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Phony Marine Standing Guard: Craig Pusley, Who Guarded California School After Sandy Hook Shootings, Lied About Military Service

Travelers Today       By    Katie McFadden

Updated: Dec 21, 2012 10:16 AM EST

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A marine who was standing guard outside a California school may be a phony after Marine Corp officials discovered that he lied about his service. He didn't lie about being a Marine but details of his ranking may have been fabricated. Now he's apologizing after he was asked to leave the school.

Craig Pusley, 25,  was inspired to show up at  Hughson Elementary School in Modesto, CA to stand guard and make the children and families feel safe after the deadly shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

He showed up in his military fatigues. Interested by his actions, The Modesto Bee interviewed Pusley. He reportedly said that he was a sergeant in the Marine Reserve and was in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also said he was currently unemployed and living off of reservist pay with his wife and 3-year-old child, according to the Associated Press.

However upon investigations, Marine Corps officials said this wasn't true. Capt. Gregory A. Wolf, a Marine spokesman said Pusley never even went overseas. He served less than a year at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. He was discharged as a private, or a basic Marine, in 2008 and he isn't a reservist, according to AP.

Upon finding out about the fabrication, Hughson Unified Superintendent Brian Beck asked Pusley to leave the school when he showed up in regular clothing the following day. Pusley left without arguing.

However Pusley said he didn't lie. He blames The Modesto Bee for gettng the details wrong.

"There's a lot of fabrication to this story that didn't come out of my mouth," Pusley said, according to USA Today. "All I know is that I talked to a Modesto Bee lady, and everything went crazy."In photographs, Pusley appears to be wearing a uniform with sergeant insignia, but Pulsey said he borrowed the uniform and didn't realize what it had on it. 

"I feel horrible about this," he said. "My intention was for the kids. I don't understand why everyone has to find a negative in every situation."

The Modesto Bee stands by their story and claims that reporter, Nan Austin did not exaggerate the details.

Whether it was Pusley's lies or Austin's faulty reporting, Pusley is apologizing for the incident. He is sorry if wearing the uniform in public offended anyone, as former Marines are not allowed to appear in uniform unless it's for a parade, a wedding or a funeral.

"I cannot emphasize enough how sorry I am that all of this has happened," he said. "These were not my intentions. This was never supposed to happen."

Top enlisted Marine, Marine Corps Mike Barrett, understands the desire to protect children during this time, but he doesn't think Pusley should have worn the uniform against Marine regulations.
"This is not the right thing. Not the right time. And not the right place," Barrett said, according to USA Today. "The uniform doesn't make the man. It's your character that defines you."

Principal Laura Fong believes Pusley had good intentions despite possibly lying about how long he served and his ranking.

"I think it came from a place of good," she told The Modesto Bee. 

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