When I arrived home in California from teaching my Reality-Based Personal Protection courses in Germany last week I had a letter waiting for me when I got home. Actually it was a thank you card and a gift. The thank you card read:
Thank you for your support and help, and love, for the United States military and Project Prayer Flag. Please accept this small give as our thanks.
May God continue to bless you,
Shawn and Angelica Black
The card and gift came on the heels of a Volunteer Service Ribbon I received from the military on May 22, 2012 for my volunteer service to Project Prayer Flag under the Department of Defense.
When I arrived at my military base on August 18, 2012 to report in to my Captain, of the military police unit I serve in, he called me to attention before NCO witnesses. He stood before me and read out loud the Recommendation For Award Order Number PO-12-145-02:
“Staff Sergeant Wagner began his volunteer service with the organization known as ‘Project Prayer Flag’ in 2005. For the three-year period 22 March 2007 to 21 March 2010, he devoted approximately 180 hours per year (letter from Shawn Black, Founder, dated 23 March 2010). Staff Sergeant Wagner was instrumental in providing material and military liaison communication to hundreds of soldiers. His direct efforts in Research and Development with the organization’s support and administration programs were exceptional. In 2009, Staff Sergeant Wagner was honored for his volunteer service (unpaid) and ‘tireless’ work, for Project Prayer Flag, with an invitation to the Presidential Oval Office, and a personal meeting with then President George W. Bush. President Bush recognized Wagner for training California National Guard troops in various combat skills as well as supplying materials. Staff Sergeant Wagner completed honorable, valued, volunteer service in the California State Military Reserve for three consecutive years (TY-06-10). In accordance with California Army National Guard Regulation 600-8-22, Paragraph 3-10.a Staff Sergeant Wagner has fulfilled all requirements for award of the State Military Reserve Volunteer Service Ribbon. During the period of award, Staff Sergeant Wagner showed exceptional devotion, faithful duty, unparalleled dedication and tireless performance in providing voluntary service to the military community, over and above the required Unit Training Assembly hours during each of the previous three years.”
After the reading I was then handed the ribbon that is to be worn on my Dress Blues uniform and a signed copy of the order authenticated by three officers. I then rendered a salute to my Captain and he returned the salute as is the military custom, and then he shook my hand. I have great respect for this Captain, for he has seen me grow within the unit for almost seven years assisting me every step of the way. He was also one of my officers who cleared my name after false accusations were leveled against me a few years ago.
This chapter of my life had come to an end. I was recognized for my volunteer service beyond my normal military duties from the California Military Department, and Project Prayer Flag was “decommissioned” by Founder Shawn Black. The mission of the organization had been fulfilled and had officially ended. This is why I was sent the thank you card and the gift.
When Project Prayer Flag was first created after American troops invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, in response for terrorist attacks on the United States and to dismantle the Taliban government protecting the Al-Qaeda terrorists who were responsible for the atrocities, the initial goal of the organization was to get a small American flag and a prayer from the Bible printed on a card into the pockets of every airman, sailor, marine, and solider going into the war zone to encourage them and to remind the of the support they were getting from the citizens back home. The card read:
“May you carry this flag as a reminder of the support and prayers of the millions of Americans who salute your devotion to freedom. We pray for your safety and honor your sacrifices for the many who hope and reach for the promise of liberty.”
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
“May we hold faith as our guide, freedom as our charge, and liberty as our light.”
I got involved a few years later, after the initial start, when Shawn Black, one of my former partners who I served with in the United States Federal Air Marshals, asked me if I would be the official military liaison for the organization he founded because they were expanding their role beyond sending flags and prayer cards. Knowing that the war would probably last for years the organization started sending “care packages” to our Armed Forces on Christmas. We started sending everything you can think of to ease the financial burden on troops and to give them some of the comforts of home. We sent DVDs, pre-paid phone cards, food, candies, toiletries, cold weather gear, and hundreds of other items. The hundreds of participants turned into thousands.
Not long after that United States Marine units were asking for tactical folders and I had the honor of sending my Boker manufactured Jim Wagner Reality-Based Blade to them overseas. From my own expense I made sure many men serving in combat roles got my knife. I also sent them many of my Reality-Based Personal Protection DVDs and books on self-defense to study. Word had even spread to British units and they requested materials from me. I did not expect any recognition for what I did, I was just happy to be contributing to the war effort through Project Pray Flag on my own time.
