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Camp Pendleton Marine faces dismissal for online political postings

March 22, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
There's a backlash against a Camp Pendleton Marine over online political postings. The Marine Corps is now looking to boot Sergeant Gary Stein out of the service.

It's not uncommon to hear criticism of the president. But it's a little different when you're in the Marine Corps, since the president is, after all, the commander in chief. After Sgt. Stein posted critical remarks on his Facebook page, he received a recommendation for an Other Than Honorable Conditions discharge.

Sgt. Gary Stein is an eight-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps. But his future in the armed forces is currently clouded in uncertainty.

On Stein's Facebook page, a banner across the top reads "Armed Forces Tea Party." In a quote below it, Stein says he's a "Conservative, hell bent on defending the constitution and preserving Americas greatness."

But now, Stein says, because of his opinions on the webpage, he's been relieved of duty and given a desk job instead.

"I was hurt because I do my job very well, and I've done it very well for the last eight months. I was hurt because I love that job that I did," said Stein.

The Marine Corps acknowledged that they are aware of the Facebook page. In a statement, a spokesperson said: "After reviewing the findings of the preliminary inquiry, the Commander decided to address the allegations through administrative action," wrote Major Mike Armistead.

It's unclear why the Marine Corps took action, but in one section of Department of Defense Directive 1344.10, it says it's prohibited for Marines to "serve in any official capacity or be listed as a partisan political club."

"We're not about Republican-Democrat. We want the best person who's going to make this country better than it is today, and get us out of debt the best way and the most efficient way possible. And right now, the president as it is, that's not happening," said Stein.

Stein also says he's accused of making statements about the president that are prejudicial to good order and discipline. So should that be protected as free speech?

Around town, opinions varied.

"He has his opinion, but it's the commander in chief of the United States," said Temecula resident Edwin Webb.

"He has a right to put an opinion out there, and we have a right to choose whether we agree with him or not and move on," said Idyllwild resident Martha Snyder.

No matter what happens with the discharge recommendation, Stein says he's not going to change a thing. He's still going to speak his mind. In fact he said he would be speaking at a 'tea party' event in San Diego County Thursday evening.

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