FORMER AIDE TO
GEN. OMAR BRADLEY
Thanksgiving came a day late this year for Charles Honeycutt, but it was well worth the wait. November 25th marked the end of a long, cruel ordeal that the elderly and sick former aide to Gen. of the Army Omar Bradley was forced to endure as the result of criminal acts by Army officials who sought to "rip off," as Honeycutt described it, his beloved .45 caliber commemorative issue handgun given him by the general's late wife, Kitty.
"I treasured that beautiful gun, issued in Gen. Bradley's name, and intended to pass it on to my son when I am gone," Honeycutt told MCC's California correspondent. "But that dream was almost destroyed by the cruel and callous actions of Gen. David Huntoon and his 'designated representative,' retired LTC Conrad Crane."
The longtime Bradley aide explained that when the general's wife died at age 79 in 2004, she left her entire estate to the United States Army. Officials led by Crane, soon arrived at the Rancho Mirage, Calif. mansion "like a pack of hungry locusts" to load up and send back to Carlisle Barracks, Pa. all the loot they could find.
"I remember telling Crane, an arrogant and shifty-eyed man, that the .45 in the glass display case was mine, that I had ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) ownership papers for it, and not, repeat, not to inventory that weapon and ship it back east with the rest of the contents of Mrs. Bradley's home.
"But Crane did it anyway, behind my back. I was tipped off to the brazen theft by the Bradley family maid. It was incredible! I specifically told the colonel that was my property in front of one of the best witnesses one could have. Standing three feet away and confirming every word I spoke was Gen. Bradley's niece, Mrs. Frances Buehler."
The former aide explained that he had a verbal agreement with Mrs. Bradley to let her display in her home his prized handgun, given him in appreciation for his long years of faithful service to the general's family, until such time as she passed away. Then it was agreed the pistol and display case would go back to Honeycutt.
"While it is true that Mrs. Bradley's estate was willed to the Army as she wished, in no way could the handgun she gave me in 2001, three years before her death - [MCC confirmed this fact by checking with the R&R Gun Shop in Palm Springs, Calif.] be considered part of her estate. The people at Carlisle Barracks knew this but were so greedy to put my .45 in their Gen. Bradley museum they figured they could steal it and stall me for time until I died. Crane knew I had suffered a heart attack, mini-stroke and had a failing kidney, all these afflictions hitting me in the past four years. It was a gamble - that I would be in no condition to contest their crime - that has now mercifully failed.
Honeycutt contacted Carlisle Barracks immediately after the warning by the maid, but all he got was the "runaround." Army officials there put him off at first by saying Crane, the civilian director of the Army's Heritage and Education Center, was "on vacation for a few weeks." Then, when that stalling tactic was used up, they answered the former aide's questions with their own questions.
"It became evident they had no intention of telling me if they had my property or not. In effect, I was being told to go to hell!" Honeycutt said. "If Gen. Bradley could have seen the way they treated me, he would surely have rolled over in his grave.
HONEYCUTT REACHES OUT FOR HELP TO MILITARYCORRUPTION.COM
"I was nearly hopeless and didn't know how to recover the handgun when I came across a fantastic web site called MilitaryCorruption.com. It's editor-in-chief, a former United Press International correspondent and Vietnam combat veteran, MAJ Glenn MacDonald, USAR (Ret.), didn't hesitate a moment to come to my aid when asked.
"Mac told me that he was aware of many instances of wrong-doing at Carlisle Barracks [see "related stories" box at bottom of this article] and had chronicled most of them - from racist remarks directed at minority employees to discrimination against female civilian workers on post.
"The major said I was up against a corrupt and out-of-control adminstration there, and boy was he right! Even now I find it hard to believe they tried to get away with what would have brought a civilian prison time - deliberate violation of federal law by transporting a stolen weapon across state lines and then trying to hide the fact they had it.
"MAJ MacDonald devised a brilliant strategy to force them to admit they had my weapon. He contacted the news director of WHTM-TV, the ABC affiliate in Harrisburg, Pa., told them what happened, and asked if they would send a camera crew to Carlisle Barracks to force the officials there to tell the truth.
"WHTM did better than that. Highly-respected news director Keith Blaisdell accompanied his ace reporter Ally Lanyon and, along with a cameraman, hastened to the Army post where at first, public affairs officer LTC Merideth Bucher played dumb.
"When she realized the news team was not going to be buffaloed, she insisted on 'no pictures,' limited the crew to one person - Lanyon was chosen - to see the disputed weapon but not to touch or inspect it at close range. It was obvious they were trying to hide its origin.
"However, the quick-thinking Channel 27 reporter had been armed by MacDonald with a faxed copy of the ATF ownership papers and the commemorative handgun's serial number circled on the document. Lanyon instructed the colonel holding the weapon to "read off the serial number," and so, sandbagged and not knowing what else to do, the officer complied. Bingo! It was one and the same number. A match. Thanks to the ABC television station, we now had confirmation that Carlisle Barracks indeed had my stolen property.
ATTORNEY JOHN "BULL DOG" WELLS ENTERS THE CASE
"MilitaryCorruption.com wrote a series of blistering articles demanding the gun's return, but the so-called leadership at the Barracks - Huntoon and his right-hand man, chief of staff, COL Mike (NO COMBAT) Colpo - refused to do the right thing. Even when two retired general officers - Gens. George Vogel and former Bradley chief-of-staff, Gen. Arch Hamblen - publicly on the pages of MilitaryCorruption.com urged their fellow flag officer, the uncaring Gen. Huntoon, to give the gun back, he refused. Huntoon showed his insolence by not even giving his fellow general officers the courtesy of a reply, public or private.
When it was evident Carlisle Barracks would stonewall any attempt to resolve the issue, Honeycutt hired hard-charging Louisiana attorney, retired Navy Commander John "Bull Dog" Wells. In the 1990's, the most aggressive and successful military affairs attorney in the country was Charles Gittins. Today, most observers agree, Wells is at the top of the pack, his services much desired by those who want to win their court cases.
The "bull dog" soon took a big bite of JAG officer MAJ Kateni T. Leakehe's backside and defiantly drew a line in the sand, like Col. Travis at the Alamo. "Either hand over Honeycutt's property now, or we'll see you in federal court and get it then," he said.
The Army, seeking to avoid embarrassment and possible criminal charges, decided to relinquish possession of the pilfered handgun. They "caved in" just days before the case was to go before a federal judge in Harrisburg, Pa. But utilizing an "end run" tactic worthy of Machiavelli, the deceitful Command sent the weapon back to California all right, but not to Honeycutt.
It was shipped to the California Probate Court where, they hoped it could become ensnarled in red tape long enough for Charles Honeycutt to die before he could receive it. And they certainly feared the humiliation of MAJ MacDonald declaring victory over the criminals at Carlisle Barracks on his widely-read and very influential web site, MilitaryCorruption.com.
"Bull Dog" Wells shifted his focus from Pennsylvania to California and wasted no time in appealing to the court out there for justice. That was thankfully granted earlier this month when the judge ordered doddering executor Richard Lauter to obey his instructions or face contempt of court. The gun must be returned to Honeycutt, the judge declared. And finally it was, on the day after Thanksgiving.
"Whenever I think of the pain they put me and my dear wife Judy through, I want to cry in anger and frustration," said frail 70 year-old Charles Honeycutt. "This ordeal could have killed me, but I was determined to fight to the end to recover what was mine. And I did.
"I would like to see Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld fire Gen. Huntoon and severely reprimand Colpo [now ensconced by cronies as chief-of-staff at West Point after 27 years of stateside duty seeing no combat anywhere - thus his "NO COMBAT" nickname -despite the colonel's U.S. Army Military Academy sheepskin, infantry brass, airborne badge and paratroop wings]. But I doubt if the Secretary has the decency to do it," Honeycutt said. "Rumsfeld is as bad as the rest of them and he should be kicked out the back door himself!"
"HUNTOON HAS TO GO"
At last the long and bitter battle to recover the commemorative Gen. Omar Bradley handgun is over and the general's aide and MilitaryCorruption.com have emerged victorious.
But let's take a look for a moment at the losers and cite them for the crimes they committed, the least of which was disgracing the uniform of the United States Army.
At any time during the past 18 months, David Huntoon, the "boy wonder" commandant at Carlisle Barracks, could have shown some compassion and halted the horrible ordeal elderly and sick Charles Honeycutt was being put through. But the two-star failed in his responsibility and showed a total lack of leadership.
He knew the weapon was purloined and not Army property, but he just didn't care. Huntoon preferred to "look the other way" while his minions performed every devious trick in the book to hang on to the valuable collectors item. Perhaps the calculating general counted on ill and shaken Charles Honeycutt to suffer a second, and this time, fatal heart attack. That would "clear the way" for Carlisle Barracks to hang on to the stolen handgun. Who's going to carry on the fight once Honeycutt is gone? His widow? MilitaryCorruption.com?
Well, was it worth it, Huntoon, to bring such disgrace upon yourself and a once-respected Army post just to get that commemorative pistol for the Omar Bradley exhibit in the AHEC building?
You utilized your all-too-willing JAG, MAJ Leakehe, like some mob boss would direct a slimy and sycophantic attorney, trying every maneuver to walk on the edge of breaking the law. Some of the time you both fell off. Too bad it wasn't into the sewer where you belong.
Hang your head in shame, Huntoon. You have been a failure as commandant at Carlisle Barracks and you're an even bigger flop now.
We might take some comfort out of the public shame you must bear as you (hopefully) consider retirement and shuffling off into well-deserved oblivion. But your megalomaniacal patron, Donald Rumsfeld, "likes" generals like you. So for that reason, you will probably stay on, get promoted, and continue your undistinguished "career" in the Army. What a waste of taxpayer's money!
"NO COMBAT" COLPO, THE "CHAIRBORNE RANGER"
COL Mike "NO COMBAT" Colpo, the "CHAIRBORNE Ranger, who in more than 27 years of active duty after graduation from West Point never went near a war zone, much less vacated his warm seat Stateside, is now chief of staff at the U.S. Military Academy.
We are told it was a "political" appointment, as "Mikey" has lots of pals in high places. Certainly the cadets and faculty need a decorated combat veteran to look up to during this period of wartime, not someone with fewer ribbons on his chest than a staff sergeant with ten years of garrison duty in the Army. But as long as Donald Rumsfeld stays in power, look for Colpo to remain at West Point, even though he was Gen. Huntoon's chief-of-staff during the disgraceful "Gen. Bradley Gun Grab."
It was Colpo's job to keep his boss advised on all issues that affect the Command. He knew very well it was wrong to take Charles Honeycutt's commemorative .45 out of California. Perchance did he say to himself: "What the hell. Old man Honeycutt's sick. Maybe he'll die soon. And anyway, what can he do against us? We hold all the cards and the valuable gun too."
Don't think for a moment Colpo was unaware that the unctuous MAJ Leakehe was doing everything in his power to avoid admitting to Honeycutt that Carlisle Barracks had his treasured pistol.
There were so many times Colpo could have gone into Huntoon's office and said: "Sir, this thing could make us look bad if it got out. After all, Honeycutt was the personal aide to America's most beloved general, Omar Bradley. The Pentagon may not care, but if the news media and that bastard MAJ Glenn MacDonald of MilitaryCorruption.com gets wind of this, we're cooked. He'll humiliate us in public. You know that old saying about shit rolling downhill. Let's cut our losses, give the old man back his gun and hope no one catches on to what we did."
That's what Colpo could and perhaps even should have done, but he didn't. Arrogance and stupidity always goes before a fall, and he is no exception. Colpo underestimated the power of the Internet and MCC to bring together WHTM-TV (ABC) in Harrisburg, the largest newspaper in the area, the PATRIOT-NEWS, the ARMY TIMES, and other media into the case.
For that reason, and the fact that attorney John "Bull Dog" Wells was 48 hours from hauling the Army into federal court, Colpo and company decided to do an "end run" and "give up" the Bradley handgun, sending it back to California but not to rightful owner Charles Honeycutt. That probate red tape trick should fit the bill. Gotta keep stalling on hopes Honeycutt will die.
Well, readers, it was a dirty high-stakes game that the Carlisle Barracks top brass played, but now time has run out. The good guys have won after all. Honeycutt has his gun back and Colpo could yet get caught up in a real investigation of what happened and who is responsible. At a minimum, "NO COMBAT" owes Gen. Bradley's longtime aide a letter of apology. But we won't hold our breath waiting for one to arrive.
IN MEMORIAM: A short time before
we went to press, Brig. Gen. Arch Hamblen, highly-decorated veteran
of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, passed away at age 85, his family
by his side. The general was sickened at Huntoon's behavior and
angry that Charles Honeycutt could be so abused by the United States
Army. Sadly, Arch died just short of sharing with us in this hard-fought
victory. MilitaryCorruption.com and
all those that loved and respected this great general extend our most
heartfelt sympathies to his dear wife Diana and the Hamblen family. May
he rest in peace.
THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG,” INSIDE
SOURCE AT CARLISLE BARRACKS SAYS
“FORCE THEM TO ACCOUNT FOR EACH
ITEM DONATED TO ARMY AND THE
GEN. OMAR BRADLEY FOUNDATION.”
