09/29/12 5:37pm
09/29/2012 5:37 PM

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola at a welcome home party at McDonald’s in Mattituck last October.

A defense fund was created to help two U.S. Marines, one of whom is from Southold, who are being court-martialed for allegedly urinating on dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in late July 2011, and posing for pictures with the bodies.

The 3/2 Scout Sniper Defense Fund has started a Facebook site with a link to a PayPal account where contributions can be made, according to Laura Pace of Mattituck. Her brother, Staff Sgt. Edward Deptola of Southold, 27, faces charges along with another Marine, Staff. Sgt. Joseph Chambin, for the urinating incident, which was captured in a video that appeared on YouTube in January.

Ms. Pace said other Marines started the site, which just went up this week.

“I think that a court martial is extreme,” Ms. Pace said. “Facing jail time is a little extreme. I can’t say if he did it or didn’t, but he’s innocent until proven guilty. As a civilian, I don’t want to know what’s going on over there. All I know is I sleep better at night knowing that the service men and women are over there defending us.”

The Facebook site says it’s dedicated to help the 3/2 Scout Snipers with legal fees and the possible loss of their careers.

“What most people don’t know is the story behind the five U.S. Marines currently involved in the legal investigation,” the Facebook site says. “Since February these Marines with their families by their sides have been engaged in a extremely stressful legal battle incurring over $30,000.00 of legal bills between them and the tab is still running.”

The site claims that money raised will go to legal costs for the soldiers, and that when they reach their goal, they will stop collecting money and the account will be closed.

The Department of Defense brought the court-martial action against Staff Sergeants Deptola and Chamblin on Sept. 21, and announced it in a Sept 24 press release.

The two Marines also were charged for other misconduct that allegedly took place during the same operation, including being derelict in their duties by failing to properly supervise junior Marines, failing to require junior Marines to wear their personal protective equipment, failing to stop and report the misconduct of junior Marines, failing to report the negligent discharge of a grenade launcher, and failing to stop the indiscriminate firing of weapons, the Department of Defense stated.

Staff Sgt. Deptola also is charged with failing to stop the unnecessary damaging of Afghan compounds and wrongfully and indiscriminately firing a recovered enemy machine gun.

The other three Marines, who were not identified, received nonjudicial punishment for misconduct that came to light during several investigations into the urinating incident, and disciplinary actions against them will be announced at a later date, officials said.

According to the Facebook site, the five Marines facing charges “have a combined total of 15 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, going as far back as 2003, multiple Navy Commendation medals with Combat “V” for Valor, and 3 Purple Hearts.”

One of them was wounded in 2010 when he was hit by a home-made claymore mine, and another is now an amputee after in improvised explosive device (IED) he was disarming detonated, causing him to lose his left leg.

“These funds will go to help pay legal fees as they fight for their VA [U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs] benefits to include medical coverage for those that were wounded in combat, VA disability for the more critically wounded, educational benefits such as the GI Bill, and other VA benefits,” the site states.

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09/27/12 8:00am
09/27/2012 8:00 AM

Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola

Why did we print it?

Why did we run a page 1 story about a local soldier who’s being court-martialed for desecrating the body of a fallen Taliban fighter in Afghanistan? Two main reasons.

First, there’s an obvious local angle to an international story. But second, and most important, we are obligated to do so. Although another news organization has co-opted the term “fair and balanced,” that’s the credo that drives our coverage. And since we ran a rather complimentary story last year on the party the family of Marine Staff Sgt. Edward Deptola threw for him, fairness and balance dictate that if we cover the good we must not ignore the bad.

We’ve received criticism for our online coverage of the Deptola case, including why a local paper is smearing the reputation of a local man, a 2003 Southold High School graduate, who is doing a heroic job while facing death every day in a far-off, horrific conflict. Of all the dark and deadly things that transpire under the fog of war, does this really rise to the level the press has set it in?

There’s no effort under way to smear or prejudge Staff Sgt. Deptola or cast all veterans in an unfavorable light. He did indeed answer his country’s call and volunteered to serve and unselfishly put himself in harm’s way for a purpose and a cause much larger than himself.
But he’s also been accused of an offense that, as incredible as it sounds, carries geopolitical implications.

Still, his case has yet to be heard. When it is, and when the verdict is in, we’ll report the outcome, whatever it may be.

09/25/12 9:02pm
09/25/2012 9:02 PM

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola at a welcome home party at McDonald’s in Mattituck last October.

One of the two U.S. Marines who will be court martialed for urinating on dead Taliban fighters and posing for photographs with the corpses in Afghanistan last year is from Southold.

Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola, 27, a 2003 graduate of Southold High School, was charged in the incident, which occurred in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on or about July 27, 2011, according to a press release from the Department of Defense. Staff Sgt. Joseph W. Chamblin, 35, whose address has not been released, was also charged in the incident Monday, officials said.

