Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Good Marine, Bad Marine

"Family accepts Navy Cross after fight for Medal of Honor" by Elliot Spagat Associated Press  June 09, 2015

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — The family of one of the most celebrated Marine heroes of the Iraq war accepted the nation’s second-highest award for valor on his behalf Monday, seven years after the Pentagon denied him the Medal of Honor.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus posthumously bestowed the Navy Cross on Sergeant Rafael Peralta for falling on a grenade during the battle for Fallujah in November 2004.

The Navy and Marine Corps recommended the Medal of Honor, but then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates denied the award amid questions about whether Peralta was too injured to understand what he did.

The decision came after the inspector general of the Defense Department fielded a complaint and Gates assembled a team of specialists that recommended the highest honor be denied. Gates wrote in his memoir that he initially approved the Medal of Honor but reversed himself after the lengthy investigation.

The decision outraged many Marines after it was upheld by Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel, who followed Gates as secretaries of defense.

Rosa Peralta, the Marine’s mother, long refused to accept the Navy Cross. Ricardo Peralta, Rafael’s brother, said his mother relented as plans progressed to name a missile destroyer after the fallen Marine.

‘‘She felt, for the first time, something that displayed his spirit in essence,’’ Ricardo Peralta, 24, who followed his brother into the Marines, told reporters. ‘‘That gave her a complete change of heart. She thought it was appropriate for now for her to receive the Navy Cross.’’

Rosa Peralta didn’t address the audience of about 200 invited guests or speak with reporters after the ceremony.

Rafael Peralta, a naturalized US citizen who was born in Mexico City and raised in San Diego, was 25 when he was shot while attempting to clear a house in Fallujah.

The Navy Cross citation says insurgents tossed a fragmentation grenade that landed near Peralta’s head.

‘‘Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, Sergeant Peralta reached out and pulled the grenade to his body, absorbing the brunt of the blast and shielding fellow Marines only feet away,’’ the citation reads.

Staff Sergeant Adam Morrison, 30, said he was next to Peralta when he died and insisted the Marine voluntarily threw himself on the explosive.

‘‘Me standing here is testimony that he did save my life,’’ Morrison told reporters.


Now for the other side:

"Plymouth native on trial again in Iraq war crime case" Associated Press  June 08, 2015

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — A retrial is set to begin Monday for a Marine convicted in a high-profile court martial for the 2006 killing of an Iraqi civilian.

Sergeant Lawrence Hutchins III, a Plymouth native, is scheduled to be tried again at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, the Los Angeles Times reported. Hutchins was convicted in 2007 by a jury of Marines of unpremeditated murder for killing a 52-year-old former Iraqi police officer in Hamdania village. The killing was meant to warn Iraqis to stop planting roadside bombs and cooperating with insurgent snipers.

Six other Marines and a Navy corpsman were also convicted in the Pendleton 8 case. Hutchins, the squad leader, has served over half his 11-year sentence.

Appeals courts twice overturned his conviction, once because interrogators violated his rights in 2006 and because his lawyer was allowed to retire on the eve of the trial.

Hutchins has been free on appeal since mid-2013, restored to his rank of sergeant and assigned to Camp Pendleton, where he lives with his wife and children.

Several of his co-defendants, who are free and living civilian life, believe the killing was brutal but saved American lives because attacks on US troops declined in the next months.

Print copy ended there, and what is so bad about that, right?

But other Marines believe the Corps must retry him to prove it holds ranks accountable for unauthorized use of deadly force. 

I want to know when command is going to held accountable, and by that I mean shipping the civilian war criminals Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Obama, Gates, Panetta, et al over the the Hague.

‘‘The Marine Corps is doing what justice demands,’’ said Gary Solis, a retired Marine and now an adjunct law professor at Georgetown University. ‘‘An innocent Iraqi male was taken prisoner by Hutchins and his squad and, while he was bound, repeatedly shot in the face (and) murdered.’’

Christopher Oprison, a former Marine and Hutchins’ defense attorney, said he believes the Marine Corps is pursuing Hutchins’ case for political purposes.

The case ‘‘is an indictment of the entire military justice system,’’ Oprison said. Comments made by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus in 2009 alleging guilt have tainted the case and prevented Hutchins from getting a fair trial, he said.

Hands a cross to one guy, crucifies another.

‘‘The political pressure to make an example out of Sergeant Hutchins is palpable,’’ Oprison said. ‘‘Enough is enough. The gloves are off. We hope to have Sergeant Hutchins home with his wife and children on Father’s Day — a free man.’’

Marine prosecutors would not comment.

Per military rules, the jury will include officers and enlisted. Most if not all have served tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, or both. The maximum sentence is roughly four years, the remainder of the 11-year sentence. The jury could also sentence Hutchins to time served, allowing him to immediately leave the US Marine Corps. He has had job offers.

After a verdict, Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie Jr., who commands the US Marine Forces Central Command, can dismiss a guilty verdict or reduce a sentence. He cannot mandate a guilty verdict or increase a sentence.


Not to make light of it, but lost in all this is the destruction of Iraq, the millions of lives extinguished, and its present condition today.

UPDATE: Jury votes to free Marine in Iraq killing

Was written in invisible ink, meaning it was not in my printed paper. 

Yeah, AmeriKa holds her soldiers accountable, yup.