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An appeal from the parents of LCpl. Stephen B. Tatum

Note: Charges against LCpl Tatum were dismissed on March 28, 2008.

We are the proud parents of a Marine. Our names are John & Stephanie Tatum. Mr. Zimmermann, a retired USMC colonel from Houston, Texas is our sonís attorney.

Of our four sons, one is in the Army and one is in the Marines. They both have served two tours of duty in Iraq. Stephen, our Marine is a Lance Corporal. He and his units have served in two of the toughest assignments. One was in Fallujah in 2004, and the other in Haditha in 2005. He has served his country and flag with great honor and pride. He was well led and well-trained to fight foreign Islamic terrorists and Iraqi insurgents.    

In November 2005 Stephenís convoy was ambushed in a coordinated attack.  A buried bomb blew up a humvee, killing the Marine driver and wounding two others.  Snipers then fired from a nearby house at Marines who came to their rescue.  The platoon leader and squad leader then ordered the house to be cleared, which our son and three others did, room by room.  A second house was cleared the same way.  Stephenís company was involved in a series of attacks on them for most of that day.  When the fighting stopped, it was discovered that there were some women and children who had been in two of the houses that were cleared.  Stephen, a religious person, feels absolutely terrible about these deaths.

Stephen has been charged with six homicides, two carrying possible life sentences.

We believe in our son and know he has done nothing wrong. Nor, that he has dishonored his country or the uniform he wears with great pride, dedication and respect.  

We are hard working people, and so do not like to ask for help.  The Marine Corps cannot pay for civilian lawyers, but we have taken out a second mortgage on our home and used our savings to defend our son. We need help for expert witnesses, from pathology to scene reconstruction, to ballistics, and others.  It is very important that we have our own witnesses and experts.  

Besides our own relatives and friends, I asked Mr. Zimmermann, who has cut his fee in half, if he might know people that would be willing to send $50.00 or $100.00 dollars to a legal defense fund that has been set up.  If enough people do so, we may be able to raise the $50,000 or more needed for experts, investigators, travel, witnesses and lodging expenses. The case is in Camp Pendleton, California. Should there be extra money, it will all go to a College Fund for the families of Marines who have lost their lives in the service of our country.

An Article 32 hearing will be held in the very near future, and we need to move forward quickly.  If you can help, please send what you can to the fund administrator, Mr. Christopher M. Odell, Attorney at Law.  Attached is the information on the legal defense fund.

Thank you,

John & Stephanie


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