Jun 03





On 5 DEC 89 I was taken to the Ft. Polk court house to have my arraignment hearing.

Colonel Grainger was the Judge assigned to my trial.

During the arraignment he went over my trial rights. He knew that I had gone AWOL the second time and that it caused my court-martial to be rescheduled.

He said that I could request another judge because of his knowledge of this event.

I declined.

The option of trial by jury or judge alone was given to me.

I was told by my lawyer it would be better for me to face one person instead of a jury of soldiers so I chose judge alone.

I trusted that Captain Jokinen had my best interest in mind, I did whatever he suggested.

The court-martial date was set for 19 DEC 89.

At the end of the arraignment Colonel Grangier had a serious statement to make to me.

After this proceeding, if I chose not to be present at my trial, I would be tried in absentia.

They would hold the trial without me and I would not be able to defend myself against the prosecution.

This would not be a problem for me because I was locked up for good.

I didn’t think they were going to let me out again.

Back in the jail, I sat around waiting for my court-martial.

I still did not fully comprehend the gravity of the situation I was headed into.

I must have been in some sort of complete denial of the affect going to prison was going to have on my life.

Also how it would affect the lives of the people who cared about me.

I knew what was going on, but everything was somewhat surreal.

My father arrived from Germany for the trial to be a character witness in my behalf.

He was also there to take care of my personal property. He would ship it all back to Germany and keep it for me until I served out my sentence.

Since I was allowed visitors if they were family, my dad got to come up to the jail to see me before the trial.

Having been on drugs, not living healthy and the conditions of the jail did not do well for my appearance.

I was 105 pounds, my head was shaved and my skin was so bad that my dad almost didn’t recognize me when he walked into the visitation room.

I had not seen any of my family for a little over a year, so it was a bit of a shock to see me in this condition.

I don’t remember many of the specifics of our conversation.

What I do remember is the distraught look on my father’s face.

I must have looked pretty awful.

After we talked for a bit, he had to leave.

The knowledge that my dad was willing to put on his uniform, walk into my court-martial and tell Colonel Grainger that I was a good son blew me away.

It gave me some hope but made me feel terrible all at the same time.

I was glad to see my dad but I would not fully appreciate his sacrifice until later in life. 

  • Powerful story.

    • David Mike

      Thank you for taking the time to read it Anne. Much appreciated.

  • Charles Johnston

    The anticipation is maddening.. keeping us on the edge of our seats ..I imagine having your dad there was difficult but relieving at the same time..

    • David Mike

      Yes, I think I was so immature and selfish that I kind of felt like he should have been there. It wasn’t until about a year later during an incident (future post) that I realized that my actions were affecting others. A big turning point. (More anticipation…)

  • So, I’m wondering, what was your relationship like with your dad before all of this. Did you follow in his footsteps because you admired him? Or because it was expected? Either way, I simply cannot imagine what it was like to sit face to face with him in the midst of all this.

    And, once again, you have a huge cliff hanger. I’ve been wondering what it cost your dad, if anything, to stand up as a witness for you…

    • David Mike

      I was a very reclusive teen. I left home very ready to leave my parents “grasp.” It wasn’t really there but I felt like I needed to be my own man. There was a lot of tension before I left. My dad was Air Force but I joined the Army because I “didn’t want to sit behind a desk” my exact words. The majority of the male students and many female students attending a Department of Defense school overseas, join the military after high school. Seems like it’s all we knew growing up, so it was a natural transition. My father’s Commander was a Christian and was praying for the situation. If he had not have been a Christian, I am not sure that it would have been favorable for him at work to have attended my court-martial. I just found out he was a Christian in conversation with my dad after writing about the situation last month.

  • Samantha Smith

    Very frustrating to scroll down and find I have to wait. Enjoying your story and each week it is worth the wait. Thank you for sharing.

    • David Mike

      Samantha, thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I would love to get more writing done but I have limited time for it. I’m also trying to remain accurate from mostly memories. I’m so glad you’re hanging in there with me, and I appreciate your support and kind words.

  • JenBaierl

    I sat back and contemplated what it would be like in your shoes or in the shoes of your dad. Both would be difficult, but as a parent, you know that you know the heart of your children. Wise man, your dad.

    • David Mike

      It’s funny how wise our parents become to us when we need them. I just know that I would do the same for my kids, no matter what. Thanks fir your comment!

  • A father’s love.

    • David Mike

      Yes, very true.

  • Tearing up thinking about what your father went through in that moment!

    • David Mike

      Thank goodness, he cared enough to show up. Many do not have this in their life. I am truly blessed.

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