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Marine Rebuked for Performing at Donald Trump Rally in Uniform

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks with Marine Jason Perkins after he sang the National Anthem during a campaign stop Saturday in Birmingham, Ala. (AP)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks with Marine Jason Perkins after he sang the National Anthem during a campaign stop Saturday in Birmingham, Ala. (AP)

A Marine who recently performed the national anthem at a Donald Trump presidential campaign rally has been told to cease further uniformed campaign activities.

Cpl. Jason Perkins, a reservist with Combat Logistics Battalion 451 out of Charlotte, North Carolina, awed crowds at a Nov. 21 campaign rally for the Republican candidate in Birmingham, Alabama, with a booming rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," which he performed in his dress blue uniform.

But when a video of the performance began circulating online, members of the military quickly pointed out that he was in violation of regulations prohibiting troops from wearing their uniforms to political events.

Marine Forces Reserve spokesman Capt. Andrew Chrestman said the command had reached out to Perkins after his campaign performance.

"Cpl. Perkins is now aware that his conduct violated long-standing DoD policy," Chrestman said in an email. "[He] has been informed of the appropriate ways to participate in the political process as a member of the Marine Corps."

The Defense Department allows troops to participate in political and campaign activities as private citizens, but does not allow them to represent the military or associate the Pentagon with any specific candidate, issue or cause. Participation in political activities in uniform is prohibited.

Reached by Military.com, Perkins referred all comment to Marine Forces Reserve.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for command.

Chrestman declined to say whether Perkins had been formally counseled or punished regarding his campaign participation. The command did, however, make an example of Perkins, posting a picture of him to the official MARFORRES Facebook page with a reminder to troops not to campaign in uniform.

"It's just frustration caused by an unnecessary violation of one of the basic rules we are all taught at boot camp," a page administrator wrote in the comments section beneath the post.

An ammunition technician from Greenville, South Carolina, Perkins entered the Marine Corps in March 2012, according to Marine Forces Reserve. According to Perkins' personal website, he also runs a graphic design and photography business.

As The Daily Caller first reported, the Trump rally was not the first political event at which Perkins has performed in uniform. He was also filmed singing the national anthem in his dress uniform at the annual meeting of the Greer Chamber of Commerce in Greer, South Carolina, in January 2014. South Carolina Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, both Republicans, were special guests at the event.

The Marine Corps has previously pursued disciplinary action against Marines who violated directives governing political activity. In 2007, officials investigated Marine veteran Adam Kokesh when he appeared at an anti-Iraq War rally wearing the Marine camouflage utilities uniform.

And more recently, Marine Sgt. Gary Stein was demoted to lance corporal and received an other-than-honorable discharge in 2012 after starting an online Tea Party group and a Facebook post in which he disparaged President Barack Obama and said he "would not follow all orders from him." In Stein's case, he also broke a military law prohibiting troops from disparaging their commander-in-chief.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.