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Jun 24

Witness

Sergeant First Class

Sergeant First Class

Witness

The government calls as a witness Sergeant First Class Trey Smith.

SFC Smith was my platoon sergeant for six months prior to my disappearance. The prosecution secured him as a witness to discuss my performance as a soldier.

He had been on field exercises with me one time. He also had been on many ranges and received performance reports from my squad leader.

This and his eighteen years in the Army gave him the credibility to give his opinion as to my duty performance.

During questioning SFC Smith talked about the details of my job, that I had been one of the only ones to have a HUMM-V license. I was also a driver on an armored personnel carrier.

He also said I was a TOW missile loader, but that was incorrect. I was an M-60 gunner. I’m not sure why he said that. It really wasn’t important but it bothered me that the prosecution witness, my platoon sergeant, didn’t know my job.

However, I had been gone for six months.

When asked about his opinion about my duty performance, he said that it was between marginal and average. On a scale from one to ten, he would give me a three.

I was a little taken aback at this assessment but, then again during the six months that he supervised me, I was staying out all night long and I was on drugs.

Colonel Grainger asked Smith if he had an opinion as to whether or not I had any rehabilitative potential. He hesitated.

Then after being asked again he said, “I don’t feel that it would be beneficial to the military for the time, the effort, and money involved to attempt to rehabilitate him.”

He did say that in general he thought I had rehabilitative potential, just not as a soldier.

When asked about if I received an Army Achievement Medal while working for him he said, “I don’t recall, sir.”

I remember that he was the one who pinned it on my uniform.

Prosecution passed the witness to the defense for cross examination.

Captain Jokinen clarified with SFC Smith about the time that he knew me. That it was from November of ’88 until the time of departure in April of ’89.

The next question was if Smith noticed any changes in either physical appearance or habits.

His observation was that I would come to work late quite a bit. I was very pale on several occasions and that I would fall asleep while out on some of the ranges.

I am pretty sure I know what he meant with the last comment.

I was tasked to drive a HUMM-V for a Lieutenant wanting to observe some field exercises.

I had been out in the clubs using drugs every night for a week straight. Some nights never going to sleep at all.

On the first night out, being overcome with exhaustion, I passed out behind the wheel. I apologized to the Lieutenant, but he had to take over driving.

Fairly certain he reported me and this incident to SFC Smith.

I could not really argue or complain about the picture that was being painted about my performance.

SFC Smith came to the platoon at a really bad time when it came to being my supervisor. I think that if he had been there from the beginning he may have had a more supportive view.

Too late.

Nothing further from this witness.

Prosecution had nothing further at this time

Defense requested a five minute recess.

One of the defense witnesses was Specialist Alan Bear. We had been roommates since I had arrived at Fort Polk.

After being sworn in, he was asked to give his impression of me when he first came to the unit. He was asked to describe my conduct and attitude.

Because of an extensive collection of military memorabilia, my four years of JROTC and getting to know me in such close circumstances, his impression was that I was very motivated.

He mentioned that he knew that I wanted to be in the military my whole life. He said that it was evident that I wanted to be doing what I was doing and that I was pretty good at it.

He talked about how I started going to Alexandria with some friends that I met, and I would stay with them. It started out occasionally but then gradually became more often.

When asked about noticing any changes in my personality, his response was that I was basically gung-ho at first but gradually lost interest.

Captain Jokinen asked Specialist Bear if he would characterize me as a poor soldier prior to going AWOL, if things other than the Army were occupying my mind.

His answer was, “I feel yes, other things were occupying his time. But I don’t feel he really became that poor of a soldier, not any worse than some of them that are currently assigned to us.”

Bear answered a question about my social habits. Whether or not I smoke or drank.

He said I alway made a point to let people know that I did neither when approached with the opportunity.

After my capture and being released back to my unit, he noticed that I was drinking and was in total shock. He had offered alcohol to me countless times before and I always turned it down.

It seemed to him that I was no longer living by the standards I had set for myself.

In cross examination, the main information given was that Specialist Bear never saw me taking any controlled substances. He heard about the possibility and believed that it was the reason for my deterioration.

