David Oh’s Speedbumps, Courtesy of PhillyClout

By Brittany Foster, Contributing Writer

Thanks to PhillyClout’s Chris Brennan, everyone now knows that City Council candidate David Oh was not a Green Beret.

The Daily News reporter broke the news in mid August that despite Oh’s claims for the past eight years that he was a Special Forces Green Beret, his commanding officers state that claim is entirely false and a huge stretch from the truth.

Initially, Oh bashed the Daily News for publishing the piece and that due to prerequisite training that Oh received; he was indeed a Green Beret. Since then, he has apologized twice for his misstatements and Chris Brennan has covered every development. Now, there are whispers of a new story to break soon.

Update: Oh told PoliticsPA that the heart of the matter is an “honest mistake” that has been exaggerated by the press. In the late 1980s, Oh served in the 20th Special Forces Group, a reserve unit district from the U.S. Special Forces (the Green Berets). Oh says that the terminology by which Special Forces units refer to themselves has changed.  He has made two public apologies to military officials that he believed to have offended with his mistake. He went on to say that Brennan has blown the Special Forces issue out of proportion.

“He photoshopped a green beret onto my head backwards. That’s not me. I’m not a faker.”

His supporters were quick to accuse Brennan of picking on Oh with the intention of dismantling his campaign. Former mayoral candidate John Featherman spoke to PoliticsPA about the feud.

“If you read [Brennan’s] articles, they aren’t typical reporting. He uses a lot of informal language, [those articles are] more like an editorial than investigative reporting.”

According to Featherman, Brennan’s articles haven’t had the desired effect. In fact, they’ve done quite the opposite. “It’s energizing [Oh’s] supporters and helping him raise money.” In the past few weeks, Oh has held several fundraisers that have been overwhelmingly successful.

But is Brennan really after Oh’s campaign? No, he tells PoliticsPA.

“David Oh told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Aug. 19, the day my first column ran, that he was preparing to ‘contest’ the information in that column.  Since then, he has published two full-page ads in the Philadelphia Daily News, admitting that his claims about his military service were ‘misleading.’”

“I’m not rooting for or against David Oh’s campaign.  I’m covering it in a political column.”

Oh, who placed first in May’s GOP primary for Council at-large, remains a favorite for one of the two spots. Featherman says that “it would take an act of God for David Oh to lose.”

Or maybe, just another Philly Clout column…

21 Responses

  1. Spent five years covering the folks on the 3rd floor of city hall for a bunch of community papers. Saw an incredible film by Tigre Hill called Shame for the City. As a single party city the facts are we are currently at the bottom in poverty. The pols laughing at their ability to distort and control something called Democracy are delighted with the status quo…with a third floor at city hall populated by to many elected officials content with our present level of drug deaths and truancy. Isaiah Thompson of the Philadelphia Weekly got the David Oh story right. His piece called Dark Forces spells out in detail what the existing political system does not like David Oh…who, as it turns out..NEVER claimed to be a “tabbed” member of today’s Green Berets. To quote Retired Army Capt. Nick Panarella, a Special Forces officer in Vietnam who is currently lobbying to make false military claims a crime…”From what I saw (Oh) told the truth…and I find it appalling that people who didn’t serve are questioning the integrity of his service.” Not that this means a damn thing to Johnnie Doc who is all about naming the next city council president…no matter what he has to do here in the sacred city that is the birthplace of Democracy.

  2. David Oh knew he was not telling the truth – every soldier knows whether they are qualified or not – we all know where we served and what it means. How can you not see the lie?

  3. Mr. Oh and his supporters are “playing politics” with this issue.

    A lie is a lie. It has been demonstrated that Mr. Oh lied repeatedly and systematically over a period of years for political gain. He can try to dispute it in the political realm, and he can attempt to parse his language and fool a confused electorate, but I defy David Oh to repeat these claims to the the face of any genuine Special Forces soldier. We would leave him picking up his teeth with broken fingers.

    David Oh has no honor. He is not one of us, and no matter how many months he served in the 20th Group, he obviously absorbed nothing of our ethics. We are not gentle, politically correct creatures who give everyone ribbons for being unique snowflakes. We are survivors of a Darwinian selection process that ensures that only the best are sent to carry out the will of the American defense establishment. We go places and do things that would leave normal men curled up in fetal terror.

    We do not ask for much from the American public. We consider ourselves quiet professionals. We are honored to serve. God knows that we do not do it for the money. We do it because we are professional soldiers, and because we derive satisfaction from serving something greater than ourselves in ways that most men can only imagine. When somebody like David Oh comes along and misrepresents himself and pretends to be one of us, our anger cannot be measured.

    We do no care who Philly citizens elect. We merely want David Oh to shut his fat face and to tell the truth: “I was an Infantry Lieutenant in the US Army Reserves.” That would be correct. And it would be honorable.

