GOP Candidate Suggested He Saw Combat When He Didn't

Tyler Kistner
Tyler Kistner

In his first run for Congress in 2020, Minnesota Republican candidate Tyler Kistner repeatedly claimed to have seen combat in the Marine Corps, but records prove this is untrue. So now the Republican trying to unseat the first out LGBTQ+ member of Congress from that state, Rep. Angie Craig, is trying to explain the discrepancy.

A spokesman for Kistner said he was referring to when he led combat missions in the noncombat region of North Africa, advising and assisting partner forces against violent extremist organizations, the Minnesota Reformer reports.

As the outlet stated, he would have received a combat action ribbon if he had fought in combat; however, he never received one. Military definitions of combat include engagement against an enemy on the ground in a combat zone.

The progressive veterans group VoteVets requested that local television stations remove ads that said Kistner had served in four combat deployments. 

The group, which is supporting Craig in the upcoming election, asked KARE, KSTP, KMSP, WCCO, and several streaming services to remove the advertisement, according to the Reformer. VoteVets said that Kistner served four overseas tours in noncombat areas such as Japan and Korea, not four combat deployments. The Congressional Leadership Fund paid for the ad to run between September 11 and 29.

The Reformer reports that Kistner's military record was also controversial in 2020 when he lost to Craig by two points. 

In a speech before the GOP convention, Kistner described himself as the most decorated military person in the race. However, Kistner's Republican opponent, Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Erika Cashin, called on him to release a copy of his DD214 form, which reveals if he has served in armed combat.  

Kistner initially declined, citing confidentiality reasons, claiming to the Prior Lake American newspaper that "even basic details could help foreign adversaries." 

After additional candidates requested the records, Kistner relented. He shared the documents with supporters in 2020, claiming he had never claimed to be a combat veteran. The Reformer reports that his DD214 indicates he was honorably discharged from the army with the rank of captain but did not reflect any combat action.