Christopher Speer

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Christopher Speer
Christopher J. Speer.jpg
Birth name Christopher James Speer
Born (1973-09-09)September 9, 1973
Denver, Colorado
Died August 6, 2002(2002-08-06) (aged 28)
Ramstein Air Base, Germany[1]
Buried at Pinehurst, North Carolina
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1992-2002
Rank Sergeant First Class
Unit 1st SFOD-D otherwise known as Delta Force
Awards Soldier's Medal
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Relations Todd Speer (brother)
Tabitha Speer (widow)
Taryn and Tanner Speer (children)

Sergeant First Class (SFC) Christopher James Speer (September 9, 1973 – August 6, 2002)[2] was a U.S. Army combat medic and an armed member of[3] a special operations team who was fatally wounded during a skirmish in Afghanistan on July 27, 2002. Speer, who was not wearing a helmet at the time because the mission called for indigenous clothing, suffered a head wound from a grenade and succumbed to his injuries approximately two weeks later.[4][5]

Training and deployment[edit]

Speer enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 1992 and, after initial training as a combat medic, was assigned to the Army Hospital at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, until 1994.[1] He received 18 Delta combat medic training at the Joint Special Operations University at Hurlburt Field, Florida.[6][not in citation given]

Speer was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group upon completing training as a Special Forces medic in 1997. As part of the 1st SFOD-D known as Delta Force which is based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he deployed to Afghanistan in Spring 2002 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.[1]

Death[edit]

On July 27, 2002, Christopher Speer and a group of four other soldiers on reconnaissance patrol were injured during a firefight upon attacking and forcibly entering a building in Khost Province, Afghanistan.[1] SFC Christopher Speer was part of a squad assigned the task of going through the ruins of the building after it had been destroyed by F18s dropping 500-pound bombs.[7]

The injured Speer was evacuated by air to Bagram Air Force Base and then to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where he died on August 6, 2002.[1]

The incident received widespread attention as fifteen-year-old Toronto-born child soldier Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen with Egyptian and Palestinian ancestry, was captured and subsequently imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay as Speer's killer.[8][9] Khadr later pled guilty to, among other crimes, the murder of Speer by throwing a hand grenade during the firefight.[10] Due to a lack of eyewitness evidence,[11] the claim that Khadr threw the grenade relies heavily or solely on a confession extracted through coercion at a US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.[12]

Prior to his plea of guilty to Speer's murder, Khadr became the focus of several legal disputes. On February 4, 2008, American officials accidentally released an unredacted version of sworn testimony which — according to Khadr's lawyers — showed that Khadr was not responsible for Speer's death.[13] In January 2006 Colonel Morris Davis, Khadr's prosecutor, in statements to the press, said that Khadr owed his life to American medics who stepped over the dead body of their colleague to treat Khadr's wounds. Speer died from his wounds on August 6, 2002, at the age of 28.[14][15] However, the accidentally-released sworn testimony revealed that medics dressed Speer's wounds before they dressed Khadr's.[16]

Aftermath[edit]

On the second anniversary of Speer's death, SFC Speer's widow Tabitha and a comrade of his, Layne Morris, initiated legal proceedings to claim compensation from the estate of Omar Khadr's father Ahmed Khadr.

On October 25, 2010, Khadr pled guilty to murder of Speer in violation of the laws of war, attempted murder in violation of the laws of war, conspiracy, two counts of providing material support for terrorism and spying in the United States.[10]

On October 29, 2010, after taking the stand, Khadr apologized to the widow of Speer for the pain he had caused her, further stating that his eight years in prison had taught him "the beauty of life".[17]

Khadr would be required to serve a minimum of one more year in Guantanamo Bay before repatriation to a Canadian prison;[18] he was repatriated on September 29, 2012, to serve the remainder of his sentence at Millhaven Institution near Kingston, Ontario.[19][20]

Legacy[edit]

Speer was awarded the Soldier's Medal for risking his life to save two Afghan children who were trapped in a minefield on July 21, 2002, two weeks before his death.[5]

The infirmary at a special forces base in Kunar Province was named the "Christopher J. Speer Medical Clinic" in his memory.[1]

"The clinic looks primitive to Americans accustomed to hospitals filled with the latest medical equipment. The four examination tables are litters propped on stands. The roof is made of wood, and the walls are made of mud. Medical supplies are stacked three rows deep in tall wooden shelves."

