Dillard Johnson, a former Army sergeant first class, made headlines recently when he said he racked up an incredible enemy body count during his three tours as a Bradley vehicle commander and one tour as a sniper in the early years of Iraq.
We contacted Army headquarters and got Johnson's records, and they check out. He definitely has four purple hearts and a silver star. Those medals are not just given out to anyone, so, that is hero-status for sure.
The biggest problem though seems to be his claim to kills, which come in at 500 more than what the official website of the unit claims to have gotten in total.
Commenters, many claiming to have served in his unit, pounced immediately:
Brad Spaid: All I can say is please do not buy this book. It is a disgrace to all 3-7 CAV soldiers. As someone that was there in that unit during both times I can say that the vast majority of the this book is lies.
Mike: I just hope the Army stands up and does the right thing and outs this guy for being the liar he is. Mr. Johnson is an absolute disgrace to the military and every man/woman who's gone overseas and served in combat. Nothing but a glory hound.
Sgt Rusch: For a short time Dillard "dirty J" Johnson was my platoon sergeant. He is the example of what an NCO should NOT be. He demoralized soldiers and micromanaged NCO's. Later he was removed from A Troop and sent to C Troop, for being demoted in Advanced NonCommissioned Officer Course for refusing to remove a Combat Infantry Badge he never earned.
That's just three, and some of the others are even worse.
The New York Post first wrote a story about him earlier this week, and the impending release of "Carnivore" (named after the call sign of his Bradley vehicle).
Immediately several veterans contacted Business Insider Military and Defense insisting that we look into Johnson's claims.
Supposedly, according to the Post, most of his kills occurred during a wild wave of suicide attacks on Johnson's Bradley vehicle. Johnson then counted "heads and rifles" to come up with his tally.
Following the publication of a skeptical article by Christian Science Monitor's Dan Murphy, Johnson contacted the Monitor to set the record straight.
I spoke to Mr. Johnson after this story was first published. He says his new book doesn't claim that he killed 2,746 enemy combatants or that he has 121 sniper kills. He says while those numbers are on the book jacket, and in HarperCollins' publicity for the book, that the claim is never made in the text of the book and that it is inaccurate. He says he is not responsible for the publisher's writing. The 2,746 number he says is his battlefield estimate of those killed by both him and the men he was fighting with. Johnson says the he did kill 121 enemy combatants on his second deployment to Iraq, with M4 and M14 rifles, and that the choice of the term "sniper" was because average readers don't understand the difference between a marksman and a sniper. He says that Mr. Spaid could not have read the book, that Spaid's claim that dismounts were extremely rare during the invasion are inaccurate, and that Spaid wasn't in a position to speak to what Johnson witnessed and experienced. Johnson says that while he once gave an estimate that he'd perhaps fired 7,000 depleted uranium rounds from his Bradley during the invasion of Iraq that he gave that estimate to an interviewer while wounded and at Walter Reed hospital in 2003 and that it was only an estimate. He is uncertain about how many rounds were fired. He says the story about cutting the wire is true, that it was the sort of wire you might buy at the hardware store for a dryer, and that it's played for laughs in the book. He says that he regrets that he did not correct the Fox and Friends interviewer's statement that he had 2,746 confirmed kills in Iraq, but that it was his first television appearance and he was a bit flustered; he says he did correct this assertion on a later airing of the O'Reilly Factor on Fox (available here) and in other media interviews. Johnson said his motivation in writing the book was so that his comrades would get more credit for what happened and so there would be less focus on him, correcting a failure in emphasis in an official US Army history of the Iraq invasion published in 2004 that he was interviewed for. Tomorrow, I'll write more fully about my interview with Johnson with more details on his war experience.Despite Johnson's backtracking, however, the first page of the book states in plain English "Credited with more than 2,600 KIA, he is perhaps the most deadly soldier in US history ... "
More From Business Insider
- Here's A Timeline Of The US Military's Camouflage Disaster
- Combat Medic Describes How He Survived After Stepping On A Bomb
- Assad's Latest Recruits Are Literally Trying To Bring On The Apocalypse
- Books & Publishing
- Arts & Entertainment