Iraq War Vet Blasts Marine Corps at Disciplinary Hearing

Note the headline.  The press is overly desirous of anyone connected to the military who will speak disparagingly about it or the war.  This young man violated a regulation then cursed, in writing, to a Brig. General.  What did he honestly expect the Corps would do?  But that isn’t what is important here.  It’s only important that the big, bad Marine Corps is picking on the little guy! <insert sarcasm wherever you like>. 

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (June 5) – A military panel has recommended a general discharge for an Iraq  war veteran who wore his uniform during a war protest and later responded with an obscenity to a superior who told him he might have violated military rules.

Marine Cpl. Adam Kokesh participated in the protest in March, clad in a uniform that had his name tag and other insignia removed. After he was identified in a photo caption in The Washington Post, a superior officer sent him a letter saying he might have violated a rule prohibiting troops from wearing uniforms without authorization.

After a hearing Monday before an administrative separation board at the Marine Corps Mobilization Command, the panel decided not to recommend an other-than-honorable discharge , choosing instead the general discharge.

“This is a nonpunitive discharge,” said Col. Patrick McCarthy, chief of staff for the mobilization command. “The most stringent discharge that could have been received is other than honorable, and the board chose to raise that up to a general discharge.”

Kokesh is a member of the Individual Ready Reserve, which consists mainly of those who have left active duty but still have time remaining on their eight-year military obligations. His service is due to end June 18, but the Marine Corps is seeking to let him go two weeks early with a less-than-honorable discharge.

That could cut some of his health benefits and force him to repay about $10,800 he received to obtain his undergraduate degree on the GI Bill.

His attorneys said Kokesh was not subject to military rules during the protest because he was not on active duty. They said the protest was a theatrical performance, which meant wearing a uniform was a not a violation of military rules.

The military considered it a political event, at which personnel are not allowed to wear their uniforms without authorization.

Kokesh said he might appeal the board’s ruling on principle.

“Frankly, I’m very disappointed with this decision and I’m very disappointed with the board members who made it,” he said. “I do not think it was in the Marine Corps spirit to take the easy road or to not take a stand. In the words of Dante, the hottest layers of hell are reserved for those who in times of moral crisis maintain their neutrality, and I think that’s what happened here today.”

Marine Capt. Jeremy Sibert said in closing arguments that military personnel can be punished if their civilian behavior “directly affects the performance of military duties and is service-related.” He said Kokesh’s actions could affect how people view the Marine Corps and discourage recruits.

“A lot of us believe in this uniform. At some point, Cpl. Kokesh decided he was above that,” he said.

Full Story



  1. Active or not, when taking the Oath of Service, you give up your rights in order to supportour Nation and its leaders. Mr. Kokesh is a coward and media whore. I am a Vet of VN, I did not necessairly agree with all of it but did not protest as I believe in Honor and character.
    Anyone, that dosen’t support our leaders need to become one and take on the day to activities that these people do. Been there and done that, done my time lets let the next generation step up to the plate with a bat not a mic, talk is cheep and lazy.

  2. I agree with the military panel. I think they were very lenient to him. Cosidering the fact that the military discipline is based on respect for others, and especially those of higher rank, he was very lucky to receive a general discharge. You cannot be disrespectful to others or institutions, including the uniform and do well in the military. The military does not make policy, it only carries it out. They do not get involved in politics, although inidividuals may have their own political beliefs and actions. They cannot act on their political beliefs in uniform or as a military member. If Kokesh did not understand that, then he should be given the leniency shown. However, I doubt that he did not understand something as basic as that. It is something that is drilled into them from day one. It is the reason, the military is given the respect that they deserve. As long as they live by the rules created to maintain that respect, they bring honor to themselves and the nation.

  3. This man disgraced the uniform. He deserves dishonorable discharge. I am a civilian, but I have the utmost respect and admiration for our men and women in the military. God bless you all, and thank you!

    Why should anyone be allowed to get away with disregarding the rules just because the liberal leaning media kisses their behinds?


  5. Honorable discharges are for honorable Servicemembers…

    Honorable discharges are for honorable Servicemembers for their actions while serving in uniform …without technicalities. No Servicemember in or out of uniform has to like the war, we just have to defense and uphold our constitution and pray the results of a conflict are quickly resolved.

    This is not someone with honor or strong moral character that could think they are defending our American way of life. He not only disrespected the Corp, the NCO ranks, the Brigadier General, and the US Military, but offended the American people as well. Two hundred years ago, he and his band of brothers would have been shot for treason. No questions asked. Don’t play Soldier, when you’re not up to the task…Leave honor to the ones who earned it and deserve it.

  6. He got lucky, should have been harsher. We have enough civilians and politician’s using the free speech moniker to aid and comfort the enemy. Our enemies love to use the photos of disgruntled service people and politician’s protesting the war while their torturing the ones they capture. I believe Kokesh must have some political agenda like John Kerry to protest while his so-called friends are in harm’s way. Protest away, but leave the uniform at home your not the only one who ever wore it. Stop disgracing the rest of us. We would be doing alot better in this war if there wasn’t so much negativity about it.

  7. He is a lucky man. I would have pushed for a dishonorable discharge and brig time had I been his CO. Even as an IRR he still has an obligation to the Corp and he knows this. He doesn’t have to agree with what we are doing in Iraq, but he need to support his fellow Marines who are standing in the line of fire. No one want to see where a fellow service memeber has turn tail and shown their cowardly stripes. I wonder how the Marines he stood with in Irag feel about his actions? Would the still trust his guarding their six or did they ever trust him?

