The Modesto Bee wrote a story earlier this week about Craig Pusley, who stood guard over Hughson Elementary School on Wednesday and Thursday. He asked the school's principal, Lauren Fong, if he could help protect the children in the week of the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut earlier this month. Craig Pusley claimed to be a sergeant who had deployed twice into Iraq and once in Afghanistan.
"I said, 'Absolutely!' In light of all that's happened, this is especially the time to make sure we help students and families feel safe," Fong said to the Marine who wanted to stand guard.
As we previously reported, 20-year-old Adam Lanza allegedly shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, with her own guns before driving to Sany Hook Elementary School and killing 26 more people, including 20 children.
The school's parent teacher club even posted the above photo on its Facebook page. The picture of this supposedly phony Marine standing guard has been liked over 2,500 times as of Friday morning.
"We would like to say thank you to Sergeant Craig Pusley for standing guard at Hughson Elementary School today," the caption read.
However, this great story about a Marine standing guard quickly unraveled. As the Bee notes, Pusley stood in front of the school while wearing his military fatigues. However, wearing this uniform in public is a violation of Marine rules and could have cost him $10,000 and/or led to a dishonorable discharge.
"I made a mistake. I shouldn't have worn it. I apologize to my community, my nation and the Marine Corps," the supposedly phony Marine who was standing guard told the Bee.
The Marine who stood guard was then accused of being a phony when word got out that he had never actually deployed overseas. According to the Army Times, Pusley was only in the Marines for less than a year and never got past private first class.
However, the Marine who was standing guard claims he is not actually a phony. He blames the reporter from the Bee for getting the information about him wrong in her story.
"There's a lot of fabrication to this story that didn't come out of my mouth," Pusley told the Army Times. "All I know is that I talked to a Modesto Bee lady, and everything went crazy."
As USA Today notes, the Marine who stood guard somewhat contributed to his perception as a phony by wearing a uniform with the rank insignia of a sergeant while he was standing guard. Pusley apologized for this and claimed he had borrowed the fatigues, not realizing what was on them.
"I cannot emphasize enough how sorry I am that all of this has happened," Pusley told the Times. "These were not my intentions. This was never supposed to happen."
It is unclear whether this Marine who was standing guard is actually a phony, but it seems the school itself is also starting to have its doubts. As NBC News reported, Pusley returned to the Hughson School in his civilian clothes on Thursday, only to be told to leave mid-morning when the district superintendent, Brian Beck questioned his true Marine background.
"He certainly seemed legit," Beck told the Bee. "It's just so disheartening."
While this Marine who stood guard was somewhat of a phony, one other Marine is also earning praise for a similar act. According to WSMV-TV, Jordan Pritchard, a former staff sergeant, watched over a school in Nashville, Tennessee earlier this week.