On the morning of July 2, 2012, in the most dangerous warzone in the world, Lieutenant Clint Lorance took command of his small band of American paratroopers at the spearhead of the American War in Afghanistan. Intelligence reports that morning warned of a Taliban ambush against Lorance's platoon. Fifteen minutes into their patrol, three military-age Afghan males crowded on a motorcycle and sped aggressively down a Taliban-controlled dirt road toward Lorance's men. Three weeks earlier, outside the massive American Kandahar Airfield, Taliban terrorists struck by motorcycle, riding into a crowded area, detonating body-bombs and killing twenty-two people. Sixty-three days before that, three Ohio National Guard soldiers were murdered in another motorcycle-suicide bombing. Suicide-by-motorcycle had become a common Taliban murder-tactic against Americans.
Lorance had seconds to react. Either open fire and protect his men, or ignore the speeding motorcycle and pray like hell that his men weren't about to get blown the hell up. In a split-second decision, Lorance ordered his men to fire. When no weapons were found on the Afghan bodies, the Army betrayed one of its finest young officers and prosecuted Lorance for "murder." Hiding crucial evidence from the military jury, and ordering his own men to testify against him or face murder charges themselves, they railroaded Lorance into a 20-year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth, where he remains today. TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE chronicles the true story of the most despicable political prosecution in American military history.
Don Brown is the author of Thunder in the Morning Calm, The Malacca Conspiracy, The Navy Justice Series, and The Black Sea Affair, a submarine thriller that predicted the 2008 shooting war between Russia and Georgia. Don served five years in the U.S. Navy as an officer in the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps, which gave him an exceptional vantage point into both the Navy and the inner workings "inside-the-beltway" as an action officer assigned to the Pentagon. He left active duty in 1992 to pursue private practice, but remained on inactive status through 1999, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He and his family live in North Carolina, where he pursues his passion for penning novels about the Navy.
QUESTION: lint Lorance is your newest book can you tell us a bit about it, and the story behind its inception?
DON: Clint Lorance is an American hero, a patriot who became an officer in the 82nd Airborne Division, who was railroaded by a political prosecution within the United States military to satisfy the Afghan government, and to enforce suicidal rules of engagement which had been placed into effect at the time, which wound up getting lots of Americans kill. Clint Lorance stood up for his men, and was not going to take any chances on a Taliban suicide bomber on a motorcycle driving up quickly to his foot patrol and blowing himself up. In this case there were 3 Afghans crammed on a single motorcycle who charged against Clint's Patrol, and did so in an aggressive manner, in one of the most dangerous, Taliban-infested battlefields in the world.
The morning of July 2, 2012, when Clint Lorance ordered his men to open fire on this quickly-approaching motorcycle, U.S. intelligence intercepted messages that Clint's platoon was about to be ambushed. Clint had to consider all this in the back of his mind, and had to make a split-second, snap decision on whether to fire. He ordered his men to open fighter to protect themselves against ambush, after having been warned of an ambush, when the motorcycle was speeding down a road controlled by the Taliban which had been the source of multiple attacks against Americans.
Clint's order to fire was only to ensure that none of his men had to go home and body bags. After issuing that order, Clint became a political scapegoat on an international stage. He now serves what was originally a twenty-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, and this wrong must be righted.
QUESTION: When you did the final read through for TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE, what was your favorite part of the book?
DON: We've been editing the book, as an ongoing process, really up until about one week prior to the date of this interview. However, the final full read-through came the first week in January of 2019. My favorite part of this book? Well I can tell you that I have been to the U.S. military prison at Fort Leavenworth to visit with Clint Lorance on a number of occasions within the last year, and I've got to know him well.
Throughout the book, which is written in a style of literary nonfiction, we at times tell telling Clint story in a narrative fashion, but we're also include interviews with him throughout, so that our readers, hopefully, we'll get to know the man better. I never quite met anybody like Clint, serving an original twenty-year sentence yet at the same time, even under those circumstances, remains so optimistic and still loves his country and still loves the Army despite the fact that he's being railroaded. I can tell you that in the U.S. military prison, Clint is a natural leader there as well, a model for all to follow, and not just his fellow prisoners.
