top of page

The Catholic Defender Helping Clean Abu Ghraib

In 2003 during the Iraq War members of the Unites States military committed human rights violations against prisoners of war that were detained at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. I remember watching the news reports on this happening in April 2004 while I was Stationed in New Orleans and the MEPS. These violations were many and ridiculous. There were reports of violence, sexual abuse, rape, sodomy, torture, and even murder. CBS News raised this to the national consciousness. It was appalling.

17 Soldiers and Officers were removed from duty and court-martialed as a result of their actions. Some of them found themselves in military prison and dishonorably discharged from the military. In 2004 both President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld offered apologies to the world for the disgrace of Abu Ghraib.

Following these events taking place in Iraq, I would be chased by to Hurricanes (Katrina and Rita) before receiving Orders to Fort Hood Texas. I reported to Fort Hood in December 2005 and assigned to the 2-5 Cavalry early January 2006. From there, we were given the alert that Iraq was in our near future.

Aside from being the Medical Platoon Sergeant, I was over Field Sanitation, Safety, and Preventive Med for the Unit. Not to mention I was the Unit's trained Unit Movement Officer (UMO) which I was responsible for all our mil-vans, rail-head, sensitive items accountability so we had many inspections to ensure our Unit was prepared to go. First, we had a 30 day deployment to NTC at Fort Irwin California before deploying to Iraq.

There were a lot of preparation before our deployment. My Wife was working as a Nurse on and off post and because of her specialty in burn care, our Battalion had her train my Medics about burns and the care needed. As a result, load plans were developed for all our vehicles to ensure that we had access to supplies for burns. My wife received honors for her work in the Battalion.

Among the many duties that I would be in charge of, our Division called for my Unit to step up our area of Operations which included Abu Ghraib. When we arrived, there was much apprehension among the people of our presence there. The news media covering what had happened there in 2003 - 2006 was a concern. Also, the enemy used this against us and tried to rev up opposition to our presence. I was responsible in putting forth plans that would counteract the enemies use of the attention of Abu Ghraib.

The problem was not so much the prison itself but the people in the surrounding area. I had to put forth plans that aided my Command in changing the local perception. I had to set up protocols for all unit's serving in three regions of Iraq handling more than 3,000 detainees. Some of them had to be treated in our Troop Medical Clinic in the same category as any of our wounded. Sometimes we had enemy wounded as well as civilians who were caught up in the cross fire.

Our Brigade and Battalion Leadership put much stock in our importance because we did not want another Abu Ghraib, and that is what we did. When ever a Prisoner of War (POW) was captured, I had a medical rotation to support the Command ensuring that during any interrogation, there was no torture utilized, there was no violence and to show that, I had medics present taking pictures before and after each situation so the detainee could not claim mistreatment.

Soon, all the media and public apprehension went away, instead of having thousands of young Iraq men opposed to us, we had them crossing over supporting us. The attacks on us went way down. The biggest problem that had developed was the problem between these Iraq men wanting to support us and the Iraq police. That was a good problem for us, as I was out training Iraq fire fighters and Iraq aid stations helping them treat their own.

Romans 13:1-5 states, "Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear to good conduct, but to evil.b Do you wish to have no fear of authority? Then do what is good and you will receive approval from it, for it is a servant of God for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer. Therefore, it is necessary to be subject not only because of the wrath but also because of conscience."

Integrity is so important, honesty is a must. I was raised that America were the good guys wearing the white hats, we were the good guys. As Americans, we should always give our country a positive image. Much like being a Catholic, we should always give our faith a positive image.

bottom of page