The Marines sped up a usually arduous bureaucratic process to grant an ailing vet his dying wish — to have his dishonourable discharge removed from his military record.
Hal Faulkner, 79, got the red mark in 1956, when he was 22, for being gay.
He was proud of his service and his military record was otherwise spotless. He told the New York Times the words “other than honourable” have long haunted him.
“It wrecked me,” he said. “(The Marines) gave up on me. I never forget it.”
He was among more than 110,000 soldiers discharged for their sexual orientation before the 2011 repeal of the policy known as don’t ask, don’t tell.
Now there is a process to appeal for reclassifications.
But with cancer spreading fast and the process being slow, Faulkner never thought his final wish would come true.
Thanks to the help of Anne Brooksher-Yen, a pro-bono lawyer from the advocacy group OutServe-SLDN, the Marines expedited the process. Faulkner was presented with his clean record at a gathering in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Friday.
“I don’t have much longer to live,” he said, “but I shall always remember it.”