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Hearing held in Afghanistan on 'friendly fire' Marine death

January 19, 2012 | 10:50 am

A preliminary-style hearing was held this week in Afghanistan to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against a tank commander in the "friendly fire" death of a Marine from Camp Pendleton, officials said Thursday.

Lance Cpl. Benjamin Schmidt was killed Oct. 6 by a tank round. Schmidt, 24, of San Antonio, was from the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment at Camp Pendleton.

Maj. Gen. John Toolan ordered the hearing, called an Article 32, to consider charges of negligent homicide, involuntary manslaughter and dereliction of duty against the tank commander, Sgt. Jason Byrd, from Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The hearing officer will recommend to Toolan whether the case should go to court-martial and, if so, on what charges. Those decisions are up to Toolan, commanding general of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force in Helmand province.


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Photo: Lt. Col. William Vivian, commander of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, at a memorial service in October for Lance Cpl. Benjamin Schmidt, killed in a "friendly fire" incident. Credit: U.S. Marine Corps