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Phony Marine Standing Guard Outside School ‘Deeply Sorry’ For Lying

Craig Pusley apologized for lying about Marine past

In the wake of last Friday’s shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, a photo emerged of a man claiming to be a Marine standing guard outside of an elementary school in California.

Twenty-five-year-old Craig Pusley told the Modesto Bee he was a sergeant in the Marine Reserve who had been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he was currently unemployed and using his reservist pay to support his wife and child. Pusley had stood guard outside Hughson Elementary School Wednesday wearing military fatigues. He returned the next day in civilian clothing but was gone by the middle of the morning when he was asked to leave by the district superintendent.

Pusley had, it turns out, partially fabricated his story about his Marine past. It turns out that while he did graduate from boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, but he was never deployed and did not attend military occupational school. He was never a sergeant in the Reserve and never made it past private first class, according to the Navy Times. He was instead a “basic Marine” and awarded the standard MOS 8000.

Pusley said he was inspired by Staff Sgt. Jordan Pritchard, a father of two who stood guard outside his children’s elementary school in Nashville. Pusley said he didn’t lie about his military service but that the reporter he first spoke to got it wrong.

“There’s a lot of fabrication to this story that didn’t come out of my mouth,” Pusley said. “All I know is that I talked to a Modesto Bee lady [Nan Austin], and everything went crazy.”

Pusley continued, “I feel horrible about this. My intention was for the kids. I don’t understand why everyone has to find a negative in every situation.”

Pusley didn’t explain why Austin reported that he had been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan or why it continued to be reported by other media outlets. He said he was “deeply sorry” for the way everything spun out of control. Austin was unable to be reached, but her editor, Joe Kieta, said the Modesto Bee stood by her original report.

“I cannot emphasize enough how sorry I am that all of this has happened,” he said. “This was never supposed to happen.”

Pusley cracked his femur during boot camp but still made it to graduation. He took an unauthorized absence to go to a court hearing involving his ex-wife, saying he thought he had leave at the time. He didn’t and could be court-martialed because of it.

Marines are not have been allowed to wear their uniforms in public except in specific circumstances such as weddings or a military funeral, so Pusley would have been breaking the rules to do what he did Wednesday. The Marine Corps wouldn’t say if he would face any legal repercussions for lying about his past. Though his heart was in the right place, perhaps he should have found a different way to go about trying to protect the children of Hughson Elementary.

Until Austin comes forward, there is no way to know whether Pusley really did say that he was a sergeant who had been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan or if Austin was the one who lied.

UPDATE: A video from shows Pusley telling reporters that he is a sergeant in the Marine Corps who was on a reserve attachment and had received an injury and could no longer be on active duty. He didn’t want to talk about the injury, however. He also said that he had been in Afghanistan. You can watch the video below.

Do you think Pusley should face any legal action for fabricating his story?

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72 Responses to “Phony Marine Standing Guard Outside School ‘Deeply Sorry’ For Lying”

  1. Michael Eric Cook

    He acted on behalf of the safety of children. I could care less about he said she said. More people should have heart like this young man. The media should never have approached him. Rock on young man. Other unemployed guys your age were arlready in the bar.

  2. Anonymous

    At least he had the guts to stand tall for something he beleaved in while others cower for and blamb guns and not the people woh weiled them.

  3. Saverio Moss Castellucci

    And in the latest news. The fake marine was given probation time by the judge. The punishment! Standing outside the Hughson Elementary school in Newtown, Ct., from 7 am to 3pm.

  4. James Fear Sr.

    I can see how a reporter could screw up the facts…..he was in the marines that adds some crediability to his side….amen for makin an attempt at something good…I agree Mike.

  5. Phil Mason

    Unfortunate, not really illegal, stupid perhaps. It also points to the problems that would likely accrue in this rush to put armed guards in every school. Folks like this would be coming out of the woodwork looking to puff themselves up, sack up and get a check mark on their little used man cards. I can virtually promise you that in time some student would be shot down because a 'wannabe' misread an intent.

