USS Fitzgerald collides with merchant vessel off Japan - We Are The Mighty
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USS Fitzgerald collides with merchant vessel off Japan

UPDATE (10:57 PM June 17): The Navy has now confirmed the seven missing sailors are dead.


UPDATE: According to a Navy release this morning, search and rescue efforts are underway for the seven sailors now confirmed missing. A total of five sailors, including the ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, have been medevaced to Yokosuka. Three Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels, the Ohnami, Hamagiri, and Enshu, have arrived to provide assistance, and a Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft is assisting in the search for the missing sailors.

Earlier, the Navy reported that the Fitzgerald returned to Yokosuka.

“I am humbled by the bravery and tenacity of the Fitzgerald crew. Now that the ship is in Yokosuka, I ask that you help the families by maintaining their privacy as we continue the search for our shipmates,” Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the 7th Fleet’s commanding officer said.

UPDATE ENDS

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) has been involved in a collision at sea with a Philippine merchant vessel. At the time of this writing, two Japanese Coast Guard cutters, the Izunami and Kano, are on the scene.

According to a release by Commander, 7th Fleet, the Fitzgerald collided with the ACX Crystal, a container ship built in 2008 that has a gross tonnage of 29,093 tons, at 2:30 AM Saturday (local time) about 56 miles off the coast of Japan.

The collision put a hole in the starboard side of the destroyer, and caused a number of casualties, including one that is requiring a medevac, which is being coordinated as of this writing.

USS Fitzgerald collides with merchant vessel off Japan
Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) sails in formation during a bilateral exercise between USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike groups and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelsey L. Adams/Released)

The Navy release stated that the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) and two tugs have been sent to assist USS Fitzgerald, which is steaming back to Yokosuka under its own power, but is limited to a speed of three knots.

The destroyer has suffered flooding due to the collision.

The Navy reported that the full extent of damage and casualties were still being assessed. A Richmond Times-Dispatch e-mail alert citing the Associated Press claimed that seven sailors were missing after the collision.

Official U.S. Navy releases have not yet confirmed that any sailors are missing, and a Navy spokesman refused to comment on the reports to WATM when contacted via phone.

A tweet by Commander Naval Forces Japan stated that a family information center has been opened at Yokosuka.

 

 

 

The Fitzgerald was commissioned in 1995 and is the 12th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. It is equipped with a five-inch gun, two Mk 41 Vertical Launch Systems with a total of 90 cells, a Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System, and two triple Mk 32 torpedo tubes. She has a crew of 303 according to a U.S. Navy fact sheet.

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The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 29 edition)

Here’s what you need to know to make it over the hump on Hump Day:


Now: Triple-amputee Bryan Anderson catches waves with style

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Recent changes with the 2020 NDAA and how they impact you

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is an annual piece of legislation which gives authority and funding to the United States Military. While it is a detailed body of work that doesn’t make for light reading, it should be read. This legislation is filled with items that impact the military family directly.


It addresses military pay

The 2020 NDAA provided a 3.1% pay raise to military service members. This pay raise was the biggest one to be received in the last decade and was reflected in the first paycheck received by service members of 2020. The bill also extended specific bonuses and special pay. One of the big take-aways of this bill is the focus on supporting not just the member, but the military family as a whole.

Military spouse education and employment

Within the bill there are increases in support of professional licensure for spouses. With the new 2020 bill, spouses are currently eligible for up to 00 in reimbursement for licensure costs accumulated when moving. This is twice the amount that was authorized in last year’s bill. It also addresses license portability by giving authorization to the Council on State Governments to research ways to create reciprocity across state lines.

The bill also extended opportunities for spouses for education. The My Career Advancement Account program is an example of this, as it is a valuable resource for military spouses. It offers up to 00 in assistance for licensure, certification, or an associate’s degree in a field that is portable. The eligibility for this is limited to E-1 through E5, W-1 through W-2, and O-1 spouses. The initial pilot program had it available to all spouses but rising costs and enrollment forces restrictions in who can utilize this benefit. In this bill language, Coast Guard spouses were also included even though they fall under the Department of Homeland Security.

Military housing reforms

One of the key elements of this bill is that it addresses the issues within military privatized housing. The bill created new accountability for these companies by enforcing quality assurance measures. It also increased the number of required inspections. This bill provides an additional 1.8 million dollars to make sure that each housing office has the vital personnel it needs to ensure military families are taken care of.

