David Sharrett Sr. seeks answers years after son's death in Iraq
For four years, Dave Sharrett, Sr. has been trying to find out exactly how his son died.
But it wasn't just the conclusion that his son, Pfc. David Sharrett, was killed by friendly fire in Iraq in 2008. What was worse was the devastating reality that no one would be held accountable.
"Our son, our family gave up blood and treasure for his country, and we were treated like this by the very institution our son served," Dave Sr. said.
Four years ago, Pfc. Sharrett died after a firefight in Iraq. He was shot during the chaos by his own lieutenant, an investigation revealed. It's what his father saw in a video two years later, though, that shook him to the core.
In the video, Sharrett says that he could see his son struggling to live while an Apache helicopter flies away.
"I said, 'Did you see that?'" he said. "He left a man behind. His commanders knew he did that."
That revelation, amongst many others, sent Sharrett, his family and an army of his former students on a hunt for accountability.
That's what led Sharrett to a hotel room in Arlington that overlooked the Pentagon and Arlington Cemetery, with a view of Section 60 of the graveyard, where his son is buried.
"My natural inclination is to look to the left of the Pentagon, to Arlington Cemetery," he said.
He's near the Pentagon to meet with Army Secretary John McHugh, a meeting set up by Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), the father of three kids who Sharrett taught at Langley High School in McLean.
Sharrett used that meeting not just for the families of his son's 101st Airborne division, but for all the Gold Star families who feel abandoned. He also took the opportunity to try to find out why the lieutenant who shot his son not only remains fully employed as an Army Reserve, but was promoted to the rank of captain.
"I wanted to know why they chose to ignore cowardice...why they left my son on the battlefield and bleed to death for 90 minutes," he said.
A spokeswoman for McHugh, Lt. Col. Anne Edgecomb, said that "nothing additional is going to happen as a result" of Mr. Sharrett's meeting this week with the Secretary.
"The loss of Pfc. David Sharrett in combat in 2008 was tragic. The Army and his fellow Soldiers will never forget David or his fellow Soldiers who fell in this battle. The action his unit was involved in, and the details of what happened during and after the battle, have been examined through formal and detailed investigation. We recognize that Pfc. Sharrett's family views events and draws conclusions differently than that of investigators and commanders. We stand by our investigation and decisions that affected individuals involved in this incident. Pfc. Sharrett's family and his memory remain in our thoughts."
"Sometimes it is difficult for people on the outside to understand the fog of war," she said. She added that "private first class David Sharrett's death was indeed tragic", and that they "feel deeply for the Sharrett family, their loss, and all of the families that sacrifice so much."
For now, though, the shadows are long and the fight is over. However, for Sharrett, the story never will be.