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“THE MOST IMPORTANT COURT-MARTIAL IN THE HISTORY OF THE COUNTRY”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 17, 2014) — On Thursday, the Office of the Naval Inspector General released a letter stating that a request from CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret). to review his case was again denied, citing alleged untimeliness of his report of wrongdoing.
Fitzpatrick had reported retaliation on the part of his commanding admiral, John Bitoff, before he was brought up on false charges in the fall of 1989, to Admiral Ming Chang, who said he was unable to investigate. Then-captain of the USS MARS, Michael B. Nordeen, was reportedly also a target of Bitoff’s ire, and a third person serving on the MARS during that time frame has also come forward to say that he, too, was accused by Bitoff of misspending MWR funds after a contingent of sailors and Navy wives traveled to Washington, DC to lend support to Nordeen upon the murder of his brother, William E. Nordeen, in June 1988.
Over the last 23 years, Fitzpatrick has submitted numerous criminal complaints to the Naval Inspector General, Department of Defense Inspector General, NCIS and FBI, all of which have refused to open his file for inspection of the forgery which the NCIS admitted in late 1997 would undo the court-martial if proven. Fitzpatrick and this writer are in the process of writing a book about the court-martial and its far-reaching effects on all military personnel of the potential of undue command influence being used against any service member.
The military system of “justice” does not utilize a Fifth Amendment grand jury review prior to an accused being charged with a crime. Through the strength of his command, Bitoff and his staff JAG, Timothy Zeller, crafted a case claiming that Fitzpatrick had misused the MWR funds which the crew had agreed would be used to send the contingent to Washington. A voluminous document record exists from the sham charges and court-martial, although much continues to be withheld to this day.
Since his “conviction” in April 1990, Fitzpatrick has worked on behalf of other enlisted men and veterans who have been unjustly charged and punished by the military, including the successful overturning of convictions against Army Staff Sgt. Ray Girouard in 2011 and a reduction in sentence for Army Private Corey Cox.
In July 1987, Fitzpatrick survived a helicopter crash in the Persian Gulf which tragically killed the co-pilot. Fitzpatrick’s awards and accomplishments include:
Letters of Commendation
Battle Efficiency Award (Battle E)
C Service Deployment Ribbon 8 Times
Two National Defense Service Medals
Navy Achievement Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Two Navy Expeditionary Medals
Expert Pistol Medal
Expert Rifle Medal
Humanitarian Service Medal
Navy Commendation Medal
Qualified for Command at Sea
Qualified Surface Warfare Officer
Qualified Naval Parachutist
Wears the Wings of a Naval Parachutist
Meritorious Service Medal
Honorary Chief Petty Officer
Honor Set Battalion Commander (Annapolis)
Distinguished Military Graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, graduated third in class of 1975 for leadership
Eagle Scout from Troop 508, Meiners Oaks, CA (Swabby Simmons’s Eagle Scouts)
In August 1989, Nordeen had written an outstanding review of Fitzpatrick’s performance. Fitzpatrick was under orders to move across the country to attend the Naval War College in Newport, RI when he received a call from one of Bitoff’s staff members that those orders had been changed so that the charges against him could be prosecuted.
The call came on Friday, October 13, which happens to be the birthday of the U.S. Navy.
Of the latest denial from the Navy Inspector General, Fitzpatrick said:
The Navy did it again. I’m surprised that the Naval inspector General did anything about this, but they’ve given us another data point. I am not yet 64 years old, which is mandatory retirement in the military. I could still be on active duty today with all of my classmates, including [Chief of Naval Operations] Adm. Jonathan Greenert. The Navy could recall me to active duty and they could make up all of this to me, although they won’t.
A Master Chief in the United States Navy is a very big deal. The chief petty officer community runs the Navy; they have forever. It’s like sergeants in the Army. A Command Master Chief is at the top of his or her game. A command master chief is one notch up from a Master Chief. I told you that Poasa Fa’aita was being considered for Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON). This is who you’re interacting with; these are the impressions and the feedback you’re getting from him. You have a MCPON candidate who is one of the most highly-respected master chiefs in the United States Navy ever, and now he is telling you what he’s telling you.
You want to talk about somebody who was dedicated to the United States Navy? There isn’t another man on the face of the earth who is more disappointed at what’s going on. There may be others who are just as disappointed, and I am one of them.
This is real-time information.
