The first domino falls?
Rep. Mark Kirk, a Navy reservist who was elected to Congress in 2001, acknowledged the error in his official biography after The Washington Post began looking into whether he had received the prestigious award, which is given by top Navy officials to a single individual annually.That's a good start, but readers of this blog know there's more to look into:
In a message on his blog, Kirk wrote that "upon a recent review of my records, I found that an award listed in my official biography was misidentified" and that the award he had intended to list was given to his unit, not to him individually.
Kirk was assigned to a unit based in Aviano, Italy, during the conflict. A professional group, the National Military Intelligence Association, gave the unit an award for outstanding service, according to a revised résumé posted on Kirk's Web site Saturday.
The association's Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Award celebrates "the exceptional achievements of an outstanding Naval Intelligence career professional," but the citation in 2000 contains no mention of Kirk and instead designates the entire Intelligence Division Electronic Attack Wing at Aviano.
Kirk, whose campaign has emphasized his military service as a reservist, similarly misstated the award during a House committee hearing in March 2002. In a remark recorded by C-Span, he said, "I was the Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year," an achievement he depicted as providing special qualifications to discuss national security spending.
- Why did Mark Kirk claim on his website to be "the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom" when he never deployed to the country?
- Does Mark Kirk really equate his three-week Annual Training stints in the country with "deployments," which normally require months of service in the area of operations as well as significant pre-deployment training time? (Update: More on this here.)
- Kirk has suggested he merely "serve(d) alongside our troops" like any other Reserve officer, but told a group of reporters during a press conference this about his mission in Afghanistan.
"I came up with a number of recommendations that I gave to Gen. McChrystal," said Kirk, referring to the commander of military forces in Afghanistan. "We have a tremendous amount of combat power."I find it odd that Gen. Stanley McChrystal--the four star general who had been in charge of the Afghanistan mission for six months by the time Kirk arrived for his second tour, would need the advice of an O-5 who'd been in the country for three weeks. So, what, exactly, did Kirk do in the country? Was he working as a Representative--which would explain his discussion with the general--or as a Navy commander, which wouldn't?
Update:One more thing. His original bio read:
The Navy named Kirk “Intelligence Officer of the Year” in 1999 for his combat service in Kosovo.But the WaPo story says this about his Naval service record:
An official summary of Kirk's military service, released to The Post by the Navy last week, lists other awards and decorations, including two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medals, a Joint Meritorious Unit Award, a Navy Unit Commendation, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, and a National Defense Service medal.It's possible they left it out, but that list doesn't include a Navy Combat Action Ribbon, which Kirk should have earned if he'd had "combat service."
In fact, despite years of claiming he'd earned this award for "combat service," Kirk has tacitly admitted that he didn't perform combat service. The web site which once mentioned his grandiose award now says:
Kirk was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his Kosovo service in 1999.The phrase "combat service" is conspicuously absent.
Civilians (and/or Kirk fans) might think I'm nitpicking here, but there's a real difference between being in a combat zone and earning hazardous duty pay and actually being in combat. Just ask the family of Admiral Mike Boorda, who committed suicide when it was discovered he had been wearing a device which had designated him as serving in direct combat, though it didn't show up in his records. David Hackworth, the former soldier who wrote the story on Boorda, wrote this after the admiral's suicide.
I pursued the story because for a soldier or sailor there's no greater disgrace than wearing unearned valor awards. Combat ribbons -- awards for which so many brave warriors have bled -- are the ultimate status symbol to warriors. They bring a special recognition and respect.While Kirk isn't wearing unearned ribbons, he has time and time again claimed the unearned glory of a veteran of two wars and the exalted status of a combat veteran of another.
And with military leaders, from corporal to four-star rank, there's a larger issue: integrity. The very bedrock of any military organization is honor, doing the hard right over the easy wrong and standing tall in everything that's done.
Midshipmen at Annapolis, cadets at West Point, the Air Force Academy, all the ROTCs and other officer-producing schools in the land are taught the code, "I will not lie, cheat or steal nor tolerate anyone who does."
These sacred rules don't only apply to cadets, NCOs or junior grade officers, but to every leader who wears the uniform, from cadet to general, midshipmen to admiral.
You might get the name of an award wrong, but it's unlikely he forgot he wasn't in combat.