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Rantz Exclusive: Video shows Semi Bird wearing military badge he didn’t earn

Jun 18, 2024, 5:35 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2024, 11:44 am

Photos: Gubernatorial candidate Semi Bird denied wearing a Special Operations Combat Diver Badge, t...

Gubernatorial candidate Semi Bird denied wearing a Special Operations Combat Diver Badge, that he didn't earn. Video shows he did. (Photos courtesy of the Unidentified Eastern WA news report, provided by the Washington National Guard)

(Photos courtesy of the Unidentified Eastern WA news report, provided by the Washington National Guard)

Newly-obtained video shows embattled gubernatorial candidate Semi Bird wore a Special Operations Diver Badge, even though he did not earn it. Bird previously — and adamantly — denied it.

The image is the latest evidence exclusively reported by “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH to detail what led to a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand (GOMR) for committing fraud against the U.S. Army and for wearing badges and awards Bird did not earn. The Washington State Republican Party (WSRP) is now under pressure to address the fraud, with a Tuesday night Executive Board meeting scheduled to discuss the issue.

At the time of the reprimand, Bird took responsibility for all the findings in the GOMR. But after the GOMR was reported, Bird claimed that allegations made against him at the time were proven false. He said the GOMR was placed in a restricted file and not supposed to be made public, claiming it was illegally obtained. This is disputed by three soldiers directly involved in the research into what led to Bird’s GOMR.

Despite repeated promises over the course of weeks, Bird hasn’t released any documentation to support his assertions. Instead, he’s accused “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH of working for “the establishment” to bring down his campaign and offered irrelevant documents and statements that do not dispute the original reporting.

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Did Semi Bird wear a badge he did not earn?

Bird was honored at a 2006 ceremony in Kennewick where he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal with Valor. He was dressed in full uniform for the event. The video was captured for an unidentified news report, obtained by “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH.

In the video, Bird wore the Special Operations Combat Diver Badge on the left side of his uniform coat. The badge was identified by two independent military experts for “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH. Screenshots of the video are provided in this story.

Photo: Bird wore the Special Operations Combat Diver Badge on the left side of his uniform coat.

Bird wore the Special Operations Combat Diver Badge on the left side of his uniform coat. (Photo courtesy of the Unidentified Eastern WA news report, provided by the Washington National Guard)

The only way to earn this badge is by completing the U.S. Army Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification Course in Key West, Florida. Bird never trained in Key West for this course.

The Semi Bird reprimand

While serving in the National Guard, the “Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH exclusively revealed that Bird received a GOMR from then-Brigadier General Hector Pagan in 2009.

Among the general’s many outlined findings, Pagan said that Bird “wore awards and badges that you had not earned.”

The findings came after Bird submitted falsified documents as part of a Warrant Officer packet, which would have led to a promotion had his application been accepted and completed the program. Bird responded to the GOMOR, writing, “My actions constitute nothing less than a fraud against the United States Army plain and simple.”

Expert weighs in

Charles Ritter is an active duty United States Army Special Forces soldier serving as the Deputy Commandant of the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. He reviewed Bird’s uniform for “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH and said he has no doubts: Bird is wearing the Special Forces Combat Diver Badge.

“That’s the only badge that looks like that, with the scuba mask … it’s got the sharks around it, you get the two knives … there’s no other badge that even resembles that. There’s no way that can be mistaken,” he said.

At the time, the Tri-City Herald published a photo from the ceremony. Special Forces soldiers saw the photo and said it bothered them because they knew he wasn’t supposed to wear it, according to multiple military sources.

The photo is briefly featured in a Semi Bird campaign video where he explains the court martial he received for assaulting a sergeant when he was in the Marines. It was this campaign video that allowed “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH to track down footage of the ceremony.

Blue Infantry Cord

Ritter, along with a Senior NCO who was personally involved in researching Bird’s record, noted it wasn’t just a Special Forces Combat Diver Badge being worn inappropriately.

Bird also wore a Blue Infantry Cord and Infantry Disc at the ceremony. Special Forces soldiers (Green Berets) do not typically qualify to wear either, even if they have an infantry background. They wear their own distinctive insignia and accoutrements that reflect their Special Forces affiliation, rather than infantry.

Bird said he became a Special Forces soldier post-9/11. Ritter said that when you become a Special Forces soldier you remove the Blue Infantry Cord and “put it on your mantle.”

