Schlatter Family Site

Table of Contents Photo Album Back to Home Page




Table of Contents

Photo Album


Our Current Weather


Hurricane Katrina

New House

Joe's Pages

Gulf Coast House
(Destroyed by Katrina)

LeConte Lodge

Pat Robertson:
"Liquor Officer"

In 1986, a new force emerged in US politics that would, in the 1994 elections, result in a major change in the alignment of the US Congress -- the "Christian right" -- an assortment and loose coalition of "Christian" organizations working, in their view, to bring about a "Christian" America.  In fact, they are working to bring about an America that fits their narrow definition of America.   These people are neither "Christian" nor "right."   Instead, they are dictatorial, mean-spirited, and intolerant.  Their principal leader is one Pat Robertson. 

No doubt you have seen Robertson on his television show, the "700 Club" where, among other outrageous claims, Robertson claims to occasionally receive messages from God.  It works -- Robertson raises huge amounts of money from the misled faithful.

I recommend that anyone who wishes to learn the facts about Robertson read this book:   The Most Dangerous Man in America:  Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition, by Robert Boston. (1996; Prometheus Books, 59 John Glenn drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197)

In his 1986 presidential campaign, Robertson claimed that he was a "combat Marine" who had served in combat during the Korean War.  This claim was a lie, typical of others told by Robertson.  However, this was one lie that he could not get away with -- there were Marines who knew Robertson and who knew the truth.

The following is a chapter from the book The Taking of Hill 610 And Other Essays on Friendship, by Paul N. McCloskey, Jr. (1992; Eaglet Books, 580 Mountain Home Road, Woodside, CA 94062).  In this chapter, the author lays out the facts of Robertson's Marine Corps service.  Pat Robertson's father was a US senator who intervened with the Marine Corps to have his son assigned to duty in the rear, away from combat.  Robertson served in Korea as the "liquor officer" -- responsible for keeping the officers' clubs supplied with liquor.  There he also was known to drink himself and to frequent prostitutes -- he even feared that he had contracted gonorrhea.

Here is a word describing what you are about to read:  I scanned the pages from the book, Chapter 12, "The Liquor Officer."  I have reproduced the first page as an image; the remainder of the chapter I converted to text to save file space as the scanned images require over 1 meg of space each.  You will find tan horizontal lines inserted in the text -- these designate page breaks in the book. The entire chapter, complete with footnotes, is reproduced below.  The text is reproduced exactly as it is in the original; any grammatical, editorial,  or spelling errors are from the original publication.


liquor_1.jpg (854834 bytes)

(Begin text portion)

Bush and Dole considered themselves lucky if they could obtain one out of five hundred Republicans to do volunteer work in their campaigns; three hundred volunteers in a congressional district of 500,000 people would be an enormous number ... usually enough to outstrip any opposing candidate.

Robertson knew he could get 1,000 dedicated evangelists in most of America's 435 congressional districts, and if he couldn't, they could be brought in by bus from bible-belt areas to dominate straw-vote conventions.

The television pulpit was a bully place from which to organize. There were enough examples of political corruption, increasing drug use and loose morals on the national scene to cause millions of people to yearn for a return to the good old fashioned religious values as defined by articulate television personalities such as Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart and Jimmy Bakker.

Robertson planned carefully and well. His announcement of his potential candidacy in September, 1986, brought forth a tremendous outpouring of cash contributions.

He seemed to have all the qualifications the nation yearned for. In his autobiography he had noted his superb academic achievements, Phi Beta Kappa at Washington and Lee, a law degree from Yale, and, having been "a Marine combat officer in Korea."

A man who spoke with God and who had been a Marine combat officer was a rare combination indeed. Such a man might well be able to lead the nation on to glory, banishing sin, corruption and Godless communism forever. 1 At least a number of true believers wanted to think so.

One thing was sure. There was no better way to raise money than by waiving the flag at prayer meetings while the orchestra softly played 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic" in the background. 2

It conjured up marvelous images to those in attendance, or at their televisions sets, of God's terrible swift sword rising from the ashes of Armageddon in the hands of a great religious and Marine combat leader. With the music rising to a crescendo as the collection plates were passed, who would not be thrilled to contribute to such a glorious cause?

 There was one small catch.

Marines who have been in combat do not commonly refer to themselves as "combat" veterans. The word is too respected, if not revered, in the Corps to permit its acceptable use by way of self-characterization.

A Marine or former Marine might modestly allow, upon inquiry, that he had been on Iwo, or Tarawa or at Guadalcanal. Any one of those words would earn instant respect. But "I was a combat Marine" had never before been honorably spoken or written to the knowledge of most Marines. It just wasn't done.

Because of the incongruity of Robertson's claim, coupled with his announcement of his candidacy for the Presidency, an old and disquieting story was retold that Robertson's combat experience had been somewhat overstated. It was really a humorous, (not a sarcastic) tale, dating back to 1951.


1 In all the Marine Corps' illustrious history, the Corps' connection with godliness has not received undue attention from historians. Alone among the services, the Marine Corps has no chaplains. They are furnished by the Navy when needed.

-Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.

He will loose the fearful lightning of his terrible swift sword.

His truth goes marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah ... glory, glory, hallelujah. .' Glory, glory, hallelujah ,His truth goes marching on

 The theme of the story had four parts:

(1) Robertson, as a young Marine lieutenant en route to Korea in 1951, had asked the assistance of his father, Virginia Senator A. Willis Robertson, to keep him out of combat.

(2) His father had intervened and gotten his son and a friend taken off the troopship and kept in Japan. Four other young lieutenants had also been taken off the ship for cover so that no political influence would be inferred.

(3) Some months later one of the four had caught the ear of a General's aide at a cocktail party and volunteered all six for transfer to Korea, much to Robertson's anger and dismay.

(4) The six had gone to Korea, where several were forthwith wounded, but Robertson had been assigned as the "liquor officer" with frequent booze runs to Japan.

In a fiction novel published in 1979 by a former Marine who had served in Korea in 1951, there had been mention of the fictional son of a fictional southern Senator who had gotten his father to put strings to keep him out of combat, taking him off a ship carrying the Fifth Replacement Draft to Korea, in February, 1951. 3 Later, a friend's comment to a General at a cocktail party had gotten him transferred to Korea where he was given a cushy headquarters job, looked after by a bantam, but very tough, Chief of Staff. The fictitious lieutenant had been named Richards, but Marines who had been on the Fifth Replacement Draft would immediately remember that a young Second Lieutenant, Marion C. "Pat" Robertson, had told everyone in the ship's wardroom that his "Daddy," the Senator was going to keep him out of combat, and that Robertson had indeed been pulled out of the Draft when the ship, the U.S. S. General J. C. Breckinridge, reached Japan. The bantam but very tough Chief of Staff sounded very much like the famous Victor "The Brute" Krulak who was serving as Division Chief of Staff when Robertson finally arrived in Korea from Japan in late June, 1951. Krulak had also served as Genera Shepherd's Operations Officer (C-3) at FMFPAC during February, 1951, at the time Robertson was pulled off the troopship. He could be relied on to serve General Shepherd loyally and well.

The story was printed with some humor by two of America's leading political columnists, Evans & Novak and Jack Anderson. Most Marine veterans chuckled over the "liquor officer" publicity. The designation was an honorable one in the Corps, but it apparently resulted in some difficult questioned from those of Robertson's devoted following who were teetotalers.

Robertson vehemently denied that he had sought to evade combat or that he had ever been liquor officer. He was particularly incensed about the slur on his deceased father's reputation. That Senator Robertson would ever seek political favors for his relatives or friends was an outrageous lie, his son said.

Robertson consulted two noted conservative political advisers, Paul Weyrich and Marc Nuttle who advised him that he should bring a libel suit against the source of the story to the press, Congressman Andrew Jacobs of Indiana, as well as the man who had related it to Jacobs, one of his shipmate,, aboard the Breckinridge. The lawsuit would at least keep the story from being circulated by the media during the campaign. No newspaper would want to take the chance of itself being sued for libel until the truth were established.

Jacobs had served in Korea while Robertson was in Japan, had been wounded and in the 1980s, while in Congress, had been characterized by Robertson as one of those who were "soft on communism."

Acting on Weyrich's and Nuttle's advice, Robertson on October 21, 1986 filed a $35 million libel suit against the two former Marines, who responded that a jury trial was not a bad place to ascertain the truth.