HUNTOON HUNKERS DOWN AS MIKE
“NO COMBAT” COLPO SET TO DEPART
IN JUNE – “GUN GRAB” SCANDAL
HEATS UP AS BRADLEY AIDE’S LAWYER
SAYS “NO” TO REPLICA GUN OFFER.
“SEE YOU IN FEDERAL COURT,” SAYS
JOHN “BULLDOG” WELLS
TOLD ME “GUN IS THEIRS” SAYS
BRADLEY WILL EXECUTOR – RICHARD
LAUTER REVEALS CARLISLE BARRACKS
OFFICIALS CLAIMED “RIGHT” TO
DISPUTED PISTOL – “IF I KNEW THEN,
WHAT I KNOW NOW, I WOULDN’T HAVE
LET THEM TAKE IT,” HE TELLS
MILITARYCORRUPTION.COM – EFFORT
TO PIN BLAME ON LAUTER DOOMED TO
FAILURE – PRESSURE BUILDS ON
HUNTOON TO GIVE UP WEAPON NOW
OR BE SUED IN FEDERAL COURT
AIDE’S ATTORNEY “BLITZES”
CARLISE BARRACKS – LETTERS
DEMANDING RETURN OF “STOLEN”
HANDGUN HIT FOUR PLACES ON POST
PLUS SECRETARY OF THE ARMY
JOHN “BULLDOG” WELLS READY TO
TAKE CASE INTO FEDERAL COURT
“THOSE GUILTY WILL BE PUNISHED”
HONEYCUTT VOWS – OPEN LETTER TO
THE COMMANDANT: “GEN. HUNTOON,
KISS YOUR THIRD STAR GOOD-BYE!”
“ON THE HOT SEAT”
CARLISLE BARRACKS COMMANDANT
CRITICIZED FOR ROLE IN BRADLEY AIDE
“GUN GRAB” – IGNORES PLEA BY TWO
RETIRED GENERALS TO “DO THE RIGHT
THING” – CHANCE OF BARRACKS TO
SURVIVE “BRAC” CUT ENDANGERED,
SOURCE SAYS, BY HUNTOON’S
“ARROGANCE AND STUPIDITY” – JOB
LOSSES FEARED, BLOW TO LOCAL
ECONOMY – ARMY TIMES JOINS
PATRIOT-NEWS AND SENTINEL IN
COVERING THIS LATEST SCANDAL
ARMY GENERALS RALLY BEHIND
FORMER AIDE TO GEN. OMAR BRADLEY
IN DEMAND FOR RETURN OF DISPUTED
HANDGUN – CARLISLE BARRACKS
COMMANDANT GEN. DAVID HUNTOON
URGED TO DO “RIGHT THING” AND
CORRECT “A GRIEVOUS MISTAKE”
PRESSURE BUILDS TO RECOGNIZE
CHARLES HONEYCUTT AS RIGHTFUL
OWNER – “ATF DOCUMENTS PROVE THE
GUN IS HIS,” SAYS BARRACKS OFFICIAL
“ON CONDITION OF ANONYMITY”
IN A CRIME!
CARLISLE BARRACKS MAY FACE MULTI-
MILLION DOLLAR LAWSUIT IN “THEFT”
OF BRADLEY AIDE’S HANDGUN
EXECUTOR OF ESTATE FINGERS “JOHN
GIBLIN” AS OFFICIAL WHO OK’D .45
BEING SHIPPED TO ARMY POST – (ABC)
WHTM-TV FORCES “BUMBLING” PAO
TO ADMIT BARRACKS HAS MISSING
HANDGUN – ATF PAPERS, GUN DEALERS,
BACK UP HONEYCUTT CLAIM TO
OWNERSHIP – “THEY DIDN’T HAVE THE
DECENCY TO TELL THE MAN THEY’D
RIPPED OFF HIS PROPERTY,” SAYS
ONE SOURCE ON POST
BARRACKS IN “CROSSHAIRS”
OVER BRADLEY ESTATE CHARGES
FORMER GENERAL’S AIDE CLAIMS
OFFICIALS – “GREEDY FOR VALUABLE
HOLDINGS” – GRABBED PRIVATE
PROPERTY- BRADLEY FAMILY
MEMBERS DENOUNCE ACTIONS
DOD-IG INVESTIGATION ASKED
CONGRESSIONAL PROBE MAY BE NEXT