On 1 August 2023 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Marine Gunnery Sergeants Danny Draher and Josh Negron went before a board of inquiry (BOI) that would determine their fate with a forced retirement after their decades-long military careers. This came after they had already been cleared of involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide, and other charges in a court martial earlier this year.
The determination was in regard to whether those Marine Raiders would be able to retire at their current rank of gunnery sergeant or be reduced to staff sergeant along with a loss of retirement benefits. Most significantly, it was also about whether they would receive an honorable discharge or general discharge. The latter would mean that they may not be eligible for certain veterans’ benefits, including the GI Bill.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of the MARSOC 3 acting in self-defense and the defense of others during the event which took place in Erbil, Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) on New Year’s Eve, 2018, Draher and Negron were charged with involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide, obstructing justice, and violations of orders.
According to a report on Task & Purpose, “Despite several original charges being thrown out during trial because the government could not meet the burden of proof, all remaining charges went to the jury — including the most serious of manslaughter and negligent homicide. The jury returned not guilty verdicts of all the serious charges on February 1, 2023. Unfortunately, the jury did find the Raiders guilty of violating an order not to drink alcohol in Iraq at the general court-martial.”
Draher and Negron were found guilty of drinking while in Iraq. The result for Draher and Negron? They are now felons – and the only ones who were punished – despite many others from that deployment having been videotaped drinking in Iraq on the same night.
The three member panel for the BOI on 1 August 2023 was made up of a Marine Colonel, a Lieutenant Colonel (Marine Raider), and a Master Sergeant (Marine Raider).
After hearing opening arguments and testimony, there was a very brief deliberation before the panel recommended that both Draher and Negron be allowed to retire at the rate of E-7 (Gunnery Sergeant) with an honorable discharge.
This decision will now go up to the USMC Deputy Commandant for Manpower & Reserve Affairs – Major General James Glynn – who will ultimately decide whether to approve the BOI decision, or to overturn it. Glynn was previously the MARSOC Commanding General (CG) and the convening authority for the MARSOC 3 case before handing it off to current MARSOC CG, Major General Matthew Trollinger.
Trollinger still has it within his power to strip these Warriors of their Marine Raider Special Operator Insignia (badge), but there is no concrete indication whether or not Trollinger would actually execute such a vindictive move against two of his own men.
Like Glynn and his predecessor Major General Daniel Yoo, as the convening authority, Trollinger had the ability to dismiss this inappropriate drinking conviction, but he opted not to even after being urged by 28 sitting members of Congress to drop it. He chose to move forward with the absurd charges against them.
Let’s not forget that Yoo is reported to have received a DUI when he was a captain, but was still able to progress in his career. Trollinger was also the subject of a 2020 Inspector General complaint which alleged his own misdeeds.
United American Patriots, Inc. (www.UAP.org) is still supporting the push to have the unjust felony convictions for Draher and Negron overturned on appeal. The board of inquiry decision is a massive victory, but the battle is not over.
Currently, Draher is scheduled to retire at the end of his active service on 30 November 2023, and Negron is scheduled to retire on 30 April 2024.
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