Otto Stengel

List of individuals executed by the United States military

The military of the United States executed 160 soldiers and other members of the armed forces between 1942 and 1961 (these figures do not include German prisoners of war, war criminals and saboteurs executed by military authorities between 1942 and 1951). Of these executions, 157 were carried out by the United States Army between 1942–1961. The United States Air Force conducted the three remaining executions, one in 1950 and two in 1954. It should also be noted that the United States Army had previously executed a total of 36 soldiers during the First World War, eleven of these executions taking place between 5 November 1917 and 20 June 1919 in France and 25 hangings being carried out in the continental United States over the same time period.

The Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2000 contains the following information relative to military executions.

[Excludes executions by military authorities. The Army (including the Air Force) carried out 160 (148 between 1942 and 1950; three each in 1954, 1955 and 1957; and one each in 1958, 1959 and 1961). Of the total, 106 were executed for murder (including 21 involving rape) 53 for rape and one for desertion. The Navy carried out no executions during the period]

Reintroduction of the military death penalty

Death penalty by the U.S. military was reintroduced by the executive order of President Ronald Reagan in 1984.

On Monday, July 28, 2008, President George W. Bush approved the execution of United States Army Private Ronald A. Gray, who had been convicted in April 1988 of multiple murders and rapes. The execution is pending.

Punishable crimes

Currently, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 14 offenses are punishable by death. Under the following sections of the UCMJ, the death penalty can be imposed at any time:

Four provisions of the UCMJ carry a death sentence only if the crime is committed during times of war:

Sentencing and execution

Capital cases are tried in courts-martial before a panel of at least five military members. If the defendant is an enlisted man, he may opt for at least one third of the panel to also be of enlisted rank. The defendant cannot plead guilty to the charges. The panel must be unanimous in conviction, that the government has proven necessary aggravating factors, that the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors, and that death is the only sentence applicable. All death sentences are automatically appealed first to the appropriate Court of Criminal Appeals for the military service, then to the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. The sentence must be personally confirmed by the President of the United States.

Military executions would be conducted under regulations issued on 17 January 2006, and would ordinarily take place at the Special Housing Unit of the United States Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, although alternative locations are possible. Under these regulations, the only authorized method of execution would be lethal injection. There are currently nine inmates confined at the Special Housing Unit, all of whom have been convicted of premeditated murder or felony murder.

Until 1961, the last military execution to date, hanging was the sole and official method. Later, the military introduced the electric chair, which was never used Currently lethal injection is the sole method

Executions during World War II and postwar

The United States Army carried out 141 executions over a three year period in 1942–1945, and a further six executions were conducted during the postwar period, for a known total of 147 in all. 70 of these 141 wartime executions were carried out in the European Theatre, 27 in the Mediterranean Theatre of World War II, 21 in the Southwest Pacific Area, 19 in the continental United States, two in Hawai'i, one in Guadacanal and one in India. Of six postwar executions, one took place in Hawaii, one in Japan, two in France and two in the Philippines. An execution was also carried out by the Air Force in Japan in 1950.

All executions carried out by the United States Army during 1942-1948 were performed under the authority of the Articles of War of June 4, 1920, Ch. 227, 41 Stat. 787, 788, an Act of Congress which governed military justice between 1920 and 1948. With the exception of Eddie Slovik, shot for a purely military offense, Article 58. DESERTION, all of these soldiers were primarily executed for Article 92. MURDER-RAPE (it should be noted that several of the soldiers listed as convicted and executed for Article 92. MURDER-RAPE had additionally been convicted on sundry other charges, including those of a military nature such as desertion and mutiny, plus lesser crimes that would not be considered capital unless combined with more serious offenses which carried the death penalty). The text of Article 58. DESERTION, and Article 92. MURDER-RAPE are as follows.

Information on listed military executions between 1942–1948 has been primarily derived from the following sources. Research on the remaining wartime executions is pending.