Meanwhile I was helping with the war effort in another capacity as well, but I just saw that as my duty. My military unit had me train troops for missions in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and State side missions. I was tasked with teaching courses to Army National Guard and Army Reserve units in combatives, Military Operations Urban Terrain, Improvised Explosive Device identification, land navigation, and military police operations. For these responsibilities over the years I was awarded the Training Excellence Ribbon twice and the California Commendation Medal.
As President George W. Bush’s second term was coming to an end the president decided that his last week in office would be to invite various groups to the White House and thank them personally for their support of the war effort. He could have done anything he wanted on his last week, but he thought of others instead – what integrity. Out of 300 organizations working under the Department of Defense’s initiative, America Supports You, President Bush chose to invite Shawn and Angelica Black to the White House to give his thanks to Project Prayer Flag. The White House gave instructions to the Blacks to bring with them the key leaders within the organization, and I was one of the 13 people chosen out of the thousands who contributed to the organization over the years. I was selected to represent the organization as the Military Liaison.
On January 12, 2009 we fifteen representatives of Project Prayer Flag met with the President of the United States, and for me it was a double privilege to meet with the Commander In Chief as a soldier in a time of war. I may not have served on the front lines, but I contributed by training many of those who did, plus I did my share of security missions on the home front as well.
Unfortunately, my service to Project Prayer Flag, to the Great State of California, and to the United States of America as a sworn American soldier was not without controversy. The website POW Network, run by the late Chuck Schantag up until he died on February 23, 2012, and now his wife Mary Schantag, had me listed on one of their pages titled The Fake Warrior Project (formerly titled “phonies”), as a military imposter since May 2008.
Under my name there are nine accusations. This is the ninth accusation, which reads as of today, September 19, 2012:
“Possibly the worst military-related act of subterfuge that Wagner has ever done yet was to prostitute the office of the US Presidency, prostitute all the troops fighting in the wars today as well as the CSMR – the California State Militia Reserve. In 2007, Wagner begged into a trip to Washington DC with a connection of a Flag Prayer Group. The President wanted to congratulate their prayer efforts. Wagner wore his CSMR uniform. The religious group was commended. The group was photographed as a group and separately as is typical visitor procedure. As a result of this common procedure, President George Bush was photographed with Jim Wagner. Wagner put this photo on his webpage and actually claimed, "I had been invited by my Commander in Chief to a private meeting in the Oval Office of the White House for my war effort." All this in a crafted, self-indulgent, despicable effort to confuse internet customers. (The CSMR that Wagner joined is the only reserves that cannot go war or leave California).”
The only source that POW Network references to the validity of this accusation, and the eight others, is Hock Hochheim’s blog, a business competitor, called Combat Centric. This competitor that has been attacking my credentials publically since 2004.
For the past four years I, and recently publisher Dana Stamos, have written both Chuck and Mary Schantag to ask them to please conduct an authentic investigation into Hock Hochheim’s accusations, for the information they had about me on their POW Network website appeared to be nothing more than a copy and paste job from Hock Hochheim’s many posts about me. Not only did these two individuals refuse to remove the false accusations when verifiable documentation was presented to them, but they changed the original wording that was originally posted about me on May 2008, and even added the above paragraph on December 2010.
POW Network claims to be “dedicated to information distributed on our Prisoners of War and Missing in Action Servicemen.” Although I don’t fit in either of those categories, they actively solicit donations to pay for their website and a yearly banquet, in order to keep this posted for the past two and a half years the statement that I “prostitute the office of the US Presidency, prostitute all the troops fighting in the wars today as well as the CSMR – the California State Militia Reserve.” Where is the justification for their outrageous statement?
Also contained in this insulting paragraph is the quote, “Wagner begged into a trip to Washington DC with a connection of a Flag Prayer Group.” Where did this “fact” come from? They don’t quote a single source. For a supposedly investigating body that is dedicated in determining if somebody is a fraud or not POW Network never contacted Project Prayer Flag or the California State Military Reserve.
