Monday, February 22, 2010

Vietnam all over again? Betrayal on the Iraqi battlefield

~He saved American lives in Iraq but betrayal by "friends" put Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran in prison for life~

It is written all through history about betrayals of "friends." Christ and Judas, Caesar and Brutus, Benedict Arnold and America are some of the better known betrayals.

When at war, a soldier/Marine has to know he can beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt trust his fellow soldier/Marine to watch his back. When that soldier/Marine betrays, it is especially bitter.

And that is exactly what happened to John Hatley, an Iraqi veteran, who reportedly was betrayed by his soldier brothers. John Work, a retired Colorado law enforcement officer, wrote about this case:
Former U.S. Army Master Sergeant John Hatley is now serving a forty year sentence in Leavenworth prison. He was convicted by a 2009 Court Martial of murdering four Iraqi insurgent arrestees in Baghdad following a 2007 ambush and firefight, and dumping the bodies into a Baghdad canal. Two other Sergeants with the Alpha Company 1-18 1st Infantry were also convicted and sent to prison.
Shades of Vietnam ... but the story goes much deeper. Sgt. Hatley was a decorated member of the military:
John Hatley was a highly decorated combat veteran of nineteen years and six months military service. He was deployed in Bosnia, Kosovo, Panama, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Operation Desert Storm and three tours of duty in Iraq. The soldiers of Alpha Company 1-18 1st Army Infantry knew him to be the first into a hot spot and the last to come out. Mrs. Hatley says that her husband was a legend in Alpha Company and treated the soldiers under his command as though they were family.
"... treated the soldiers under his command as though they were family...."

Sgt. Hatley's wife is on a crusade to clear his name and she relays the entire, sordid mess with insight into the story that exposes a soldier getting into trouble and reportedly offering Sgt. Hatley's head on a platter to save his own hide.

War wears on soldiers and Marines in a way that we, sitting in our safe, comfortable homes, can never understand. Our priorities are the latest sports game or that golf date at the country club ... while our soldiers are a world away dealing with life-and-death situations on a daily basis. And, yet, those who are not in those situations try to second-guess their actions even under the new restrictive Rules of Engagement (ROE) such as have been put into place in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Hatley's wife told of his grief at losing one of his soldiers:
...on February 27, 2007, an insurgent sniper killed Staff Sergeant Karl Soto-Pinedo, who was like a beloved son to Hatley. Mrs. Hatley told me that her husband was grief-stricken to the point of dysfunction by Soto-Pinedo’s death. On March 17, Spc. Mario Guerrero was killed by a road-side bomb explosion. All the same, the patrols went on ceaselessly, from 4:00 a.m. to 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. – every day. For months on end Hatley and his soldiers fought the war on three or four hours of sleep per night.
The article goes into detail about the events leading to Sgt. Hatley's arrest, trial, betrayal by fellow soldiers he had treated as family, and his conviction of life in prison that reportedly left press members weeping.

We should all be weeping ... and shouting ... at the outrage.

1 comment:

Joy Jackson said...

This is heartbreaking! I don't have words to describe all that I feel about this.