Clerk of Court for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court says “Bodeker, who wants to be buried next to his wife Lorna, may feel he has no choice but to exhume her body and move it in order to do so if his property is sold, but that would be his decision, not the court’s.”
WWII 11th Airborne Hero Warren Bodeker the day he was kicked off his land
On June 26, Oath Keepers broke the story of 89 year old WWII hero Warren Bodeker being forced off of his land and out of his house by Montana Federal Bankruptcy Trustee, Christy Brandon, after being pressured into signing a stipulation waiving his homestead exemption and agreeing to sell his home. He has since fought to rescind that stipulation and keep his home and land, but the Trustee sold it anyway, against his wishes, and secured a court order for him to vacate his home. As we reported, Warren’s wife Lorna, who died of cancer this past year, is buried there on their land, right next to the house. Mr. Bodeker had planned to live there till he died and then be buried right next to his wife. In our article, we stated that he was being forced to exhume his wife’s body. We stand by that statement because, with his land being sold out from under him, the only way he can now be assured of being buried next to his wife as they had planned is to exhume her body and move it to a cemetery.
Well, after our news article and interview went viral, Bernard McCarthy, the clerk of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, made statements to The Missoulian Newspaper taking exception to our reporting, asserting that Mr. Bodeker does have a choice after-all. Apparently he’s welcome to just leave his wife’s body there, along with Warren’s tractor and other equipment that were sold with the property.
Here is the quote from The Missoulian article:
What needs to be reported clearly is that the court has not said anything about exhuming his wife’s body,” says Bernard McCarthy, clerk of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Montana. “It is being stated as fact, and it is absolutely, factually wrong. I have checked, re-checked and double re-checked all the paperwork, and it is not true. It isn’t an issue with any part of the bankruptcy.”
Bodeker, who wants to be buried next to his wife Lorna, may feel he has no choice but to exhume her body and move it in order to do so if his property is sold, McCarthy says, but that would be his decision, not the court’s.
The buy-sell agreement now in limbo – with a buyer Bodeker himself brought to the trustee – stated that the property contains a family burial site, and Bodeker was free to “work out a deal with the new owner if he wanted to be buried next to his wife,” according to McCarthy.
The Trustee, Christy Brandon, has made similar statements in her motions to the Bankruptcy Court – arguing that we are misrepresenting the facts.
Here is our response:
First of all, we never said there was a court order to exhume his wife’s body. If there had been such an order, you can bet we would have posted a copy on our website, for all the world to read. Nor did we say that the Trustee, Christy Brandon, is exhuming his wife’s body. We said Mr. Bodeker is being forced by the circumstances to exhume his wife’s body - by the fact that the court has ordered him to vacate his home, and has granted the Trustee’s motion to sell his home. And the buy-sell agreement between the Trustee and the “new owner” says NOTHING about Warren Bodeker being guaranteed the right to be buried there next to his wife.
Under those circumstances, Mr. Bodeker has no choice but to exhume his wife’s body so he can be certain of keeping his promise to her that they would be buried next to each other.
But the Clerk of the Court (and the Trustee seems to agree) now asserts that he does have a choice – his “choice” is to either exhume her, or leave her there. Only a lawyer could come up with such an argument – that Mr. Bodeker is not being forced to exhume his wife’s body because he has the “choice” to just leave her there after losing his home. Give us a break. That is no kind of a choice.
Lorna Bodeker’s Grave. Leaving Her Behind is No Kind of Choice. Warren cannot take his home with him, but he can take her, and he is honor bound to do so.
Unless Warren finds a way to keep his home, he cannot leave his wife there. He promised her that he would be buried next to her. So, now that he is losing his home, to keep that promise, he must dig her up. The clerk of the court (and the trustee) are playing semantics, to cover the maliciousness of what is being done to Warren. The bottom line is he NEVER wanted to sell his house and land, where his wife is buried, where he planned on living out whatever short time he has left, and where he planned on being buried next to his wife. But Warren was pressured – by the threat of criminal prosecution and/or losing everything if he fought the trustee in court – into waiving his homestead and agreeing to sell his land and home. And now they claim he has a “choice” not to exhume her body because he can just leave his wife there?
This is like someone setting your house on fire, and then when you run into the burning building to save your family, they say “hey, we didn’t force him to go in there. That was his choice. He could have just left them there.”
What kind of a choice is that? A false one, for any man of honor. And this is beyond a doubt a man of honor – a true WWII hero who proved his mettle in combat, winning two Bronze Stars in three combat jumps while fighting the Japanese in the Pacific. And this man of honor promised his wife that they would be laid to rest side-by-side, and he must keep that promise. She is still there, on the land he has been kicked off of. He cannot, and will not just leave her there. He cannot abandon her, any more than he could have stood by and abandoned those 2,100 POWs to their horrible fate in 1945.
Once Warren and his fellow paratroopers of Co. B 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 11th Airborne Division, knew the Japanese planned to slaughter those 2,100 POWs at Los Banos, they had to rescue them in a daring parachute jump behind enemy lines on February 23, 1945. It was not military necessity that compelled them do that. There was no strategic advantage to be gained by that daring raid. It was a matter of conscience. Both honor and human decency demanded that they carry out that rescue. They had no choice. This is the same. Once again, Warren Bodeker has no choice. Honor and human decency, and the promise he made to his wife, demands that he must take his wife with him, now that his land and home are being taken from him. He must rescue her. To do otherwise is unthinkable.
