Request for a Congressional Hearing

December 3, 2005, Letter to Senator Dole's Office

(Letter sent while Matthew was serving)


December 3, 2005

The Honorable Elizabeth Dole
U.S. Senator from North Carolina
310 New Bern Highway
Suite 122
Raleigh, North Carolina  27601

Attention:  Paula Noble

Dear Ms. Noble:

Thank you for your kind assistance today.  This letter is sent to you as a request for a Congressional Hearing for my son, Matthew Thomas Kallback, who is a 22-year old LCPL in the U.S. Marines.

Per my conversation with Matthew last night, he told me he feared for his safety and what might happen to him in the middle of a filing like this.  He told me that while a few of his brothers in arms were physically harassing him in his barracks, one had actually put his hands around his throat until he couldn’t breath.  (Matt is one of the smallest in the Marines and wears a size-14 shirt.)

Today was the first time I had ever heard about specific harassments that Matthew had endured since his deployment to Afghanistan last year, and now in Hawaii.  When we had asked him how things were going when he could get to a phone overseas, he had mentioned he was having some personal problems with a few Marines, but that he could handle it.  He told me today he didn’t want us to think he couldn’t handle being a Marine or embarrass the uniform by blaming others for his problems.

But I was shocked after talking to his friend and mentor, a career staff sergeant, who told me what he observed in Afghanistan.  He told me he saw Matt being physically punched by a superior and was aware that Matt’s personal possessions were constantly being stolen out of his tent.  [Matt had told me he had stopped smoking cigarettes and to stop sending them, we now understand they would have been stolen.

My son finally opened up this afternoon when I called him back after talking with the staff sergeant.  Matt then discussed what has been happening to him for over a year even while serving his country in the Middle East.

Matthew’s former commanding officer in the Marines had called me one evening over a month ago and told me Matthew had a chance to be removed from the Marines if he didn’t change.  But he would not tell me any specific changes he was looking for, so I didn’t know what to tell Matthew except that his CO had contacted us at home.

Now that I have the real picture, my wife and I are shocked, but more importantly, disappointed with these bullies and possibly a commanding officer has allowed these abuses to continue, or could have even encouraged them to frighten him out of the service or make him punch back for purposes of a court marshal.

You need to know that my wife and I were so proud of our son when we picked him up at graduation from Parris Island in February of 2003.  He had joined the corps in New Jersey the day before we were moving down to North Carolina on November 10, 2002, and had no seen him since.

We personally know some young men who have washed out of boot on Parris Island, and we were proud that Matthew, being so small, was able to endure the tough three months of training at the Marine’s Parris Island facility.  Matthew then went on to Camp Geiger, where we supported him again and drove seven-hours for a 30-minute ceremony before he was deployed to his new base in Hawaii, and then overseas after completing further training. 

We had never seen our son with greater pride than to wear the uniform of the U.S. Marines.  He had earned it and owed his success to no one but himself.

Matthew had been at the burial ceremony for his grandfather at Arlington National Cemetery around nine years ago, who received a 21-gun salute.  My father had served in the Navy in WWII, driving Marines onto the beaches of Okinawa in 1944.  Now I’m glad my dad didn’t live to see this day. 

Then later after 9/11, ground zero only 25-miles from the house he grew up in, Matthew seemed to be restless, playing in rock bands with older adult musicians after graduating from high school.   But he wasn’t happy and looked for something more fulfilling.  One day he came home and said he was going to join the U.S. Marines to make a difference in his life.  Soon he began attending early recruitment training at a Marine recruitment center located in Denville, New Jersey.

After his graduation from Parris Island, we drove him to our new home in North Carolina for him to serve a few weeks at the local Marine recruiting office.  Instead of going back to New Jersey, he received permission to be able to serve in the Mountain Marines in Asheville.  He seemed to be liked by the recruiting officers there.  They took him to the local mall to talk to longhaired teenagers wearing Slayer Shirts about joining the Marines.  Matthew, having been a former musician in a rock band, found it very comfortable to talk with his former bros about serving their country.

That was then and this is today, this same young man two years later fearing for his safety from the corps he had loved.  We are obviously disappointed in the decisions that some Marines had made who are members of the battalions where he has served. 

Just as we had guided him through high school, his Marine instructors guiding him through boot, and then others in his training at Camp Geiger, finally to Hawaii and onto Afghanistan, we’re sad that someone responsible for our son’s continued training dropped the ball where others had succeeded.

I had been glad to buy my son his Blues the day after his graduation at Parris Island.  I had never seen him so excited about getting any other present in his life.  We do not feel Matthew has failed the Marines.  We feel that some misguided leadership in the Marines, who is responsible to build character in the men we, as parents, give him, has failed our son and possibly others.

The message I am hearing now is that the Marines may send our son outside the gates of the Marine barracks in Hawaii and remove from him all pay, all benefits, all access to the GI Bill for future education opportunities, and worst of all deny him the acknowledgement that he had served his country well while overseas in the Middle East.

It is very difficult for us today, now hearing from an extremely reliable third party and career military officer, that our son had been abused in front of his eyes while serving in the Middle East.  For our son’s safety and mental health, we now request the immediate removal from his battalion to be sent back to Camp LeJeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, where we hope he will receive better treatment and respect as an American citizen and one who has been proud to serve in the corps.  While he prefers to tough it out in Hawaii, you might want to look into our request based on his best interest.   Transferring to the mainland is our request, not something he has asked us to convey.

My wife and I again are very proud of our son, for he must have been under a tremendous amount of physical and emotional pressure eventually to the point believing he is worthless to the Marines.  Yet to still not damage the uniform he was wearing, he had never said a single word to us about specifics . . . not once until today.  He told me on the phone late today that he was afraid of what would happen to him once his CO found out he had asked his father to contact a Senator in North Carolina to start a Congressional Investigation into his abuse.

We were also shocked to hear the Marines had sent him to a Marine mental center, although for all he has been through over the last year we are now not surprised.  He read a report from his Marine Psychologist to us that said he was narcissistic.  Many friends, including one of Matthew's former principals, a PhD., would probably laugh at that description.  Matthew was always more interested in helping others than caring about himself.  In fact Matthew is the most selfless of four children.

Thank you for assisting us.  We look forward to Matthew getting a fair hearing. 

In speaking to him and his telling me he was now afraid for his safety, I told him that if he didn’t stand up that it could only get worse.  I told him to write a brief account of how he saw the events of his abuse, along with the report of the Marine psychologist, and mail them to you tomorrow, Saturday, along with a copy to us.  I told him no to take any documents back to the barracks that could be stolen from him.

I am concerned that he is now so frightened, he may be intimidated not to do that.   But on Sunday evening I received a call.  He has been on duty this weekend, and will instead fax you a letter tomorrow, mailing me more details that I can forward to you later, it needed.

We know Matthew is very angry at the way he has been treated, which is understandable since he has seen an ugly side of the Marines.  But as his parents we believe in the corps as an honorable service for young men and women, proud to fly the American flag on our home and have a USMC license plate on the front of our car.  We believe in the end the corps will make things right.







"Freedom is Knowledge"