Release from the Sestak Campaign:
Media, PA - Today, members of Veterans for Sestak made the following statements on the outrageous swift boat attacks on Democratic candidate and former Vice Admiral Joe Sestak by Curt Weldon and his supporter Scott Migli, Executive Director of the Republican State Committee, who recently suggested that Sestak wore the wrong rank with his uniform at Memorial Day services.
Tom Clay, co-chair of Veterans for Sestak, said: "As a retired service member who grew up in Springfield, Joe was invited by the Springfield American Legion, of which he is a member, to attend the Memorial Day events in Springfield – which included memorial services. Prior to the Memorial Day events, I called the Pentagon to confirm what the regulations were and the U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations clearly state that former Navy service members are allowed to wear their uniform at memorial services at the highest rank they attained while on active duty. Joe reported to the US Naval Academy at the age of 18, after graduating from Cardinal O'Hara High School in 1970. He then served his country honorably for 31 years, and it is absolutely shameful that anyone would attempt to dishonor that service."
Rocco Polidoro, a Republican co-chair of Veterans for Sestak, and the Commander of a local veterans group said, "Admiral Sestak, per Navy regulations, is entitled to wear his uniform, for memorial services, at the highest rank he attained. Someone needs to instruct Mr. Migli in the finer points of Naval regulations, but sadly, that won't be Curt Weldon since he has never worn the uniform of the Unites States military. As a Republican, I can safely say that Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan would be turning over in their graves if they knew that Curt Weldon and other Republicans would be using this as another desperate attempt to swift boat a man who dedicated his life to serving this country for 31 years.
Jerry Gavin, a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 67, Delaware County said, "Former Vice Admiral Sestak, who is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 67, Delaware County, was asked by us to participate in the Marcus Hook Memorial Day events with other members of the Delaware County Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America. He was also asked to be a speaker at the memorial service and to read the names of the Navy service members from Delaware County who were killed in Vietnam. As someone who was myself wounded in Vietnam, it put tears in my eyes to hear Admiral Sestak read the names of those who had given the ultimate sacrifice. For anyone to criticize him for participating in non-political Memorial Day activities is deeply upsetting."
Polidoro concluded by criticizing Weldon for his poor record on veterans' issues: "Given Curt Weldon's terrible record on veterans issues – from voting against full retirement and disability for all veterans to voting for a budget that cut veterans' healthcare by over $13 billion – it's hardly surprising that he's once again demeaning the service given to this country by a veteran. Admiral Sestak is a cut above Curt Weldon and this nonsense. Maybe if Curt hadn't spent so much time chasing down WMD in Iraq and had actually paid attention to the needs of our veterans, he wouldn't be in a position where he'd have to try to demean a service member by swift boat attacks against someone who has served this country with such honor and distinction."
According to the U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations, former members of the Armed Services may wear the uniform of the highest rank they held during their service when attending a memorial service, contrary to what Curt Weldon and the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania have said.