“Please rise. Raise your right hand. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you, God?”
“For the record, please state your full name.”
“Warren James Johnson.”
“You may proceed.”
“Thank you Senator, sir; and thank you Senators of the Investigation Committee. I am here to testify in behalf of Samuel David Sharpe, who is also here today sitting next to me, but cannot speak. Sam does not yet know American Sign Language; but has prepared a statement. I am distributing a copy to each of you now for the record.”
“Thank you, Mr. Johnson. You may proceed.”
“Thank you sir. The statement is entitled, Warren Peace. I will read it now:
We were sent to a new sector on a routine patrol that day. Military intelligence indicated a specific village for us to investigate for possible enemy activity; so, as our unit always did, we went there first. The people in the village greeted us with open arms; many wanted to give us food and welcome us into their homes. Of course, all of that is strictly forbidden—the enemy could be any one of them.
We slowly drove through the dusty streets, looking for the typical places where we found the enemy in previous patrols. We turned a corner and came upon a school. It was eerily quiet; suddenly there were no people in the street. This usually meant a possible ambush or some version of an IED (improvised explosive device); but for some strange reason, our CO (commanding officer) asked us to get out of our vehicles to investigate this site on foot.
Being good soldiers, we obeyed.
I spotted a building next to the school—more of a garage, really—and walked over and peeked in a dirty window. It was a weapons cache. I turned and gave a thumbs up to Warren Johnson; it was my way of telling him silently we hit the jackpot. Within seconds a girl wearing an oversized tunic was running toward me from the school with her arms stretched out to me. Foolishly, I turned toward her and started to reach for her.
She was grinning with a blank look in her eyes.
Warren called out to me, “Sharpe! Don’t do it! She has a bomb!”
“Oh my—” I turned the other way, and tried to run away, but it was too late. The child killed herself—or someone murdered her with a cell phone trigger; we really don’t know—but the shrapnel caught me in the throat.
Instantly Warren was at my side, attending to me. All I remember is Warren praying and crying for me. “Stay with me, Sharpe. Stay sharp. Stay focused, man! Oh Lord, please don’t let my friend die. Stay with me, Sharpe.”
Senators, Commander Warren Johnson may have been a little reckless that day, ordering us out of our vehicles, but he is a hero to me. Warren saved my life. In the days, weeks and months since he returned from his last tour, Warren has never left my side. He’s prayed with me and led me to a new, deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. I forgave Warren Johnson for making a mistake that day. None of us are perfect, Senators. If you can find it in your hearts, please have mercy on Warren. Warren has brought me peace—to the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ: His peace that passes all understanding now guards my heart and mind. And while I cannot speak for myself, Warren willingly speaks for me. Warren is a good man—a great and honorable solider who has laid down his life for me: no greater love could any man give. Thank you, Senators, for your time and willingness to allow me to ‘speak.’
“Thank you, Warren. Thank you, Sam. As you testified, your story reminded me of a different war. It was a different time—so many things have changed. Back then we had spies; and many of them gave their lives after being tortured; today we still have human spies, yes, but we have drones everywhere on the battlefield. Back then, I was in a firefight and was wounded. My comrades helped me, very much like you did, Commander Warren Johnson. From what I have heard today and from previous testimony we’ve heard this week; it is my recommendation that Warren Johnson’s previous Dishonorable Discharge be remanded and replaced with an Honorable Discharge.”
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