Politician shockingly downplaying military career and honors

Candidate Seth Moulton for 6th Congressional District speaks during his election night party in Salem, Mass., Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/The Boston Herald, Chitose Suzuki)

It’s not rare to hear about politicians touting their accomplishments in the military. In fact, it’s not all that uncommon that politicians get in serious hot water for over exaggerating those accomplishments. What is rare, however, is when a politician completely downplays a military career. It’s especially rare when that same politician is the recipient of multiple medals for valor, and those accomplishments have to be pried out of him by reporters.

That’s Seth W. Moulton, a Democrat running for the Sixth Congressional District. According to this article in the Boston Globe, Moulton spent months deployed in Iraq, seeing extensive combat. The former United States Marine was even decorated for heroism two times, but he never mentioned that during his campaign. It actually took reporters from the Boston Globe to press him on the issue before he admitted to it.

According to The Globe, Moulton was deployed in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. During a particularly heated battle with Iraqi insurgents, Moulton “fearlessly exposed himself to enemy fire” in Nasiriyah and Najaf, while leading his platoon. Moulton received a Bronze Star for valor and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal for valor thanks to his service.

His Bronze Star came when, according to the military citations, Moulton exposed himself to mortar, rocket, sniper, and machine-gun fire, darting between four of his wounded Marines while still directing supporting fire that eventually repelled the attack in one of Islam’s holiest cities. His other medal came after he cleared a hostile stronghold, then aided a Marine who’d been wounded by friendly artillery fire.

But you won’t find that information on his campaign materials. In fact, even his parents did not know of these awards until they were brought out by The Globe. Moulton explained this to reporters by simply telling them that he didn’t think it was right to discuss his own individual awards.

“There is a healthy disrespect among veterans who served on the front lines for people who walk around telling war stories,” Moulton told reporters. He went on to explain that he felt it was disrespectful to boast of his own awards due to “many others who did heroic things and received no awards at all.”

Perhaps Moulton doesn’t need the added credentials of heroic war medals to boost his political cache. His story of being a Marine officer who joined after 9/11, commanded a platoon in Iraq despite he and many of his soldiers being opposed to the war, then going on to graduate from Harvard with degrees in business and government are compelling enough.

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Moulton insisted that reporters not call him a hero. He explained “Look, we served our country, and we served the guys next to us. And it’s not something to brag about. The greatest honor of my life was to lead these men in my platoon, even though it was a war that I and they disagreed with.”

By Brett Gillin



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