Four members of a Camp Pendleton squad convicted of aiding in the kidnapping and killing of an Iraqi man in 2006 have been ordered removed from the military.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told the North County Times on Tuesday that the killing in the city of Hamdania did not happen in the fog of battle but was, rather, a carefully planned attack and cover-up.
Marine Lance Cpls. Tyler Jackson, Jerry Shumate and John Jodka III and Navy Corpsman Melson Bacos were ordered removed. They had been allowed to stay on active duty after serving short jail terms for lesser offenses. Marine Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III is serving an 11-year prison term for murder.
Mabus has the authority to remove enlisted men without a hearing, the paper reported. It was not immediately clear whether the men's discharges will be classified as honorable or under a lesser classification.
Mabus directed the Marines to explain why the lieutenant who oversaw the unit, 1st Lt. Nathan Phan, should stay in the service. Phan wasn't charged in the killing but was accused of assaulting detainees in the village of Hamdania where the murder occurred.
Navy officials have determined Phan's actions created a climate where abusing detainees was acceptable. Because Phan is an officer, Mabus cannot order his immediate removal.