Two Marines say Target store booted them for recruiting
By JACK DORSEY, The Virginian-Pilot
© April 7, 2007
Last updated: 10:00 PM
CHESAPEAKE - Two Marines in their dress uniforms - the ones with white hats, khaki shirts and blue trousers with red stripe - say they were accused of recruiting at a Target department store here and told to leave.
"We weren't recruiting," according to Cpl. Carlos Rodriguez, 22, who said he returned in October from his second combat tour in Iraq. "I just popped in to say hi to a guy I went to high school with. He works there."
But an assistant manager who saw Rodriguez and the other Marine apparently thought otherwise and showed them the door, according to both servicemen.
Manager Brian Sherman, who was not in the Chesapeake South store Monday when the alleged incident happened, denied Friday that the Marines were ordered out. But he said he was told they were talking to employees.
"They were not asked to leave, in fact they walked around the store and continued to shop," Sherman said.
Target has a strict no-solicitation policy, he said.
Rodriguez said he and the other Marine were in the Target about 10 a.m. Monday, when they had some slack time from their duties. The second Marine, a private, asked not to be identified because he's new to the Corps, but he affirmed Rodriguez's account.
Rodriguez, who is getting out of the Marines in June, and the private, who just completed boot camp training at Parris Island, S.C., are both on temporary duty back in their hometown of Chesapeake.
While they are assigned to a local recruiting office, they are not recruiters and work only as assistants, Rodriguez said.
He said he was talking to his high school friend in Target "briefly and then we were walking toward the CDs when this guy comes out of nowhere. He was the shift manager, or something, and the first thing he started saying was, 'You guys are recruiters, right?' "
Sherman declined to identify the assistant manager because he had not talked to him yet.
The assistant manager said he couldn't have the Marines in the store soliciting workers for the military while they were on the company's clock, Rodriguez said.
"I didn't want to make a scene," Rodriguez said. "We were representing Marines anyway just by wearing the uniform, so I kept my mouth shut."
Then, Rodriguez said, "this retired Navy SEAL came up behind us and he said, 'You forget what... country this is,' and he goes off on (the assistant manager) saying, 'You have no right to throw them out of Target just because they are talking to one of your employees.' "
"He got everything out in the open that I was thinking, so I kind of left with a grin," Rodriguez said.
George Rodriguez, the corporal's father and a former Navy officer, said in an interview that he told his son, " Now you know how I felt the first time I came back from Vietnam because it was like that all over the country."
A Marine Corps official based in Norfolk, Col. Jenny Holbert, said Friday that while the uniform the Marines were wearing is typical of those worn by recruiters, Rodriquez and the private were not recruiters.
"Were they recruiting? That's inconsequential really," Holbert said.
Sherman said no one had filed a formal complaint.
He said he believed the incident has been blown out of proportion.
"We have a no-solicitation policy," Sherman said. "It has been in the news before. It's the same thing we went through with the Salvation Army and we give a lot of money to them. But we don't necessarily allow them to solicit on our property."
Target banned the Salvation Army's Christmas-time kettles from all its stores in 2004.
Sherman provided Target corporate statements that say since 2002, it has been "the victim of a misleading e-mail campaign, which grossly misrepresents our support of veterans and our soldiers."
"Target supports many charitable causes, including veterans' organizations," according to a statement. "For years we have donated funds and volunteer hours to local and national veteran and military organizations around the country."
Click to view image: '41208-USMC1.jpg'
|Liveleak on Facebook|