  1. A handwritten list, Executed Death Cases Before 1951, discovered at The Pentagon in December 2003. The list is only partially legible and must therefore be used with some caution. The linked public version of this list is quite truncated, thereby omitting a great deal of useful information about these cases. The supplemental addendum, Death Sentence Ledger, tracks military capital cases between 1950-1967.
  2. Two tables of U.S. Soldiers executed during World War II's European Theater and Pacific Theater may be found on Before the Needle
  3. The U.S. Rosters of World War II Dead, 1939-1945 (payment required) contains the names of many American servicemen executed by military authority overseas. These individuals are generally identified in the Rosters as GP (or General Prisoners) and were interred under the category of Administrative Decision.
  4. The Nationwide Gravesite Locator contains the names of numerous executed soldiers, many of them listed as being General Prisoners.
  5. The U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca.1775-2006 (payment required) contains the names of numerous executed soldiers, many of them listed as being General Prisoners.
  6. Historical archives of the Stars and Stripes Newspaper, WWII Europe and North Africa Editions, 1942-1958 (payment required) contain numerous contemporary references to military executions.
  7. Death Penalty Cases in WWII Military Courts: Lessons Learned from North Africa and Italy, a paper written by Professor J. Robert Lilly of the School of Law, Northern Kentucky University, and Associate Professor J. Michael Thomson of the Political Science Department Northern Kentucky University, and presented at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences March 10–13, 2004. Las Vegas, NV, contains statistical information on 97 executions carried out in the European Theatre and the Mediterranean Theatre of World War II. It does not appear to be available online at this time.
  8. Taken by Force, by J. Robert Lilly, published by Palgrave Macmillian in August, 2007, discusses crimes of sexual violence committed by American soldiers in the Second World War. It contains numerous references to military capital cases during this period.
  9. Official File, Court Martial Cases, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, contains information on sentence confirmation dates of soldiers executed for capital crimes within the continental United States between 1942-145.
  10. Official File, Court Martial Cases, Harry Truman Museum and Library, contains information on sentence confirmation dates of soldiers and members of the Air Force executed between 1945-1954.
  11. History of the JAG Branch Office, U.S. Forces, European Theater, 18 July 1942 to 1 Nov. 1945: n.a., Vol. 1–2, prep. by the Branch Office of the JAG-ETO, n.p ., n.d. (1946?), contains a summary on 70 military executions carried out in the European theater between 1943-1945.

