tv Documentary RT September 21, 2013 4:29pm-5:01pm EDT
it was a crazy one steve warning. by his work with. the first. we were getting new carpet installed upstairs i was getting ready to babysit my grandson because my daughter had a whole point so it's a crazy crazy morning and. i thought it was and she forgot she forgot her key or something. in. the soldier steve and. i just.
i looked at amber and she said you know i want. the door. get here something's wrong with. that i pull up and there is. a car out there with cover plates on it they said just he was killed. a full paragraph and that's all you know. the family began hearing details about the circumstances surrounding jessie's death within days of the official announcement they had said that. just. his humvee was struck. the checkpoint had the torch just to be hit just. came out of the top of the turret and they think that he had broken his neck. that was it was
a little. within an hour of the incident just the arrived at the thirty first combat support hospital in baghdad where he died on the operating table as doctors tried to save his life jesse was pronounced dead at two thirty five that morning from what doctors at the scene described as. massive blunt abdominal trauma the result of being thrown from the humvee that evening when the doctor examined the results of the post-mortem cat scan he noticed the presence of a bullet in jesse's back but did not fill out the paperwork to correct the death certificate later in a sworn statement he claimed that jessie did in fact die as a result of a gunshot wound or g s w the final autopsy. the dover air force base during the autopsy the doctor discovered that jesse had not died from abdominal trauma but from a penetrating gunshot wound to the back the issued a new certificate of death the media plea although jessie's officers in iraq were
alerted to the change in status the family continued to believe that their son was killed in a traffic accident. on the day of the funeral jessie's family and friends were joined by thousands of canton residents who pay their respects the funeral was it was amazing i mean i've never. been to a funeral where even i literally felt the love from the people around the community helped raise him in the community bury him within hours of learning that jesse died from the bullet lodged in his back army officers in iraq knew that jessie was killed by either us or polish forces who opened fire when the driver of the dump truck failed to slow down or heed warnings to stop as gunfire rang out across the traffic circle the driver was shot and killed sending his truck careening into jesse's humvee. the search conducted on the dump truck revealed that the driver had no weapons officers inferred that the fatal gunshots must have come from us and
polish forces firing from positions behind jesse army officers launched an immediate investigation into the friendly fire incident including a ballistics analysis by the u.s. army criminal investigative laboratory within weeks the laboratory confirmed that the bullets extracted from jesse's back contain sufficient identifiable characteristics for comparison purposes and advised that the weapons used by u.s. and polish forces be collected. the final report disclosed that the shots likely came from the sector manned by polish forces the report concluded however that polish forces could not be held accountable for just because the army was concerned about international repercussions in other words because the polish were the third largest contingent in the coalition of the willing the army was hesitant to lay blame for their allies as a result of the investigation into the friendly fire. it wasn't joe i.
just say may the end of july middle of july i got a copy of the casual very poor from just his wife amber. and the cause it was penetrating gunshot. that's first i heard that jesse was shot. bolo friendly fire. mealy star calling you know the army was shot he said he shot him calling us commanders of more shinton. state did you know just was shot. nobody would confirm anything. like in february i get the autopsy. and you know it describes all just the century. and under circumstances such as friendly fire that's first we heard from lee fire those like nine months after i ask the house was just his good soldier to people like. how could they make the
mistake of not telling the c. that he was shot not knowing is the war at all until i read everything over and seen that the weapons were never collected and i knew they had their best to get it properly. in hopes of satisfying peggy's questions investigators held a powerpoint briefing for the family the presentation reiterated the army's position that the shots most likely came from the polish sector but that it remained inconclusive they did not mention that a ballistics test would have conclusively identified which weapon fired the fatal bullet during the same presentation the officers noted that the family had been informed that friendly fire was involved within days of the incident immediately peggy challenge the officers that's wrong. and they could not prove they could not show anywhere in the notes we want to the second investigation prove that to me show me the casualty assistance officer document every thing everything out of the
be documented and show me where we were officially told me that well that this was friendly fire they couldn't show it because that never. never what i've been trying for a year to find out if indeed my son is shot at the anybody from the army told me he was shot nobody nobody frustrated that the army seemed to be evading the truth he turned to the press. for more than a year and a half the mother of a fallen soldier has been trying to learn the truth about her son's death jessie's mom doesn't know exactly what to believe the family was told he died from internal injuries after a dump truck crashed into his humvee months later she saw all this stuff to get their training gunshot to the back what's more it was friendly fire. in response to