  4. Unfortunately David Oh’s integrity is ultimately at question here. He initially mislead the Philly public with his nuanced claims regarding his service. When questioned about it he pled ignorance and refused to accept responsibility for the line that he knowingly crossed. He was given ample opportunity on socnet.com to cure his tale, but he did not. For those of us who understand the nuance and earned what he calls himself it is shameful. Apparently, and shockingly, his supporters it is excusable behavior. After corresponding with him regarding the issue on multiple occasions it is clear that he is either a liar or one of the most bovine individuals I have chatted with in some time.

  5. To SilentPro;

    Please explain to the families of those who didn’t return home after Desert Storm that it wasn’t a real war. To your comment ragarding what hurts retired and active personnel: What hurts them is those, like Mr. Oh, who mislead people about their military service. I’ve known thousands and thousands of military people over the last 40 years. Mr. Oh is the first I have come across that was confused about what he did in the military. I guess there is a first for everything.

    Joe Eastman

  6. Mr. Eastman,
    Let it go. All who serve, whether called to active, sent overseas, or remain domestic, should be respected for their willingness to fulfill their oath to die for their country. As i understand it, Mr. Oh was a lawyer and enlisted in the Infantry. He could have gone JAG.
    After the Gulf War, some vets accused Gulf War soldiers of not being truly vets because the war was so short and without major casualties. If you have a political issue with Mr. Oh, debate that. But please leave the level of service out of it. Persistence in that area hurts many retired and active personnel. Thank you and God Bless.

  7. I challenge David Oh,any time and any place of his choosing, to a debate about his claim of being a Desert Storm veteran. The ball is now in his court and the court of his supporters. Any time……any place. You name the place and I’ll be there.

    Joe Eastman
    United States Navy (Retired)

  8. It seems that video gets a lot of play. But, as a military veteran, I will not support any veteran who lied about his war time service. Interesting you quoted Bush when your candidate voted for Obama. David Oh disgraced the uniform he wore.

    Joe Eastman
    United States navy (Retired)
    Desert Storm Veteran (1990-91)

  9. Always a motive. Seems like Mr. Oh served. Why a distinction between those who are deployed and those who are not? In the words of George W. Bush, “we cannot build this country up by breaking it down.”

  10. Kathy:

    I posted that because there were some in Mr. Oh’s camp who believed I leaked that Mr. Oh lied about his military service to Chris Brennan. I know Mr. Oh himself believed I did. I called Kevin Kelly and Joe DeFelice. They both stated that they believed that I had nothing to do with exposing Mr. Oh. I suggest you consult them if you have any questions about me. Now I have a question for you: Mr Oh claims he is a Desert Storm veteran. He claims he’s a war veteran. Where in the Desert Storm theatre of operations did Mr. Oh serve? I’ll give you a choice: Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirites or Saudi Arabia. Please be specific as to where he served. Thank you.

    Joe Eastman
    United States Navy (Retired)
    Desert Storm Veteran (1990-91)

  11. Sorry for typos! Should read:

    On August 20, 2011, Joe Eastman posted on his Facebook account: “There are some who think I’m responsible for something in today’s news. It wasn’t me. For those of you who still think I had something to do with it, I would suggest investing in a new life.”

    Why would someone who is not guilty of spreading lies about David Oh make such a posting? Clearly, Mr. Eastman has had a personal vendetta with Mr. Oh for some time.

  12. On August 20, 2001, Joe Eastman posted on his Facebook acounnt: “There are some who think I’m responsible for something in today’s news. It wasn’t me. For those of you who still think I had something to do with it, I would suggest investing in a new life.”

    Why would someone who is not guilty of spreading lies about David Oh make such a posting? Clearly, Mr. Eastman has had a personal vendetta with Mr. Oh for some time.

  13. Mr. Oh knows full well he has not made any “misleading” statements. He has simply lied. He also knows that he was never a Special Forces qualified officer. As has been stated by others, everyone in the military, and this includes reservists, knows what the requirements are to call yourself a Special Forces/Seal/Ranger/Force Recon/CCT/PJ or Paratrooper are. You must attend and complete the course for that qualification. Each of those units have many support personnel assigned to them that serve with honor and distinction, but that does not make those support personnel qualified. Mr. Oh knows this and is lying if he says he did not. It is that simple.

    For many of us leaving comments here, it has nothing to do with your political race. We do not live in your area, can’t vote there, and could care less. Our problem is a Stolen Valor issue. I am sure Mr. Oh served honorably while assigned to 20th Special Forces Group, but he crossed the line when he claimed to be a Special Forces qualified officer (Green Beret), and Gulf War vet.

  14. Oh no Mr.Oh you have went and pissed of Team Sergeant and other REAL Special Forces Soldiers (I am not a Special Forces Soldier) from professionalsoldiers.com
    You stepped in big big doo-doo…

    Good luck (not really) getting yourself out of this mess.

