Earlier this week Modesto News .org brought you a story of a Marine Corp Reservist standing guard in front of Hughson Elementary School in Hughson, California. The man standing guard was in an United States Marine Corps Uniform and called himself Sergeant.
His story of serving 3 tours in battle, being injured in battle, and being currently enlisted as a Reserve have now been proven to be false.
Modesto News .org headed out to speak with a real American hero and long serving Veteran Jim E, Greer about what it means to him when someone tells the kind of lies that Craig Pusley did. Jim Greer served an entire career in the United States Navy and is now the Manager of the local Veteran's Services Office.
Here is an article by the Marine Corps Times today on this story:
A Marine veteran who made national news for standing guard outside a California school in uniform was accused Thursday of faking his military service, but denied he did so.
Craig Pusley appeared outside Hughson Elementary School in Modesto, Calif., on Wednesday in a desert camouflage uniform to help children feel safe following the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., he said. He added that he was inspired in part by another Marine veteran, Staff Sgt. Jordan Pritchard, who made headlines for similar actions at Gower Elementary School in Nashville, Tenn.
Media coverage of Pusley's actions reported that he is 28 years old and got out of the Corps as a sergeant after deploying twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. In reality, Pusley graduated from boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, but was in the service less than a year and never made it past private first class, Marine officials said. He never deployed or made it through military occupational specialty school, leaving the Corps designated a "basic Marine," MOS 8000.
Pusley told Marine Corps Times in a phone interview he never lied about his military service, blaming the first reporter who interviewed him, Nan Austin of The Modesto Bee, for getting the story wrong.
"There's a lot of fabrication to this story that didn't come out of my mouth," Pusley said. "All I know is that I talked to a Modesto Bee lady, and everything went crazy."
Photographs show him wearing the rank insignia of a sergeant, however. Asked about that, he said he didn't realize what was on the uniform and borrowed it from someone else. He added his old name tapes to the borrowed blouse, he said.
"I feel horrible about this," he said. "My intention was for the kids. I don't understand why everyone has to find a negative in every situation."
Pusley didn't have an explanation why Austin would have reported that he went to Iraq and Afghanistan, or why it was repeated in subsequent news coverage. However, he said he is "deeply sorry" if standing in front of the school in uniform if it offended anyone, and has written an email to the White House apologizing. He wasn't anticipating a blast of negativity after appearing at the school, he said.
"I cannot emphasize enough how sorry I am that all of this has happened," he said. "These were not my intentions. This was never supposed to happen."
Austin could not immediately be reached for comment, but The Modesto Bee's editor, Joe Kieta, said the newspaper stands by her work.
On Thursday, Pusley appeared in front of the school in Modesto again, this time out of uniform, after it was reported that Marine officials told Pritchard he was not authorized to wear the uniform in front of the school. Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Mike Barrett, the top enlisted Marine, released a statement that he understands Marines' desires to protect children, but Marines should not be wearing the uniform outside of rules and regulations.
"This is not the right thing. Not the right time. And not the right place," Barrett said. "The uniform doesn't make the man. It's your character that defines you."
Pusley said he is 25 years old and dreamt of being a Marine as a child. He cracked his femur during boot camp, but made it to graduation, he said. Afterward, he was assigned to the Basic Marine Platoon at the recruit depot, where injured personnel can be assigned to provide time to heal.
Print story continued on the Marine Corps Times website.
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