The U.S. Marine Corps reaffirmed its record of state Rep. Daniel Gordon’s military service on Monday, saying the embattled lawmaker never left the United States during the first Gulf War and became a private first class weeks before he was discharged.
The Marines first released details about Gordon on Friday that called into question his statements about his service. Gordon told the AP it was “unfortunate” the military did not release his full record and told WPRO’s Matt Allen he was injured by shrapnel outside of Baghdad during the first Gulf War.
“In our view, that’s a false claim,” Maj. Shawn Haney, a public affairs officer for the Marine Corps’ manpower and reserve affairs department, told WPRI.com on Monday. If Gordon thinks his record is inaccurate, Haney said he should contact the Quantico office to get it corrected.
Gordon, who did not return a phone call Monday, uploaded a photograph last week of a certificate he received in 1989 for training in the Philippines and noted that the Marines had not mentioned his time there in its release. The certificate lists him as a lance corporal.
Gordon’s record does show he went to the Philippines as part of his rotation at the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan, for five months and 28 days from October 1988 to April 1989, according to Haney. She said she did not mention it on Friday because it was part of his service in the Pacific.
“That’s so normal,” she said. “Units do that all the time. When they’re in Japan, they’re always doing different exercises in the Philippines or whatever, all assorted different training. That’s not a deployment. He was part of a unit that was in Iwakuni.”
Gordon enlisted in the Marines on June 4, 1987, soon after his 18th birthday, according to his personnel file. The training certificate that lists him as a lance corporal is dated January 1989. Haney said Gordon attained his final rank of private first class as of Oct. 1, 1991, just weeks before he was discharged from the service on Nov. 12, 1991.
Haney said she was barred from explaining why Gordon’s rank changed in October 1991 or whether it had been reduced from lance corporal, but did say it was “a result of administrative action.” The first four ranks are private, private first class, lance corporal and corporal.
Gordon has suggested the military is withholding classified details about his service near Baghdad, but Haney said the record shows he was stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, Calif., throughout the war and that there would be evidence he was deployed overseas even if his mission was secret.
“We would still see it,” Haney said. “We would not necessarily see what you did while you were there – we might not see some of the very, very detailed specifics – but I would see that you were deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield or Desert Storm.”
George Oliver III, a retired U.S. Army colonel who served in both Gulf wars and is now an associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, said he wasn’t aware of any conventional or special-operations forces that got as close to the Iraqi capital as Gordon claims he did.
“We didn’t get close to Baghdad, generally speaking, and the Marines were way over toward Kuwait,” Oliver, who co-authored the 1994 book “Certain Victory: The U.S. Army in the Gulf War,” told WPRI.com. “For me, I was in with the 101st [Airborne Division] – we got all the way up to the Euphrates [River], which still was about 100-something miles from Baghdad, and that’s the deepest I know of any conventional forces that got in.”
Haney said Gordon’s record does not list any of the awards automatically given to those who served in the Middle East during the first Gulf War such as the Southwest Asia Service Medal. “Even if I didn’t see it on this chronological record, I would see it in awards, I would see it in more foreign service,” she said. He would have received a Purple Heart automatically if he’d been injured by shrapnel in Iraq, she said.
Gordon can give the Marine Corps written permission and allow the military to release his full personnel records publicly, Haney said. “We’d be happy to do that,” she said. “This is the file. If he wants us to release it, if he wants to come correct it, we’re willing to do that. But as it stands right now, this is his Official Military Personnel File.” Gordon told WPRO he does not plan to pursue a correction.
Haney said Marine officers are pulling the original version of Gordon’s official files from a warehouse in St. Louis and digging back in to compare their records and his claims. “I’m double-checking that,” she said.
(photo: General Assembly)