The U.S. Navy has concluded its investigation over the involvement of two Navy SEALs assigned to SEAL Team 6 in the death of Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, a Special Forces operator.
Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer specifically chose Rear Admiral Charles Rock, commander of Navy Region mid-Atlantic, to oversee the investigation and determine whether there is enough evidence to prosecute the two SEALs.
Capt. Greg Hicks, the Navy’s chief spokesman, stated, “[Adm. Rock will] review all relevant information pertaining to Staff Sergeant Melgar’s death and make determinations regarding administrative or disciplinary actions as appropriate.”
Staff Sgt. Melgar, who was assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group, was a member of a small joint special operations outfit attached to the U.S. Embassy in Bamako, Mali. The team also included two MARSOC Marines and the two DEVGRU SEALs. Their mission was to provide assistance and support to the Malian and French counter-terrorism efforts against local al-Qaeda offshoots.
In June 2017, Melgar was found dead in the embassy-provided house he was sharing with the other four special operators.
“As in all military justice matters, any charges or actions will be handled in military service channels. During this process, it is paramount that the rights of all parties — including the service member who may be the subject of the investigation — are protected,” added Capt. Hicks.
Initially, the Army led the investigation. Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), however, took over once allegations against the two SEALs began to emerge. The Army investigators were the first to suspect Chief Special Warfare Operator Adam Cranston Matthews and Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Tony DeDolph.
The two DEVGRU SEALs first claimed that they found Sgt. Melgar lying unresponsive in his room. Soon thereafter, however, they changed their statements and said that they were practising hand-to-hand combat techniques when Sgt. Melgar fainted and, despite their CPR attempts, couldn’t be revived. They stated that Sgt. Melgar was drunk during their training session.
A toxicology report, however, didn’t reveal any alcohol in the Green Beret’s system. Then, the SEALs changed their story yet again. They claimed that they had indeed attacked Melgar over a minor inter-team argument. Once they were aware that Melgar was unconscious they tried to resurrect him, even trying an emergency tracheotomy, before taking him to a local hospital.
A military coroner classified the death as “homicide by asphyxiation.”
Matthews and DeDolph were removed from Mali and placed on administrative hold at Dam Neck, Virginia, the home base of SEAL Team 6. Allegedly, Melgar had discovered that the SEALs were pocketing money intended to be used to pay local informants for intelligence on terrorist groups.
A native of Texas, Staff Sgt. Melgar had served two combat deployments in Afghanistan with the 3rd Special Forces Group.