WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new controversy has rocked the Marine Corps from the shores of Tripoli to the halls outside the Pentagon office of Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos.
Marines were stunned this week to learn that despite his claim of being an aviator before his ascension as the service's 35th commandant, Amos instead received his commission and military occupational specialty in 1972 as an infantry officer, or 0302.
The allegations were made known with an exclusive report from Marine Corps Times, destroying the sacred chain of air wing officers that have led the Corps since 1952. The corrected service record makes clear that Amos is the first infantry officer to ever assume the Corps' top leadership spot (Before the 1950s, most commandants previously served as Administrative personnel or 1102 Water Support officers, or "Water Dogs").
"If I had known he was a grunt, I never would have supported him as commandant," said Aaron Blakely, a former sergeant who served as a mechanic with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (VMM-265).
According to The Times report, Amos was commissioned a 2nd Lt. after completing ROTC training at the University of Idaho in 1970. He went on to complete The Basic School and Infantry Officer Course, even being designated the "Gung-Ho recipient" for his motivation and leadership. At IOC he also earned his radio callsign of "Blue Falcon Actual," although neither The Times or Duffel Blog could discern any meaning behind the nickname.
A spokesman for Marine Corps headquarters said it was impossible to provide further documentation on the matter since he was still hungover from the three-day weekend. However, the commandant's spokesman, Col. Dave Lapan, did provide Duffel Blog with a statement:
"It is a sacred duty and honor to uphold the office of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and that starts with initial training as Marine aviators. As with all previous aviator commandants before him, Gen. Amos joined a long line of flyers in Corps history. These charges are absolutely false."
The allegations sting especially hard for infantry Marines, many of whom hoped in 2008 that then-Gen. James Mattis, an infantry officer leading Central Command at the time, would be picked for commandant. Amos edged Mattis out of the running and was picked, ultimately because of paperwork he filed with Headquarters Marine Corps assuring them that he was from the aviation ranks, sources said.
"This explains why nothing he ever did made any sense, just like in the grunts," said Lance Cpl. Byron Jacobs, a Marine with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines.
Lee Ho Fuk contributed reporting.