I was recently re-watching HBO’s The Pacific. It is an excellent mini-series. If you liked Band of Brothers, you will likely like The Pacific. It isn’t quite as good as BoB, but it is very good.
Anyway, in one scene, our Marines are dug into foxholes on a hillside on Iwo Jima. The enemy is dug in just on the other side of the hill. Both sides can hear each other, but due to darkness and terrain, they cannot see each other.
The Marines are trying to get some fitful rest during this lull in the action, but they must be absolutely quiet so as not to give away their position. The stress of the situation finally gets to one of the Marines and he stands up and starts to shout incoherently and generally cause a loud disturbance. This exposes the entire formation to possible enemy action. The other Marines attempt to subdue the loud Marine, but are unable to do so. There is not a medic nearby to administer any drugs that might help the situation. Finally, one of the Marines shoots and kills to loud Marine, ending the disturbance.
Is this a crime in the UCMJ? In the story, this shooting of a fellow Marine is portrayed as unavoidable and it ended what could have been a very real threat to the unit. Still, the dead Marine’s family will be informed of the casualty. There will be paperwork. Would the officer in command of the unit at the time of the death concoct some more appropriate battlefield death for this event? Assuming that an accurate report is filed, how would the Marine leadership have responded to the intentional killing of a Marine by a Marine?
There is another scene where a Marine dies due to friendly fire, but this doesn’t seem like it would be a crime as the Marine who fired the fatal shot had every reason to believe he was firing on an enemy combatant.