Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Second Knock at the Door

As a devoted Navy wife I often feel pressure to act and feel a certain way toward the military and military movements in general.  Having a political opinion, an opinion about war or about conflicts around the globe, or about the military's behavior in general can be a delicate tightrope walk.  I don't want to fly in the face of so many wonderful things my husband is working so hard for.  At the same time, I am an educated woman with strong opinions.  And those opinions don't necessarily fall into line with the "perfect" political party or group.  These conflicts are bubbling to the surface as I write today.

PFC David Sharrett was killed in action in Iraq on January 16, 2008 during a botched raid on an Al Queda stronghold.  Dave and I met in middle school.  According to his father, I was his "first girlfriend" and I have fond memories of holding hands with him in the hallways of Cooper Middle School.  It was innocent puppy love and he is someone that I will always have happy, swoony, idealistic memories of.  Later in my teen years, when I was a senior at Langley High School, Dave's dad was my AP English teacher.  This might have been awkward for some, but Mr. Sharrett was a transcendent teacher.  The best of the best.  Dave came from a wonderful family and in the brief time that we "dated" in middle school, I had grown to love Mr. Sharrett. Even though Dave and I had long since parted (he went to a different high school so he might has well been on another planet) I had a wonderful year learning about Shakespeare and Conrad and getting my writing up to "Varsity" level.

A few years ago I happened to stumble across Mr. Sharrett on Facebook.  When I "friended" him, the first question I had was about how Dave was doing.  Sadly, it was then that I learned about his death.  It was a devastatingly real moment for me.  Because while I am a military spouse, and have known people who have died in the service, until that moment had not known anyone killed in ground combat.  Memories flooded my mind, tears burned my eyes, and my husband had to hold me while I just sobbed into his shoulder about the injustice of war, and life, and how unfair war can be for some families.

Losing someone to combat is bad enough.  But what the Sharretts have had to deal with since the death of David is nothing short of tragic.  Four months after his death it came to light that the Army covered up the friendly fire death of Dave.  For months they were told that he was killed by enemy fire and that nothing could be done to save him. Mr. Sharrett, never one to let things go, has been climbing his way to the top of Washington, DC and getting the ears of top military officials and politicians.  Simple apologies aren't good enough - he wants fundamental change to the way the Army handles friendly fire incidents.  Because, according to many families who have lost loved ones to friendly fire, the military has not been following their own protocol. 

A Second Knock at the Door, a documentary about friendly fire deaths in the Army, is being released on March 16, 2012.  Dave's death, and the investigation surrounding the incidents leading up to and following his Lieutenant killing him, are outlined in detail.  Mr. Sharrett, Dave's brother Chris, and step-mom Vicki are interviewed throughout the movie. 

Mr. Sharrett is the guy making football comparisons.  I love this because, again, it reminds me of how he taught High School English. 

Look for a Washington Post article with a detailed account of Dave's death and the botched handling of the family notification on February 26.  On February 18, in Annapolis, The Annapolis Pretentious Film Society will be screening the movie with Dave's brother, Chris (who currently serving in the Air Force), answering questions at the end of the film.

I hope that the Army will learn from the efforts that Mr. Sharrett and his family have made.  The Sharretts have allowed their wounds to stay open and raw in the quest to get justice for Dave and to ensure that other families are protected from this kind of betrayal.  I, as a military wife, am so incredibly grateful for his efforts.  In a small way, I feel like he is fighting for me.


Danny said...

Jill - thanks for posting about the Sharretts' ordeal and upcoming media releases. I never knew Dave, but I was in the same English class as you with Mr. Sharrett. He was an excellent teacher and a great person. I hate to think about what he and his wife have been through in the last four years.

Jill said...

Hey Danny! I remember you :). Thanks for reading and pass along the documentary to your friends. I hope it gets the viewership that these families deserve it to get.

Karen said...

Such a sad story and one that NEEDS to be told. Thank you for sharing!

Amy said...

Thank you for posting this. Knew Bean as a kid, love Mrs. Sharrett and Vicky and kids. Like you, did not know this happened until I searched for him on facebook. What a loss and what a shame. Thank you and everyone who has persevered to find the truth. We know only the truth sets us fee.

Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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