In a war with no clear objective for victory, a policy to appease the enemy, and draconian Rules of Engagement, our soldiers are the real casualties. War is an ugly thing. Retired Marine First Sergeant, John Bernard writes in his article “After Double Minded Justice; Sgt Larry Hutchins Ordered Back to Prison:”
Let us remember that our Warriors have been fighting an enemy that is hard to define, treacherous and motivated by an ideology that promotes, recommends and idealizes ritual murder. Let us also remember that this enemy does not wear a uniform and represents no flag, no nation, no people. They kill, maim and destroy to pacify their deity.
Plymouth, Massachusetts, native, SGT Lawrence Hutchins, followed family tradition by enlisting in the Marine Corps on a delayed entry program shortly after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Hutchins rose to the rank of Sergeant after completing numerous training and schooling programs.
SGT. Hutchins was deployed to Iraq. He was accused of being the ringleader of six fellow Marines and a Navy corpsman in a plot to kidnap and kill a suspected enemy insurgent. Hashim Ibrahim Awad was killed in the Iraqi village of Hamdania in 2006. The squad was accused of planting a shovel and a rifle near his body, to give the appearance he was digging a hole to plant a roadside bomb. SGT. Hutchins said he was not with his squad at the time of the killing. He reported his men told him they had killed an insurgent leader. It was only during the investigation that SGT. Hutchins learned the man was unarmed.
SGT. Hutchins was convicted of larceny, making a false official statement, and unpremeditated murder in August 2007. He received a dishonorable discharge and was reduced in rank to private. Additionally, he was sentenced to 15 years which was later reduced to 11 years. SGT. Hutchins served 4 years in Leavenworth. In April 2008, a military appeals court reversed his conviction citing an unfair trial. SGT. Hutchins was released, reinstated to his demoted rank, and went back to duty.
Retired Marine First Sergeant, John Bernard goes on to say:
Sgt Hutchins had already served four years for what will always remain questionable. Parsing acts of war and preservation from deliberate acts of murder on the battlefield is tricky at best. Charging him with murder, dragging him through the system, handing down an eleven year sentence, releasing him after four years due to inconsistencies in his defense and then sending him back to prison should be considered cruel and unusual punishment.
Out of the eight servicemen involved in the incident, Hutchins is the only one still incarcerated and the only one to have served more than 18 months. On February 17, 2011, SGT. Hutchins said good bye to his pregnant wife and their 6 year old daughter. He is currently incarcerated in the Brig at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
From SGT. Hutchins’ letter before returning to the Brig:
I never thought that this day would come, but in the end it did. I was as shocked as everyone to hear that not only was the mandate ordering me back into confinement issued today, but that the General formally denied my clemency alongside of it. Friday at noon I go willingly to turn myself over to the Military police and return to the Brig at Camp Pendleton. I am prepared because I am a Man made of what I believe to be both Honor and Integrity. These last 9 months have been a blessing to me. I have come to establish a relationship with my daughter that no General will ever e able to take away from me; a marriage with my wife so strong, that any bars on a prison cell fail in comparison. I know who I am and what I have accomplished despite all I faced getting out of prison and can say that I am damn proud of who I have become and what I have in a family.
According to the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces page there is not a current hearing scheduled for SGT. Hutchins. This man served our country. He has a wife and two small children. Please show him your support by writing to him.
LAWRENCE HUTCHINS III
PO BOX 452136
Hutchins was freed from the Miramar Brig and reunited with his wife and two children after a Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled that his constitutional rights had been violated at the time of his arrest. He is scheduled for retrial in August 2014.
This report is part of a new DCX series titled The Leavenworth 10 – Uncommon Injustice