Nothing further from this witness.

Another defense witness was Specialist Jeff Raymond. He had arrived at Fort Polk about the same time as me. We were assigned to the same vehicle and were pretty good friends. Jeff and I had partied together but it was never brought up or discussed during the trial.

The same line of questioning, lead to similar answers. I had been a good soldier and a person of morals and integrity. I began going out a lot and then things started to change.

Nothing further from this witness.

The defense called the next witness:

Master Sergeant David J. Mike

My father….

  • Christiana

    Wow. Way to leave us hanging. 🙂

    • David Mike

      Thanks for your eager reading. Your comment came up almost the same time I posted!

  • bb

    Great post!

    • dilemmamike

      Thank you!

    • David Mike

      Thank you!

  • Charles Johnston

    The suspense heightens…thoroughly enjoying your honesty..can’t wait till next post..

    • David Mike

      Thank you Charles. I always have grand hopes of writing before the following Tuesday, but it seems to be the only time to pull it all off. I appreciate your continued support!

  • Whew. Intense read. Good job!

    • David Mike

      Thanks for reading. A little different from your blog. I appreciate your support.

  • Another intense episode that leads up to something pretty big. I cannot wait to read what happens with your dad on the stand.

    And, SFC Smith gave me pause, too. The fact that he got your job wrong and didn’t remember you receiving a medal that he pinned to your uniform lead me to question how much of your character he knew or how well he knew you at all. Obviously, the picture painted includes the truth, but when it came to the rehabilitative question, I found I didn’t think him qualified to offer an opinion.

    Do you think you were a good candidate for rehabilitation as a soldier despite your poor choices?

    • David Mike

      I do not think that I was a good candidate for Army rehabilitation at that time because I think God had a different plan for me. First, I would have ended up in Desert Storm and probably injured or dead. Second, weird to say but I needed prison to stop me from killing myself. Not that I was suicidal but just that a few more months, some different encounters…..

  • “It seemed to him that I was no longer living by the standards I had set for myself.” This is a point of truth for us all. How many times do we fail to live up to our own standards. It’s a good thing God knew we’d fail and loved us enough to do something about it. It’s interesting to that change was able to be hidden for a while. Can’t wait to read more!

    • David Mike

      Most standards are hard to live up to. Always seems to be a recipe for failure. I’m just glad for maturity, grace and redemption. I appreciate your input and taking the time to comment.

      • JenBaierl

        Yes, yes! Maturity, grace, and redemption! I wondered, at first read, if you had bitterness toward Sergeant Smith, but I now realize… you understand that it all serves a greater purpose. You’re really in a great place!

        • David Mike

          Yes, I don’t blame anyone for my situation. It was my actions that landed me in prison. I’m just glad that I’m finally able to write about it!

  • Daniel Mike

    Poor supervisor. Didn’t even know his own people. Recognized changes in behavior and didn’t intervene. In my opinion, he was a poor supervisor.

    • David Mike

      I think he got a bum deal coming to the platoon when he did. There were other people with other and similar issues. We would all be in counseling or something if he acted on everyone. However, I don’t think he really cared about us too much. 18 years in and 2 to go to retirement. I don’t blame him though, I really screwed up.

  • Dana (Mike) Jeffries

    Wow David! The next email is gonna make me cry for sure! I don’t remember what Dad told us when he came back from seeing you. It was such a long time ago! I can remember, on our end, the events leading up to it though! And the visits we had with you after. What a huge change! I look forward to your blog every Tuesday! I’m so proud of you for sharing your story & giving hope to those going through similar things! With God, all things are possible! I love you big brother!

    • David Mike

      Dana thank you for reading it, I know it has to be hard to hear. I am thankful for the times you came to visit, for supporting me through prison and through the telling of my story. I love you too!

  • Tammy Fuller

    Thank you for sharing your story. It must be tough some days re-living some of this stuff.

    • David Mike

      Yes, somedays more than others. Thank you for reading. I appreciate it.

  • I don’t know if I am going to be able to read the next one! ::grabs a tissue and heads to the next post::

    • David Mike

      This next one is my most read post from this story.

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