Nathan Phillips, 64, then known as Nathaniel R. Stanard, served in the Marine Corps Reserve for four years before leaving in 1976 with a rank of private and was a refrigerator technician and anti-tank missileman, Fox News confirmed.
Philips came into the spotlight when he was featured singing and playing a drum while standing face-to-face with Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann. He later explained that he was trying to intervene between the students and a group of black street preachers who were shouting racist insults.
A number of outlets, including The Washington Post and Detroit Free Press, described Phillips as a Vietnam War veteran in reports on the confrontation over the weekend. The Post corrected the report later and The Free Press added an editor's note to its initial story that they had reached out to Phillips in order to clarify that information.
Phillips told The Associated Press in an interview that some students were disparaging Native Americans.
“These young people were just roughshodding through our space, like what's been going on for 500 years here. Just walking through our territories, feeling like 'this is ours,'” he said.
The former marine offered to visit the school and have a dialogue with students about cultural understanding. Sandmann told NBC's "Today" show Wednesday that he'd like to speak with Phillips as well.