Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Flag Day and Special Forces

Written by Colonel (Retired) John T.

In 1969, three C-130s landed at the Nha Trang Air Force Base, four very dirty Americans, and two hundred and fifty Montangnard tribesmen had returned from IV Corps, 512 Company and 1st CRP were home, and headed to the B-55 Compound.

As the Americans attempted to get men and equipment on the trucks, a USAF SGT stopped his fork lift, got off faced toward HQ and saluted, we looked at him, and he said “they are playing our song.” We strained and realized that today as every other day, at 1800 they were playing the Star Spangled Banner, we all joined him and saluted, as I glanced to my right and left I realized that my eyes were not the only ones moist, guess we were looking into the sun.

As all the A Camps were technically under command of the VNSF, the RVN flag flew over them, but you could not be in one more than a minute or two, and not see “Old Glory” peeking out of some hooch or corner.

How many of us carried flags all over the world, in my case a small US flag, and NC flag went everywhere I went, for those two small piece of cloth, not mattered how wrinkled or faded, represented not only what we fought for, but what we loved.

As kids we would go to Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day parades, back then the entire small town of Hatfield closed for both, and we would see the men march by, some in ill-fitting uniforms (at our age we are much more understanding of this phenomenon), some in wheelchairs, some with the limp of old injuries, but all ramrod straight, and the crowd would quietly applaud. In front of each contingent, no matter how small, there would be the Stars and Stripes, for they knew that one day, rather than marching behind that flag, they would be under it on the way to the “Last Formation.”

While the flag is important to all in uniform, I believe that the men of Special Forces have a special relationship, for so many times we are deployed that flags can only be flown in our minds.

On June 14th our flag’s birthday is celebrated, and on June 19th Special Forces celebrates another year of survival, not only from foreign enemies, but from folks at home who don’t understand our unique headgear is a hat, but that hat is worn by a special group of warriors, who spurn their conventional boxes, and strive only to complete their missions.

May each celebrate many more of these anniversaries.

De Oppresso Liber



Originally posted on American Military News as The Tarpaper Shacks of Camp Mackall. If you were there, you'll remember it fondly. If you weren't, you'll probably never believe the US military has a place like this . . . where they make people like me . . . S.L.

October 1987 I entered the Special Forces Qualification Course – SFQC, or simply “the ‘Q’ Course”. They shipped us out to this little piece of Hell known as Camp Mackall where the training cadre met us with grenade simulators, a “smoke session” that involved at least ten thousand pushups right there on the side of the road and a two mile bag drag into the cantonment area.

I remember being tired, hungry and scared shitless. A fellow paratrooper I entered the Q-course with just turned 21 and spent all his money downtown the night before. He didn’t survive Day One.

Back then Camp Mackall only had three buildings; classroom, supply shed and head shed. Everything else was tarpaper shacks or GP medium tents. No heat in the winter, no a/c in the summer, it was a primitive existence. Showering was standing naked outside when it was raining.

I didn’t even have a bunk at first. First time I walked into a tarpaper shack there were only a few folded cots piled on the floor. I grabbed a folded cot, the last one left. It was all torn up and useless. I was so bone-weary, tired on a primal level, I just threw my gear on the floor and slept there.

I remember thinking right before I went to sleep at the end of my first full day out there that this was harder than any day at the ranch where I worked the year before I joined the Army.

Sleep? Let me rephrase that. I was always awake at some level, waiting for the cadre to boot in the door to the hut and roust us out for another day of punishment. I think the only real sleep I got was during Survival Week, when they left us alone to starve in the woods.

There was a method to their madness; the first ten days were basically a ‘gut check’ - to see who really wanted to be there - and to put some miles on our feet, toughen us up for the land navigation and patrolling training to come.

Land Navigation was a Rite of Passage; a twenty-four hour Easter egg hunt over thirty miles of woods and swamp. If you didn’t find all your points, you were out of there. A medic offered me a map with all the land nav points marked on it. I was sorely tempted to take it but had no clue how to conceal it from the cadre. First thing they did when we made it to the cantonment area was go through all our stuff. I’m really glad I didn’t take him up on the offer.

I got infected blisters on the balls of both feet from all that marching. The medic told me he was going to inject Tincture of Benzoin beneath the skin of both feet, to adhere the skin to the raw flesh. I asked if it would hurt? “Like your first night in prison,” he grinned.

I hope to never feel pain like that ever again.

