Army vs. Marine Corps – The eternal argument

| February 23, 2021

It’s a common enough argument. Sometimes it goes to blows. Two guys took it further than that. One stabbed the other multiple times. He was tried twice for the murder and has again been sentenced for it. He’s going to serve 80 years, which at 69 years old, is essentially a death sentence.

Jeff LPH sends in this Military Times article;

A Montana man who was twice convicted of killing another man during a drunken argument over which branch of the military was better, the Army or the Marine Corps, was sentenced Friday to 80 years in prison.

William Earl Cunningham, 69, of Laurel was first convicted of deliberate homicide in March 2015 in the 2014 death of Nathan Horn, 40.

The Montana Supreme Court overturned Cunningham’s conviction and 80-year sentence in 2018, saying he was denied the chance to question the professional history and credibility of a state witness and not allowed to fully testify about why he was afraid of Horn. He testified he killed Horn in self-defense.

Cunningham didn’t testify at his retrial last summer, The Billings Gazette reported.

Horn’s throat was slit and he had been stabbed multiple times, a medical examiner testified at trial.

Cunningham told a pre-sentence investigator that Horn’s death was an accident and that he believed he had served enough prison time, District Judge Gregory Todd noted during Friday’s hearing.

Cunningham’s attorney asked for a 40-year sentence with 20 years suspended, which would have made Cunningham immediately eligible for parole. Prosecutors again sought the 80-year sentence.

Cunningham has a criminal record of drunkenly assaulting others with a knife, Todd said.

“I don’t believe it was accidental. And I don’t believe Mr. Cunningham has done enough time,” the judge said.

You don’t “accidentally” slit someone’s throat and repeatedly stab them. I don’t know why Military Times couldn’t put the branch affiliations in, but I found another article that clarifies it. According to Law and Crime, Cunningham was the Army half of the fight.

Category: "Teh Stoopid", Army, Crime, Guest Link

Comments (27)

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  1. 26Limabeans says:

    “You don’t “accidentally” slit someone’s throat and repeatedly stab them”

    I once accidentally kicked a guy in his nutsac
    after repeatedly warning him not to touch my sister.
    I can see a circumstance where a knife could accidentally
    stab someone repeatedly but a slit throat is a bit much.
    Especially over a silly argument that was settled long ago.

  2. OWB says:

    Stupid argument. It’s silly to begin with, but anyone who would argue about it is seriously lacking something significant.

    Jail certainly seems to be the best place for Cunningham.

    • FuzeVT says:

      After becoming a Marine, I would be asked what the difference is. I told them that WWII was a great example of the difference. The Marines are object oriented. “There’s an island – take it.” The Army, on the other hand, is suited for protracted land campaigns. “Ok, land on that beach and go as far east as you can.” Since then, of course, the lines have been blurred quite a bit. My own example of being an occupation land army for 12 months in two different stints in Iraq attests to that. I do believe there is a roll for each. I would get hoppin’ mad if you started making noise about the USMC getting eliminated as was the argument in the immediate post-WWII era.

      As to personal preferences, I certainly have my partisan opinion about things, but who wouldn’t. You wouldn’t, however, hear me say that Big A is worthless. My grandfather was an engineer in the Mediterranean during WWII (with 5 more opposed amphibious landings than this Marine will ever have credit for). I’ve personally met many Army folks who were certainly a great credit to their organization. Getting into heated arguments (let alone stabbing someone) about it is dumb. Stabbing someone about it is worth dying in prison, IMHO.

      • OWB says:

        What you are saying is a sign of maturity. You opted for the branch of service that was best for you while I chose the one that was best for me. They are/were both good options but you and I probably had better experiences, and contributed more, where we landed rather than if we’d forced ourselves to try to fit in somewhere else. It’s all good.

      • MI Ranger says:

        There is definitely a place for the Marines, separate from the Army (Embassy Guards not withstanding).
        The Marines specialize in Amphibious landings, the Army has not had a unit with this equipment for decades. The Army supports the Marines if they should stay longer than they planned (7 days).
        The Marines train like the 75th Ranger Regiment, but have the toys to make a Corps.

