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A U.S. Marine seen in an iconic photo pulling an Afghan infant over a barricade at the international airport in Kabul last month just days before the chaotic pullout from that country after 20 years of war is now under investigation by the service branch for attending one of former President Donald Trump’s rallies.
The investigation was initially reported by Task & Purpose:
A Marine who says he saved a baby in Kabul by lifting the infant over the walls outside Hamid Karzai International Airport is now under investigation for appearing on stage with former President Donald Trump at a recent political rally in Georgia.
Lance Cpl. Hunter Clark was one of nearly 6,000 U.S. troops tasked with guarding the airport last month as thousands of desperate people tried to get in to escape the Taliban. On Sept. 25, Clark appeared on stage with Trump for just under a minute at a “Save America Rally” in Perry, Georgia.
Clark quickly introduced himself as “the guy that pulled the baby over the wall,” adding that “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,” Clark said to the crowd, according to the news site.
“The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit cannot confirm if Clark is one of the other Marines in that video, said Capt. Kelton J Cochran, a spokesman for the 24th MEU. Cochran also noted that there were several incidents during the evacuation of Afghans handing children to U.S. troops,” Task & Purpose reported further.
But no matter; the Marine Corps announced it is investigating whether Clark may have violated rules against military personnel engaging in partisan political activities.
“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,” Cochran told the news outlet. “Any details pertaining to this incident are not releasable while the investigation is being conducted.”
The spokesman did not say what particular violation Clark is believed to have committed.
“It is DoD policy to encourage members of the Armed Forces (hereafter referred to as “members”) (including members on active duty, members of the Reserve Components not on active duty, members of the National Guard even when in a non-Federal status, and retired members) to carry out the obligations of citizenship,” says a Department of Defense Directive governing political activities for service members dated Feb. 19., 2008.
“In keeping with the traditional concept that members on active duty should not engage in partisan political activity, and that members not on active duty should avoid inferences that their political activities imply or appear to imply official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement, the following policy shall apply,” the directive continues, stated allowable activities like registering to vote and voting, as well as activities that are not allowed.
Service members may not “in partisan political fundraising activities (except as permitted in subparagraph 126.96.36.199.), rallies, conventions (including making speeches in the course thereof), management of campaigns, or debates, either on one’s own behalf or on that of another, without respect to uniform or inference or appearance of official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement,” the directive states.
“Participation includes more than mere attendance as a spectator,” it continues, adding that members also may not “speak before a partisan political gathering, including any gathering that promotes a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.”
The investigation into Clark comes as another Marine, Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, was tossed into the brig earlier this week for speaking out against senior Pentagon leaders against direct orders.
Late last month, Scheller was relieved of his battalion command after posting a video questioning military leaders over the handling of the deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan which left 11 fellow Marines dead along with two U.S. Army soldiers and a Navy corpsman.