From my perspective, I believe that Inspector Bendinelli has dealt with me professionally, courteously; I believe he’s been courageous in taking up this matter at all. If I were still in the business of giving out medals, I’d give Inspector Jason Bendinelli one right now because we have what we have right now because of him. He acted as a consummate professional, and he is not the decision-maker in this. He doesn’t have the power to act upon the information.
Everybody knows about this; it is all over the Navy. You have a senior enlisted man giving you the kinds of reports that you’re getting right now almost 25 years later.
The word is getting out there; word is spreading that something is in the works, and it’s very near completion.
They’re still trying to get away with it, and they still want to do it to others. This talks about the tyrannical abuse other service members are being subjected to at the hands of command racketeers in these courts-martial to advance policy issues by those working for Obama, who is an imposter commander-in-chief.
This is why I do what I do today. You didn’t have anyone who was more “total government” than I was, back in my 20s. John Bitoff did me a favor. I got out when I got out; God did me a favor because He knew. I would not have been able to assimilate myself into the kind of military we have today. Look at the National Security Agency: we have military commanders who are spying on our bank accounts, our social activities, everywhere they want to look. These are military officers doing this…and other military officers who are sanctioning and participating in it. They’re locking up innocent people.
There isn’t another court-martial in the history of courts-martial that gives up the game the way this one does. You have now seen this from both sides of the equation. We have gone to people who are well-served to condemn me and call me out as a liar or a disgruntled veteran or 23 years too late, sovereign citizen or militiaman or whatever else. With regard to the court-martial, you don’t have one person coming forward and saying that I’m wrong about this. Not one.
Now you have, on the other side of the equation, people who were there and saw it first-hand, and you have the feedback of the highest quality of a command master chief, which is completely consistent to what you’ve already learned about this.
We’ve talked about some of the friction we had with the [Combat Logistics] Group 1 staff. One of those was the fight we had with the staff about our flight deck. A guy named Steve Letchworth was the aviation officer under John Bitoff, and Letchworth came out and de-certified our flight deck. He said, “You are not safe to operate aircraft on this ship. You have applied the wrong deck coating to the flight deck, and you’re decertified.” This happened months and months and months before the court-martial.
Mike Nordeen was an attack pilot; he flew jets that dropped bombs. He was in command of the ship, and both he and I knew that the flight deck was just fine. So we had a great big fight which went all the way down to our commanding admiral in San Diego, and it was reconciled in our favor. The flight deck was recertified as safe for naval operations/aviation.
Letchworth was the guy we had the fight with and, of course, Bitoff.
Do you remember who Steve Letchworth is?
In the Naval message that we have from Tim Zeller, which was another document that was kept under wraps, Zeller was writing to Glenn Gonzalez, and he said that in the initial investigation, two officers were assigned as investigating officers: Tim Zeller and LCDR Steve Letchworth. Letchworth was then pulled off of the investigation because of the fight we had about “something.” It was the flight deck. Zeller said that he went on to conduct the investigation because no one else on the staff could have done it because they had had some kind of confrontation with LCDR Fitzpatrick, which was bogus.
After Letchworth was disqualified as an investigating officer because he demonstrated to the admiral a kind of bias that would not allow for an independent, neutral investigation, he was assigned to the court-martial as one of the three people who determined that I was guilty. He was actually seated on the panel and cast one of the votes.
That is enough to throw out the whole court-martial.
Command Master Chief Fa’aita was there; he testified.
There were other controversies which are “inside baseball.”
On the flight deck issue, they said that because we didn’t use the right deck coating, a helicopter landing on the ship could fly off of the ship if we took a roll. They said it wasn’t adhesive enough, and it was. Letchworth was embarrassed; he was professionally discredited in his action, and of course, that didn’t go over well with Bitoff. We got the flight deck working again, and that was that.
So Letchworth was assigned into the court-martial panel.
This is how they work. You don’t have a better example than my court-martial. There’s nobody else out there who has been able to come up with the document record that we now have in our possession.
The Navy isn’t any more interested in revealing what they did to me, Mike Nordeen, and the other person today than they were 25 years ago, and it just makes them worth all the worse, because they won’t pick this up and do the right thing. But attempts to make this go away won’t work.
I have a duty to perform here, and it’s to other people.
I am my father’s son, so my oath to the Constitution is as much my dad’s oath as mine.