  15. I have followed this story since it broke and have read probably everything writen about it including the various veteran web sites following this event. What strikes me about this is how anyone associated with the military could be confused about whether they were or were not really a Green Beret / Navy Seal / Marine Force Recon. Civilians don’t understand the nuances. Military men and women do. If you completed all phases of the respective training to earn the title, you may then call yourself that. If you fail to complete the training, as Mr. Oh did, you may not call your self part of the elite. It is that simple. It is the duty of the individual service member to ensure the public is not misled or deceived by the title or designation the individual service member attaches to themselves. I am over the age of 40 and have been associated with the military for 40 years and know of no instance where an entire military unit attempted to deceive by using the military vernacular. There is no gray area in the Green Beret / Navy Seal world. You either are or you aren’t. Everyone in the military knows this. Every service member I had ever met understood that. Until now.

    There have been instances going back to 1990 in which Mr. Oh is referred to as a Green Beret. At no time does Mr. Oh, until he was exposed by SOCNET, attempt to clarify the record, including those times when Mr. Oh was present and heard himself referred to as a Green Beret. But that is only part of of the problem. To me, a greater problem is claiming one is a war veteran when one is not and has never left the country during their military service.

    In a flyer distributed by Mr. Oh for a fundraiser to be held for him on August 11, 2011 at the Union League in Philadelphia, the flyer falsely states that ” David served in Operation Desert Storm as a 2Lt. for the U.S. Army Special Forces “. This statement is false. Mr. Oh never served in the Desert Storm theatre of operations. In fact, Mr. Oh never left the United States. Mr. Oh is not a Desert Storm veteran as his campaign material falsely claims. To claim or imply one is a war veteran discredits and dishonors the service of those true war veterans who never returned home. Claiming to be a war veteran when you’re not is the saddest and most unforgiveable offense in this entire situation.

    Joe Eastman
    United States Navy (Retired)
    Desert Storm Veteran (1990-91)

  16. david oh is a bum. and featherman is still trying to find out when it will be the best time to come out of the closet.

  17. Mr. Featherman, I take issue with your attempt to justify Mr. Oh’s claim of being a ‘real’ Green Beret, rather than his merely being assigned to a Special Forces unit. Everyone who’s ever served in a SF unit knows that the only way one ‘earns’ the right to become a true Special Forces soldier is to attend the Special Forces qualification course. Mr. Oh didn’t do that. He may have been scheduled to attend, but he did not. Therefore, in the same vernacular as “either you’re pregnant, or you’re not”, Mr. Oh was never a ‘real’ Green Beret. I remain convinced that although he was once assigned to the 20th Group, he felt justified in claiming that he was a ‘Green Beret’ to bolster his political portfolio.

  18. I am extremely disappointed in the integrity of the writing and editing of this post. This is not an article, this is simply the re-posting of an already inaccurate and obviously slanted TABLOID article about David Oh. If the writer or editor were interested in edifying their readers, they would present the details of how any military person over the age of 40 understands how entire units referred to themselves at a point in time in the military vernacular and how the convention has evolved. It might explain the difference between having a military occupational specialty and being Q-qualified or tabbed. It might have shown that the writer took the time to research something as basic as Wikipedia and how that site defines special forces and green berets (synonymously by the way). It would offer insight into how an honest person can be mis-represented by the press. It would critically examine and offer constructive insight aimed at raising awareness, fairness and the greater good. Instead, the team at Politics PA has stooped to the tabloid level and posted nothing new, other than comments by a supporter which, while helpful, do not illuminate the process of how an honest person can be ambushed by a political machine with the help of the press. I hope that Politics PA will think more carefully before perpetuating the “anything for eyeballs” modus operandi which this article most obviously embraces. And lastly, I think it pretty sad that I have to work harder than a media outlet to get good information on an issue … please try harder for all of our sakes. It is bad for you, bad for Philadelphia and bad for people in general.

  19. David Oh served in a U.S. Army National Guard Special Forces unit for 3 years. He was a special forces candidate when his unit was activated for Operation Desert Storm. The war ended before his unit was deployed overseas. At that time, all members of a Special Forces unit wore green berets. The only way special forces qualified soldiers were distinguished was on the basis of the Special Forces shoulder tab. As result, the term “Green Beret” was used broadly. David was not aware that the wear of the green beret had become limited and terminology changed since he left the army in 1992. He is not a faker and Chris Brennan is aware of that fact. David has been very open that he is not special forces qualified. On occasion, other people have referred to David as a former “Green Beret”. David issued an apology that he was not aware of the change and clarified that he was not special forces qualified. He served honorably as a 2LT and did not deserve the headline, “Special Forces Faker” along with a little green beret photoshoped backwards on his head with strings hanging down.

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