Is this for real? Yes, he can do that to you if this is a real story. By touching him or anything on his person without permission you committed battery. He has a right to defend himself if he sees you as a threat which after spitting on him and saying what you did I would perceive you as a threat myself if you touched me. Of course if this is a true story it would depend wither you live in bleeding heart liberal area and if you get a bleeding heart liberal judge.
G-d bless that Marine. That guy was just waiting for the dumbassedness of his brain to do just that, and he got what he deserved. After coming home from Viet Nam a brother of mine, in uniform, in Berkly, came upon a group ass hats disparaging some other vets or our flag or just whatever the compliant of the day was. There was a policeman or two watching the ass hats and they turned their backs for several minutes as my brother joined the ass hat on the dias and proceded to, in no uncertain terms, to try to change that ass hats mind and features around. He stopped when the policeman told him to and left the area.