  6. Ulna Cal Calloway

    I don't believe that, I believe he did it for personal gains ,the same as those that scam this tragedy

  7. Eric Fitzgerald

    What a dbag with good intentions. If you want to go stand guard unarmed do it but don't lie about who you are. I am a former Marine and a Vet. To see these guys with hero syndrome kind of sickens me and makes me want to laugh at the same time. What would he do if someone showed up with a gun? He would either run or be shot…This also violates uniform wear and appearance regulations and could be a violation of the stolen valor act, but I believe that was repealed. Most war veterans that saw any action usually don't go around trying to show off or spouting their accolades. If you want to play soldier then do it but don't lie about your service record. If this guy never made it to MOS school it usually means he quit…lame.

  8. Jonathan D'Amico

    if you were in the Marine Corps you wouldn't use the phrase "former Marine"…as there is no such thing

  9. Stephanie Roades


  10. Jim Weyrick

    Shame on you Ulna Cal Calloway for posting this and shame on you as a person.
    I hope you can sleep at night moron. It's people like you that make me want to come over there and slap you.

  11. Anonymous

    The courts would be over loaded if every military liar was prosecuted. He just wanted to be a hero for 15 minutes and he was. Now he is back to be being the zero he was before the fame.

  12. Jim Weyrick

    On a good note. Michael, nice post man. We need to see the good in people. Reporters always want to make news instead of reporting the facts.

  13. Charles David Bunner

    At Least he tried to make a difference instead of posting and looking the other way.
    What we need to keep in mind that all this hysteria about more gun control will not keep those who want to harm our children from doing so, be it a knife, car, etc. What we have here is a bunch of sick people who haven't been help mentally due to both parties ignoring the biggest problem we have in this country: The Mental Health debudgeting over the years to save money which ahs resulted in the recent shooting, etc.

  14. Kevin Davenport

    What's he going to do? a determined criminal would pass through him before he could remember what pocket he put his cell phone in. He's an attention seeker.

  15. Charles David Bunner

    Ulna Cal Calloway ,

    I am sorry that you felt that the young Marine was acting out of self reward instead of wanting to serve in some way to help protect the innocent children. More young men need to step forward to become good role models for our children instead of trying to hold corrupt politicians up as being worthy to admire.

  16. DeVario Sheets Sr.

    Well someone has to protect the kids, I would volunteer to do something like that also. I have three boys and they are capable of defending themselves but a little extra security can help, seeing how the metal detectors did a wonderful job in saving all them kids and teachers lives I guess. Even if there were detectors in the building, nobody else had one. And soon before a cop shows up, after 20+ people are dead. I say let the stand guard and put a few more marines out to protect all these schools kids and staff and more importantly, you me us the parents. We send our kids to school to learn and get an education not to be a punching bag, or for target practice. With that being said everyone have very safe and blessed holiday!

  17. Bob Connely

    All this hoopla over a Marine (yes, he was: he graduated Boot and had an MOS), and not a word being said about Kerry being looked at for Secretary of State, despite the fact that he lied his azz off about service in The Nam… and pictures and stories abound regarding the Commie Traitor Bee-yatch, Jane Fondue.

  18. John W. Stafford

    This former Marine did what he thought would ease the stress of the students and teachers. He should not be punished! If it is found that he did for self gratification, maybe he should be prosecuted. Facts will tell which way this goes!

  19. Rafael Perez

    Wow, Ulna Cal Calloway calls the way it is and you guys hate on it. Guy lies about being a sergeant in the Marine Corps and lies about deploying to Iraq. Go ahead and say shame on me as well.

  20. Rafael Perez

    He may have had good intentions but why lie. Why call yourself a sergeant and claim you've deployed to Iraq when the guy hasn't done any of it? He's a liar and a phony. He could have said the truth, that he was barely in a year and he was no longer in the Corps. That would have been acceptable.

  21. Rafael Perez

    That's dumb Jonathan, most of us say former Marine and then we get corrected cliche style. Saying you're a Marine in the present form is misleading as you can clearly see that Eric is now in the Army and USED to be in the Marine Corps. I can't vouch for him as I don't personally know him but neither do you. Only other Marines truly understand the "Once a Marine. Always a Marine."