Executed person Date of execution Location Method
James Rowe 6 November 1942 Fort Huachuca, Arizona Hanged
Edward J. Leonski 9 November 1942 Pentridge Prison, Melbourne, Australia, Southwest Pacific Area Hanged
Jerry Sykes 19 January 1943 Fort Huachuca, Arizona Hanged
Francis A. Line 18 February1943 (sentence confirmation date) United States Hanged
David Cobb 12 March 1943 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Hanged
George S. Knapp 19 March 1943 Bastrop, Texas, Fort SnellingMinnesota(buried) Hanged
Harold A. Smith 25 June 1943 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Hanged
Walter J. Bohn 13 July 1943 (sentence confirmation date) United States Hanged
James E. Kendrick 17 July 1943 Oran, Algeria, North African Theater of Operations Hanged
Levi Brandon 26 July 1943 United States Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Hanged
Willie A. Pittman 30 August 1943 Sicily, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
Harvey Stroud 30 August 1943 Sicily, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
Armstead White 30 August 1943 Sicily, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
David White 30 August 1943 Sicily, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
Charles H. Smith 6 September 1943 Algiers, North African Theater of Operations Hanged
Lee A. Davis 14 December 1943 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Hanged
Charles A. Spears January 1944 Oran, Algeria, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
Edwin P. Jones 5 January 1944 Oran, Algeria, North African Theater of Operations Hanged
John H. Waters 10 February 1944 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Hanged
J.C. Leatherberry 16 March 1944 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Hanged
Wiley Harris 26 May 1944 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Hanged
Alex F. Miranda 30 May 1944 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Shot
Robert L. Donnelly 31 May 1944 Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
Eliga Brinson 11 August 1944 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Hanged
Willie Smith 11 August 1944 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Hanged
Clarence Whitfield 14 August 1944 Normandy, France, European Theater Hanged
Ray Watson 29 August 1944 Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
James W. Peoples 2 September 1944 Oro Bay, New Guinea, Southwest Pacific Area Hanged
Harry Beven 26 September 1944 United States Hanged
Arthur T. Brown 2 October 1944 Oro Bay, New Guinea, Southwest Pacific Area Hanged
Andrew Gibson 2 October 1944 Oro Bay, New Guinea, Southwest Pacific Area Hanged
Leroy E. Greene 2 October 1944 Oro Bay, New Guinea, Southwest Pacific Area Hanged
Charles A. Horne 2 October 1944 Oro Bay, New Guinea, Southwest Pacific Area Hanged
Eugene A. Washington, Jr. 2 October 1944 Oro Bay, New Guinea, Southwest Pacific Area Hanged
Lloyd L. White, Jr. 2 October 1944 Oro Bay New Guinea, Southwest Pacific Area Hanged
Madison Thomas 12 October 1944 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Hanged
James B. Sanders 25 October 1944 European Theater Hanged
Ray W. Anderson 25 October, 1944 European Theater Hanged
Paul Kluxdal 31 October 1944 European Theater Hanged
Willie Wimberly, Jr. 9 November 1944 European Theater Hanged
Joseph Watson 9 November 1944 European Theater Hanged
Aveline Fernandez 15 November 1944 Oro Bay, New Guinea, Southwest Pacific Area Hanged
Richard Scott 18 November 1944 European Theater Hanged
William D. Pennyfather 18 November 1944 European Theater Hanged
Theron McGann 20 November 1944 European Theater Hanged
Arthur E. Davis 22 November 1944 European Theater Hanged
Charles H. Jordan 22 November 1944 European Theater Hanged
James Hendricks 24 November 1944 Normandy, France, European Theater Hanged
Benjamin Pygate 28 November 1944 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Shot
Oscar N. Newman 24 November 1944 European Theater Hanged
Leo Valentine, Sr. 24 November 1944 European Theater Hanged
Charles Williams 18 December 1944 United States Hanged
William E. Davis 27 December 1944 European Theater Hanged
Curtis L. Maxey 1945 St. Tropez, France, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
Waiter J. Baldwin 17 January 1945 European Theater Hanged
Sylvester Davis 5 January 1945 United States Hanged
Augustine Guerra 8 January 1945 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Hanged
Ernest L. Clarke 8 January 1945 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Hanged
John. D. Cooper 9 January 1945 European Theater Hanged
John R. O'Connor 15 January 1945 United States Hanged
Arthur J. Farrell 19 January 1945 European Theater Hanged
James W. Twiggs 22 January 1945 European Theater Hanged
Samuel Hawthorne 29 January 1945 Oro Bay, New Guinea, Southwest Pacific Area Hanged
Marvin Holden 30 January 1945 Lemur, Belgium Hanged
Elwood J. Spencer 30 January 1945 Lemur, Belgium Hanged
Eddie Slovik 31 January 1945 Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, France, European Theater Shot
J.P. Wilson 2 February 1945 European Theater Hanged
Robert L. Skinner 10 February 1945 European Theater Hanged
Yancy Waiters 10 February 1945 European Theater Hanged
William Mack 15 February 1945 European Theater Hanged
