Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

The Greatest American Soldier Since George C. Scott

Posted in Leadership by Andy Hall on October 20, 2010

Rich Iott’s campaign website makes much of his military experience:

Rich is a proud member of the Ohio Military Reserve, a component of the Adjutant General’s Department of the State of Ohio, where he holds the rank of Colonel. He is in his 28th year of service. He is a graduate of the USMC Command and Staff College and the USAF Air War College. He has been awarded the highly coveted Israeli jump wings and the Senior Parachutist wings of The Netherlands.

You gotta love the bit about “Israeli jump wings.” How many Waffen SS reenactors can claim that, I wonder.

In response, the Toledo Blade does due diligence and discovers that there’s less there than meets the eye:

One glossy mailing portrays Mr. Iott in civilian and military garb and says, “Rich Iott understands the sacrifices our men and women in uniform have made because he serves himself.”

Another one says, “Reservist Rich Iott will stand up and fight for our veterans.”

But Mr. Iott’s claim to be a member of the military, when he was never on active duty, have rankled those serving in or retired from the armed forces.

Retired Ohio Adjutant General John Smith, a Vietnam veteran who was once commander of the 180th Air National Guard fighter wing based at Toledo, said the OMR has no role in the national defense and has never been called up for duty.

“He’s stretching it in terms of what the Ohio Military Reserve does. He’s giving the impression, I would suggest, that he is involved in matters related to national security and to state matters, and they are not. They are never consulted,” General Smith said.

General Smith said it’s unlikely the governor ever will activate the reserve because of the cost of paying a lot of high-ranking reservists.

The Ohio Military Reserve is a state organization, operating under the Ohio Adjutant General. It is an unarmed, volunteer organization that cannot be called up for national service, like the National Guard or Army Reserve. The State of Ohio can call out the Ohio Military Reserve in the event of an emergency, but never has in the organization’s entire history. Its annual budget is $15,000.

But man, look at those ribbons. Commenter Will, in response to my previous post, nailed it: “Okay, so I got this one for helping out at the first aid tent at the 1997 Cleveland Marathon, and this one was when we beat Indiana at paintball in 2001. . . .”

Twenty years ago, I volunteered for a few months with the local Coast Guard Auxiliary flotilla. They were nice folks and it was a good deal — taught me a lot about boating safety, got me out on the water, performed a useful public service, and so on. It seems roughly comparable to Iott’s involvement with the Ohio Military Reserve. But damn me if I’d ever claim military veteran status over that. What a dishonest poseur.

_________________________

Image: Toledo Blade.

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  1. Dick Stanley said, on October 20, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    This looks comparable to the Texas State Guard, which at one time was called the Texas State Guard Reserve Corps. The TSGs are not toy soldiers, though they do not fight. They are called out to aid in hurricanes, floods, etc. It’s probable that the Ohio outfit he serves in does the same, and that his ribbons are not for making coffee but for coordinating/managing the group’s work in natural disasters.

    • Andy Hall said, on October 20, 2010 at 4:49 pm

      “Colonel Iott, it’s the IDF, on line two. They say they want their jump wings back.”

      More seriously, the Texas State Guard has been called out to active duty multiple times over years to deal with natural disasters and similar events. As near as I can tell, the Ohio group never has. They have a similar stated purpose, but are very different in practice.

  2. TheRaven said, on October 20, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    What a dishonest poseur.

    Closing with a French insult is, of course, delightfully ironic.

  3. Matt McKeon said, on October 20, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Did he get his “jump wings” by actually jumping out of an aircraft?

    • Andy Hall said, on October 20, 2010 at 10:42 pm

      Excellent question. I would presume so, although I have no idea how circumstances would align to make that happen in his case. The wings in the photo appear to be the Dutch ones mentioned on his campaign website.

  4. JHarper2 said, on October 20, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    Next you will be telling me that Colonel Sanders of Kentucky did not win his wings (or drumsticks) in combat!

  5. Craig Swain said, on October 21, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Intended to comment earlier, but got busy. Two points I’d make.

    The first you might say is “In his defense…” devil’s advocate, or what ever you wish. The definition of “soldier” is like any profession, more circumstantially defined than anything else. I know of people in this world who would consider a “soldier” as one who was around the military in some capacity (oh, those body servants come to mind). Further, there are a lot of ways to bend the definition in the modern context (are security contractors at the embassy soldiers?). Generally speaking in the context that Mr. Iott is proposing, soldier *should* mean someone who is in the uniformed US military services. Now do we draw that distinction between active duty, reserves, national guard, or this “state reserves” thing? Personally I’d go for a very restrictive definition – does the person have a DD-214? If you were not on active duty (at any time, including basic training) then you were not a soldier serving the US (as in the country). Yes, that would exclude Mr. Iott, as well as a lot of others out there who we are apt to run into.

