Five years ago, 1st Lt. Michael Behenna was sentenced to 25 years in prison – which was later reduced to 15 years – for killing an al-Qaeda operative just days after two of his military brothers were killed by an IED. After endless tears and legal fights, Behenna’s family has now brought him home after his being granted parole.
Former U.S. Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna stepped out of a van Friday morning just outside the walls of the U.S. Discplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, having just served five years for killing an Iraqi.
His longtime girlfriend, Shannon Wahl, sprinted towards him, nearly knocking Behenna over.
Dressed in an orange hoodie, his head shaved and sporting a short, trimmed beard, Behenna was soon surrounded by his family. They hugged, gathered in a small circle and prayed before quickly leaving. They stopped a short distance later at a community center, where Behenna sat down for an exclusive interview with The Oklahoman.
“It’s overwhelming; I can’t put into words what today means,” Behenna said. “I can’t wait to get home.”
Behenna’s parole was granted last month and he was released yesterday. Though Michael’s freedom is a time for joy, that he was jailed at all for killing an enemy combatant on the field of battle, within days of losing his closest friends to agents of that enemy, remains a gross injustice.
Welcome home, Liutenant!
We salute you and thank you for your service.
To read more about our coverage of Behenna’s story, click here.