Facebook Photo of Mark Herbster in Marine Uniform Stirs Controversy

A photo of BJU alumnus and affiliated evangelist Mark Herbster dressed in a Marine uniform made waves this afternoon on Facebook. Commenters expressed outrage at the violation of what’s considered a sacred rule concerning the wearing of such uniforms. Mr. Herbster’s website gives no indication of his ever being a US Marine.

The photo was part of a Facebook album by Grace Baptist Church of Wilmington, NC, whose youth group is participating in “Junior Boot Camp” at THE WILDS Christian Camp this week. Mr. Hersbter was evidently taking part in a military celebration or skit, but wearing of such uniform by non-military personnel is usually considered inappropriate, and may even be illegal.

Questions and concerns drawn by the photo were quickly deleted by page administrators, and the photo itself was also later deleted. A similar photo of Herbster in a Navy uniform from the same album was also deleted.



11 thoughts on “Facebook Photo of Mark Herbster in Marine Uniform Stirs Controversy

  1. LCDR Anthony Mortimer

    It’s unfortunately not illegal…………thank you, rabid mis-interpreters of the First Amendment, who have now convinced the Supreme Court that even falsely claiming military honors is “protected speech.” However, if Mr. Herbster cannot show evidence that he was ever a member of the Armed Forces, he should know that his actions in these photos are simply unacceptable and not appreciated at all by those of us who serve with honor.

  2. Julie Rickard

    My daughter was at camp during this past week with Mark. He NEVER said he was in the Marines. He wore the uniform the night he paid honor to the branch honored during different services. He told the campers he had purchased the uniform so the kids could see the uniform. He made sure the campers knew he had NEVER served in the military. These were just examples.

  3. Mark

    Looks like this guy was just trying to honor those who have served, and meant no disrespect. I’m sure he knows better now. Maybe people need to back off since it’s been explained as an unintentional faux pas.

  4. Anson Mills

    First, let me say that I was drafted during the Vietnam-era and served two years in the Army. I don’t have a problem with a non-veteran wearing a uniform so long as there’s no attempt to deceive. Hollywood does it all the time and no one blinks an eye. (Curiously, in 1990 I ended up doing traffic control for actors wearing my old 1970 army uniform while I myself was dressed in an 1850s costume.) So, what Mark Herbster did was probably not the most thoughtful course of action in an age when photos regularly get posted on the internet, but it’s no big deal.

    1. Amanda

      One thing that definitely stuck with me from studying history was that you should avoid assuming that all the facts about a situation are contained in one photo or one account of it. Doing so, even in one instance, can cause others to question the credibility of a site or a person. I don’t like everything that the Wilds or BJU does, but it was disappointing to see this post without the usual dedication to knowing all the facts of a situation.

      1. c

        he wore a uniform
        he is not a veteran or current service member
        it is illegal for unauthorized persons to wear the uniform

        those are the facts, evidenced by first person accounts and photos, what other facts are required for the above post?

        The feelings or intent of the criminal are non-absolutes, and have little bearing on the legality or illegality of the actions

        Besides, his reputation precedes him – hence the credibility of any response to this would be in question.

  5. Tina's Marine

    Actually, it is against the law.


    Sec. 771. Unauthorized wearing prohibited

    Except as otherwise provided by law, no person except a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps, as the case may be, may wear –
    (1) the uniform, or a distinctive part of the uniform, of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps; or
    (2) a uniform any part of which is similar to a distinctive part of the uniform of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps.


    It’s 18 USC 702. A violation carries a six-month prison sentence. What Mr. Herbster did is a crime. Here is a link:


    Here is what I stated elsewhere for an explanation.

    What I found out from another friend and MC Vet, who is extremely more knowledgeable and up to date on this stuff, is that a person can lie about being in the military. That’s free speech but it’s still against the law to dress in a uniform that you didn’t earn, especially if you’ve never been in the military.

    For example, a person could wear a tuxedo someplace and have all the medals he wanted penned to his jacket claiming that he’s military. Morally wrong but by law that’s ok because that’s free speech. He can say what he wants.

    That same person puts on a uniform and wears the same medals, he violated federal law even if he never says a thing.

    I’m also told that in the movies the actors’ uniforms have obvious mistakes, such as a medal is placed upside down and/or they’ll use a weapon and/or vehicle that is not of that time period. Example would be in Vietnam movies the actors would carry an M16-A2 but it’s not historically accurate because they only had the M16 or some other weapon available at the time. This is done on purpose to not violate federal law.

  6. Anson Mills

    10 USC § 772 (f) “While portraying a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps, an actor in a theatrical or motion-picture production may wear the uniform of that armed force if the portrayal does not tend to discredit that armed force.”

  7. Errol

    and to add to Anson’s comments, the movie producer always has the consult of an officer of the respective service to make sure the law he quoted is properly adhered to. (I.E. the movie A Few Good Men had naval officers, and marine officers as well as an Air Force officer on hand to assure compliance to the regulation. If Herbster was portraying a uniformed service member, he should have consulted the service branch, and informed them he was doing a theatrical portrayal. In any case, he upset a lot of marines, and rightly so. I was in the Army, and I would never even consider putting on any part of a marine uniform. I did not earn that privilege. Not a very good lesson in values, or tradition.

  8. Errol

    As values go, that would be like me putting holes in my hands and feet and claiming them to be the Stigmata. Totally inappropriate, and the only fact relevant here is that he upset tens of thousands of marines who did earn the privilege, Unwitting or not, I hope he absorbed the severity of the backlash of that action.

  9. Mark Smith

    Oh please….I served in the Marine Corps 1993-1997. WHO CARES if Mark Herbster wore a uniform in a show to celebrate the military. Grow up and find something important in life to complain about rather than anything and everything associated with BJU.

    The purpose of outlawing wearing the uniform is for people impersonating a marine, soldier, or sailor. If the intent is to honor or signify…who cares.

Comments are closed.