    Second, this looks like a violation of the Stolen Valor Act. Most cases I’ve seen to date are from the other side of the political spectrum (and I can cite some rather blatant examples). This would be the most overt I’ve seen from the conservative side. I’d love to see a run down of the ribbons and awards. From the fuzzy photo, I can see what look to be SF arrows, a SW Asia Service Medal, marksmanship badge with two quals, jumpmaster’s wings, aviators wings (at the top), and on the right side that may be a Joint Meritorious Unit Award (saying he is currently assigned to a unit which earned that award in the past). But the photo is fuzzy, off color and for all I know, the non-regulation Ohio Military Reserves do not use standard US military awards.

    But the part that has me questioning the whole premise of his “service” records is that line about graduating from the USMC CSC and USAF War College. You don’t just show up and attend those schools. You are selected from the military services, receive a fellowship, or are part of an allied nation exchange program. Both programs offer some distance learning. But such is usually only extended to active military. Just seems hard to believe the Ohio Military Reserves would get a slot, or that Mr. Iott would be working as a “fellow” in some defense think-tank. I’m told we can rule out that he was a foreign exchange officer. Or can we????

    • Andy Hall said, on October 21, 2010 at 8:46 pm

      Craig, thanks for commenting. A lot to respond to here, but re: the last point, the Blade article mentions that most of the military education stuff he cites was done by correspondence — not invalidating it, but substantively very different than packing it off to Carlisle Barracks for six months or a year.

      The linked article itself has a link to a larger version of the picture — still fuzzy, I think a video frame capture.

      • Craig Swain said, on October 21, 2010 at 9:16 pm

        “military education stuff he cites was done by correspondence ”

        Yes, that’s what I pointed out. But taking a course by correspondence is one thing. Graduating is another. I’m looking over the standards posted by TECOM. I’m quite sure there is a requirement for at least half of the course work to be done on site. The schools cited are not “study at home” institutions. These are not like some community college systems.

        Again, just saying this warrants closer scrutiny.

      • Concerned Citizen said, on October 24, 2010 at 5:36 pm

        Andy Hall. It is no a video frame capture. The Toledo Blade changed the quality of the photo when the decided to run as story with a lot of errors. How do I know? It is a photo I took and the Blade ignored the documents I sent them. Also you are wrong about the USMC CSC and USAF War College being only active duty, and Iott getting into the is not unusual. Even the civilian Civil Air Patrol can get in the USAF War College correspondence program. The Marine Corps has for years let State Defense Force members like the Ohio Military Reserve in all their correspondence course programs. The federal military branches at the top deal with and respect the Ohio Military Reserve and other State Defense Forces more than the average military person at the bottom who never hear about them regularly, and then go around suddenly reacting to them half-cocked when they hear about them for the first time in an article like the Blade’s.

  6. Concerned Citizen said, on October 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Craig Swain, you are wrong on most of what you think you are seeking in the medals/ribbons. The Toledo Blade changed the quality of the photo and made it look different than the original. How do I know? I have the original photo, as I took the original photo. Iott is wearing an unearned OHMR green/yellow shoulder cord and an unearned Army Marksmanship Badge. Pretty much everything else is not an issue.

    • Andy Hall said, on October 24, 2010 at 5:32 pm

      How do I know? I have the original photo, as I took the original photo.

      Please put it online, full resolution, so this can be clarified. (Or perhaps a different photo, not licensed by the Blade.) It’s an important point that, with documentation, can be easily corrected. That’s in everyone’s interest.

    • Craig Swain said, on October 24, 2010 at 5:38 pm

      Which is why I said (and clearly you did not read): “But the photo is fuzzy, off color and for all I know, the non-regulation Ohio Military Reserves do not use standard US military awards.”

      You break down two of what must be about twenty-five items on the uniform. Would you care to illuminate what the remainder are? Most certainly would like to know what “branch” insignia is used on the lapel.

      All goes back to my base premise here. If those *are* US military ribbons/awards/qualifications, then Mr. Iott should explain the situations where a civilian (as he was not actually in military service) received them. If those are *not* US military ribbons/awards/qualifications, then Mr. Iott must go back on his stance that he knows about sacrifice because he is a soldier himself. Clearly then, he is not.

      • Andy Hall said, on October 24, 2010 at 5:43 pm

        Craig, I’m certain that Concerned Citizen will follow up with documentation of his assertions.

