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Fort Bragg soldier accused of murder fighting for freedom

Posted July 29, 2013

— A Fort Bragg soldier could spend the rest of his life in a military prison if a jury finds him guilty of illegally ordering fire on three Afghan men on motorcycles during a military mission more than a year ago in Afghanistan's Kandahar province.

Ret. Lt. Col. Guy Womack, a former Marine and defense attorney for 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, however, maintains that the orders were justified because of intelligence information and a Taliban attack in the area the day before the July 2, 2012, shootings, in which two of the Afghan men were killed and a third possibly injured.

A decision not to give the orders, Lorance's mother, Anna Lorance, of Celeste, Texas, says, might have been fatal for the 28-year-old lieutenant, and his platoon of 16 U.S. infantrymen and five Afghan National Army soldiers.

"They were fixing to be ambushed," she said. "It doesn't make sense."

First Lt. Lorance, with Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team, faces two counts of murder, a charge of attempted murder and several other charges including wrongfully impeding the investigation and wrongfully soliciting another service member to make a false official statement.

His court-martial at Fort Bragg is set to begin Tuesday and is estimated to last about three days.

1st Lt. Clint Lorance Fort Bragg lieutenant fighting wartime murder charge

Womack, a Houston-based attorney and former military judge, says that, based on the information he had at the time, his client, a decorated soldier with no history of disciplinary actions in the military, had an obligation to defend his troops.

"It's an extreme example of political second-guessing a young lieutenant who has been in command of a platoon in a combat outpost for just over 24 hours and makes a judgment call based on intelligence reports and a helicopter flying above him at the time," Womack said.

The 82nd Airborne Division won't comment on the case, but spokeswoman Lt. Col. Virginia McCabe says that all civilian deaths are thoroughly investigated and that, when warranted, charges are issued.

"We take every allegation seriously and seek appropriate justice, in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice," McCabe said. "This Command has a legal and moral obligation to investigate all civilian-casualty incidents potentially involving military operations."

But, to his knowledge, Womack says the Army has never been able to definitively determine if the Afghan men killed that day were civilians.

"They called it murder. That's absurd. I think (the Army was) trying to appease the Afghan government," Womack said. "It doesn't make sense. It's bizarre. I've never heard of anything like this."

Meanwhile, Lorance's battle back at Fort Bragg isn't something he's going at alone.

He's being supported by thousands of people on social media and in paper and online petitions calling for the charges to be dropped. A website, Defend Our Soldier, aims to raise awareness of his case and to raise money for his legal defense.

"I know my son, and I know what he did was the very best thing he knew to do in a split second," Anna Lorance said. "Just knowing him and seeing him all his life, so much pride, and see somebody knock him down at this point is just heartbreaking. It's unacceptable. We don't understand."

Growing up in Merritt, Texas, the third of four children, 1st Lt. Lorance always wanted to help and defend others, his mother says.

As a teenager, he was actively involved in a police explorer program, and it was then that a police officer encouraged him to consider joining the military. On his 18th birthday, he was in a recruiter's office, joining the Army as a military police officer.

He then spent two years in Korea and 15 months in Iraq before eventually enrolling at the University of North Texas, where he also trained to become a commissioned officer. He graduated in 2010, becoming the first member of his family to go to college.

He was deployed to Afghanistan in March 2012 and was there for about four months when he was tasked to take over a platoon that had lost their lieutenant to a roadside bomb.

It was less than two days in his new role that 1st Lt. Lorance ordered the attack that now has him fighting to keep his freedom.

Since he was charged in January, Womack says his client has remained on administrative duty, going to work every day and participating in military events.

"I'm totally blown away, but I see him, still, with all this happening to him, that he remains positive and sure about what he had to do," Anna Lorance said. "He tries to stay strong, but, as a mother, when I look into his eyes, it's heartbreaking to me because I have always seen so much courage and strength. Now, I see pain and devastation."

Once his first love, Anna Lorance says, her son no longer wants to serve in the military.

"He's pretty much feels like, 'I put 100 percent into being the very best that I can be for our country and to serve our country, and if this can happen to me and they can push me aside, then I want out,'" she said.

22 Comments

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  • Combat MP Jul 31, 2:20 p.m.

    "three people on one motorcycle riding down the middle of the road is cause enough to fire on them? Then try to kill the third as he ran away??? His commander had to take his gun away from him in a war zone. He is not fir to wear that uniform!"

    mrduright

    July 30, 2013 9:55 a.m.

    You need to get your head out of your duffle bag. Read the story it stated motorcycleS not motorcyle. Were you there? Where did you get your intel? Was he running away or running for cover to fire back? Were they armed. Google suicide bomber tactics and see what pops up. I have seen JAG in action. His fellow soldiers most likely went on the defensive to protect him from over zealous prosecution. A Chair-borne warrior trying to make an example of him to please his Chain of Command. I wasn't there but given what I know. 3 approaching on motorcycles as done in the previous days attack. I would have smoked them too.

  • Lightfoot3 Jul 31, 10:19 a.m.

    "wrongfully impeding the investigation and wrongfully soliciting another service member to make a false official statement" - article

    While I don't have the details on the case, I would lean toward not guilty IF NOT for these other charges. If it was a clean shoot, why do these other things (if he really did them)?

  • jenniegreen Jul 30, 4:07 p.m.

    Our president has made it so that even if they are being fired upon,deployed soldiers cannot fire back. Did Lorance do wrong? No way. I challenge anyone who thinks otherwise to spend 9 months in Afghanistan never knowing who may fire on you. Maybe our president should before passing judgement. Commander in Chief...hardly!

  • fatkatts2 Jul 30, 3:59 p.m.

    Just sad to treat our soldiers this way. Disgusting.

  • UNCRules123 Jul 30, 3:36 p.m.

    BHO said he was going to "fundamentally change this country" assuming he included the military and has dragged both down so low. He SWORE he would get us out of these conflicts. Five years later, we're still there. I guess that is Bush's fault, too, right Trueblue? Go ahead and call me ignorant, too; it's the classic liberal response.

  • V-Vet 72-75 Jul 30, 2:37 p.m.

    Yes I am biased. I believe in our military despite what the CIC believes. And you are right, I am always pointing the finger at Obama. He is a waste.

  • kermit60 Jul 30, 12:01 p.m.

    Why didn't he just use the excuse that seems to be working for the DOJ, DOS, IRS and this entire administration, I don't know!

  • trueblue0100 Jul 30, 11:47 a.m.

    BHO and his people haven't got a clue. Nothing new there.

    426X3-E6

    What an ignorant comment. This court-martial is being orchestrated by the same Army that Lt. Lorance serves in and not President Obama. It's funny that you never mention Bush's name since he's the one that got us into these wars in the first place, but you are always pointing the finger at President Obama not matter what the subject is. As I said previously, it was a really ignorant coment by someone who is obviously biased!

  • V-Vet 72-75 Jul 30, 10:01 a.m.

    WOW! I can't believe this. Send these soldiers in harm's way but don't let them make any life or death decisions. Agree with you Lucas Turner about the new "Mission" of the military. BHO and his people haven't got a clue. Nothing new there.

  • mrduright Jul 30, 9:55 a.m.

    three people on one motorcycle riding down the middle of the road is cause enough to fire on them? Then try to kill the third as he ran away??? His commander had to take his gun away from him in a war zone. He is not fir to wear that uniform!

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