Image copyright defendmichael.com
By Adam Kemp
Copyright The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — Former U.S. Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna stepped out of a van Friday morning just outside the walls of the U.S. Discplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, having just served five years for killing an Iraqi.
His longtime girlfriend, Shannon Wahl, sprinted towards him, nearly knocking Behenna over.
Dressed in an orange hoodie, his head shaved and sporting a short, trimmed beard, Behenna was soon surrounded by his family. They hugged, gathered in a small circle and prayed before quickly leaving. They stopped a short distance later at a community center, where Behenna sat down for an exclusive interview with The Oklahoman.
“It's overwhelming; I can't put into words what today means,” Behenna said. “I can’t wait to get home.”
Behenna, 30, is returning to Edmond, Okla., with his family in hopes of picking up his life where he left off.
Behenna won parole Feb. 12 after serving a third of a 15-year sentence, convicted in 2009 of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone.
On May 16, 2008, just a few weeks after an improvised bomb attack killed two members of Behenna’s seven-man platoon known as Mad Dog 5, Behenna killed known al-Qaida operative Ali Mansur while questioning him.