The sad, pathetic story of Republican House candidate J.R. Majewski is coming to a shuddering halt, after last week's Associated Press story finding that Majewski never served in Afghanistan where he responded with the laughable notion that his tour there was classified. Majewski threatened to sue the AP for libel, in which case the AP decided there had to be more to the story and whoa Betty, was there ever more to the story.
Republican J.R. Majewski has centered his campaign for a competitive Ohio congressional seat around his biography as an Air Force veteran. But one of the big questions that has surfaced is why Majewski was told he could not reenlist in the Air Force after his initial four years were up.
Majewski’s campaign said last week that he was punished and demoted after getting in a “brawl” in an Air Force dormitory in 2001. Military records obtained since then by The Associated Press, however, offer a different account of the circumstances, which military legal experts say would have played a significant role in the decision to bar him from reenlisting. They indicate Majewski’s punishment and demotion were the result of him being stopped for driving drunk on a U.S. air base in Japan in September 2001.
The documents, which were provided to the AP and independently authenticated, present yet another instance where the recorded history of Majewski’s service diverges from what he has told voters as he campaigns while using his veteran status as a leading credential.
In a statement, Majewski acknowledged that he was punished for drunken driving, though he didn’t address why his campaign previously said his demotion was the result of a fight.
This mistake is now more than 20 years old. I’m sure we’ve all done something as young adults that we look back on and wonder ‘what was I thinking?’ and I’m sure our parents and grandparents share these sentiments,” Majewski said.
Since starting his campaign to unseat longtime Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Majewski has repeatedly said he was a combat veteran who served a tour of duty under “tough” circumstances in Afghanistan. By his own account, he once went more than 40 days in the country without a shower due to a lack of running water.
His story came under intense scrutiny last week when the AP, citing military documents obtained through public records requests, reported that he did not deploy to Afghanistan as he claimed, but instead spent six months based in Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, where he helped load and unload aircraft.
The latest revelation that Majewski was demoted for drunken driving adds another wrinkle. Last week, the AP asked Majewski’s campaign why his military service records showed that he was not allowed to reenlist in the Air Force and left the service after four years at a rank that was one notch above where he started.
At the time, his campaign said in an email that Majewski was “in a fight in the dormitory with another servicemember” which “knocked his rank down.” His campaign added that he later gained some of that rank back.
The personnel records obtained by the AP make no mention of a fight. Instead, they state that Majewski was demoted for drunken driving at Kadena Air Base in Japan on Sept. 8, 2001. And rather than gain his rank back — as Majewski’s campaign said — the records indicated he continued to hold the rank of E-2, one notch above entry level, that he was demoted to for the rest of his active duty.
“When you decided to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after indulging in intoxicating liquor you brought discredit upon yourself, 733rd Air Mobility Squadron, and the Air Force,” the disciplinary records state, referring to the unit Majewski was assigned to at the time. “Further misconduct by you of any type will not be tolerated.”
The three-page document details Majewski’s punishment, which included a reprimand and 30 days of extra duty in addition to the demotion. It bears Majewski’s signature and shows he consulted a lawyer and waived his right to a court-martial. He also waived his right to appeal the punishment and requested that the document not become public, the records show.
The AP was not able to obtain a “written presentation” from Majewski, which was referred to in the disciplinary paperwork. The campaign did not respond to a request from the AP to provide the document.
Eric Mayer, a former West Point graduate and Army infantry officer later turned military lawyer, reviewed Majewski’s documents at AP’s request. He said that “the overall nature and quality of (Majewski’s) military service can be severely questioned simply by virtue of the fact that he got out as a E-2 after four years.”