Wade Zirkle

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William Wade Denman Zirkle, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, was a co-founder and the founding Executive Director of Vets for Freedom, established in January 2006 as a "nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the unbiased, nonpartisan truth of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to educate the public and mobilize public support for the Global War on Terror." [1]

In May 2007, Zirkle was replaced as Executive Director by Pete Hegseth, a First Lieutenant in the U.S. National Guard[1] and a Policy Specialist[2] at the Center for the American University[3] at the conservative Manhattan Institute think tank.

In 2006, Julie Kosterlitz wrote in the National Journal that Zirkle ran the 527 group Veterans for Freedom "out of a basement sublet in Washington, D.C."

Rose Garden photo-op props with President Bush

On July 20, 2007, President George W. Bush, who "has relied on veterans for support and credibility" since the war in Iraq began, met for an hour in the Oval Office[5] "with Zirkle and four other Vets for Freedm Action Fund Lobbyists." The group formed the "backdrop[6] for a Rose Garden speech in which Bush asked Congress to let his 'surge' strategy work and for passage of a defense-spending bill that stalled last week when Senate Republicans blocked an amendment calling for withdrawal," Cory Reiss wrote July 23, 2007, in Lakeland, Florida's The Ledger.[7]

Meeting with Bush on behalf of VFF were executive director Pete Hegseth, "retired Marine Capt. Knox Nunnally, retired Army Sgt. Mark Seavey, and retired Marine Lt. Wade Zirkle," Miles wrote.

Zirkle on the War in Iraq


  • "While many veterans said the killing of civilians deeply disturbed them, they also said there was no other way to safely operate a patrol," Chris Hedges and Lailia al-Arian wrote July 13, 2007, in a Guardian Unlimited (UK) article[2] in which Zirkle was quoted thusly:
"The ground forces were put in that position,' said First Lieut. Wade Zirkle of Shenandoah County, Virginia, who fought in Nasiriya and Falluja with the Second Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion from March to May 2003. 'You got a guy trying to kill me but he's firing from houses...with civilians around him, women and children. You know, what do you do? You don't want to risk shooting at him and shooting children at the same time. But at the same time, you don't want to die either.'"
  • On January 17, 2007, Zirkle refers to Muslims as "vicious Islamic extremists" on CNN's "This Week at War" with John Roberts. See transcript and YouTube video of the interview.
  • "'The military's job is to carry out and implement foreign policy, not influence it, ... That's what separates our country from military dictatorships. That's why we don't have military coups and military people running our country.' ... For service members to appeal for redress 'is un-American in principle,' Zirkle said" about antiwar group Appeal for RedressWashington Post, January 17, 2007. [3]


  • "I feel like people are already penning the obituary on this war, ...It's still winnable in my opinion."—quoted by Claudia Parsons, Reuters, August 11, 2006. [4]
  • "The Islamo-fascists are fighting us on an asymmetrical, global battlefield that spans from Baghdad to Pakistan to Indonesia to the streets of London. To retreat from any battlefront where we are engaged with this enemy is foolish and reckless."—Wade Zirkle, VFF-AF, August 11, 2006. [5]


  • "When we found out about the Blackwater killers, it again reaffirmed what we knew about these people that we were fighting. They were bad, bad, evil, horrible human beings, if you can even call them human beings."—Paula Zahn, CNN, January 26, 2005. [6]
  • Comment: Throughout the interview, Zirkle makes no distinction between "Iraqis" and "terrorists," making it clear that he thinks they are one and the same. The entire interview can be seen in streaming video here.


