Leavenworth. Vicki Behenna, Oklahoma City, mother of First Lt. Michael Behenna, explained “this Ride and Rally was organized by people who are supporting soldiers who have been charged with combat-related incidents. This ride was organized for the purpose of raising public awareness, so the public begins to understand and know that many of our soldiers are being charged in combat for decisions they make while they’re trying to survive in the combat zone.”
According to Behenna “there are 10 soldiers right now in Ft. Leavenworth and we’re going to be doing this … until all 10 soldiers are home.”
Hundreds attended the event on Saturday from all parts of the U.S. including Florida, Oklahoma, Michigan, New Mexico, New York and South Carolina.
Melanie Dianiska traveled 1200 miles from Charleston, SC to support her son, Corey Clagett, who is imprisoned at Ft. Leavenworth.
According to Dianiska her son “was accused of premeditated murder and killing Iraqi insurgents” but her “son doesn’t deserve to be sentenced to 18 years in Leavenworth for following orders, and we’re trying to make an awareness of what’s going and the treatment the soldiers receive while they are incarcerated.”
Clagett’s attorney, Tim Parlatore, who traveled from New York City to attend the event, said “they do nothing to” the ones giving the orders,” but rather “they’re charging the lowest ranking soldiers — the ones who carry out the orders.” Parlatore said his client had been in solitary confinement for the last four years.
Offering their views in the video above:
- Vicki Behenna (mom), Oklahoma City, OK
- Melanie Dianiska (mom), Charleston, SC
- Tim Parlatore (attorney), New York, NY
- Jessica and Mark Behenna (aunt and uncle), Bloomfield Hills, MI
- Retired Lt. Col. Allen B. West, congressional candidate from south Florida
- Jim Williams, St. Joe, MO, Vietnam war vet
According to the L10FreedomRide press release:
These decorated and committed soldiers/Marines who honorably served their country — achieving a significant number of combat medals over multiple deployments — are now serving sentences ranging between 10 and 40 years. They and their families have fallen victim to the untenable rules of engagement, demoralizing “catch and release” policies, and climate of political correctness that govern our troops’ actions while trying to survive in a combat zone.
While these soldiers/Marines have been judged very harshly by the military, our military leadership is currently releasing imprisoned enemy combatants back to the battlefield. We request the same mercy for these troops, many of whom have been denied clemency time and again. The Leavenworth 10 do not pose any threat and deserve to be returned to their families.
Retired Lt. Col. Allen B. West, who traveled from south Florida to speak at the event, said “this is a very important issue that we need to be talking about.”
West added: “I think there is something systemically wrong with the United State of America on how we continue to prosecute and persecute our warriors. My own episode that I went through in 2003 is the reason why I’m here because I think that will add some credibility and validity to address this issue.”
West is a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress from district FL-22. West received his master’s degree in political science at Kansas State University.
- L10 Freedom Ride 2010 web page
- “Leavenworth 10” families tell their stories, Kansas Watchdog, Sept. 5, 2010.
- A Hero Talks About Heroes, Larry Mendte’s blog, Sept. 4, 2010.
- New push to release American soliders from prison, NBC Action News Kansas City, Sept. 4, 2010.
- Rally Supports “Leavenworth”, KMBC TV Kansas City, Sept. 4, 2010.
- Military tribute at KCK T-Bone TEA Party (video), Kansas Watchdog, April 18, 2010.
- Veteran Receives Bronze Star Forty Years Late, Kansas Watchdog, Nov. 11, 2009.
Thanks to Greg Beal for Technical Support.