Clout: Oh offers tepid apology for Green Beret claim

Posted: August 23, 2011

DAVID OH, a Republican front-runner to win a seat on City Council this year, apologized yesterday to U.S. Army Special Forces members and former members angered at what they consider his overstated military credentials.

And Oh lashed out at the Daily News for our report Friday that his former commanding officer and another ranking military officer said he was not a Special Forces officer, as he has claimed in campaigns since 2003.

Oh insists that his "brief and uneventful" time in the 20th Special Forces Group of the Maryland Army National Guard gives him the right to make that claim.

"The men on this page attacking me are the men I admired and respected," Oh posted on a campaign Facebook page in response to several angry posts from people who identified themselves as Special Forces members. "They were real Green Berets. Therefore, they know rules, regulations and traditions that I do not."

Oh, who now refers to himself as a former Special Forces "candidate" because he did not complete the grueling training in 1991, said he has learned from a weekend of Facebook posts "that I have violated certain rules and traditions that I was not aware of. To that extent, I apologize to them and all Green Berets."

Oh's explanation has evolved since the Daily News first questioned his military record in an interview three weeks ago.

Oh first said he was not a "tabbed" Special Forces officer, referring to the uniform insignia worn to denote Green Beret status, but still considered himself part of the 20th Special Forces Group of the Maryland Army National Guard. He was assigned to the 20th during his training.

Then Oh said it was possible that he had been tabbed by his unit but did not know about it.

Finally, Oh said his unit designated him as a tabbed Special Forces officer when it assigned him to the role of detachment technician when the 20th Special Forces Group was called up to active duty in 1991 in preparation for a deployment to Iraq that never happened.

Oh, who told Facebook friends yesterday that he was going in for shoulder surgery, put up a post about 7 a.m. saying that he had never claimed to have been tabbed and had never posed as a Green Beret.

Here's a look at what he has said in campaign materials:

* On his current campaign website, Oh posted this quote from a civic-association leader: "David Oh has served his nation as a Green Beret, served this city as an assistant District Attorney and served his community as a community leader."

* In a current campaign Facebook posting labeled "Smart, Tough, Honest", Oh is pictured wearing a military green beret.

* An invitation to a Union League fundraiser with former Gov. Tom Ridge in May said that Oh "joined the U.S. Army Special Forces [Airborne]."

* In a 2007 campaign-literature piece available for download from Oh's website then, he listed himself as a "Former Officer, U.S. Army 'Green Berets.' "

* On his law firm's website in 2007, Oh's biography said: "David was a Lieutenant with the U.S. Army 20th Special Forces Group [a reserve Green Beret unit]."

* On his campaign website in 2003, Oh wrote: "I am proud to have served my country as an officer in the U.S. Army Special Forces [The Green Berets]."


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

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