By Braddah Lance
Let me first say this before you read on. If by chance you are sensitive in nature or totally closed to differing opinions, please do not read any further. If you want to share your mana'o however strong it may be for or against anyone's post, please do so with respect and accept that there will be differnces of opinion. And last, Wassup Wit Dat! is - and always will be - a personal blog and does not share or have any influence by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser whatsoever other than being a medium to post in.
We clear? Crystal.
This little mo'olelo is actually about an event that happened just over two years ago. It involved a (former) Marine, an ambush, a humvee, orders, lots and lots of bullets, some guy, some other guy and saving many many lives in the face of death itself.
If you haven't heard of Dakota Meyer by now, its time you ventured out of Makua Cave and Google it. There are 17.5 million pages - and growing - about him being that he is the first living recipient from the Marine Corps to receive the Medal of Honor - the highest military decoration - as all others were given posthumously.
So why hasn't he been court-martialed?
We'll get back to that in a minute.
As we've all experienced, witnessed, read or watched tv/movies - all branches of the military are beasts. They are run by a different set of rules, regulations and orders that go way beyond civillian life and live by such things as code, motto and honor. Go against any written - or unwritten - "law" and be prepared to suffer the consequences.
From the numerous articles I've read about Dakota Meyer, they all say the same thing.... he disobeyed an order. I bet you missed the "order" in the earlier paragraph as many people who read the articles seem to have.
Don't get me wrong. In my book, Dakota Meyer is an extraordinary superhero and his actions were out of the universe courageous to not only have gone back once but four more times! If I was in battle, there would be no other person I'd want next to me in that foxhole than him and knowing that if I was in trouble, he'd do anything to come and help but he did it breaking the very backbone of the military system.
He disobeyed one order.... nine times.
After being denied to enter the fight four times - along with over hearing on the radio of denied artillery support - he took actions into his own hands by enlisting the help of Staff Sgt. Juan J. Rodriguez-Chavez - and after freeing Capt. Will Swenson - and in the course of six hours, they led five fights into the ambushed ravine rescuing three dozen trapped brothers in arms and recovering four dead U.S. servicemen.
So why would a Marine disobey an order? It's the very essence in which is the most sacred rule in any military branch having the most weight in consequences. He said it was the right thing to do - along with most of the country - and had made up his mind as he told his grandfather about the events, "the hell I'm not [going in]".
Imagine for a moment if you will, had he still gone yet not been able to save anyone.... would he still have received the Medal of Honor... or would he have been court-martialed for disobeying that order? What if he saved only one life instead of the 36? What if..... they weren't able to reach the soldiers in need and Staff Sgt. Rodriguez-Chavez was killed during the attempt, would he be charged with manslaughter instead?
So because everyone that could be saved was saved and no one died during the lone approved rescue, does it make it ok to have disobeyed an order? There are many civillians who'd say it was the "right thing to do" but who determines what that right thing to do is? Again, what if Staff Sgt. Rodriguez-Chavez got killed and no one was saved... was it still the right thing to do (Meyer enlisting help) cause he tried to help?
Military members who fail to obey the lawful orders of their superiors risk serious consequences. Article 90 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) makes it a crime for a military member to WILLFULLY disobey a superior commissioned officer. Article 91 makes it a crime to WILLFULLY disobey a superior Noncommissioned or Warrant Officer. Article 92 makes it a crime to disobey any lawful order (the disobedience does not have to be "willful" under this article). In fact, under Article 90, during times of war, a military member who willfully disobeys a superior commissioned officer can be sentenced to death.
In fact, if it can be shown that one or more of the soldiers influenced others to disobey, they may find the crime of Mutiny, under Article 94 added to the list of charges. Mutiny carries the death penalty, even in "peace time."
An oath is usually repeated once enlisted:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
So is there really a choice to obey an order even after taking an oath? Will subordinates, in the military, be on the rise to challenge orders because it's the "right thing to do"? Do military members now have to decide which orders are worthy and fearless of prosecution even though it is written crystal clear in the UCMJ? It appears after this that the military members can obey or disobey orders at their own risk since it'll depend on the level of success garnished.