One of the tools that will be utilized going forward is a way to assess and evaluate for risks within military housing. This includes things like mold and lead. It also allows for the BAH to be withheld from the private housing entity until issues or disputes are solved. Another key piece is that it forces transparency by requiring these entities to disclose repairs or issues prior to lease signing. There will also now be a required Tenant Bill of Rights and minimal livable standards established.

Military family needs

The NDAA also authorized million for the STARE BASE program, which is a DOD youth program. It is an American military educational program for grades K-12 that teaches science and math in hands on ways. It was created to tackle the low rates of readiness in these subjects by implementing a program that makes math and science fun and interactive. To learn more about this program and to see if it’s located in your area, click here.

One of the chief concerns outlined in the 2018 Blue Star Families survey was that 72% of military families cannot find reliable childcare. An amendment was included in the NDAA for 2020 that creates more coordinator positions on bases to assist with childcare and extends childcare hours for families.

Another key piece to this legislation is that it created the ability of military service members to sue under administrative claims for medical malpractice by a military provider. Although there was existing legislation for under the Federal Tor Claims Act, the United States itself was immune. After countless hearings within congress over a decade, this amendment passed within the NDAA. If a service member sustains injury or death they can file a claim and receive up to 0,000 as long as they file it within two years.

Surviving spouses receive relief

Finally, one of the biggest parts of the 2020 NDAA is the elimination of what is known as the “widows’ tax” in phases. For multiple decades surviving families have not received their full benefits as they deserve, even though they paid into the benefit programs. This is a piece of legislation that has been debated and fought over for almost twenty years. Finally, change is coming and it will be finalized by 2023.

If you’d like to look through the 2020 NDAA, you can find it here. Fair warning, it is 1119 pages long. However, a pro tip is to utilize the search ability within the document to enter terms that you want to specifically read about. This will bring you exactly where you need to go. Happy reading!

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

Articles

Lessons learned from “The Spoils of War”

This article contains spoilers for the “Game of Thrones” episode “The Spoils of War.” So, if you have complaints about being spoiled, pick a number from below.


USS Fitzgerald collides with merchant vessel off Japan
If you want to complain about being spoiled now, just take a number. (Wikimedia Commons)

You can say this for the Mother of Dragons: While her initial disastrous forays would leave even Saint Mattis of Quantico with a difficult task, she is both a fast learner and she also doesn’t hesitate to lead from the front. This puts her miles ahead of George McClellan (at just about any time in the Civil War) or Frank Jack Fletcher.

Let’s take a good look.

1. Proper air-land coordination is critical

USS Fitzgerald collides with merchant vessel off Japan
Somewhere out there, an engineer is trying to figure out how to rig the Warthog with a flamethrower. (Dept. of Defense photo)

Daenerys Targaryen has to react after a series of military disasters, one of which left her army of Unsullied stranded at Casterly Rock. In this episode, she properly uses the strengths of her units — and in a coordinated effort.

The Dothraki are mobile, but not the best against heavy infantry. Jamie Lannister (played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, notable for playing Medal of Honor recipient Master Sgt. Gary Gordon in “Blackhawk Down”) orders the Lannister/Tarly force to bunch up. That would have worked passingly well…except the other side had the ability to call down an air strike.

Which Daenerys executes tremendously. The dragon delivers the fire and takes out the Lannister ground forces. The Lannister Army is practically wiped out in an Arc Light of napalm, and the objective of avoiding civilian casualties has been met.

2. Do not underestimate the enemy

USS Fitzgerald collides with merchant vessel off Japan
Isoroku Yamamoto, who underestimated American capabilities at Midway. (Wikimedia Commons)

The problem: Daenerys has decided that, to paraphrase Winfield S. Hancock at Gettysburg, this is a time that a queen’s life does not count. Daenerys has repeated her mistake of splitting her forces. This time, she apparently only sent one dragon, which almost turned very fatal for her.

Luckily, she got away with a warning shot. Still, this was a much closer call than it had to be. Even when on the ground, her dragon is lethal — kinda like what Doug Masters did with an AGM-65 Maverick in “Iron Eagle.”

Now that she knows the Lannisters have developed their “Scorpion” weapon to attack her dragons, she will have to be more prepared. Maybe a “Wild Weasels” sort of tactic is in order to deal with this medieval-era surface-to-air missile?

USS Fitzgerald collides with merchant vessel off Japan
Am F-4G Wild Weasel. The development of the Scorpion in Westeros will force development of a similar capability to avoid losses to Daenerys Targaryen’s powerful, but small, force of dragons. (USAF photo)

3. A weapon is only as good as the one who wields it

Let’s head back up to the North.

