Republican J.R. Majewski’s campaign for a competitive Ohio congressional seat has revolved around his background as an Air Force veteran. But one of the most pressing questions is why Majewski was told he couldn’t reenlist in the Air Force after his initial four-year term expired.
According to Majewski’s campaign, he was punished and demoted after getting into a “brawl” in an Air Force dormitory in 2001. However, military records obtained by The Associated Press since then provide a different account of the events, which military legal experts say would have played a significant role in the decision to bar him from reenlisting. They claim Majewski’s punishment and demotion were the result of a drunk driving stop on a US air base in Japan in September 2001.
The documents, which were provided to the AP and independently authenticated, show yet another instance in which Majewski’s service history differs from what he has told voters while campaigning on his veteran status.
Majewski acknowledged in a statement that he was punished for drunken driving, but he did not explain why his campaign previously stated that his demotion was the result of a fight.
Majewski has repeatedly stated that he is a combat veteran who served a tour of duty in “tough” circumstances since launching his campaign to unseat longtime Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur. According to his own account, he once went more than 40 days without showering in the country due to a lack of running water.
His story came under intense scrutiny last week when the Associated Press reported, citing military documents obtained through public records requests, that he did not deploy to Afghanistan as he claimed, but instead spent six months based in Qatar, a longtime US ally, where he assisted with aircraft loading and unloading.
The recent revelation that Majewski was demoted due to drunken driving adds another wrinkle to the story. The Associated Press asked Majewski’s campaign last week why his military service records showed that he was not allowed to reenlist in the Air Force and left after four years at a rank one notch higher.
According to an email from his campaign at the time, Majewski was “in a fight in the dormitory with another servicemember,” which “knocked his rank down.” His campaign stated that he later regained some of his former rank.
The AP obtained personnel records that make no mention of a fight. Instead, they claim Majewski was demoted for drunken driving on September 8, 2001, at Kadena Air Base in Japan. And, rather than regaining his rank, as Majewski’s campaign claimed, records show that he remained at the rank of E-2, one notch above entry level, to which he was demoted for the remainder of his active duty.
Majewski’s punishment, which included a reprimand and 30 days of extra duty in addition to the demotion, is detailed in the three-page document. It bears Majewski’s signature and demonstrates that he sought legal counsel and waived his right to a court-martial. According to the records, he also waived his right to appeal the sentence and requested that the document not be made public.
However, there is a distinction between deploying to a country and landing there. Majewski previously stated that he was a “combat veteran” who deployed to Afghanistan after receiving orders to a specific base in the country.
Majewski’s campaign previously advertised him as a “combat veteran.”
Majewski stated on the One American Podcast in August 2021 that he had a “tough time in life” while serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He made similar claims in other interviews obtained by the liberal group Media Matters.
One of the documents included in the tweet was a “temporary duty assignment” to South Korea in early 2001, which is not a deployment order, as Majewski claimed. The photo Majewski posted blurred out key details such as the purpose of the trip and its duration. According to Air Force experts, the phrases “top secret” and “secret” in the document were references to Majewski’s and the noncommissioned officer he traveled with security clearances. That officer, whose name is redacted, had a “top secret” clearance; Majewski had a “secret” clearance. Members of the military typically need security clearances to do their jobs.