30 June 2014

Marine Deserter in US Custody after 10 Years

Image Copyright: Dylan Moore / AP

Between Sgt. Bergdahl and this new case concerning Cpl. Wassef Hassoun, the United States has witnessed two high-profile incidents regarding desertion over the past decade.  The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) worked with Hassoun to return to the U.S. to face changes under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice after disappearing in Iraq some 10 years ago.  

Hassoun left his base near Falluja on June 20, 2004 with his 9mm service pistol. He was initially listed as a deserter when he voluntarily left base, but he allegedly faked a capture video that featured a masked man holding a sword over Hassoun. The video caused Marine leadership to change his status to captured.  In a bizarre twist, Hassoun turned himself in to the US Embassy in Lebanon on July 8, two weeks later.

Hassoun was flown directly to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina where he faced desertion, theft, and other charges.  He was granted leave to visit family and friends before his judicial proceedings, but he never returned to face charges after his leave expired.  He was officially listed as a deserter in January 2005.  

Now that Hassoun is back in US custody after the NCIS brought him back in, the case is being compared to Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who left his post in Afghanistan and spent five years with the Taliban before his release in exchange for five high-level Taliban commanders.  

The military family answered the call and sacrificed for buddy and country yet there are those whose service tarnished the names of units and branches.  Perhaps this is why there is such an immediate and angry outcry against those who desert their posts and abandon their units.  

How should Hassoun be punished?  What could cause any service member to desert?

Comment below or weigh in on the discussion here and connect within the military network.

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