Everybody dreaded early morning wake-up call – a grenade simulator out in the quad – then PT, LOTS and LOTS of PT. It stands for Physical Training but we called it Physical Torture. It didn’t matter rain or shine, we were out there doing it, followed by either a run or a speed march with fifty pound rucks through the ankle-sucking sands of the Carolina Sandhills. My calves scream just thinking about it. I remember doing PT in the rain, then changing uniforms, hanging my wet uniform up to dry. When I returned my uniform was not dry, it was frozen on the line. It remained that way until I left.

Every morning after PT there was a long line of people lining up to quit. They’d play “Another One Bites the Dust” over the loud speakers as folks quit. My best memory was volunteering for garbage detail after we had a hot meal. I got to eat all the scraps others threw away while taking out the trash.

Then there were the Airfield runs, if we eff’d up as a group. Mackall Airfield is a giant equilateral triangle, two miles long on each side.

Running that airfield is PSYCHOLOGICAL TORTURE – you can see the end of the leg you’re on and it seems like you’ll never get there. Then you turn a corner and do it all over again. You never want to do the airfield twice.

To get rid of the stragglers on rucksack marches and airfield runs they’d close the gates to the cantonment area and anyone dragging ass was bounced out of there, the Bag Drag of Shame. They had this trick were they’d run us through the gate, then straight through the compound and out the BACK gate and down the road - dozens would fall out and quit right then and there. God knows how I managed to hang in there even though I was dying. Smoked hamstrings for breakfast, I remember them well...

I remember all of this like it was yesterday. Bone chilling cold, searing heat, heavy rucksacks and long ruck marches with the straps cutting into our shoulders. Too tired to sleep it seemed, pain and hunger were our constant companions. Hunger, hunger, hunger - how the hell can anyone forget hungry? - and laughing through the pain with the best bunch of crazy guys on Earth.

Looking back I’d do it all over again, if that’s the price to pay to get into the most exclusive fraternity in the world.


Monday, June 12, 2017


Quote from a WWII Veteran:

"The hell you can't, because we did it. These Muslims are no different than the Imperial Japanese. The Japs had their suicide bombers too. And we stopped them. What it takes is the resolve and will to use a level of brutality and violence that your generations can't stomach. And until you can, this shit won't stop.

It took us on the beaches with bullets, clearing out caves with flamethrowers, and men like Curtis LeMay burning down their cities, killing people by the hundreds of thousands. And then it took two atom bombs on top of it! Plus, we had to bomb the shit out of German cities to get them to quit fighting. But, if that was what it took to win, we were willing to do it.

Until you are willing to do the same . . . well I hope you enjoy this shit, because it ain't going to stop! Back then, we had leadership, resolve, resources and determination. Today we're afraid to hurt people's feelings . . . and worry about which bathroom to piss in!"


Tuesday, June 6, 2017


Author unknown, posted by my good friend & Airborne/SF buddy Bill Strasburg . . . S.L.

73 Years ago, those words were finally yelled over the roar of aircraft, artillery, gunfire, nausea, fear, courage, self doubt, prayers and brotherhood.

The moment was coming; the one that they had trained for, some died for, this is the last chance for that prayer, good luck wink, thumbs up, tucking away of love letters and good luck charms.

This is it . . . get up, numb legs, weak knees that empty stomach feeling of the adrenaline rush, look over gear. Help a buddy get up with his equipment, un-tangle and twisting of straps and slings, shifting the weight of the gear around and reaching for the static line.

Intense focus, lack of fine motor skills, standing in a bouncing, dark airplane at night makes opening the static line and snapping it to the anchor line cable difficult, tug on it to make sure it is seated insert the pin and bend. Hold the static line perfectly and make sure the one in front of you is as ready as you are.

It only needs it to work for four seconds but these are the most important four seconds of a lifetime, check it, again. Check the one in front of you, that lifetime needs it double checked, just as it is understood that the one behind you is checking your one to their front.

If death doesn’t come before striking the ground; everything the those to the front and those to the rear are counting on making it to the ground, this equipment is just as important to one as it is to all of them. It is all there; everything to make striking the ground survivable and what is needed to live for the second, minute, hour, day, week beyond that.

“All okay” they have everything strapped down that they are supposed to. Most importantly, they have the years of training, experience and confidence in each other to use this equipment with extreme proficiency.

