The Good of the Service – 38

Written by: Larry Moskowitz; Watch Now: – Sorry, not available on Amazon

A band of rebels kidnapped and held hostage five marines who were distributing food to Haiti civilians. Admiral Colter of COMCARIB ordered Lt Col John Farrow to prepare his recon unit to extract the captives; but, 10 min before launch ordered him to stand down because “the state department wanted another crack at ‘talking’ to the rebels.” Capt Barnes brought Farrow intel that the rebels had killed another man and drug his body through the streets; then pressured Farrow into launching the operation, which he then did.

During the rescue one of Barnes’ men began shooting and gave away their presence which started a gunfight. A rebel took up a small boy as a shield until the child was killed along with 20 other villagers. An Australian photographer was in the camp, giving the rebels publicity, and caught a photograph of a weeping mother holding her dead child. The JAG, Chegwidden (C), sent Harm (H) and Mac (M) to investigate and Harm found out that Farrow was Mac’s old mentor. “He’s the reason I’m a lawyer,” M told H, “the corps paid law school based on his recommendation.” The SECAV acted his usual “arrogant ass” self and said he had ordered Admiral Coulter to file charges against Farrow then told C that he had to defend, counting that C would loose because of being out of practice.

Farrow was upset with M over her “filing charges” until she said that they hadn’t. Then she got mad at H for sending in his report without discussing it with her. Harm told her that she wasn’t “unbiased” and recommended her dismissal from the case; but, C wouldn’t do it.

Bud (B) assisted C with research. He and Harriet (Ht) decided to “get tested” before they had a relationship. It was Bud’s idea but Harriet said that “she had better do it too,” because she “had a life” before they met. Coulter testified that Farrow had disobeyed orders. The photographer said he was there to photograph the “freedom fighters” which “you blokes support.” Chegwidden objected to any tricky “so-called tactic” tha H used; then, got the photographer to admit he couldn’t tell who had shot the boy. Harm rested his case but before C could rise Farrow got up and said he wanted to change his plea to guilty. In chambers the judge listened to C and H bicker about an extension until she asked H if he wanted his objection to be on the record which backed him down to saying no.

Chegwidden witnessed the SECNAV ‘gloating’ and realized that “you expected me to loose.” The SECNAV said “that was a pointless question,” and C shot back “not to me it isn’t.” SECNAV smugly said that he wanted to give a fair hearing “which you’ve done.” Chegwidden pointedly said “no I haven’t, but I will.” Chegwidden went to Farrow’s home for a discussion and was able to remind him of his original reason for wanting to tell his story in court. “They’ve taken military bashing to an art form in this country.” Farrow said that it was a “circus” and he should “go gently, for the good of the service.” Chegwidden responded that “for the sake of the service, you need to stay and fight.” The next day Farrow withdrew his plea telling the judge that he “lost the bubble for a moment, but my attorney has squared me away.”

On the stand Farrow told H “no” that he didn’t disregard Coulters order. “I regarded it very closely and chose to disobey it. If I had complied I would be failing in my duty to my country and the corps.” “While they talked,” he said, “marines were being butchered. If I did nothing, how would I ever lead again. Leaders put political self interest above what’s right. We used to love our heroes in this country – people of integrity – acted without waiting for permission from a dozen committees. The bureaucrats bring you down and the media pick you clean.” He said he was forced to make a decision. Harm asked directly if he disobeyed. Farrow said “I’ve obeyed orders all my life; but, if I’d obey that one then I would be guilty.” Harm then just let it go.

Admiral C called H into his office and read him the riot act for letting up in his prosecution. Harm said he didn’t want to kick him while he was down. “You think he’s a hero don’t you,” C asked. Harm replied that “the jury knew he was guilty.” “You don’t get it,” C yelled at his face, “it’s the public that is judging this case. The press is circling like vultures waiting for a chance to scream whitewash. I don’t want to give them that chance.” He told H to either “do your job or step down” into his face. Harm asked to see the photographers other photos and realized that the woman had been in a position to actually see who had shot her son. He pressured the photographer to take him back to Haiti in order to get the woman to testify. They found Antoinette Malidor, teaching English to her school class and brought her back to testify. Chegwidden objected but H and M double-teamed him and got the judge to allow her testimony.

When H wasn’t allowed to ask her directly who had killed her son, he asked if she blamed Col Farrow. She said “yes,” then went on to embellish that she also blamed H, and C and the jury. “All of you, because you stand by and do nothing. The soldiers come, rape murder, take children and train them to kill – and you do nothing. You give food, shovels but you don’t protect us. Even when YOUR OWN PEOPLE are killed – YOU DO NOTHING. Finally this one sends in soldiers to fight and you want to punish him!” “I don’t understand your country,” she said through tears, “DO YOU?”

Mac chastised H again for leaving her out of the prosecution. Harm merely said that he knew she was friends with Farrow. Harm said “I’d rather have you ON my team than oppose me!” She asked, “is that an apology?” He responded, “I consider it more of an acknowledgement.” General Parham, president of the jury, announced the verdict that they found Farrow guilty of disobeying orders; but, then announced that the jury awarded “No punishment.” Farrow asked C “what does that mean?” C answered “they heard you. Public opinion changed. You’re a hero.” Then, talking with M and watching H leave the courtroom, C told her that H had made a “1st year law student mistake. You never call a witness unless you know what they are going to say.” M told him: “oh, he knew.”

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