The incident allegedly took place during a counterinsurgency operation near Sandala in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province. The incident came to light after a video popped up on YouTube in January, prompting military officials to launch several investigations, the DOD said.

Staff Sgt. Deptola, the father of two children, was the subject of a Suffolk Times story last October, when he returned from Afghanistan less than three months after the date of the alleged incident.

“The war over there is pretty much a sniper war,” he told us. “We’re getting shot at on a daily basis and we put ourselves in harm’s way on purpose.”

During his seven-month tour, one member of his platoon was killed and six were injured, we reported.

“We’d go out in the middle of the night and begin observing as soon as the sun went up,” he told us. “The enemy would be shooting from 1,000 yards away from a 12-inch hole in a wall.”

His seven months there seemed a lot longer, he told us, “But when you get home it seems so quick and everything is just a blur.”

He was to remain stateside, deployed at Camp Lejeune, until November 2013, we reported. He said he hoped to return to Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola

Staff Sgts. Deptola and Chamblin were also charged for other misconduct that took place during the same July 2011 operation, including being derelict in their duties by failing to properly supervise junior Marines, failing to require junior Marines to wear their personal protective equipment, failing to stop and report the misconduct of junior Marines, failing to report the negligent discharge of a grenade launcher and failing to stop the indiscriminate firing of weapons, officials said.

Additionally, Staff Sgt. Deptola, who is assigned to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, at Camp Lejeune, N.C.,  is charged with failing to stop the unnecessary damaging of Afghan compounds and wrongfully and indiscriminately firing a recovered enemy machine gun, officials said.

The DOD release did not feature a date for the trial to begin. Attempts to reach Staff Sgt. Deptola’s family members were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Last month, three other Marines received nonjudicial punishment for misconduct that came to light during several investigations into the incident. Disciplinary actions regarding other Marines will be announced at a later date, officials said.

“There are other pending cases related to this incident,” the command said in a written statement, published in the Department of Defense press release. “In order to preserve the integrity of the investigations and to ensure fair and impartial legal proceedings in the future, we will not discuss evidence or specific findings of the investigations. “We will be as forthright as possible while preserving the rights of the accused and the fairness and integrity of the military justice process.”

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10/20/11 5:30pm
10/20/2011 5:30 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Catching some rays. With all the rain there hasn't been much opportunity to bask in the sun, so this great blue heron took full advantage of the clouds parting over the shore of a Southold creek. There's a brighter forecast for the upcoming weekend.

Read all these stories and more in this week’s edition of the Suffolk Times on newsstands now:

NEWS

Southold businessman facing federal wire fraud and money laundering charges

In June of last year, a Southold business man and a business partner were named in a 28-count federal indictment alleging that, between 1996 and 2006, the two took part in a multi-million “kickback scheme” to defraud Aerospostale, a major apparel company that makes clothes and accessories aimed at teenagers.

Marine back from Afghanistan ambushed with love at McDonald’s

Coming home to Southold after seven months on the front lines in Afghanistan, Marine Staff Sergeant Eddie Deptola expected to be hugged often.

Lobstermen to help rid sound of abandoned fishing gear

As the Long Island Sound lobster industry continues to decline, about 40 lobstermen from the north shore have been tapped to work for a federally funded program to help get rid of derelict fishing gear.

Hardened shoreline reduction goal eliminated from comprehensive plan

An ambitious goal to reduce the percentage of hardened shoreline in Southold has been stricken from the town’s comprehensive plan.

Mattituck 7-Eleven may not open until spring

The new 7-Eleven in Mattituck, which had been slated to open in mid-November, has hit a snag that could cause it to delay opening until spring.

Town giving away wood chips from all the brush collected post-Irene

Interested in picking up some free wood chips? They’re large — up to six inches — and not particularly pretty, but courtesy of Tropical Storm Irene, Southold Town has tons of ’em to give away.

Blotter: Woman stole iPhone from Mattituck store

After a Mattituck business reported on Oct. 14 that an Apple iPhone was stolen from the store, a police investigation revealed that Jacqueleen M. Rosa, 25, of Mattituck was in possession of the missing phone, according to police reports.

More news …

OPINION

Editorial: Disagreeing without being disagreeable

Monday’s Mattituck Chamber of Commerce candidates night provided the first face-to-face meeting of the men and women seeking town office this year. And given all the animosity and angry rhetoric unfortunately evident on the national political scene, the polite, if pointed, exchanges were most welcome.

Column: How to easily spot an awful driver

There comes a time in every newspaper columnist’s life where he or she feels it necessary to jot down a list of complaints about other drivers on the road. For me, that time has arrived.

