The old Army adage, “Hurry up and wait,” applies once again to a decorated Green Beret who protected an Afghan boy from a child molester only to see his actions jeopardize his military career.
A decision from the military on the fate of Sgt. First Class Charles Martland was due Tuesday, but now has been put off for a third time, until at least May 1. Martland, an 11-year Special Forces veteran, was stationed in Afghanistan in 2011 when he confronted a local police commander who allegedly had raped a 12-year-old boy.
“Charles did the right thing in Afghanistan by standing up to a child rapist and corrupt commander, and now it’s the Army’s turn to do the right thing and reverse the decision to expel him from the service,” Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., whose office has been assisting Martland, told FoxNews.com earlier this month. “Permitting Charles to continue serving is in the best interest of the Army and the nation.”
Martland is not being discharged specifically for the incident, but having it on his record put him on the chopping block amid ongoing military cuts.
A spokesman for Hunter noted that Vice President Biden appeared with Lady Gaga at the Academy Awards Sunday and spoke out about sexual abuse, urging the crowd to “intervene in situations where consent cannot or has not been given.”
Supporters mounted an online petition backing Martland and, separately, 93 members of Congress have called for an investigation into the military's silence in the face of rampant sexual abuse of children in Afghanistan.
The 2011 incident occurred at the remote outpost where Martland was stationed. The boy and his mother showed up at camp, and the boy showed the Green Berets where his hands had been tied. A medic took him to a back room for an examination with an interpreter, who told them the boy had been raped by a man identified as Afghani Police commander Abdul Rahman.
Rahman allegedly beat the boy's mother for reporting the crime after learning that they went to the Army outpost. This led Martland and team leader Daniel Quinn to confront Rahman.
According to reports of the incident, Rahman confessed to the crime and laughed it off. When Martland and Quinn roughed him up, Rahman reported them.
One year ago, the Army conducted a "Qualitative Management Program" review board and called for Martland -- among thousands of other soldiers with prior disciplinary issues -- to be "involuntary discharged” by Nov. 1, 2015.
Martland appealed the decision and a final ruling on his discharge has been delayed until now. With the deadline rapidly approaching, other legal advocates have come to his aid, and even garnered more than 300,000 signatures in a petition calling for the decision to be overturned.