Soldier accused of 'fragging' to be arraigned at Fort Bragg
RALEIGH, N.C. -- When Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez appears in court Friday, it will likely take less than an hour for a military judge to complete the arraignment of the only soldier known to be charged with "fragging" _ or killing his superior officer _ during the Iraq war.
The brief nature of the hearing doesn't matter to the widows of Capt. Phillip Esposito and 1st Lt. Louis Allen. They'll be at North Carolina's Fort Bragg, having made the long drive from their New York home to face Martinez.
"My husband started the process of holding Martinez accountable for his actions and I'm going to finish it for him," said Barbara Allen. "Every time he walks into a court room, he needs to walk past me."
Esposito, 30, of Suffern, N.Y., was Martinez's company commander in the 42nd Infantry Division of the New York National Guard. Allen, 34, of Milford, Pa., was the company's operations officer.
Allen said her husband, a teacher, was working with Esposito to stop black market sales of military equipment when they were wounded in June 7, 2005, by grenades and a mine that exploded in Esposito's room at one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces. The men died the next day at a base near Tikrit.
An Army captain testified at a hearing last year in Kuwait that Martinez, 39, of Troy, N.Y., twice told him he hated Esposito and was going to "frag" him, using the Vietnam War term that refers to a soldier killing a superior.
We're almost a year and a half down the road, now. The wheels of military justice are turning slowly, but they are turning.