We’ve been hoping for more Brienne of Tarth. She underestimated her (sparring) opponent — and her weapons. She thought that Needle and a dagger wouldn’t be a match, but Arya had her to a draw. Brienne is a formidable fighter — she took down the Hound in single combat, something not many can claim to do — yet Arya handed Brienne her rear end on a silver platter.

Arya’s training as a Faceless Man enabled her to use those weapons to greater effect. Brienne could deliver a powerful blow with her sword, which was forged from Ned Stark’s Ice, but a miss does no damage. If that fight were for real, Arya would have inflicted a series of wounds on Brienne, and eventually been able to score a killing blow.

USS Fitzgerald collides with merchant vessel off Japan
Stanley Vejtasa beat three Zero pilots while flying a SBD. (US Navy photo)

This is much like the early years of the Pacific Theater. By all accounts, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero was the best naval fighter. But Stanley Vejtasa was able to shoot down two and cut the wing off a third with an SBD dive bomber. Vejtasa and Arya made the most of the strengths of their weapons.

This is why training is so important. Let’s hope the Targaryen forces can take note.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Massive cats have invaded these photos. You’re welcome

Man, military photographers take some great photos sometimes. Sand tables, missile launches, rifle ranges. So many great images of American might and military readiness. But they’re always missing something, and the Twitter user Military Giant Cats has figured it out.


Icelandpic.twitter.com/A9KVSCoM7x

twitter.com

Yeah, the pics were always missing giant cats. Giant, giant cats that welcome Marines home from long ruck marches. Or, maybe the Marines are marching there to attack the cat? Look, the context isn’t clear, but you would definitely buy a ticket if that was a movie, right?

BMD-2pic.twitter.com/zPFrfX9W0A

twitter.com

Come on, you would follow this cat into battle. You would face the galloping hordes, a hundred bad guys with swords, and send those goons to their lords, if this cat was leading the charge. And he’s so intense about it.

#DSEIpic.twitter.com/gG3JBfFZHZ

twitter.com

Not all cats take their duties so seriously. Some are plenty patriotic but don’t feel the need to pursue the enemy all the time. They take a little time to relax, to consider their past achievements. And more than likely, to bat around a few of the tiny humans walking around his armor.

HMS Astute (S119)pic.twitter.com/luQway607e

twitter.com

This cat is willing to brave the perils of the deep for your freedom. He will do battle with the Nautilus, he will spend weeks submerged. And if duty calls, he will claw his way through entire Russian fleets and survive on nothing but kelp to secure the seas for democracy.

BGM-109 Tomahawkpic.twitter.com/CMOU9gNxt3

twitter.com

These cats are willing to do whatever it takes. When they attacked Syria, they launched Tomahawk Cruise Missiles and didn’t bat a single one out of the sky before it hit regime forces.

T-64BM Bulatpic.twitter.com/3EJGMZoe4r

twitter.com

And look at how happy they make the troops! Whether they’re chasing giant balls of yarn or drifting tanks during military exercises, the cats know how to put on a show.

SEPECAT Jaguarpic.twitter.com/h7uW37oIaX

twitter.com

But this one is a horrible pilot.

To see more of these awesome creations, check out the Twitter stream here.

MIGHTY TRENDING

A US Air Force A-10 accidentally fired off a rocket over Arizona

A US Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II accidentally fired off a rocket outside of the designated firing range in Arizona on Sep. 5, 2019.

The attack aircraft, assigned to the 354th Fighter Squadron from the 355th Wing, “unintentionally” released an M-156 rocket while on a training mission, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base said in a statement.

The M-156, according to CBS News, is a white phosphorous projectile used to mark targets. The rocket landed in the Jackal Military Operations Area, located about 60 miles northeast of Tucson, Arizona.


The Air Force says that no injuries, damages, or fires have been reported.

Sep. 5, 2019’s incident, which is currently under investigation, is the second time in a little over two months an A-10 has accidentally opened fire in an area where it wasn’t supposed to do so.

USS Fitzgerald collides with merchant vessel off Japan

An A-10 Thunderbolt II.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Perras)

At the start of July 2019, an Air Force A-10 out of Moody Air Force Base in Georgia accidentally dropped three training bombs over Florida after hitting a bird. The three BDU-33s, non-explosive ordnance designed to simulate M1a-82 bombs, fell somewhere off Highway 129 near Suwannee Springs in northern Florida.

