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Ex-Marine says tattoo with general's tough words got him fired

August 28, 2012 |  8:58 am


A former Marine claims he got fired from his civilian job as a railroad conductor because he has a tattoo on his arm with the tough words uttered by a Camp Pendleton Marine general during the early part of the Iraq war.

Carl Newman, who lives in Kansas City, Mo., says he was fired by the Union Pacific Railroad in 2010 after a co-worker noticed the tattoo, which contains a quotation from Gen. James Mattis, now commander of the U.S. Central Command.

In Iraq, Mattis, then a major general commanding the Camp Pendleton-based 1st Marine Division, told  tribal leaders that, "I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I am pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f.... with me, I'll kill you all."

The oft-quoted statement is found in military writer Thomas Ricks' book about the Iraq war, "Fiasco."

Newman, a Marine from 1997 to 2001, has filed a complaint in federal court, claiming his firing was in retaliation for him reporting alleged safety violations to federal officials. The complaint says the company claimed the tattoo violated its "Violence in the Workplace" policy.

The company declined to comment on the case, according to Gannett News.


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-- Tony Perry

Photo: Now-Gen. James Mattis talking to Marines, soldiers in Afghanistan in 2007, telling them, "You don't want to make any enemies, but if you find one, treat them roughly." Credit: Tony Perry / Los Angeles Times