Tuesday, January 10, 2006

PRESS RELEASE: Jerry Texiero and the Marine Corps Willingness to Lie to "Convict" Him

After extensive conversations about Jerry with Elaine, she sent me the following press release. – Jack Dalton

-PRESS RELEASE - January 10, 2006

Jerry Texiero and the Marine Corps Willingness to Lie to “Convict” Him

Elaine Smith
Marine Corps Base: Camp Lejeune
Jscksonville, NC

Jerry Texiero--Senior citizen, arrested August 12, 2005, is facing desertion charges pending from 1965. After 4 months of solitary confinement in Florida, he is now being detained in the brig at Camp Lejeune, NC (as of December 14, 2005), and is awaiting a decision: separation in lieu of trial with no conviction (as we were told would happen) or special court martial with a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment.


Since Jerry’s incarceration in Aug, 2006, I have worked quietly behind the scenes to obtain Jerry’s release. I have tried to respect the fact that our troops are involved in Iraq and have been very fearful that Jerry would be held up as an example to the many Iraqi war deserters. However, due to recent events, unkept promises by the military, and the false allegations of larceny “leaked” to the press by the military, it is time I speak out.

My father and I went to Camp Lejeune the same day as Jerry. We can only see him on weekends. We spend the rest of the week working for his release. Jerry must go endure the humiliation of a “strip search” every time we visit. And although we have been told that Jerry is being treated as “any other” UA, it has become apparent that our gentle friend and family member is in fact being used as an example to the many US soldiers who have refused to return to Iraq.

First of all let me say this. Jerry never went to Vietnam and never had orders to deploy there. He has always, however, had an aversion to the killing of innocent men, women and children. He logged at least six years in the military, receiving an Honorable Discharge after three, including an overseas tour in Okinawa. I was told by personnel at Quantico that Jerry had an “excellent” military record.

Secondly, Jerry emphatically denies any knowledge of or any wrong doing concerning the alleged larceny charges which were recently illegally “leaked” by Camp Lejeune press relations. I am assured that this was only an “allegation” by the military, NOT a formal charge as reported to the press. It was, in my opinion, an attempt by the military to further discredit Jerry. I have been advised by military defense counsel that it has now been discovered that “no investigation records exist” and therefore there will be no charges.

Over the last 5 months I have been in constant contact with 4 bases (Camp Pendleton, Quantico, Camp Lejeune and Parris Island) where I was reassured that Jerry would receive a UA separation in the same manner as everyone else these days; i.e., separation in lieu of trial with an administrative discharge and NO conviction. Now I’m told they want at least 100 days and a guilty plea. (He has already spent 5 months behind bars, most in solitary confinement.) His separation in lieu of trial is going “up the chain of command”, but his case has now been “referred” for a special court martial where I’m told he could face up to one year in a military prison. When I mention that US Army defector Charles Jenkins served less than one month for deserting to North Korea in 1965 and allegedly aiding the enemy, I am told “that was the Army, this is the Marines”.

How we came from “excellent record” and a quick homecoming to all this would be baffling except for one thing. Our worst fears have come true. Our pleas for compassion have been to deaf ears and Jerry is being held up to our Iraqi troops to show them that if they desert, they will be caught and punished, no matter how long it takes to find them.

Here’s what I was previously told:

In September, 2005, Camp Pendleton advised that they had a 25 year UA detainee (August, 2005) that has been there about 30 days, was in work clothes, free to roam, and was just awaiting his administrative separation -which was in the process. We were told that Jerry most likely would not be sent to that coast, but if he was he would likely receive an administrative discharge and be separated quickly.

In October, 2005, Quantico advised that they have Jerry’s original file, that Jerry has an “excellent military record” and that there is “nothing in his file to prevent him from receiving a quick separation in lieu of trial / administrative discharge / no conviction, as is the normal procedure these days.

At the same time, Camp Lejeune advised me that Jerry would “most likely” be in barracks, not the brig, and that the ‘norm’ presently is “separation in lieu of trial, administrative discharge, no conviction” and that it might take 4 to 5 weeks. I was advised to tell him “not to worry”.

Parris Island – I was finally told by Quantico that PI would most likely be the place receiving Jerry as they were getting all Florida and South Carolina UAs. After contacting PI and providing several letters of support from friends to defense counsel there, I received a call advising me that they had orders to “expedite his separation” and that there was even talk of “sending his papers to him”; but that he would need a physical in order to be discharged, so that would be hard to do. I was told he would receive an “administrative discharge, separation in lieu of trial, with NO conviction”. They said the physical could be done the day after his arrival and the paperwork would take only 1 or 2 days. I was told, “Hopefully we’ll have him back home in time for Christmas.” (FYI: I was also told that a recent 25+ years UA received a separation in lieu of trial within 2 weeks.)

