Retired Marines Gaurd Lt. Pantano's Home After Terrorist Threat
The Word Unheard out of North Carolina today is that a website was created in Pakistan depicting the beheading of Marine 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano, suddenly under investigation for murder amid delayed allegations by a 'disgruntled' subordinate. When word got out about the website, retired Marines still living in the Camp Lejeune area immediately took Homeland Security into their own hands and set up a 24-hour gaurd perimiter around the Pantano home to protect the Marine and his family.
It has been asked, 'Where do we find such men?' The answer is right before your eyes. They are found from among us all. In your hometown grocery store, at the bank, at the gas station, in the stands at your children's basketball and football games and chorus recitals. Truth be told, we don't find such men. They find the Corps and they find the other branches of the service in order to defend this nation.
The Marine Corps truly is a brotherhood. The initiative displayed by these retired Marines is the type of action that makes one indescribably proud to have ever worn the uniform and held the title: United States Marine.
The immediate and selfless actions of these retired Marines says so many things about Marines, not the least of which is taking care of our own. But to not wait for some official government agency to provide such security, their initiative is true to form of an old saying Marines take to heart:
Either lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.
Semper Fi, Marines. You continue to lead by example.
While the initial incident occured in April of 2004 and there was an immediate field investigation that cleared Lt. Pantano, it is only now, 10 months later, that the 'disgruntled' NCO has made the allegations. Rowan Scarborough The Washington Times sums the April 2004 event in question up this way:
The official charge sheet accuses him of premeditated murder, which, if he is convicted at a court-martial, could bring a penalty of death. He also is charged with destruction of property for damaging the Iraqis' sport utility vehicle.
Mr. Gittins [Lt. Pantano's attorney] said his client smashed the vehicle so other insurgents could not use it.
The shooting occurred April 15 in the town of Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad. It was a particularly bloody time for Marines based near Fallujah, with daily insurgent attacks. Marines had to cease their assault on terrorists in Fallujah when politicians in Baghdad protested the mission, a move that allowed the enemy to continue using the town as a base to launch attacks.
Lt. Pantano led a fast-reaction platoon. On that night, he received orders to raid a house thought to hold insurgents and an arms cache. The Marines discovered the cache, which included bomb-making equipment. They apprehended two Iraqis trying to flee.
Mr. Gittins said Lt. Pantano had the two search the vehicle in case it was booby-trapped. At that point, the men started talking with each other in Arabic and then came at him. The officer warned them in Arabic to stop and then emptied his M-16.
"After the killing, the number of attacks in that area went down to almost zero," Mr. Gittins said.
In an environment where the next person encountered on the street could be a killer, troops in Iraq say that they never know when an insurgent will attack them and that they must act within seconds or risk death.
The number of attacks in that area went down to almost zero. Any questions?
For those readers inclined to give the accuser the benefit of the doubt or outright support, The Word Unheard offers a quote from a movie that (typically and not unexpectedly) otherwise portrays the Marine Corps in a negative, cromagnon light:
"...deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want him on that wall! You need him on that wall!"
On top of the murder chages, Pnatano is also charged with destruction of property? Are you serious? This must be a joke.
He is being charged with murdering an SUV? I am stunned that someone has not lead the charge trying to level charges that this was a hate crime. Come on CAIR, where are you? Step up to the plate. You are disappointing us.
Speaking of stepping up to the plate, will the real 'disgruntled sergeant' please stand up?
Tell us your story. We want the facts, the truth. We will listen objectively, though we do give Lt. Pantano the benefit of the doubt, due in no small part to your 10-month delay of charges. If your story is indeed true, it will successfully hold under scrutiny. What did you see? What differs from the Pantano account? Why are you described as disgruntled? Why did you not make such accusations at the time of the incident? All questions that the Marine Corps JAG is surely persuing.
The accuser's delay compounds the benefit of the doubt that is instinctively given to Lt. Pantano. The accuser (and thus now the JAG performing the investigation) bears the burden of proof, not Lt. Pantano.
In the mean time, he has a civilian attorney and surely mounting legal bills. To help defray the costs and help defend Lt. Pantano (and others like him), go to Defend The Defenders and make a donation if you can or send an e-mail to 2nd Lt. Pantano, or simply go there to learn more about Lt. Pantano and his story.
Let us not forget that. Let us also not forget that Lt. Pantano is not on trial. He is under an Article 32 investigation. The results of this investigation will determine if a Courts Martial proceeding is warranted. Unless there is something earth-shattering that is not currently publicly known, there is likely only a slim chance this becomes anything but dropped charges.
And, in the likelihood of that event, the next thing that should be dropped is the 'disgruntled' NCO in question.
In that event, maybe one day he can be made to look the retired Marines outside the Pantano home and explain to them why he did what he did. If the charges are dismissed, maybe then the 'disgruntled' NCO can explain to his fellow Marines why he brought about the consitions that resulted in terrorist threats against Pantano that required them to gaurd him, his family and their home 24 hours a day.