Editor’s note: This article was originally published on October 27, 2017. It is being republished in conjunction with the announcement that Army General John Nicholson is relinquishing command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan today (September 9, 2018). Like the various senior officers mentioned below, General Nicholson’s questionable track record deserves to be highlighted to illustrate the moral decay in the upper echelons of our military leadership so that readers can demand change.

America’s military has a serious problem with a two-tiered justice system that destroys lance corporals and pardons the gross misconduct of general officers. One doesn’t need to look any further than the Marine Corps for a long history of this.

A fine example is General James “Hoss” Cartwright, a no-combat four-star F-18 pilot that was reportedly sleeping with his female major aid and was recommended for punishment by another four-star investigating officer, yet SecDef Ray Mabus let him retire without prosecution in 2011.

General Cartwright also revealed classified material to a reporter regarding the Iran Stuxnet leak which damaged national security, and then he lied to an FBI agent about his actions. In 2016, he pleaded guilty in Federal Court to lying to an FBI agent for a crime he committed in uniform, yet he was pardoned by President Obama in 2017. Many feel he should have been brought back onto active duty, court-martialed, and reduced in rank at the very least. To this day, he gets four-star retirement pay. Meanwhile, we have people in Leavenworth for far less-severe offenses.

Former Commandant of the Marine Corps Charles Krulak, like many frequent public speakers, has certain often-repeated and well-rehearsed speeches that he gave in various forums over the years. One of General Krulak’s most well-known speeches which he gave at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1993 at a symposium on “Integrity and Moral Courage” was videotaped and is now publicly available. There is also a transcript of the very same speech from 1999. In fact, General Krulak has given this same speech scores of times to various audiences spanning the years. The problem is that General Krulak’s story is a total lie. Not an exaggeration or “war story” – a lie.

In the story, Krulak describes in precise detail the story of a combat action that, according to him, took place on June 3, 1966, in Vietnam when he was the Company Commander of Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines. Krulak describes a platoon pinned down in an open rice paddy by heavy machine gun fire coming from a .50 caliber heavy machine gun. He describes the actions of a Marine who makes a daring single-handed assault across the open rice paddy after being hit by a .50 round and being knocked down only to regain his footing and continue the attack until struck by a second .50 caliber round. He then rises a third time and kills the entire gun crew and is found shot three times by the .50 caliber machine gun.

Krulak curiously makes a major point of telling the audience the Marine was black more than once. He then describes how this black Marine — supposedly named Corporal Grable – was posthumously awarded a Navy Cross for heroism. A search of the database of those killed in Vietnam reveals only one Marine named Grable having been killed, but this Marine was white and was killed in another part of Vietnam on another date. A search of the database of Navy Crosses awarded during the entire Vietnam War reveals there was no Marine named Grable or Gable or anything close to that name being awarded a Navy Cross.

Interestingly, there was a Marine in 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines awarded a Navy Cross for an action curiously similar to the one Krulak describes involving a one-man assault on a machinegun position. That Marine’s name was PFC Ray from Echo Company 2nd Battalion 1st Marines, and PFC Ray’s heroic action occurred months before the one Krulak describes and PFC Ray was white and in another company than Krulak. Krulak likely heard the story of PFC Ray’s heroism and altered the story to fit his fictional account.