one year has passed since our son died in baghdad. please read this letter, we are still struggling with the pain and are searching for answers. thanks
The Family of Sgt. Joseph M. Tackett
3472 Hammond Road
Whitehouse, Kentucky 41240
June 12, 2006
Honorable Harold Rogers
2406 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Congressman Rogers:
My name is Kathy Tackett and I am the mother of Sgt. Joseph M. Tackett. He was our youngest son and a proud and true American soldier. Our son lost his life on June 23, 2005. His life was taken, not in battle, or in the line of duty, but, by the hands of a careless person, in a place that was supposed to be a safe haven from the perils of war. When Joe faced the enemy he was aware of the danger and he prepared by wearing his armor. He was not prepared to die by the hands of a ranking officer in his safe haven.
Our son was killed by a stupid, senseless, irresponsible act. Eyewitness testimony confirmed that Lt. Willie Davis brought his weapon into a briefing and willingly and negligently pointed it at Joey's head and pulled the trigger. Why would Lt. Davis do such a thing? Why was his gun loaded? If he was trying to prove something or make a point, why didn't he fire at the ceiling instead of Joey? We still don't have the answers and probably never will. We do know that our son lost his life and the man responsible received a mere slap on the wrist.
Lt. Willie Davis received a sentence of just 30 months and when he comes up for parole it's possible that his sentence will be reduced. Please help us to prevent this from happening. Lt. Willie Davis took the life of a fine young man and he should be incarcerated for the full 30 months that he was given. In the event that the situation would have been reversed and an enlisted soldier had fired his weapon so negligently and killed a Lt. would his sentence have been so slight or would he have been charged with a more serious crime? Please do whatever you can in your position, as our congressman, to help us ensure that Willie Davis spends at least 30 months in prison. Our family has endured enough pain and heartache and we don't need any more.
If the military had held Willie Davis accountable for his prior negligent acts, then Joey would still be alive today. About one month prior to him killing our son, Willie Davis had charged his weapon in the dining facility. Was he disciplined for this act? We do not know. We do know that if the Army had disciplined him with a Negligent Discharge for his actions at that time, he would not have been able to point a loaded gun at our son's head and pull the trigger. The Army needs to be held responsible for not correcting the behavior of Lt. Davis. They knew of his negligent attitude, but took no appropriate action. Their failure to act appropriately led to the death of our son. Does our military not feel that it is their responsibility to take whatever actions necessary to protect our soldiers, not only from the enemy, but, from negligent soldiers, such as Lt. Willie Davis and others like him. Apparently they do not. After all, they know that the Feres Doctrine will protect them.
Until Joey lost his life, we had never even heard of the Feres Doctrine. Now, we know all to well what it means. It means that the United States Military cannot be held accountable for the death of our son in his "safe haven" at the hands of a ranking officer, who carelessly pulled out his weapon, pointed it at Joey's head and pulled the trigger. Since Joe's death, we have come to realize that the chain of command is GOD, THE CONGRESS AND THE MILITARY.
The Military under the Feres Doctrine cannot be held accountable for its failure to take action that could have prevented the death of our son, nor, can it be held accountable for its failure to carry out Joey's wishes in the event of his death. Joey and his wife of approximately 18 months were separated and Joey had requested that his father, Wendell, make final arrangements in the event of his death. The military totally ignored Joey's final request. Instead they allowed the wife, he was separated from, to control and make all final arrangements.
The military has no excuse for this action. Eight months after Joey's death we finally received a copy of his DD93 Form, which clearly states on line 13, that in the event of his death, that his father, Wendell, would be responsible for his remains. A dying soldier's most important request was not honored by the military. Is it to much to ask that the United States Military carry out the final requests made by a soldier who gave his life for this country? All we want is accountability. The United States Military is apparently above reproach. They have no accountability and we must work to change this fact. We must create change, not only for Joey, but, for the others who have gone before him and for those who will go after him.
You can help us, Congressman Rogers. You can help us get the Feres Doctrine overturned. Go to your fellow congressmen and tell them about our son, Joey, and what happened to him. Tell them that Joey was eager to join the Army and serve his country. Tell them that he was willing to fight to keep us all free and to protect the rights that all Americans are born with. Tell them that our son, Sgt. Joseph Tackett, was shot down in cold blood, by a ranking officer, and the military is hiding behind the Feres Doctrine. And please remind them that The United States of American was founded on the principle of Liberty and Justice for all, not Liberty and Justice for some.
" When we assumed the soldier we did not lay
aside the citizen." Gen. George Washington, 1775
The Family of Sgt. Joseph Tackett