To decipher an order is to understand it to be lawful or unlawful which in turn will determine it obeyable or disobeyable. An order to perform a military duty, no matter how dangerous is lawful, as long as it doesn't involve commission of a crime.
So does the order for Corporal Dakota Meyer to not enter the fight be considered unlawful? If so, then he had every right - at his own peril - to go and fight but if it was a lawful order then why isn't he court-martialed under Article 90 of the UCMJ?
You and I live in the "real" world where laws are only obeyed if you want, where people run red lights cause they can and still dangerously text and drive. Do you dare do any of that on a military base? I bet you even make a complete stop at a stop sign when on base right? No lie. In the military, there is order and a chain of command that everyone adheres to so as a soldier, you don't get to make "decisions".
In any case, Sergeant Meyer is a bonified hero by his actions alone and deserves all the military accolades that go along with it. He shakes a lot of it off and deflects the publicity to countless others and truly is a regular Joe even asking President Obama to call him back on his lunch break.
I have the utmost respect for every single serviceman and servicewoman in our Armed Forces - past and present. They not only have to work together as one but adhere to strict rules and regulations regarding their respective branch....... and it is out of that respect that I question his "authority" to act on his own disobeying the very foundation of the Marine Corps and every Armed Forces.
There's no doubt his acts were heroic and no one questions his courage in the face of danger but he did disobey an order. I hope he realizes that while the results of his actions saved lives, the next time a soldier goes against orders and the results are not of the same magnitude, that soldier will get hung out to dry. It also sets a precedent where you'll be able to disobey orders as long as you can produce results.
If I'm in trouble, I'd hope the Dakota Meyers of the world come to my rescue........ but if they don't they bettah have a damn good reason.
Just out of the blue, it reminded me of a scene from "A Few Good Men" and by the way, the two posterboy model Marines on trial were dishonorably discharged and later found out for themselves that even though they were following orders, they should have exercised their own set of values overriding the order.
Lt. Kendrick: I have two books at my bedside, Lieutenant: the Marine Corps Code of Conduct and the King James Bible. The only proper authorities I am aware of are my commanding officer, Colonel Nathan R. Jessep, and the Lord our God. "
Kaffee: Lt. Kendrick, was Lance Corporal Dawson given a below average rating on this last report because you learned he had been sneaking food to Private Bell?
Capt. Ross: Object!
Judge Randolph: Not so fast. Lieutenant?
Lt. Kendrick: Lance Corporal Dawson was given a below average rating because he had committed a crime.
Kaffee: A crime? What crime did he commit? Lieutenant Kendrick? Dawson brought a hungry guy some food... what crime did he commit?
Lt. Kendrick: He disobeyed an order!
Kaffee: And because he did. Because he exercised his own set of values. Because he made a decision about the welfare of another Marine which was in conflict with an order of yours he was punished. Isn't that right.
Lt. Kendrick: Lance Corporal Dawson disobeyed an order!
Kaffee: Yeah, but it wasn't a real order, was it? After all, it's peace time. He wasn't being asked to secure a hill or advance on a beach head. I mean, surely a Marine of Dawson's intelligence can be trusted to determine, on his own, which are the really important orders and which orders might, say, be morally questionable? Lieutenant Kendrick? Can he? Can Dawson determine on his own which orders he's going to follow?
Lt. Kendrick: No, he cannot.
Kaffee: A lesson he learned after the Curtis Bell incident, am I right?
Lt. Kendrick: I would think so.
Kaffee: You know so don't you, Lieutenant.
Capt. Ross: Object!
Judge Randolph: Sustained.
Kaffee: Lieutenant Kendrick, one final question. If you had ordered Dawson to give Santiago a code red...
Lt. Kendrick: [Interrupting, exasperated] I SPECIFICALLY ORDERED THOSE MEN NOT TO TOUCH SANTIAGO!
Kaffee: ...would it be reasonable to think he would have disobeyed you again?
Capt. Ross: Lieutenant, don't answer that!
Kaffee: You don't have to, I'm through.
Capt. Ross: Lieutenant
Col. Jessep: We follow orders, son. We follow orders or people die. It's that simple. Are we clear?
Kaffee: Yes sir.
Col. Jessep: Are we clear?