Only time now, no matter how loud the outside world is; it’s all over now, no time for any more preparations, further training, there is no more second guessing or trying to remember a small detail of what is to come. Shortly those brothers will be jumping out of the plane and they are all going together, not a single one would leave any of them to do it on their own. There is only silence, they do not hear the roar of the aircraft, artillery and gun fire, explosions around them that could take them out of this fight at any second. Silence.

Suddenly the silence is broken the rush is coming back now it is time to get out of this plane and they only hear silence. They look at the dim red light and those around them. Nobody knows what to expect, all are feeling fear, no matter what is waiting for them at home they all know one thing… In a short amount of time they will only have each other.

The dim red light suddenly snaps bright Green, their heart rates jump, The men in front begin disappearing into the night as they get closer and closer to the door, suddenly you are in the door taking that forceful leap into the night and anything that is waiting. You have brought one thing with you; brotherhood, anything seeking to destroy that brotherhood will meet death and extreme violence.

They got there by many means; whether in a boat, climbing over their friends as they were being shot to death and storming a beach looking straight at machine guns and artillery explosions, jumping from an aircraft at night. Or had been there for months living and moving underground, assassinating and sabotaging. They all felt fear and used the brotherhood and patriotism that makes America great. They volunteered for the most dangerous jobs knowing what was coming. Fueled by brotherhood and knowing how precious freedom is, they risked and gave everything for us. Those men are the only ones that can truly say they saved the world. Thank you.

In 2004 I jumpmastered a C-130 full of 1-10th SF and international paratroopers (to include 2 German fallschirmjaeger) onto Iron Mike Drop Zone - the 505th's original D-Day drop zone vic Ste Mere Eglise - for observances of the 60th anniversary of the Normandy landings. To be allowed to perform this duty was possibly the greatest honor bestowed upon me during my entire military career.


Sunday, June 4, 2017


Last night it was London. Before that it was Manchester. Before that it was Paris, Nice, Brussels, San Bernadino, Orlando, Fort Hood - these random attacks are becoming regular events, it could be anywhere next . . . the authorities are powerless to stop them and shamefully ineffective at defending us . . . S.L.

Last night's terror attacks in London happened right where I used to work, used to walk through that area twice a day and enjoyed visiting all the pubs. Last night it took the London cops - best police force in the world - eight minutes to respond, by which time 3 Jihadis had killed 6 - several of them had their throats cut - and injured 48, using just a white van and kitchen knives. There is no 2d Amendment in the UK but here in the States we are guaranteed the God-given right (that every law-abiding taxpayer on the planet should have) to arm ourselves in self-defense. I carry a 1911 locked & cocked everywhere I go with 2 extra mags - that's 24 rounds of .45 cal hollow point - because its better to run out of Tangos than to run out of ammo . . .

Arm yourself in accordance with your local laws & seek training. Do not own or carry a firearm unless you are trained in its use and safe handling. Know the condition of your weapon at all times, know what your target is, what is in front of it and behind it, and never point your weapon at anything that you are not willing to destroy.


Monday, April 3, 2017


This story comes to us from a friend - Lee is a 'Nam vet, this is not my story . . . S.L.

Back when I was 20, in the midst of a war, could speak the language, and was on my own most of the time when not on a mission, life was exciting, and I wanted to taste all that I could. Lots of times I went out on my own, but early in my deployment I hooked up with a like-minded LRRP in the 101 Airborne Division. Walt is not in this photo, but it serves to help in remembering. This is a longer story, but I promise you some laughs . . . - Lee B.

A Little Rest & Recreation Becomes a Lot of Escape & Evasion

"Give me another one of those beers, Lee."

"Here ya go, Walt, but the party's almost over. There's less than a case left."

Walt grimaced and asked, "Wonder if this old gook knew he'd party more after he was buried than he ever did while he was alive?"

Walt Smith was blonde, medium height, blue-eyed and heavily muscled. A real American Golden Boy. How a corporal in the 101st Airborne's elite Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) and a Vietnamese Linguist in America's elite Army Security Agency (ASA) became close is something even we hadn't figured out. We just enjoyed each other's company.

As usual, we were partying with a dozen other guys in the sand around North Air Field a mile inland from Tuy Hoa and the coast of the South China Sea. Our favorite drinking spot was a solitary gravesite. Vietnamese graves are interesting in that a low masonry wall surrounds the individual burial plot. We would sit on the wall, legs straight out into the sand, and trade stories, some from the war, but most from civilian life. This grave was kind of a boundary at the foot of a sand hill. LRRP was at the top of the hill, and, since officially there were no Army Security Agency units in Vietnam, our “Radio Research Unit” sat at the bottom.


More than one partier asked, "What the heck was that", or words to that effect, as we reached for our weapons.

"No problem," someone shouted, "Lt. Castleman just tripped over his own feet again. He was running with his .45 cocked because he heard us
partying and thought Charlie had broken through the wire."

Walt said, "Hey man, let's go to my hooch. I've got almost half a bottle of vodka and some more beer up there."

And so we departed the august company of our fellow revelers to start a night destined to live in ASA and LRRP infamy.

We trudged on up the hill, entered Walt’s hooch, and started on the vodka. That stuff must have been watered down because it disappeared pretty quickly. Then we started on the few beers he had.

Very carefully Walt placed two beers on the table.


“Don’t mention it,” Walt replied in a tone that sounded like he meant exactly that. Walt was very serious about his drinking. He flipped the chair around and sat down John Wayne style. A three-day patrol had left him with sunken hollows beneath his eyes and a patchwork of insect bites on his neck and face. Sort of an old man’s face set on the compact and muscular body of a nineteen-year-old athlete’s body.

Sweat rolled off his sun-reddened face as he threw his head back to drink. Most of the beer went pretty near his mouth. I laughed.

“So, all you do is sit in your hooch all day long and listen to your radio?”

I nodded. Walt laughed silently.

“Must be a real important part of the war effort.”

“It is, Walt. I report directly to General Westmoreland. It’s not my fault the fuckin’ VC haven’t learned to use radios yet. Anyhow, tell me about the 14 year-old you captured. You guys raid the Ho Chi Minh nursery or what?”

As if he’d suddenly discovered a great truth, Walt said, “This place really sucks!”

Of course he was right. North Field was a shit hole. The GP Medium I was living in was always hot, smelling of stale sweat. I ran into some extraordinary officers in Vietnam, but the MI officers we reported to were proof positive that “Military Intelligence” was an oxymoron. And after a year studying Vietnamese at Defense Language Institute, pretty much all I was picking up in my intercept work was static.

“Let’s go to Papa San’s for some tiger piss,” Walt urged. It didn’t take much urging on his part. Beer LaRue, I think, was the official French name. The bottle had a picture of a tiger on it, hence the moniker “tiger piss.”

Now Papa San’s was outside the wire on the west side of North Field. Walt was pretty sure he knew where the machine gun positions were, so we headed to the perimeter. I could just barely see him ahead of me running easily in the dark, half couched with his arms at his sides.
Sonofabitch! The ground rose up, and I fell again. Walt stopped.

“Nice going,” he said sweetly.

“I don’t do much of this shit when I’m sitting in my hooch,” I spat back.

Walt laughed and helped me up. “You okay?”

“I’m pretty sure both my kneecaps are broken.”

Walt was deeply concerned. “How’s your dick?”

“Okay,” I said.

“Good. Then you really have nothing to bitch about! Let’s go.”

We crawled into a drainage ditch and moved to within fifty meters of the first machine gun position. Walt said to wait, climbed out of the ditch, and moved to the position. The ditch started spinning, and I closed my eyes.

Walt came back and said, “I know where we can get through the wire.”

“And we’re not going to get shot, right?”

“Probably not,” Walt said over his shoulder. I climbed out of the ditch and followed him. This was actually starting to feel like fun.

We crawled to three more foxholes to alert them that we were going through the fence to get a few brews.

Trip flares occasionally lighted up the sky, but that was typical so it was a pretty uneventful trip. We got a couple of what appeared to be quart bottles, found a comfortable place in the dunes, leaned back, and enjoyed the first cold beer we had consumed in nearly an hour. Unfortunately those were our last cold brews for awhile because they were the last two that Papa San had.

Mission accomplished, we went back in the way we came out only to realize that our internal clocks were announcing that the party was just getting started. Walt asked; “Why don’t we go for a little Rest and Recreation downtown, Lee?”

“Right, Walt. Where do we go for our evening passes? I’m sure they’re going to let us bust curfew.”

“No, man. We don’t need any passes. We’ll go out the north side of the perimeter the same way we went to Papa San’s. Nobody’s going to do anything. All we have to do is dodge the MPs.”

“I don’t know, Walt. People with security clearances aren’t supposed to be as adventurous as you LRRPs. If we get caught, I’m going to be in deeper shit than you’ll ever have to think about.”

