Organizers of Mesa’s Veteran’s Day Parade picked a new master of ceremonies Friday, replacing JT Ready, an ex-Marine who angered many veterans after the Tribune reported he’d been court-martialed twice and given a bad-conduct discharge from the military 10 years ago, something he’d never told other veterans.
Ready, 33, showed up at a parade committee meeting Friday at City Hall where he acknowledged that an article in Thursday’s Tribune accurately portrayed his military record. Dressed in khaki pants, a button-down blue shirt and a lightly checkered brown sports coat, he told the veterans he would take the role only if veterans wanted him to.
Ready had volunteered to work the parade, providing commentary from the stands. “What I’d like to do at this point is to put that position back on the table and whatever the council here decides, if they want me to be the emcee, I will,” Ready told the group. “If they want me to help out with trash, I’ll help out with trash.”
The veterans opted to replace him with Frank Alger, a Marine veteran from Mesa.
Ready will still be allowed to continue on the parade committee and help Alger if needed.
He still has to face angry veterans at another closed meeting of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Tuesday when they will decide whether to revoke his membership in the VFW Auxiliary.
Friday’s meeting grew tense at points. Mesa resident and veteran Dick Sullivan lashed out at Ready.
“I’m a former Marine. I’m proud to be here,” Ready said.
“ Stop, stop. You’re not a Marine!” Sullivan said.
“Excuse me. Excuse me. I am a former Marine. Once a Marine, always a Marine, thank you very much,” Ready responded.
Later, Sullivan demanded to know if the article about Ready’s service record was true, and Ready said it was.
“That means you’re not a Marine,” Sullivan said.
In 1996, Ready was charged and convicted in a military court of theft, unauthorized absence and failure to follow orders. Later that year, in a separate court proceeding, he was convicted of assault, conspiracy and wrongful solicitation and advice.
He served three months in confinement and had to forfeit $581 each month in pay for the first court-martial. He was also demoted to private. After his second conviction, he served six months in confinement and was discharged for bad conduct.
Ready, who ran for City Council this year without revealing details of his military service, infuriated veterans who didn’t want a disgraced ex-military man to be prominent in their parade. Some challenged his right to even call himself a Marine.
Others were angered by a photo published in the Tribune on Thursday that showed him wearing captain’s bars on a uniform.
“At this point, his credibility is gone,” said VFW commander Randy Foshee. “He might be a good worker and a good helper, but that’s all he is.”