A 79-year-old man who is dying from cancer has finally had his military service record cleared 58 years after he was kicked out of the US Marine Corps when the military learned he was gay.
Faulkner was discharged as an ‘undesirable’ after three years of military service beginning in 1953 during which he served in the Philippines and rose to the rank of sergeant.
Faulkner was diagnosed a few years ago with cancer and asked his relatives to help him secure a dying wish – to have his service record cleared.
Former military personnel who were kicked out of the military because of their sexuality have been able to get their records cleared after the repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell ban on openly gay service members but that process usually takes longer six months even with a lawyer involved.
Faulkner’s doctors weren’t sure he would live that long so LGBTI service member group OutServe-SLDN got Faulkner a pro-bono lawyer from New York firm Winston $ Strawn and asked the military to expedite the process.
The US Marine Corps approved the change of records in just two weeks and last Friday two uniformed Marines presented him with his corrected honorable discharge papers.
‘I didn’t think that maybe I would last through all the battles that we’ve had, but a Marine is always a Marine,’ Faulkner said at the ceremony, according to National Public Radio.
‘I don’t have much longer to live. I will always be a Marine. Thank you. Semper fi.’
The two Marines answered Faulkner with the Marines battle cry, ‘Oorah!’
Faulkner only came out to his family in 2005 despite being in a relationship of 20 years.