WASHINGTON, December 19 -
Twenty seven year-old Marine Corps veteran Jon Hammar honorably served two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. While he was on Active Duty, Hammar’s battalion was hit very hard in Fallujah, and 13 of his fellow Marines were killed in action.
When he came home to America, he suffered from PTSD, as many of our warriors do. He spent time in a recovery facility in California to cope with the mental wounds of war.
Then, in August, Jon deciede to get some R&R. He wanted to go to Costa Rica with a fellow marine, Ian McDonough, and they wanted to go on a surfing trip. According to McDonough, surfing gave Jon peace of mind and really helped with his therapy.
So the two packed up their car with their surfboards and began their journey from Florida to Costa Rica. Their trip took them through Texas to the border, Brownsville, Texas. There they crossed the international border into Matamoros, Mexico, and that is as far as they got.
On the trip, Jon carried with him a 100-year-old antique gun, a family heirloom that belonged to his grandfather. When they arrived at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Texas, Jon did what he was supposed to do; he filled out all the necessary paperwork. He talked to U.S. Customs and verified with them that the rifle did not violate any Mexican law.
The two allegedly handed the Mexican officials the paperwork regarding the rifle. But instead of continuing on their way to Costa Rica to go surfing, Hammar was immediately detained, and dragged away to a notorious prison in Matamoros where they house narcoterrorists.
Now, Mr. Speaker, here’s a photograph of our marine when he served America. This is a photograph of him recently taken in the Matamoros prison. As you notice, he is in solitary confinement, and similar to the old days, chained to his bed where he cannot go anywhere. This is all because of the misunderstanding and a mix-up about what the law is and what should have happened to him at the border.
So he’s being held as a criminal because the size of the barrel on that rifle was, apparently, too long – even though U.S> Customs told Hammar he was not violating any American or Mexican law in having the rifle. Hammar had no criminal intent when he took that old rifle into Mexico.
Jon Hammar should not have to spend another holiday away from his family – holidays he spent when he served as a marine – and certainly he shouldn’t spend a holiday away from his family in a Mexican jail where he is illegally being detained. Obviously, there appears to be a misunderstanding between U.S. and Mexican officials, with Hammar literally caught in the middle of this. So Mexican President Enrique Nieto should intervene and have Hammar released. It is in the power of the Mexican President to solve this international incident and do so in a diplomatic way. So I ask that he do so and release Hammar by Christmas.
Mr. Speaker, this marine and veteran has spent his life defending freedom, defending American, taking care of America. It’s time that America take care of him by asking for and expecting his release from this Mexican prison where he ought not to be.
And that’s just the way it is.