Judge gives former soldier unusual sentence for probation violation
CBS News April 29, 2016
Joe Serna during one of his tours in Afghanistan CBS NEWS
A compassionate judge sentences a veteran to 24 hours in jail, then joins him behind bars
By Yanan Wang
April 22, 2016
The judge knew that Sgt. Joseph Serna had been through a lot.
The former Special Forces soldier did four combat tours in Afghanistan over a nearly two-decades-long career with the U.S. Army. Through those years, the Fayetteville Observer reported, Serna was almost killed three times: once, by a roadside bomb, then again by a suicide bomber.
During a tour in 2008, Serna and three other soldiers were driving down a narrow dirt road in Kandahar when their armored truck toppled into a canal, the Associated Press reported. As water filled the vehicle, Serna struggled to escape.
It was his fellow soldier, Sgt. James Treber, who saved him.
“I felt a hand come down and unfasten my seat belt and release my body armor,” Serna recalled to the AP. “Sgt. Treber picked me up and moved me to a small pocket of air. He knew there was not enough room for both of us to breathe so he went under water to find another pocket of air.”
Treber died from the accident, but Serna survived. He was the only one who did.
A Gulf War veteran himself, Olivera was concerned that leaving Serna in isolation for a night would trigger his PTSD.
The two passed the time trading stories of their experiences in the military. Serna told WRAL: “It was more of a father-son conversation. It was personal.”
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