Then began a 16 month search through old records and for even-older Marines who could


3 The Vicar of Christ, Walter Murphy, The MacMillan Company, 1979

 enhance the faded memories of over 35 years. By the summer of 1987, Robertson's political campaign was developing well, but enough records and former Marines had been found to suggest that he had indeed asked his "Daddy" to keep him out of combat, and that Senator Robertson had communicated on the subject with Robertson's Commanding General. 4

Senator Robertson's correspondence files, unearthed from the archives of his alma mater, William and Mary College, were illuminating. Several letters written while his son was aboard ship headed to Korea were of particular interest. They thanked General Shepherd for his assurance that his son would "get further training before being sent to Korea," and advised his friend, the President of Washington and Lee that both their sons would be taken off the troopship when it reached Japan.

Robertson had sailed for Korea in January, 1951, as a new young Second Lieutenant fresh out of Quantico's 11 week basic platoon leader training course. With him was his friend and classmate from Washington and Lee, Ed Gaines. The First Marine Division had taken fearful casualties at the Chosin Reservoir in December when the Chinese had entered this war with a vengeance; new second lieutenants were needed badly and the rumored life expectancy of platoon leaders in combat was only six minutes. Robertson was one of 71 officers and 1900 enlisted men in the Fifth Replacement Draft aboard the U.S.S. General J. C. Breckenridge. The full draft was needed to bring the Divisions' three rifle regiments up to strength for General MacArthur's planned February counter-attack against the Chinese. On the last day before leaving for Korea, however, Robertson and Gaines had been pulled off the ship in Kobe, Japan, with four others whose names had the misfortune to be listed next to Gaines on the roster of lieutenants assigned to the 7th Regiment. The reason: ostensibly to train young Marines coming out of the hospitals after the Chosin Reservoir battle.

Both the First Marine Division personnel office and those officers aboard the Breckenridge who had had combat duty were offended. Captain Harry Steinmeyer, a decorated veteran of Guadalcanal wrote on February 14, 1951:

"Happy Valentines:

Here's one I have to tell you. Lt. Gaines & a Lt. Robinson (Whose Father is Senator from Va) were taken off in Japan. In short there were 80 men and 8 2nd Lts pulled on the pretense of training men who came from Korea to go back there. Gaines slipped 2 days before we got to Japan and said he & the other one were going to be pulled off there. It's really rotten politics. I'd sure like to write Winchell on it. See what Walter & Daddy say about that. At least I can live with my conscience. Well so much for that"

First Lieutenant David Hartstein, the Draft's adjutant, wrote his wife the same day:

"Hi There Valentine:

4 As General Krulak later said: 'Marine Corps Generals of that day and age were "expected" to stay in contact with and report to powerful Senators.- The threat of abolition of the Marine Corps by President Truman and his Defense Secretary Louis Johnson was very real in 1950 and it was understandable that the leaders of the Corps would want to keep the respect of powerful Senators. In General Shepherd's words in 1989- 'We needed to keep them buttered up." Every Marine would understand and agree that in 1950, this was a necessity if the Corps was to survive Truman's axe. To drop off two lieu- tenants in Japan for a few months was a small price to pay for the survival of the Corps. Both General Shepherd and Colonel Krulak played a major role in saving the Corps in 1950, General Shepherd by flying to Tokyo to convince General MacArthur to ask the President to allow the Marines to call up their reserves, Colonel Krulak by having kept the Fifth Regiment in top combat-readiness in peacetime. That combat-readiness was to impress the world at the Pusan Perimeter as the Marines performed incomparably better than all of the Army units save one, the 27th Infantry Regiment commanded by Lt. Col. John H. Michaelis.

Oh yes, there is one thing I wanted to tell you about. When we were in Kobe yesterday a Col. came aboard to choose several officers to retrain casualties that were getting ready to 90 back to Korea. He chose 6 second Lts. none of whom have ever had any combat. Its interesting to note that two of them had said they wouldn't have to go to Korea. One was the Robertson that General Sheppard wanted to see and I'm sure that his father being the Senator from Virginia had nothing to do with it and the other was a kid named Gaines whose father is president of Washington and Lee university. it is interesting though isn't it. See that's what you get when you choose the wrong parents. Incidentally they are both very nice guys but no more anxious to go than the rest of us."