  22. Swadewade Wade

    The headline reads "Phony Marine Standing Guard Outside School "Deeply Sorry for Lying". In the article he says he was "deeply sorry" for the way everthing spun out of control. Ms Tayla Holman, the reporter, lied with the headline to make it more sensational. Typical reporter who doesn't care for facts.

  23. Christopher Goins

    unfortunately another great job by the media and they're sensationalism , the media in this country and else where are chaos mongals , if it isn't horrific and negative why report it , it doesn't bring any revenue to them! To the marine that was standing guard SEMPER FI! u are an honorable man to stand your ground amd at least put forth the effort to try and keep our children safe , as a vet myself I would do the same but unfortyunately my rearend would be arrested for disturbing the peace! or hindering progress of public assembly. isn't that crazy! People wake up if we don't protect our own the ones that are suppose to aren't going to!

  24. Robert H. White III

    @Dan Hill…I think you are the %^%$@!!%….you backing up some retard who stood in front of a camera and made up all sorts of stories and probably was standing out in front of the school to boost his ego or to play act some kind of fantasy…he could of stood there and told the truth about who he was…but no…he had to make up lies and make himself out to be something he was not…THAT is what is so dispicable….Why did he lie??? he could of said he was a PFC…it wouldn't have made any difference…but when you start lying about your rank…and bragging about things you never did…THEN it becomes a disgrace…I really do believe PUSLEY has mental problems…seems like maybe he really is retarded…this guy PUSLEY needs to wake up…and stay at home if he wants to play dress up…

  25. Robert H. White III

    Jim Weyrick …you want to go there and slap Ulna??? You are such a weak puke…next thing you know, you will want to go there with a gun, and shoot everyone…It's people like you that go to schools and shoot children…so tough and brave online…but in real life, a person that amounts to nothing, can't do nothing…and is worth nothing…JIM…you put the ill in Illinois

  26. David Penman

    Now there's an idea! Find a bunch of guys who want to be fake marines and use them as guards at schools…volunteers…no pay…for the kids!

  27. Michael Boots Banasiak

    Yoou can tell he was fabricating a lie when he was asked his name. He started to rock back and forth. Good for him standing him there. Bad for laying. Just tell the truth. I would be more impressed.

  28. Jeff McClintock

    Are of any of you posters real marines? Hes denying that he lied, however hes wearing Sergeant chevrons, which he does not rate. He is also not allowed to wear cammies outside of being on base, the only exceptions of this rule is gas stations and banks. I am willing to bet this liar also did say he was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, that personally really pisses me off as a combat veteran of Iraq to have some fake claim service he never gave. I personally think he was out for attention/personal gain from all this. And to think that an unarmed marine in cammies will deter any potential threats from a school is rather stupid. These people that commit these acts of violence are determined individuals, this recent shooting demonstrated that. He woke up that day with his mind made up, sane or not he knew what he was doing and didn't care about the people he killed.
    So please stop defending this liar, and stop thinking posting military people at our schools is a great idea. Their intentions are good, it may make people "feel" better having one there but come down to it, its not going to stop a deranged person from following through with this. If anything, they would be thrilled to take a marine down and gain more headlines out of it.

  29. Jeff McClintock

    He is a liar, he lied about his rank and legit service. He was some boot that never made it past bootcamp. He does NOT deserve to share that uniform with other marines.

  30. Keonnie Pruett

    Thank you sir, for trying to ease the hearts of our young children, and give then some security while being at school. Regardless of the legitimacy of your claims, children still look to our policemen, firemen, and military men and women as symbols of authority, but most of all symbols of safety. If one child felt safe while you were standing there I say a job well done, and you should be applauded.