He is a model even for the military command of the prison. For the younger soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who come into the prison as inmates, he helps pick them up off the deck, encourages them to learn how to finish off their college degree in the military prison, checks on them to make sure that they are engaging in physical exercise, and they are reading good materials. Clint Lorance remains a leader who cares about his men.
And along those lines, in the book, and I don't want to spoil the book for those who haven't read it yet, but there's a very significant and moving passage in which Clint talks about his affection for the men with whom he served serve, and his willingness to give his life for them, and still would even to this day.
TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE book exposes from an evidentiary standpoint the railroad job that the government directed against Clint Lorance, but the sections of the book where Clint opens his heart about his continued love for the Army, and for his men, and how he would have sacrificed for them, believe my readers will find moving. I hope so. I believe it captures the heart of Clint Lorance the man, of Clint's Lorance, the young army officer, and should send the signal that this TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE must be rectified Clint must be freed.
QUESTION: You're a bestselling author, and I am sure you have a lot of fans. What was the most interesting feedback or question you have received from a reader?
DON: in 2017, I released a book through Regnery publishing entitled THE LAST FIGHTER PILOT: The True Story of the Final Combat Mission World War II. The book chronicles the story of Captain Jerry Yellin, who, as a 21-year-old P-51 Mustang pilot, flew the final combat mission of World War II from Iwo Jima, over Tokyo, on August 14, 1945, the date that the emperor announced Japan's surrender in World War II. Captain Yellin, who was Jewish, had as his wingman a 19-year-old young Jewish pilot named Lieutenant Phil Schlamberg, who was shot down over Tokyo that day, and who is the last known American death a World War II. Phil Schlamberg was the great-uncle of the great actress, Scarlett Johansson, and Scarlett's mom, Melanie Sloan wrote a moving foreword to her uncle in the book.
Captain Yellin was still alive when I begin to write LAST FIGHTER PILOT, and was wonderful in allowing me to interview him on many occasions. After the book was released, we went on tour to the West Coast where we opened the book tour at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, in Simi Valley, followed by time spent at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library at Yorba Linda. Writing LAST FIGHTER PILOT, at the time, hoped that the book would be a service to our national history, because it captured a final historic mission in the world's most terrible war, that had never been told before.
That mission, and Phil Schlamberg's death, are larger-than-life historical landmarks. I am grateful for the feedback that I have gotten from readers around the country, who have not only been touched by Captain Yellin's great story, but are grateful that the story is being told for its historical significance. I can't point to anyone letter or email because there have been so many, but the outpouring for Captain Yellin himself, and for the book, was overwhelming.
Historically, LAST FIGHTER PILOT could be one of the most important historical works that I've written, and I'm grateful to have been able to write it and am grateful to have gotten to know Captain Yellin. Like I said, there have been times within my writing career where lightning has struck in a good way, and the honor of telling Captain Yellin's story, and being honored to attend his military funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in January of 2019, on a freezing afternoon with snow all over the ground, and watching four U.S. Air Force A-10 jets doing a flyover over the cemetery in Jerry's honor, is something that I will never forget.
QUESTION: With so many people living on the go in these days, how do you find balance with family, exercise and traveling to fit in so much writing?
DON: Two things. One, obviously it takes a lot of discipline. I live by the alarm clock. I know that I can block 2 hours to do tasks, and will set my cell phone to go off at the end of two hours, and then it's time to move on to something else.
Secondly, I for the most part, I cut television out altogether, which frees up a lot of time in the evenings. I think working by the alarm clock, and cutting television at least to a large degree, is a secret that would be so easy for most people to follow, but so hard on the other hand because of our national television addiction. But if followed, cutting TV alone would increase our national productivity at least 150%.
QUESTION: Let's change it up a bit -If you could have any superpower what would it be and why?
DON: Easy. I will be a mind reader. Why? Knowing exactly what others are thinking would be a very valuable superpower to have. Knowledge is power and power is knowledge.
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