The Board for Correction of Naval Records (BCNR) reached a monumental decision on January 2, 2019 regarding the case of Major Fred Galvin (USMC retired). Galvin, along with other MARSOC Marines, was falsely accused of indiscriminately killing women, children, and elderly on March 4, 2007 in the village of Boti Kot, Afghanistan. NEWSREP has covered the incident extensively since 2016, and the BCNR decision is arguably the largest victory to date for Galvin and his men.

Twelve years ago last week, on January 4, 2007, the first Marine Special Operations Task Force received a farewell speech from the commanding general of MARSOC, Maj. Gen. Hejlik, in which he told all of the Marines and their families at the 2nd MSOB compound in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, “Not all of you will be coming back.” At the time, Major Galvin was commanding the first unit of special operations Marines (MSOC-F) to be deployed to combat since World War II.

On March 10, 2007, before investigations were completed, then-Maj. Gen. Frank Kearney (U.S. Army) ordered Fox Company to leave Afghanistan. The Marines involved in the alleged war crime—the MARSOC 7 as they’ve been called—have since been cleared of any wrongdoing through a rare court of inquiry (COI). However, the reputations of Major Galvin and his Marines have been irreparably tarnished, and they are still tormented by the accusations cast on them well over a decade ago.

The independent BCNR panel concluded that the Marine Corps is to clear references to the ambush from Major Galvin’s official record and to reconsider him for promotion to lieutenant colonel, with potential reinstatement to the Marine Corps. Galvin has sold the business that he built from scratch and is prepared to reenter military service should he be allowed to. The BCNR, which acts on behalf of the Secretary of the Navy, effectively exonerated Major Galvin and his Marines of wrongdoing on March 4, 2007. The U.S. Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps have opted not to thoroughly correct this issue and have avoided taking appropriate action in the years that passed since the ambush. To this day, an apology has never been made by any of the political or military leaders who rushed to judgment in accusing these men.

The BCNR findings regarding this incident are listed below.

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Galvin speaking on Capitol Hill. 2017.

Additionally, the BCNR came to a conclusion regarding a separate incident on June 6, 2011 involving Fred Galvin. The men from 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, were patrolling near a village in Afghanistan’s Sangin Valley. Suddenly, the Marines and corpsmen of Bravo Company began taking well-coordinated fire from no less than 20-24 enemy fighters. The attack included a barrage of RPGs, mortars, and medium machine gun and AK-47 fire. The assault came from four different fighting positions simultaneously—some as close as 36 meters from the American troops. This distance was confirmed by a laser rangefinder, and later walked out on foot by a team leader. This complex ambush would carry on for four hours in broad daylight. By the end of the firefight, the enemy had utilized 14 known fighting positions and, at one point, had enveloped 1st Platoon, Bravo Company by 200 degrees and closed the coordinated attack on the Marines from 375 meters to 36 meters.

The commanding officer of 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, then-Lt. Col. Travis Homiak, made a reckless decision to utilize oversized aviation and surface-fired rocket ordnance that was danger close given the proximity of his own men to the enemy. Homiak ignored Galvin’s recommendation to use appropriately sized ordnance.

The following morning, Homiak reinforced his poor decision-making with another horrible choice (prior to Homiak ever speaking with anyone in Bravo Company, 1st Platoon), ordering Galvin to repeat that same fire support mission using overkill munitions. Homiak stated he was “willing to sacrifice the lives of the Marines for the greater good.” Additionally, Homiak stated that if Galvin had a “crisis of conscience” with supporting and carrying out Homiak’s plan in his absence, he needed to know. When Galvin refused, he was relieved of his duties and sent home. Shortly after, due to service limitations, Galvin was involuntarily forced to retire from the Marine Corps after 26 years of honorable service.

The BCNR decision regarding this incident found a lack of competence by Lt. Col. Travis Homiak, that Maj. Galvin was legally correct to challenge Homiak’s decisions, and that Galvin’s career-ending fitness report was Homiak’s unprofessional and unjustifiable response to being challenged. A detailed summary is listed below.

The BCNR concluded that Maj. Galvin’s “request warrants partial favorable action,” particularly that Galvin’s adverse fitness reports should be removed from his military records as a result of their unjust nature. The BCNR partially deferred a decision regarding Maj. Galvin’s request for reinstatement to return to active-duty service in the Marine Corps as they believed that decision would be premature.

Twelve years ago the men of Marine Special Operations Company Foxtrot embarked aboard ships with an unknown mission location, only having been told by Maj. Gen. Hejlik that some of them “would not make it back.” Today, 12 years from the start of their first MARSOC deployment, after unyielding efforts by numerous supporters, these Marines have been fully exonerated. Their battle to have the facts of this matter announced clearly and finally from the headquarters of the Department of the Navy in the Pentagon, to finally receive acknowledgement that they’d faithfully fought and are innocent in light of false allegations of murder, is now over.

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“For years, those of us who have had to live with the impact of these false accusations against us were waiting for new leadership—leadership that had enough of a conscience to correct the wrongs that have been perpetuated,” Galvin said. “It would seem that we have finally reached that point.”

According to Raymond J. Toney, Maj. Galvin’s attorney, “This decision should put to rest once and for all times the false allegations of murder made against Maj. Galvin and the MSOC-F Marines. The Navy has finally acknowledged that there was no massacre and that Maj. Galvin and his Marines were unfairly punished for the mistakes of senior military leaders. Fred Galvin is a model Marine and he should be promoted and reinstated.”

Conclusion reached by Board for Correction of Naval Records. 2018.

You can read the entire final action letter from the chairman of the Board for Correction of Naval Records here.

These links provide full background information on the MARSOC 7 case: