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Ship’s location leads to questions in 26th District race

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on July 23, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
July 23, 2010 3:38 pm

I mentioned in a post yesterday that Doug Richards, whose campaign for state House is making his private life very public, is defending (among other things) his military record. Here’s more on that.

In his challenge to Democratic Rep. Larry Seaquist, a retired Navy officer who commanded a battleship, Richards has played up his own service in the Navy. There’s a picture of an aircraft carrier on his website and a one-sentence description of his service in his kickoff news release:

After high school he joined the Navy and served on board the USS Carl Vinson CVN-70 in the Persian Gulf.

That sentence, as Richards acknowledges, might leave a reader thinking he served in the Persian Gulf War. He didn’t.

He served earlier, in 1987-1989, as a group of current and former military officers note in a letter in the Peninsula Gateway this week that criticizes Richards and says his ship never entered the Persian Gulf.

On Richards’s behalf, another group of military men are defending his record, saying he served “in the Gulf Region” during peacetime. “I never claimed to be in the war,” Richards said in an interview.

So what’s the real story? The ship’s official history puts it next to, but not in, the Persian Gulf (calling it the “Arabian Gulf”):

The carrier completed 82 days on station in the North Arabian Sea. While on station, the Gold Eagle supported the escorting of American flagged tankers in the Arabian Gulf.

Richards said aircraft carriers can’t go into the Gulf because of their size. “I guess I should have said Persian Gulf region,” he said. But he compared the discrepancy to saying he lives in Port Orchard, rather than just outside city limits in Olalla.

UPDATED 3:35 p.m. with more comments from Richards.

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