Marine Double Amputee Taunted In Charlotte Grill

BY Herschel Smith
11 years, 8 months ago

From The Charlotte Observer (via WCNC):

The owner of a south Charlotte restaurant says he is “heartbroken” over an incident Sunday in which bantering between football fans got out of control, resulting in a U.S. Marine who lost both legs in Afghanistan being forced to leave the eatery with his wife, parents and friends.

Chris Neilsen, owner of the Moosehead Grill on Montford Drive, has been in contact with family members of Marine Garrett Carnes, of Mooresville, following the incident that Neilsen says “was awful.”

“I want to somehow make it right by them,” Neilsen says.

During a verbal altercation that some witnesses said almost came to blows, one patron allegedly told Carnes he was using his wheelchair “as an excuse.”

In an interview with The Observer, however, the fan said Carnes and members of his party were equally abusive. And he denied making a remark about the Marine’s wheelchair.

The incident happened after Carnes, his wife Courtney, their parents, and friends Brett and Nicole Coburn stopped at the restaurant for dinner after attending the Carolina Panthers’ game against Dallas. Several members of the party, including Garrett Carnes, were wearing Dallas Cowboys jerseys.

“Courtney was the first one out of the vehicle, and while she was getting Garrett’s wheelchair, one guy immediately started yelling at her,” said Brett Coburn, who described the man’s comments as “taunts.”

Coburn said that when the group reached the front door, the fan was waiting for them.

“He was standing at the door, and he started harassing us because of the Cowboys jerseys,” Coburn said.

He said the fan told Garrett Carnes, “Don’t use your wheelchair as a crutch.”

The fan, who did not want to give his name, gave a different account.

“Moosehead is a Panthers’ bar,” he said. “When they came, wearing the Cowboys’ jerseys, I started up on them. I asked them if they were Cowboys fans who lived in North Carolina.”

“I’m not going to fight someone in a wheelchair,” the fan said. “I said to him, ‘I’m not fighting you. Get four of your boys, and I’ll fight them.’ “

According to multiple accounts of the incident, Carnes told the patron – and others who were ridiculing the group for being Cowboys’ fans – that he was a veteran and had lost his legs in Afghanistan.

Members of the Carnes-Coburn party tried to “defend ourselves verbally,” Brett Coburn said.

“We were going back and forth,” the fan said. “Yes, it got out of control.”

The fan said one woman in the Carnes-Coburn party swore at him.

He said the fan walked toward Carnes in a threatening way, and some other patrons stepped in to break it up.

Neilsen said his employees are trained to separate possible combatants, in an effort to defuse such situations. On Sunday, staff members asked Garrett Carnes and his party to leave, while they took the fan to another area of the restaurant.

“It spiraled out of control,” Coburn says.

Courtney Carnes called police, but no charges were filed.

Neilsen said he arrived at the restaurant after the group had left and was in the parking lot, talking to police.

“I didn’t want them to leave,” he said of the Carnes-Coburn party, “but I understand why they left. I’m miserable. My heart hurts for them.”

He said the trouble was caused by people who “are not regulars” at the restaurant and added that the fan was not welcome to return.

Carnes, who is still undergoing treatment for his wounds at a Washington-area hospital, is trying to stay out of the dispute, Coburn said. Carnes’ mother, Rhonda, addressed a note to restaurant patrons on Facebook, saying, “Why didn’t any of you stand up for my son and daughter? And to think my son almost died for every single person in that bar, by defending all your freedom.”

The fan told the Observer, “He (Carnes) is a veteran, and I appreciate what he did for this country. But I don’t appreciate how abusive they were.”

Cedar Posts Blog has identified the culprit by name.  I won’t follow suit, but I will note that the original issue of the Charlotte Observer story identified the individual responsible as “Tank.”  They have since removed this from the report.

To learn more about Marine Corporal Garrett Carnes, read this earlier Charlotte Observer report.  My initial inclination was to inform “Tank” that I would like to meet him at a place and time of his choosing, and I would be happy to wear a Dallas Cowboys shirt (not that I am particularly a fan of the Cowboys) to see just what he thinks about it. You see, Tank doesn’t intimidate me.

But it appears from Facebook posts that there are enough people who want to meet Tank, so I thought I would focus on more important things.  Take careful note, Tank, of your reaction when you saw a double-amputee, and heard that he was a Marine.  You waxed idiotic concerning a shirt he was wearing.  You poked your belly out to defend a sports team that, frankly, doesn’t know you and doesn’t care anything about you.

