Florida Governor’s Military Service Included Overseas Deployment
Despite being in the news lately for his poorly received SB 896 which allows Veterans to list their service instead of educational credentials to teach in Florida schools, Florida Governor Ronald Dion DeSantis legislative record on Veterans is thin, just three Executive Orders during his tenure. Veterans who call Florida home help rank the state fifth in the number of Veteran residents across the USA. That aside, we wondered about DeSantis’ service while he was in the military. He was born in Jacksonville, went to college at Yale, and graduated with a law degree from Harvard.
DeSantis’ most remarkable service came during the infamous “surge” of troops into Iraq in 2007. During the surge, DeSantis served as a senior legal adviser to the SEAL who commanded Special Operations Task Force-West in Fallujah, Navy Capt. Dane Thorleifson. DeSantis was responsible for helping ensure that the missions of Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets in that wide swath of the Western Euphrates River Valley were planned according to the rule of law and that captured detainees were humanely treated, said his commander at the time.
DeSantis received his Reserve Naval officer’s commission and assignment to the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) in 2004 at the U.S. Naval Reserve Center in Dallas, Texas, while still a student at Harvard Law School. He completed Naval Justice School in 2005. Later that year, he received orders to the JAG Trial Service Office Command South East at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, as a prosecutor. In 2006, he was promoted from lieutenant, junior grade to lieutenant. He worked for the commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), working directly with detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Joint Detention Facility.
In 2007, DeSantis reported to the Naval Special Warfare Command Group in Coronado, California, where he was assigned to SEAL Team One and deployed to Iraq with the troop surge as the Legal Advisor to the SEAL Commander, Special Operations Task Force-West in Fallujah.
DeSantis returned to the U.S. in April 2008, at which time he was reassigned to the Naval Region Southeast Legal Service. The U.S. Department of Justice appointed him to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Florida. DeSantis was assigned as a trial defense counsel until his honorable discharge from active duty in February 2010. He concurrently accepted a reserve commission as a lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the US Navy Reserve. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal. Source
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