The paragraph also railed against me stating, “Wagner put this photo on his webpage and actually claimed, ‘I had been invited by my Commander in Chief to a private meeting in the Oval Office of the White House for my war effort.’ All this in a crafted, self-indulgent, despicable effort to confuse internet customers.”
Typical of the writing style found on POW Network the statement makes it appear as if I had misrepresented myself. Yet, only four days after the meeting with President Bush I posted the entire story on my official website and have not changed a word of it since. I clearly state my role with Project Prayer Flag, and that I met with the president with a small group. I specifically state in the article, “A week and a half ago I received a phone call from Black. He told me that he wanted his key people to go with him to the White House, and that I was on this list.” How did POW Network come to the conclusion that I was trying to make it appear as if it was a one-on-one meeting with the President?
The final line of this disgraceful sentence is, “(The CSMR that Wagner joined is the only reserves that cannot go war or leave California).” Is this something that POW Network would really write? Would they actually discredit the role of State Military Reserves in the United States? The Militias of the United States predates the United States Army, and in California the CSMR is playing a crucial role in Homeland Security and the deployment of Army National Guard units. The sad answer is, apparently so.
The State Militias were created in the early 1900s, and ratified by the U.S. Congress in 1933, that in times of war the federal government could not take all forces out of a state. States needed troops to stay within the borders of the state in the event of emergencies and to maintain a military presence. Although the statement that POW Network stated is true, for the California State Military Reserve cannot be sent to a foreign war, the statement implies some sort of cowardice intention from me, especially following the previous implications of deception. The statement purposely leaves out the fact that the CSMR is a trained and organized military force capable of accomplishing State emergency responsibilities as if somehow that is “second class.”
However, despite the unprofessional, blatantly agenda driven attacks on me by the POW Network and Hock Hochheim, my police and military background, backed up by verifiable documentation, speaks for itself. I know that the military personnel I have trained and helped over the years are appreciative of what I have done, and I know that I have a deep satisfaction in helping the war effort.
The POW Network has 9 accusations, basically accusing me of lying about my background, posted on their website. I will briefly address each accusation, which are remarkably similar to what Hock Hochheim has on his website about me, though he claims there is no connection between him and the POW Network.
ACCUSATION 1: Jim Wagner served 8 months in the US Army decades ago, asking his US Congressman to get him out of service. None of his training customers knew this.
JIM WAGNER RESPONSE: I proudly served in the United States Army from September 9, 1980 to May 20, 1981 and received an Honorable Discharge dated the same day - May 20, 1981. On my official website I have the entire story of my first military service posted, and have it up for all to see for several years. The accusation is a poor attempt to lead readers astray in believing that somehow I did something wrong when nothing could be further from the truth. The sentence is worded to make readers believe that it is investigative reporting when in fact the information was lifted off of my own website. I am the one who first mentioned U.S. Congressman Robert E. Badham and how he helped me fix a wrong. If none of my customers “knew this,” then they simply did not read my website. Regardless, how does this accusation merit me to be placed on The Fake Warrior Project page; formerly titled “phonies?”
ACCUSATION 2:Jim Wagner told some customers he was a prior Sergeant in the US Army infantry, to promote his training business and called himself SGT Wagner for several years. (witnesses on file).
JIM WAGNER RESPONSE: I did not start teaching my civilian system until January 21, 2003. Prior to this I had been a sergeant for the Orange Country Sheriff’s Reserve Division in California and a sergeant with the Phoenix Police Department Reserve Program after that. At no time did I ever state in any course that I taught, nor in any other public or private setting, that I was a sergeant in the United States infantry. The POW Network claims that there are “witnesses on file” stating that I was calling myself an infantry sergeant, but the only name listed is a Jim Hartigan who supposedly stated:
“I like the your story of being a SGT in the CSMR as the reason you are entitled to wear and claim some military identity.(the title SGT). In 2003 , your first class in NYC you said you had been an NCO in the US Army in an Infantry Unit and had seen how your previous martial arts training had NOT prepared you for the Fights you had to Brake Up Between YOUR Men. (so you claimed Military rank not awarded you prior to CSMR).”
I did indeed have a student by the name of Jim Hartigan in my course in New York City in 2003 who took my five Level 1 courses, but this is what he wrote to me on the seminar evaluation on the last day of training:
"Jim, I just wanted to say what a great experience it was participating in your reality based courses. The people were great and it was a great exchange of ideas. You are a very good instructor with a good knowledge of the subjects. Now for the Courses: As a student of the martial arts, with over 30 years in various martial arts as well as the military, with a few years in Special Operations, the course was an eye opener as to how actually unprepared I was for an immediate, unplanned attack. The knife course in particular is an eye opener, although I have trained for knife attacks, the method you have instilled immediacy of action is scary. In classes it is easy to work a move when you plan the attack, but as you demonstrate, the real thing is unplanned and aggressive. Grabs, holds locks, blocks are unplanned and rarely performable; the event is too fast for more than instinctive reactions. As the Gracie system showed the vulnerability of stand up arts, I believe you system shows the vulnerability of perceived planned attacks, the prevalent method of instruction at most martial arts schools. Your courses made me reevaluate what I thought I knew and could do in a situation. After 30 years it is time to implement some 'Reality Based Training.' Thank you for your courses and I am so glad I was part of the beginning of this ride. I am sure the people I work with in the future will appreciate it as well."
Now, I can’t say for sure that the person who wrote such a hateful letter to POW Network is the same Jim Hartigan who took my Level 1 courses or not, but if it is the same man then he certainly did a 180 degree turn around. Assuming it is the same man, why is he the only student out of thousands I have trained so far, up to this date almost 10 years later, who has claimed that I stated I was an infantry sergeant? First I was never in the infantry, so I don’t know where he got that idea, and second, perhaps he could have confused my police career as a sergeant with my military career. After all, there are many people claiming I said that I was a Marine, a Los Angeles Police Department officer, and all kinds of other titles. The truth is that I had been a former sergeant for two different law enforcement agencies before Jim Hartigan ever attended my course. Does POW Network place someone on their “ponies” page, basically accusing individuals of fraud, by the testimony of one man? Hoch Hochheim has solicited his readers for years for anyone to come forward with any information about me, and still there is only one man claiming that I said I was an “U.S. Army sergeant.”
Interesting enough there is a statement on Hock Hochheim’s official website on his biography that states:
“Though served many times as "acting" patrol and detective Sergeant and "acting" Detective Lieutenant but he never sought promotional tests for management positions because he preferred working the streets as a detective or patrolman and apprehending criminals. ‘There are street cops and there are carpet cops.’”
His own statement here indicates distain for supervisors. Why on Hock Hochheim’s blog does he keep questioning my sergeant status? Why does POW Network harp on my sergeant status?
ACCUSATION 3:Jim Wagner used Police SWAT photos wearing Sgt stripes. He was never on a SWAT team, having failed the PT test. (police witnesses on file).
JIM WAGNER RESPONSE: Here we go again with the sergeant issue. What does this accusation have anything to do with the military? After all, the stated purpose of POW Network is to expose “military imposters,” not police imposters. Why would this organization stray away from their stated purpose specifically for me? Hock Hochheim for years has claimed I was never on a SWAT team. Why would POW Network pick up the same police theme if there were no connection between the two? Nonetheless, to answer the accusation I have no idea what photos that this accusation is referring to, because it does not state which photos they are talking about. I am assuming that it may be referring to the tactical uniform I wore when I did the 8 videotapes in the series titled Reality-Based Personal Protection with Black Belt magazine. The videos were taped in 2003, the same year I was sworn in by Lieutenant Robert McKean as a Reserve Sergeant with the Phoenix Police Department in the State of Oregon; that date was March 1, 2003. On an official police letterhead it states that my assignment includes the following:
1. Department training officer/instructor for firearms, defensive tactics, tactical operations and other related subject areas.
2. Department use-of-force consultant.
3. Member of the department’s tactical team (RED Team).
The RED Team is equivalent to a SWAT team. Different agencies call their tactical teams different acronyms: SWAT, ERT, SRT, SEK, and so forth. Besides that, I was a SWAT officer with the Costa Mesa Police Department from March 11, 1994 to May 24, 1997 (3 years). My direct supervisor was Lieutenant Ron Smith who was also the SWAT Commander. The Chief of Police at the time was Chief Dave Snowden. Where are the statements from them? Again, official police records would confirm this fact. My SWAT team service is easily verifiable. However, POW Network never contacted the Costa Police Department nor requested any documentation from me. Why would they accuse a person of being an imposter without first going to the sources that could prove or disprove the allegation?
