William G. "Bill" Hillar
Bill Hillar said he knew the subject all too well. His daughter Sale was abducted in Asia in 1988 and sold into the sex-slave trade, he said. He spent a futile six months trying to find and rescue her, but she died in captivity.
It was all a lie, and now Hillar is under investigation for his claims by the FBI.
"Colonel in Special Forces - only in his dreams," said Jeff "J.D." Hinton, a retired Army Special Forces Soldier who began investigating Hillar more than a year ago after hearing there were problems with his background. Hinton immediately began copying images of Hillar's website and other sites in which Hillar's expertise and background were featured. Using personal connections in the Army Special Forces community as well as official channels, Hinton began exposing the holes in Hillar's background on his own website, Professionalsoldiers.com, in October.
There is no record of a William G. Hillar in any Special Forces outfit - ever - says Hinton. In fact, a search of military personnel records turned up only one William G. Hillar, a radioman in the Coast Guard from 1962 to 1970, according to Hinton.
Military.com was not able to reach Hillar through the e-mail address and phone number previously listed on his website. Rich Wolf, a spokesman for the FBI's Maryland and Delaware division, confirmed the Bureau is investigating Hillar but would not offer details.
For more than five years, Hillar promoted himself as an expert in international trafficking and counterterrorism. He traveled the country to speak before charity groups, college students and even law enforcement organizations. He has been paid to teach classes, including at the prestigious Monterey Institute for International Studies.
On his now-defunct website, he claimed to be a retired Special Forces colonel who served in Asia, the Middle East and Central and South America. He boasted training and experience in tactical counterterrorism, service with allied forces' elite troops and advising foreign governments and militaries.
When Hillar was confronted about his military credentials by former students, he reportedly denied claiming to be a Green Beret, saying he was just an adviser to the service.
Professionalsoldier.com's Hinton -- who makes it his business to ferret out phony war heroes and spec ops wannabes on his website -- claims Hillar has "made some serious money" passing himself off as a larger-than-life hero. Some promotional material on Hillar states his claimed attempt to rescue his daughter from human traffickers was partly the basis of a 2008 Liam Neeson film called "Taken."
A report in the Monterey County Weekly last month quoted a State Department spokesman as saying there is no record of an American woman named Hillar having been kidnapped anywhere in the world in 1988. Monterey officials began looking into Hillar after the school was contacted by a reader of Hinton's website and some student veterans voiced suspicion of Hillar. When Hillar did not get back to the school with proof of his many claims, it ended its relationship with him.
Hillar's other venues began drying up, too.
The University of Oregon, where Hillar also taught his human trafficking course, quickly dropped him and reported his charade to police.
At George Mason University in Virginia, where he was booked to speak in November, the school canceled his appearance. A spokeswoman said: "If he had shown up, he would have been escorted off campus."
Bill Hillar was honored by Elon University as a hometown hero
Bill Hillar maintained a website (www.billhillartraining.com). Yet, around the time that people began questioning his status as either a hero or a liar, his website was taken down. Yet, once on the Internet . . . always on the Internet. This link is an archive of his biography from his website. Looking further, it appears that he had Elon University scammed into believing his story. On November 12th, he was honored by the university as a “Hometown Hero” by being a person that “makes a difference.” Here is a link to the Elon University story. It’s clear that Bill Hillar presented himself as someone other than who he actually is.
Hinton said fakers such as Hillar don't understand how small the Special Operations community is. It doesn't take long to establish whether someone is the real thing. He believes the Monterey Institute, which touted Hillar for five years as an adjunct professor, could have found him out and acted a lot sooner.
"They were showcasing this guy like a three-headed snake," he said. "Now, they're trying to say he was not an adjunct professor, but just a contractor. All they're trying to do is mitigate their liability."
To make amends to Hillar's former students, the Institute has offered to let them keep the credit they earned or remove it from their academic record and let them take a makeup course for no charge. Some students who socialized with Hillar out of the classroom don't think it's possible to make up for what happened.
"I bought this man a couple of beers at the Crown & Anchor after class," a student identified as Theresa W. wrote on a Monterey Institute website Nov. 22. "Will MIIS refund me this? I cried for his young daughter who was killed by human traffickers."
This kind of slimeball dwells in a special kind of Hell - the Coward's Hell - which is dying a thousand deaths every day in his own mind; especially once he's found out . . .
. . . S.L.