Otis B. Crews 21 February 1945 Mediterranean Theater Hanged
Williams C. Downes 28 February 1945 European Theater Hanged
Amos Agee 3 March 1945 European Theater Hanged
John C. Smith 3 March 1945 European Theater Hanged
Frank Watson 3 March 1945 European Theater Hanged
Curn Jones 3 March1945 (sentence confirmation date) United States Hanged
Olins W. Williams 9 March 1945 European Theater Hanged
Lee A. Burns 11 March 1945 Aversa, Italy, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
General L. Grant 11 March 1945 Aversa, Italy, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
Herman Perry 15 March 1945 Ledo, Assam, India Hanged
Robert L. Pearson 17 March 1945 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Hanged
Cubia Jones (listed in some records as Parson Jones) 17 March 1945 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Hanged
Henry Baker 18 March 1945 Philippines Hanged
John M. Mack 20 March 1945 Aversa, Italy, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
John W. Taylor 20 March 1945 Aversa, Italy, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
Kinney Jones 20 March 1945 Aversa, Italy, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
Robert A. Pearson 20 March 1945 Guadalcanal Hanged
Abraham Smalls 27 March 1945 Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
Tommie Davison 29 March 1945 European Theater Hanged
William Harrison, Jr. 7 April 1945 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Hanged
Benjamin F. Hopper 11 April 1945 European Theater Hanged
Dan Boswell 16 April1945 United States Hanged
James L. Jones 19 April 1945 European Theater Hanged
Mileert Bailey 19 April 1945 European Theater Hanged
John Williams 19 April 1945 European Theater Hanged
William T. Curry 20 April 1945 Oro Bay, New Guinea, Southwest Pacific Area Hanged
Shelton McGhee, Sr. 4 May 1945 Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
George E. Smith, Jr. 8 May 1945 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Hanged
George Green, Jr. 15 May, 1945 European Theater Hanged
Haze Heard 21 May 1945 European Theater Hanged
William McCarter 28 May 1945 European Theater Hanged
Clete O. Norris 31 May 1945 European Theater Hanged
Alvery R. Rollins 31 May 1945 European Theater Hanged
Matthew Clay, Jr. 4 June 1945 European Theater Hanged
Werner E. Schmiedel 11 June 1945 Aversa, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
Ancieto Martinez 15 June 1945 Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom, European Theater Hanged
Victor Ortiz 21 June 1945 European Theatre Hanged
Willie Johnson 26 June 1945 European Theater Hanged
Fred A. McMurray 2 July 1945 Aversa, Italy, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
Louis Till 2 July 1945 Aversa, Italy, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
Robert Davidson 5 July 1945 (sentence confirmation date) Green Haven, New York Hanged
Clinton Stevenson 5 July 1945 (sentence confirmation date) Camp Beale, California Hanged
Charles H. Jefferies 5 July 1945 Aversa, Italy, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
John T. Jones 5 July 1945 Aversa, Italy, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
Henry W. Nelson 5 July 1945 Aversa, Italy, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Hanged
Tom E. Gordon 10 July 1945 European Theater Hanged
Harold Crabtree 31 July 1945 Philippines Shot
Cornelius Thomas 1 August 1945 Schofield Barracks, Hawai'i Shot
Jesse D. Boston 1 August 1945 Schofield Barracks, Hawai'i Hanged
Herbert W. Reid 4 August 1945 Camp Beale,California Hanged
Ernest J. Harris 9 August 1945 Philippines Hanged
Lee R. Davis 10 August 1945 United States (possibly Camp Claibourne), Louisiana Hanged
Ellis McCloud, Jr. 20 August 1945 Philippines Hanged
Robert Wray 20 August 1945 European Theater Hanged
Edward J. Reichl 25 August 1945 United States Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Hanged
Harvey W. Nichols 28 August 1945 Philippines Hanged
Albert Williams 28 August 1945 Philippines Hanged
Bradley Walters, Jr. 31 August 1945 Philippines Hanged
Henry C. Philpot 10 September 1945 European Theater Hanged
Fred Hurse 20 September1945 United States Hanged
Clarence Gibson 24 September 1945 United States Hanged
James C.Thomas 25 September 1945 Philippines Hanged
Charles M. Robinson 28 September 1945 European Theater Hanged
Blake W. Mariano 10 October 1945 European Theater Hanged
Sidney Bennerman 15 October 1945 European Theater Shot
Woodrow Parker 15 October 1945 European Theater Shot
Ozell Louis 15 October 1945 Philippines Hanged
Charlie Ervin, Jr. 19 October 1945 Aversa, Italy, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Shot
Mansfield Spinks 19 October 1945 Aversa, Italy, Mediterranean Theatre of World War II Shot
Dan J. Lee 9 November 1945 Philippines Shot
Ellsworth Williams 5 January 1946 Germany, European Theater Hanged
Solomon Thompson 11 September 1946 France, European Theater Hanged
Garlon Mickles 22 April 1947 Schofield Barracks, Hawai'i Hanged
James Norman 25 April 1947 Philippines Hanged
William Abney 1 December 1947 Mandaluyong, Philippines Hanged
Manuel Martinez 23 March 1948(sentence confirmation date) France, European Theater Hanged
Stratman Armistead 16 December 1948 Yokohama, Japan, Far East Command Hanged