Read this week’s ‘Letters to the Editor’

More opinion …

SPORTS

Girls Tennis: Manfredo tops Bundrick in division final

Patience is not exactly Aimee Manfredo’s forte.

Manfredo has a number of qualities that make her a formidable tennis player. She hits a ball with gusto, giving it everything she has. She can make shots from sharp angles. She is an efficient server.

More sports …

And check out this week’s multimedia:

Video: Apple picking on the North Fork

Orchards on the North Fork wrapped up a successful picking season over the Columbus Day weekend, despite damage to some trees from Tropical Storm Irene.

Slide Show: Canine Halloween costume party in Peconic

Girl Scouts from Mattituck-Cutchogue Troop 725 hosted a canine Halloween costume party at the dog park behind Southold Recreation Center in Peconic on Saturday. Scouts Sarah Fogarty, Emily Gatz, and Samantha Kaelin coordinated the party as part of their Silver Award project.

Video: Solar porch installed at organic farm in Riverhead

An organic farm in Riverhead became even more environmentally-friendly last week after adding a new porch with a solar awning to its farm stand.

more multimedia …

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10/20/11 2:40pm

Coming home to Southold after seven months on the front lines in Afghanistan, Marine Staff Sergeant Eddie Deptola expected to be hugged often.

But he never, ever guessed he’d receive a big embrace from “Grimace,” the big, purple, fuzzy McDonald’s character.

And yet, as he stood just inside the entrance of the Mattituck McDonald’s Sunday night, that’s exactly what happened.
Knowing his affinity for the fast-food giant’s fare, Sgt. Deptola’s family staged a surprise “welcome home” party at McDonald’s.

For a man who regularly faces enemy fire in a faraway desert, Sgt. Deptola seemed stunned when he walked in with his fiancée, Heather, and children Cassandra, 4, and Edward III, 2, to find a crowd of family members and seats festooned with balloons.

“They got me good,” he said. “They orchestrated that perfectly.”

He’d only recently driven home from the Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

“This was the second surprise I had,” he said. “The first was the ‘welcome home’ sign hung on the last overpass on the Expressway near the Tanger Mall.”

TIM KELLY PHOTO

A down-to-earth guy, Sgt. Deptola had no interest in frequenting fancy eateries while on leave.

“He’d always say how much he missed McDonald’s,” said his mother, Laura, who conspired with his sister, also Laura, in planning the party.

“They probably got sick of hearing it,” the sergeant said. “That’s the one thing over there that I really missed.”

A 2003 Southold High School graduate and former NJROTC cadet, Sgt. Deptola serves in the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines weapons company as a scout sniper platoon sergeant.

“The war over there is pretty much a sniper war,” he said. “We’re getting shot at on a daily basis and we put ourselves in harm’s way on purpose.”

During his seven-month tour, one member of his platoon was killed and six were injured.

“We’d go out in the middle of the night and begin observing as soon as the sun went up,” he said. “The enemy would be shooting from 1,000 yards away from a 12-inch hole in a wall.”

His seven months there seemed a lot longer, he said, “But when you get home it seems so quick and everything is just a blur.”

He’ll remain stateside, deployed at Camp Lejeune, until November 2013. What comes after that is not known.

“Hopefully back to Afghanistan,” the sergeant said.

His family isn’t thinking about that now.

“He’s home and he’s safe,” his mom said. “That’s what matters.”

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05/16/11 6:37pm
05/16/2011 6:37 PM
Members of the Cutchogue-New Suffolk Historical Council and the community gather to watch the dedication of the new village garage on Cutchogue Village Green Sunday. The garage was built by the historical council to house 20th century historical memorabilia, including a Model T Ford donated by Parker Wickham, who died several weeks ago.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Members of the Cutchogue-New Suffolk Historical Council and the community gather to watch the dedication of the new village garage on Cutchogue Village Green Sunday. The garage was built by the historical council to house 20th century historical memorabilia, including a Model T Ford donated by Parker Wickham, who died several weeks ago.

The Southold-Mattituck-Greenport NJROTC unit is No. 1 in the nation — the culmination of 37 years! There were some rough times after its first instructor, Chief Petty Officer Joseph Conlon, passed away in 1978. Chiefs Jim Clasen and John Sumwalt came on board in 1981 and stuck with the unit for 20 and 22 years, respectively. Major Grigonis knew when he took over in 2001 that there were trying times ahead. Thanks to the efforts of the Stype and Conlin families, the unit persevered and, through legislation submitted by Congressman Tim Bishop, was able to march on and add its first female officer, NC1 Felicity Turner.

Maj. Grigonis credits former commanding officers Kyle Hruz, Krystyna Surozenski, Abbie Pacholk, Tyler Cande, Lauren Solo, Bobby Haase, Kate Dacimo, Sean Brodarick, Steve Conlin, Sarah Conlin, Kate Mullen, Bruce Grattan and others for playing a part in this award. Also, kudos to Battalion Commander Billy Goggins, who never once wavered, faltered or gave less than 110 percent! The SMG NJROTC Unit is grateful to the administrations, faculties and staffs of all three schools and to the community for its support!

