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Sergeant First Class Walter Taylor's 13-year Army career boiled down to mere seconds in Afghanistan's volitile Wardack province. When he fired his weapon at a person who he believed to be an imminent threat to his men and to himself, a prominent Afghan doctor was killed and SFC Taylor's life was changed forever. Afghan President Hamid Karzai demanded justice. Ten days later two Afghan military aged men fired RPG rockets into SFC Taylor's vehicle, critically injuring SFC Taylor's driver and blowing off SFC Taylor's face. As he lay near death in a military hospital in Landstuhl Germany, SFC Taylor was awarded the Purple Heart. Then he was formerly charged with murder. After narrowly surviving the battle for his life, SFC Taylor undertook the battle for his freedom and for his legacy. That battle was ultimately fought in a military court-room in Germany in the summer of 2012.

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On October 19, 2010, Private First Class (PFC) David W. Lawrence, a twenty year-old infantryman and member of the U.S. Army 1st Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Carson, Colorado was charged with one specification of pre-meditated murder for the October 17 killing of Taliban Commander Mullah Muhibullah. As a result of the charge, PFC Lawrence faced a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison. Muhibullah, a senior leader of the Taliban network in the Arghandab district of Kandahar, Afghanistan had been captured by a Special Forces Alpha team and was being detained by U.S. and Afghanistan forces at the time he was killed. PFC Lawrence, suffering from both schizophrenia and severe grief over the recent killing of his beloved chaplain, had been evacuated to Kandahar for severe mental health issues before being assigned duty to guard the Taliban leader. Hearing voices in his head that told him Muhibullah was responsible for the roadside bomb that had killed Chaplain Dale Goetz and four others in his unit a month earlier, PFC Lawrence began a guard shift that would ultimately end in a general court-martial, and the lowest approved sentence for pre-meditated murder in U.S. Army history.

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On May 11, 2009, a severely mentally ill Army Sergeant John M. Russell, shot and killed five fellow service members at the Camp Liberty Combat Stress Clinic in Baghdad, Iraq. It was Russell's fifth combat deployment. He had spent more than three years in Iraq. Having already served 14 months of his final deployment, he was only three weeks from going home. For four days preceding the shootings, Sergeant Russell had repeatedly cried out for help. He suffered from severe PTSD that had been diagnosed after his last deployment, and he suffered from Major Depressive Disorder with psychotic features. He told his chain of command and mental health providers that he was suicidal. He told them he was having homicidal thoughts. When his chaplain reported that Russell was "beyond pastoral care", his commander took his weapon away and sent him to the combat stress clinic. Russell was subsequently treated with hostility and provocation by two mental health professionals, both Army Reservists, who tragically concluded Sergeant Russell was faking his mental distress. One yelled at him, the other dared him to kill himself. After the killings, the Army concluded Sergeant Russell was too mentally ill to stand trial. He was hospitalized and forcibly medicated for twenty months with high powered anti-psychotic medication. In the summer of 2012, when he was deemed sane enough to stand trial, Army prosecutors sought the death penalty.

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In the Spring of 2007, along a remote stretch of canal in the south of Baghad, the Iraq batttlefield became a crime scene when First Sergeant John Hatley, Sergeant First Class Joseph Mayo, and Staff Sergeant Michael Leahy coldly executed several prisoners they had captured earlier in the day. One Infantryman, Staff Sergeant Jess Cunningham, refused to participate in the killings, refused to accept the murders as a routine consequence of combat, and refused to be a part of the subsequent cover-up. For his moral courage and unwillingness to leave the murders unreported, SSG Cunningham paid a very high price. After disclosing the executions to a military JAG attorney, Staff Sergeant Cuningham became one of seven Army soldiers criminally charged with the murders. Wrongfully facing a life sentence in prison for executions he had tried to prevent, Staff Sergeant Cunningham fought back.

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On December 21, 2006, eight U.S. Marines from 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines were charged in connection with the killings of 24 Iraqi men, women and children on November 19, 2005 in Haditha, Iraq. Congressman John Murtha announced that a military investigation into the Haditha killings had concluded that U.S. Marines had intentionally killed innocent civilians in cold blood. One of the eight Marines, Marine Lance Corporal (LCpl) Justin Sharratt, was charged with murdering 3 Iraqi men in connection with the incident. Having already survived two deadly combat deployments (inlcuding particpation in the Battle of Falluja) LCpl Sharratt and his family battled Marine Corps prosecutors for more than a year before a five-day court room confrontation ended with Sharratt's exoneration. Afterwards, famed Marine General James Mattis wrote to LCpl Sharratt, stating "Our nation is fighting a shadowy enemy who hides among the innocent people, does not comply with any aspect of the law of war, and routinely draws fire toward civilians. With the dismissal of these charges, you may fairly conclude that you did your best to live up to the standards followed by U.S. fighting men throughout our many wars."

