Raven 23: Dustin Heard seeks pardon
One of our own needs your support in the aftermath of the Raven 23 sentencing. Dustin Heard, a U.S. Marine, has been part of this community for most of his life. He still has family here. He was influenced by some of the same leaders who are still in the community. He engaged in community and school activities with many of you who are reading this article. We hope you will consider supporting Dustin’s quest to seek a presidential pardon for the Raven 23 incident published in the January 8, 2019 issue of Olney Enterprise.
Dustin and his peers were assigned to protect American diplomats during the Iraq war in 2007 and were known as Raven 23. The team was ambushed and responded accordingly. However, the Iraqi government accused the soldiers of shooting civilians, which led to the first trial where a judge acquitted them in 2009. The next year, the case was overturned by another judge who gave the men 30-year sentences. Last year, Dustin’s sentence was reduced, and he is still serving time for a situation many believe was unjust, including Rep. Drew Springer (HD68).
“The three men were treated as gangbangers, charged and sentenced with committing a crime with a fully automatic weapon, and received a 30-year sentence. Essentially the jury found the three men guilty for doing a job the State Department contracted them to perform, using the precise weapons the men were required and authorized to carry,” said Springer in a press release.
In a recent interview, Congressman Jodey Arrington said he did not have in-depth knowledge of Raven 23 at the time of the interview he said regarding President Trump’s recent pardon of soldiers that he understands that sometimes decisions in battle are mistakes that don’t make you criminal.
“We ask the soldiers to do different tasks in an almost impossible environment. We have an obligation to support our troops, and I agree with that principle,” said Arrington.
Although Dustin is serving time on a reduced sentence, he remains hopeful for a presidential pardon. President Donald Trump pardoned soldiers recently, and Heard and his family would like the same consideration. Dustin’s parents, Stacey and Lawana Heard, released a statement concerning their son’s trial.
“We believe that serious misconduct occurred during our trial. While we are continuing to fight the battle in the court of public opinion, the truth is these men who returned fire in a war zone sit imprisoned unjustly. Without intervention from Mr. Trump and others, these innocent men will continue to pay the price for the behavior of others. We seek exoneration, but until we can get that, a pardon would at least get our honorable veterans back to their families.”
Dustin’s Aunt Leatha Hirsch also released a statement of support. “We want to spread as much awareness about this case so President Trump will grant them a full pardon bringing closure to the wrongful conviction of these loving men so they can be reunited with their loving families that need them.”
If you would like to write a letter to President Trump for a pardon, the process is simple and does not take long. You may download a templated letter by accessing the link below. Sign the printed letter and send it to President Trump, as addressed below.
President Donald J. Trump
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
RE: The Decorated Veterans of Blackwater’s Technical Support Team Raven 23
The letter is available at http://www.supportraven23.com/howtohelp.
For more information about this case, please read the article written by the Raven 23 author Gina Keating and published in Olney Enterprise August 8, 2019.