A man battling terminal cancer had his dying wish answered last week when he was presented with paperwork adjusting his military records to reflect an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, replacing the other than honorable discharge he received in 1956 when his command found out he was gay.
Hal Faulkner, 79, joined the Marine Corps in 1953 and served in Philippines. But in 1956, his otherwise flawless career in the Corps ended when he was discharged after a man with whom he had spent some off-duty time informed Hal’s commanding officer that Hal was gay, according to this opinion piece in The New York Times.
“The [Marine Corps] gave up on me,” Faulkner told the Times. “I never forget it.”
But that changed last week when Faulkner was presented with a letter from the chairman of the board to the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The letter updated his discharge to honorable, NPR reported.
Faulkner’s family knew he served in the Marine Corps, but they weren’t aware that he received an other than honorable discharge. When he told them he wanted to try to change it, they enlisted the help of a lawyer with OutServe-SLDN, a non-profit that assists with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender legal issues, according to NPR.
Since changes to military records typically take about six months, they were worried that Faulkner might not live to receive his honorable discharge. But the Marine Corps made the changes in just two weeks, and Faulkner was presented with his honorable discharge by a small group in Florida on Friday, according to NPR.
“It was really overwhelming seeing Hal finally have this wrong righted,” his lawyer told NPR. “He is such a wonderful loving man, and he served with honor in the military and it was so important to him.”
You can listen to Faulkner’s full story here: