- Navy SEAL Tony DeDolph was reportedly promoted to chief petty officer, despite allegations that he choked a US Army Green Beret to death.
- DeDolph was placed on the promotion list and began wearing his new rank by September, three months after Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar’s death, according to The Daily Beast.
- “It is another failure of leadership,” retired Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, the former head of special operations troops in Africa, told The Beast.
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A US Navy SEAL was promoted to chief petty officer despite allegations that he choked an active-duty US Army Green Beret to death only months before.
Navy SEAL Tony DeDolph was promoted to chief petty officer, a rank with the authority of a senior enlisted leader, even though investigators were looking into the suspicious death of US Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, a Green Beret soldier assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group in Mali, according to a Daily Beast report.
Prosecutors allege that DeDolph, Navy Chief Petty Officer Adam Matthews, Marine Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell, and Marine Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez, all service members who were living nearby, plotted to haze Melgar after tensions flared between them by June 2017.
While Melgar lived in the embassy housing with the SEALs, he told his wife he was having issues with two of them, The Daily Beast said in a 2017 report. Melgar reportedly accused the other service members of soliciting prostitutes and bringing them to a safehouse; and skimming cash intended for informants.
A witness in the investigation claimed DeDolph said he and others wanted to “get back” at Melgar for a perceived slight, according to a previous NBC News report. DeDolph allegedly told a witness that he “choked [him] out,” referring to Melgar, whose death was ruled a “homicide by strangulation.”
DeDolph faces charges of felony murder, obstruction of justice, burglary, and hazing. DeDolph pleaded not guilty to the murder charge earlier in January. His attorney, Phillip Stackhouse, argued “it was never the intent to engage in any sexual assault or sexual denigration, or anything like that.”
Matthews and Maxwell pleaded guilty to lesser charges in May and were reduced in rank and sentenced to one and four years in prison, respectively.
DeDolph initially told investigators that he and Melgar were wrestling at 4 a.m., and that Melgar was drunk, according to NBC News. DeDolph and Matthews added that they all fell onto Melgar’s bed before they realised Melgar was not breathing.
A subsequent autopsy reportedly contradicted the assertion that Melgar was intoxicated. A former military official told the Daily Beast the autopsy indicated there were no drugs or alcohol in Melgar’s system.
Maxwell, a Marine Raider from the Marine Corps Special Operations Command, told investigators that the four of them planned on breaking into Melgar’s bedroom with a sledgehammer, render him unconscious, tie him up, and then record him being sexually assaulted by a Malian security guard, according to a statement obtained by The Washington Post.
Maxwell’s defence attorney described the incident as a “prank” that “went bad.”
Following Melgar’s death, DeDolph was flown out of Mali and placed on administrative leave. DeDolph was placed on the promotion list and began wearing his new rank by September, three months after Melgar’s death, officials told The Beast.
“It is another failure of leadership,” retired Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, the former head of special operations troops in Africa, told The Beast. “I mean senior leadership. It’s unfortunate. He should have never been promoted. The investigation was started right away.”
“I’m disappointed,” Bolduc added. “But not surprised. It’s utter bullshit.”
Asked about the misconduct allegations surrounding the special operations community, one former Delta Force commander told Business Insider that the Navy SEALs had a particularly hard time coping with the scandals.
“The misbehavior comes in waves, and please believe me I’m not being partisan when I say this, [but] the SEALs have a tough time with it,” the former Army commander said. “It always happens in warfare. You always have some of those guys who [have been] waiting all their life to show that they’re a psychopath or they’re trying to impress one another – it’s juvenile that they’re trying to show how tough they are in a perverted manner.”
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