Most people do not even make an association between the insignia used by the manifestly criminal organization called the Oath Keepers and the U.S. Army insignia that indicates completion of Ranger training or, in the case of the Airborne , assignment to an Airborne (parachutist) unit. (Note images above.) Both the nine week Ranger training and the three week Airborne training are rigorous, dangerous, and, unfortunately, deadly. [Several days before Christmas in 1965, a young U.S. Army Private in my Airborne class was sucked out the open door of the airplane to his death when his reserve parachute was accidentally activated while he was still in the aircraft.] There are also accounts of deaths while in Ranger training. A simple web search will provide sufficient examples of these tragic incidents.
Many Oath Keepers are retired and active duty military and also former Ranger and/or Airborne qualified. From this fact flows the grotesqueness of the imitation of these Army insignia for criminal, and now for seditious purposes. Therein lies what I will call a version of Stolen Valor - the twisting of qualification insignia* from the Army to suggest that the Oath Keepers are somehow equated with being Ranger or Airborne. Or that the Oath Keepers represent the same values. Most civilians are not aware of these associations, but the links are abundantly clear (a dog whistle) to those whom the Oath Keepers seek to recruit into sedition and violence, including murder. To wit:
"A Washington, DC, jury on Tuesday convicted Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and associate Kelly Meggs of seditious conspiracy for their role around the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.
“While the jury split on a number of other charges brought against the five alleged members of the right-wing militia group, even two guilty verdicts on the seditious conspiracy charge marked a significant win for the Justice Department and was hailed as vindication by the House select committee investigating the insurrection. The historic criminal trial – the first of three seditious conspiracy cases set to start this year – was a major test of the department’s ability to hold January 6 rioters accountable.” [CNN 30 Nov 22]
At the very minimum, Oath Keepers are a reprehensible group with reprehensible leadership. Any purported connection that suggests a link between them and present or former Army members should be roundly condemned. And I do so now. Shame on the Oath Keepers, on Rhodes, on Meggs, and all they stand for and all who follow them. They have sullied their own reputations. They are the antithesis of patriots. The present, and even former, US military who are part of or support this gaggle need to reread their oaths, sworn as members of the US Armed forces and know how far they have strayed.
*Relating to the twisting of meaning of insignia is the twisting of the meaning of another symbol, especially that of the flag of the United States. My article from June 2020 speaks to that phenomenon. “Just Whose Flag Is It Anyway?”
Comments by Readers
David A. SwansonDec 07, 2022
Every day, all the way
Dick ConoboyDec 07, 2022
Thanks for posting this recognition of your friends who served in Airborne units and put their lives on the line, even in peacetime. It would be interesting to know what they or their families and friends think of the appopriation of the insignia by the Oath Keepers. [Note to readers: David served with the 101st Airborne Division and completed 23 jumps during his assignment to the unit.]