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Samuel Ward Casscells (2009). When It Mattered Most: Remembering Our Fallen Medical Personnel in Iraq. ISBN 9780160818523. Retrieved 2012-09-29. 
  2. ^ "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Defense Motion to Dismiss for Violation of the Sixth Amendment Right to a Speedy Trial". U.S. Department of Defense. 11 July 2008. 
  3. ^ Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan (2012-08-03). "Canada: An ominous trend". Saudi Gazette. Retrieved 2012-09-29. 
  4. ^ Adrian Humphreys (2006-02-20). "Khadrs must pay $102M". National Post. Archived from the original on 2010-10-31. "A U.S. civil court has ordered the family of Omar Khadr, the Canadian teenager jailed at Guantanamo Bay, to pay more than $102-million to the widow of an American soldier and a second soldier injured in an attack in Afghanistan." 
  5. ^ a b "Christopher J. Speer". Journal of Special Operations Medicine. Fall 2003. Archived from the original on 2010-10-31. "Six days before he received the wound that killed him, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher J. Speer walked into a minefield to rescue two wounded Afghan children, according to fellow soldiers. He applied a tourniquet to one child and bandaged the other, they said. Then he stopped a passing military truck to take the wounded children to a U.S. Army field hospital. Speer saved those children, his colleagues said." 
  6. ^ "Christopher J. Speer" (PDF) 3 (4 ed.). jsopublic. Fall 2003. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  7. ^ (Michelle Shephard (April 29, 2007). "Khadr goes on trial". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-09-29. 
  8. ^ Sheldon Alberts (June 29, 2007). "U.S. Supreme Court reverses stance, will review terror suspects appeal". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  9. ^ Richard Reynolds (January 12, 2006). "Meet terrorism's first family, or so US military prosecutors allege". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  10. ^ a b Meserve, Jeanne; CNN Wire Staff (October 25, 2010). "Khadr plea". CNN. Retrieved 29 October 2010. 
  11. ^ "Khadr was the 'grenade man,' U.S. soldier maintains". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2008-02-06. Retrieved 2012-09-29. 
  12. ^ David M. Rosen Ph.D. (2012-04-23). Child Soldiers. ISBN 9781598845273. Retrieved 2012-09-29. 
  13. ^ "New witness account shows Khadr charges should be dropped: lawyers". CBC News. February 5, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-05. 
  14. ^ "U.S. prosecutor's comments on Khadr reviewed". Toronto Star. January 12, 2006. 
  15. ^ "Terrorism charges reinstated against Khadr". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. September 24, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  16. ^ OC-1 (17 March 2004). "Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF) Report of Investigative Activity" (PDF [sic] of the compound and was treated by the same 19 SFG physician's assistant and medic and was later transported by a CH-47 to Bagram.). Toronto: Criminal Investigation Task Force. Retrieved 2008-04-29. "[OC-1] went to find SPEER who was a medic. [OC-1] then discovered that SPEER was wounded in the head by the grenade. SPEER was treated by a physician's assistant and a medic from the SFG, and a platoon medic from the 82nd Airborne. SPEER was transported to Bagram Airfield by a UH-60 medevac helicopter. KHADR was pulled out of the alley into the center are" 
  17. ^ Montet, Virginie (October 29, 2010). "Khadr says sorry to slain soldier's widow". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 October 2010. 
  18. ^ "No Khadr return deal in place: Cannon". CBC News. October 28, 2010. Retrieved 29 October 2010. 
  19. ^ Shephard, Michelle (September 29, 2012). "Omar Khadr repatriated to Canada". Toronto Star. Retrieved September 29, 2012. 
  20. ^ Mehler Paperny, Anna (September 29, 2012). "Omar Khadr in Canadian prison after return from U.S. Guantanamo Bay base". Globe and Mail. Retrieved September 29, 2012. 
  21. ^ Kevin Maurer (September 20, 2004). "Culture limits medics in Afghanistan". Archived from the original on 2004. 

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