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The former commander of U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza, Italy, who was relieved for dressing down a military policeman during the garrison’s Independence Day celebration, offered an apology and a defense against Italian media reports of the incident.
Col. David W. Buckingham, fired Sept. 6 over his behavior at the July 3 celebration at garrison headquarters and, in part, for his command climate, apologized for the gaffe in response to an email from Army Times seeking comment.
“I understand that military leaders must be above reproach and agree they should neither lose their tempers nor use profanity, and I am truly sorry for the brief unprofessional behavior I displayed and for which I was relieved from the privilege of command,” Buckingham said in the Sept. 12 email.
The Army’s investigation “conclusively determined” he had not been under the influence of alcohol or fled the incident, as Italian press accounts suggested, he said. It found no criminal or unethical behavior, according to a U.S. Army Europe spokesperson.
“Everybody agrees the Italian media coverage has been grossly incorrect and that I was not under the influence of alcohol, was not belligerent, and, in fact, remained in the vicinity of our military policemen for five minutes after I spoke with them and before I departed for my home,” he said.
Buckingham said he was “saddened to leave this great unit and wonderful Army community,” after 27 months in command.
“My family and I are incredibly appreciative for the many soldiers and families in Vicenza who continue to voice their support, friendship, and their appreciation for our involvement in this great community over the past 3 ½years and we look forward to continuing our service to our Army and nation,” he said.