Marines Make Example out of Pantano

Posted on October 14, 2010

Just because someone is found not guilty, it doesn’t mean they’re innocent.

Such would seem to be the case of Ilario Pantano, whose killing of two unarmed Iraqis in the town of Mahmudiyah in the spring of 2004 earned him a spot in the Lejeune Leadership Institute’s Leadership, Ethics and Law of War Discussion Guide for Marines. The document is full of case studies of controversial situations in which Marines are to learn how to behave in an upright, moral manner that is reflective of both their uniform and American values.

Beginning on page 50, Case Study 3 shares the intricate details of the mission objectives and killings by Pantano on April 15, 2004, including a corpsman’s immediate post-shooting reaction to the radio operator:

Don’t worry about it. The blood is not on your hands. It’s on the lieutenant’s.”

Several questions are also raised at the end of the study as to the right way a Marine should conduct himself in similar situations such as:

  • P. 65 – Can an action be lawful but dishonorable?
  • P. 65 – How should Marine Corps’ leaders treat an incident where there are questions as to whether an officer violated that special trust and confidence and acted in a manner contrary to the Marine Corps’ institutional concept of honorable behavior?
  • P. 66 – How should Marine Corps’ leaders evaluate judgment calls that raise legal or moral concerns?
  • P. 67 – In this case, fifty to sixty rounds were fired into two Iraqis from a distance of less than ten feet: At what point were legal, ethical, or moral lines crossed?

So when Pantano continually boasts about having the scars to prove his dedication to his country, he is right that people take notice.

It’s just that now future Marine Corpsmen have noticed Pantano and are learning what NOT to do.