Let’s be more specific.  I cannot stand quarterback Cam Newton.  I think that ridiculous head scarf he wears on the sidelines looks childish.  It sets him apart rather than marks him as a leader.  He will never be in the same class as say, Joe Montana, not if he lives 200 years.  And his silly superman act in the endzone makes him out to be a superstar wannabe.  I hate superstars, and I love team players.  The Marines are team players.  The Panthers are horrible in just about every other way, at least right now.

So, you spent your moral capital defending guys who do poorly at what they do, don’t know you, wouldn’t care anything about you if they did, and wouldn’t give you the time of day if they passed you on the street.  Losers, you and the Panthers.

Contrast that with the fellow you verbally abused.  He deployed to one of the worst places on earth to take down al Qaeda, al Qaeda sympathizers and their enablers.  He trained in deadly conditions (e.g., squad rushes with live fire) in order to do this, and will forever live with the consequences of his sacrifice for you.

If I had met him, I would have asked him permission to discuss his experiences in warfare.  You see, I owe him that respect, and some men don’t like to talk about it.  If he agreed, I have a whole host of questions for him.  What happened?  How did it happen?  When did it happen?  Where were you – Now Zad, Garmsir, Sangin?  What is your unit?  What about IEDs and have dogs been beneficial to you?  Are you set for at least a while, and is there anything I can do for you?

You see, Tank, some of us have respect for our warriors.  We worry over things like Hezbollah crossing the Southern border, how quickly al Qaeda will re-group when we leave N2K, what the Pech River Valley and the Hindu Kush will look like with the ANA and ANP in charge, how quickly the Taliban will move from Helmand to Kandahar and then on to Kabul, why we didn’t send forces to repel the Islamist attack at Benghazi, Libya, and so on and so forth.

I understand that you apparently can’t handle that sort of stuff.  So you just wear your shirt, cheer for your sports teams, and look stupid in those photographs.  You laugh, and laugh, and bow your belly out as if you’re really something.  But measure the cost.  Somewhere there is a terrorist planning to take down our electrical grid.  When that happens, your sports team will be the last thing on your mind, and you might just remember that Marine you abused.


  1. On October 26, 2012 at 12:07 am, Kevin Cullis said:

    Thanks for not only letting us know of this vets plight, but also our views of it. Scumbag fan for sure being that disrespectful of a disabled vet.


  2. On October 26, 2012 at 12:23 am, Clark said:

    I live in Charlotte. I am currently deployed in Afghanistan. If I ever see or hear this shit in person, Tank, I will fucking kill you. This you can believe. You should be ashamed of yourself. Grow up you piece of shit and let the vet enjoy whatever jersey and restaurant he or she chooses. I am pretty sure he has earned it. What have you done for this country lately?


  3. On October 26, 2012 at 12:27 am, jj said:

    Great response Hershel. And Clark, I agree wholeheartedly.

  4. On October 26, 2012 at 1:17 am, Kurt Olney said:

    Those of us who returned from Vietnam discovered a lot of “Tanks” out there, and we also discovered a lot of great Americans. Shit like this is part of living in a free society. If I was Tank I would start wearing a Cowboy Jersey and have “I love Veterans” Printed on it. And to all football fans–it is just a game. You are in the stands and the owners and players and advertisers make all the money. And to Veterans who were actual involved in hostilities, and especially those who were injured, a deep debt of gratitude for your sacrifice. And then there are those that gave all. I hope our politicians are very careful about sending our men and women into harms way. We go to war to win for a good cause.

  5. On October 26, 2012 at 1:52 am, Kathae said:

    Bullies are very simply subhumans that can’t make it in the real world so they push other people around. However this is a new low for evena bully
    My heartfelt thanks to all our military.

  6. On October 26, 2012 at 5:03 am, MikeNZ said:

    Sadly there are toads in any group

  7. On October 26, 2012 at 6:21 am, JJ2651 said:

    Everyone just needs to calm down. Im a veteran…Sure this Tank guy is an “ass”, but he is definitely the exception to the norm these days. Everywhere I go, people go out of their way to thank me for my service. I dont need to pose questions to people such as “how can this happen when I risked my life for our country?” or something to that effect. Again, I think the public has be soooooooo supportive and soooooooooo thankful… This Tank dude is the exception, and the bar is not at fault…Its trying to work through a bad situation.
    God bless the Marine in this story… Hang tough brother.

