(CNN) – Six days after Republican Rep. Mark Kirk first admitted to having mischaracterized portions of his 21-year long military record, the Illinois Senate candidate issued an apology and said it was the result of trying to communicate his accomplishments in "civilian-speak."
"I am sorry, absolutely," Kirk told the Chicago Tribune editorial board Thursday. "You should speak with utter precision. You should stand on the documented military record."
Kirk also pledged to speak more clearly about his tenure in the Navy going forward and said he would soon release military fitness reports that demonstrate his years of continuous service.
But in the same interview, Kirk acknowledged other mischaracterizations committed by his campaign and congressional office - first when campaign promotional materials described him as having faced fire while flying aboard a reconnaissance plane over Iraq in 2000 and second when a 2009 letter to constituents said he was a veteran of Operation Desert Storm.
Kirk told the paper he's actually not sure if he was fired upon in Iraq during the 2000 mission and said that he did not serve in Desert Storm.
The initial controversy began nearly a week ago, after his Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, raised questions about a naval award Kirk claimed to have received. The Kirk campaign and the candidate himself falsely claimed he was awarded the Navy Intelligence Officer of the Year Award - a prestigious honor that is given to only one individual a year.
Kirk and his unit were instead the recipients of the Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award, given by The National Military Intelligence Association, which is a professional group. That award recognizes the "exceptional achievements of an outstanding Naval Intelligence career professional," though the citation itself did not single out Kirk. The Republican characterized the mix-up as inadvertent and said it was a "disgrace" that Giannoulias was trying to make political hay out of it.
But since that admission, several other mischaracterizations have come to light, including statements that he "command[s] the war room of the Pentagon," faced combat in Kosovo, and served in the Iraq war.
Kirk's campaign has vigorously responded to Democratic allegations of intentionally misleading voters, saying Kirk has in fact commanded "the intelligence section of the alert center – the information 'war room,'" was stationed in Kosovo at some point during the conflict, and flew in support of airstrikes over Belgrade.
The campaign also said the language about serving in the Iraq war was a simple mistake of using "in" instead of "during," because Kirk was stationed stateside in the opening years of the conflict.
"In public discourse, for high office, you should make sure that there is a degree of complete rigorous precession," Kirk told the Tribune Thursday.