In Our Opinion


By • Mar 20th, 2004 •

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On January 17, 2004 the Los Angeles Times ran an article written by James Bates exposing Charles Holland, president of the Writers Guild of America West, as a phony Green Beret among other career embellishments. With meticulous research Bates carefully documented the discrepancies in Holland’s authorized biographical story, “Soldier of Fortune,” clearly indicating that he had never been in US Army Special Forces nor served in combat.

The Writers Guild of America is the foremost registry for screenplays in the motion picture industry and is considered one of the most influential groups in entertainment. Becoming a member of this prestigious organization does not come cheap: An aggregate of twenty-four (24) units of Credit is required and a check in the amount of $2,500. The organization is meant to be the agency protecting writer’s rights against fraudulent claims of authorship.

Several members of the Special Operations Forces (SOF) community (Rangers, SEALS, Air Commandos, and Green Berets) responded vocally to Holland’s presidency. Led by Chuck Pfarrer, a legitimate former US Navy SEAL, screenwriter, and member of the Writer’s Guild of America, complaints were lodged about this senior executive of WGA West. They called for Holland’s resignation.

On March 18, 2004, Holland issued a press release announcing his resignation as of President of WGAw.

“Effective immediately, I am resigning as President of the WGAw. I do this fully of my own volition because I believe it to be in the best interest ofr the Guild.

Shortly after I was appointed president, I became the subject of controversy regarding my military and football background. Many felt I should resign. Many urged me to remain. I thought the questions raised were irrelevant to the Guild and expected they would be marginalized when placed in context with my professional career and Guild service. Consequently, I determined to let process sort matters out.

Though the WGAw Board of Directors had no constitutional power to remove me, I sought a vote of confidence and received one. The Guild constitution provides for recall on petition of 300 signatures, relatively minor for a Guild of 9,000 members. I expected petitions to circulate, and they did. However, the requisite signatures were never obtained. I went further to conduct informal outreach measures by supporters and collect member feedback from TV staff visits performed by the guild’s Member Services department. What has emerged is that, though members lack motivation to have me removed, deep misgivings and substantial concerns lie in the minds of a great many members. I am now persuaded that the personal aspersions cast upon me will continue and that they will distract our Guild’s focus, hindering our negotiating position. That I cannot allow.

In my Guild service, I have always trumpeted unity, strength, and common sense. As committed as I am to fulfilling my responsibilities and to standing up for myself, the Guild is more important than one man. On the eve of negotiations, I have no choice but to remove myself and clear the air for the only issue that matters – the best possible deal for the benefit of the most possible writers.

I possess great pride in having served the Guild with all my might for six years. With deep personal regret, I step aside, yet I know that I leave the WGAw in the best of hands. To my supporters, know that I will be forever grateful for, even awed by, your loyalty and devotion. I urge you to invest that loyalty in Dan Petrie Jr. and the Writers Guild of America as I return to the honorable position of WGAw member in good standing.”

The Special Operations Forces community were furious at Holland’s military assertions and consider his resignation a victory for true combat veterans. There had never been a secret course for Special Forces qualification as Holland claimed. Headquarters for US Army Special Operations Command at Ft. Bragg had no record of Holland ever being assigned there. Everyone who is Special Forces qualified is in their database. Even men assigned to classified missions have records annotated showing them assigned to specific units. Further, men of SOF know each other, or can rapidly find others who do know them. Holland failed all tests and refused to provide the unclassified records that would support his SOF assignments. His claim combat missions where he was “shot at by snipers” were equally false.

In “Stolen Valor,” B. G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley documented false claims from the Vietnam War. These people are known as SOF wannabes. Holland has joined them and his record can now be found on the SEAL Wall of Shame.

Holland was repeatedly offered chances to explain his actions or retract his statements. Instead he lied. Most ironic is that Holland writes for JAG, a CBS television series dedicated to searching for military justice.

The interview portraying Holland as a Green Beret can be located at: He stated that he did not go to Afghanistan. Holland said: “Now somebody has to show up for me, and there’s a degree of guilt about that.”

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