Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
'You are a disgrace to your Purple Heart' — Green Beret's mother rejects Navy SEAL's apology for killing her son
NORFOLK, Va. — Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator Adam Matthews on Thursday pleaded guilty and apologized to the family of Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, a Special Forces soldier who died during a hazing incident in Mali.
Matthews was sentenced to one year in prison, reduction in rank to E-5, and given a bad conduct discharge, although the punitive discharge could be lessened if he testifies against the other service members involved in the case and Melgar's family approves, according to Navy Capt. Michael Luken, the military judge overseeing the case.
Melgar died on June 4, 2017, when Matthews and three other U.S. service members hazed him with the permission of Melgar's team leader.
In an emotional address to the Norfolk, Virginia court, Matthews took responsibility for Melgar's death.
"On June 4, 2017, the Navy expected me to lead," he said. "I have carried the weight of Sgt. Melgar's death every minute of every day since that night in Mali."
"This was my fault," he later added. "I humbly accept whatever punishment you think is warranted."
The incident that set events in motion that led to Melgar's death happened the previous evening, when Melgar was supposed to escort two Marines to a social event but allegedly left them in an unknown part of Bamako, Matthews said.
Afterwards, he had a discussion that turned "juvenile in nature" with fellow SEAL Special Operations Chief Tony DeDolph and Marine Raiders Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez and Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell Jr. and they hatched a plan to "remediate" Melgar, Matthews said.
Before they acted, they cleared the attack with Melgar's team leader, Sgt. 1st Class Jamie Morris, he said.
Matthews admitted that he and three other service members and a British special operator broke into Melgar's room to duct tape Melgar and "embarrass" him by videotaping the hazing, said Matthews, who added that, "taping is a form of remediation in the special warfare community."
While DeDolph held Melgar in a choke hold, Matthews helped bound his ankles and then wrists, Matthews testified.
Matthews said he thought Melgar would be placed in a blood choke, restricting blood flow to his head, not his airway. But after three to five minutes, Melgar stopped breathing.
He wept as he said that Melgar "tragically passed away" of asphyxiation.
Although Matthews initially tried to hide Maxwell and Madera-Rodriguez's role in the hazing, he said he ultimately decided to cooperate with the investigation.
"I cannot describe how sorry I am for the death of Staff Sgt. Melgar and the pain I caused by impeding the investigation," Matthews said. "I am truly sorry."
Melgar was always enthusiastic on his deployments until he went Mali, his wife Michelle testified. For the first time in his career, Melgar told her that he wanted to come home, indicating that he was having problems with his SEAL counterparts, whom he said were acting immaturely.
Michelle Melgar testified on Thursday that the pain she has felt since her husband's death has been "suffocating," yet she said she felt sorry for Matthews and his family, adding, "I forgive you."
But Melgar's mother Nitza said she could not forgive Matthews.
"You, sir, are a murderer. Logan's blood will never wash off you," she said. "You are a disgrace to your Purple Heart. May God have mercy on your soul."
"You stole him from us. When Logan died, we all died, and I really wish you were going to prison for the rest of your life," she added.
This post was updated on 5/16 at 4:25 p.m. EST with more information on Matthews' sentencing.
'We are dropping like flies' — Former fighter pilots are pushing the Pentagon for earlier cancer screenings
WASHINGTON — Former Air Force and Navy fighter pilots are calling on the military to begin cancer screenings for aviators as young as 30 because of an increase in deaths from the disease that they suspect may be tied to radiation emitted in the cockpit.
"We are dropping like flies in our 50s from aggressive cancers," said retired Air Force Col. Eric Nelson, a former F-15E Strike Eagle weapons officer. He cited prostate and esophageal cancers, lymphoma, and glioblastomas that have struck fellow pilots he knew, commanded or flew with.
Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials are warning soldiers and military families to be aware of scammers using the Exchange's logo.
In a news release Wednesday, Exchange officials said scammers using the name "Exchange Inc." have "fooled" soldiers and airmen to broker the sale of used cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and boat engines.
KABUL (Reuters) - The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility on Sunday for a suicide blast at a wedding reception in Afghanistan that killed 63 people, underlining the dangers the country faces even if the Taliban agrees a pact with the United States.
The Saturday night attack came as the Taliban and the United States try to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. forces in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government.
Islamic State fighters, who first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 and have since made inroads in the east and north, are not involved in the talks. They are battling government and U.S.-led international forces and the Taliban.
The group, in a statement on the messaging website Telegram, claimed responsibility for the attack at a west Kabul wedding hall in a minority Shi'ite neighborhood, saying its bomber had been able to infiltrate the reception and detonate his explosives in the crowd of "infidels".
Calling aviation geeks in New York City: The British are coming.
In their first visit to the United States since 2008, the Royal Air Force "Red Arrows" will perform an aerial demonstration next week over the Hudson River, according to an Air Force news release. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels demonstration teams will also be part of the show.
Frances and Efrain Santiago, natives of Puerto Rico, wanted to show their support last month for protesters back home seeking to oust the island's governor.
The couple flew the flag of Puerto Rico on the garage of their Kissimmee home. It ticked off the homeowners association.
Someone from the Rolling Hills Estates Homeowners Association left a letter at their home, citing a "flag violation" and warning: "Please rectify the listed violation or you may incur a fine."
Frances Santiago, 38, an Army veteran, demanded to know why.