evening editing his posts on other forums to get rid of any reference to his having been a "Special Forces sniper". Somehow or another, Mike from Airsoft Corps got wind of what was happening, and initiated contact with me. We spoke on the phone Friday evening, and I found him to be an extremely likable guy. From our conversation, I got the impression that Mr. Vanaman had fooled everyone, even his own team mates.
Make no mistake, I do NOT hold anyone except for Shane Vanaman responsible for the lies that Shane Vanaman perpetuated. As far as I'm concerned, the folks at Airsoft Corps, and those with MSE, are all victims of Mr. Vanaman's lies. From my conversations with Mike and others over the weekend, it is my understanding that both Airsoft Corps and MSE will be moving forward in an attempt to distance themselves from Mr. Vanaman. I applaud them in this effort. Airsoft as a hobby is under constant assault from outside forces attempting to legislate us out of existence. The best thing that we can do to show responsibility and maturity is to police ourselves.
Now, even though Mr. Vanaman admitted to me in a private message that he never did any of the high speed things that he claims to have, I want to make sure the record is set completely straight:
A) According to the legacy folks whose job it is to know such things, Gregory Shane Vanaman was never a member of any US Army Special Mission Unit, whether that unit goes by the name Delta, SFOD-D, CAG, or whatever other codename they have this week. I have verified this with a source within that particular unit.
B) According to the SF Proponency folks, Gregory Shane Vanaman never set foot on the grounds of the Special Forces Schoolhouse, and he most certainly was not awarded the Special Forces Tab. This has been verified with Proponency, and comes as first hand knowledge.
C) According to the US Army Sniper School, no one by the name of Gregory Shane Vanaman has ever attended training, much less graduated. Graduation from the US Army Sniper School results in a soldier being awarded the B4 skill identifier, and is considered the bare minimum for a soldier to be called a "sniper".
D) According to the training cadre a D Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group, no one by the name of Gregory Shane Vanaman has attended the Special Forces Sniper Course, or its predecessor, the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course. Completion of either results in a soldier being awarded the W3 skill identifier, which is required for a soldier to be considered a Skill Level 1 Special Forces Sniper.
E) According to the US Army Criminal Investigation Division, no one by the name of Gregory Shane Vanaman was ever in the US Army. Now, their computer records only go back as far as 1997. I am waiting on the results of a Freedom of Information Act request to determine if Mr. Vanaman was in the US Army before then.
All of the above is easily verifiable fact. The plan, as agreed upon between Mr. Vanaman and myself, was for him to come clean to his team this weekend, and then to the rest of the airsoft community earlier today. However, from what I have heard, when confronted with the information earlier this weekend at OP: Bright Rain VI, Mr. Vanaman deflected any allegations of wrongdoing by claiming that he was actually "deep cover CIA". You know, all deep cover CIA operatives are more than willing to blow their cover in order to defend their airsoft rep.... Now, in the interests of full disclosure, that information comes to me second hand. Even though it is from a trusted source, it is still hearsay, so if someone who was at Bright Rain can corroborate that statement or deny it, I would appreciate it. What is not hearsay is the fact that Mr. Vanaman has not come clean to this community, or any other online community where he made his claims. Nor has he registered with SOCnet and made his admission to those men. I find this to be a blatant violation of the agreement that Mr. Vanaman and I came to. To me, Mr. Vanaman no longer has any honor. In my opinion, he will continue to live in his fantasy land, and if we as a group allow him to do so, it will be to our detriment. Mr. Vanaman has not shown remorse for his actions, only for getting caught. He hopes that I will go away, and that people will eventually forget what he did.
I will not go away.
I will not be silenced.
I will not let this charlatan stand on the shoulders of men I call my Brothers and claim their honor.
And I am not the only one. Mr. Vanaman now has his own entry to the POW Network, an organization whose sole mission it is to bust posers.
His lies will be recorded on the internet for posterity. He will not be able to run from his lies, and we will make it our mission to ensure no one else falls for his lies.
- Master Sergeant E-8
- Posts : 464
Age : 34
Location : Boulder