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And, yes, Ventura was a braggart, especially with a few beers in him, Burbank says. “Jesse Ventura is so erratic, anyway. He’s an erratic character. And if you’re going to look at his participation in [our wars] versus Chris Kyle’s participation, Chris Kyle eclipses him by 10,000 percent. Jesse was just a grunt in a SEAL team for one tour.”

And yet, Nicholas Schmidle in the New Yorker reports that Kyle made claims of derring-do back home that are scarcely credible: that he shot two would-be carjackers, that he set up atop the New Orleans Superdome after Hurricane Katrina and shot dozens of armed residents. Police have no records of these claimed vigilante episodes.

“Look, the pressure to keep on being the hero is there, even for a bona fide hero like Kyle,” Burbank says.

Is it possible Kyle fabricated his Ventura story to impress his admirers?

“It is. I think he could have embellished some stories. Even though he didn’t really need to, with his record.”

What does Burbank think about Ventura insisting on pursuing the lawsuit even now, after Kyle has died?

“That’s not very kind or generous, to sue the widow of a dead Navy SEAL. He’s saying things out of school that he didn’t have to. He’s in the wrong. He’s already transgressed against his brother. We have that brotherhood thing going in the teams. I’d tell him just to drop the case.”

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Visduh Aug. 8, 2013 @ 12:15 p.m.

Correct me if I'm mistaken, but I recall a lengthy article in the Reader from as long as ten years ago that closely examined the truth of Ventura's claim to have been a SEAL. The piece, by a local retired Navy man, was a recounting of a methodical search of records and recollections of many people, and he concluded that Ventura was never a true SEAL, although he might have been honestly mistaken. (His conclusion was that Ventura progressed to the point of being a UDT specialist, i.e. "frogman.") He speculated that the SEALs who knew better allowed Ventura to make that claim without challenging it as a courtesy to Ventura, who had been elected the governor of Minnesota, especially since he portrayed them in a favorable light.

What makes no sense here is the notion of Ventura, if he were an impostor, attending an annual get-together of real SEALs. So, we might ask if he was even there for Kyle to punch. Not much about this incident makes a lot of sense, other than chest-beating by a former pro wrestler (and you can reach your own conclusions about that.)


Visduh Aug. 11, 2013 @ 8:25 p.m.

We have been told that SEALs don't talk much and seldom if ever brag. I've been waiting for three days to see someone tell me more, or that I don't know what I'm posting. Nothing, zip, zilch, nada. Is that lack of a comment or two due to reticence, or just plain indifference? Does anybody care? I'd say no.


BManJamz Feb. 10, 2014 @ 9:09 a.m.

As Don Shipley describes, the training was the same. At the end, they either assigned you to a Seal Team, or a UDT team--it wasn't because you were better or worse. it was where they needed you. In Ventura's case, it was UDT, 12.


muttley March 5, 2014 @ 10:25 p.m.

Don Shipley is not the guy who decides who is a SEAL and who isn't. Ventura was never on a SEAL team and was never in combat. It came out at the trial that he was never in Vietnam and was never on a SEAL reserve team. Ventura lied about fighting in Vietnam, he lied about being a SEAL and he lied about getting punched in the face.


Jeff_O Aug. 13, 2013 @ 6:32 p.m.

Taya's father is the mayor of Lake Oswego, Oregon.


Wakerobin Sept. 1, 2013 @ 9:12 a.m.

I asked the same question of a veteran SEAL and he told me that Ventura, who was a SEAL, had been down talking the Iraq War though not disrespecting any SEAL. Kyle came across the room and shoved him, with the men around quickly breaking up the altercation.


Cuprunnethrover Oct. 29, 2013 @ 7 a.m.

That probably is what happened. The scenario Kyle described seemed like a comic book scene, but the lawyers signed off on it with Chris' buddies backing up the story. Ventura has his own so maybe they can settle this tag-team style in the Ring.


elvishasleftsandiego July 20, 2014 @ 3:52 p.m.

This is an interesting article. I realize that Ventura can be a handful when it comes to issues like 9-11, but I always found it hard to believe that he would intentionally bad mouth a group of SEALs, especially at a memorial. Since Ventura is suing because he claims the punch out DIDN'T happen, the lawsuit makes sense. If he was suing Kyle alone for bad mouthing him in his book and on TV, it seems more likely he would have dropped the suit once Kyle had died, especially if he is worried about his reputation. As for whether Ventura was a real SEAL, who knows and who cares? UDT guy or frogman, it doesn't matter much to me. I have known guys who have lied about their "Special Forces" careers in order to get an edge in competitive employment. Real Spec Ops guys don't brag. I like Ventura. He's honest and he seems sincere most of the time.