  8. On October 26, 2012 at 6:31 am, Rudolph Smith said:

    Good thing I wasn’t in that s*&t-hole of a restaurant – were there not any Veterans in that place to come to the aid of their brother??? This is disgusting – I’m posting this article on my page to my friends in Charlotte and asking them never to break the doorway of the Moosehead (should be D*&khead) Grill on Montford Drive – EVER. I hope the f*&king place closes down.

    Hooyah & Oo-rah

  9. On October 26, 2012 at 6:36 am, Heath said:

    My name is Heath. I am Deaf & use American Sign Language everyday of my life. Here is what I think … That story made me very angry and my prayers go with Garrett Carnes & his family and friends. I hope a squad of Marines pay a visit to Tank and his belligerent asshole friends. Kick the living shit out of them while the police stands by ready to take Tank & his asshole friends to jail. The police officers tell Carnes & The U.S. Marines to have a good evening. There should be a law passed that if anyone makes fun of the disabled or veterans or someone with Down’s that these assholes get the beating they so richly deserve & the police bids the disabled or the veteran to have a good night while the ” big house ” takes care of business. The world would be a much better place. ( Excuse my language. I am so furious. )
    3 minutes ago · Like

  10. On October 26, 2012 at 7:14 am, WR said:

    Go to and check out the reviews on this place. I hope that Mr. Tank and his friends will be able to give them enough business to stay afloat. Looks like not many others will.

  11. On October 26, 2012 at 8:05 am, Harry said:

    I am a proud Marine myself. This incident should never have happened. It sounds like the folks at the Bar, restaurant did the right thing. No one got hurt. “Tank” has been banned for life, and should really see this as a wake up call. It’s time to get your self squired away son. The path that you are taking is just wrong. It’s a sad truth that when you put a bunch of drunks together, lol or alone for that matter. It often brings out the worst in people. I hate that it happened. I also wish to take this opportunity to thank the Corporal for his service.
    SAEPE EXPERTUS, SEMPER FIDELIS, FRATRES AETERNI (Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever)

  12. On October 26, 2012 at 9:57 am, Jean said:

    I had a neighbor that lived down the street from me when I was growing up. He was an Iwo Jima Vet, shot by a sniper. After killing the Japanese soldier that shot him, dragged himself several hundred yards under fire to find a corpsman that was alive. He was not MEDVACed for two days. His aid station was a hole in ground with a poncho for a roof. After the war he lost both his legs to diabetes. But, he attended law school, in the 1950’s and became an attorney. He navigated court steps without ADA accommodations, and designed and built controls for his Cadillac (hands only drive). Lived and overcame a terrible war injury. His reward was a disability check and Purple Heart. He was never bitter about his sacrifices or obstacles he endured. His comment to me was “I made it off the beach, many good men didn’t”. He died in the early 1990’s. My prediction and hope is that Garrett Carnes will go on to be a very productive member of our society, in tradition of my childhood mentor- Semper Fi Brother . Tank will disappear into obscurity, to live out his life under an umbrella of freedom provided by better men.

  13. On October 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm, RJ said:

    I’m as big a supporter of the military and our vets as any, and more so than most. They should be treated with the utmost respect for their sacrifice, especially those that have lost limbs. I would not taunt one, regardless of which team he rooted for. I am also a Cowboys fan.
    The facts of the case are, apparently, unclear. If Carnes and his party started the affair or were verbally abusive, that is just as inexcusable as what Tank is accused of. My point is that we do not know exactly what happened and I am not about to jump to conclusions on one side or the other. If “Tank” was at fault, that was inexcusable. If Carnes and his party were at fault, that is similarly inexcusable. Having lost limbs in a war does not entitle you to be disrespectful, if that is in fact what happened.
    I’m only saying this because I’m interested in justice for all, an ideal that Carnes fought to protect. I see a lot of commenters here sprouting ridiculous, violent speech that, frankly, is beneath them and us.
    Major props to the Marines here that have the good sense to be objective about this, and thanks to all for their service!

  14. On October 26, 2012 at 1:56 pm, RJ said:


    You should be ashamed of yourself. You have no right to address such speech to any citizen of this country that you claim to serve. As I said above, we don’t know which side is telling the truth in this case.

    Believe me, bro, based on what you’ve said, I’ll be taking “Tank”‘s side in any altercation between you two and you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for any violence you might execute. I will personally see to it.

