The Allegations

Chief Special Warfare Operator Bryce Henson, a former Marine now serving as a Navy SEAL, is currently under investigation for alleged connections with extremist groups, including the Proud Boys. This investigation follows reports of his participation in various protests and public meetings across Southern California, where he has been accused of propagating anti-LGBTQ+ views. Operating under the alias “Ben Richards,” Henson has been a visible figure in these events,  supposedly often seen in the company of Proud Boy members. Ben Richards was the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in the 1987 film The Running Man.

Navy spokesman Cmdr. Ben Tisdale has confirmed this investigation, emphasizing that while Navy personnel are free to exercise their rights to free speech and assembly, involvement with hate groups is against Navy core values and is strictly prohibited.

This stance aligns with the Pentagon’s updated guidelines from December 2021, which detail prohibited activities for service members and categorize advocating for widespread unlawful discrimination, including that based on gender identity or sexual orientation, as extremist activity.

Henson’s activities first came into the spotlight following a Los Angeles Times report in October, which revealed his activities under the pseudonym. Local reporters and activists had been aware of his real identity since spring. KPBS, a PBS affiliate in San Diego, also covered Henson’s story.

His Online Alias

Online, Henson’s alias, “Ben Richards,” is linked to “SoCal Parent Advocates.” This group, predominantly featured on social media, was reportedly founded by Henson. In discussions with the L.A. Times, Henson admitted to using the pseudonym initially for safety but later as a means to mock transgender individuals.

Multiple media outlets have reportedly attempted to contact Henson for comments on the investigation and his dual identity but received no response. However, a statement released under his pseudonym expressed confidence that the investigation would clear him of any wrongdoing, portraying him as a committed father and hero.

Henson at Rally
Henson, right, directs his bullhorn toward the face of a pro-LGBTQ+ demonstrator during an Orange County, CA, rally earlier this year.

Before his Navy career, Henson served over four years in the Marines, enlisting in November 2004 and leaving as a sergeant in February 2009. He joined the Navy in May 2010, immediately entering the SEAL training program, and was later assigned to the Navy Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), commonly known as SEAL Team Six. He is currently assigned to the Naval Special Warfare Center at Coronado.