US promoted Navy Seal months after allegedly choking Green Beret to death

Witness says Chief DeDolph told them he choked Melgar to ‘get back at’ him for perceived slight

Clark Mindock
New York
Thursday 30 January 2020 00:18 GMT
Melgar pictured in an undated US Army photo
Melgar pictured in an undated US Army photo (US Army)

The US Navy promoted Chief Petty Officer Tony DeDolph four months after he allegedly admitted that he choked a Green Beret to death in West Africa.

The Green Beret, army staff sgt Logan Melgar, was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group and near the end of his deployment when the Navy Seal allegedly killed him, in circumstances that have led to his being charged for murder.

Mr DeDolph is set to return to court on Thursday for a preliminary hearing, and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The alleged murder took place in Mali in June 2017, when Melgar was a part of an intelligence operation supporting counterterrorism against a local al Qaeda affiliate.

Shortly after Melgar’s death, Mr DeDolph reportedly admitted to a witness that he had choked him “to get back” the victim for a perceived slight, according to NBC News.

But before that, Mr DeDolph had told investigators that he was wrestling with the victim at around 4am, before a fellow Navy Seal — Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator Adam Matthews — entered the room and they all toppled onto a bed. Once they were up, they said Melgar had stopped breathing and that they attempted CPR.

In the days after Megar died, Mr DeDolph — who was then a petty officer first class — was flown back to his home base in Virginia Beach, under the suspicion of murder. Matthews, last year, pleaded guilty on charges of battery, unlawful entry, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit assault in connection to Melgar’s death.

On 15 September of 2017, Mr DeDolph reportedly began wearing an insignia on his uniform indicating a higher rank had been achieved, according to Defence Department officials who spoke with the Daily Beast.

He began receiving the higher pay associated with a chief in December of that year.

That promotion came just three days after the medical examiner’s report on Melgar’s death was signed, indicating that the cause of death was asphyxiation and the manner of death a homicide, according to documents reviewed by the Daily Beast.

The reports that Mr DeDolph was promoted in spite of the concerns that he may have murdered a fellow American serviceman, come just after a separate report by the Daily Beast indicating that Melgar had discovered that some Seals were pocketing money form a counterterrorism fund intended to pay local informations for information.

Separate accounts indicate that Mr DeDolph had become upset alongside several other Navy Seals after Melgar ”intentionally tried to evade them while he was driving to a party”, according to a witness, who said that the group made “numerous comments” on how “to get back” at Melgar, according to an Army Criminal Investigative Command preliminary report.

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