Republican gubernatorial candidate J. Marshall Coleman reversed himself today and released his military service records, which include three somewhat critical evaluations of his fitness as a Marine Corps officer.
Coleman's records show he got high marks for coolness under fire as a lieutenant in Vietnam, first as a platoon commander in a military police company, and then as an infantry officer.
Coleman's Democratic opponent Charles S. Robb also served in Vietnam as a Marine officer and earlier released his military record, which includes a series of "outstanding" ratings for the man who was then-President Lyndon Johnson's son-in-law. Unlike Robb, who is readying a media campaign emphasizing his combat service, Coleman has been reluctant to discuss his Marine tour and had declined to release his record, citing his right to privacy.
The reports he released today showed generally favorable ratings, but an officer fitness report in February 1968, largely rated him "average," saying he needed close supervision and should pay "increased attention to duty." Another evaluation in December of that year faulted him for having "failed to demonstrate a professional ability to perform at a level expected from him."
A third report in September 1969, at the end of his active duty, called him "a very average Marine officer" who had "lost his desire to perform" because of his impending return to civilian life.
The records also show Coleman was arrested in February 1963, while an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, for allegedly placing an anonymous phone call to a high school teacher. The charge was dropped after the woman and local prosecutor agreed Coleman had been wrongfully charged.