While the dummy bombs were inert, they did include a pyrotechnic charge that could be dangerous if mishandled.

A bird strike, a problem that has cost the Air Force millions of dollars over the years, was identified as the cause of the accidental weapons release in July. It is currently unclear what caused Thursday’s incident.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

Vets First helped this former airman build her spiritual home

“It is neither your title nor your name that defines you, but what is written on your heart.”


Rene Locklear White has held many titles: lieutenant colonel; Air Force veteran; wife; mother; Native American religious leader.

But none of these things define her.

Serving as a space satellite surveillance officer, White says, “I spent 22 years in the Air Force. Proudly. Happily.”

That pride and that happiness are what define her more than anything.

With her husband, Chris “Comeswithclouds” White, White runs Sanctuary on the Trail, a Native American Christian church in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The church has five key areas of focus this year, the Spirit Speaks Forum, arts and culture advancement, disaster relief, human rights advocacy, and veteran wellness.

The focus on veteran wellness doesn’t jut apply to spiritual wellness, but to physical wellness. Together, the Whites work with veterans to understand their benefits and to get wounded warrior care for themselves and their families.

Comeswithclouds built their house with his son, Jacob, and the home is a beautiful reflection of who they are.

“We can honor nature and be a part of it, all the time,” White said. “The house is built, but now we’re.. building the community,” Comeswithclouds noted.

Currently, the family hosts Ceremony at their home, inviting members and strangers alike to experience the land in its purest, untouched state. The way Native Americans thousands of years before them did.

For more information, visit Sanctuaryonthetrail.org.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Mike Fisher, benefits breakdown

This week’s Borne the Battle episode features Mike Fisher, the Chief Readjustment Counseling Officer for VA’s Health Administration, who discusses some of the unique and generous benefits that Vet Centers offer.

Vet Centers began in 1979 when Vietnam veterans had difficulty readjusting to civilian life. Vet Centers seek to help and equip veterans by offering a community-based counseling center that provides a wide array of services. In addition, these Vet Centers actively help veterans to simply get started, set goals, and eventually accomplish them.


Vet Centers have quickly expanded and is now celebrating its 40th anniversary. There are currently over 300 Vet Centers, 80 mobile Vet Centers, and a Veteran Call Line as well. This model seeks to make readjustment smoother and more effective.

This week’s episode covers:

  • Mission, Vision, and Peer-to-Peer Model of Vet Centers
  • Expansive services of Vet Centers, including all types of counseling, opportunities, and trauma rehabilitation resources
  • Inclusive Eligibility requirements, including grandfathering of Vietnam veterans and inclusion of all, regardless of character of discharge

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-35 nose gear collapses after plane makes emergency landing

An F-35A from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, experienced an in-flight emergency Aug. 22, 2018 as well as a ground mishap which caused its nose gear to collapse, service officials said.

The F-35, assigned to the 58th Fighter Squadron, experienced a ground mishap at approximately 12:50 p.m., the 33rd Fighter Wing said in a Facebook post.


“The F-35A experienced an in-flight emergency and returned to base,” officials said. “The aircraft landed safely and parked when the front nose gear collapsed,” the 33rd said.

One pilot was on board the aircraft, but did not sustain any injuries as a result of the mishaps, the Air force said. Fire crews “responded immediately,” officials said.

USS Fitzgerald collides with merchant vessel off Japan

An F-35A Lightning II taxis down the runway.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Emily Smallwood)

Lena Lopez, a spokeswoman for the 33rd Fighter Wing, told Military.com that an investigation into the incident “is just beginning.” Lopez did not specify a timeline when the Air Force may have an update into the incident.

The Air Force did not specify the extent of the damage.

Eglin is home to one of the busiest F-35 training units in the Air Force; The 33rd Fighter Wing is also the leading training wing for F-35 student pilots.

The 33rd maintains 25 F-35As. The U.S. Navy, which also has a presence at Eglin and sends pilots through the training pipeline at the base, keeps 8 F-35Cs on station.

Photos from the Northwest Florida Daily News showed the F-35 tipped downward atop its collapsed landing gear.

Featured image: Contracted Logistics Maintenance personnel from Lockheed Martin at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., stop the pilot on the taxiway during the return of his flight in preparation to verify the F-35A’s brake temperatures are within safe limits to recover the aircraft March 13, 2012.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

Articles

This organization matches homeless pets with vets who need them

Every day, countless men and women who served in the armed forces return home from war with wounds that are invisible — most never reach out to seek help.


