JUNE 3, 2005 -- Wilmington Marine Ilario Pantano says he's leaving the marines. Pantano made the announcement Friday afternoon at the American Legion where he was greeted by many of his supporters, including Congressman Walter Jones.
Pantano was once accused of murdering two Iraqi detainees, but has since been cleared of all charges.
Pantano says, although he is allowed to return to duty, he feels leaving the Marines is the best decision for his family and the Marine Corps. With all the attention Pantano's case has received, he's concerned he could be targeted on the battlefield, and doesn't want to put his fellow Marines in danger.
Pantano also took time to thank Congressman Jones, giving him his sword as a token of his appreciation.
Pantano also voiced his hope that young Americans will continue to support the Marines.
Pantano and his family say they plan to stay in Wilmington.