The People of the United States, as declared in the preamble of our Constitution, declared only six specified purposes of our Constitution, one of which is to provide for the common defense.
As such, I am greatly disappointed that the majority of our members of Congress have acted with indifference to their sworn duty to defend this specific part of our Constitution over the past four years concerning the case of Gunnery Sergeant Joshua Negron (USMC), Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Draher (USMC), Hospital Chief Petty Officer Eric Gilmet (USN). These service members, also known as the MARSOC 3, have all served our Nation for over twenty years on active duty, including multiple combat deployments to the Middle East, being awarded medals for heroism, and being combat wounded.
On 1 January 2019, retired Army Sergeant First Class Rick Rodriguez and seven of his colleagues surrounded these three previously mentioned members of the Marine Special Operations Command outside of a bar in Erbil, Iraq, when Rick Rodriguez violently and repeatedly punched Gunnery Sergeant Draher in the face until Gunnery Sergeant Negron defended his fellow Marine, Draher, with one punch, and only one punch, to Rodriguez’s face. Rodriguez fell backwards injuring his head and Chief Petty Officer Gilmet immediately applied trauma care to Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s colleagues fled and Draher, Gilmet, and Negron evacuated Rodriguez to base, immediately notified the military authorities. Rodriguez was later evacuated for further medical treatment at a US military medical treatment facility in Landstuhl, Germany where unfortunately, Rodriguez was later pronounced dead three days after the initial event.
Since this altercation, the three Marine Special Operations personnel have been charged with crimes including homicide because they reacted in a manner that they had been trained to defend themselves and their fellow service members when attacked. US Marines have never been trained to flee from an attack but to respond with the minimal amount of force required to neutralize the threat.
Recent incidents in the US Special Operations Command involving Army, Navy, and Marine Special Operators overseas in Mali, Niger, and Iraq have now led commanders with authority over these cases to apply increased scrutiny. Evidence of this, in the case of these three Marine Special Operations personnel includes how on 26 Feb 2020 the US Marine prosecuting attorneys attempted to impose a punitive gag order on these service members prohibiting them and their legal counsel from speaking to any members of the press, fortunately the prosecutors’ request was denied.
Additionally, on 18 Nov 2021, Colonel Christopher Shaw (USMC), a Staff Judge Advocate, who at the time was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps’ Judge Advocate Division in the Pentagon, traveled to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and verbally threatened Captain Matthew Thomas, the defense counsel of Chief Eric Gilmet, by stating regarding the evaluation and promotion process concerning military defense counsel who represent high profile cases such as Chief Gilmet’s case, “the FitRep (fitness report) process may shield you, but you are not protected. Our community is small and there are promotion boards and the lawyer on the promotion board will know you.”
Colonel Shaw also explained that there were “secondary effects,” and “consequences” for those attorneys that spent significant time in the Defense Service Organization. Chief Gilmet’s attorney requested to recuse himself as Gilmet’s assigned military defense counsel and he was relieved just over one month prior to Chief Gilmet’s trial in Feb 2022. Chief Gilmet’s case ended in Feb 2022 in a, “dismissal with prejudice”, and unfortunately the case against Chief Gilmet has been appealed by the prosecution who in August 2022 won the appeal and reinstated charges against Chief Gilmet.
On Tuesday 17 Jan 2023, Gunnery Sergeant Negron and Gunnery Sergeant Draher will be co-tried in a General Court Martial at the main courthouse at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina.
I urge each reader to contact your members of Congress and urge them to take the following actions prior to the 17 Jan 2023 trial.
- Direct that General David Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps, meet with you in person to explain why three personnel from the United States Marines Special Operations Command have been charged with homicide for defending themselves with one punch when one of their fellow Marines was repeatedly and violently attacked.
- Direct that General Bryan Fenton, Commander of the US Special Operations Command meet with you in person to explain why three personnel from the United States Marines Special Operations Command have been charged with homicide for defending themselves with one punch when one of their fellow Marines was repeatedly and violently attacked.
UAP supports Warriors like the MARSOC 3 by generating Presidential, Congressional, and public awareness and funding the legal representation used to fight their legal battles. Your financial support is critical to our success, and most importantly, the success of our Warriors!
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Major Fred Galvin served in the Marine Corps for 26 years serving both as an enlisted Marine and as an officer in the Marine infantry, reconnaissance, force reconnaissance and Marine Special Operations. He holds the distinction of being a crucial part of the formation of MARSOC as well as being the first to command a deployed Marine Special Operations task force in combat.