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Regarding the June 15 front-page article “Still a colonel: Johnson sentenced to reprimand, fine for fraud, adultery, bigamy”: Col. James H. Johnson III, a West Point graduate with 26 years of service in the grade of colonel, is allowed to buy his way out of punishment and return to his bigamist lifestyle while Army commands punish and discharge enlisted soldiers for heinous crimes of drug and alcohol abuse? He pleads guilty to some 15 charges and he walks?

I guess the days of lead by example are gone — not only by Col. Johnson, but the court-martial panel, all colonels. Maybe this is a clue as to why the U.S. Army has more than its share of problems, which I doubt appearance standards will rectify.

First Sgt. Donald Melendy (retired)

The Philippines

Sends bad message to troops

This morning as I walked to work I passed four Stars and Stripes vending machines that were empty, having already sold out the papers stacked inside each. I wondered what headline had prompted so many to buy a paper so early on this training holiday.

The headline said it all: “Still a colonel” (June 15).

Col. James H. Johnson III had been convicted and admitted guilt to a list of offenses that was extensive and nothing short of scandalously shocking. To read that this gentleman would walk free and retain his rank, pay and allowances was even more shocking at first and once read, digested and understood, simply disappointing.

The leaders responsible for Col. Johnson’s slap on the wrist — fining him a pittance equating to two and a half years’ salary, and allowing him to walk away with millions in pay and allowances over the course of a normal lifespan — failed miserably. By failing to hold the colonel appropriately accountable for his crimes, arrogance and hubris as a corrupt commander, they undercut all confidence that young soldiers have in a “just and equitable judicial system,” and in that act failed the institution of the U.S. Army itself.

Command Sgt. Maj. Adrian L. Liptrot (retired)

Stuttgart, Germany

Colonel gamed the system

Regarding the June 15 front-page article “Still a colonel: Johnson sentenced to reprimand, fine for fraud, adultery, bigamy”: Are you kidding me?

That panel of colonels literally let Col. James H. Johnson III off the hook. Then to top it off his plea to the judge wasn’t about leniency so he could try to repair the damage he did to his ex-wife and family, but about trying to rescue the Iraqi woman, and the judge went for it.

This guy had no regard for the U.S. Army and took full advantage of the system that has been put in place for senior leaders. With this result, he wasted taxpayer money by being educated at the U.S. Military Academy, and has been a fraud to the thousands of soldiers he has led. I have never seen a court-martial where the defendant is given the option of paying a fine or going to jail. If he doesn’t have the $300,000, I am sure his father will see to it.

This case was a classic in supporting the fact that rank has its privileges. There is no way an enlisted man charged with the same crimes would have walked away with his pay and retirement intact. This case is such a travesty of justice for the federal government, and truly a waste of limited Defense Department funds to put him on trial.

This whole investigation and trial was a farce because it would basically have been the same if Col. Johnson had gotten a letter of counseling. This is a big slap in the face of all the soldiers who may have had a small slip-up for far lesser offenses, but have been crucified, jailed, lost retirements, and lost rank.

Larry Bostick

Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.


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