What a day! First we get the incredible news this AM that General Mattis had dismissed all charges against LCpl Justin Sharratt. Then this afternoon General Mattis dismissed all charges against Capt Randy Stone, another Marine charged in the Haditha incident. After 2 years of pure hell brought on by a media searching for the next Abu Ghraib story and a Congressman intent on impressing his new "pink" friends, these two Marines can sleep with minds at ease tonight. The family members of these two Marines can finally take a deep breath albeit thousands of dollars lighter.
It's important to read the actual words from Gen Mattis to truly understand that his decision was not simply an attempt to get this whole thing over with. His words reveal him to be introspective and possessing a knowledge of human beings much deeper than just the Marine Corps. Harrison Ford (who will be portraying the General in a movie based on Bing West's book, No True Glory) certainly has his work cut out for him.
Here's what General Mattis said about Capt. Randy Stone...
"In determining the appropriate disposition of this case, I have also considered Captain Stone's conduct and performance in full context. During the time period at issue, Captain Stone was in his first assignment serving as a Marine judge advocate under difficult circumstances as a staff member of an infantry battalion engaged in combat operations. He willingly volunteered for this assignment and took on challenging duties with enthusiasm. Similarly, his attentiveness to training the Marines in the law of war and rules of engagement and willingness to share their hardship to better appreciate the challenges facing them are notable. By patrolling alongside the infantrymen in his Battalion, he helped them embrace the imperative of ethical behavior in combat. In this manner, he directly contributed to our Nation's effort to fight a shadowy enemy who hides among and endangers innocent people and does not comply with any aspect of the law of war."
His words to LCpl Sharratt brought tears to my eyes. I cannot imagine what the words did for Justin and his parents...
"With the dismissal of these charges LCpl Sharratt may fairly conclude that he did his best to live up to the standards, followed by U.S. fighting men throughout our many wars, in the face of life or death decisions made in a matter of seconds in combat. And as he has always remained cloaked in the presumption of innocence, with this dismissal of charges, he remains in the eyes of the law – and in my eyes – innocent."
Innocent - what a beautiful word. I will not mar this celebratory post with my dreams of payback for the harm heaped upon these warriors by the media and members of the anti-war crowd. Rest assured that time is coming sooner than later.
So for now - raise your glasses in honor of LCpl Sharratt, Capt Randy Stone and their families. It's a great day!