HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Congressman Steven Palazzo has responded to accusations by a political rival that he went AWOL from National Guard duties while serving in a unit in Poplarville.
Palazzo said there's no truth to charges he missed drill time while serving with that unit between 2013 and 2015.
Libertarian candidate Ric McClusky made the accusations Thursday.
And a former Staff Sergeant named Rolan Wade said Palazzo was documented as AWOL.
But, Lt. Col. Christian Patterson, director of public affairs with the Mississippi Military Department, said there have been no internal complaints against Palazzo. He also said he has good service years toward retirement from 2013 to 2015.
"There's absolutely no truth to (the accusations) and I appreciate the Mississippi Army National Guard coming out (Friday) and saying Sergeant Palazzo has met all of this drill requirements satisfactorily to Mississippi National Guard standards," Palazzo said. "I just think it smacks of basically a desperate third party candidate just trying to get his name out there."
"The main thing is, the Mississippi Army National Guard knows that I make my drills. South Mississippi knows that my military service is a badge of honor to me," Palazzo said.
Palazzo also said he doesn't know Rolan Wade.
Palazzo is currently a Staff Sergeant in the National Guard, stationed at Joint forces Headquarters in Jackson.
Before enlisting in the Guard, he served eight years in the Marine Corps.
Palazzo was in Hattiesburg Saturday, to attend Homecoming activities and the Southern Miss-Marshall University football game.