Dying Marine Gets Dying Wish After Being Discharged For Being Gay Getting Honorable Discharge 58 Years Later
Hal Faulkerner did not come out of the closet to his family until he was 70 years old. This, in spite of the fact he enjoyed a twenty-year committed relationship, and in 1956, was discharged from the Marines when a someone whispered to his commanding officer that he was gay.
Faulkner was given an “undesirable” discharge, which stung the young man who had given the Marines three years of faithful service, rising to the rank of sergeant. Even now, 58 years later, it still rankled.
When Hal Faulkner was diagnosed with terminal cancer, that “undesirable” discharge weighed heavily on his mind. He knew now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell had been rescinded, soldiers who were discharged because they were gay could request a review of their service records and an upgrade of their discharge status. But could it happen in the time Hal had left? Doctors gave him six months, where the military is concerned, hardly enough time to get a fingernail under the beginning of the red tape, much less to unwind it.
Hal turned to his family for help, and they didn’t let him down. They contacted Outserve-SLDN, the group that advocates for equality in the military. Outserve found Hal a pro-bono lawyer, who managed to get his record changed in two weeks time, and Sunday, two uniformed Marines presented Sergeant Faulkner with his upgraded discharge.
In his power scooter, a frail Hal Faulkner took the document in trembling hands and read the word he has spent 58 years waiting to see: “honorable”.
“I will always be a Marine.” Sergeant Faulkner told his fellow jar heads. “Thank you. Semper fi,” to which the Marines grunted “Hooraah!” as only Marine can.
Yesterday, Hal Faulkner posted this photo, along with a thank you, on Outserve-SLDN’s Facebook wall:
Almost 60 years ago, I enlisted in the Marine Corps to serve my country. After three years of exemplary service, I was discharged with a “less than honorable” service record when an acquaintance told my commanding officer I was gay. A simple allegation was all it took back then. The shame that I privately carried with me for six decades came to an end last week when the Navy corrected my discharge to “honorable.”
I have OutServe-SLDN to thank for this measure of justice.
Following the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” it became possible to correct one’s service records. When I learned that I had terminal cancer, I contacted Outserve-SLDN and they made this happen. The work of this fine organization must be supported.
I’ve lived a rich, full life. I now die knowing that my country finally — finally — recognized my service.
Photos Outserve SLDN Facebook