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GOP lawmaker pushes for investigation into top Marine’s service record

A GOP lawmaker is pressing for a probe into the credentials of outgoing Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos.

“This is important. I want the truth to be told,” Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, told The Hill on Wednesday. “If that takes an investigation, then so be it.”

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Amos claimed in the career service record he presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation four years ago that he graduated from basic Marine officer training in 1972. That was the year he was commissioned as a Marine officer.

Jones said he reached out to the Marine Corps last week after the record came to his staff’s attention and was told by an official that Amos in fact graduated from the school five years later, in 1977, by completing a correspondence course.

“To me, if this was submitted to the Senate to be factual, and it’s not factual, then that needs to be exposed,” said Jones. “As minor as this might be in the eyes of some people, when you sign the bottom line, you’re stating everything in that statement is accurate.”

“I know whether I finished college or not. I know where I went to college,” he added.

Amos is stepping down from his post on Friday after a long military career.

The Marine Corps sought to explain the discrepancy in his service record.

Amos “completed The Basic Officer Course via correspondence, which was common practice for pilots during the Vietnam era,” Marine spokesman Capt. Ty Balzer said in a statement.

“Completion of professional military education requirements via correspondence is common practice today and is another method the Marine Corps uses to satisfy educational qualifications in circumstances preventing formal school attendance."

Jones, though, says that the matter deserves an inquiry.

He fired a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelFormer Pentagon chief: Trump 'let down our country' by skipping WWI cemetery visit due to rain Trump’s bogus use of cyber threats to prop up coal GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki MORE on Oct. 10, urging him to “investigate this matter and give it your utmost and immediate attention."

"This new information calls into question the integrity of not only the entire United States Marine Corps, but also of any person who has participated in this alleged cover-up," Jones alleged in the letter. "Misleading or falsifying information presented to Congress is a very serious charge."

Jones, whose state is home to Fort Bragg, one of the military’s largest installations, has long had a rocky relationship with Amos.

In a hearing last spring, Jones grilled the four-star general about the firing of Marine judge advocate Maj. James Weirick, who accused Amos and others of inappropriately using their authority to punish Marines accused of urinating on Taliban corpses.

He also called for an additional hearings into the Marine Corps’s decision to have the news magazine Marine Corps Times pulled from newsstands in front of military commissaries and placed in less prominent locations. The publication uncovered emails that traced the decision directly to Amos.

Jones insisted his query into Amos’s credentials is not about “sour grapes.”

“The leadership of the Marine Corps has to be the highest in integrity and there’s just been too many instances under the leadership of this commandant, where the integrity has been missing,” he said. 

This story was updated at 5:37 p.m.