According to the major, the cadets of this unit know something about legacy. Admiral Ron Horton (Southold, Class of 1978) graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982. Major Mike Libretto, a Mattituck graduate, attended Norwich University on a Marine Corps scholarship. Then there are Captain Kyle Blakie, Senior Chief Petty Officer Eric Podeyne, Pam Kehl, Mark Osmer, USMC Staff Sergeants Eddie Deptola and Pete Foster, Lt. Matt Krupski, Lt. Kyle Hruz, Southold Town Police patrolmen Billy Helinski, Greg Simmons, John Helf, Rich Jernick and Bill Brewer — and so many others.

Accolades to Kyle Clausen, who has been accepted into the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Summer Aim Program.

Early birds are welcome at the Cutchogue Fire Department Panthers’ Relay for Life Team yard and bake sale at the firehouse on Saturday, May 21, at 7 a.m. There will also be a 50/50 raffle. Rain date is May 22.

A car wash fundraiser will be held at CFD on Sunday, May 22, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to 2 p.m.at the Cutchogue Fire Department. As the Mitzvah project for his Bar Mitzvah, my son Greg has been raising money for the Friends of John Tardif, a wheelchair-bound 13-year-old from Cutchogue. If any of your children have played sports with his siblings Joe, Brian or Katie you may have seen John on the sidelines cheering for their teams. His above-ground pool provides him with a therapeutic outlet, but getting him into the pool has become a challenge for his mother. Proceeds from the car wash will help purchase a mechanical lift to move John from his chair into the pool. Your support will be greatly appreciated!

Five generations of the Midgley family gathered recently when William Midgley of Cutchogue made a visit to St. Augustine, Fla. With Mr. Midgley are (from left) his daughter Sandra Midgley, great-granddaughter Alicia Carmine holding her son, Parker Haley, and granddaughter Sophie Benonis.

COURTESY PHOTO | Five generations of the Midgley family gathered recently when William Midgley of Cutchogue made a visit to St. Augustine, Fla. With Mr. Midgley are (from left) his daughter Sandra Midgley, great-granddaughter Alicia Carmine holding her son, Parker Haley, and granddaughter Sophie Benonis.

Third-grade Brownie Troop 156 delivered just over 400 old CDs and DVDs to Martha Clara Vineyard as part of its recycling project. The disks will be used to keep birds from eating the grapes and troop members will return to the vineyard at harvest time to help install them. During the summer, you can still help this effort by dropping off old CDs and DVDs at the Mattituck or Cutchogue libraries.

Thanks to parent volunteers with the Mattituck-Cutchogue Friends of Music, judges, teachers and students enjoyed dinner at the NYSSMA competition hosted by the school music department. Special thanks to servers Kim Boomer, Mary Kelly and Jenn L’Hommedieu and Cutchogue East’s fifth- and sixth-grade band director Joe Hinton.

Newcomers are welcome at Cutchogue New Suffolk Library’s book discussion on “Dark Noon” by Thomas Clavin on Thursday, May 19. Call 734-6360 to learn more about and register for the Living Environment Study Jam, Friday, May 20, 6-7:30 p.m. Food Fun for Kids, grades 2-6 will be held Saturday, May 21, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Adult CPR will be taught Tuesday, May 24, 6-9 p.m. and child/infant CPR on Tuesday, May 31, also 6-9 p.m. There is a fee of $35 for each session.

Have a good week!

03/31/11 12:39pm
03/31/2011 12:39 PM

• Lauren Carlson of Mattituck has been named to the fall 2010 dean’s list at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., where she is a senior biology major.

Edward Deptola Jr.

Edward Deptola Jr.

• Edward Deptola Jr., son of Edward and Laura Deptola of Southold, has been promoted to the rank of staff sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. A 2003 graduate of Southold High School, he is currently deployed in Afghanistan as a scout sniper platoon sergeant.

• Emily Hudson and Zachary Sacher, both of Southold, have made the dean’s list at Boston University for fall 2010.

• Darrin Standish of Southold has earned a place on the fall 2010 dean’s list at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, where is is majoring in justice studies.

• Shawn Williams of Mattituck has earned dean’s list recognition for the fall 2010 semester at Norwich University in Northfield, Vt.

• Amanda Marinace, daughter of David and Lise Marinace of Southold, was named to the fall 2010 dean’s list at Ithaca (N.Y.) College’s School of Health Sciences and Human Performance.

• Brittany Letteriello of Mattituck has made the dean’s list for the fall 2010 semester at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., where she is a junior.