Edmond soldier, Michael Behenna, looks ahead after prison release

Four months after his release from U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Michael Behenna is beginning his new life as a ranch hand in Medford.

by Adam Kemp Modified: September 3, 2014 at 9:32 am •  Published: September 3, 2014

(Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman)


Four months after his release from U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Michael Behenna is beginning his new life as a ranch hand in Medford.

 

(Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman)


Behenna says he no longer thinks much about his time in Iraq as a 24-year-old platoon leader. Nor does he dwell on the long-ago events that altered his life and cost him a half-decade behind bars.

 

(Photo provided by the Behenna family)


On May 16, 2008, just a few weeks after an improvised bomb attack killed two members of Behenna’s seven-man platoon in Iraq, Behenna killed known al-Qaida operative Ali Mansur while questioning him.

 

(AP Photo/Vanessa Gera)


Behenna claimed self-defense, saying Mansur threw a chunk of concrete at him before reaching for Behenna’s gun. But military officials ruled against Behenna, stating that he was the one in the position of power as he questioned a naked Mansur with a gun pointed at him, therefore sacrificing his claim to self-defense. He spent five years in prison.

 

(Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman)


Now, he lives alone in a house filled with silence. A television is shut away inside a cabinet. The radio is turned off. A computer is used solely for reading about agriculture; he’s halfway through a research paper about using goats as a greener alternative to big farm equipment. On a mirror in his bedroom are pictures of Kohlhaas and Christofferson, the two soldiers he lost in Iraq.

 

(Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman)


He insists that he didn’t move to the country to avoid his past. He still visits friends and family in Edmond and attends a family meal at his parent’s house every Sunday. He’s seizing the opportunities he has right now.

 

(Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman)


“I think about all the adjustments I’ve made and the person I’ve become,” he said. “I focus on that every day and just try to be better.”

>>READ THE FULL STORY HERE

by Adam Kemp
Enterprise Reporter
Adam Kemp is an enterprise reporter and videographer for the Oklahoman and Newsok.com. Kemp grew up in Oklahoma City before attending Oklahoma State University. Kemp has interned for the Oklahoman, the Oklahoma Gazette and covered Oklahoma State...
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