Stewart Rhodes eye patch: What happened to Oath Keepers founder's eye?

Leigh McManus November 30, 2022
Stewart Rhodes eye patch: What happened to Oath Keepers founder's eye?
Photo by Aaron C. Davis/The Washington Post via Getty Images

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What’s the story behind Stewart Rhodes’ eye patch and what happened to his eye? The Oath Keepers founder has just been convicted over his involvement in the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot, generating renewed interest in his eccentric appearance.

The right-wing group first came into the spotlight shortly after the event, when one of its members pleaded guilty to storming the Capitol.

Now, a jury has found Rhodes, fellow Oath Keepers Kelly Meggs and three others guilty on charges of seditious conspiracy, Sky News reports.

Who is Stewart Rhodes?

Stewart Rhodes was born in a small town called Big Arm in Montana in 1966 and grew up in the south west.

SPL Center states in a bio of Rhodes that he joined the US Army as a paratrooper upon leaving high school, later receiving an honourable discharge after a “night parachuting accident”.

The same site writes that Rhodes went to college at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, graduating in 1998.

Rhodes’ political immersion began when he became an aide of former Texas Representative Ron Paul, a Republican-turned-libertarian.

Rhodes later enrolled at Yale Law School, where he won the Judge William E. Miller Prize for best paper on the Bill of Rights and graduated in 2004.

After graduation he clerked for Arizona Supreme Court Justice Michael D. Ryan and later volunteered on Ron Paul’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign.

Moving away from electoral politics in 2009, he founded the organisation to which he owes his infamy. In April that year Oath Keepers was born.

The Oath Keepers in a nutshell

The Oath Keepers are described as “a group that touts itself as a defender of the rights of Americans from what it views as a tyrannical government.”

It is essentially a militia created by Rhodes that consists of former law, police, army and emergency service personnel whose stated aim is to protect the US Constitution.

A heavy metal musician and fellow founding member of the Oath Keepers, Jon Schaffer, pleaded guilty on Friday to charges connected to the storming of the US Capitol on 6 January 2021.

Prosecutors have brought conspiracy charges against both Oath Keepers and fellow right-wing group Proud Boys for the role in the insurgency that aimed to disrupt the Electoral College.

Now, a jury found Rhodes, Florida Oath Keepers leader Kelly Meggs, and three other members guilty of seditious conspiracy. Rhodes was also found convicted of obstructing an official proceeding, but acquitted on two other charges of conspiracy.

In a statement afterwards, Rhodes’ lawyer called the verdict “a mixed bag”, adding: “There was no evidence introduced to indicate there was a plan to attack the Capitol.”

What’s the story behind Stewart Rhodes’ eye patch?

So, what happened to Stewart Rhodes’ eye? Why does he wear an eye patch?

Was the apparent injury connected to his involvement with Oath Keepers?

No. The injury to Stewart Rhodes’ eye (and the reason for his eye patch) dates back to 1993, according to an Atlantic investigation.

The article states that Rhodes, a former firearms instructor, dropped a loaded handgun and it shot him in the face, blinding him in his left eye. While he has been known to sport a prosthetic eye, Rhodes seems to favor the eye patch look, which allows him to stand out in a crowd.

The episode apparently inspired the then 28-year-old to enrol in community college, the article explains.

Not much else is known about the accident and it rarely appeared in biographies or articles about Rhodes until the Atlantic investigation by author and journalist Mike Giglio.

So there you have it, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes’ comic book supervillain look actually stems from a serious mishap with a firearm.

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Leigh is a 26-year-old journalist from the north of Ireland. He studied International Journalism at Liverpool John Moores University, where he earned a 2:1 grade. He has worked for Mail Online and has experience with the Liverpool Echo, Irish Mirror and SWNS. Leigh is also a huge music fan and has his own show on a community radio station.