As new mental health treatments are developed, many don’t want to be placed on a cocktail of medication they can’t pronounce and put them in a fog. That’s where an organization called Mutual Rescue can help.

David Whitman and Carol Novello created a national animal-welfare initiative that aims to connect loving and homeless pets with people who are in need of specialized care.

“Even before he was my cat, before he even knew me that well, Scout saved my life,” said Josh Marino, an Iraq war vet. “He put me on a different path. He gave me the confidence to try to come back from all the adversity that I was feeling.”

Check out Mutual Rescue‘s video for Josh Scout’s uplifting story of how animals can rescue their owners.

(Mutual Rescue, YouTube)

Related: SOCOM wants drugs to turn its K9s into super dogs

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran warns US aircraft carrier is a ‘target,’ not a ‘threat’

As US troops and weaponry pour into the Middle East to counter Iran with threats of “unrelenting force,” Iran warns that US forces are “targets,” not threats.

A little over a week ago, the White House, following approval from the Pentagon, announced that the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force composed of B-52 Stratofortress heavy, long-range bombers were being immediately deployed to US Central Command as a warning to Iran, which the US believed might be planning an attack on US interests.


The Pentagon announced May 10, 2019, that additional assets, including an amphibious assault vessel and an air-and-missile defense battery, were also being sent into the region. The US has said that it will respond to any Iranian attack with “unrelenting force.”

USS Fitzgerald collides with merchant vessel off Japan

A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress aircraft assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron taxis for takeoff on a runway at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, May 12, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Gardner)

Iranian military leadership pushed back over the weekend.

On May 11, 2019, Yadollah Javani, the deputy head of political affairs of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, said that the US “wouldn’t dare to launch military action against us.” His comments came shortly after Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad, a high-ranking cleric in the Iranian government, warned that US forces will face “dozens of missiles.”

Another IRGC commander followed suit May 12, 2019.

“An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6,000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past,” Amirali Hajizadeh said. “But, now it is a target.”

“If (the Americans) make a move, we will hit them in the head,” he added.

USS Fitzgerald collides with merchant vessel off Japan

Ghadir-class submarine.

Iran’s state media released an animated video back in February showing one of Iran’s Ghadir-class submarines sinking an American aircraft carrier. Such an aggressive act, the success of which is far from guaranteed, would be a bold and dangerous move for Iran.

“The decision to go after an aircraft carrier, short of the deployment of nuclear weapons, is the decision that a foreign power would take with the most reticence,” Bryan McGrath, an influential naval consultant, previously told Business Insider. “The other guy knows that if that is their target, the wrath of God will come down on them.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

The search for the rumored Nazi ghost train is back on

The search for a lost Nazi gold train is back on.


Last August, two amateur treasure hunters said they had “irrefutable proof” of the existence of a World War II-era Nazi train, rumored to be filled with stolen gold.

Andreas Richter and Piotr Koper claimed they used ground-penetrating radar to locate the train, which is somewhere alongside a railway between the towns of Wroclaw and Walbrzych in southwestern Poland.

“The train isn’t a needle in a haystack,” Andrzej Gaik, a retired teacher and spokesman for the renewed effort to search for the train, told Agence France-Presse.

“If it’s there, we’ll find it,” Gaik said.

‘There may be a tunnel. There is no train.’

USS Fitzgerald collides with merchant vessel off Japan
Artist’s rendering of the Nazi ghost train | We Are The Mighty

In December, after analyzing mining data, Polish experts said there was no evidence of the buried train.

Janusz Madej, from Krakow’s Academy of Mining, said the geological survey of the site showed that there was no evidence of a train after using magnetic and gravitation methods.

“There may be a tunnel. There is no train,” Madej said at a news conference in Walbrzych, according to the BBC.

Koper insists that “there is a tunnel and there is a train,” and that the results are skewed because of different technology used, The Telegraph reports.

Local folklore

According to a local myth, the train is believed to have vanished in 1945 with stolen gold, gems, and weapons when the Nazis retreated from the Russia.

During the war, the Germans were building headquarters for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in Walbrzych’s medieval Ksiaz Castle, then called the Furstenstein Castle.

Below the castle, the Germans built a system of secret tunnels and bunkers, called “Project Riese.”

The train is in one of these hidden passages, says Tadeusz Slowikowski, the main living source of the train legend. Slowikowski, a retired miner who searched for the train in 2001, believes the Nazis blew up the entrance to the train’s tunnel.

“I have lived with this mystery for 40 years, but each time I went to the authorities they always silenced it,” Slowikowski told The Associated Press. “For so many years. Unbelievable!”

