A little different story today. It’s one that starts with me in the Army and ends with Allen West in Congress.
Bear with me. Back in November of 2003 I was two years into my military commitment. Nothing too adventurous, just a scout with some airborne wings upon my chest. I was stationed in southern Germany at the time operating as OPFOR for mounted soldiers heading to Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom was less than a year in and all ready insurgent attacks and IED’s were becoming a part of the everyday life of the soldiers and marines on the ground.
That was just a little summation of what was going down at the time when I heard this tale.
It was during my time in Bavaria that I heard a story of a Lt. Colonel that I didn’t know, go above and beyond to protect his troops. This Colonel, who I would later find out was Allen West. While his battalion was stationed in Taji Iraq was made aware that an Iraqi Civilian Police officer was helping to plan and carry out a terrorist attack on US Army personnel.
With time of the essence and the lives of his men in the balance the LTC West broke protocol and all political correct nonsense in order to save the lives of the soldiers in his command. The Colonel went to where the interrogation of this rogue Iraqi officer was and demanded to know the details of the attack.
The Iraqi, Officer Hamoodi, decided he knew how the system worked and that he had nothing to fear because the American’s are soft pushovers who won’t actually do anything. LTC West decided that, while American’s are the good guys, shaking Hamoodi’s belief in that fact could save lives.
While Hamoodi was on the ground, the Colonel removed his sidearm and fired a round next to Hamoodi’s head. Hamoodi realized, much like the bikers did in A Bronx Tale, that perhaps he had misjudged the man he was dealing with. He gave up the names and information about the attack.
Later Hamoodi would say that he just gave up nonsense and that there was no attack planned. I counter that of course he would say that, no one admits to being a snitch. The proof is in the pudding as they say. There was no insurgent attack against American forces under the Colonel’s command until after he was relieved of duty. LTC West was a man that was feared by his enemies and respected and loved by the men under his command.
But even the story of how he lost his command is an interesting one.
Despite the positive results from his actions and the lives he no doubt saved, LTC West understood that he broke military protocol with his actions and he REPORTED HIMSELF. That’s right, not a single soldier would’ve reported the Colonel for his actions that day but instead of taking the easy way, covering things up and burying the truth LTC West admitted to his command of the actions he took to save the lives of his men.
The reaction was…extreme. General Odierno, who received his first star under Bill Clinton, decided not only to punish LTC West but attempt to destroy his life. He immediately relived LTC West of command, basically killing his career, then demanded that LTC West retire immediately forfeiting his pension that he was literally 3 days away from qualifying for or face court martial and 11 years in Leavenworth Prison.
When political correctness runs amok and image is more important than the lives of soldiers you get Generals like Odierno while Colonels like West get the short end of the stick.
But LTC West would not be cowed and refused to take either options and decided to fight. Facing someone who would not simply back down and by the time the story broke, Odierno had been backed into a corner after shooting himself in both feet. Odierno backed off the Court Martial and pursued an Article 15hearing instead.
LTC West received a $5000 fine and was allowed to retire with a full military pension with no lose of rank.
During the proceedings LTC West was asked if he would do anything differently if he could do it over again. The response is all I need to know about the man:
“If it’s about the lives of my soldiers at stake, I’d go through hell with a gasoline can.”
Your men would follow you sir, if you led they would certainly follow.
Now, why did all this come up recently. Because until about a week ago I never connected the Colonel and the Congressmen as being the same guy. I knew Rep. West was a Lt. Col in the Army but after so many years I had just never thought to connect them both.
Oddly enough, the reason I know now they are one in the same is because in Rep. West’s reelection campaign his opponent, Patrick Murphy, has brought this up.
Of course, he doesn’t actually bring up what happened, he speaks in nefarious generalities that West at one point faced court martial and retired after an Article 15 proceeding.
Well, in my book Allen West his a hero who put his men’s well being ahead of his own career. What Washington DC needs is MORE men like Allen West. Not some sniveling brat who would call LTC West a war criminal while he himself was out getting busted for public intoxication and fighting with a police officer.
If you are in Florida, I urge you to help Allen West win his re-election campaign. http://www.allenwestforcongress.com/
In our latest GOA grading we have given him an A for his time in Congress protecting your Second Amendment rights.
In case you were curious about LTC West’s military accolades they are as follows:
22 years of service
Lt. Col rank
Served in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom
Meritorious Service Medal – 2 oak leaf clusters
Army Commendation – 3 oak leaf clusters – 1 valor device
Army Achievement Medal – 1 oak leaf cluster
Master Parachutist Badge
Air Assault Badge