Investigate 1st Battalion 502nd Infantry and SFC William R. Edwards!
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All my son, former Army Specialist Walter Benjamin Drumm ever wanted to do was be a soldier. He enlisted in the Army just eight days after graduating high school in 2010 and was assigned to infantry training at Ft. Benning, GA. From the beginning the grit and determination he displayed on the wrestling mat as a kid was in full display as he was forced to start his infantry training over after breaking his foot in week 9 of the 13 week training cycle. Upon graduation Ben was first assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division out of Ft. Hood TX where as a part of Operation New Dawn he served with distinction, pulling double duty as an MRAP Driver and Light Machine Gunner in the dangerous Dialya Province of Iraq in 2011. He was decorated for his excellent service and re-enlisted in 2012, accepting an assignment to Ft. Campbell KY and the 101st Airborne Division. There my son continued to distinguish himself, graduating from the Sablauski Air Assault School in May of 2013.
In July 2015 my son and his wife were involved in a dispute with on-base housing at Ft. Campbell after being anonymously reported for child neglect. My son was briefly detained while an investigation was performed by both the Provost Marshall and Kentucky State Child Protection Services, both which concluded that their little girl was not in any danger. The base Case Review Committee did recommend parenting classes, which both Ben and his wife successfully completed. Despite this, Ben was put on notice in August 2015 that his unit leadership were seeking to have him involuntarily separated from active duty under UCMJ Article 134, Child Endangerment. At this time Ben had not been charged with any crime by either the base authorities or his command, and yet they proceeded with the separation. After meeting with an Army JAG lawyer Ben prepared a rebuttal to the Child Endangerment charge and provided documentation that he and his wife had been cleared of any wrongdoing, and submitted this to his company and battalion command in October 2015. However instead of having him separated for Child Endangerment his company leadership changed the charge to Serious Misconduct, using the same evidence for the offense for which he had been cleared! In order to involuntarily discharge a soldier for any wrongdoing he or she must first be formally read an intent by their company commander to charge them under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. At that time the evidence or allegation(s) of said misconduct are presented and the soldier has the right to either agree with them and accept whatever punishment the commander deems necessary (up to and including separation!), or they can refuse to and request their case be presented for Court Martial, where a panel of officers not part of that soldier's chain of command hears evidence and decides on their guilt or innocence, much like a civilian court trial. Ben was never charged with any crime, nor had he any record of misconduct. When he was notified in November 2015 that his separation had cleared Brigade Command and he would be granted no further chances to appeal he discovered that the Brigade Command Sergeant Major had been informed by both his company and battalion command that among other things he had failed his last Physical Fitness Test, given in September. This was not true as Ben was able to prove by providing a copy of his Enlisted Record. This was but one of several false reports of substandard performance provided by the acting First Sergeant of Bravo Company 1st Battalion 502nd Infantry, Sergeant First Class William R. Edwards.
Ben first met SFC Edwards when he first reported to Bravo Company in February of 2013. Edwards was his platoon sergeant and up until an exercise at Ft. Bragg, NC in that year they got along fine. It was during that exercise that Ben was assigned to perform as the opposing force or OpFor and as Afghan National Army or ANA troops in preparation for an upcoming deployment in 2014. Ben used both his experience from his 2011 deployment working with Iraqi soldiers and insights from speaking with Special Forces soldiers who had served alongside the ANA to provide as accurate a portrayal as possible. The remaining members of his platoon under SFC Edwards didn't fare so well as Ben and his fellow OpFor/pretend ANA either refused to cooperate at times or used tactics outside of the Rules of Engagement as would the Taliban. At that point Ben was warned by his fellow soldiers upon returning to Ft. Campbell that Edwards had "taken it personally", and that he was "out to get him".
The first thing Edwards did was to get Ben excluded from the unit's deployment to Afghanistan in 2014. He used Ben's brief involvement with Behavioral Health shortly after being assigned to Ft. Campbell for issues stemming from his 2011 deployment. Ben did this on his own and was neither involved with Behavioral Health or taking any medication for over 6 months when his company command decided due to Edwards' report that he was "too unstable" to be trusted. While assigned to rear detachment Ben was temporarily reassigned to the 551st Military Police Company for 7 months, earning more accolades and decoration. Prior to this and afterwards all of Ben's requests for any professional or skills development training were repeatedly denied due to a low General Technical or GT score in his record. Ben rectified this in 2014 while assigned to the 551st, raising his score from 92 to 110, which qualified him for whatever training he wished to pursue. In addition to this Ben was awarded the Army Good Conduct Medal in July of 2014, which a soldier cannot receive if he/she has been charged with anything. Upon being notified of his unit's intent to pursue separation Ben enlisted the help of the Allentown, PA office of U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, who represents our home state of Pennsylvania. His Brigade command provided the senator with a transcript of the base case review committee's report which suggested that there was evidence of child neglect, yet omitted the part where it recommended parenting classes instead of formal charges, or removing the child from the home. A private investigator from Nashville, TN who took my son's case on a pro bono basis later discovered that the Ft. Campbell office of the Army Inspector General had no fewer than 8 open investigations on 1-502 Infantry, of which 7 were on Bravo Company alone! I have also been privy to several conversations between Ben and SFC Edwards without his knowledge via Skype, and as a veteran myself I can honestly say that my son is a better man than I. The way Edwards spoke to him on numerous occasions behind closed doors was indicative of a vindictive and abusive personality who deliberately tried to goad my son into a physical confrontation. The vitriol spewed by this man has no place in any facet of civilized society, even in the Armed Forces and was to say the least, unbecoming of a noncommissioned officer in the United States Army.
Despite all the inconsistencies with what was reported and Ben's actual record he was released from active duty on December 15, 2015 with a General Discharge under Honorable Conditions. This means that he is ineligible to reenlist until June of 2016, and then only if he can receive a waiver or an upgrade to an Honorable Discharge. He has already begun pursuing that in addition to going back to school full-time in pursuit of a career in law enforcement. Honestly, the young man doesn't know the meaning of the word "quit".
I am respectfully requesting that Secretary of the Army Mark Esper open an official inquiry into the conduct of the leadership of 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry and specifically that of Bravo 1-502 and acting 1SGT Edwards. This should also involve both the office of the Inspector General and the Army Criminal Investigation Command. Prior to and after his discharge Ben has networked with many of his former comrades and sadly, his case is not unique. SFC Edwards epitomizes the type of toxic and unethical leadership that the Army values condemn, and his deliberate manipulation of both documentation and the narrative in regards to Ben's case clearly fit the criteria to be charged under Article 107 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is deliberate falsification of records or statement. No soldier should have to be subjected to what my son went through, and if we can see that this disgrace to the uniform never has the chance to do it to another soldier again then justice will finally be served.
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