Fairbanks Militia Members Testify on Group's Origins, Training During '2-4-1' Trial
In the photo at left, Defendant Schaeffer Cox is shown standing on the right
ANCHORAGE — Prosecutors called two former members of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia to testify Wednesday in the trial of three militia members accused of conspiring to kill government employees.
Philip Clark, who works at a family hearing aid business in Fairbanks, told the jury about his participation in Schaeffer Cox’s group Alaska Peacemakers Militia and his later departure from the group.
He left, he said, because he was concerned his friend was “going from being a community unifier to a little Napoleon.”
Clark said he came to know Cox after he heard his voice on the “Over the Coffee Cup” show on North Pole radio station KJNP in 2008, when Cox was challenging incumbent Mike Kelly in the Republican primary. Clark went on to volunteer for the campaign and contributed financially to it, receiving as a “thank you” from the campaign a Scottish hat with an election slogan on the back.
Some time after the primary, which Kelly won 50 to 37 percent, Cox invited Clark to a new group called “Sons of Issachar.” The name for the group comes from one of the 12 tribes of Israel associated with giving “wise counsel,” and the group was set up as an informal group of like-minded men to advise Cox on his future activities, Clark said.
Cox and several other Sons of Issachar had an interest in forming what Clark called a “militia in a classic sense,” a group committed to the defense of its community.
The initial training for the Peacemakers Militia took place in November 2009 in Clark’s family homestead in Salcha. Rufus Reed, a former Marine who lives in the Kenai Peninsula, was a guest instructor.
During the first training session, the group didn’t have much time for tactical training because they were so out of shape. Clark and several people in the courtroom laughed as Clark recalled struggling through the workouts.
At the first training session, Cox was learning alongside the other men, Clark said. But at a second training session in January 2010 he had taken on a leadership role and made some unilateral decisions that bothered Clark.
One sore point was the introduction of a military rank system, which Clark said Cox did without consulting with the others. Cox initially made himself a major and Clark a captain. Another issue was a training manual for the militia that Cox produced without consultation from others, he said.
A month after the second training session, the Sons of Issachar discussed the militia at a meeting, Clark said. Cox considered the Sons of Issachar and a brother group the Sons of Gad — a name taken from a Biblical reference to Gad, who lead 40,000 armed men into battle — as part of the militia. The Sons of Issachar weren’t so sure.
At the meeting, there was concern that people had a bad image of the Peacemakers Militia, especially compared to Cox’s gun rights advocacy organization Second Amendment Task Force, which held several popular rallies in 2009, Clark said. One of the Sons of Issachar had been asked by longtime Fairbanks firearms instructor Joe Nava if Cox was building a private army.