In his Nov. 16 op-ed piece Leo J. O'Donovan offered homage to the Jesuit martyrs killed during the civil war in El Salvador. But this tribute was incomplete.

Members of the Marxist-Leninist FMLN guerrillas killed many mayors during the civil war. In addition, American military "martyrs" should be remembered.

For example, U.S. Army Cpl. Ernest Dawson and Lt. Col. David Pickett both were assigned to El Salvador to support U.S. interests. When their helicopter crashed in the Salvadoran countryside, FMLN guerrillas murdered them.

Subsequent investigation identified the FMLN executioners, just as the death squad members were identified in the slayings discussed in the op-ed article. In both cases prison sentences were imposed and the guilty were pardoned after the civil war. This amnesty was instituted in the hopes of moving beyond the horrors of the past and rebuilding El Salvador's shattered society.

Father O'Donovan implied that the U.S. Army School of the Americas was somehow responsible for much of the horror of the conflict in El Salvador. But since 1990 no fewer than 12 independent oversight reviews looked at the school, and each failed to find evidence of impropriety.

If Father O'Donovan has evidence to the contrary, he should bring it forward. If not, he should cease his campaign of guilt by innuendo directed at the fine soldiers and staff honorably serving their country at U.S. Army School of the Americas.


Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army For International Affairs