What had caused this extraordinary salvation? As the trial date of March 8, 1988 approached, Robertson found himself in an increasing dilemma. He had shocked the Republicans by strong second place finishes, in Iowa., South Dakota and Minnesota; he had nearly won Michigan, and expected to win South Carolina on Saturday, March 5. March 8, "Super Tuesday" with its 22 separate primaries, was expected to provide perhaps even a majority of delegates in the bible belt states where from whence came Robertson's strongest support. His lawsuit had suppressed any media comment on his alleged "liquor officer" background.

It appeared that the bright and shining religious leader could conceivably get enough delegates to the Republican convention in New Orleans to be the determining power broker between Bush and Dole, perhaps with as many as 20% of the total delegates. The Religious Right would be a factor no Republican could ever again ignore.

But Robertson's very success brought new problems. The press began to examine his credentials with more interest. Questionable claims about his date of marriage, his allegation that Soviet missiles were still in Cuba, an alleged knowledge of the location of hostages in Lebanon and that George Bush had leaked the sins of Robertson's fellow evangelist, Jimmy Swaggart, received national attention.

Also of concern, the press was beginning to talk to witnesses in his libel suit whose deposition testimony was now of public record.

A Marine bunkmate at Quantico was found who remembered Robertson's comment upon seeing his name posted on the list to go to Korea:

"Pat also expressed that he wasn't very happy about the prospect of going to Korea and said that he was going to have to talk to his Daddy to see whether he could do something so that he didn't have to go to Korea."

". . . there was no question that he let you know that his father was a Senator in Congress and

that his father was pretty influential, so it was no secret to anyone that he probably asked his father to do something and there probably was a good chance that his father could do something." 5

The Steinmeyer and Hartstein letters proved unequivocally that Gaines and Robertson had believed they were going to be taken off the ship when it reached Japan. When Robertson's name appeared on a roster of lieutenants assigned to one of the rifle regiments, two other lieutenants remembered accompanying him to a dockside telephone facility at Kobe where he called his father.

"My memory is that he said words to that effect, that, "I called my Daddy and I'm going to try to have him get me off," or "I will see if I can get stationed in Japan," or something of that sort." 6


5 Deposition of Herbert W. Marache, Jr.

6 Depositions of Michael Sydney Rogers and John Gearhart.

 Steinmeyer and another combat veteran, First Lieutenant Hugh Scott remembered Robertson asking the Draft Adjutant to send a cable to his father asking for help, and that when the orders came to take him and five others, including Gaines off the ship, a second one-word cable, "Thanks." 7

Evidence began to accumulate that "Daddy" had intervened with his friend General Shepherd who, from his headquarters in Hawaii, commanded the Fleet Marine Force Pacific (FMFPAC) which included not only the First Marine Division in Korea, but also the First Casual Company in Japan and the Fifth Replacement Draft.

The Draft Commander, Major Paul Groth, had served with the General in World War 11. A reserve, he had been recalled to duty when the Korean War broke out.

At Camp Pendleton, just before the Draft left for Korea, General Shepherd had come to inspect the troops. He called Major Groth to his quarters.

Major Groth testified at his deposition:

"And so he sent for me, and I thought it was for — it was just to recall or reminisce about some of those times, you know, at that time, so I went over to see him at his quarters ... And he said, 'Paul it's good to see you,' in his Virginia drawl. And he said, 'Ya'll have a fine young — ' He said, 'You have a fine young man in the young gentlemen in that organization,' he said. 'His name is Robertson.' He said, 'Take good care of him.' And I said, 'Yes, sir,' . . . he said, 'His daddy is Chairman of the Senate Military Appropriations Committee." 8

Another friend of General Shepherd's from World War 11, Colonel Bums, had been assigned to command The First Casual Company at Camp Otsu, Japan, an organization used as a stop-over for casualties returning from hospitalization and other Marines en route to Korea. Colonel Bums had boarded the Breckenridge on its last day at Kobe. He had asked for the Draft roster, and was given the roster which showed Robertson as being assigned to the First Marines and Gaines to the Seventh Marines.

In Major Groth's words:

"He took the roster, and then he was sitting right beside me on kind of a couch that we had

there, and he went down the roster, and he went to Robertson, and he checked Robertson. And then he went on the roster and he checked some other officers' names. And I said, I said to him —1 said, 'That was an interesting selection process. How did you do that?'

