Ex-Marine Who Claimed Sexual Involvement with Elizabeth Warren Lied about Military Service, Corps Says

Senator Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign 2020
Senator Warren campaigns in New Hampshire, Sept 25, 2019. An ex-Marine who was part of an attempt to smear Senator Warren never deployed. Scott Eisen/Getty

An ex-U.S. Marine infantryman, who claims to be a combat veteran of the Afghanistan war, is involved in a far-right plot to smear Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts with claims of being in a long-term sexual affair with the 2020 presidential hopeful. The U.S. Marine Corps told Newsweek he did not deploy to Afghanistan.

In a bizarre press conference held on the porch footsteps of a residential neighborhood, Kelvin Ty Whelly said he was a "United States combat veteran" and had deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, an infantry unit out of Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

The U.S. Marine Corps confirmed to Newsweek on Friday that Whelly is a ex-Marine and served with the infantry unit in Hawaii as a machine gunner; However, the former lance corporal does not have any overseas deployments.

Whelly spoke before a crowd of hecklers and few reporters on Thursday flanked by Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman. The two men engage in far-right conspiracy theories and are known to perpetuate false sexual assault claims against political candidates or individuals perceived to be working against President Donald Trump.

Burkman began the press conference with the statement, "The reason we do this is now more than ever truth and absolute truth and the facts are needed in politics."

During the press conference, Burkman chastised the hecklers that were laughing at the ex-Marine's claims about being allegedly hired by Warren as an escort: "Are you laughing at our troops?" Do you think his service in Afghanistan is funny do you think our dead soldiers...our soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan is funny?" said Burkman.

"Let me just tell you one thing, when it comes to honoring service here," Wohl said. "We don't play around and if you're going to keep impugning this serviceman's service. Fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan then you're going to leave."

In response to a question about his military service, Wohl and Burkman directed Whelly to describe his service in Afghanistan, "to show these guys up."

"My service in Afghanistan, it was very....early in my Marine Corps time [when I was] just getting to my unit," said Whelly. "I was stationed in Hawaii. 1/3 [1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment]. It's on Wikipedia but in 2012 we were stationed in Afghanistan...deployed to Afghanistan."

However, Whelly could not have served in Afghanistan in 2012, according to his releasable biographical data provided to Newsweek from Manpower and Reserve Affairs, the Marine Corps' division which manages the personnel files for both active duty and reserve forces. The dates of service listed for Whelly begin on Aug. 25, 2014 and end on May 11, 2016.

Defense Department awards commonly seen among U.S. Marines with service in Afghanistan include the Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Non-Article 5 North Atlantic Treaty Organization, International Security Assistance Force Medal, known as the NATO ISAF Medal.

Newsweek reported on Thursday that Wohl had sent out a media alert on Wednesday, which was shared on Twitter by NBC News reporter Ben Collins. The media alert alleged the former Marine had been in a long-term sexual relationship with Warren.

Earlier in the day before the porch press conference, Wohl said Whelly was a "USMC Combat Veteran who earned a Purple Heart in Afghanistan." Both Wohl and Burkman have described Whelly as a "decorated combat

The Purple Heart Medal is awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who are wounded or killed by an enemy force. It is specifically a combat decoration.

However, the only awards listed for the ex-Marine is the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

During the press conference when asked about receiving the Purple Heart amid shouts of "stolen valor," Whelly said, "I do not have a Purple Heart, even if you're wounded you have to put in for a Purple Heart."

Contacted by Newsweek on Friday, Wohl said he could not comment on Whelly's military record without speaking to him first. Attempts to reach Whelly were unsuccessful on Friday.

Newsweek reached out to Warren's campaign for comment on Friday but no reply was returned before publication.

On Thursday, Warren posted a tweet in response to the claim of being a "sex-crazed cougar" by noting that she got her education from the University of Houston, whose mascot is the Cougars.

James LaPorta is a staff writer for Newsweek, covering national security and the Department of Defense. He is former Marine infantryman and a veteran of the Afghanistan war. You can follow him on Twitter @JimLaPorta