the press coverage of peggy's story the secretary of the army directed the inspector general to open a new investigation into jesse's case in the midst of the new investigation one officer stated that he felt the case had been swept under the rug another officer said he thought investigative officers were walking on eggshells because they felt they couldn't say anything bad about the poles. when the new investigators sought to retrieve the bullets for ballistics testing they made an unnerving discovery that they threw away the. they would treat the bullet from. the bullet found the bullet would get the army i don't think they do anything out without a novel of regulations they probably can order toilet do and. they have a soldier that you know. i guess the. questions they give a medal and say was a hero be good enough for which part of the lie am i supposed to believe. for every
body there is a next of kin and for every next of kin a telegram from the adjutant general to mrs rebecca. the secretary of the army has asked me to express his deep regret that your husband. died in vietnam on fourteen november one thousand nine hundred sixty five throughout history families have waited anxiously for word about the health and well being of their loved ones on the front lines during world war one the war department introduced a formal policy for informing families when a loved one was lost in battle to my knowledge they received a telegram saying the secretary of war is quite sorry that your loved one has been killed in action just what happened was a soldier in that unit would write the family and say johnny really got shot by. in which case then the family would start asking questions demand an investigation
or or an official explanation. the famous incident that carol burnett made to tell polish a movie i think that's what happened there if i recall correctly somebody in the unit communicated with the family and they subsequently went questions of the military as to what to what happened. and similar instances. where the families did become involved and did ask questions. probably brought this change of policy in the movie friendly fire starring carol burnett appeared on a.b.c. in the fall of one thousand nine hundred seventy nine based on the struggles of iowa farmers peg and gene mall in the film depicts their fight to obtain information about their son's tragic death in a foxhole in vietnam as a result of shrapnel from a u.s. artillery barrage. garnering an emmy for outstanding drama friendly fire raise
public awareness. about the lack of information provided the families of the fallen and likely was the driving force behind the subsequent changes in policy instituted by the department of defense within five years of the film's release the pentagon established casualty reporting regulations that specifically addressed friendly fire for the first time regulations dictated that the army inform families of the inflicting force involved and stipulated that reports should include circumstantial evidence as long as it's made clear where facts and supposition begins the army was now mandated to notify families of situations where friendly fire was even suspected. the integrity of this new policy would be tested in gulf war one. it was
choose the opinions that immigrate to. choose the stories get in high school might . choose the access to off to. more news today violence is once again flared up. these are the images the world has been seeing from the streets of canada. giant corporations rule the day. by the time the vietnam war ended. the image of the united states military and american society was that the military was rather bumbling incompetent in
effect as an institution and the officer corps in the couple of decades following the vietnam war was absolutely committed to. changing that image and restoring the reputation of the american military in the eyes of the american people get really stuck in you know like who cares about the war. or. to a great degree that effort achieved success by the time of operation desert storm in the early one nine hundred ninety one many commentators had expected the war against iraq to be a long drawn out bloody some people said another vietnam this was a great triumph in the eyes of the officer corps a triumph not simply that. kuwait had been liberated
a great triumph in the reputation carried over from vietnam days was seemingly buried once and for all. the one blemish on operation desert storm. was that. a substantial proportion of the small number of u.s. casualties suffered occurred as a consequence of friendly fire that's the fundamental lesson of vietnam for much of the military at the time we're talking about and so they were determined to maintain public support to show a new face to show success to show the recall the talk about smart the precipitation and training and professionalization of their force and they were determined to control the facts that fed that story line by any military. gulf war one was a stunning victory by u.s. and coalition forces in the midst of such overwhelming success however reporters at the pentagon began to hear rumors about friendly fire washington post pentagon
correspondent barton gellman was the first journalist to thoroughly cover rumors about friendly fire so it took about six months after the war for us to find enough people find enough data pieced together enough information from the public records and the spaces inside them that we could do the story and the story was stunning frankly. the army and marines agreed and the army up held it to the letter that they would tell no family. about a friendly fire casualty and until they could tell all of them in a synchronized matter that was intended to set up the press conference the next day so it was decreed that always felt five pm would be the time that thirty five casualty officers would show up on the doorsteps of thirty five next of kin and tell them that their loved ones had been killed by american forces and no one
was to be told before that even if there was categorical evidence months before as there as there was in many cases the army held a formal press conference on aug twelfth at five pm announcing that thirty five of the one hundred forty eight american servicemen and women who died on the battlefield in the gulf war were killed and it vertically by their comrades for many families like the family of captain lance fielder the army's public relations strategy left them disconcerted douglas fielder everyone called him lance he was a combat engineer. the basic facts are that his truck broke down he was waiting for repair another unit from across a boundary which was a little bit lost on the map stumbled across and thought that he and his guys were acquiesce and killed lieutenant perley and john daley understood at the scene as soon as you got out of his bradley fighting vehicle that he had ordered his gunner to open fire and that the casualties where it is he'd only knew it was friendly
