Marine Heroes of Haditha
Need Your Help!
An Urgent Message from Christopher Ruddy
Editor - NewsMax.com
Dear NewsMax Reader:
Three brave Marines urgently need your help.
You may have heard of these Marines associated with an incident in Haditha, Iraq - an incident that has put them under threat of a court martial, perhaps leading to life imprisonment on unjustified charges of murder.
We at NewsMax have reported the truth about this case for over the past year with comprehensive coverage from our correspondent Phil Brennan. We believe a grave injustice has been committed against these hero Marines.
In fact, just this week an investigating officer conducting an Article 32 hearing - the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing - in the case of one of the three Marines, Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, issued a report indicating that Sharratt should be exonerated and not subjected to a court martial. [You can help these Marines with their legal defense - Go Here Now.]
Here is some background on these courageous young men, Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum, and Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich.
In a first tour of duty in Iraq, two of these Marines, Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum, 26, and Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, 22, fought fearlessly in the second battle of Fallujah, a small city in al Anbar province north of Baghdad known as the Sunni Triangle.
This battle, in November 2004, was one of the fiercest and bloodiest engagements in the long and proud history of the Marine Corps, and earned both Sharratt and Tatum the admiration and respect of their fellow Marines in the 3rd battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, the storied "Thundering Third."
Both Tatum and Sharratt were at the infamous "Hell House" fight at Fallujah immortalized in Nat Helms book "My Men are My Heroes." In this vicious battle wounded Marines fended off a fierce guerilla attack for almost 24 hours.
In all, Sharratt and Tatum's "Thundering Third" claimed more than 1,000 enemy combatant kills during its second deployment to Iraq during 2004.
In the days before and after that bloody incident, Sharratt and Tatum fought side-by-side in the terrifying street-by-street, house-by-house fight to cleanse that city of the al-Qaida thugs terrorizing Fallujah.
In their second tour of duty, this time in insurgent-controlled Haditha, they faced an enemy lurking in the shadows among the civilian population, on the lookout for a chance to ambush Marines or kill them with hidden explosive IEDs or sniper fire.
On Nov. 19, 2005 an IED exploded under a Humvee killing the driver Miguel Terrazas and wounding two other members of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, James Crossan and Salvador Guzman.
The surviving Marines then came under fire from two houses near the site of the explosion.
Almost immediately, a white sedan came on the scene and 3rd Battalion Marine Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 27, aware from an intelligence briefing that had warned of an impending ambush involving a white car, killed the occupants as they came out of the vehicle and they refused to stop when ordered to do so.
A rapid response team arrived on the scene 15 minutes after the IED explosion and the officer in command ordered Wuterich and his men to clear the two houses.
In the course of what became a fierce, door-to-door, full-day battle, 24 Iraqis were killed - at least eight insurgent terrorists were believed to be among them. But some civilians were clearly killed in the crossfire.
Despite the loss of civilian life, the military was satisfied the Marines had acted properly because an intelligence officer, Capt. Jeff Dinsmore, had carefully monitored the engagement.
Dinsmore kept a narrative complete with photos from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), transcripts of radio transmissions from the scene of action, and reports from some of the participants all the way up the command ladder.
Dinsmore's reports proved conclusively that the actions of the Marines were proper and justified.
Months later, in March of the next year, wild allegations began to surface that these Marines knowingly massacred innocent Iraqi civilians.
The hysteria against these Marines was set off by a Time magazine reporter whose only sources were known insurgent propagandists, civilian supporters of al-Qaida, or civilians intimidated by al-Qaida thugs.
On the basis of the Time story alone, and in the face of the fact that Time was forced to retract parts of the initial story four times, the media across the world reported that the Kilo Company Marines had gone on a rampage.
The Time report claimed Marines had massacred 24 innocent civilians on Nov. 19, 2005, in retaliation for the death by IED of one of their fellow Marines.
In response to the media charges and those echoed by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., and the result of a badly bungled investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS), the three heroes were falsely charged with a number of counts of murder. [You can help these Marines - Go Here Now.]
Since then, these Marine heroes and their parents have been living a life of total hell.
As it now stands, the three Marines have yet to be cleared and their future remains uncertain.
Of course, the legal defense costs for these Marines have placed an enormous burden on them and their families.
One defense lawyer estimated that by the time the prosecution is over, the Marines - defenders of freedom, with limited incomes and resources - will have incurred legal expenses amounting to $250,000 each.
That's why we are asking our readers to help these young brave Marines with their legal defense costs - you can do so by Going Here Now.
Already Stephen Tatum's parents say they have had to take out a second mortgage on their home to help pay just a fraction of the cost of their hero son's defense.
We will be forever indebted to these heroic young men and women who serve to protect us in Iraq - they do not deserve to be tortured with criminal allegations and overwhelming financial burdens.
Let me tell you about these young men whose extraordinary heroism and exceptional service to their country has been rewarded by totally unjustified charges of murder.
Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum hails from Oklahoma City, Okla.
He graduated from the Putnam City public schools. He enjoyed playing sports in grade school followed by football in high school.
His parents say Stephen has always had a positive attitude, and was well liked by his teachers and friends.
Stephen, they told NewsMax.com, is a religious person who enjoys going to church with family and friends. He always wanted to be a Marine and has served his country with great pride, honor, and dedication.
Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich was an honor student from Meriden, Conn., an active sportsman who played the trumpet in the school band and performed with the drama club.
While still in his senior year of high school, Frank enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.
For the past eight years he has been an outstanding leader with many decorations and commendations.
Ironically before being charged with murder he had been recommended for the Bronze Star for the very actions at Haditha that resulted in the charges.
Frank is married to Marisol, a nursing student. They have three children. He has a passion for music.
Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt is a native of Washington, Pa.
His dad, Daryl Sharratt recalls that as a child, his son was captivated by the military. He built forts and military barriers with building blocks and had small armies of play soldiers. That interest continued into his teens.
An avid outdoorsman, he joined the Boy Scouts and spent numerous weekends camping on the shores of the Youghiogheny and Monongahela Rivers. He has a passion for fishing.
At the age of 12, Justin joined the Navy Sea Cadets in South Bend, Ind., and attended his first boot camp at an Air Force Reserve installation in Wisconsin.
While attending Penn High School in Indiana, Justin played soccer, football, and roller hockey. While in 10th grade, Justin told his parents he was joining the Marines. He told his parents he wanted to be the best of the best.
When Justin was 17 years old, he enrolled in the Delayed Entry Program with the Marines. On July 28, 2003, just one month after his graduation from high school, he left for boot camp.
His parents say, "We are so proud of him. He is, and will always be, our hero."
They Need Your Help
These courageous Marines need your help and they need it now.
They've earned it and deserve it.
You can show your support for these great Americans by Going Here Now.
We are so strongly behind these Marines, NewsMax is making a $10,000 donation to help the three legal defense funds.
To make a donation send your gift to the Haditha Heroes Fund at NewsMax or Go Here Now and we will divide your donations between these three funds equally.
NewsMax will send all donations - every penny - to the aid of the Marines. NewsMax will even pay for all of the credit card processing costs that will incur.
Help us show America's appreciation for these fine young Marines and their selfless service to our country - Go Here Now.