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Congressional candidate defends Special Forces claims

Jul. 26, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Ron Dickey
Ron Dickey (The Clarion-Ledger)
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A Mississippi congressional candidate called out by the Special Forces community for describing himself as a Green Beret says he stands by what he has said, even if it should have been phrased differently.

Ron Dickey, running as a Democrat against Republican 1st District Rep. Alan Nunnellee, was attached as a food service specialist with the 3rd Special Forces Group during Operaton Desert Storm while he served in the Army from 1990-93. From 1991-1993, attached support personnel assigned to a Special Forces unit were authorized to wear the green beret.

“This happened over 21 years ago. At that time, the Army had different standards, the Department of the Army issued me a green beret. Not only did they issue the green berets to those who choose to go through the training course to become a Green Beret,” he said. “It’s like the difference between a certified teacher and an uncertified teacher.”

Dickey, of Horn Lake, said the campaign workers who wrote his biography information didn’t understand the difference, but he owned up to having the final say on what’s published online.

“The people that did my bio didn’t understand the connection and generalized, but here in the last week people have asked for details and specifics on my military service,” he said.

His website and social media accounts are “run by my campaign. But I’m the ultimate decider of what gets put on and what’s taken off.”

Since the controversy started, Dickey has edited and removed most of the language referring to his service with the Green Berets.

As one of his platform issues is veterans’ rights, Dickey said he certainly never meant to be misleading or divisive.

“I never said that I was Q School qualified. I said that back then I was issued a beret by the Department of the Army just like everyone in the Army,” he said. “I’m out here for the vets, so I don’t want to have divisive issues with the vets. The centerpiece of my platform is vets’ rights.”

Nowhere in his literature does Dickey claim to have completed or attempted the “Q” course, a rigorous training course for the elite Special Forces unit, nor does he claim to have taken or passed an airborne course, which would be a definite prerequisite. However, in various places on social media he is listed as a Green Beret and a veteran of Desert Storm. Dickey did serve in Korea during Desert Storm, according military records obtained by the Guardian of Valor website.

Dickey, a former police officer and truck driver, has not run for office before. He said he doesn’t want to shy away from questions about his service because he served honorably and because he wants to set the record straight.

“If I’m gonna represent the people, then I can’t shy away from adversity. If there’s something like this that I can’t handle, how am I going to handle the major problems I would have in Congress and around the world?” he said. “I’d really rather talk about the issues — like minimum wage, women’s rights, vets’ rights.”

Guardian of Valor’s website accuses Dickey of lying about his service, and Dickey said the group isn’t alone. He said even though his campaign literature has used the wording since March, people just recently started contacting him from all over the country.

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