Some veterans refer to Landon Steele as a “Kardashian vet” because his primary focus seems to be on building his own brand on social media. The pictures he posts on Facebook are almost always over the top, staged, and feature him wearing makeup to cover up the jaundice from excessive drinking, and sock filled clothing to cover up for his incredibly skinny frame.
He uses social media to build up a following, largely of women who believe he’s some sort of modern day American combat hero.
There are some veterans out there who have become popular public figures using social media, which Landon is clearly aspiring to be. Landon attempts to use these people for clout. One of these guys is John Burk, a fitness guru and gamer with over 600,000 Facebook followers who posted things that included Landon until about three years ago when he suddenly stopped.
Since publishing the blog John Burk did reach out to us to make it clear he’s wanted nothing to do with Landon since Landon double crossed him as well.
I was not the first person to question or investigate Landon’s military service. Many other veterans have found his behavior suspicious over the years, and have since reached out to us. But all of them tell us the same thing – when they spoke out publicly they were all shunned by the veteran community. Landon used people like John Burk to make himself an untouchable entity. John has since taken all images down, including this one.
Some might call this picture powerful, but most veterans who know Landon call it self-serving. The goal was to highlight the epidemic of suicide in the veteran community, but any one of the people in this image could’ve played the part of the suicidal vet. Those who know him tell us that there is no doubt in their mind that Landon was going to be the guy with the gun in his mouth, because he thrives off of attention. He portrays himself as a decorated veteran who is suffering from PTSD because he’s seen multiple friends die in front of his eyes. But he’s not suicidal, nor did he see anything in combat that would cause him to suffer from PTSD. He allegedly uses this contrived affliction to collect $1,500 a month in disability though.
The images from this photo shoot have been shared by countless times by various pages.
Except Landon didn’t create these pictures as he’s led people to believe, and many people have called him out for it.
Landon took a serious and somber issue and made it all about him.
All of this notoriety has made Landon sort of the de facto, go-to veteran for the Minnesota media to reach out to whenever they do a story on Memorial or Veteran’s Day. The Minneapolis CBS affiliate has written countless stories on him which are archived here. The problem is that many of the things he has said in those stories conflicts with reality. In 2014 he participated in a walk to raise money for veteran’s organizations.
For some servicemen and women, Memorial Day is every day they wake up and remember those who did not make it back from war.
“These are my fallen brothers and sisters. Typically when we lose one of them in combat the unit gives out bracelets, KIA bracelets, and it’s a way for us to always have them with us,” combat medic Landon Steele said.
Steele knows the pain associated with this day. He lost close friends in combat. Steele and others who wear the uniform, like Ranger Landon Nordby, deal with the guilt of surviving.
Except the bracelets Landon wears honor complete strangers who died in combat. Landon never saw any Americans get killed in Iraq. He talked about those bracelets again in a story the year prior (2013).
Memorial Day is especially meaningful for the families, friends and comrades left behind. While veterans today are reflecting on lives lost during combat, they are also thinking of the families left without loved ones and the pain they endure every day. Their war experiences were different. Landon Steele was a combat medic in Iraq. Chuck Sasse was a flight engineer in World War II.
But the emptiness they carry from the loss of their comrades is the same.
“I wear their bracelets. I have to change them out throughout the year,” Steele said.
Steele wears his emotions on his arm and wrists; tattoos and bracelets that keep those who did not come home close.
“We have to carry their memory. We have to be like our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers,” Steele said.
The Soldiers’ Cross and words from the Gettysburg Address cover his arm, both of which help him keep Memorial Day in perspective.
“From these honored dead, I take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave their last full measure of devotion. I highly resolve that these dead should not die in vain,” read Steele from his arm.
“The 8th Air Force had the highest casualty rate of World War II,” Sasse said. “And I saw most of them shot down.”
Sasse, age 92, says forgetting is not an option.
What made that story so cringeworthy was the fact that he was featured next to an actual World War 2 hero. Landon couldn’t hold that guy’s jock strap.
In another story he lied and said he was preparing to return to Iraq as a medic, even though he wasn’t certified, nor was he even in the guard any longer. In this piece he makes the case for a prolonged war in Iraq while President Obama was scaling down our presence there.
After two tours in Iraq, Landon Steele is preparing to return.
“I’m a medic and a linguist, and we got people suffering over there. If I have the ability to do something about it, I’m going to do it. My oath of enlistment in the military may be over but my commitment to the cause is still there,” said Iraq Veteran Landon Steele.
Steele says he and others who deployed to Iraq have a special tie to that country.
“You don’t continuously deploy to a country multiple times without forming relationships with the locals there. They become a part of your extended family, just like your military family,” Steele said.
It’s the uncertainty of what will happen to the people the military relied on to help complete their mission that concerns Steele the most.
“We’re scared for the civilians we left behind there. We’re heartbroken to watch something you built for almost a decade fall apart in 48 hours,” Steele said.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has taken much of Iraq’s northern territory and continues to move toward the capital city of Baghdad. Steele say when he sees images of what is going on now it makes him wonder what the story would be if boots were still on the ground in Iraq.
“When they pulled us out not too long ago, told us that we were leaving a more stable and secure Iraq, and those of us who actually fought there kind of looked at each other and said I’m not sure what country they are talking about because they are not ready for it. We all predicted this. It was a matter when it was going to happen,” Steele said.
