June 19, 2012
Warren C. Bodeker is an 89 year old World War II Army Airborne combat veteran and war hero, living in Montana, who is being thrown off of his own land and thrown out of his own house, by Montana Federal Bankruptcy Trustee, Christy Brandon, with the approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Montana. And to make matters worse, Warren’s wife Lorna just died of cancer this past year, and is buried there on their land, right next to the house. Warren had planned to live there till he died and then be buried right next to his wife, there on their property at 11 Freedom Lane, in the town of Plains, Montana, but now, not only is he being forced off his land, he is being forced to exhume his wife’s body and take her with him.
This is the most disgusting, callous, brutal, and unjust treatment of a WWII veteran by the “justice” system we have ever heard of. Here is a man who stepped up and went to war at the age of 19 to fight against the Japanese in the Pacific. When we say he is a war hero, we are not exaggerating. Serving in Co. B, 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 11th Airborne Division (see discharge papers below), Warren earned two bronze starts while making three combat jumps in the Philippine Islands in 1945.
One of those combat jumps was the daring rescue of prisoners of war at the Los Banos Internment Camp on the Island of Luzon, Philippines, February 23, 1945, where Warren and his brother paratroopers of Co. B, 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment parachuted in at dawn’s early light, 40 kilometers behind enemy lines, and rescued over 2,000 prisoners of war – men, women, and children – from their brutal Imperial Japanese guards, before those guards could slaughter them (as they had planned). Not one prisoner was killed in the raid (though many of the Japanese guards were). Private Warren Bodeker was there. He was one of those brave young paratroopers who the grateful prisoners truly considered heaven sent from above. As one of the prisoners, a missionary, described it in his diary:
“at 7:00 a.m. sharp, we heard and saw nine large transport planes flying low, and passing close to the camp; perhaps one mile to the east. Even as we all watched, we saw doors open and paratroopers came tumbling out. OH WHAT A SIGHT! With a tropical sunrise for a background, we saw about 150 parachutes open one after another and settle slowly earth-ward out of our sight behind the distant trees. We knew help had come.” From the book, Deliverance! It Has Come! By John S. Beaber.
The Los Banos Raid is of the most celebrated textbook examples of a perfect rescue operation in military history. Read about it here: http://www.rememberlosbanos1945.com/
Go here to watch some film footage of the camp and rescued prisoners:
Warren Bodeker and his surviving Airborne brothers came home to a grateful nation and settled down to a peaceful life. Warren lived happily as a law-abiding citizen on Freedom Lane in Montana, until he had to endure the great loss of his beloved wife Lorna this past year, after her five year battle against cancer, but Warren was still looking forward to being buried next to her on their property when he died, knowing that their land and home (which he and his wife built together) would be kept in the family.
But Warren had a pile of medical and credit card bills to deal with and filed for bankruptcy, and that is when his nightmare began. According to Warren and several witnesses, though Warren had utterly no intention of ever selling his land and home, and planned to die there and be buried next to his wife at 11 Freedom Lane, he was pressured and coerced into entering into a “stipulation” denying his bankruptcy discharge and waiving his homestead exemption, and thus coerced into selling his home, because he had failed to disclose some silver and gold he and his wife had set aside for their old age – which he considered a retirement fund that he did not have to disclose. Once that failure to disclose was discovered by the Trustee, Christy Brandon (a lawyer in Bigfork Montana who also works as a trustee for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court), Warren was pressured into signing the stipulation under threat of prosecution and under threat of having his home and land taken by means of adversarial proceedings with any left-over proceeds being consumed by lawyers fees and costs (with Christy Brandon serving as both the trustee for the estate and also as the lawyer for the estate, and also as the attorney for herself, as trustee). According to Warren and several witnesses, he was essentially told that the Trustee would take his land and home anyway, and if he resisted, he would wind up penniless. Unfortunately, his own lawyer at the time went along with the stipulation, and did not fight hard to keep Warren in his home. Watch the above video interview to learn the details.
Warren really did not understand what was going on in the complex legal world of bankruptcy, and did not understand his rights. In addition to the diminished mental capacity that so often occurs in someone nearly 90 years old, Warren is also hard of hearing and needs an assistant to help him keep track of what is being said during hearings. Much of the time, he just does not understand what is going on.
And even if Warren was wrong in not disclosing the silver and gold coins, the just and proper way to handle it would have been, at most, to deny him the discharge and require him to use the coins to pay off his creditors. The trustee didn’t have to pressure Warren into waiving his homestead exemption, by threatening to void it through an adversarial proceeding which would eat up the estate through legal fees and costs, and thus force him to sell his home and land. Forcing him off his land, and forcing him to exhume his wife’s body, in the last years of his life – kicking him homeless to the curb with his wife’s casket – is an egregious, unnecessary, gross act of tyranny and injustice, in our opinion.
This is a callous act of brutality, devoid of human compassion, devoid of all sense of proportionality, devoid of any sense of decency, charity, justice or well-deserved respect of an elder veteran – much more like something the brutal Imperial Japanese internment camp guards would have done to Warren if they could than what his own country should do to a winner of two Bronze Stars who risked all, in combat, for this nation.
Warren’s lawyer withdrew from his case last month, and he has been trying to find a new bankruptcy lawyer, but then Warren was hospitalized with what was thought to be kidney stones, but which has now been discovered to be advanced prostate cancer, which is spreading throughout his body. There was a hearing held this past Tuesday, June 12, 2012, on Trustee Christy Brandon’s motion to have Warren removed from his home. Warren had been flown to the VA Hospital in Helena, Montana last week and was still hospitalized on the 12th and could not attend the hearing. From his hospital bed, Warren sent in a pro se motion for a continuance, telling the court that he was hospitalized and could not attend the hearing. He asked the court to continue the hearing until after he was discharged from the hospital. Warren also informed the court that his friend Roxsanna Ryan (whom Warren gave power of attorney) had scheduled an appointment for him with a psychologist so a competency exam could be done, and that he intended to challenge the validity of the stipulation based on his a lack of capacity to understand what he was agreeing to.
But despite the well established fact that Mr. Bodeker was in the hospital, the trustee, Christy Brandon, opposed the motion to continue the hearing. And even after knowing that Warren Bodeker was in the hospital and that he was set to undergo a competency examination which could show that he lacked the capacity to enter into the stipulation, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, the Honorable Ralph B. Kirscher, denied Warren’s motion to continue the hearing and granted the Trustee’s motion for an order for Warren to vacate the property. The trustee, Christy Brandon, then emailed Warren to tell him that she would be there at the home on Monday, June 18, 2012, accompanied by a Sheriff’s deputy, to kick him out of his home and have the locks changed.
This man risked his life in a daring combat jump from the low altitude of 500 feet (so low that reserve parachutes are useless, and a chute malfunction meant death) to rescue 2,000 innocent men, women, and children who faced certain death if he and his Airborne brothers had not made that jump that morning, February 23, 1945 (after the rescue, the Japanese returned to the area and massacred 1,500 local Filipino civilians, killing men, women, and children). And this is how the U.S. government thanks this man for his service?
We will post more details on this disgraceful travesty as they become known, but what is most important right now is that we have a duty to help this WWII hero in his time of need. Warren Bodeker needs:
1. LEGAL HELP. First of all, he needs a competent, tenacious bankruptcy lawyer to assist him in challenging the stipulation which waived his homestead exemption, and challenging the forced sale of his home and land. We are calling on any and all bankruptcy lawyers across the United States to step up and help this man. If you are an attorney who can help, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and put “LAWYER” and “WWII vet” in the subject line. As noted above, Warren has an appointment scheduled with a psychologist who will conduct an assessment of his mental capacity to understand complex legal issues and his capacity and competency to enter into the stipulation which waived his homestead right. But he will need a real fighter of a bankruptcy lawyer who is willing to help him challenge the validity of that stipulation once the evaluation is done.
2. FINANCIAL HELP. Warren will need assistance to pay for that lawyer. There is a legal defense fund set up for him by close friends in Plains who are helping him (a truly wonderful family, Dan and Roxsanna Ryan, has stepped up to help him, including offering him a room in their home once he is kicked out of his home). They have set up a paypal account for him and a legal defense bank account. If you would like to donate directly to that legal defense fund,click here.