DEDICATIONS [p3 of 5]
Just Cause Heroes (continued)
Connors, John P., Lieutenant Junior Grade, 25 years old; Seal Team 4; home of record - Massachusetts (at Paitilla Airport, 20 Dec 89)
McFaul, Donald L., ENC/Chief Petty Officer, 32 years old; Seal Team 4; home of record - California (at Paitilla Airport, 20 Dec 89)
Rodriguez Isaac B., TM2/Petty Officer Second Class, 24 years old; Seal Team 4; home of record - Texas (at Paitilla Airport, 20 Dec 89)
Tilghman, Christopher, BM1/Petty Officer First Class, 30 years old; Seal Team 4; home of record - Hawaii; Paitilla Airport, 20 Dec 89)
Isaak, Garreth, Corporal, 22 years old; Co. D, 2d LAI (Light Armored Infantry) Battalion; home of record - South Carolina (at the Panama Defense Forces DNTT (Transito) Station 2, Inter-American Highway, 20 Dec 89)
To Marine Lieutenant Robert Paz
(December 16, 1989)
First Lieutenant Robert Paz, a U.S. Marine Corps officer assigned to Headquarters, U.S Southern Command's J-3/Operations Directorate, was shot and killed by soldiers of the Panama Defense Forces (PDF) Saturday night of December 16, 1989 in Panama City, one day after the Noriega regime-controlled national legislature and PDF commander and ruler General Manuel Antonio Noriega had declared Panama to be in a state of war with the United States.
Paz and three other Southern Command officers, traveling in a private automobile off duty in civilian clothes and unarmed, were stopped by a PDF roadblock near the Comandancia (the PDF's central headquarters complex) in the El Chorrillo part of the city (about 800 meters from the Southern Command at Quarry Heights) after getting lost en route to a downtown restaurant. When the driver, as he and the three passengers were being threatened by six uniformed PDF soldiers manning the roadblock, attempted to evade the roadblock by driving away at a high speed, the PDF soldiers opened fire on the vehicle with their AK-47 and other rifles. Other PDF soldiers stationed about 300 meters down the street joined in the shooting, hitting Paz who was sitting in the back seat. Paz died as the four reached Gorgas Army Hospital near Quarry Heights.
The shooting -- the culmination of two years of repeated incidents of harassment and threats of violence against U.S. service members and their families -- was one of two incidents involving PDF members and U.S. service members that night which shortly thereafter prompted President George Bush to order commencement of Operation Just Cause against Noriega and the Panama Defense Forces on began on December 20, 1989.
In February 1992, a Panamanian jury declared three PDF soldiers charged with the shooting not guilty on the grounds they had followed a standing order by Noriega to shoot roadblock runners near the Comandancia. The State Department and the Pentagon deplored the court's action. So did WHO -- and still does.
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