fire he knew he did it. and yet the casualty officers went back and they reported to the family that their head son had died in an encounter with a republican guard it was just made up out of whole cloth. it was only when they got back to saudi arabia that the soldiers had access to phones and field as best friends of the unit called the family and told them what really happened to. the two soldiers the illicit guys who called fielder's family told their unit commander. low ranking officer and they wouldn't say who they were afraid of getting in trouble as a lieutenant or a captain. what they told of evelyn and he told them to shut up that if they said anything more they'd be court martialled. and that this was way above their pay grade and they'd better not do it again despite the family's six month campaign for information about the circumstances surrounding lance's death the army refused to confirm whether fielder had been killed by friendly fire until the joint
notifications on aug twelfth at five pm the army had a clear directive explicit regulation six hundred thing that said that the families shall be notified promptly in any case and which has determined that the soldier died in friendly fire and the three star general who was in charge of personnel for the army unit to our interview with me said that he is obliged to follow regulations but he's also applies to deviate from them when he feels he has a good reason which is the usual understanding of regulations. to keep flat out admitted that he had broken the rules. within six months of the end of combat operations the army had clear evidence that friendly fire was involved in every one of the thirty five incidents and yet they failed to follow explicitly defined army regulations to notify families when defense secretary dick cheney appear before
a. senate panel he acknowledged that the families had to wait months for information about the deaths of their loved ones but defended the delays stating that it takes a few months to get a full and complete accounting is just a normal natural part of the process. and even within the officer corps people began to say how could this be this is unacceptable. and senior members of the officer corps. embarked upon a major project. the declared purpose of which was to ensure that in future conflicts there would be no fratricide as it was as it was called. and i think that. in essence in declaring friendly fire casualties to be unacceptable despite the fact that they have been commonplace throughout all of military history. the military itself therefore
set the bar that much higher in terms of what the public would expect. from that point forward due to issues in the handling of friendly fire cases during the gulf war the army completely revised regulations regarding the casualty reporting a friendly fire regulations now require that families be informed and accurate and timely manner when friendly fire is suspected further the army must notify families within days of an investigation into a suspected friendly fire incident i think the phenomenon of friendly fire probably extends back to the invention of gunpowder war is probably the most complex and difficult to pass. such world war two. we've invented a lot of technological means to assist us in overcoming that fog of war.
but even so it doesn't it's still haven't gotten to one hundred percent even the best commanders even the best soldier. going to make mistakes but deadliest occurrence in u.s. military history is believed to be an incident during operation cobra in world war two when allied bombing raids missed enemy targets and killed over five hundred soldiers in a single day. when army regulation shifted and required that families be informed of friendly fire casualties the attitude toward friendly fire incidents also transformed in the new era of public disclosure friendly fire incidents were cast as criminal and accompanied by a campaign to demonize the responsible parties or even court martial during gulf war one an incident involving nineteen year u.s. army veteran lieutenant colonel ralph alles became the first high profile case resulting from the change in friendly fire policy. on the night of february sixteenth one thousand nine hundred one pales took command of his apache helicopter
to check on two iraqi vehicles believed to be a mile north of the american line. the flying conditions that night were less than optimal it was dark and there was a sandstorm growing. concerned about his true position on the battlefield males ask for clarification. i don't want to bet that they could even go like that and they have an air of bread and. water if you believe you are right so they're going down although hills identified what he believed were iraqi vehicles he became concerned when his apaches fire control computer contradicted the grid coordinates provided by the troops on the ground relying on his battlefield instincts and commanding officers directions males prepared to fire on the vehicles. but they it's hard to pull the trigger back we have a little bit here tell me how far ahead if you're up seven zero forty eight hundred meters. before firing hale's attempted to lock on the vehicle but since they were
to us army soldiers worked. guild and six wounded in a day afterwards males was relieved of duty within a week reports of the event appeared in the press including identified sources within the pentagon described pales as a call boy and as someone who was looking for a fight several months later defended himself noting that the army abandoned me they sold me to the press to make themselves look good. to see good laboratory to mccurry was able to build the world's most sophisticated robot which fortunately doesn't give a darn about anything tim's mission to teach me the creation and why it should care about humans in the world this is why you should care only.