“It’s not something you can wear as a Special Forces soldier unless somehow you … have your (Special Forces) tab revoked,” Ritter said.

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Did Bird’s records show badges or awards he had not earned?

In an interview with “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH, Bird said he never claimed to have trained at the Key West facility. He further said that “Every single one of my awards has been verified. So My DD-214, which I can submit to you, so that you have it, is fully accurate, and it has been verified at my last unit.” (A DD-214 is a document issued by the U.S. Department of Defense that certifies a service member’s retirement, separation, or discharge from active duty and includes details about their service, including assignments, training, and awards.)

More recently, Bird claimed on his June 17 podcast “Common Sense,” that his personnel file is “proof that there is no mishaps of any of my awards, no matter what people had said, or badges.”

It is true that what appears to be Bird’s last DD-214 does not include awards or badges he did not earn. But that is likely because it was a corrected DD-214, a result of the GOMR. Prior to the correction, Bird listed the Special Operations Divers Badge on two separate DD-214 forms and a DA 2-1 form (an additional personnel file).

During the podcast, after previously indicating there was ever even a question as to whether or not he was wearing the Special Operations Diver Badge, Bird read a statement from a supposed character witness (who knew Bird years after the reprimand) in which he acknowledges there were reports he was erroneously wearing it.

Photo: Bird had to take a new Department of Army photo post-GOMR.

Bird had to take a new Department of Army photo post-GOMR. (Photo courtesy of the Unidentified Eastern WA news report, provided by the Washington National Guard)

In the end, Bird had to take a new Department of Army photo post-GOMR. In it, he removed German Jump Wings, an oak leaf cluster on his Army Commendation Medal, a star device on his National Defense Service Medal, and a Scuba medal (which he, according to multiple sources, spoke of interchangeably with the Special Operations Diver Badge).

The forms can be viewed as a PDF here.

Afghanistan Campaign Medal and Combat Infantryman Badge

Bird’s record also listed an Afghanistan Campaign Medal before it was removed in his final DD-214. But he never served in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.

Bird served in the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Sinai Peninsula at the time in direct support of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), an international peacekeeping force overseeing the terms of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. His role was not for combat duty in Afghanistan.

A solider earns the Afghanistan Campaign Medal for service performed in Afghanistan or its airspace, or in direct support of operations in Afghanistan. Personnel who serve outside of the designated area, but in direct support of the operation, may also qualify. This would require specific authorization from the Secretary of Defense. A Senior NCO involved in researching Bird’s record, speaking exclusively to “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH, said Bird wore that medal when he did not earn it.

Bird’s records also showed a memo by a training instructor awarding him the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB) first award from Special Forces Training Group at Fort Bragg, NC, while he was a student in the Special Forces Qualification Course. An award like this offered by a training instructor is unusual.

Photo: Gubernatorial candidate Semi Bird denied wearing a Special Operations Combat Diver Badge, that he didn't earn. Video shows he did.

Gubernatorial candidate Semi Bird denied wearing a Special Operations Combat Diver Badge, that he didn’t earn. Video shows he did. (Photo courtesy of the Unidentified Eastern WA news report, provided by the Washington National Guard)

Retired Special Forces (SF) Master Sergeant Derek Elsberry, a veteran with 26 years of military service, was also one of the soldiers who reviewed Bird. He exclusively told “The Jason Rantz Show” that Bird was not authorized for the CIB because “he wasn’t an infantryman, and wasn’t in combat in Afghanistan.”

Bird denies wrongdoing

Bird has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, insisting that the GOMR is being misrepresented. Instead, he focuses on his claim that it was illegally obtained either by “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH or a source. But the senior NCO said he was able to confirm that both the GOMR and Bird’s response were in the permanent file in 2010, not a restricted file (at least at the time it was written). Both documents were still in the permanent file in 2011 when they were saved.

“This reprimand was placed in his permanent record and not the local file, or a restricted file,” he said.

It’s possible the GOMR was placed in a restricted file at some point, but Bird has not been able to provide any documentation to back his assertions.

Bird complained that “what they accused me of is the same thing as sexual assault, or doing an unspeakable, it’s despicable. It’s disgusting.”

Neither Bird nor his campaign spokesperson responded to a request for comment.

Listen to “The Jason Rantz Show” on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram, and  Facebook.

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