As I type this response, just above my computer is a plaque hanging on my wall that was presented to me by SWAT Officer Phil Myers of the Costa Mesa Police Department stating, “Jim Wagner – Thank you for your time and dedication to Costa Mesa SWAT.” I supposed I photoshopped the dozens of SWAT photos of me as well in my various SWAT uniforms and created false documentation on government letterheads…
Accusation 4:Jim Wagner worked for a training company called HSS International, a company of military and police vets that ran courses, some military sniper courses. Wagner attended one of these two-day courses and has heavily publicized a two-day, Marine Scout Sniper certificate, confusing customers. Many think he was a Marine sniper and/or graduate of a military sniper school. He was fired from HSS for a host of infractions as Wagner used HSS training jobs as his own, later advertising that he, not HSS, was sought after and taught various groups. Wagner lost a court hearing over these claims. (witnesses on file).
JIM WAGNER RESPONSE: Not only did I work for HSS International I held stock in one fourth of the corporation, for I was one of the four original founders. I was also the chief combatives instructor, creating ALL of the programs, and I was in charge of all international business.
From 1991 to 2001 I went through extensive training with Division Schools Scout/Sniper School, HRST, and MOUT at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. In May 2008 POW Network originally had this statement posted:
“2. Using the Marine Sniper School at Pendleton as a reference but was never a Marine.”
For some reason POW Network has dropped this sentence and now it has turned into that I have “heavily publicized a two-day Marine Scout Sniper certificate” that I received, and that I am “confusing customers.” In 2008 they were stating that this certificate was “non governmental,” but have also dropped this from the page. Apparently they now believe the training and the certificate is legitimate. So then why is this an issue, and why does my name still appear on this page as a military imposter?
“Many think he was a Marine sniper…” Who are the “many?” People who have not read my website or attended my Terrorism Survival course perhaps? Where are the names of these accusers?
HSS International and I parted ways. I’m still in business almost 10 years later and HSS International folded around 2008.
There was only one court case between me and HSS International, and that was the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board Case Number 1034849 (Date Appeal Filed: 06/13/2003) decided by Administrative Law Judge R. Garrett. A written decision is in my favor. The statement, “Wagner lost a court hearing over these claims. (witnesses on file)” is libel. If POW Network had “witnesses” then they would have a copy of this decision. They don’t, and they don’t have witnesses. I have a court verified copy, and one day I intend to use it as evidence.
ACCUSATION 5:Jim Wagner was asked to leave Costa Mesa PD, Orange County Reserves and the US Air Marshalls for infractions he committed. He was allowed to resign and or degrade to dodge publicity. He was just an Air Marshal for less than a year before failing into serious trouble. (these names stand ready to testify).
JIM WAGNER RESPONSE: Again, POW Network has taken it upon themselves to “investigate and publish” non military matters concerning my background. The accusations are both vague and false. I was never “asked” to leave the Costa Mesa Police, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department or the United States Federal Air Marshals, nor was I any trouble with the last. If I had been I would not be on a military police unit for seven years after the fact. Where is the proof of these accusations? Where are the names of those “ready to testify” people? I resigned from Costa Mesa in 1999, from the Sheriff’s in 2002, and from the FAMs in 2003. It’s going on almost a decade since the last of these agencies. Are the witnesses still “standing by?” If POW Network is accusing me of being a law enforcement imposter, then by all means please put up all of the documentation you have. Somehow they are using these vague statements to prove that I am a military imposter. I was never a detective, although I have investigated thousands of cases as a police officer, and I fail to see how my law enforcement career is related to POW Network’s mission statement. Why do they parallel what is on Hock Hoccheim’s website, a known competitor? I know of a few unscrupulous websites and blogs in the past that have made negative comments about me, or used my name, just to increase their web traffic to their sites. Is this what is driving POW Network? Could they be that unethical in trying to obtain more donations?
ACCUSATION 6:Jim Wagner advertised for years that he had conducted some ?140 counter-terrorism missions, and was a government-trained, Post-911, counter-terrorism expert? confusing customers. (ads on file).
