Twelve years later, Marines falsely accused of war crimes get vindication

Elizabeth Howe
February 01, 2019 - 9:20 am

Photo courtesy of Sgt. Sean Berry

Categories: 

On March 4, 2007, Marine Special Operations Company Fox was traveling in a six-vehicle convoy through the village of Bati Kot when a suicide bomber driving a van packed with explosives attacked the unit. The Marines fought their way through the situation with only one minor casualty — but the consequences of that day would haunt the team of Marines for more than a decade. 

Driven by the media and false information from American military officials, a narrative quickly emerged accusing the Marines of murdering bystanders during and after the attack. A little over a year later, when the case was heard by a military court, the team was cleared of any wrongdoing. But their reputations were ruined and their military careers were over. 

Now, 12 years later, the Fox Company commander that led that team of Marines in 2007, Maj. Fred Galvin, has finally achieved some closure. The Navy Department approved a report in January from the Board for Correction of Naval Records that recommended Galvin be retroactively promoted and his record be wiped clean. Galvin now stands to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars in back salary and future government pension benefits. 

More importantly, however, "the board's determination closes one of the Afghanistan war's darkest chapters, an episode that unleashed international outrage only to be proved a fabrication engineered by the Taliban to fuel distrust of the U.S. military," reads Andrew deGrandpre's Washington Post article

According to fellow Washington Post writer, Dan Lamothe, deGrandpre's reporting was critical in finally setting the story straight for this team of Marines.

But, despite public exoneration and financial restitution, the toll these events took on the entire team may never truly be recovered. Galvin shared with the Washington Post that the events and consequences of March 4, 2007 has been a burden on the entire team and led to substance abuse, divorce, and suicidal ideation.

“Sometimes now, when I reflect on it, I think that if this didn’t happen, I’d be four years from retirement. I could have stayed in and made that my career,” one of the Marines told the Washington Post anonymously. He left the military voluntarily in 2008. “This devastated my life — my family, my legal expenses, being separated from the Marine Corps, not knowing if one day someone was going to knock on my door and take me to Fort Leavenworth.” 

According to the Washington Post, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Gen. Robert Neller have acknowledged the board's determination. 

“General Dunford was pleased to learn about Maj. Galvin’s exoneration and also appreciates his efforts to take care of the Marines from Fox Company,” said Col. Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for the chairman.