Slowikowski believes it is near the 65th kilometer of railway tracks from Wroclaw to Walbrzych.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why this Afghanistan veteran could soon be deported

A U.S. Army veteran and green card holder with a felony drug conviction could be deported as soon as this week, his attorney said Jan. 29 after a federal court denied his appeal to remain in the U.S.


Miguel Perez Jr., 39, a Chicago resident who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and recently finished a prison term on a drug conviction, had sought to remain in the U.S., arguing his life would be in danger if he were deported to Mexico, where he has not lived since age 8. A three-judge panel for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that argument last week.

Perez’s attorney, Chris Bergin, said the case highlights hypocrisy in how the country treats some American military service members.

“If you’re going to put your hand on your hearts every time at a game, you’re going to say thank you for your service and wear American flag lapel pins, and you’re going to criticize football players for taking a knee during the national anthem, it seems that’s all superficial and false patriotism if you’re not caring about an actual military veteran,” Bergin said.

In a statement, Perez’s supporters said Jan. 29 the ruling has left his family “distraught.”

“From the beginning, Miguel has fought his deportation, not only for himself, but in solidarity with other green-card veterans who have been or who are now facing deportation after having served their country in combat,” they said.

Related: A judge ruled this veteran is a US citizen. Now he faces deportation to Mexico

Perez, who has two children who are U.S. citizens, is one of many legal permanent residents who served in the U.S. military then confronted the possibility of deportation to their native countries after committing a crime.

Perez said he mistakenly thought he became a U.S. citizen when he took an oath to protect the nation. His military superiors never offered to help him expedite his citizenship, Bergin reiterated in court Jan. 31.

After his military service, Perez sought treatment at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Maywood, where doctors diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder. He was supposed to return for more tests to determine whether he also had a traumatic brain injury.

In the meantime, he reconnected with a childhood friend who provided free drugs and alcohol. On Nov. 26, 2008, while with that friend, Perez handed a laptop case containing cocaine to an undercover officer. Perez pleaded guilty to the drug charge and served half of a 15-year prison sentence.

While Perez was convicted of delivering less than 100 grams of cocaine, prosecutors have said he was arrested for delivering much more and received a reduced sentence after a plea deal. Prosecutors also pointed out that Perez was given a general discharge from the military after a drug infraction.

Perez said he discovered the citizenship oversight when he was summoned to immigration court shortly before his September 2016 release from Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg. Instead of heading home to Chicago from prison, Perez was placed in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and transferred to a Wisconsin detention center for immigrants awaiting deportation.

USS Fitzgerald collides with merchant vessel off Japan
File photo. (Photo courtesy of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.)

When legal residents or people who are here illegally commit crimes, ICE’s standard protocol is to let them serve most of their sentence for the crime in the U.S., then deport them.

Roughly 18,700 legal permanent residents are in the U.S. armed forces, and about 5,000 join every year, according to the Department of Defense.

After oral arguments to the appeals court panel this month, Perez’s mother, Esperanza, fought back tears. In Spanish, she said she could not bear hearing her son’s fate discussed in such callous terms.

“He defended this country, and the same system wants to throw him away like garbage,” she said through a translator. “It’s so sad for me to think if they send him back to Mexico he’d be just another statistic.”

In court, Perez cited the United Nations Convention against Torture, a protection that resembles asylum. Under that international provision, the U.S. agrees not to deport people who are not American citizens or nationals to another country where they could face imminent danger.

Prosecutors rejected the argument that the danger allegedly facing Perez qualifies under the torture provision and asked the judges to affirm the immigration court’s order for removal.

USS Fitzgerald collides with merchant vessel off Japan
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents gear up before a raid. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Bergin said he has filed a stay on two grounds. One is based on a medical evaluation finding that Perez needs immediate attention for PTSD and his brain injury. The other seeks retroactive citizenship for Perez to when he joined the military in 2001.

Perez and his supporters are also preparing, if necessary, to file an appeal to the full panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit and have asked Gov. Bruce Rauner to grant a pardon to Perez for his criminal conviction, supporters said. If Rauner grants the pardon, it’s not clear how that might affect the deportation case.

Congress should also address the problem facing green card veterans, supporters said.

Bergin hopes somebody at ICE “has a sense of decency and says, ‘Look, we’ve got to credit the service this guy did.’ ”

“Every step of the way, we’ve tried to get somebody to be sympathetic and reasonable,” Bergin said.

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