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May 28, 2004

From KIA To Murdered: One Casualty's Story Changes

The AP and the Washington Post report on a change made in the status of an American casualty of the initial invasion, a soldier in the same unit as Jessica Lynch and who had been listed as killed in action. The Pentagon changed the status of Sgt. Donald Walters based on new evidence from an Iraqi civilian and the tenacity of Walters' parents, fighting to find out the truth:

A soldier in the same ambush as former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch was not killed in action but captured by Iraqi fighters and then executed, officials said. The family of Sgt. Donald Walters of Salem -- who had pressed officials for an investigation of their son's death -- learned the new information from the Oregon National Guard. Guard officials released the details to the public Thursday, more than a year after the March 23, 2003, ambush. ...

"He was executed -- shot twice in the back," Guard spokesman Maj. Arnold Strong said in a telephone interview Thursday. "An Iraqi ambulance driver witnessed six Fedayeen rebels standing outside a building guarding him while he was still alive. That same witness evacuated his dead body to a hospital."

At the time of Lynch's rescue, stories abounded as to how Lynch kept firing her weapons until her ammunition ran out in a courageous effort to protect the rest of her unit. Later, after Lynch's rescue, this tale generated a lot of skepticism, in part based on her interviews after her release. Now it appears that the stories were true but attributed to the wrong soldier. Walters, finding himself separated from his unit at the start of the battle, ran down the road to engage the ambushers -- the last his unit saw of him. As the Army reported in a document now being made public as a result of the efforts of Walters' family:

The latest investigation found that in the chaotic opening moments of the ambush, Walters was separated from his unit. Other Americans last saw him running alone down a road, Arlene Walters said.

Empty gun magazines were found near where Walters was captured, suggesting he fired until ammunition ran out. Before his capture, he was shot in the leg and stabbed three times in the abdomen with a bayonet, Strong cited the report as saying.

It was not clear whether Walters would have died from the bayonet wounds had he not been shot in captivity, Strong said.

The Fedayeen not only shot him in the leg, but after his ammunition ran out they bayoneted him three times in the stomach, evacuated him to a hospital, and then decided to shoot him in the back once there. This should remind people that the Fedayeen do not play by the rules, operating out of uniform and executing captured soldiers. Will we hear anything about their "abuses" in the media? Unlikely.

For those who do hear about this, it shows that the Saddam remnants in Iraq comprise the most inhumane and cowardly members of his former regime, traits learned from their former commander, Saddam's son Uday. As long as they continue to operate out of uniform, no Geneva Convention considerations should be provided to them once captured, unless we use the Convention as justification to conduct the battlefield executions allowed for spies.


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