“To hell with that! Put on your party face, buddy, because we’re going to get drunk and get happy all night long!”

Somewhere in that colloquy there must have been some magic words because I shook my head and said, “Let’s do it to it, Walt.” And we were off.

Again, Walt maneuvered us through the barbed wire and concertina as well as the machine gun positions so that we were able to exit the perimeter on the north side. Now we had to get across a black top road, through an area of tin hooches occupied by Vietnamese, and down a country lane about a mile to Tuy Hoa.

As we crossed the road we saw jeep headlights coming straight at us. “MP’s!” I yelled, and Walt and I sped into the hooch area hoping to lose them. I got the bright idea of ducking into one of the hooches and was greeted by the timid stares of an entire Vietnamese family. Actually Walt and I were both fixed by those stares because he was right on my heels.

I quickly told the family that we were being chased by the military police and asked if they would help us. They got big smiles and told us to stay as long as we wanted ... which wasn’t very long because we were definitely wrapped up in the idea of more beer and meeting some ladies.
When the coast looked clear, we were off. The moon was bright and full so we could see pretty well as we walked down the dirt lane that led to Tuy Hoa and the objects of our affections.

The lane into Tuy Hoa was dusty and rutted from the daily traffic of trucks and jeeps. On either side of the road the jungle edged in with tree branches bending far out over the side ditches filled with stubby cactus. In the daylight, from a distance, the jungle could be beautiful in endlessly intricate patterns of differing shades of green. Up close at night it was simply black.

Tuy Hoa was off limits at night so Walt and I pretty much had the road to ourselves. Still, we stayed close to the edge remembering the sniper fire we’d experienced on other trips. There was a jungle trail that paralleled the road that was known to have considerable Viet Cong traffic.
I pointed that out to Walt.

“Every jungle trail in the whole damned country has considerable gook traffic,” he whispered back.

We came into town on the far west side. The lane we were on was bordered on the left by the backs of various shops and on the right by about a six-foot drop-off into what looked like sand and vegetation. We heard a jeep coming up behind us.

“MP’s!” Walt croaked in a whispered shout as he shoved me over the embankment and jumped himself.

“Oh, crap, man”, I whispered loudly. “We’re in a patch of cacti. This is killing me!” And then I started laughing.

“Be quiet, you dummy! We’re going to get caught if you don’t shut up. Don’t move and don’t say anything until the MP’s are gone.”
So we lay there, choking off our laughter, convulsing in silence, and wanting to scream, not breathing another word as the MPs’ open jeep slowly drove by.

We struggled up the shifting sand of the embankment wanting nothing more for the moment than to stop the pain. We pulled spines out of each other’s backs and butts for several minutes, and then it was off to partake of the pleasures of the flesh.

Suddenly we didn’t give a shit about the cacti, the snipers, or the MPs. We started laughing and talking out loud. This was our own private little battle, and no one else was invited.

“Except the whores,” Walt solemnly reminded me. He was right. Whores were invited.

As we headed east down the road we fell in behind a Vietnamese girl about whom Walt declared, "Boy, I'd like a little of that!"

As we got closer, it turned out to be a friend of mine named Huong. Now Huong was well known to a lot of the guys, but respected because she dated an ARVN assigned to work with us. Beh was a good guy, and he and the other ARVN support person, Vi, helped us through a lot of tight spots. However, while we were in the field at Phuc My, Beh told us that he was no longer dating Huong because she had been dating GIs and they tended to stretch out a girl’s pussy.

Anyhow, I had no more than said hello to Huong than Walt yelled; “MPs, run man!” And we took off through the alleys. But they were really on us this time so we split up. I dodged into a couple of different stores with the same story I had used in Tin Town and got the same supportive reaction. After losing sight of the MP’s, I circled back. No Walt, but Huong was still in the vicinity.

I told her what was going on so she took me to her grandparents’ home telling me that the MP’s would be doing a house-to-house search for us. Her grandparents hid me under their bed until the search was over. I thanked everyone and meandered through town looking for Walt and downing a few Cognacs and Coca-Colas.

Now I couldn’t find Walt, but I was feeling no pain. I was, however, cognizant enough to know that I’d better get my tail back inside North Field before dawn, or I’d be living with some consequences that I did not want. Or the VC would nail me, and I wouldn’t be living at all. So I started wandering back up the country lane toward Tin Town at a less than a steady pace.

