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Staff Sgt. Bales apologizes for Afghan massacre

August 23, 2013 • National News


Former pro football player Marc Edwards, left, speaks with reporters Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, outside the courtroom at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Wash., where Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was being sentenced for the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians last year. Edwards, who played high school football with Bales in Norwood, Ohio, testified Thursday about Bales’ “unbelievable leadership.” (AP Photo/Gene Johnson)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. soldier who massacred 16 Afghan civilians during pre-dawn raids last year apologized for the first time for his “act of cowardice,” but could not explain the atrocities to a military jury considering whether he should one day have a shot at freedom.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales said he would bring back the victims of his March 11, 2012, attack “in a heartbeat,” if possible.

“I’m truly, truly sorry to those people whose families got taken away,” he said in a mostly steady voice. “I can’t comprehend their loss. I think about it every time I look at my kids.”

Bales, 40, did not recount specifics of the horrors, but described the killings as an “act of cowardice, behind a mask of fear, bullshit and bravado.”

He said he hoped his words would be translated for the nine villagers who traveled from Afghanistan to testify against him — none of whom elected to be in court to hear his words.

The father of two from Lake Tapps, Wash., was serving his fourth combat deployment when he left his outpost at Camp Belambay, in Login to read more

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