  • In Fallujah, Zirkle describes the insurgent resistance as "just a few," minutes before the over 100 Iraqis launch a brazen, daytime, full scale ambush against him and 200 marines. North County Times (CA), April 4, 2004. [7]
  • "At a U.S. base about two miles east of the city, 1st Lt. Wade Zirkle, when asked whether U.S. forces would enter the city, said, 'It is our job to go there and maintain security in the city and we are making sure that something like that will not happen again.' ... He said Wednesday's attack was carried out by a 'few bandits and terrorists … who are terrorizing the city.'"—Associated Press/CBS News, April 1, 2004. [8]
  • "Marine First Lieutenant Wade Zirkle said that pacifying Fallujah will take time: 'We've gone in on several occasions since we've been here. So we're not afraid to go into the town; we're eager to go in there; win the hearts and minds of the people. And provide a secure environment for a secure and free Iraq.'"—WBUR.org (Boston), April 1, 2004. [9]
  • "Just a few minutes before the fighting started Tuesday, First Lt. Wade Zirkle described troubles in Fallujah as caused by 'just a few in town,' and he said it would be the Marines' job to 'separate the good from the bad.'"—Darrin Mortenson, "reporting from Iraq with Camp Pendleton Marines," which included Wade Zirkle, North County Times (CA), April 4, 2004. [10]
  • "The general people that are shooting with us -- that are shooting at us are terrorists. And they dress like the local population. And that's the nature of the insurgency. You know, they fight like cowards and they fight amongst families. And that's what's difficult about -- in an insurgent fight. ... But when we get fired at, we have positive identification on our enemy targets and we take them out and we do away with the terrorists and protect the families at the same time."—Video Clip: Kyra Phillips, CNN's Live From ..., April 7, 2004. [11]
  • "From his platoon's commandeered house along a main road through the Euphrates farmland, 1st Lt. Wade Zirkle said that during the lull in the fighting the Marines are making themselves known. ... 'We're doing random checks so word gets out that this is not a porous point anymore,' Zirkle said. ... He and others said that while they have to let the neighbors come and go, they watch them all as if they could be enemies."—Darrin Mortenson, North County Times (CA), April 14, 2004. [12]

Military Status

While stationed in Iraq at Fallujah, Zirkle was cited in North County Times (California) news articles as "Lt. Wade Zirkle". He is currently using "Wade" as his first name, seeming to have abandoned using the more formal "William W. Zirkle", the name by which he is identified in 2004 and 2005 U.S. Marine Corps Reserve retention and promotion selection records. Note that the number 3244—which would be the last four digits of his SSN—appears in all three records.

In April 2004, the USMC Selection List for Captain shows Zirkle as "951 ZIRKLE WW 1GS 3244" and the FY 2005 Officer Retention Board (ORB) Notice signed May 2, 2005 (05/02/2005MARADMIN Number: 05/05) again shows him as "ZIRKLE WILLIAM W 3244 0302 1GS". Additionally, the Officer Promotions List shows the promotion of "WILLIAM W. ZIRKLE 3244 CAPT MOBCOM", with an effective date of August 1, 2005. MOBCOM is the acronym for Marine Corps Mobilization Command, the "command directly responsible for the administration and mobilization of the more than 60,000 Individual Ready Reserves of the Marine Corps." [13][8] It is apparent, based on the April 20, 2006, article "Marine caught in grenade blast gets Silver Star" by John Hoellwarth, Times staff writer, quoted in Leatherneck.com, that Zirkle was promoted to Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps Ready Reserve:

"Lance Cpl. Benjamin Gonzalez ... But he was able to stand in formation as his Silver Star was pinned to his suit jacket [in March 2006] by Capt. William Zirkle, who, as a first lieutenant, was Gonzalez’s commanding officer at the time of the attack."

This connection could be easily missed because the name—"William Zirkle"—and rank—"Capt."—would not appear to be the same as that for VFF's Wade Zirkle. However the Gonzalez reference cinches the connection, as in his January 26, 2005, CNN appearance with Paula Zahn, Zirkle related Gonzalez's ordeal in Iraq.

Additionally, Zirkle does not identify himself as a U.S. Marine Reserve Captain in his Vets for Freedom profile (see below), but—although truthfully—rather as "a former Marine Lieutenant who served two deployments to Iraq."