    By the way, my grandfather served in the USAF, and what you’ve written disgraces that noble branch of our military. I understand your anger, but surely the military trained you better.

  15. On October 26, 2012 at 2:55 pm, Heath said:

    RJ, you are supposed to back up a brother in arm of the DoD family. In fact, you just showed your true colors just like Hussien Obama , Hilary Clinton and Leon Panetta prosecuting our own U.S. Troops.

    Clark the USAF guy had every right to speak his mind and what he does with Tank is none of your fucking business since you betrayed U.S. Troops trust.

    Personally I would like to see Tank be shivved in the big house along with your garbage liberal lawyering mouth being stomped to pieces for betraying U.S. Troops trust !!!!!

    Get the fuck lost !!!!!

  16. On October 26, 2012 at 5:37 pm, Jean said:

    See another guy living under the umbrella……

  17. On October 26, 2012 at 10:43 pm, Marine said:

    FACT: Not only are the overwhelming number of Marines in Charlotte aware of this incident, but so are those throughout NC, and word is spreading beyond the state lines

    FACT: The UK Newspapers are covering this

    FACT: Josh “Tank” Watts can be seen to be a school yard bully by the look in his eyes where he tries to be a tough guy and backed by some comments I have read from people who say they know of the guy and they were waiting for his big mouth to get him in trouble. Real heroes don’t make those faces. Tank has the face of a (cough) man who grabs you and falls on the grenade using your body to shield him from injury.

    FACT: He should have IMMEDIATELY contacted the Charlotte Observer to issue an apology; now anything is self-preservation and meaningless

    FACT: There are many Marines I have heard from who will gladly toss this guy a violent beating so that he never considers abusing someone who he sees as an easy mark, whether it be a disabled vet or a kid half his size. Breaking both his hands, I think, would be a good way of remembering to touch another ONLY in self-defense

    FACT: Mr. Tank is probably too dumb to realize he is a piece of floating crap. But he is going to carry this with him for his whole pathetic life. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he carry a memory of a Marine taking him apart piece by piece so that he knows “No greater friend, no worse enemy” isn’t a saying we take lightly

    IMO, there is no beating that Tank can recover from that is too severe. You see, I want him to recover 100% should he catch the beating waiting for him. That way, maybe he could grow to be a man. Right now, fatso squats when he pees and shaves under his arms and the 5 hairs on his chest from a few photos I have seen.

    Semper Fi to all my brothers. Just be sure not to completely turn-off his lights as he doesn’t deserve to not remember what he did to an American Hero. What he does deserve is to be left with a piece of dog crap in his mouth as he hopes to hear the ambulance coming to fix-up his wounds delivered to Mr. Tough Guy at the hands of a Marine. And from what I have heard, they are lining up to find where this guy has his next drink and buying Cowboy Jerseys.

    “Find Waldo” has been replaced by “Find Tank”

    I doubt Tank can run, and he sure can’t hide. He’s too damn fat.


  18. On October 26, 2012 at 11:07 pm, Marine said:

    RJ scribbled: “I’m only saying this because I’m interested in justice for all, an ideal that Carnes fought to protect”.

    Really? That’s what you are interested in? Well let’s try this one on, shall we Mr. Legal Beagle, whether you are so or play one at a Holiday Inn:

    It is said that free speech stops at the tip of someone’s nose. BUT IN THIS CASE – It stops in the room where there is a man or a woman who sacrificed a body part, or parts, so others can rest their heads in peace on a pillow at night. And I think it’s just wonderful that the peace of mind that FATSO used to have has left his life for a good, long time.

    You think there is “justice for all in this world”, do you? Go to a children’s cancer ward and try saying that again. Some people need protection by those of us who can offer it. And while Cpl Garret is, and always will be, a Marine, the fact is that in a physical altercation he now has severe limitations. And those of us who do not must step into the fray and defend out brother against those who should never have been born in America. Airlift Mr. Tank to North Korea where they could use a good meal.

    Now go vote early for Obama. He has as much respect for the military as you do when you infer that perhaps Cpl Garret might have been the cause of this. He engaged in nothing other than leaving his wife for 9-12 months so pukes like you can ride on his back for your freedom. Out of curiosity, have you ever even mailed a package and a letter of thanks to a deployed Marine? I tend to doubt it as you sound like the kind who would say to support them by sending them nothing so they want to come home.

