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.
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.