Steele will return to Iraq as a military contractor sometime this summer.
Others saw this story and were disgusted by it.
Thousands of American soldiers have died fighting a war that was based off of a lie about weapons of mass destruction. Landon, who didn’t see any major combat, had no close friends killed in action, and wasn’t really going back to Iraq at all, was bemoaning the fact that American soldiers were no longer going to have to die for these lies.
This was the cover photo used in that story.
In Part 4 we spoke with veterans who served alongside Landon in Iraq, and they informed us that he had gone off base without permission in order to play doctor with the locals.
Almost every veteran we’ve spoken to about Landon Steele has told us that his service alone was admirable. He had no reason to lie or embellish for profit, but he’s done so anyway. One soldier I spoke with made it clear that Landon was willing to put his life on the line, he just hadn’t been presented with the opportunity to. However, Landon got in trouble when he attempted to obtain an award that the General he was there to protect specifically ordered him not to.
The first is the incident that he used my sworn statement in, but the details he presents are fictitious. The rocket hit 100 meters away from us, not 30 feet. He never hit the ground. Someone else tripped as we converged on the General to protect him and run for cover. The helicopters had to leave, because if they didn’t, and they were hit, it would have been catastrophic. The General specifically said no one would be awarded a Combat Action Badge for these events- but Landon used my statement to either obtain one or he fraudulently wore one and used my statement as if to back it up.
The second incident was during an attack on our base, FOB Danger, in Tikrit. We were mortared on a daily bases but this day they hit the Chow Hall. The General wanted to go there in the middle of it so we scooped him up and brought him there. As we arrived, we saw Soldier laying wounded on the ground- Landon kept out of the truck and jumped a barrier to get to him. However, no round came even close to him.
To be honest with you, this is modern combat. As much as Landon lies about what he did, and as much as that hurts to see how much he embellishes, he wants to be a hero. He showed heroism, and maybe recklessness that day. I don’t think he was a fully qualified medic, but he knew enough to get by. He embellished this story needlessly, but I will give him credit, he rushed out of an armored humvee to help someone wounded, in danger.
Landon has repeatedly lied about what happened in Tikrit, claiming that 27 rockets were fired that nearly hit him, leading to several awards.
Some have noticed that his story changes all the time about this incident.
He previously asked for witnesses to write him letters verifying his version of events that day after doctors allegedly found shrapnel in his neck and brain in 2011, possibly to document evidence that he was eligible for disability.
He made up a story about fighting through the pain because they were in Saddam Hussein’s town, and they needed him due to the fact that he was the only medic and linguist (he is actually neither of those), so he had to overcome the “red sweat” (blood) and tough his way through it.
Since Landon’s service in the army ended he has presented himself as a hired mercenary who frequently gets called on for top secret missions, presumably because he’s so valuable. In reality he collects disability, couch surfs from woman to woman, and occasionally volunteers to do humanitarian work in a foreign country. One of those countries he claimed to have gone to was Somalia, where he was hired to kill pirates. He posted images from there frequently, and I’ve screenshotted the comments that go along with the pictures to show you how many people were fooled by his lies.
“Just a normal guy.” Landon Steele is an American hero, but he’s also humble.
He frequently referenced shooting at pirates from a distance.
This comment was my personal favorite.
Landon Steele – gets shot in the face (by himself while drunk), brushes it off, invades countries, and actively looks for a great woman who he can marry, cook for, and have children with. This is the heroic yet humble persona he uses to lure the women he victimizes.
Landon claimed in one post that his decision to go to Somalia to fight pirates was spontaneous and happened at a bar.
Except his supervisor who reached out to us tells a much different story.
Landon worked under my supervision within the maritime security industry. Upon his first return of providing a security on a vessel, he began making Facebook post about how he fought off a skiff of pirates, which was far from the truth. While waiting at the operations house in Sri Lanka… Landon ejaculated all over a room throughout a day and showed many signs of mental instability. I permitted him to utilize my room in the operations house while I was away to attend a meeting in Qatar. When I returned, there was dried cum all over my desk and other areas of the room. If I recall correctly I believe it was in 2015.
Obviously he did not last long before we sent him home. His employment within the maritime security industry was very brief for obvious reasons, but if you followed his Facebook you would think he was a worldwide operator and one of the top maritime security officers. He escorted (2) vessels while many others have escorted hundreds.
At the time I was an operator/operations manager. So I had overseen the entire operation and dispatched the personnel to various vessels. Also had an incident with him at the customs/immigrations in the UAE. He was portraying himself to be some secret operative for the US government and the port authorities wouldn’t permit him to board the vessel. We had to smooth things over with the port authorities but it caused a significant delay and a lot of issues.
We had a lot of operators with a lot of time under their belts in the operating world along with several prior SF personnel. Landon would only tell his BS stories to outsiders and not to the group due to they would call him out on his BS. We all laugh about Landon and know he’s full of it, but we also get aggravated because we know he markets and portrays himself to be something he is not even close to being. Operators never really talk about the operations let alone make all kinds of post about the operations. First rule of thumb is if you have someone boasting or trying to gain attention about what they did then they more than likely either a) didn’t do it or b) overly exaggerating it to gain attention.
If you recall, one of his victims in Part 2 said that Landon was a chronic dolphin flogger, but doing it where your boss would find it and then not cleaning up after yourself indicates just how vile Landon can get.
We’ll pick up with more Somalia stories in Part 6.
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