  19. On October 27, 2012 at 1:50 am, Heath said:

    To the Marine, Thank you for the toys I recieved as a boy at the school for the deaf. I did say thank you as a boy but never as an adult. Thank you & God Bless the USMC for the hard work & dedication to make the world a better place.

  20. On October 27, 2012 at 8:44 am, SDN said:

    “You have no right to address such speech to any citizen of this country that you claim to serve.”

    Well, that was your first mistake. You see, “Tank” falls into that category labeled “Those Who Are No Longer Our Countrymen” by Samuel Adams. So do you. That removes both of you from the “citizen” category.

  21. On October 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm, Patriot said:

    @RJ – You jumped very quickly to play devil’s advocate and straddle the middle with your cute little “we don’t know exactly what happened” argument. You are right – we don’t know exactly what happened, but that is where deductive reasoning and common sense come into play. Since you appear to need some help in this department, here are couple of observations that might have slipped by your keen insights into human nature:

    * Disabled US Marines generally don’t walk into restaurants “spoiling for a bar-fight” and bring along their wives and parents.

    * Drunken morons who post online pictures of themselves pretending to be NFL players do however fit the profile of someone who would pick a fight over a football jersey.

    * US Marines, disabled or not, are highly trained to be composed in high-stress situations.

    * Drunken fat-ass rednecks typically lack such training.

    * Honor and integrity are an integral part of the USMC code.

    * Drunken, NFL player wannabes operate under no such code.

    So, yes I suppose I don’t really know what happened because I wasn’t there. But I do have a functional, rational brain, and I can put 2 & 2 together pretty easily in this scenario.

  22. On October 28, 2012 at 8:05 am, MoM said:

    I have been following this story for several days and I am amazed (shouldn’t be) at the people that even try to make an excuse for Mr. Septic Tank. I am the mom of an active duty Marine preparing to deploy AGAIN the the sandbox of hell. I take great offense that ANY rational, true American, could make or find any excuse for what this low life did. I can only put myself in the shoes of Cpl Carnes wife and I suspect that I too would have defended my husband verbally. She has been very gracious and is trying to stay out of the fallout from this event.

    That being said..Septic Tank deserves every last bit of what he receives. It is the politically correct crowd that is helping ruin this country. It’s why bulling goes on in our schools. They want to stroke these kids and talk to them..when the only way to put an end to this kind of thing is to make the consequences of this behavior unpleasant.

    No one in that establishment stood up for Cpl. Carnes. This was all over the stupid football jersey he was wearing. Sickening!!!!! He had simply gone to get food following the game. The story should end there.

    A shout out too all the military brothers in arms for standing up loudly for one of your own. A big thank you from a MoM. I pray if my son is, God forbid, ever in that situation you will come to his defense. For those of you who are part of the pc excuse crowd SHAME on you. Go have your tea and crumpets with the Taliban and see how far that gets ya…

    Ending my rant…but I live in NC and my daughter lives in Charlotte. Trust me I will never eat at this establishment. The owner is guilty too even if he wasn’t there. Yes he has reached out to the family, apologized and invited them for a free meal. Woohoooo! I hear he as in the Navy.. I think if he wishes to save his “joint” he better start a public campaign to support our troops. Say care packages. Visit Walter Reed. Offer free meals to the military. He needs to do a lot and fast. Otherwise he will be in the unemployment line like a lot of others!

  23. On October 28, 2012 at 8:32 am, MoM said:

    Oh and RJ….shame shame on you for being disrespectful to Clark. A HERO that is in harms way defending OUR country. His signature is JTAC! RJ you probably don’t know what that stands for but let me say that he is on well trained Hero who you owe nothing but respect. The fact that your grandfather “served” (and thanks to him) does not give you any sacred authority to chastise ANY of our Military.

    Props Clark! My son is JTAC. Thank you for your service.

  24. On October 29, 2012 at 9:28 am, Heath said:

    If you are in need of toys this Christmas. Google Marine Toys for Tots.

    Thank you to the U.S. Marines for making my Christmas brighter when I was a boy at the school for the deaf.

    God Bless the U.S. Marine Corps for making the world a better place.

  25. On October 29, 2012 at 10:36 am, megapotamus said:

    What? We need an investigation into this like Benghazi? Nope. We do indeed know what happened because an honorable man told us. Tank, better move. I hear Antarctica is lovely this time of year and there may well be some sea mammals there who will find you an impressive specimen.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Marine Corps and was published October 25th, 2012 by Herschel Smith.

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