        If we ever have to fight our way in from the Sea (or use it as an additional avenue of approach) the Army would not be prepared to do that. As mentioned in a previous post, it is tough to keep a standard when you are so large. The Marines can stay Trained and Ready to a higher standard because they don’t keep all the non-combatant overhead. As Napoleon mentioned though: “an Army moves on its stomach” and Omar Bradley mentioned “Amateurs talk strategy. Professionals talk logistics”. So the Army keeps the Navy paying for its Amphibious capability, and the Army tries to keep the entry standard low so we can keep up with the logistics…and other stuff.

        Just wait until we have to start thinking of getting from Space to the Planet! That is when the Space Force will get their “Marines”.

      • SidneyBroadshead says:

        The Army is Light and Medium Infantry and the Marine Corps is Heavy Infantry. It’s like a screwdriver and a hammer: you use the proper tool for the job.

  3. penguinman000 says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb and guess

    1. The perp had experience with the criminal justice system and/or

    2. Recreational pharmaceuticals/alcohol were involved and/or

    3. He had serious mental health issues.

    Whatever combination, prison is the correct place for him.

    • rgr769 says:

      If you read the linked article and Jonn’s prior posts about this dirtbag, you will find that he had a criminal record, including another drunken assault with a knife. As for this second trial, the forensic pathologist testified the victim’s throat was slashed in a manner that required two strokes, which disproves that the crime could be “an accident” or self-defense. Needless to say with at least 35 years of future confinement, former SP4 Cunningham is unlikely to get out of PITA prison alive.

      There was alcohol involved, Cunningham was double the legal limit for ETOH.

  4. thebesig says:

    For additional detail on William Earl Cunningham’s military service, Jonn posted an article here. He claimed that he did “what the Army trained him to do”. His MOS involved carpentry and utilities.

    • E4 Mafia '83-'87 says:

      You think Big Army trained him just to swing a claw hammer at nails? You can use a plumb bob as a garrote too. Don’t even start on what a hack saw can do. No, the Army trained a “very dangerous” man.

      • thebesig says:

        His explanation about how the Army taught him was an attempt to play on people’s lack of knowledge of what the military does… Specifically on his specific case, insinuating that he was “in the war” and he had a “PTSD moment”.

      • Hack Stone says:

        You have to watch out for us Comm Pukes. Have you ever dropped an RT-246 on someone’s big toe? That will take a guy out of the fight for at least 30 minutes.

        • FuzeVT says:

          The VRC-12 was a little bit ahead of my time. I did use the PRC-104 and the vehicular variant, the MRC-138. I bet if you dropped one of those HF Amps on anything it would be pretty painful.
          I did have some recon drop some PRC-152s (new Harris, multi-band RTs) in that water of Ie Shima (off Okinawa). That was fun.

  5. Hondo says:

    This case was featured in multiple articles here at TAH during 2014-2015.

    FWIW: Cunningham was a carpenter in the Army in the 1970s (no Vietnam service). He was also a real “nice guy” – he’s been a convicted felon for decades, with his first felony conviction (of several) apparently occurring during the 1970s as well.

    Unfortunately, this storyline seems to have been “lost” since – I didn’t find anything about his original sentence being overturned or his retrial in articles here. Good to see that his second trial resulted in the low-life bastard getting the same sentence as his first.

    Thanks for the update, Mason.

  6. Slow Joe says:

    Slit throat?
    You don’t kill people by slitting their throat. Too slow. You kill them by thrusting their bleeding hearts multiple times. But center mass will get the job done.

  7. Sam says:

    So which branch is better? The article doesn’t say.

    What I got from it is that a drunken 64 year old (or so) kills an even drunker 40 year old.

    Marines are a lot like Texans, always bragging about how great they are. The trouble is that when it comes to it, they both deliver.

  8. 26Limabeans says:

    This is why we have the ARMY/NAVY game each year.
    Suit up and make your case.

  9. KoB says:

    As a service to society, for him stealing all of this oxygen, why not put his Army Training to some use. Carpenter huh? Fine! Give him some lumber and nails, ‘just about enough to build a sort of scaffolding, high enough off the ground to require, oh, I don’t know, maybe about 13 steps. Put some type of trap door in the floor, coupla uprights, and a stout cross member beam. I’ll provide a piece of hemp rope, fitted to his neck size, that we can tie to the cross member. Pop the trap door and he will be free of his prison sentence…and we will be free of his oxygen stealing, drunken, murderous ass.