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In the fall of 2007, the most dangerous place on the planet was an area in the south of Baghdad, Iraq known as the Triangle of Death. The U.S. Army had assigned a battalion of paratroopers, the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, to close with and destroy the elusive insurgent enemy. At the tip of the Regiment's spear, were the deadly snipers of the Battalion Scout – Sniper Platoon. On a top secret assignment, five snipers including Sergeant Evan Vela, a Ranger, had been operating far behind enemy lines for several days when their position was compromised by an Iraqi military aged-male. In the hours that followed, Sergeant Vela's platoon sergeant, Staff Sergeant Michael Hensley, would order Vela to shoot the Iraqi. The Army subsequently charged Vela with pre-meditated murder, an offense in the military that carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. The Army then offered Vela a 17 year deal if he would plead guilty, and then testify against Hensley and another sniper present that day. Risking everything, Sergeant Vela refused the deal, refused to plead against his fellow paratroopers, and fought the charges against him in a politically charged court-martial that was attended by the Iraqi Minister of Human Rights who openly called for the Army to impose the harshest punishment possible on Vela.

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In February of 2006, Specialist Nathan Lynn, a twenty year-old member of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment from the Pennsylvania National Guard, was pulling security for his squad near Ramadi, a volatile Sunni Arab city west of Baghdad where insurgents had launched multiple deadly attacks on American and Iraqi forces. Stationed outside an Iraqi house where the remaining members of his team were conducting a search, Specialist Lynn and a U.S. Marine scanned the dark through their night vision goggles. Specialist Lynn had narrowly escaped death the month prior and had been awarded the purple heart, but now he was back on duty as he and the Marine spotted two men with AK 47s advancing towards them, running from tree to tree for cover. In the moments that followed, one of the advancing Iraqis would be killed, an AK 47 assault rifle would be planted at the scene, and Specialist Lynn would find himself fighting yet again, this time against homicide and conspiracy charges, in a musty courtroom overlooking a weed-choked lake created on orders from Saddam Hussein.

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In the bitter cold of January 5, 1965, a 24 year-old U.S. Army Sergeant was leading a night reconnaissance patrol near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that seperates North Korea from South Korea. At around 02:30 A.M., he told his radioman and another soldier he was going to investigate the road up ahead. He dissapeared down the hill - and never came back. Nearly 40 years after that dawn patrol, Sergeant Jenkins appeared at a court-martial at Camp Zama, Japan near Tokyo. Throughout a day of dramatic testimony, Jenkins presented himself as a broken man who had spent most of the last four decades as a prisoner struggling just to survive. During the proceedings, Sergeant Jenkins filled in many of the missing gaps of his life, explaining why he decided to desert to North Korea, the first 15 years of material and emotional hardship during which he said he wished almost daily for death, how he met his future wife in 1980, and his life with her and their two children over the next 22 years. Throughout his testimony, Jenkins sought forgiveness from American servicemen who did not run from duty, as he had. In his written testimony, Jenkins called the North Korean government "evil" and Kim Jong Il "evil to the bone."

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The Mahmudiya Massacre was committed by a group of Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division's fabled 502d Infantry Regiment, a unit known as the Black Heart Brigade. Deployed in late 2005 to Iraq's Triangle of Death, a veritable meat grinder just south of Baghdad, the Black Hearts found themsleves in arguably the country's most dangerous location at its most dangerous time. Hit by near-daily mortars, gunfire, and roadside bomb attacks, suffering from a particularly heavy death toll, and enduring a chronic break down in leadership, members of one Black Heart Platoon, 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, - descended over their year long tour of duty in a tailspin of poor discipline, substance abuse and brutality. In these circumstances, four 1st Platoon soldiers, abandoned at a remote outpost for 21 days with no supervision by even a single non-commissioned officer, high on Iraqi whiskey and other mind altering drugs, ultimately perpetrated one of the most heinous war crimes U.S. forces have committed during the Iraqi War - the rape of a fourteen year-old Iraqi girl and the cold blooded execution of her and her family. Ultimately, the Mahmudiya case is a timeless story about about men in combat and the fragility of character in the savage crucible of warfare. It is also a timely warning of the new dangers emerging in the way American soldiers are led on the battlefields of the twenty-first century. Specialist James Barker faced the death penalty for his role in the crime.

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In February of 2007, Marine Special Operations Company Foxtrot deployed to Afghanistan. It was the first-ever overseas deployment of an operational unit from MARSOC, the Marine Corps force that carries out highly sensitive missions for U.S. Special Operations Command. But within a month, 30 men with Fox Company's direct-action platoon were riding in a six-vehicle convoy that was ambushed while patrolling in the Bati Kot district of Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, a nefarious transfer point for suicide bombers and other extremists entering the country from Pakistan. Media reports about the incident seemed to surface before the smoke had cleared and the shell casings were collected. And it seemed to leave little doubt that the Marines went on a wild rampage, inflicting mass civilian casualties.

Ten months later, in January 2008, the Marine Corps convened a rare court of inquiry at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to determine whether there was sufficient credible evidence to warrant criminal charges, including negligent homicide, as recommended by an investigating officer. The proceedings lasted three weeks and took a heavy toll both physically and emotionally on the seven Marines most directly involved. In late May, 2007, just as the country was breaking for a long Memorial Day weekend, a three-star Marine general announced via press release his determination that the men of Company Foxtrot had acted appropriately on the battlefield and in accordance with rules governing troops' use of force. There would be no criminal charges for their actions in Bati Kot. But nearly a decade later, the men continue to fight for their honor and legacy.

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