No, A Secret Service Agent Did Not Have ‘Tactical Fake Arms’ During The Inauguration

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President Donald Trump waves as he walks with first lady Melania Trump during the inauguration parade on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2016.
AP Photo by Evan Vucci

Trump’s inauguration ceremony in Washington D.C. has left us, the American public, with much to process. But not everyone is obsessing over crowd sizes, or riots, or whether “alternative facts” are facts from a parallel universe or just lies (you be the judge!). For some, maybe the most intriguing moment of the whole spectacle was the unusual behavior of one man: Not the new president, but rather a secret service agent, or bodyguard, who accompanied Trump and Melania along the inaugural parade route. Now, a network of internet sleuths are trying to figure out what it means.


The agent in question first appeared in footage of Trump and his entourage walking in the parade. He’s a large man with a bald head and a “don’t fuck with me” look on his face — you know, the classic bodyguard type. In the video, the bodyguard’s hands are held conspicuously in front of him, one touching the pinky finger of the other, as if he’s adjusting a ring. Seems normal enough, right? Well, that depends on how you think arms should behave. Because instead of moving around — the way human arms tend to do — the agent’s arms seem to stay permanently fixed in the same awkward position for the entire procession. That’s a long time for a person to hold their arms in such a way. Something’s going on here.

It didn’t take long for conspiracy theories about the bodyguard with the mysteriously stiff arms to begin circulating on the internet. The most popular, and reasonable, theory is that the arms aren’t real. They’re decoys. According to that theory, the fake arms would have allowed the bodyguard to carry a rifle beneath his coat, which many sleuths pointed out was unusually large and boxy. Then, if someone attacked, surprise!: the bodyguard’s real arms would emerge from the coat with the rifle and, using his real trigger finger, he’d swiss-cheese the assailant.

“After yesterday’s presidential inauguration, many members of the military and law enforcement community noticed something very unusual about one of Trump’s bodyguards,” begins a post that appeared on the gaming blog FragHero. The author adds, “The conclusion they reached was that he did indeed have tactical fake arms.”

Look, I’m not one to question the tactical expertise of a bunch of guys who are really good at Call of Duty. My combat experience is limited to just the boring old counterinsurgency stuff we did in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, yes, of course, I want to live in a world where a presidential bodyguard uses tactical fake arms to conceal a rifle in his coat. We all do. But we don’t. Or if we do, there’s no proof of it yet. Because, you see, those arms — those unusually stiff arms — are, in fact, real. Made of real flesh and bone. The evidence abounds, but allow me to direct you to the gif below, which is one of several images that show the bodyguard’s arms and hands in motion. The bodyguard, In the background of the image, exits one of the vehicles in the motorcade, and adjusts his tie and coat the way a man — a human man with functional arms — does whenever he’s about to appear in public.

A little while later, you see his hands move again (we’ve blown it up so you can see it clearly). And so there you have it. Those fake arms are real.       

Watch the full video of the agent from CSPAN below.

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Marine Maj. Jose J. Anzaldua Jr. spent more than three years during the height of the Vietnam War. Now, more than 45 years after his release, Sig Sauer is paying tribute to his service with a special gift.

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The gunmaker also released a short documentary entitled "Once A Marine, Always A Marine" — a fitting title given Anzaldua's courageous actions in the line of duty

Marine Maj. Jose Anzaldua's commemorative 1911 pistol

(Sig Sauer)

Born in Texas in 1950, Anzaldua enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1968 and deployed to Vietnam as an intelligence scout assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

On Jan. 23, 1970, he was captured during a foot patrol and spent 1,160 days in captivity in various locations across North Vietnam — including he infamous Hỏa Lò Prison known among American POWs as the "Hanoi Hilton" — before he was freed during Operation Homecoming on March 27, 1973.

Anzaldua may have been a prisoner, but he never stopped fighting. After his release, he received two Bronze Stars with combat "V" valor devices and a Prisoner of War Medal for displaying "extraordinary leadership and devotion to his companions" during his time in captivity. From one of his Bronze Star citations:

Using his knowledge of the Vietnamese language, he was diligent, resourceful, and invaluable as a collector of intelligence information for the senior officer interned in the prison camp.

In addition, while performing as interpreter for other United States prisoners making known their needs to their captors, [Anzaldua] regularly, at the grave risk of sever retaliation to himself, delivered and received messages for the senior officer.

On one occasion, when detected, he refused to implicate any of his fellow prisoners, even though severe punitive action was expected.

Anzaldua also received a Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroism in December 1969, when he entered the flaming wreckage of a U.S. helicopter that crashed nearr his battalion command post in the country's Quang Nam Province and rescued the crew chief and a Vietnamese civilian "although painfully burned himself," according to his citation.

After a brief stay at Camp Pendleton following his 1973 release, Anzaldua attended Officer Candidate School at MCB Quantico, Virginia, earning his commission in 1974. He retired from the Corps in 1992 after 24 years of service.

Sig Sauer presented the commemorative 1911 pistol to Anzaldua in a private ceremony at the gunmaker's headquarters in Newington, New Hampshire. The pistol's unique features include:

  • 1911 Pistol: the 1911 pistol was carried by U.S. forces throughout the Vietnam War, and by Major Anzaldua throughout his service. The commemorative 1911 POW pistol features a high-polish DLC finish on both the frame and slide, and is chambered in.45 AUTO with an SAO trigger. All pistol engravings are done in 24k gold;
  • Right Slide Engraving: the Prisoner of War ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor and "Major Jose Anzaldua" engravings;
  • Top Slide Engraving: engraved oak leaf insignia representing the Major's rank at the time of retirement and a pair of dog tags inscribed with the date, latitude and longitude of the location where Major Anzaldua was taken as a prisoner, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" taken from the POW-MIA flag;
  • Left Side Engraving: the Vietnam War service ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor engraving;
  • Pistol Grips: anodized aluminum grips with POW-MIA flag.

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