By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
May 11, 2005
The National Personnel Records Center has supplied data this week that disputes Hood River Port Commission candidate Craig Marquardo’s claim to a Purple Heart.
According to a report obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, Marquardo, who is running for Position 3 against Kathy Watson, earned only a standard service medal. In addition, the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Mo., outlines that Marquardo received some type of nonjudicial discipline during his Navy service between 1991-92.
On Monday the Hood River resident refuted the information and accused the NPRC of faulty record-keeping. He said not only should he have the National Defense Service Medal, the sole award listed by the NPRC, but multiple other distinctions as well. However, he declined further discussion about why the Purple Heart had been omitted from his military personnel records.
In recent weeks, Marquardo has come under attack by local veterans for his claim to a Purple Heart. They have expressed strong disbelief in his story to have been shot twice and had three disks ruptured in his back while involved in an undercover intelligence operation in Iraq. Their challenge has been based on the fact that the U.S.S. Orion, on which he served as an enlisted sailor, was stationed in Italy during that time period. In addition, the only “boots on the ground” during the Desert Shield/Storm era were SEAL units and Marquardo did not undergo that training.
Marquardo stated: “With what information is available publicly about my military background, and the amount of that information that is either untrue or incomplete, I will be spending some time on this in the coming weeks. My position has always been one of indifference to events occurring so long ago. But, even I want to make sure what’s being given is correct. I am not aware that any of the information I have provided about my background is incorrect. If this ever becomes the case, I will immediately correct it.
“I have nothing to hide, good or bad. If I can otherwise verify information, or find that information given elsewhere is incorrect, I will also immediately correct it,” wrote Marquardo in an e-mail follow-up to a telephone interview.
Marquardo did recall the disciplinary incident to which he believes the NPRC is referencing. He said a disciplinary process known as a Captain’s Mast was held in 1992 after he drove a military vehicle off-base at Norfolk, Va., without authorization.
“I had done so several times in the past with permission but, in this instance, none of my supervisors were available and the need was urgent. I don’t remember what the penalty was, if any. If at all, it was insignificant. My commanders stood up for me, which pretty much cleared it away,” he stated in the same e-mail.
However, retired Navy Commander John Howard, who has worked with special forces and taken an active interest in Marquardo’s story, said there are flaws in his latest explanation. He said Marquardo’s assertion that he should also have a medal just for being in the Navy is incorrect. And there is definitely not a medal given out for submarine service — or Marquardo’s job aboard a repair ship for the underwater vessels, according to Howard. He said it is possible that Marquardo received a Navy Expeditionary Medal for service during a time of war — but the NPRC is very seldom wrong in compiling data.
“There is just no such thing as some of these medals that he claims to have received,” said Howard.
Marquardo has refused to sign a SF-180, the official form that authorizes the release of his military records.