My Dad and I were so confident and trusting of this information that my 84 year old father left his VA hospital bed to travel to Parris Island with me in order to bring Jerry home in time for Christmas. We had a special reason for this which you will read about below. On December 14, 2005, the day Jerry was transferred from Florida, we had already begun our trip to Parris Island when we received information that Jerry was actually being taken to Camp Lejeune instead. So far nothing we were promised has come true. We were misled, lied to.

We’ve been here through the holidays, almost 4 weeks now. Dad’s already been to the emergency room once. We’ve met with everyone from the General on down. They are all courteous, saying they will “get back to us” but they have no compassion. They don’t care that he’s a senior citizen, in ill health, or that the cold barracks and icy cold showers at the brig worsen his health. Jerry’s legs and toes swell and go numb, causing him to fall down. His kidneys hurt. He has some tightness in his chest. A large blood vessel in his eye burst and he is, of course, very stressed out. He has a recent history of high blood pressure and chronic bronchitis. Still it took 3 weeks of pressuring Camp Lejeune officials to have him evaluated by a doctor. Just today I was told he is now receiving treatment. I hate to think what would have happened to Jerry had Dad and I not been there to insist that he be seen by a doctor.

The powers that be also don’t seem to take his early life into account. After all, we’re talking 40 years ago, not now. They don’t care that Jerry was a foster child (after the sudden death of his father) since the age of 5, living with poor farm families and in Boys Towns. They don’t care that Jerry was coerced by a Marine recruiter during his senior year to quit school and join the Marines just months before graduation. It was for Jerry, after all, a job and a place to live; Jerry’s next “foster” home.

His recruiter also didn’t care that his right eye was so damaged from acid during a childhood accident that he was forced to learn to fire a weapon left-handed, or Jerry enlisted with metal rods holding him together; injuries he received only 3 years earlier during a tragic car accident which claimed the lives of two of his friends and his young girlfriend. They don’t consider now that in 1965 he may have been living with the stress and guilt of surviving that accident or, for that fact, just surviving foster homes.

They don’t care if he was a conscientious objector back then, or now, or that a broken heart and life’s stresses may have played a part in his decision. The “war”, as they refer to it, has been over for years. Even President Carter wanted our country to be healed of that mistake! Jerry has never done anything to hurt anyone. His only crime was not knowing how to cope so many, many years ago.

And, this is the one I really have trouble with: they really, really don’t care that Jerry’s 86 year old birth mother and his younger sister have been found since his incarceration, and that they, along with 16 other family members whom Jerry has never met, are waiting to reunite with him. Years of misinformation led Jerry to believe his mother was deceased and she had long thought he was dead and she’d never see him again. Years of foster care separated Jerry and his younger sister. It’s been 50 years since he’s had contact with her. Our hopes were high for a Christmas reunion, but so far they haven’t even spoken by phone. Jerry and his mother have been waiting eagerly for 4 months (actually 44 years) to meet again, and yet one of the JAG officers at Camp Lejeune told me, “well, I won’t get to spend Christmas with my mother either.” It’s beyond my comprehension how anyone could even think of keeping them apart a moment longer. (Note: Due to Jerry’s mother’s age and health, she and Jerry have asked that her privacy be respected.)

I am writing this from a hospital room in a neighboring state. My younger sister is dying. I buried my older sister two years ago. Jerry helped me care for her for four long years. The Marines know this. They don’t care that we, Jerry’s family, need Jerry home with us during this time. Jerry is just a notch on someone’s belt and a pawn in a political arena. All they care about now is that he allegedly left during a time of “war”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe Congress ever declared Vietnam a “war” and in 1965 (I’m old enough to remember), we were told we were just “advising”. The “war” is over. What are we proving by imprisoning senior citizens? If they think it is sending a message to the troops, they’re right, but it certainly isn’t the one they think.

Dad and I will return to Camp Lejeune soon. We promised Jerry that we would not go home without him. He is a gentle, loving, honest and compassionate man who has spent his life helping others. His friends back home whole-heartedly support him. His employer is still holding his job open. His family awaits the miracle of a reunion. It is our hope that the Marines will honor their promise to us, and that common sense and compassion will prevail.

Our thanks to the GI RIGHTS HOTLINE, CITIZEN-SOLDIER, VETS FOR PEACE, the DALTON GANG and Jerry’s many supporters.


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