And he said, 'Well, I don't know.' He said, 'These officers will be fine.' and that was that." 9

A "smoking gun" was finally found, the testimony of the officer who had actually transmitted the orders from FMFPAC removing Robertson from the ship on the ground that "a Virginia Congressman wanted his son to get further training before going on to combat." 9

By October, 1987 it was clear that Robertson no longer had a case on the evasion of combat issue. Gaines' letters had confirmed the Shepherd-Robertson-Gaines relationship. (See Appendix E)

The libel suit, however, was still viable if no one could be found who could verify that Robertson had been the liquor officer. A lot of Marines remembered the story but, by November, just weeks before the deposition cut-off date, no one had been found who could positively verify that Robertson

7 Depositions of Harry Steinmeyer and Hugh Scott.

8 Deposition of Major Paul H. Groth , Appleton, Wisconsin, October 21, 1987.

9 Deposition of Goode Burleson.

 had actually been the liquor officer at the Division rear echelon headquarters. Most combat Marines had never been near Division headquarters, save when arriving as replacements or upon their rotation home.

A fine young Washington lawyer for the defense, George Lehner, spent hours poring through the personnel records in the Corps' archives trying to track down individuals all over the United States who had once served in headquarters units.

Lehner finally hit paydirt in November, 1987.

Paul William Brosman, Jr., an ROTC reserve officer, had been called up and sent to the regular Basic Class at Quantico in September, 1950, graduating in April, 1951 and thereafter being sent to Korea as part of the ill-fated Ninth Replacement Draft, arriving in early June. Brosman had been assigned to Item Company in the First Marines, and as a platoon leader had survived the bloody battles around the Punch Bowl in June aid September. He had been rotated to the Division Rear Headquarters at Masan in October, 1951.

Brosman had earned a Doctorate in Linguistics from the University of North Carolina and thereafter became a Professor of Linguistics at L.S.U. and then Tulane, retiring in 1979. His memory of the Korean War remained remarkably clear.

While in Item Company, Brosman had heard a funny story about three lieutenants, Pat Robertson, his buddy, Ed Gaines and one John Gearhart. Brosman had met Gearhart in reserve in August while the story was being told by another Item Company lieutenant named Dennis. Everybody had had a good laugh over it, and it stayed in his memory.

The story was that a Virginia Senator had had his son (Robertson) pulled out of the Fifth Replacement Draft with Gaines and four others so that it wouldn't look like political influence was a factor. Gearhart was one of the four. The six had been given fairly cushy jobs at Camp Otsu's Casual Company until General Shepherd came through in late May on an inspection tour. 10

General Shepherd's old friend, the Casualty Company Commander, Colonel Burns, threw a cocktail party for the General, and at the party, John Gearhart had cornered the General's aide, complained that he wanted to see combat duty in Korea, and volunteered au six of the non-combat lieutenants for transfer to Korea.

The aide had walked him over to General Shepherd who had commended him for his initiative and agreed to send the six to Korea forthwith.

Robertson was furious. As the story went, on going back to the officers' quarters he had tried to knock Gearhart's door down to get at Gearhart and had to be restrained by a couple of other officers. 11

Gaines and Gearhart were sent to Korea shortly thereafter, where both were wounded at the Punch Bowl. The fighting both in June and later in August and September was very fierce.

Robertson, however, had not been sent to Korea until after the Russians and Chinese asked for a truce. Gaines had written the following in a letter home on June 1:


"General Shepherd came through the other day (if I've written you this, forgive the repetition) and had a long chat with Pat and me at the Colonel's cocktail party. He informed us we'd be leaving for Korea in about a month. Shortly thereafter I was notified I'd be leaving June 6 to ply the couple hundred miles to Korea. Pat will stay here for awhile at least. But it was just the luck of the draw I'm sure. " 12

10 Most VIP inspection tours were rumored to occur on the last day of one month and the first day of the next. The visitors thus qualified for "combat pay" for both months.

11 In Brosman's words:

"And Pat Robertson became very upset about that ... then it was that when he was drunk that he got violent. But at any rate he got violent, or attempted to, and went down and pounded on Gearhart's door ... wanting to get at him and had to be restrained by a couple of guys." The full deposition of Paul Brosman is reproduced in Appendix E.

12 Gaines' letters home are reproduced in Exhibit E.

Arriving in Korea in late June, after the fighting had stopped temporarily, Robertson, unlike practically every other untried Second Lieutenant, upon arrival at the Division CP where Colonel Krulak was now Chief of Staff, was promptly sent to the Division Rear at Masan, 300 miles south. Krulak, a veteran of the infighting in Washington in the late 1940s when Harry Truman was trying to abolish the Marine Corps 13 certainly understood what General Shepherd had meant when he had said six months earlier: "Take good care of him; his Daddy is Chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Appropriations Committee." 14

Brosman had remembered the humor of the story about Gaines and Gearhart and asked Gaines about it when he first met him at Masan.

Gaines confirmed both the truthfulness and the humor of the story. Gaines, Robertson and Brosman were billeted together in the same building at Masan, along with two other lieutenants. Brosman remembered that Robertson was referred to commonly as "the liquor officer," and that Robertson himself had referred to himself as the liquor officer, -jokingly, of course.' It was "somewhere between scuttlebutt and common knowledge" that Robertson's periodic trips to Japan were to purchase liquor for the officers' club.

Attorney Lehner asked Brosman:

Q: "Now at Masan, did you ever hear Mr. Robertson referred to as the 'Division Liquor Officer'?

A: Well, I heard him referred to as the 'Liquor Officer.' I don't know about the 'Division Liquor.'
I thought he was the 'Masan liquor Officer.'

Q: How did that reference come about or how did you hear that?

A: Because he frequently made trips to Japan, I would have said, to buy liquor, maybe. But I guess from the point of view of the guys at Masan, or the real purpose was to buy liquor. But I suppose some trumped-up excuse was devised so that he could — for an official trip.

And then he could go over and do something and then bring liquor back.

Q: Who referred to Pat Robertson as the 'Masan Liquor Officer'?

A: Well I guess just about everybody in our barracks, or whatever you want to call it.

That is, I'm not sure he didn't do it himself, as I think I said earlier

It was just more or less general jocular reference by people there.

13 See Krulak's book, First to Fight, Chapter 8.

14 Had I been in Colonel Krulak's shoes, I certainly would have made sure that nothing happened to the Senator's son. Preservation of the Marine Corps was very much in the Senator's hands and the latter had made his views known. Krulak's first duty was to the Marine Corps where in his lifetime he compiled a distinguished record of service. His leadership of the Fifth Regiment immediately prior to the Korean War paid rich dividends in that Regiment's performance at the Pusan Perimeter, and may have been the critical factor in both stopping the North Koreans and saving the Marine Corps itself.


Q. Did he ever buy you liquor?

A: Oh, no. He brought — I had to buy my own liquor at the Officers' Club. We had an Officers' Club at Masan.

It was that cushy a setup. And he brought the liquor back to the Officers' Club, this is my impression."

The foregoing was elicited from Brosman at deposition in New Orleans on November 17, 1987, and caused considerable joy to the defendant and his lawyers. The confirmation that Robertson was indeed believed to be the liquor officer at Masan in 1951 by a man obviously unconnected with the lawsuit, who did not know the defendants and had no axe to grind, effectively ended any chance of Robertson's winning the libel case.

Mr. Lehner ended his questioning with a sigh of relief.

 But Robertson's lawyer was not content with Brosman's answers. He pressed on.

Q. "Do you recall any specific conversations you might have had with Pat Robertson?

A: Well, yeah. He was seared to death he had gonorrhea and was very relieved when he found out it was what the corpsmen called 'non-specific drip.'

(This may have been the death knell for Robertson's presidential campaign; one can only imagine a Barbara Walters' interview . . . "Tell me Reverend, why do the Marines call you 'Non-Specific Drip Robertson?"')

Robertson's lawyer, perhaps unschooled in political matters, tried again:

Q: "Well, isn't it true that this 'Non-specific drip' is not the kind of disease transmitted by sexual intercourse or anything else, that it's an infection of the urinary tract?

A: Right. But he thought he had gonorrhea. And I don't think he got that from any other source."

If this wasn't enough, Robertson's attorney then made a fatal mistake. It is a general rule in the legal profession never to ask a possibly-hostile witness a question to which the attorney doesn't know what the answer will be.

Robertson's attorney opened the door wide.  

Q: "How do you recall Pat Robertson being in those days?

A: Well, I — it's hard to say. I liked him a lot less than Ed Gaines. But it's hard to say why.

One thing was, he was-well, he was more inconsiderate, pretty inconsiderate for, I mean, things like the cleaning girl.