Not far into my new quest, three schoolboys surround me and start yelling, “You teach me English! You teach me English!”

I said, “I can’t boys. I’ve got to get back inside the compound, or I’m in big trouble.”

They offered me a deal. “You come my house, teach English one hour, and we get you back inside. No problem.”

At this point I’m thinking, “Nothing from nothing leaves nothing, so what the hell.”

“Okay, boys! I’m your man!” And off we went to their house.

After meeting mom, dad, an aunt, and grandpa and grandma, I sat down with a book the boys provided and gave them what I suspect was the worst English lesson of their lives.

But, true to their word, they escorted me back to the east side of North Field. By this point, it was a very dark and stormy night. The rains had started, it was kind of foggy, and, with the moon behind the clouds, it was very dark.

I was facing an eight-foot high tornado fence, reinforced with a pyramid of concertina wire; big, round roles of razor wire set in a row three deep, topped by a row two deep, topped by a single row. I figured things weren’t looking too good. At the same time, I couldn’t see much more than ten yards in front of me and knew the guards couldn’t see any better.

One of the boys whispered, “You come here, GI. Here is hole. You crawl through. Nobody see.”

And in my stupor I’m thinking, “Jeez, I’m not even old enough to legally drink hard liquor yet, and here I’m probably going to die because of it!” But there were no viable alternatives. In I went, it was an easy crawl, and I was snug in my sleeping bag within ten minutes never having received a single challenge.

With even the kids knowing how to get into a supposedly secure position, I did have some questions about how protected we were. Of course, that was a question that I had to keep to myself, since I would have been forced to give the whole story and that would have gotten me court-marshaled.

Walt found me the next day and asked how I’d fared. I gave him a general run down and then asked, “Where did you disappear?”

“Oh, man, I thought I slipped them when I ducked up an alley. Except it dead-ended against a wall. The MP Jeep pulls up to block the only way out, and an MP captain got out with his .45 drawn and shouted; “Come out of there soldier! Right now!”

“I figured he knew what he was doing, so I walked out, cold-cocked the SOB and took off running like the devil. I found an all-night pleasure house and left part of my brains there on the sheets. Man, you should have stayed with me. I had a hell of a good time, Lee!”

So now you see how a little Rest and Recreation (R&R) became a lot of Escape and Evasion (E&E).

Several months later, after some training up in Phu Bai on the DMZ I heard that Walt bought it in a firefight. Losing friends was always difficult. I’m glad we had our adventure together -Lee B.


Sunday, April 2, 2017


The plight of American missionary Rev. Andrew Brunson has recently come to my attention . . . S.L.

Pastor Andrew Brunson – a U.S. citizen from Black Mountain, North Carolina – was summoned to the local police station in Izmir, Turkey on the morning of October 7, 2016. He believed he would be receiving a long awaited permanent residence card. Pastor Brunson, who is a U.S. citizen, has been living in Turkey for 23 years, running a Christian church with the full knowledge of local authorities.

Upon arriving at the station, he was informed he was being deported based on being a “threat to national security,” a common excuse for deportation in Turkey. It became clear that he was being arrested and would be detained until deportation. He was fingerprinted, searched, and had his phone, pen, etc. taken away. He was denied a Bible. But instead of being deported, he was held with no charges.

During the initial 63 days of his detention, Brunson was denied access to his Turkish attorney. He was placed in solitary confinement for part of this time, with his glasses and watch confiscated.

On December 8th, after being detained for 63 days, things took a dire turn. In the middle of the night, Pastor Andrew was taken to a counter terrorism center in Izmir and then on to court. He was questioned and has been falsely charged with “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” The charging documents state no “evidence has been gathered” against him. A Turkish judge had the option to deport Pastor Andrew, release him on weekly sign-ins at the local police station, or imprison him. The judge chose to remand Pastor Andrew to prison.”

Senator James Lankford (Republican - Oklahoma) traveled to the Turkish capital Ankara in December where he met with the Department of Justice officials, Fox News reported: “For the first time, we learned what these charges are,” Lankford told Fox News. “They were given to me orally.”

Lankford told Fox News that Turkish authorities alleged Brunson had helped Kurdish refugees — Turkey labels the Kurds an insurgent group — and that the pastor attended a conference put on by Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom the Turkish government accused of plotting the 2016 coup from Pennsylvania where he now lives.

Reverend Andrew Brunson remains in Turkish custody at the time of this writing.