The Pentagon hit back at a Southern California high school teacher whose derogatory comments about service members during class made national news after they were secretly filmed by a student and posted online.
History teacher and elected councilman Gregory Salcido, 49, told his students in the middle of class at El Rancho High in Pico Rivera, California, on January 19 that people serving in the military were the “lowest of the low.”
Salcido was secretly filmed by one of his students, and the video was later posted on Facebook – allegedly by the anonymous student’s mother’s friend in Connecticut.
In one of the clips, Salcido is reportedly heard saying, “Think about the people who you know are over there. Your freakin’ stupid Uncle Louie or whatever. They’re dumb s**ts. They’re not like high-level thinkers. They’re not academic people. They’re not intellectual people.”
Salcido then says troops overseas are “the freakin’ lowest of our low. Not morally – I’m not saying they make bad moral decisions – they’re not talented people.” Students are heard laughing in the background.
Pentagon spokeswoman Amber Smith, when asked about those comments, said she had seen them and that they were “very uninformed.”
Smith announced on Monday that the Pentagon is working on an initiative to raise awareness of service in the military, to help bridge a growing divide in the country between those who serve or have family in the military and those who do not.
Salcido, she said, was an “excellent example of who we would like to connect with and inform them an accurate image of who is serving and why they serve.”
The student who filmed Salcido, a 17-year-old high school student, told the Orange County Register that he did not intend for the video to go viral, but just showed his mother, who sent it to her friends.
The student said his brother and uncles were Marines who fought in Afghanistan, Desert Storm, and Vietnam, and that he found Salcido’s comments “so disrespectful.”
Salcido posted on his Facebook page, according to Daily Mail: “I don’t think it’s wise for me to make any specific comments, but I want my friends, family, and students to know we are fine and we respect the rights of free expression for all individuals.”
Salcido was previously reportedly placed on paid administrative leave after police received a complaint that he had hit a student in 2012, according to that report. Before that, in 2010, a parent claimed he threatened his daughter, insulted other students and parents, and made inappropriate comments about race during a summer school class.