During a rally in Georgia over the weekend, former President Donald Trump invited Lance Cpl. Hunter Clark to the stage, implying he was the Marine in a viral video who lifted a child over a wall at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
“We’re also honored to be joined by one of the Marines who bravely served in Kabul during the withdrawal,” Trump said, “and helped evacuate children over … the airport wall. You saw him. He did a great job.”
Clark told the audience Saturday: “I am the guy that pulled the baby over the wall and it’s definitely probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever done in my entire life.” Clark then thanked the audience for their support before leaving the stage.
Problem is, the Marine Corps says it wasn’t Clark in the video lifting the baby.
Facts First: In a statement, a US Marine Corps spokesperson said Clark was not the individual who lifted the child over a wall in the viral image and that Clark is now being investigated for his appearance at the rally. But on Friday Clark’s mother, Peggy Clark, told CNN her son was one of the Marines who helped the baby once it was lifted over the wall.
The Marine Corps statement did not address whether he could have been one of the other Marines, only whether he was the one who pulled the baby up to the wall.
“Regarding the viral photo that began circulating around August 20, 2021, the Marine identified in that particular image was not LCpl Clark,” Kelton Cochran, a spokesman for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit said in a statement.
Cochran added, “The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) has initiated a command investigation regarding LCpl Hunter Clark’s attendance at the event last weekend to determine if any DoD policies were violated.”
On Thursday, prior to publication, Clark’s mother initially declined to comment to CNN.
On Friday, Georgia Congressman Austin Scott arranged for CNN to talk to Clark’s mother, who wanted to make clear her son was involved in assisting the baby.
Peggy Clark told CNN that her son was handed the baby by the first Marine who lifted the baby from the crowd.
Cochran confirmed to CNN on Friday that Clark is a part of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit that was deployed to Afghanistan as a part of the non-combatant evacuation mission during the final weeks of US military presence in the country.
The Defense Department generally prohibits active duty members from speaking at partisan political gatherings.
Cochran noted in his statement that “details pertaining to this incident are not releasable while the investigation is being conducted.”
CNN was unable to contact Clark directly.
Asked by phone Thursday evening if her son stood by his comments at Saturday’s rally, Peggy Clark told CNN, “He’s not going to comment on that.”
“He’s asked that I not give out any information right now,” she said. “He can’t do any interviews or speak with anybody right now. I’m sorry.”
“He’s got to go through some things and when he gets the chance and can do that then I’m sure he’ll make a statement.”
This story has been updated with additional reporting Friday.
Ellie Kaufman and Alex Marquardt contributed to this report