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Convicted Army officer's family vows to fight for his freedom

Posted August 7, 2013

— Nearly a week after a Fort Bragg officer was sentenced to 20 years in a military prison for illegally ordering the deaths of Afghan civilians, his mother says she and her family will keep fighting until he is free.

"There is no stopping until my son is given the respect he deserves and the honor for being the hero that he is," Anna Lorance said. "We're going to fight, and I don’t know how long it's going to take, but it won't be over until he gets the justice he deserves."

First Lt. Clint Lorance, 28, was found guilty Aug. 1 of multiple charges, including murder, in the July 2, 2012, shootings that occurred while he and soldiers with Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team were on patrol in Afghanistan's Kandahar province.

In addition to his sentence at Leavenworth Penitentiary – a medium security federal prison about 25 miles north of Kansas City, Kan. – Lt. Lorance was forfeited all pay and dismissed from the U.S. Army.

"If they had just given him a dishonorable discharge, that would have been a life sentence for my son," Anna Lorance said.

Lt. Lorance was born to serve and protect others, his mother says, and the military was his first love.

On his 18th birthday, he enlisted into the Army as a police officer and served 10 years, volunteering for two combat tours and earning more than a dozen medals and awards.

Testifying on his behalf at his three-day court-martial last week were officers he served under in Iraq, where he spent 15 months fighting, and South Korea, as well as his commander at Fort Bragg.

The U.S. Army argued that Lt. Lorance violated the military's rules of engagement – which allow soldiers to fire only if they have evidence of hostile action or intent – when he gave permission for soldiers to fire at three Afghan men on motorcycles.

Two of them were killed, and a third man fled.

But defense attorney Ret. Lt. Col. Guy Womack says Lt. Lorance was protecting his unit and that the shootings were justified. His client had received intelligence information about a threat of possible Taliban fighters in the area – the same area the soldiers had come under attack a day earlier.

Because the enemy can't always be identified, Womack says, it isn't always possible to know who it is until it's too late.

Anna Lorance and thousands of supporters added their names to an online petition urging the government to drop the case. They say Lt. Lorance’s prosecution was a move to appease the Afghanistan government and that a different decision by him could have proved fatal.

"Prosecutors were putting him down, as if he were an absolute nobody, and said he made the military look bad," Anna Lorance said. "Our feeling is that it's not Clint at all that's disgracing the U.S. military. It is them turning against their own soldiers. It makes no sense at all."

A spokeswoman for the 82nd Airborne has said that that the military "has a legal and moral obligation" to investigate all civilian deaths during military missions and to file charges when necessary.

Witnesses testified that Lt. Lorance was aggressive toward Afghan people, and the lead prosecutor told jurors that he "manufactured combat to get what he wanted" and then lied about what happened.

Anna Lorance says that her son puts all he has into whatever he does and that she believes he was only doing the job that the Army deemed him qualified to do.

As an inmate, she says, she believes her son will handle his sentence with courage and will make the best of his time. He's talked about writing a book, she says, and studying law so that he can earn his law degree when he's released.

"He told me, 'Count it as just another mission for me, momma,'" Anna Lorance said.

It's that same courage, she says, that is helping his family remain strong and optimistic.

"I felt like I couldn't do it, but I’m relying on Clint’s strength," Anna Lorance said. "We will take this mission to the best of our ability and get the most out of it as we can. We will never stop fighting, because there is no way he would ever stop fighting 100 percent for any person he knows."


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  • 426X3 Aug 8, 2013

    Good Luck Lt. Lorance. It really sucks to know you are put in harms way but when you have to defend yourself from maniacs determined to kill you and you do defend yourself, you are charged with murder. This is Bull Malarky.

  • miflannery2 Aug 8, 2013

    There was no brotherhood. He was in the platoon less than 5 days, replaced guy who was injured, one after him was injured too. Some soldiers gave different testimony from their original statements. Shooters weren't charged with anything because they were given immunity to testify against Lorance. He is a scapegoat. Obstruction of justice yes, Murder NO WAY. This is a crock!!!

  • Marty King Aug 8, 2013

    Situations like this happen all the time, decorated veterans, like this guy and Terry Stewart go on and on without any accountability from the legal system.

  • aightCPA Aug 8, 2013

    If your own soldiers testify against you then the brotherhood was broken and this quy probably did something wrong out there on patrol. it would be hard to convict the other guys for shooting b/c maybe they didnt' see the threat and they believed their LT saw it and they were trusting him.

  • seven74215 Aug 8, 2013

    I meant to say This Shilo soldier; by admitting that his life WASN'T threatened at the time,

    Let me also say that I would probably have followed the order given him also. However, I would not have admitted that I didn't feel that my life wasn't threatened at the time. On the contrary, I would have said I demanded him to stop (not just in English) and that it looked as if the guy was reaching into his shirt for a weapon or detonator. CYOA!

  • seven74215 Aug 8, 2013

    "I was given a lawful order," said Shilo, whose machine gun fire killed two of the Afghans. "My life wasn't threatened at the time."

    Military courts have long held that military members are accountable for their actions even while following orders -- if the order was illegal.

    This Shilo soldier; by admitting that his life was threatened at the time, has opened himself up for possible punishment.

    In United States v. Keenan, the accused (Keenan) was found guilty of murder after he obeyed an order to shoot and kill an elderly Vietnamese citizen. The Court of Military Appeals held that "the justification for acts done pursuant to orders does not exist if the order was of such a nature that a man of ordinary sense and understanding would know it to be illegal." (Interestingly, the soldier who gave Keenan the order, Corporal Luczko, was acquitted by reason of insanity).

    Did this Shilo soldier have ordinary sense and understanding?

  • muer7osunavez Aug 8, 2013

    I think most of the comments and news articles on the actions of the military and insurgency in the Middle East miss the larger scale issues of proportionality and the application of the Geneva treaties and protocols.

    “…the harm caused to civilians or civilian property must be proportional and not excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.” The US can no longer articulate the military advantage anticipated and therefore no longer has justification for military action in a sovereign nation.

    This military officer spent his whole “adult life” in the Army where he learned to view life and people as missions and objectives. The civilian world needs to learn that emotional disassociation in soldiers is something that most of them can’t understand. The current military is putting soldiers and officers into positions they are not capable of handling and then hanging them out to dry when they break.

  • davisgw Aug 8, 2013

    The army wanted this conviction for political reasons and they wonder why they are losing experienced soldiers.

  • 68_dodge_polara Aug 8, 2013

    Thanks for the link, we weren't there but from the statements of those who were I don't understand why he ordered those men shot. I find it odd to call him a hero.

  • Lightfoot3 Aug 8, 2013

    "Read the full story before you call this guy a hero. http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/2013/08/01/1273222?sac=fo.local" - soapbox

    Wow! Those commenting how this guy is a hero and almost like Jesus should really read the story from that link, that actually gives details etc. like a real news article should.

    Seems like he was rightfully convicted. His own men testified about his actions and attempted coverup.