Christopher Speer

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Christopher Speer
Christopher J. Speer -b.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 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. Omar Khadr was charged and convicted of throwing this grenade that killed Speer. [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 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.[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 Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen with Egyptian and Palestinian ancestry, was captured and subsequently imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, accused of killing Speer.[8][9] Khadr was held without trial for 8 years. In October 2010, he pleaded guilty to, among other crimes, "murder in violation of the laws of war" for the killing of Speer. At that time, he said he had thrown the hand grenade which killed Speer in the firefight. [10] [11]

The charges against Khadr were filed under the Military Commission Act of 2006 and considered under US law to be war crimes, though the act passed into law several years after Speer's death.[12] In 2013, Khadr filed a civil suit against the government of Canada, alleging that the government had breached his Charter rights. In the lawsuit, he claimed he had only signed the plea agreement because he believed it was the only way he could gain transfer from Guantanamo. In an affidavit filed in the proceedings, he said he had no memory of the firefight.[13][14]

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 testimony which—according to Khadr's lawyers—showed that Khadr was not responsible for Speer's death.[15] 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.[16][17]

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 pleaded guilty to and was convicted of the 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.[11]

On October 29, 2010, after taking the stand, Khadr apologized to the widow of Speer stating "I'm really sorry for the pain I caused to your family. I wish I could do something to take that pain away.", and further stating that his eight years in prison had taught him "the beauty of life".[18]

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]

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" (PDF). U.S. Department of Defense. 11 July 2008. 
  3. ^ Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan (2012-08-03). "Canada: An ominous trend". Saudi Gazette. Archived from the original on 2013-04-18. 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" (PDF). Journal of Special Operations Medicine. Fall 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-22. 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) (4 ed.). jsopublic. Fall 2003. Retrieved 2007-09-25. [permanent dead link]
  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. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. 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. ^ "No Khadr return deal in place: Cannon". CBC News. October 28, 2010. Archived from the original on November 1, 2010. Retrieved 29 October 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Meserve, Jeanne; CNN Wire Staff (October 25, 2010). "Khadr plea". CNN. Retrieved 29 October 2010. 
  12. ^ Rona, Gabor (May 2008). "Legal Issues in the 'War on Terrorism' – Reflecting on the Conversation Between Silja N.U. Voneky and John Bellinger" (PDF). German Law Journal. 9 (5): 711–736. Retrieved 11 July 2017. 
  13. ^ Shephard, Michelle (13 December 2013). "Omar Khadr: No memory of firefight in Afghanistan". The Star. Toronto. 
  14. ^ "Omar Khadr explains war-crimes guilty pleas in court filing". CBC News. 13 December 2013. 
  15. ^ "New witness account shows Khadr charges should be dropped: lawyers". CBC News. February 5, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-05. 
  16. ^ "U.S. prosecutor's comments on Khadr reviewed". Toronto Star. January 12, 2006. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Terrorism charges reinstated against Khadr". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. September 24, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  18. ^ Montet, Virginie (October 29, 2010). "Khadr says sorry to slain soldier's widow". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 October 2010. 

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