As someone who has known and served with Lt. Col. Dan Sullivan in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, I know better than most about his love of country and Alaska. Sen. Mark Begich and his political allies should be ashamed of themselves for attacking Dan’s service to America. I know politics is a dirty business, but in my book attacking someone for his or her service is as despicable as it gets.
Begich and his allies are trying to dismiss Dan’s work as Alaska’s Attorney General and Department of Natural Resources commissioner by calling him a “tourist” for temporarily leaving Alaska to serve our country in the active Marine Corps, in the White House and at the Department of State under Secretary Condoleezza Rice.
I have a message for Begich and his friends: Dan Sullivan isn’t a “tourist.” He is an Alaska Marine.
I never thought I would involve myself in a United States Senate race, but these attack ads cannot go unanswered by those of us who have served with Dan. I have had the distinct honor of knowing and serving with Dan Sullivan for nearly 17 years in Alaska.
Dan and I served together in the Alaska-based reserve unit E Co., 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, and then again with D Company Anti-Terrorism Battalion. Dan was a company commander and I was a company first sergeant.
Even though the Marine Corps Reserve unit changed names and missions over time, we all affectionately called ourselves “The Alaska Marines.” Over the years, I have known few men like Dan Sullivan. Integrity, compassion and honor are just a few words to describe the Dan Sullivan that I know.
To Marines, Semper Fidelis is a brotherhood deeper than blood. During our training in Alaska, we would talk about our families, our brothers in the Marines and our hopes for Alaska and our country. During our many conversations, I was always impressed by Dan’s unwavering commitment to our country and Alaska.
After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Dan once again answered the call of duty by serving in the White House, as a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State under Rice and was recalled to active duty by the U.S. Marine Corps for a year and a half, where he spent substantial time serving in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Horn of Africa and Central Asia.
Having served in Iraq myself, I know the level of commitment it takes to leave your loved ones behind. It is a commitment that thousands of Alaska military families understand, the same families that Begich and his allies are offending with their attack ads.
I am not a political person, but I stand up for my brothers when they are attacked. There is no one that is better fit to serve our country and the state of Alaska as a United States Senator than Lt. Col. Dan Sullivan.
I encourage Begich to apologize to the military men and women whose service to this country has been belittled with attack ads, and to Dan Sullivan. Attacking one’s service to our country is an unforgivable act and Alaskans should hold Begich and his allies accountable for their deplorable actions this November.
• Daniel Juarez Jr., is a Marine veteran.