We had a cleaning girl who came in. It's like the story of the fraternity house and the nineteen (19) year-old housemother. We had a cleaning girl who was nineteen (19) who was our maid in our barracks. But she was a nice Korean girl.

And we had a lot of prostitutes around there, for example. And, well, Pat used to fool around with her all the time. That is, pinching her and carrying on.

And every once in awhile, he would chase her outside the house and then he would continue chasing her and pinching her outside the house.

That would terrify her because the Koreans would see.

And, of course, these prostitutes were dead meat when we left because they had ruined their lives to make money off of the Americans.

But once the Americans left, they were really finished.

And she didn't want the Korean men to see her fooling around like with an American. And she'd plead with him to stop and he wouldn't stop. And none of the rest of us would have done that.

Q: You never saw anyone else messing around with women?

A: Oh, not none of the — not with that maid.

Oh, a lot of guys messed around with the prostitutes that wanted to get messed around with, including Pat."

That about did it.

Messing around with prostitutes, molesting a nice young Korean maid in front of men who could make her life miserable ... those were matters the American voting public could well understand. The youthful conduct could be forgiven, but the later hypocrisy and false claim that he had been "a Marine combat officer" did not sit well. The coup de gras came a few weeks later from an unexpected and previously-unknown source.

Watching Robertson earnestly repeat his claim of "combat" experience over national television, a former reserve Marine who had served with Robertson at the Division CP in 1951, ten miles behind the front lines, was moved to write his local paper.

On February 15, 1988, barely three weeks before the trial date and "Super Tuesday's" twenty- two Republican primaries, the Marin County (California) Coastal Pilot published the following letter on its front page:

Pat Robertson "No Combat Marine"

MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS WEEKLY Vol. 13, No. 7 Feb. 15-21, 1988

This is a story I would like to see in your paper; it is timely and timeless. It is really an update on a 38-year old story. It may not make much sense but I think that's alright because it was going on. It changed a lot of people.

It really started on August 1, 1950. We got on buses in Kentfield that took us to Oakland where we boarded a special train that took us to Camp Pendleton. The Korean War had come to Marin County. Two hundred Marine reserves from Company C were called to duty. We laughed excitedly with bravado. We were getting into a war that would be over before it really got started.

Later that year, things were different for us.

I saw one of these former Marines last Wednesday at the Civic Center. He's a school teacher in Kentfield and was showing his students the workings of county government. We spoke.

There is a score of these special ex-Marines still in Marin. Another is a title insurance executive in Novato. Yet another that I see from time to time is a stock broker in San Francisco.

Although they look like us and talk like us they were "line" company Marines and although my company had the highest number of casualties of any company in the First Marine Division in the first year of the war, it came in short bursts of terror.

It was not a line company. The line companies went about this war business day-to-day, in the mud, in the rain, in the snow, with the smell of death, and a constant concern that there be another day for yourself and all of the members of your line company.

I saw truck-loads of frozen dead line-company Marines. I saw a line company which began with 238 fall to seven, led by a 20-year-old corporal. It

was 30 below zero, in a howling wind off the Gobi Desert. This company from the Seventh Marines turned back the charge of a now-battered Chinese battalion. The charge began with the notes of "mess call" by the enemy bugler and ended in silence.

There is a person who calls himself a combat Marine. He is not. His name is Pat Robertson. I saw him often in the division headquarters where he was clean-shaven and clothed and showered.

He was in charge of making sure that the officers' booze ration was handed out and re-supplied. He was a lieutenant. He was in my battalion.

The line company marines I saw smelled badly, looked poorly. For months at a time they were cold, eating C-rations. Trying to stay warm and dry was a constant battle. These line-company men were the combat Marines of the First Marine Division.

Neither Pat Robertson nor I could carry their gear. He is trying to get elected by standing on those frozen bodies I saw, by putting himself in the company of those seven Marines who repulsed the enemy.

Imagine a person who aspires to be President being so loose with the truth, so lacking in grace and so dishonorable.

He says God talks to him. I'd like to hear what God says to him about this.

LEO T. CRONIN Former Corporal U.S.M.C.

Editor's Note: Cronin was activated on August 1, 1950. Forty-five days later he was with the first wave of amphibious Marines that stormed and took the North Korean held Port of Inchon.

This Letter to the Editor was re-typeset and reformatted from the original layout.




Return to front page.
Return to Table of Contents
Return to Dad's home page.

Send an e-mail.  

Search the site.