Clout: Military officers: Council hopeful Oh was no Green Beret

David Oh
David Oh
Posted: August 19, 2011

The short version of David Oh's political resume: The former city prosecutor enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard, joined an elite Special Forces unit and then came home to run a law practice.

But two high-ranking military officers familiar with Oh's National Guard record say his claim to have been a Green Beret is bunk.

Oh, a front-runner for a Republican at-large City Council seat in the Nov. 8 general election, did not make it through the training to become a Green Beret in 1991.

The 20th Special Forces Group, part of the Maryland Army National Guard, rejects Oh's claim to the Daily News that his unit "designated" him to be a Green Beret because he was appointed to the role of detachment technician when the unit was briefly called to active duty in 1991.

Jim Croall, Oh's commanding officer in 1991, said that claim is "absolutely not" accurate.

"That would be totally stretching it," said Croall, who retired as a colonel after serving a tour of duty Iraq in 2003.

Croall, who recalls Oh not completing the Special Forces training, said he resents it when "wannabes" call themselves Green Berets without justification.

Croall said Special Forces units for all branches of the military must deal at times with people who make exaggerated claims about their military service. Some use Internet sites to expose Special Forces fakers, he said.

"There are plenty of people out there who claim to be something they are not," Croall said.

Lt. Col. Charles Kohler of the Maryland Army National Guard reviewed Oh's military record and also concluded that his claim is not accurate. "He was never qualified as a Special Forces officer," Kohler said.

Instead, Oh is listed in those records as an infantry officer with the rank of second lieutenant, attached to the 20th Special Forces Group as he attempted to complete the required training.

Oh insists he is accurate in calling himself a former Special Forces officer and Green Beret because the 20th Special Forces Group was called to active duty in 1991 and anticipated being deployed to Iraq for Operation Desert Storm. Oh said he would have been sent with the unit, which wasn't deployed because that war ended quickly.

"If we weren't called to war, if we weren't activated, if we weren't going overseas, I could call myself something else," he said.

Oh finished the three-week Special Forces Selection and Assessment course in 1991 but was not selected to continue on to the Special Forces Qualification Course. He was eligible to repeat the first course but did not.

To reach the status of Green Beret, Oh had to complete both courses successfully, Croall said.

Oh has referred to himself as a Special Forces officer and Green Beret on his campaign web sites and in campaign literature this year and during his first two runs for Council in 2003 and 2007.

Brady nixes border rumors

Redistricting, the once-a-decade process of redrawing the lines to determine which politicians represent which constituents, often inflames partisan passions and gives rise to rumors.

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of the Democratic City Committee in Philadelphia, says that one hot rumor circulating in Harrisburg about his 1st Congressional District is way off the mark.

The rumor: Brady offers a weak Democratic candidate for a special election for the state House's 169th District in Northeast Philly if the Republicans controlling the General Assembly and redistricting redraw his district in a fashion he favors.

That special election may happen because the holder of that seat, Republican state Rep. Denny O'Brien, could win an at-large City Council bid this year.

"Nobody ever talked to me, not for one minute or one second, about Denny O'Brien's vacant seat," Brady told us yesterday.

Democratic leaders in Harrisburg tried to recruit local Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby to run for O'Brien's seat. McNesby said that he would decide after Labor Day, but probably won't run.

Brady told us that he expects O'Brien to win a Council seat. He also advised McNesby to keep the job he has now rather than run.

Brady's district stretches from Chester in Delaware County and up Cobbs Creek through Southwest Philadelphia to Brady's Overbrook Park neighborhood and up the east side of North Broad Street to the lower Northeast.

Republican and Democratic sources in Harrisburg confirm that the rumor about Brady seeking a deal is swirling.

One senior Democratic source put it this way: "Every House Democratic leader is extremely frustrated that you have the leader of the Philadelphia Democratic Party attempting to sell out a Democratic seat just to help himself."

Perzel plea deal?

Former state House speaker John Perzel, due to go on trial next month on corruption charges, is considering a plea bargain, two Harrisburg sources told us.

Perzel denied that when we spoke earlier this week. He then went quiet, apparently at the advice of his attorney, who has not responded to our phone calls.

We can think of two factors weighing heavily on Perzel's mind these days. A plea might cost him the $85,653 state pension he has been collecting since he was defeated for re-election last year.

And what about medical insurance for his wife, Sheryl, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1994? Her brother, Samuel "Buzz" Stokes, was one of three co-defendants in the case who took plea deals this week.

Perzel says that his wife can walk about 25 feet with the help of a walker these days. The stress of a trial won't be much help.

"Hey, what are you going to do?" Perzel pondered about it all.


"What has to happen in our society to save society is we must be civil. We must be civil. If we're not civil, civilization doesn't exist. And he's calling people out."

- Glenn Beck, praising Mayor Nutter on the radio last week for comments he made about young African-Americans violently mobbing people on the street, as relayed by the Philadelphia Examiner.

Staff writer Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.

Have tips or suggestions? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or email

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Have a news tip? Gossip? Suggestion? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or Catherine Lucey at 215-854-4712. Or e-mail


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