Two Filipino marines in Camp Pendleton, San Diego, California will be discharged from the United States Navy for being part of the "worst civilian killings in Iraq," a report of the news site Asian Journal said. Citing a report of the Associated Press (AP), Asian Journal said the US Navy has initiated dismissal proceedings against:
- Sergeant Sanick Dela Cruz, and
- Sgt. Humberto Mendoza.
The two Filipinos were members of a squad that killed in 2005 in Haditha, Iraq 24 unarmed civilians, including women, elderly and children. Known as the "Haditha Massacre," the Iraqi civilians were killed by eight members of a squad from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines on November 19, 2005. Their squad leader, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, pleaded guilty to negligent dereliction of duty in January for his role in the massacre. The action of the marines was "believed to be in retribution - after a roadside bomb exploded killing one Marine and wounding two others," the Asian Journal said.
Dela Cruz and Mendoza were later found to have lied to military investigators about their role in the killings.
Lt. Cmdr. Tamara Lawrence, a Navy spokeswoman, told the AP that both Dela Cruz and Mendoza have been informed about the decision of Navy Secretary to discharge them from service.
Wuterich claimed that he shot at the victims first before Dela Cruz joined in the shooting. On the other hand, Dela Cruz alleged that the men were unarmed and posed no threat but Wuterich shot them anyway. Then Dela Cruz sprayed bullets at the victims and performed a “dead check” or made sure that the victims were dead, the Asian Journal said. It added that Dela Cruz later admitted to urinating on the head of one of the men because “my emotions got the best of me."
Dela Cruz was born and raised in Cavite City, Philippines before moving to Chicago with relatives. - VVP, GMA News