Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yon On Beauchamp

The story of Scott Thomas Beauchamp has been pretty well chewed over and there is little left to write. However, it has taken independent journalist extraordinarie Michael Yon to write the final words on Beauchamp himself. After spending time with Beauchamp's former battalion commander, Yon find that the officer, one LTC Glaze, was protective of Beauchamp and did not want the private to be the object of any unnecessary attention. Yon wrote,
Lapses of judgment are bound to happen, and accountability is critical, but that’s not the same thing as pulling out the hanging rope every time a soldier makes a mistake.

Beauchamp is young; under pressure he made a dumb mistake. In fact, he has not always been an ideal soldier. But to his credit, the young soldier decided to stay, and he is serving tonight in a dangerous part of Baghdad. He might well be seriously injured or killed here, and he knows it. He could have quit, but he did not. He faced his peers. I can only imagine the cold shoulders, and worse, he must have gotten. He could have left the unit, but LTC Glaze told me that Beauchamp wanted to stay and make it right. Whatever price he has to pay, he is paying it.

So much depends on soldiers who are sometimes all too human.

The commander said I was welcome to talk with Beauchamp, but clearly he did not want anyone else coming at his soldier. LTC Glaze told me that at least one blog had even called for Beauchamp to be killed, which seems rather extreme even on a very bad day. LTC Glaze wants to keep Beauchamp, and hopes folks will let it rest. I’m with LTC Glaze on this: it’s time to let Beauchamp get back to the war. The young soldier learned his lessons. He paid enough to earn his second chance that he must know he will never get a third.

Though Beauchamp is close, I’m not going to spend half a day tracking him down when just this morning I woke to rockets launching from nearby and landing on an American base. Who has time to skin Beauchamp? We need him on his post and focused.

I confess that I was one of those who wrote somewhat savagely about Beauchamp. I regret doing that now. As Yon said, we need Private Beauchamp on his post. Asked to choose between running away and staying to rebuild his credibility with the members of his unit, Beauchamp, to his credit, stayed and is doing a very difficult task. And his colleagues, to their credit, are allowing him to make those amends. One of the most important tenets of military service is the idea that your buddy has your back. Private Beauchamp's battalion mates have recognized that Beauchamp made a mistake, but they are also recognizing the courage it takes to admit and try to atone for that mistake. They are not going to allow anyone to distract him from that, and they certainly are not going to allow him to be vilified for that mistake. These young men and women are showing far more maturity and class than most of the media who so loves to portray them as savages.

For me, I cannot forget the vicious lies he wrote about his fellow servicemen and servicewomen. But he is doing his best to atone. He deserves a second chance, and if his mates are willing to grant that to him, who am I to do less? As for the New Republic? That is an entirely different affair. I strongly recommend reading the whole thing, and then comparing Michael Yon's jounalistic ethos with that of most of the mainstream media. Given a choice, I would rather trust Yon than any media organ that needs to hide behind 'the editors'. Hat tip to Captain's Quarters.

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