  31. Rebecca Hagemann

    I would respect this guy if he was wearing his actual rank and was honest with the reporter that he never made it past Bootcamp. Once he put on that rank that he never earned and opened his pie hole his reason for being there changed for me. He's nothing but an attention grabbing whore. I was told I'd never make it through bootcamp (Navy), well I did and finished 26 years of service. 13 months in country in Afghanistan and close to 4 years deployed at sea and would of had more than that but the Navy didn't allow women to deploy on combat ships till 1/2 of my career was already complete. This guy makes me sick.

  32. Rick Lex

    Why are you both personally insulting Ulna for her comment? She has a point. There's all the proof in the world and you guys deny the truth.

  33. Matthew Bryan Turner

    If he lied, his intentions don't matter. No need to lie, and honorable people don't lie about such important things as rank and military experience.

  34. Derek Hight

    His humiliation should be enough. There are enough actual criminals and cases of stolen valor that this one should remain documented, but dropped.

  35. Governor Charles Conley Ziegler III

    you false claim rank and discharge status then you are a bag of shit in my book. fuck that dude for being a liar

  36. Alli Abram-Sheldon

    Rafael, I have a friend who is a Marine. He doesn't say he's a Former Marine….does say "Once a Marine. Always a Marine". Never an ex-Marine or Former.

  37. Jasmin Vasquez

    I love all the negative people slamming him. I doubt this mans intention was to shoot down any criminals seeking to harm children. But to be a symbol of protection. Maybe to give some peace of mind to kids and parents. Just like the man in Nashville. SO WHAT if he didn't go as far in the Marines as he supposedly said. What the hell does that have to do with anything? Is he a convicted sexual predator, child molester? Instead of JUDGING him, we should all be applauding him and feeling inspired to act in love -like he did- instead of spreading hate and stupidity.

  38. Jeff Musall

    "He acted on behalf of the safety of children" you say today, and the headline tomorrow might read "disgruntled ex-Marine shoots up school."

  39. Jeff Musall

    Why? Because he's a liar, an attention seeker, or is there another reason?

  40. Allan Rasco

    Let's think about this. If being a draft dodger got Bill Clinton in the Oval office as the Commander and Chief, and violating the Stolen Valor Act got John Kerry an appointment in the Obama White House as no less than Secretary of State, then what should this guy's reward be?

  41. Richard Colletta

    I think "former", "prior", "veteran" or "retired" are all fine. "Ex" would denote you were kicked out or dishonorably discharged. Yes, "Once a Marine, Always a Marine" but if you're not currently an active or reserve Marine, when people ask you what you do, you don't say, "I'm a Marine." Also, a lot of former Marines now serve in other branches of service. So, if you're in the Army and go around saying "I'm a Marine" not only will it cause confusion, it will also net you some weird looks.

  42. Bobby Gonzalez

    Fake Marine! As usual, the press moves on sectionalism… the truth of the story the subject is in fact a marine. earned title by virtue of completing the marine corps prescribed cursed of basic training, which by the way is longer and tougher that any of the other boot camps of other branches of the military. The wrongdoing on this incident? An US Marine Corps private with good intentions, but very poor judgment, and personal integrity. As a matter of personal pride and integrity, and lat but not least, Marine integrity., the man should had not ever said he was what he is not, a combat veteran; a title that too is earned by participation in action under fire or during a recognized period of war or conflict. As per standing guard unarmed, a marine is more than capable to do so, let that post be an elementary school or an embassy…… as per the reported…… hehehehe, anyone can handle a pen, only a few can be part of the proud and claim the title of US Marine.
    Sgt. J B Gonzalez, USMC 1970-1978 K Co, 2nd Recon Bn, 2FSSG, French Creek Area, FMF Lant, Camp Lejuene, NC.

  43. Justin D Eisenback

    Maybe someone covered this already in the comments, but Marines are allowed to wear uniforms in public, just not the camouflage ones.

  44. Justin D Eisenback

    Marines don't say they are "ex-Marines." "Former Marine" is acceptable. As a former Marine, I say that all the time, since it clarifies that I'm not currently on active or reserve duty.

  45. Justin D Eisenback

    I don't get all the apologists for this fake hero. Lying about military service is despicable; standing in front of a school isn't some kind of hardship or great deed that in any way makes up for it.

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