      • Concerned Citizen said, on October 24, 2010 at 5:49 pm

        Iott has military service. Serving in the Ohio Military Reserve is military service under Ohio law and is recognized as such by the Armed Forces of the United States. No such thing as a standard military award, as each branch can do different things with awards. His branch insignia is the cross sabre and rifle, the State Defense Force insignia used by over 20 military branches in the country. Why should he go back on his stance about knowing sacrifice? Only an idiot thinks he has a monopoly on knowing sacrifice. Does the poor widowed mother who never was in the military, but sent three sons to die in battle not know sacrifice for the military. You can learn about sacrifice by simply listening to those in pain and trying to really hear what they are saying. We pay politicians to listen to those in the military about making sacrifices and react to them by giving them more support in the ways they need. You only have to be human and really listen to learn about sacrifice. I don’t have to be shot to know I don’t want to be shot and that it would hurt and be a terrible experience..

    • Craig Swain said, on October 24, 2010 at 6:10 pm

      Marine Corps University has posted the guidelines for admission to the CSC course. See
      pages 39-46 (the actual PDF copy pages 41-48):
      http://www.mcu.usmc.mil/Students/MCU%20Catalog%202009-2010.pdf

      Who can attend?
      “Invitation, nomination, and admission to the College vary by student
      type: U.S. military officers are admitted through their services’
      selection assignment processes; international officers and Federal
      Government civilian employees are admitted through an invitational
      nomination/approval process.”

      Does not mention anything about State Defense Forces. Nor is that organization listed on the quotas applied.

      Now I would say it is possible that Iott took some of the coursework for CSC (I don’t know about the War College’s standards, but likely the same is true) via correspondence. That, however, is a far, far cry from graduating.

      And, no, I am not some “average military person at the bottom.” I’ve worked with State Defense Forces before and know exactly what regulations are in place with regard to their use.

      • Concerned Citizen said, on October 24, 2010 at 6:46 pm

        Wrong course. The course that Iott took was done away with about four years ago. The Marine Corps Command and Staff College was change over the years. The program had a version of the course that was 100% correspondence. I have the whole course here on my self. The Marine Corps will not say much about the State Defense Forces in writing that the public sees, but when you call them and ask to be enrolled in their correspondence program, the answer is an immediate “yes” even today.

      • Craig Swain said, on October 24, 2010 at 8:04 pm

        While the rest of the world is driving head long into “distance learning” options, we find out the USMC is going back to the old days. Convenient. Care to provide a single reference for the course you mention?

        For what it’s worth, I’m quite conservative. If I were in Ohio, I would probably consider voting for Iott simply to get the liberals off the hill. But I don’t let my ideology cloud my view of the facts. Thus far, what I’ve seen about Iott is not compelling.

        The quote that says it all for me is, “Rich Iott understands the sacrifices our men and women in uniform have made because he serves himself.”

        Reality is that while Iott may understand the sacrifices, he has *not* served himself. Thus the statement made on his campaign fliers is misleading and disingenuous (particularly after a primary where he downplayed his opponent’s service in the USMC). While I think the current group of leaders on the Hill are lacking in many regards, I would not wish to replace one set of bad leaders with another set of bad leaders. I don’t care what their ideological leanings are.

        Good news is that I am not registered to vote in Ohio (although apparently my dead great-great-grand uncle is ).

  7. Andy Hall said, on October 24, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Concerned Citizen wrote:

    Why should he go back on his stance about knowing sacrifice? Only an idiot thinks he has a monopoly on knowing sacrifice. Does the poor widowed mother who never was in the military, but sent three sons to die in battle not know sacrifice for the military. You can learn about sacrifice by simply listening to those in pain and trying to really hear what they are saying. We pay politicians to listen to those in the military about making sacrifices and react to them by giving them more support in the ways they need. You only have to be human and really listen to learn about sacrifice

    I actually largely agree with you on this. But — this arguably makes Iott look disingenuous in a different way. If “understanding sacrifice” is common to the human condition — and I agree that, to a degree, it is — then Iott’s service in the Ohio Military Reserve is largely irrelevant to it. What’s Iott’s doing, quite explicitly, is saying the “I understand veterans because I’m one, too.” You wrote that “Only an idiot thinks he has a monopoly on knowing sacrifice,” but that’s exactly what Iott is claiming. While Iott’s service with the OMR may be nominally considered military service, it does seem to be of a qualitatively different nature than that of active duty or conventional Reserve or National Guard service, and he seems to be anticipating that voters won’t see the difference.

    I get that he can “understand the sacrifice” of veterans, but it’s not clear to me that his OMR service gives him any better insight or understanding on that than, say, the spouse or child or parent of any active-duty service member (and maybe less). Iott’s service through the OMR is laudable for what it is, but I don’t see that it makes him more significantly attuned to veterans’ experiences than many, many other people in his district.

    YMMV.

  8. Andy Hall said, on October 25, 2010 at 1:36 am

    @ Concerned Citizen:

    Thanks for posting those images. I apologize for the delay; because of the links included, they got caught in the spam filter and I just noticed them.

    Much better than the images from the Blade. I have no idea why they’d alter them in that way.


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