According to Townhall.com, Wade Zirkle "graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2000 with a B.A. in Political Science. Shortly thereafter, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.[9] He went on become a Marine infantry officer where his first duty assignment was with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. He was a Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) platoon commander in the invasion and liberation of Iraq in 2003, with tactical command of over 50 Marines. Upon returning to stateside, he was promoted to Company Executive Officer, second in command of 150 Marines.[10]

"In February, 2004, Wade volunteered to return to Iraq with a shorthanded infantry unit from Camp Pendleton, California. He was named a rifle platoon commander with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines (2/1), in charge of 41 Marines and two Navy Corpsmen. Wade's unit deployed to Fallujah, where over half of his men earned Purple Hearts, and seven of his men were killed in action. On Labor Day of 2004, Zirkle was wounded and evacuated to the States after being hit by a suicide car bomb.

"After rehabilitation, Wade was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps."

In February 2006, Jim Patrick wrote in My Shenandoah County: "Wade's now recovered and living in Shenandoah County again. He's active in politics, but also actively promoting this nonpartisan effort to give balanced reports on conditions in Iraq."

Vets for Freedom

According to his Vets for Freedom profile, Zirkle is "a former Marine Lieutenant who served two deployments to Iraq, first with Second Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (Camp Lejeune, N.C.) and most recently with the Camp Pendleton, California-based infantry unit Second Battalion, First Marines in 2004. He holds a Purple Heart. Wade is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and is from Shenandoah County, Virginia. Wade (and David Bellavia) are heading back to Iraq this June [2006] as civilians, to report on the training and efficacy of Iraqi Security and Police Forces, and to gauge the morale and combat effectiveness of US forces."

Virginia Republican Political Campaigns 2005

Previously, Zirkle, who is from Edinburg, in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley [14], was the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont [15][16] Regional Field Director for Republican Jerry W. Kilgore's 2005 campaign for Governor of Virginia. [17]

In 2005, Zirkle was also campaign spokesman for Shenandoah Valley Republican C. Todd Gilbert who ran against 15th House District Democrat Jim Blubaugh. The 15th District "represents the counties of Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and part of Rockingham County." [18][19]

Official campaign records in Virginia dating to 2005 for Kilgore for Governor and Gilbert for Delegate refer to Wade Zirkle as "Zirkle, Wade Denman" of Edinburg, VA.

Articles by Wade Zirkle

Note: The direct links to Zirkle's Townhall.com articles are no longer active. Also, the Campaign Solutions link to Zirkle's The DesMoines Register article is no longer active. However, they have been left in place in case they should become active once again (April 2, 2007).

Resources and articles


  1. Transcript: Hardball with Chris Matthews, MSNBC, May 9, 2007.
  2. Staff, Manahattan Institute, accessed July 5, 2007.
  3. Manhattan Institute website].
  4. Advisory Board, Warrior
Foundation, accessed January 18, 2011.
  5. Scott Johnson, "Lt. H. and Major E. go to the White House," Power Line Blog, July 20, 2007.
  6. Scott Johnson, "Lt. H. and Major E. go to the White House," Power Line Blog, July 20, 2007: "others in attendance" included Merrilee Carlson, Ron Griffin, Chief Warrant Officer Pat Ivory, USN (Ret.), Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Terri Ivory, USN (Ret.), Becky Davis, Sergeant [Mark] Seavey, USA National Guard (Ret.).
  7. Cory Reiss, "War Effort Relies on Veterans Groups for Support, Credibility," The Ledger, July 23, 2007.
  8. "Veterans Across the Nation Pledge Support to McCain," NH Insider, April 14, 2007. Listed last, Zirkle is found as "Captain Wade Zirkle".
  9. Army ROTC. Your Commitment, GoArmy.com, accessed July 20, 2007. Although no mention has been found that Zirkle attended/graduated from USC based on a ROTC scholarship, scholarship winners have a four-year military service commitment after graduation.
  10. As of mid-July 2006 the original profile link at Townhall.com became inactive. A pdf of the Google cache of the page is here).


Republican Political Campaigns/Consulting

External articles