Michael Bray

Author of A Time To Kill

Beer Wars and Real Wars

Michael Bray

17 December 2003

USAFA’s Reactionary Expulsion of Good Soldiers

Cadet David Ryan Urton is about to be ejected from the Air Force Academy for buying beer where minors (20-year-old classmates) were present. The junior has, otherwise, a sterling record.  My son was one of the cadets for whom the beer was allegedly purchased.  The Academy’s administrators seem to be driven by a reactionary anti-beer phobia which has blinded them to the larger issues at stake: courage, brotherhood, loyalty, bravery.

An article recently appeared in Westword  (11 December, http://www.westword.com/issues/2003-12-11/news3.html/1/index.html ) describing the brutal beating of two cadets by ten thugs outside a cadet sponsor’s residence.  A McDonald’s hamburger paper sack (trash) was left by a cadet on the hood of a hood’s car.   The car owner came into a house where cadets and civilians were socializing and punched the offender in the face. The cadet invited the thug to go outside to avoid destruction of property.  The thug had his nine fellows waiting and all ten began to pound the one cadet.  Inside was fellow cadet, Ryan Urton, purchaser of beer.  Urton determined to go outside and defend his brother cadet.

It was my son whom Cadet Urton defended.  And it is that act of brotherhood which exposed Cadet Urton to the beer charge and the pending expulsion from USAFA.  I am pleased that my son has had the privilege of knowing a man of character as is David Ryan Urton.  I am sorry that USAFA thinks beer consumption of any cadet within the home of a USAFA-approved sponsor is such a crime.

There is no reason to be so open-eyed about a beer infraction and close-minded to the greater character traits which have been manifested.  How does the brother-soldier behavior of David Ryan Urton go unnoticed?  Rather than remain “clean” and out of big trouble for a possible beer offense, Cadet Urton looked after his fellow Cadet, evening up the odds to 5:1.   That is the kind of soldier I would want covering my back, not the guy preferring to keep his record clean and his nose un-bloodied, hiding in the shadows.

The Academy seems to be affording disproportionate attention to beer offenses while paying little mind to the larger character issues which have played a part in the same event.  (Jesus said something about “straining at gnats while swallowing camels” referring to those who pay too much attention to small matters while neglecting the weightier matters of justice and mercy.)

Cadet Urton and the Academy would best be served by revising Urton’s record as follows: 10 demerits for the beer violation; 1000 merits for bravery and loyalty.

But dismissing Cadet Urton is down right stupid.


Michael Bray

Comments are currently closed.