Democratic Congressional Candidate Wore A Navy SEAL Trident Without Earning It, Says ‘It Was A Terrible Mistake’

California 50th district congressional candidate James Kimber wore a U.S. Navy SEAL Trident for more than a year despite never completing training to earn the prestigious designation.

The SEAL trident is a special designation given in the Navy to those who complete special training. The badge is only issued to officers or enlisted members who complete a rigorous six-month Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training. The coveted insignia is then displayed to show the serviceman’s accomplishment. The SEAL trident features a highly recognizable golden eagle holding a Navy anchor.

According to U-T San Diego, the incident happened over 20 years ago when Kimber was 32-years-old. Kimber said he entered SEAL training in Coronado in 1990 as a medical corpsman, but was removed from the program after injuring his back during an obstacle course exercise. He remained at the base for several months, and was eventually assigned to the guided-missile frigate Reid. It was aboard the Reid, he said, where he was called out for wearing the Trident by the ship’s captain. Kimber said after it was discovered that he had not earned the SEAL trident he was wearing, the captain took him in front of the entire crew and reprimanded him.

However, The Blaze notes that though he was reprimanded and removed the trident, he still served for over 20 years in the Navy. Kimber was able to achieve the rank of senior chief before retiring in 2002. Kimber notes that the incident and poor judgment almost cost him his entire Navy career.

Kimber was apologetic when discussing the incident. However, he hopes the lapse of judgement 20 years ago does not negate everything else he has done to date.

“I know this is a big thing and I am very sorry. I knew what I was doing, and it was a terrible mistake that I hope doesn’t negate everything else I have done in my life and what I am doing now.”

Wearing an unearned badge is a serious infraction in the military. It shows a lack of appreciation for the hard work put in by the individuals who truly earned the distinguished honor. However, many are standing up for Kimber, noting that he did service in the Navy for over 20 years, an accomplishment in itself. Even one of Kimber’s opponents, Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, says that Kimber should be appreciated for his 20 years of service regardless of this one lapse in judgement.

“He served his country for 20 years and that is worthy of appreciation.”

However, a member of Hunter’s re-election campaign says the act of “stolen valor” is still a serious infraction, even if it was 20 years ago.

“In a place like San Diego, where Navy SEALs are part of the community, this stings more than it would ordinarily, even if it was 20 years ago, because we’re talking about someone who is running for office, who cites his military background, and who would be expected to uphold the public trust.”

What do you think? Should Kimber’s 20 years of service and ability to achieve senior chief overshadow a one-time lapse in judgment over wearing the unearned Navy SEAL trident?