JIM WAGNER RESPONSE: Not only have I advertised that I was a counterterrorist for years, I still do. Yes, the United States Air Marshals have a counterterrorist role. It is clearly stated on their official homepage:
I was a United States Federal Air Marshal and received my counterterrorism training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Artesia, New Mexico in class TSATP-206B. The government counterterrorist teams around the world that have hired me, my “customers,” are not “confused.” Those civilians attending my Terrorism Survival courses around the world are not “confused.” The only ones who seem confused are POW Network, Hock Hochheim, and those parroting the accusations as if they were the Gospel truth. Again, back to the main point, what does this have to do with me being a military imposter? And I am the one accused of “confusing customers.”
ACCUSATION 7:Jim Wagner is currently now a SGT with the California Militia Reserves, having joined in 2006. Today, he will confuse questioners with this ?I AM a Sergeant? line, when his older sergeant claims are brought up to question. Some readers report that they see Wagner is his "dramatic combat uniform" (his words) in various martial arts magazines and thought he was in the United States Army.
JIM WAGNER RESPONSE: Finally, back to the military imposter issue. In May 2008 the original POW Network posting about me stated:
“1. Is shown on the cover of multiple magazines in what appears to be a U.S. Army Uniform”
“4. Constantly refers to himself as Sergeant in reference to his military background”
Apparently POW Network never read the February 2008 issue of Black Belt magazine, which is on the bottom of my home page and has been there for almost five years, where I am featured on the cover in my Army Combat Uniform (ACU) wearing the California State Military Reserve flash on my black beret (appearance authorized by the Commanding General). In the very first paragraph of the article it states my unit. The first series of photos shows clearly my rank of E-5 sergeant on my uniform. Either POW Network never carefully looked at the front cover of the magazine or they never read the article, and were unaware of why I was wearing the uniform, which is our official uniform, or why I referred to my rank as sergeant, or worse yet, they knew the truth and were deliberately making written statements to make it appear as if I was an imposter. Apparently some discovery of the truth was made, for the original statements were taken down from the page and replaced by the “confusion” issue.
Once POW Network found out that I was indeed in a military unit, and that I was indeed a sergeant, should they not have closed the case and removed my name from their website immediately. Certainly I was no military imposter. So why then do they still keep my name in The Fake Warrior Project (phonies) section? What is the justification? How can I be a military imposter when I am a sworn American soldier with the rank of Staff Sergeant? It makes no sense.
ACCUSATION 8:Jim Wagner has changed his webpage numerous times to cover the truth exposed about his past stories like he was on a SWAT team. Then he wasn't. Then he was. The current reading may not have many of the outlandish claims made through the years as he tries to rehab his past. His current reading may not properly show the personality of his many misconceptions and confabulations through the years.
JIM WAGNER RESPONSE: The only changes I have made to my official website over the years was to add more proof of my background, not less. When I was accused of not having trained German counterterrorist team GSG9 I put up dates and photographs of me teaching them. When I was accused of never having taught the DEA I put up dates and photographs. When I was accused of never having been through a “real” police academy I put up text and photos. When I was accused of never having been on a SWAT team I put up dates, text, and lots of photographs. Over the years this has been going on and on, and no matter how many accusations I put to rest there are even more following right behind. Then the same people who want more proof then say that I am “bragging” about my background. Most of my critics I don’t even bother with or else it would be a full-time job. But, when it comes to POW Network, a website that states that they are trying to protect military personnel and solicits donations to do so, and yet they falsely accuse me of being a military imposter or phony, when for the last seven years I have been serving my country as a CURRENT American soldier, I say, “Enough Mary Schantag! You know I am telling the truth, and yet you continue to libel me. You continue to use Hock Hochheim as your primary 'credible source' knowing in your 'research,' he has been proven wrong time and time again. If you want to protect legitimate military personnel then protect this soldier’s name, me, and my reputation. Remove me from your website and anyone else you don’t have credible evidence on! The 9th Commandment of God states, ‘You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.’”
So, there you have it readers. The fight continues. I too have to follow my own advice of “Be A Hard Target.”
Copyright Jim Wagner 2003 - 2021 All rights reserved.