A Democrat attempting to unseat three-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), admitted to a local newspaper that he wore the coveted U.S. Navy SEAL Trident for a year without having earned it while serving aboard the guided-missile frigate USS Reid (FFG-30).
Congressional candidate James Kimber told the San Diego Union-Tribune Tuesday that he regrets the incident.
“It was more than 20 years ago and it was a horribly embarrassing and stupid thing to do,” he told paper. “Fortunately, I was able to finish my Navy career.” Although the Union-Times has photos of Kimber wearing the Trident, it didn’t publish them.
“I knew when I decided to run that this might come up, and said to myself that I would answer it if it did,” Kimber told the paper.
His Republican opponent has chosen not to make this an issue in the campaign, although he himself is a U.S. Marine combat veteran and continues to serve in the reserves.
“He served his country for 20 years and that is worthy of appreciation,” Hunter said, adding only that the episode was unfortunate. The Union-Tribune reported:
Kimber said he entered SEAL training in Coronado in 1990 as a medical corpsman but was removed from the program after injuring his back during an obstacle course exercise. He remained at the base for several months, and was eventually assigned to the guided-missile frigate Reid.
It was aboard the Reid, he said, where he was called out for wearing the Trident by the ship’s captain, hauled before crew members and admonished and reprimanded. He was age 32 at the time.
“I know this is a big thing and I am very sorry,” said Kimber, who now works as a physician’s assistant. “I knew what I was doing, and it was a terrible mistake that I hope doesn’t negate everything else I have done in my life and what I am doing now.”
According to the Union-Tribune:
Despite the misstep, the first-time candidate said he rose to the rank of senior chief when he finished his 20-year Navy career in 2002.
His campaign website lists his Navy awards as including the Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal along with several letters of commendation.
The Navy SEAL Trident, established in 1970, is one of the most coveted and recognized special warfare insignias in the U.S. military, and may be worn only by those officers and enlisted men who have completed training. According to Wikipedia:
The drop out rate for SEAL training is sometimes over 90 percent. The Navy SEAL candidate spends over a year in a series of formal training environments before being awarded the Special Warfare Operator Naval Rating and the Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) 5326 Combatant Swimmer (SEAL) or, in the case of commissioned naval officers, the designation Naval Special Warfare (SEAL) Officer.
“Stolen Valor” is a term used to describe the false claim of military service or medals or tabs earned while in the military.
“It may be your First Amendment right to lie about service to this country, and medals earned, but it is our First Amendment right to show the world your lies,” is the mission statement of Guardian Of Valor LLC. “We value our service, our veterans, and the fallen, and will do whatever is needed to protect them. The public should be aware of any and all persons that would lie about service or unearned medals or tabs.”