...For Meritorious Service – A JAG-NCIS Story

A story about one of the occurrences that happened during the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom - a medal winner – did he die in combat or was he a murder victim? The idea for this story came from an article that I read in my local paper about how an Army soldier in Operation Iraqi Freedom was being investigated for a medal of honor posthumously for his actions. The soldier was Army Engineer Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith (1). I took this incident and combined it with a friendly fire report where an officer was accidently killed by his own men when he inadvertently went behind enemy lines during the fighting.

I wanted the JAG team to handle this kind of thing, but I knew I'd have to make a change and have a criminal angle to involve our JAG troubleshooters and so I came up with the idea for this murder/mystery. NCIS's Washington DC Major Case Response Team [MCRT] will join the story later on.

Caution: A word of warning to all readers – this story deals with soldiers in combat situations so there will be salty language. The JAG crew – in particular Harm, Mac and AJ - was known to let swear words pop out from time to time. Also, this story will be dealing with combat and mature situations, thus the rating.

This tale will be dealing with events at JAG from Seasons 8 & 9, so if you don't like your JAG crew this way, I promise they won't be for long as the events of this story end those versions of the characters. The NCIS crew is as close to their JAG season 8 characters as I could get, but I pieced in information about them from later NCIS episodes when I thought it fit their personalities for this story.

This story also deals with life and death of a recently converted Muslim Marine officer and with al Qaeda. If this story is not your cup of tea, don't read it just because it says 'JAG' or 'NCIS' on it. No one is forcing you to read it.

1. Source: "Scenario 13: Medal of Honor." Road to Baghdad-Iraq 2003: A Force on Force Companion. Osprey Publishing & Ambush Alley Games. 69-72. [I'm citing this source for this information because I lost the original article during a computer crash in 2008.]

A/N1: Military jargon: For those not as familiar with some of the vehicles and weapons mentioned in story, here's a briefing:

AAVP-7A1 – tracked amphibious armored personnel carrier used by the USMC also known as AMTRAC. There is an engineer version, AAVE-7A1 [some are fitted with mine clearing devices], and a recovery version, AAVR-7A1. The AMTRAC also goes by other names – Tuna Boat, Pig, and P-7

AH-1W Cobra – helicopter gunship used by the USMC during the fighting in Iraq.

Barrett M-82 Sniper Rifle – Heavy sniper rifle (.50 caliber) used by US Army and USMC.

Beretta M9/ Model 92F – Sidearm of USMC officers.

C-5 – Standard USAF heavy transport.

C-130 - Hercules four engine transport used by US Navy, Marines, Army and USAF. The Marines use a dual purpose tanker transport known as KC-130. USAF Special Operations use C-130 specially outfitted with autocannons and sometimes a 105mm howitzer known as AC-130 Spectre.

CH-46 – Medium lift helicopter used by the USMC. Nick-named 'Phrog' or 'Frog'

MH-53 Pave Low III – Special Operations helicopter armed with machineguns. USMC and US Navy also use a carrier version of this same helicopter known as CH-53 Super Stallion.

HMMWV – Known in civilian circles as 'Hummer'-military types call them 'Hum-vees' Depending on its use it may have been heavily armed. Both the US Army and USMC use a version mounting TOW anti-tank missile launcher.

LAV – wheeled reconnaissance, light armored vehicle used by the USMC. There are several different versions of this vehicle including a forward observer (FO) version, an anti-tank (LAV-AT), and a self-propelled mortar version (LAV-M).

M-1A1—main battle tank of the USMC. Armed with a 120mm cannon and machineguns.

M2HB – Standard heavy machine gun (.50 caliber) used by military.

M-16A3/A4 – Standard automatic rifle of the USMC.

M-728 – M-60 tank armed with 165mm demolition cannon and a-frame for lifting and towing. It also sometimes has a dozer blade – standard engineering vehicle of the US Army, phased out of service during the latter stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

RPG-7V – Standard Soviet/Russian rocket propelled grenade launcher called RPG.

