In the hallowed halls of the Pentagon, next to photos of military greats like Patton, Eisenhower and Nimitz, once hung a portrait of a Ensign Chuck Hord, a man who, as the plaque on the gilded frame reads, was sadly lost at sea in 1908.
Ensign Chuck Hord is no legendary seaman. In fact, Ensign Chuck Hord doesn’t even exist. The man in the portrait is just a guy with an ’80s haircut and some truly ballsy friends.
Sorry, did we say portrait? Make that photo, as the Wall Street Journal recently uncovered. The man staring out at you above is Capt Tuck Hord, in a Naval Academy graduation portrait taken in 1982 in his hometown of Kingsport, Tennessee. Several copies of the picture were made, as an advertisement for the small town portrait studio. Including one that made its way to Hord’s retirement party decades later.
When that shindig ended, Hord refused to take the portrait with him. So his colleagues, an entente of British and Canadian officers, hatched a plan for its prominent placement, through a top-secret military operation dubbed “The Project”.
They they had a fake plaque engraved leaving out explicit battle names to avoid suspicion, and in the wee hours of a July morning last year, a Canadian officer marched it straight into the Pentagon and installed it in the C-ring hallway. And there it stayed, fairly unnoticed, until recently, when the WSJ started inquiring with officials as to why this ill-fated early 20th-century mariner had such a modern ‘do. The jig, as they say, was up.
The DoD has since removed the epic photo, because it didn’t meet the stringent requirements for placement in the building. But while Hord is certainly no Eisenhower, he and his cronies will go down in the books as perhaps the greatest military pranksters ever. And for what it’s worth, Hord did have a storied military career that included hunting drug runners in the Pacific and an office with a beer fridge. So maybe he deserved a spot on those sacred walls after all. [Wall Street Journal]