Executions of German POWs during World War II

In 1945, the United States Army executed fourteen German Prisoners of war by hanging at the United States Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. These POWs, members of the German Armed services, had been convicted by general court-martial for the murders of fellow Germans believed by their fellow inmates to be collaborating as confidential informants with the United States military authorities. These hangings at the United States Disciplinary Barracks were carried out in a warehouse elevator shaft which had been converted into a temporary gallows. The fourteen Germans were subsequently buried in the Fort Leavenworth Military Prison Cemetery.

Executed person Age Date executed Name of victim
Walter Beyer 32 10 July 1945 Johannes Kunze
Hans Demme 23 10 July 1945 Johannes Kunze
Hans Schomer 27 10 July 1945 Johannes Kunze
Willie Scholz 22 10 July 1945 Johannes Kunze
Berthold Seidel 30 10 July 1945 Johannes Kunze
Erich Gauss 14 July 1945 Horst Günther
Rudolph Straub 14 July 1945 Horst Günther
Helmut Fischer 25 August 1945 Werner Drechsler
Fritz Franke 25 August 1945 Werner Drechsler
Guenther Kuelsen 25 August 1945 Werner Drechsler
Heinrich Ludwig 25 August 1945 Werner Drechsler
Bernard Reyak 25 August 1945 Werner Drechsler
Otto Stengel 25 August 1945 Werner Drechsler
Rolf Wizuy 25 August 1945 Werner Drechsler

Executions by the United States Air Force

The United States Air Force has executed a total of three airmen by hanging between 1950 and 1954. The first execution, that of Robert E. Keller, was conducted under the authority of the 1920 Articles of War; those of Burns and Dennis, Jr. were carried out under a short-lived revised version of the Articles of War popularly known as the Elston Act of 1948.

Executed person Location Date of execution Crime
Robert E. Keller Yokohama, Japan 11 March 1950 Murder
Robert Burns Guam 28 January 1954 Murder and rape
Herman Dennis, Jr. Guam 28 January 1954 Murder and rape

Executions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice

A total of ten military executions have been carried out by the United States Army under the provisions of the original Uniform Code of Military Justice of 5 May 1950. The first four of these executions, those of Bernard J. O'Brien, Chastine Beverly, Louis M. Suttles and James L. Riggins, were carried out by military officials at the Kansas State Penitentiary near Lansing, Kansas. The remaining six executions took place in the boiler room of the United States Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Hanging was the method employed in these ten executions.

Executed person Date of sentencing Date of execution Crime
Bernard J. O'Brien 19 June 1952 31 July 1954 Premeditated murder
Chastine Beverly 10 October 1951 1 March 1955 Robbery, premeditated murder
Louis M. Suttles 10 October 1951 1 March 1955 Robbery, premeditated murder
James L. Riggins 10 October 1951 1 March 1955 Robbery, premeditated murder
Thomas J. Edwards 1 April 1953 14 February 1957 Premeditated murder
Winfred D. Moore 19 August 1953 14 February 1957 Murder, assault with intent to commit robbery
Ernest L. Ranson 5 June 1953 3 April 1957 Lifting weapon against superior officer, premeditated murder, rape, robbery, 2 counts of assault with dangerous weapon
Abraham Thomas 15 April 1954 23 July 1958 Four counts premeditated murder
John E. Day, Jr. 1 October 1951 23 September 1959 Murder, premeditated assault with attempt to do bodily harm with dangerous weapon, assault
John A. Bennett 8 February 1955 13 April 1961 Rape, premeditated attempted murder

USS Somers mutiny

There has only been one instance in the history of the United States Navy where people have been executed for mutiny.

The USS Somers was returning from Monrovia, Liberia in 1842. On the passage to the West Indies, the officers noticed a steady worsening of morale. On 26 November 1842, commanding officer Alexander Slidell Mackenzie arrested Midshipman Philip Spencer, the son of Secretary of War John C. Spencer, for inciting mutiny. The next day, Boatswain's Mate Samuel Cromwell and Seaman Elisha Small were also put in irons. The three were hanged on December 1 1842 after an investigation by the officers of the ship.

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