The U.S. Marine who says he saved a baby in Kabul by lifting the infant over the walls outside Hamid Karzai International Airport is under investigation for appearing on stage with former President Donald Trump at a rally in Georgia on September 25.
“The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) has initiated a command investigation regarding LCpl Hunter Clark’s attendance at the event last weekend to determine if any DoD policies were violated. Any details pertaining to this incident are not releasable while the investigation is being conducted,” a spokesman for the unit told several sources.
Trump introduced Clark, who is from the area where the rally was being held, as “one of the Marines who served in Kabul during the withdrawal and helped evacuate children over the airport wall.” As Clark was approaching the stage, the crowd chanted, “USA, USA!” which seemed to make the Marine emotional.
When he reached the microphone, he said, “I am the guy that pulled the baby over the wall. It’s definitely probably one of the greatest things I’ve done in my entire life.”
“I just want to thank all the support from all y’all. It really means a lot and I’m glad to be home now,” he added. After shaking Trump’s hand, he departed the stage.
A video of a Marine pulling a baby over the wall at the airport on August 19 went viral, but the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit of which Clark is a member cannot confirm if he is one of the other Marines in that video. Capt. Kelton J Cochran, a spokesman for the 24th MEU, told Task & Purpose that Clark was not the Marine in the video.
Cochran also noted that there were several incidents during the evacuation of Afghans handing children to U.S. troops.
Clark’s unit is investigating whether he violated the military’s ban on active duty troops engaging in partisan political activity.
Although Cochran did not specify which policies Clark may have violated, Defense Department policies say active duty service members “may not engage in partisan political activities.” They may attend, but not be active participants.
It also states they “may not campaign for a partisan candidate, engage in partisan fundraising activities, serve as an officer of a partisan club, or speak before a partisan gathering. Active duty members may, however, express their personal opinions on political candidates and issues, make monetary contributions to a political campaign or organization, and attend political events as a spectator when not in uniform.”
Clark was not in uniform, and was not campaigning for any political candidate, but the event was a rally to support three Republican candidates. Although the rally was a political event, Trump presumably invited Clark on stage as part of a public show of support for U.S. troops.
The military is very guarded about its members speaking in public because it is generally assumed when a member of the military speaks in their capacity as a service member, they are representing the military. In other words, if you are on video, or are speaking over a microphone, and you introduce yourself using your military rank, people may assume you’re speaking on behalf of the military.
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