Nashville, TN — Staff Sgt. Jordan Pritchard showed up to Gower Elementary School, where two of his kids are students, to provide the children with a sense of security following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week.
Pritchard wore his full military fatigues as he stood watch outside the entrance of the school and said he would stay there every day until at least the holiday break. He hoped to inspire other veterans to follow his example. At least one person did, a father in California who was found to have partially fabricated his military history.
Those hoping to provide the extra sense of security shouldn’t take his example literally. The Marine Corps called and told Pritchard that he had to “remove the uniform” for two reasons. The first, and biggest, is that it is against Marine Corps guidelines to wear camouflage in public except in certain occasions. The second is because Pritchard has been out of the Marine Corps since last year. He was honorably discharged but can wear his uniform only to certain ceremonial functions.
The Marine Corps order P1020 says:
“Former Members of the Armed Forces. Unless qualified under another provision of this Order or under the provisions of 10 U.S.C. 772, former members who served honorably during a declared or undeclared war and whose most recent service was terminated under honorable conditions may wear the uniform in the highest grade held during such war service only upon the following occasions and in the course of travel incident thereto: (1) Military funerals, memorial services, weddings, and inaugurals.(2) Parades on national or state holidays; or other parades or ceremonies of a patriotic character in which any active or reserve United States military unit are taking part. ‘Wearing of the uniform or any part thereof at any other time or for any purpose is prohibited.”
The Corps did say that he was welcome to keep up his post, just not in “battle dress.”
When Pritchard first began standing watch outside Gower Elementary, he said, “What this uniform represents, the hope it brings, is larger than any weapon that I would ever need.”
Pritchard said it didn’t cross his mind that he would upset the Marine Corps when he took his uniform out of the closet.
When he was informed he couldn’t wear it anymore, he said, “Strip me of my honorable discharge. Take it away. The peace that these parents and teachers have, that’s enough honor for me.”
Should Pritchard have known that he was not allowed to wear his uniform? Or was it an honest lapse in judgment under the circumstances?