We have to wonder, if the Clerk of the Court or the Trustee were in Warren’s shoes today would they leave their spouse’s body behind? Would they go back on their word, after promising that they would be buried together? Maybe they would. But Warren cannot, and will not. This is not about legalistic splitting of hairs, as the Trustee and Clerk of the Court seem to think. This is about honor. This is about keeping promises. This is about human decency. He has no choice.
Any man of honor would feel the same and do the same. This is a false choice between doing what is honorable – keeping his promise to his wife by taking her with him- and doing something dishonorable, by leaving his wife behind. He can no more do that than he could have tuned his back and left one of his 1th Airborne buddies behind in combat.
“They fought to safeguard and transfer to prosperity the principles of justice, freedom, and democracy.” – Veterans Memorial, Kalispell, Montana. Dedicated July 4, 1984.
Where is the justice in this case? Where is the respect for freedom and the American way of life that Warren and his buddies fought for? Our World War II war dead buried in Arlington National Cemetery, at Normandy, across Europe, on islands across the Pacific, and in the Philippines, must be spinning in their graves to see what is being done to one of their few remaining living brothers in arms, at the end of his life.
The real choice here was in the hands of the bankruptcy trustee Christy Brandon, who did not have to pressure Warren Bodeker into signing a stipulation waiving his homestead exemption and allowing the Trustee to sell his home, under threat of forcing the sale through adversarial proceedings which would have left him penniless, and under threat of criminal prosecution. She could have chosen to just seek denial of his bankruptcy discharge after discovery that he had failed to disclose his gold and silver coins. She could have chosen to leave him in his home.
As Rev. Matt Underwood, Senior National Editor of the 11th Airborne Division Association’s newspaper “The Voice of the Angels” put it:
“This kind of behavior from any American toward an American Veteran is reprehensible, …. This kind of baloney should never happen in our country. Other solutions could have been worked out, and any decent human being would have tried harder and made it happen. It would seem, however, that this man’s land is just flat out worth more than his life to the Feds.”
But instead of doing the decent thing and working other solutions out, Trustee Christy Brandon chose to go after Warren Bodeker with all her power, with all the power of the U.S. government behind her, without mercy, without restraint, without any consideration for his advanced age or his heroic service to his country (whatever she might say now about respecting his service or his condition, her past actions speak louder than her self-serving words), and without remorse for the resulting shameful situation – a man who gave so much in his youth to fight fascism, who can still see the faces of those who did not make it, who is now terminally ill, with stage four prostate cancer, being left homeless, kicked off the land where his wife is buried, who has had all he had left in this world taken from him, who now owns nothing except for his wife’s body, who now must have her exhumed so he can at least know he will rest at her side. Trustee Christy Bandon had the choice to do the right thing, the decent thing, and leave this old man on his land and in his home. She chose not to.
Warren Bodeker stands at his wife’s grave one last time before leaving his property. This did not have to happen.
And as for the Clerk of Court’s assertion that Warren Bodeker was free to “work out a deal with the new owner if he wanted to be buried next to his wife,” that too is a sick joke. The “new owner” is a person who is buying Warren’s home even though they know he does not want to sell it and even though they know he is fighting tooth and nail to keep it. And yet they still want his home.
And this buyer (along with her common-law husband) has already broken her word to Warren. They promised to give Warren an old travel trailer they had, so he would have a place to live instead of being homeless, in exchange for his tractor and other items. They broke that promise. They did not give him that trailer. Instead, the buy-sell agreement (between the buyer and the Trustee) gives the buyer the tractor and equipment, but says nothing whatsoever about a trailer for Warren to live in. They callously left him homeless. If not for the kindness of the Ryan family, who took Warren in, he would have been out in the streets.
To top it off, this is the same couple that Warren suspects of stealing hundreds of ounces of silver from him (see video interview for details). He cannot, and does not trust these people at all, and certainly cannot trust them to keep any hypothetical future agreement to allow him to be buried there, even if they would make that promise (which they have not). He has no guarantee of anything and cannot trust them. He must move his wife’s body to be 100% sure that he and his wife are buried together, as he promised.
This is a surreal, Kafkaesque, catch 22 argument that the Clerk of the Court and the Trustee are presenting. That Warren doesn’t have to exhume Lorna. All he has to do is choose to break his ever-lasting promise to her, and leave her body behind. All he has to do is choose to be dishonorable. All he has to do is break his oath.
We suppose that for dishonorable people there would be a real “choice” here. But for those with any honor, for those who keep promises, there is no choice.
In the Missoulian article, clerk of the court ‘McCarthy says [Oath Keepers Founder Stewart] Rhodes – a Yale Law School graduate – and news organizations that have accepted Rhodes’ inaccurate assertions that Bodeker is being forced to exhume his late wife’s body, ‘should be ashamed of themselves.’”
Well, we think Mr. McCarthy should be ashamed of himself for suggesting that Bodeker has a “choice” to just leave her body behind.
Only in modern America – a sad, degenerative shadow of what this country use to be – would such a thing be considered any kind of a choice. And only in modern America, would a WWII hero who helped give 2,100 doomed men, women, and children the gift of a second chance at life, be treated in such a coldly merciless, dishonorable, and shameful manner that he is forced to make that “choice.”
God help us all,
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