Last night, the City of Palm Bay held their annual Independence Day celebration at Eastern Florida State College in Palm Bay. State Representative Randy Fine was a guest speaker at the event. Fine posted on his social media that he was asked to come speak by Mayor Medina, however emails show that Fine asked Medina to come be a speaker at the event. Although Medina was advised to not have Fine speak directly, he did so anyway and had him accompany him with a presentation on the stage.
In his video, Fine states “Mayor Medina asked me to come tonight and speak about Patriotism.”
After Representative Fine’s speech, Mayor Medina, who served about 3 years in the Marines as a finance clerk, spoke about a new program by the City where they fly and American Flag over city hall and gift it to local veterans and first responders in order to honor them.
“Today we honor Joseph Mayo” Medina said in his speech brining him up on the stage. He goes on to state that Mayo is an Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal.
“Today we celebrate Sergeant First Class Joseph Mayo for how he left it on the battlefield!” (Watch the video below)
However, how he left it on the battle field is the reason for this article. In this 2016 Facebook post on Congressman Posey’s Facebook page, it begins with “Extra Special Welcome Home” then goes on to list Mayo’s accomplishments. Most people seeing this post would assume “welcome home” meant from a deployment, however, this extra special welcome home is by way of parole from prison at Fort Leavenworth for a 35 year prison sentence. The post is misleading at best, duping citizens into supporting a praising a war criminal. Why a US Congressman would pose for a photo with a convicted war criminal along with his Military Affairs Representative is anyone’s guess.
In 2009, Mayo was convicted of murder in the execution-style slayings of four bound and blindfolded Iraqi detainees in 2007 and sentenced to 35 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated murder.
According to testimony, the Iraqis were taken into custody in spring 2007 after a gunfight with an American Infantry Patrol. The patrol unit came upon the men later in the day and was not even sure those they captured were actually involved. They saw a man run into a house when their vehicles were approaching, and chased after him. The captured every male inside the home.
Documents as well as Army interrogation tapes, reveal that First Sergeant Hatley believed that if the men were taken to a detainee holding area, they would be released because there was not enough evidence to hold them. That night, Mayo and others took the Iraqis to a remote area and shot them in the back of the head in retribution for the attacks on the unit, according to testimony, dumping the bodies in a canal.
Mayo, Leahy and Master Sgt. John Hatley, are accused of pulling the trigger.
“Hatley stated that if we took (the) individuals to detention they’d be released in a matter of days,” Mayo told the court. “He said we should take care of them. I agreed.”
Under a deal made with prosecutors, Mayo testified at Hatley’s court-martial the following month. Hatley was sentenced to life in prison which was later reduced, and he was granted parole when he became eligible in 2019.
Co-defendant Sergeant Michael P. Leahy, an army medic, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Two other soldiers – Spc. Steven Ribordy, 26, of Salina, Kansas, and Spc. Belmor Ramos, 24, of Clearfield, Utah – pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit premeditated murder and were sentenced to prison.
“I thought it (the executions) was in the best interests of my soldiers,” Mayo told the court in Vilseck, Germany where his court martial took place.
In another case involving the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killing of her father, mother and younger sister, four soldiers were convicted by a court martial and handed sentences of up to 110 years in prison.
Johana Mayo in a 2009 interview with CNN said her husband has been punished enough.
“I think that he’s given and sacrificed a lot,” she said. “I think he’s a war hero. He’s not a criminal and he’s … being treated as a criminal, and he shouldn’t be.”
“I was used to relying on my husband for everything,” she said. “You know, and he was the one that drove the kids around. He was the one that took care of their homework and anything — grocery shopping — everything. I relied on him for everything, and now I feel like I have to turn to my daughter a lot, and she’s only 11.”
Although Medina refers to Mayo as “Sergeant First Class,” he was actually stripped of his rank and reduced to the rank of Private as part of his sentencing. It is not clear if the awards Medina mentioned were also rescinded which is often the case if they were awarded during the time of the incident in question.
Facebook posts show that Mayo’s wife had been asking for support for her husband’s parole for several years prior to finally being granted.
In Hatley’s case, records show that several “congressional representatives” showed up to the parole hearing to testify on his behalf resulting in the parole being granted. It is not clear if Congressman Posey’s office interceded on Mayo’s behalf as Medina, who also works for Posey as his Military Affairs representative refused to answer questions.
Medina was asked, of all the veterans who live in the city of Palm Bay, why he chose a dishonorably discharged and convicted war criminal to honor with the first gifted city flag “on behalf of all the residents of Palm Bay.” He did not respond.
City staff advised Medina that many are aware of Mayo’s status, and advised him against awarding him the flag, but Mayor Medina did it anyway.
Palm Bay City Councilman and retired Veteran Randy Foster called it “absolutely disrespectful to all Veterans.” Mayor Medina made the decision unilaterally without the support of the city staff or the rest of the City Council.
Foster said that the city’s program for flying the flag over the city was instituted exclusively for first responders and Veterans, and that Mayo, under his dishonorable discharge is no longer legally considered a Veteran according to U.S. Code.
38 U.S.C. § 101(2) provides: The term “veteran” means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.
In accepting the flag, a tearful Mayo told the crowd he wasn’t expecting this, and thanked the city for honoring him.
The United States Military is supposed to set the standard for the world to follow. How can we go after other nations like Russia for war crimes when here, our government is honoring our own confessed war criminals with flags on the 4th of July?
Melbourne Deputy Mayor Retired LTC Tim Thomas was asked for comment but did not respond.
An extremely detailed report of the incident can be seen here.