Friday, June 03, 2005

LT Pantano Resigns his Commission from the USMC

Today the military lost one of its finest.

LT Pantano had a hellish year defending his honor, and was finally cleared of all charges. He wanted nothing more than to pursue his passion - continuing his service to country in his beloved Marine Corps. All indicators showed that he was prepared - even eager - to re-enter combat in Iraq, despite the bruising legal battle he led against his detractors. So we were surprised, saddened and shocked when he contacted us privately and told us of his intent to resign his officer's commission and end his careeer in the USMC:

The support of your network has been tremendous and I hope you can help me express how much I still love the Corps to your vast readership. Leading Marines in battle has been the pinnacle of my professional life. There are so many things about being a Marine that I will miss now that I have submitted my resignation, but my priority must be taking care of my family after what can only be described as ‘one hell of a year’.

Molon Labe
Ilario Pantano

When Kit notified me of Ilario's email we both sat in stunned disbelief. And then waited for the rest of the world to find out the news when Pantano went public.

Today was that day. LT Pantano submitted his resignation of commission in the USMC.

I understand why Ilario has made his decision, though I deplore the mess that brought him to this point. His family has suffered greatly this year. So it's no surprise that his priority is other than himself. The AP reports his reasons:

2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano said his fight against military punishment has been draining and heartbreaking for the former Wall Street trader who fought to return to the Marines after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"This is the best thing for my family, and I think it is the best thing for the Marine Corps, too," Pantano said Thursday.

The intense publicity generated by his case, he said, makes him a high-profile target with a resulting potential not only for danger to himself if he continues fighting but also to other Marines, Pantano said. His wife, Jill, asked that he end his military career, he said.

LT Pantano has also written a letter to Congressman Jones, his vocal supporter in Washington, expressing his gratitude. In his letter, Ilario presented the Congressman with his two most precious possessions - first, his innocence, and second, his sword.

As my family and I faced our darkest hours you fought for us, and in doing so…You fought for every man and woman in the uniform, past present and future - not because of the opportunity to challenge the military, but for the opportunity to protect it from itself.

Day and night you appealed to any that would listen. You were tireless in your defense of me, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

My family and I want to thank you for your courage and your leadership.

First, I present to you my innocence, known to you and many many others from the outset, but proven finally by our justice system after a yearlong investigation and prosecution.

And finally, from one warrior to another, I present to you my most cherished possession: my sword. My love of corps and country will never be broken or diminished, but now it is my love of family that I must honor most with my decision to resign.

Kit has written a masterful tribute to Pantano's honor and courage in service, and throughout this ordeal. If her writing doesn't move you to tears, as it did me, then I don't know what to say. Even more importantly, she expounds on the overall impact Pantano's case and subsequent resignation has had and will continue to have on the Marine Corps and other military branches. The Pantano case is truly a watershed moment in our military's history. Read Kit's words, and you'll clearly see and understand the bigger picture.

The military lost one of its finest today.
Semper Fidelis, LT Pantano.

PS: Should you wish to say anything to LT Pantano, please feel free to leave a comment here or at Euphoric Reality. LT Pantano does read our blogs and will read your comments - and we know that he is deeply grateful for your support.