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Former JAG attorney reacts to devastating fire

Three days after a fire decimated the Judge Advocate General’s office on Fort Benning former Staff Judge Advocate and Columbus attorney Bob Poydasheff said he’s heartbroken over the loss of the historic structure and hopes the commanding general will see fit rebuild.

“It was the second oldest building at Fort Benning with history upon history upon history,” Poydasheff said today. “When I saw it go up in flames I was absolutely devastated.”

Army investigators say the Friday night’s fire may have been the work of an arsonist. They’re offering a $5,000 reward for information.

In the meantime, basic legal services have been relocated, though no services are available today. Clients with legal questions can call 706-626-1245.

Though conditions of the documents inside the charred building are still unknown, Poydasheff expressed confidence in the Judge Advocate General and his staff to “continue on the process of providing the good, sound, legal advice that they’re known for” should those files be incinerated.

The Judge Advocate General’s office is charged with the defense and prosecution of military law as well as advising soldiers, their families and military retirees on personal legal issues such as are preparation of wills and powers of attorney.

The JAG building on post was also home to a law library containing priceless pieces of military history, Poydasheff said.

A huge loss in its own right was the courtroom where William Calley was convicted of the 1968 murder of 22 Vietnamese citizens at My Lai. His conviction was overturned in 1974 in federal court in Columbus.

“It was all held here,” Poydasheff said of the Calley trial. “The courtroom. My God do you all realize the history of the courtroom?”

For more on this story, please read tomorrow’s print or web edition of the Ledger-Enquirer.