    Until his EAOS to the Marines and the USA is up. He needs to Shut up! He took the oath.

    God Bless our Troops and those who have served our nation.

  8. For all of those who believe the decision was lenient, I must disagree. A combat veteran, given a conditional honorable discharge deserves more consideration. The devil is in the details in this case:
    1. Is the military giving departing soldiers clear warning about their conduct as a civilian on inactive reserve status? Please indulge me on this, when I got out in 1977, I knew I had three more years until my discharge was final, but I WAS a civilian. I did not receive any special instructions upon my release. And I knew about the rules while I was active.

    2. No reasonable person would identify the marine as active, he had a beard, didn’t have insignia or nameplate on his uniform. Until recently I lived in a military town (Colorado Springs) and I would wear fatigue pants, green t-shirt and hiking boots when I washed my car, engaged in paint ball, etc. no one concluded I was in the military, I was obviously ex-military. I think details like this are important in this case.

    3. I think an honorable discharge is a big deal, stripping away this marine’s conditional honorable discharge should be re-considered. I would support an appeal.

    4. This is a contentious time. If the military is going to be this harsh, let’s make sure they are being firm, clear and informative to departing service members. Let’s not alienate those who have demonstrated their willingness serve their country, especially on a technicality such as this. After all, he was a few weeks from being free and clear.

  9. Harold,

    Please reconsider your statement. He has not turned tail and shown cowardly stripes…he currently disagrees with our political strategy in Iraq. Many others also feel this way. Its true, his opinion carries considerable weight because of his background and if he had been in dress blues, name plate and patches intact, I would absolutely agree with the panel’s decision, but he was not.

  10. I think the other thing to consider is Kokesh’s obscene response to the initial letter. I lay the blame for this squarely on the feet of the Cindy Sheehan wing of the Democratic Party. The major media have encouraged the over-wrought emotional reactions of these folks, and no question this young marine has fallen under their influence.

    Just how hard would it have been for him (Kokesh) to respond like this:


    “I read your letter with some concern. I engaged in this protest because I am deeply concerned about our conduct in this war. I do not wish to disgrace my service in the military nor reflect poorly on the Marine Corps. Please accept my apology for any infraction of the UCMJ in this regard. I will continue to speak out, but in accordance with appropriate regulations. Any guidance you can send me in this regard would be much appreciated.”

    Kokesh keeps his integrity ( he can continue to protest), the Marine Corps gets its due with respect to the regulations, and a young kid gets a chance to act more like a gentleman and probably reaches more folks about his cause. Odds are the officer would not have pursued the matter. It is indeed unfortunate that many under the age of 40, have been schooled by the media to just emote for the sake of attention. We need to train our young people to 1. Be more media savvy, and 2. Act with some sense of manners.

  11. To dhkillman,

    Thank you for your VN service. I just want to point out that when you do join the military you still retain First Amendment rights, its just that they are qualified rights. Remember, even civilians don’t have absolute freedom of speech, no one does, and for good reasons. But as a serviceperson, we shouldn’t be too quick to give away a precious right. Congress should be cautious when it passes laws that curtail fundamental rights. In this case, Congress did the right thing and curtailed some aspects of a serviceman’s First Amendment expression.

    You don’t have to become a leader to then legitimately disagree with what our leaders decide. Its perfectly okay to criticize and protest our leader’s decisions on the war, but there are appropriate venues and modes of expression for both the civilian and the serviceman. Naturally, the civilian has a wider latitude of expression, but even the civilian can’t endanger the public when expressing his disagreement with the war. And surely you don’t believe if Kokesh was wearing jeans and a t-shirt at the same rally, that he should have been stripped of his honorable dishcharge? Even the Corps own rules would prohibit that (I think).

    I think the Corps may have missed an opportunity here. This young man will eventually realize he has been duped by the military hating anti-war activists who will use ANYBODY for their PR value. He will eventually realize that these people who fawn over him now, make fun of him under their breath: “dopey Marine, not smart enough to stay out of the service” . Most of you on this blog know that is what they are like. The Corps could have held the hearing, expressed disappointment with the infraction of the rules, disciplined him with a condition of doing some public service (speak to high schoolers about his combat service) and depending on how he conducted himself, held out an upgrade to “honorable”. I genuinely believe he could have been convinced this would be the correct way to make up for his mistake. I also believe the services need to re-examine their policies with regard to what is “in uniform” for purposes of expressing First Amendment rights.

    And yes, some talk is “cheap and lazy”, but some isn’t…let’s be cautious and thoughtful about the difference.

  12. This man is held up as a hero to the anti-war people who support him, but if he were serving honorably in the Marine Corps, then he’d be considered a stupid tool of Bu$hCo. Funny how people in the military are considered pawns at best and bloodthirsty babykillers at worst. Until one of them speaks out against the war, then suddenly he becomes “brave” and “a true patriot”. In my opinion, Kokesh endangers men and women who are supposed to be his brothers and sisters with his acts. He is just another media whore like Casey’s “mother”. Had he shown up to the protest in civilian clothing, there’d be no problem. Why did he and others wear their uniforms? Because he wanted to use it to give more weight to his claims, that’s why. Sick. Sad.

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