A gaping hole in Fr. Corapi’s story

From time to time, people have raised questions about Fr. Corapi’s claims concerning his military service. It understandable since so many people somehow managed to all get the same impression that he had been a Green Beret, including his own order.

Here’s a Wayback Machine capture of the SOLT site from 2003 in which he is described as a Green Beret.

Prior to ordination, Fr. John Corapi, Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT), was a high school football star, blackbelt in Karate, Green Beret soldier, CPA, Las Vegas casino auditor, multimillionaire real estate businessman with a yacht, Ferrari, and home on the ocean. He eventually became a cocaine addict…destitute, homeless, and wandering the streets in Los Angeles.

Various other web sources from around that time likewise repeat the Green Beret claim, making it hard to see how these people got this impression that he was actually a Green Beret when he never made any such claim.

But in charity let us suppose they all misunderstood him the same way and mistakenly took his claim to have training in Special Forces or some sort of Green Beret-ish stuff as a claim to have actually been a Green Beret. Mistakes and miscommunications happen.

At any rate, it is well documented from Fr. Corapi’s own mouth that Corapi says he had the Special Forces/Green Beret *training* but was injured and given a desk job. And so the basic story (for whom we have absolutely nobody but Fr. Corapi as our source–as is so common throughout all this business) runs as follows:

Father Corapi, a Roman Catholic Priest, was ordained to the Priesthood in 1991. Before ordination, Corapi, whose mother was a devout Catholic, spent twenty years away from the Church. He joined the Army soon after High School, was an athlete and became a Green Beret, Special Forces qualified soldier, often recounting his experience whilst training in Georgia; a helicopter accident kept him out of Vietnam. He later recounted his entire team being sent over to Vietnam and later all killed in combat operations.

Convenient that. The rest of his Special Forces/Green Berets class were all “killed in Vietnam” and he alone is left to tell the tale. And tell it he has, for years, as we hear in the clip above.

The whole “Special Forces/Green Beret training” thing is one of Fr. Corapi’s most fetching tales. He has built a whole mystique around it. Here on this video, for example (at the 7:51 mark), he touches his lapel where he wears not a cross but a full-sized SF Badge, quickly pointing at the pin, and utters the words De Oppresso Liber,” (the motto of the Special Forces) and adds “Free the oppressed.”


You’re watching Fr. Corapi’s Conversion Story – Condensed Version. See the Web’s top videos on AOL Video

The problem is this. There is an organization called the POWNetwork, which is neither religious nor part of some conspiracy of liberals in the Church trying to destroy Corapi. It is, in fact, a group of veterans of military service who, in addition to honoring those who have suffered and borne the heat of battle, also devote themselves to researching the claims of those they suspect are “phonies“. Their reason is simplicity itself. As they say:

Why do we expose those that lie?
Take a good look at this picture and then tell us an individual has a constitutional right – “Freedom of Speech” – to say he earned a Purple Heart when he did not.

Pfc. Adam Bates receives the Purple Heart Award.

The POWNETwork made a Freedom of Information Act request for Fr. John Corapi’s military records (which you can see for yourself at this link). As they point out, there is no record that Corapi ever attended any special forces training, nor was ever in Panama, nor Vietnam, nor Airborne training which is a basic requirement for Green Berets.

The military only documents that he had Admin Clerk training and served in Germany.

Now it may be that if you wash out there’s no record of the training whatsoever. But shouldn’t there be a record of the washout? Also, where is the record of the helicopter injury?

Frank Weathers, an actual military dude instructed in the mysteries of decoding military forms, writes:

That record of his service, for those of us who can decipher them, shows on the second page that he went to basic training at Fort Jackson SC, and then went to Fort Knox for Admin School. Then he shipped out to Europe.

No sign of his ever being based at Fort Benning in GA for Airborne training. No sign of his ever being at Fort Bragg NC, which is the home of Special Forces. The helicopter accident is baloney, unless he fell out of mockup of one and hurt himself. This is why in my post to the padre, I said he made all clerk-typists who served honorably look bad in the bargain, and that this helo accident was unlikely.

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  • Joel Martin

    Before making any judgment concerning Father Corapi and his claim of having received Special Forces training, Father Corapi should be given an opportunity to respond. The reason I say this is because since the Vietnam War era many military records have either been misplaced or lost. It is also my belief that records were not always properly kept. I say this based on my own personal experience:

    When I was inducted at New Haven, Ct. I was not given an audiogram (a hearing evaluation). After explaining to a doctor on the premise of my hearing difficulties due to diseased mastoids and a history of earaches since childhood I was placed last in the line of examinees to be tested. When my turn arrived I was directed to another room to take an oath of allegiance rather than being tested. In spite of my protest I was told I would be given an audiogram at my next destination, which was Fort Jackson, S.C. The exam never occurred. Just before my honorable separation after two years of service and 4 surgeries at an Armed Services hospital in Denver, Co. I had the opportunity to examine my service records beginning with the record at the induction station in New Haven. To my dismay there was a completed audiogram showing normal hearing at every level of testing. A false record had been manufactured!

    Besides this false record I believe there is likely no record of my having received training as a combat medic. None was to be found in my record of service when I cleared my last post. I surmise that it didn’t exist simply because I had not complete the very last part of my training due scheduled surgery. Thus it’s very possible (and maybe even likely) a record of training of Father Corapi in Special Forces was never created if he did not in fact complete it for some reason or other.

  • Marie

    It is obvious that everything Fr. Corapi did, he excelled at.

    • chezami

      Especially fraud.