Monday, July 17, 2006

Compromising Integrity

Last night we had a meeting, the secret kind. Well, some of the people in our platoon weren’t invited. It was mostly people that weren’t with us when the events in reference occurred. The event occurred in January. I guess I could discuss the incident now that it’s out in the open. The person subject to punishment and reprimand is our own Platoon Leader, our Lieutenant.

Back in January our PL, Platoon Leader, fired a negligent discharge. A negligent discharge is mostly an accidental discharge of a round from a weapon. The Army doesn’t classify it as an accident but as negligence therefore punishable under UCMJ, Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The problem is the Lieutenant didn’t come out and report it when it occurred. He as afraid of detrimental action and asked if those that witnessed the event wouldn’t discuss the matter with anyone. I was one of those that witnessed the event. We all agreed to secrecy and promised not to let a word out to anyone.

Last night we had a meeting. The Lieutenant wanted to have a talk with the platoon. He apologized for putting the burden on us. He said that word had gotten to another platoon and eventually it didn’t take long before the command found out about the incident. It didn’t surprise me. I knew that the lie wouldn’t hold and the truth would come out eventually. That’s all he wanted to express and he left after some other comments.Afterwards some of the Sergeants said a few speeches. I started to get the impression that they were trying to conspire another cover up. They said comments such as, “If you are asked to do a witness statement and don’t know what to put come see us.” Were they trying to mislead these witnesses? I didn’t want anyone else’s integrity to get compromised. So after some of the Sergeants voiced their comments I decided to voice my opinion.

“I’d like to say something. I’m glad the LT came out and apologized to us today. I accept his apology. He’s a good Lieutenant that just made a bad decision. I’ve never said a word to anyone and I’ve held that burden for months. It was always at the back of my mind. It didn’t surprise me that word had gotten out.

If they ask me to do a witness statement, which I hope they don’t, I’m going to write exactly what I witnessed. You could put whatever you’d like on the witness statement but I suggest that you only put the truth. Don’t compromise your integrity as the LT did. I’m going to be honest and use my integrity. It’s part of the Army Values gentlemen, Honor and Integrity. Live up to them. That’s all I have to say.”

This morning a Joe, codename Spence, came up to me. He said, “I want to thank you for what you said yesterday.” I knew I had got to him last night. So then I told him, “Thanks. You know the LT lied to the Commander and now his integrity is compromised. I’ll be hard for the Commander to trust him again. What if it was something else? How’s the Commander to know if his Lieutenant isn’t lying to him? How’s he to trust him?” Spence agreed. It was nice to know that I had a follower, one that believed in me, one that would perhaps follow me.

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