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Judge denies Navy SEAL Gallagher’s request to retire at full rank

Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher leaves a military courtroom on Naval Base San Diego with his wife, Andrea Gallagher. (Andrew Dyer/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
October 29, 2019

After being acquitted of all but one charge against him, Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher will be permitted to retire at a reduced rank of E-6 Petty Officer First Class, but not at his previous rank of E-7 Chief Petty Officer.

In a result first reported by Task and Purpose, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday decided on Tuesday to uphold the sentence for the one count he was found guilty of: taking a photo with a terrorist’s corpse, despite the 10 other troops posing next to him in the photo not facing charges.

Although the decision did not grant Gallagher’s request to retire at an E-7 – which his legal team submitted in a letter on Oct. 1 – it did prevent him from retiring as an E-1 Seaman Recruit, a typically automatic consequence in accordance with Navy regulations.

Chief of Naval Operations spokesman Cmdr. Nate Christensen told Task and Purpose that Gilday “thoroughly reviewed the record of trial, along with the clemency request submitted by the defense in the General Court-Martial of Special Operations Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher.”

“After careful consideration as the convening authority, Adm. Gilday decided to uphold the sentence as adjudged by a jury of Gallagher’s peers, but disapproved the automatic reduction in rate to E-1,” Christensen added.

Gallagher’s legal team had argued that no further consequences were necessary, and the consequences he faced were already excessive, citing his lost promotion and awards, as well as his time served in pretrial confinement.

After a trial marred by controversy and prosecutorial misconduct, Gallagher was acquitted on July 2 of all murder, a charge waged against him for the May 2017 death of an ISIS fighter in Mosul, Iraq. It was that fighter’s corpse that Gallagher and 10 others were photographed near. Gallagher was the only one charged with the act, and it was the only charge he was found guilty of.

He was then sentenced to reduced rank from an E7 to an E6, forfeiture of partial pay for four months, and four months confinement, which he already served during eight months of pre-trial confinement that President Trump intercepted.

The acquittal came after Petty Officer Corey Scott had revealed under oath – and under the protection of immunity that was granted by the government – that he, Gallagher and others had treated the gravely wounded ISIS fighter when he was brought in to SEAL Team 7 for about 20 minutes.

The fighter appeared to be stabilized, but Scott had testified that Gallagher stabbed the ISIS fighter below his collarbone — an act that was disputed by Marine Staff Sgt. Giorgio Kirylo and Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abbas al-Jubouri, both of whom also testified.

Scott, a SEAL medic, testified that he made the decision to cover the ISIS fighter’s breathing tube so he would die by asphyxiation, or suffocation, which he did.