"That's the bottom line. We want him to apologize to veterans," said Mike Horowitz, U.S. Army veteran.
The small group of fewer than ten self-described military veterans said they were summoned by Internet postings to express their disgust with and to demand an apology from U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk. The Republican congressman admitted last week to newspaper editorial boards that he had misstated or misremembered, to the point of exaggerating, his accomplishments as a U.S. Navy reservist.
"Soldiers, we do not lie, we do not cheat, we do not steal. We defend what is ours," said Robert Jackson, U.S. Army veteran.
Contrary to what he said in Congress, Kirk was never Navy intelligence officer of the year nor could he confirm that his squadron ever took enemy fire over Iraq. Also, the congressman admitted last week he had not served in either Iraq war which he had claimed at various times during the past two decades.
"Why should we be taking his word at this point because he was lying about so many other things," said Carl Nyberg, U.S. Navy veteran.
After his meetings with the Tribune and Sun Times editorial boards last Thursday, the North Shore congressman has been unavailable to other media. His campaign directed ABC7 to Allen Lynch, an Army veteran who won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Vietnam.
"I think Mark Kirk has apologized quite enough. In my opinion, it's just a lot of nit-picking. Plus, he has done a great thing for veterans. This is blown out of proportion," said Lynch.
The vets, who appeared outside the Thompson Center Monday, denied they were sponsored by Democrat Alexi Giannoulias' campaign. Giannoulias supporter retired Colonel Morganthauler did not participate but was nearby watching her fellow veterans criticize Mark Kirk.
"Some of them have been wounded over there and he's taking away our sacrifices when he embellishes his own record and he wasn't even there," said Col. Jill Morganthauler, U.S. Army (Ret).
Late Monday afternoon, the Vets for Freedom--a political action committee--announced its endorsement of Mark Kirk for the United States Senate.