COLUMBIA, S.C. — Surprise U.S. Senate nominee Alvin Greene frequently mentions his 13 years of military service, but records obtained Thursday by the Associated Press show that the veteran who has called himself an "American hero" was considered a lackluster service member at best.
The records, which document his superiors' decisions to pass Greene over for promotion, cite mistakes as severe as improperly uploading sensitive intelligence information to a military server, and as basic as an overall inability to clearly express his thoughts and perform basic tasks.
Greene, 32, won a surprise victory in South Carolina's Democratic primary on June 8. Greene handily defeated Vic Rawl, a former lawmaker and judge who the party establishment thought should have won easily.
Up to that point, Greene had done no visible campaigning and had no website, fundraising or staff.
In the weeks since, Greene has given a series of awkward interviews to reporters clamoring for more information about him. Greene is unemployed and lives in Manning, S.C., with his ailing father. In one interview, he suggested that the state's economy could be improved by making and selling action figures depicting him in his uniform. On Sunday, Greene gave his first public speech, a 61/2-minute recitation of his previous comments and commitment to jobs and education. He now has a website and says he has raised less than $1,000.
Greene has often mentioned his military service, saying he first came up with the idea to seek political office while serving in Korea. But the veteran has also refused to go into detail about his service, merely saying he won numerous decorations and left the military honorably but involuntarily.
At his home in Manning on Thursday, Greene told an AP reporter who reviewed the documents with him that the evaluations show he was discriminated against by military supervisors but he did not explain what that meant.
"I'm telling you who they promote: the terrorists and the communists," said Greene, wearing a blue U.S. Air Force T-shirt. "This is why we need to overhaul the military and get these people out."
The records obtained by AP only reveal a small slice of Greene's service record, his three years with the U.S. Air Force. After serving in junior ROTC in high school, Greene entered the Air National Guard in 1995, serving there until 2002.
In July of that year, he entered the Air Force, serving first as an intelligence librarian responsible for analyzing reports and briefings at Shaw Air Force Base near Sumter, S.C.
In a performance report two years later, Greene received adequate marks for performing tasks assigned to him, complying with standards and training requirements. But Greene's reviewer marked him as an ineffective leader who lacked organization and was "unable to express thoughts clearly."
Greene is "usually capable of handling mundane tasks with supervision" but is "not able to adapt to any changes to daily routine," the reviewer wrote, also noting that Greene had received multiple disciplinary actions for failing to perform his duties.
Greene was also written up for posting sensitive information on a military Internet server, a mistake that resulted in a three-day work stoppage. Records showed Greene was kept at Shaw while the rest of his unit deployed after leadership "recognized his inability to contribute to the wartime mission."
Greene protested the denial, writing that the reviewer "only concentrates on presenting a negative perception of me by making false statements of my character" and saying the reviewer and other airmen "create a hostile work environment."
A year later, Greene was evaluated again, this time in his new job as an analyst working with the weapons of mass destruction section. But records say Greene's job had little to do with intelligence analysis and more to do with shredding documents and escorting contractors around the base.
Again receiving low marks for ineffective leadership, Greene also was rated as not knowing much about his duties or performing them effectively and not complying with minimum training requirements.
The reviewer also wrote Greene "required a daily to-do list" to perform basic duties and had a "consistent inability to follow instructions or maintain basic job knowledge." Most seriously, the reviewer wrote that Greene would represent "a threat to others" because of his inability to grasp the basics of military training.
Six months after that evaluation, Greene was honorably discharged from the Air Force. A year later, he joined the Army National Guard, in which he served about six months before joining the U.S. Army.
Detailed records of Greene's Army service have not been released.