This is the fourth in an ongoing series of posts attempting to bring readers along as I research the story of David Sharrett, struggling to discover the circumstances surrounding the death of his son.
At long last, the Army has delivered its third AR 15-6 report, and its fourth probe overall, into the 2008 friendly fire death in Iraq of Pfc. David H. Sharrett II of Oakton. It was provided earlier this month to Sharrett’s father, Dave Sharrett, who has moved his family from Oakton to central Virginia and has been e-mailing me chunks of the report. I hope to obtain the whole thing in a meeting with him this week.
But the report has not soothed Sharrett’s disbelief at how the Army handled its initial investigations of the case, its treatment of him and the family of Pfc. Danny Kimme, also killed in the same incident, and its seeming lack of interest in accountability for those involved.
In short, the report by Brig. Gen. David Bishop is much more candid in its condemnation of then-1st Lt. Timothy Hanson, who shot Pfc. Sharrett at close range in the dark near Bichigan, Iraq. Bishop’s report now says Sharrett was probably about six feet away from Hanson, but Hanson says he has no idea he shot anyone. Hanson then left the battlefield on a helicopter with two wounded men, did not return, and did not assist in the search for Sharrett, Kimme, Spc. John Sigsbee, also killed, or a fourth soldier who survived. Sharrett lay on the ground for more than an hour. He was alive when found but died an hour later. Ballistics matched the bullet that killed him to Hanson’s gun. It is not known if finding Sharrett sooner would have saved him.
Hanson was then promoted to captain. Bishop recommends that Hanson be held accountable for his desertion of the battlefield, but not for shooting Sharrett. But Bishop’s specific recommended action is redacted, for personnel privacy reasons. Those in the chain of command who subsequently handled the case, and who the Sharrett family feels concealed the more sordid aspects of the case, are cleared of any wrongdoing.
After reading the full report, and then consulting with some military experts to provide context and guidance, I will seek to interview the other soldiers involved, the families of Kimme and Sigsbee and any and all Army officials who will speak to me about this case.