A War Hero Is Vindicated–Again

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Seven long years after he allegedly committed “premeditated murder,” Iraq war veteran Ilario Pantano, who gave up a comfortable life on Manhattan’s Upper West Side to fight for his country following the September 11th attacks, has been thoroughly vindicated. Thus ends a saga highlighted by an unconscionable rush to judgement by the military, and the subsequent trashing of Mr. Pantano’s reputation by leftists who never miss an opportunity to denigrate American soldiers based on nothing more than unproven allegations.

By any reasonable measure, Mr. Pantano is an American patriot. A man born to poverty in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, Pantano managed to win a partial scholarship to Horace Mann, one of the top private schools in the nation. Students from Horace Mann routinely qualify to attend some of the best colleges in the nation and Pantano was no exception. Yet he made himself an exception, putting off college to join the Marines to fight in the first Gulf War against Saddam Hussein.

After that tour of duty he returned home, finished college at nights, and ended up working for Goldman Sachs. Thus we have someone who had served his country, re-entered civilian life and made himself successful. For most men, a tour of duty in a combat zone followed by the procurement of a good job and a promising future would have been more than enough reason to let “someone else” fight for this nation following the 9/11 atrocity. Ilario Pantano is made of sterner stuff. At age 31 he persuaded the Marines to take him back so he could once again take the fight to Islamic terrorists.

It was a fateful decision. In 2004, Lieutenant Pantano was leading his squad through an area known as the “Triangle of Death,” a Sunni-insurgent dominated region where some of the fiercest fighting of the Iraq war was taking place. It was there that Pantano stopped two Iraqis who were driving a car away from what was discovered to be a terrorist ammo dump. When he ordered them to search their own car in case it was booby-trapped, the two men rushed Pantano. He opened fire, killing both. He reloaded his magazine and fired again, after which he hung a sign on the dead bodies saying “no better friend, no worse enemy.” It was intended as a message for other terrorists–according to both the prosecutor and Pantano who admitted to it. The sign was removed after one of his men told Pantano it was inappropriate.

Daniel Coburn, a disgruntled sergeant who had been disciplined by Pantano and subsequently demoted within the platoon, accused Pantano of shooting the men in the back. Despite the fact that all other testimony contradicted that claim, the Judge Advocate General’s investigating officer chose to believe Coburn and charge Pantano with premeditated murder.

On May 12, 2005, the case began to fall apart. A Marine hearing officer, Lt. Col. Mark E. Win, recommended to Maj. Gen. Richard Huck that the charges be dropped and not proceed to court-martial. This decision was largely based on the fact that Coburn had made several contradictory statements. Win still recommended punishment for the sign, but Huck rejected it.

Incredibly, despite the conflicting versions of the incident related during the Article 32 hearing (the military version of a preliminary hearing in civilian law), no autopsy reports were ever submitted into evidence. According to Pantano’s civilian lawyer, Charles Gittens, it was too dangerous for Navy investigators to try to exhume the bodies. Yet after the hearing, an “embarrassed” high command got permission from the dead men’s wives and local villagers to dig up the remains.

Forensic anthropologist William C. Rodriguez was brought in on May 24, 2005 to examine the bodies. “When the remains arrived, I didn’t expect the large crowds of people to [be] present at the mortuary” said Rodriguez. “Most were NCIS agents and various representatives of the Marines. Prior to the exams, there was much discussion concerning the case, talk of court-martial, prosecution and being guilty. The image that came to my mind…was that of a lynch mob: ‘Let’s make an example of [Pantano].’”

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  • Lfox328

    This is an attempted smear of a vet by Leftists, who are determined to drum up another "My Lai". The facts are in favor of the defendant – does that stop our supposed pro-accused criminal Left?


    The only innocent accused they want to talk about is those that forward their Leftist aims. People like Pantano are ignored, and his acquittal is not noted. Instead, they lie and smear in an attempt to provide a warning to troops – stay in line with our aims, or we will send the dogs of prosecution after you.

  • charlie brown

    thank you sir for your service.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    The necessary evidence against this proud Marine was hearsay at best with false
    conclusions drawn improperly. The left can be understood for their perfidity but
    that the Marine Core and NCIS attacked this man is and outrage. It shows just
    how deep PC has eaten into our best organizations, leftists join the military to
    tear it down, leftist are like cockroaches in need of a boot…………………..
    Semper Fi Pantano……………………………………………………………William

  • Ken

    It's funny. I don't see any uber Lefties trying to off a counter point to this. Interesting. Probably because they cannot sanely justify anything.

  • John_Kelly

    Ilario Pantano I salute you Sir.

    You are a true Patriot and the pity is that we don't have a man of your caliber in the White House.

    Your courage and service are an absolute inspiration.

    God bless you Ilario.

    • WilliamJamesWard

      Amazingly John we still have people of the caliber of Pantano and the left
      sees this, those of the left ensconced in our institutions and organizations.
      The left knows to target any man or woman of good stature with false and
      denigrating appraisal. My point is that we have courageous Americans and
      they can and will make the difference in the ultimate fight for America and
      it's ability to clean house in the restoration of the Nation…………….William

  • http://nycright.blogspot.com Ron Lewenberg

    NCIS and the JAG prosecutor (persecutor?) should be tried with dereliction of duty.This was politically-motivated misconduct. His former sergeant should be prosecuted for perjury, which remains a crime.

    • WilliamJamesWard

      Ron you are absolutely correct………………Regards,………………William

  • FriendofGaryCooper

    This is absolutely miserable–that a good soldier is prosecuted for doing his job,
    and doing it well. Pantano is an achiever, and achievers make good targets for the left,
    in any field of endeavor. If there had been a well-organized left in 1918, they would have gone after Sergeant Alvin C. York.

  • tagalog

    The Left will never acknowledge the wrongness of the Pantano accusations. They will simply move on to the next phony issue.

  • StephenD

    Why North Carolina Ilario? Why not wrestle back the area you hail from? For too many years we watch as the left sets their talons in a strangle hold around the throats of NY. It’s time for them to see one of their own whom they can be proud of; a perfect stepping off point that may prove to be the turning for NY. I hope for the same in my old stomping grounds of Mass. but I won't hold my breath for either.

    Benvenuti a casa fratello. Welcome home Brother.

  • Alex Scott

    Despite all the evidence, Will Breazeale continues to call Pantano a murderer. While on the Dr. Rich Show, representing Combat Veterans for Congress, Breazeale spouted these lies again. http://www.drrichshow.com show archive Nov 16th seven minutes in. Contact the CVC and demand a public apology.

  • Kris

    It is unbelievable to me that liberals still attack our brave men and women who go oversees and fight. Did they forget that everyone is innocent until proven guilty? Now that Pantano has been exonerated for the second time, I hope those leftist colomunists walk away with their tail between their legs. I bet Pantano will be elected in 2012! We need more people in office like Pantano!

  • http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/212057/lorraine_a_corso.html Lorraine C.

    I am glad Mr. Pantano was vindicated, but not everyone is so lucky. As a former military member I can tell you this kind of injustice happens quite often.

  • geoplaten

    I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for an apology from the Left…

    Thanks for your service, wish you were running in my district.

  • aspacia

    Between Wbya and O's persecutions of our Border Patrol Agents and troops, it is a wonder anyone volunteers at all. Screw them both.

  • Maxie

    Then there's slimeball John Murtha (D) Congress creep who falsly accused Marines in (Haditha) Iraq of murdering civilians. They were jailed without charges having been filed and held for an extended period under improper procedures. All this in a contemptible, blatant attempt to gin-up a My Lai type scenario to help Dems win elections. Scum.