Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Friday confessed that he never applied or attended West Point, though he did admit that he once refused a “full scholarship” to serve with the elite Navy SEAL Team 6.
The story of his almost attending the Army’s elite military academy has been part of Carson’s personal story for a number years, but his recent admission to nearly serving on the rescue mission that saved Capt. Phillips and his being “like, super close” to being on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden is a new twist.
“Dr. Carson was the top ROTC student in the city of Detroit,” campaign manager Barry Bennett wrote in an email to Duffel Blog. “In that role he was invited to meet General Westmoreland. Although he cannot remember the specifics of their brief conversation, it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as ROTC City Executive Officer and Westmoreland’s urging for him to accept a full scholarship to attend Navy SEAL training and take part in classified missions for years to come.”
Although senior defense officials say he never trained as a SEAL, Carson did author a book called “Gifted Hands.” In it, Carson wrote that he almost joined SEAL Team 6 but ultimately gave up that chance to pursue a career as a neurosurgeon and gifted slow talker.
Later in the book, Carson also wrote of once killing two men who attempted to steal his car, and traveling to New Orleans and shooting and killing dozens of looters from atop the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina.
NBC News’ Brian Williams contributed reporting.