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June 17, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Soldier now involved in war crimes case once sought help from Palin

Posted by Hal Bernton

Pvt. Jeremy Morlock, a key figure in an Afghanistan war crimes case, sought then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's assistance in 2007 in obtaining a "compassionate reassignment" from Joint Base Lewis McChord to a post in Alaska, according to recently released email correspondence.

Morlock had hoped to return home to assist his mother and sisters in the aftermath of his father's 2007 death in a boating accident.

Morlock is a Wasilla, Alaska, soldier who earlier this yearpleaded guilty to murdering three unarmed men while serving in Afghanistan in 2010. He is a key government witness in the case against other soldiers accused of participating in the murders, which were allegedly staged to look like combat deaths.

Back in 2007, Morlock was struggling with the loss of his father, Richard Morlock.

The Palins and Morlocks, both of Wasilla, had known each other for years. Jeremy Morlock hoped the governor could help him in gain Army approval for a transfer to an Alaska-based unit so he could provide more support for his family.

"I know you have known my family for some time and I think of you all as friends, and you know my mother is now taking care of all the girls by herself while trying to keep a job," Morlock wrote in an Aug. 24, 2007 email that was recently released along with thousands of other emails from Palin's years as governor. "I'm not asking for pity for my family or myself, I'm just asking if there is anything you could to help me with the process of getting home to Alaska to help."

Morlock sent the email to a catch-all email box and it is unclear whether Palin ever read the note.

He received a form response from a second email address, governor@alaska.gov. That email thanked Morlock for writing Palin, and said "although she is unable to respond to each and every email herself, your message has been received and is being reviewed by the appropriate staff person..."

Morlock's mother, Audrey Morlock, said that she recently spoke with her son about the email, and he did not indicate there was any follow-up from the governor's office.

An Army official spokesman said that a decision to grant a compassionate reassignment depends on an number of factors, including whether commanders believe a soldier's service is needed in a unit.

In Morlock's email, he said that his team and squad leaders were trying to help him but indicated that others higher up in the unit did not support the request.

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