Important characters in ...For Meritorious Service

JAG Corps [JAGC] Headquarters, Falls Church, Virginia

CDR Harmon "Harm" Rabb, Jr., USN
Lt. Col. Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie, USMC
LT. Bud J. Roberts, USN
RADM Albert Jethro Chegwidden, Judge Advocate General
LT. Harriet Sims, USN
[Yeoman 1] PO 1 Jason Tiner, USN
CDR Sturgis Turner, USN
[Legalman 2] PO2 Jennifer Coates, USN
GySgt. Victor Galindez, USMC
CDR Alan Mattoni, USN
CDR Carolyn Imes, USN
LCDR John Burford, USN
Maj. Carly Clemons, USMC
Sgt. Marla Givers [Paralegal], USMC
GySgt Anson D. Brewster – Staff NCO, JAG Corps Security Coy
RADM Stiles Morris (judge) CO JAGC, Trial Judiciary Office
Col. Clifford Blakely (judge), USMC
CDR Amy Helfman (judge), USN

Clayton Webb - CIA Special Agent – Southwest Asia
Harrison Kershaw – CIA Deputy Director

SECNAV Edward Sheffield – Secretary of the Navy

CPT. Tobias Ingles – Captain, USS Patrick Henry
LT. "Skates" Hawkes – VF-218
LCDR Nicole 'Supergirl' Hollands - VF-218
LCDR Alfred Aldridge, Force Judge Advocate, USS Patrick Henry Battlegroup
Capt. Natalia 'Lawboss' Seranovich, SJA, USS Oriskany Expeditionary Group

Commander Teresa Coulter - Coroner, US Navy

Jackie Mattoni – Wife of Alan Mattoni

Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs – Washington DC, Major Case Response Team Head
Special Agent Anthony 'Tony' D. Dinozzo – Washington DC-MCRT
Forensic Specialist Agent Abigail 'Abby' Sciuto
NCIS Medical Examiner Dr. Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
NCIS Coroner Assistant Gerald Jackson
NCIS Director Thomas 'Tom' Morrow
Probationary Agent McGee [Norfolk]
CDR Faith Coleman, JAG-NCIS Liaison
Maj. Jack McBurney, JAG-NCIS Liaison

Chuck DePalma – Executive Editor, ZNN
Stuart Dunston – Senior Southwest Asia Correspondent, ZNN

36th Marine Expeditionary Unit

1st Lt Benjamin Lukens, Pilot, Firefly One, 36th MEU Aviation Combat Element
2nd Lt. Frederick Buell, Weapons Officer, Firefly One, 36th MEU Aviation Combat Element
GySgt. Albert Sanchez, Company A, 36th MEU
Capt. Jacques 'Jac' Lewis, CO, Company A, 36th MEU
1st Lt. James 'Jim' Hawkins, ACO, Company A, 36th MEU
Lt. Col. Darcy Livingston, Force Recon (Shark Leader)
MGySgt Rudy Wilbane - Force Recon
1st Lt. Carlson Ebbits – Force Recon, (CO, Shark Two)
Cpl. Kayce Danvers - Force Recon
Col. Ashton R. Briggs, CO, 36th MEU
Lt. Col. Andrew Baxter, ACO, 36th MEU
Corpsman HN2 Nick Hazon, USN, Company A, 36th MEU
SSgt. Thomas 'Zeke' Fuller, (LAV unit 'Rover') 36th MEU
Capt. Floyd Johnson, Judge Advocate Division, Staff Judge Advocate, 36th MEU
Capt. Don Casey, Hatchet Seven, 36th MEU Aviation Combat Element
1st Lt. Phillip M. Dodge, 2 Combat Engineer Battalion, 36th MEU

BGEN Cody Thornton, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade [2 MEB]
Maj. Vince Barnett, Judge Advocate Division, SJA, 2 MEB

MND-Central [Poland] 12th {Szczecin} Mechanized Division

Pulkownik (Colonel) Luisa Baranova

Fazirah Dodge – wife of Phillip Dodge

Ahmed al-Sahood, Leader, al Qaeda Darunta, Afghanistan Terrorist cell
Hamid al-Harib, Leader, al Qaeda al-Diwaniyah, Iraq Terrorist cell

A/N2: Thanks to JoshuaTree and ElfinKid for beta-ing chapters 1-6 of this story. You guys are the best. Special thanks to my friend and beta Karen who helped me see this through to the final chapters. Later on, AeroGirl, Mkim, Soleil, Janlaw, Mary Ann, and TZ will provide their help and technical expertise. I am indebted to all of them helping make this dream a reality. Also thanks to Lisa Griffon [Yahoo Shipper Group] for pushing me to take a random thought and turn it into my first full blown JAG novel.

A/N3: Italics indicate the thoughts of a person. xxxixx indicates scene shift not otherwise indicated by a JAG time stamp – for example xxixx is a scene shift in Chapter One.