2563pz Aug. 4, 2014 @ 7:21 a.m.

Real SF people freaking brag all the time. Hello I served in the special forces as a support soldier I never had a green hat but I served on that objective. I hear "they never talk about it" all the time from a lot of people that feel threatened by military men and there sometimes very true stories. I can't and don't talk to people anymore about my service because I find that they take that thought process on, here comes mr special forces telling stories. It sucks because that was the majority of my service to this country. This whole thing is sparked from the fact that spec ops brag, both of them involved both bragged both lied, so says a court of law. Ventura is a moron for just about everything he says. Kyle God look after him was a great SEAL and I hope more SEALs punch stupid people in the face for running their mouth about Iraq.


JonDickerson Oct. 30, 2014 @ 2:39 a.m.

What a slimy guy this Bill Burbank is. Everything his says is shady without fact but just conjecture meant to see like Chris Kyle was telling the truth without actually saying that he did. Him comparing Ventura's service with Kyle's shows what a snake he is. It's completely irrelevant to whether or not they actually got in a fight, which is the root of the dispute. Also it shows a lot of disrespect to any of our soldiers that served their duty but wasn't assign to combat. Jesse served six years and it wasn't up to him if he faced combat or not, that's up to his superiors.

That seems to be Kyle's whole case, a lot of conjecture and no real facts. Which is sad because it means Kyle made up the story when he didn't need to.

You have to wonder why Kyle just didn't come clean then. Probably because he had told so many of his buddies through the years that he had punched out Ventura and it was already part of his "legend" that if he came clean, he would be admitting to lying the whole time.

Truth is Kyle was decorated enough and had done so many great things for our country that he didn't need to make up these kinds of stories, but for whatever reason, he felt he needed to live up to some type of superhero image which birthed the other fibs in his life like the killing of two Mexican car-jackers or shooting 30 American looters during Hurricane Katrina.

Probably he was also aware of all the negative fall-out from James Frey admitting on Oprah that he had made up certain stuff in his book, "A Million Little Pieces". That pretty much destroyed Frey's career, his book sales plummeted and there was even a civil action lawsuit against him on behalf of all those that bought his book. Kyle definitely didn't want to have to deal with that, and in fact, offered Ventura money to drop the case. Kyle just didn't want to admit that he had lied and have to deal with the consequences.

In the end, it's a small fib that came with huge consequences. Kyle probably didn't think ahead of time the kind of huge backlash that his made-up story would bring to Ventura, with Jesse feeling he needed to defend his reputation at all costs. Of course no one knew Kyle would be murdered in a year too. So it was a little snowball that grew much bigger than he could have possibly imagined.

In the end, no one won from this. Ventura was vindicated about the fight, but his reputation took an even worse hit from having to pursue his case against Kyle's widow. Kyle lost his life. Had nothing to do with the case, but the tragedy made this whole issue seem minuscule compared to him losing his life and I'm sure Ventura didn't want to have to go to court with Kyle's wife when he first decided to defend himself.

Still, I think Ventura had every right to clear his name. He wasn't the one that started this and when the word got out that he supposedly bad-mouth our soldiers and said the Seals "deserved a few", his reputation was completely ruined for something he never said.


monaghan Jan. 20, 2015 @ 9:21 p.m.

Manson should stick to reviewing cheap eats. Why do we have to read about Seal grudges over questions raised in a macho shoving match in a Coronado bar?

Chris Kyle was a rural Texas kid who knew his way around guns, signed up in the military after 9/11 for four tours in Iraq, became a killer and then got killed by a fellow vet at a target-shooting range. Wrestler/Governor Jesse Ventura got his "Seal honor" dinged in Kyle's book and went to court to settle his hash. Ventura's dead now too, but just politically.

It interests me that no movie reviewer has pointed out that Clint Eastwood's 2014 glorification of Chris Kyle in "American Sniper" is almost a carbon copy of the award-winning 1942 film "Sergeant York" with Gary Cooper (Netflix.) Cooper plays a dirt-poor backwoods boy from the South who knows how to shoot a rifle, enlists in World War I, kills beaucoup Germans fighting in France, gets a celebrity's ticker-tape parade in NYC and receives the nation's gratitude in the form of a free house with surrounding acreage back home.

These violent "heroic" archetypes recur because they serve a purpose: keep the cannon fodder coming -- in World War II and again now when the country has to maintain an all-volunteer military.


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