Last Updated:December 21 @ 12:51 pm

Father welcomes imprisoned Marine vet home

By The Brownsville Herald Staff

Yvette Vela/The Brownsville Herald

The Brownsville Herald - Jonny Hammar came home for Christmas. Hopes were high through Friday as news spread that jailed U.S. Marine veteran Jon "Jonny" Hammar, imprisoned in Matamoros on a gun charge, would soon come home.
The hopes turned into belief -- and relief -- as Jonny Hammar and his father, Jon, were reunited on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande late Friday night.

"I thank the American people, I thank everybody and I thank many people in Mexico who were also fighting for Jon because they knew he was innocent," said Eddie Varon-Levy, an attorney who represents Hammar.

"It's going to be a wonderful Christmas, at least for the Hammars and me."

Varon-Levy declined to comment about where or how Hammar returned to the United States, but he said more information about the Marine veteran's release would be available within the next few days.

He said his client was not immediately available for photos due to his physical condition.

Jon Hammar, the Marine veteran's father, and supporters spent much of Friday near the B&M Bridge on Sam Perl Boulevard, where they waited patiently for the young Hammar to cross from Matamoros to Brownsville. At about 8 p.m. Friday, the elder Hammar moved to wait at the Veterans International Bridge at Los Tomates.

"I don't care how long I have to wait," Jon Hammar said, adding the only deadline he had was getting his son home to Miami for Christmas. "We don't have any Christmas shopping. We didn't do any of that. But I'll show up and tell my wife, 'Look what I've got.'"

Jonny Hammar was jailed in August on a weapons charge in Matamoros.

His father and a handful of U.S. veterans stood across from the B&M Bridge all day, ready to welcome the young veteran home.

The elder Hammar hovered around a rental truck or nervously waited inside the Advance Auto Parts Store near the bridge with a State Department official, taking telephone calls.

Reports that Jonny Hammar would be released started early Friday.

The father arrived in Brownsville from South Florida by noon Friday.

"The day didn't really have a beginning, it just kind of folded in from the last," the elder Hammar said, adding that he only had two hours of sleep. His tired eyes told a story of a worried father knowing his son would soon be home.

Varon-Levy said early Friday that a judge approved his "ampario," a motion for dismissal of the charges.

Regardless of the wait Friday and the months his son spent in a jail, including time chained to a bed, the elder Hammar said he had no ill feelings toward the Mexican government. All he wanted was for his son to come home.

As Jon Hammar waited near the bridge, long lines of motorists backed up waiting to cross into Mexico, honking their horns.

Family members and an attorney say the young Hammar tried to declare an antique .410 hunting shotgun with Mexican customs in Matamoros, as his family has said that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials advised him he could. Instead of letting Hammar cross, he was taken to jail.

Mexican officials had said despite the fact that Hammar declared the weapon the Mexican Customs doesn't preclude arrest and prosecution regardless if he declared or stated to CBP agents that he was in possession of the weapon.

The family of the young Marine veteran refused to let their son sit in jail. They lobbied members of Congress and others in attempts to get their son back home in time for Christmas.

Gerardo Acevedo Danache, vice president of the Tamaulipas Chamber of Commerce, said he was glad to hear the news of Hammar's release.

Acevedo Danache had called on Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to pardon Hammar by Christmas. "We represent 14,000 businessmen, and we believe the action affects the image of Mexico and also Brownsville. When you scare tourists, you

are not sending a good message."

When Hammar initially entered Matamoros, he was planning to go to Costa Rica with a friend to surf.

"I really, really believe the media played a big role in this. I am happy that this will happen because there is no reason we should continue with this," Acevedo Danache said in a telephone interview.

"I am very happy for him, for the family and for us because that will show we can work together even if we have different cultures. We have more important issues to deal with," the vice president said.

Acevedo Danache said it's important to concentrate on the happy ending for the Hammar family, saying the forces in Mexico and the United States contributed to his eventual release.

As day turned to night, numerous other people began gathering near the B&M Bridge waiting for Jonny Hammar's release.

Art and Kathy Nelson, Winter Texans from Chicago, said they felt a need to go to the bridge to show support for the younger Hammar. Art Nelson is a Marine veteran.

"We came here to welcome him home and we are staying to welcome him home," Art Nelson said, after waiting at the bridge for at least six hours, adding it was the least they could do considering Jonny Hammar had spent five months in jail.

Also at the bridge was U.S. Army veteran Harry Goldfein from Minnesota. He, too, said he wanted to support the young Marine veteran.

Hammar served in Fallujah, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He was honorably discharged in 2007.

___

(c)2012 The Brownsville Herald (Brownsville, Texas)

Visit The Brownsville Herald (Brownsville, Texas) at www.brownsvilleherald.com

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36 Comments

  1. thomasjeffersonComment by thomasjefferson
    December 22, 2012 @ 9:19 am

    Obama doesn’t care about you if you didn’t vote for him. Bet that Marine will never vote for a democrat again.

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    Rating: 4.7/5 (46 votes cast)
    • MorganComment by Morgan
      December 22, 2012 @ 11:21 am

      Apparently the State Department told this young marines parents they couldn’t do anything to get him released.
      http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2012/12/unreal-obama-state-department-tells-parents-of-iraq-vet-held-in-mexico-they-cant-help-them-video/

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      Rating: 4.8/5 (21 votes cast)
    • bna42Comment by bna42
      December 22, 2012 @ 11:30 am

      It reminds me of one of Reagan’s famous quotes: “The most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help”

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      Rating: 4.8/5 (21 votes cast)
    • MorganComment by Morgan
      December 22, 2012 @ 11:39 am

      I think you’re right bna. The state department would probably have made the situation worse.

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      Rating: 4.8/5 (18 votes cast)
    • bna42Comment by bna42
      December 22, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

      Morgan, I think the reason the federal government would not do anything to help is because the marine is a U.S. citizens with a firearm in Mexico. That was a wish come true for Hillary and Obama as they continue their fight to disarm us. Do you remember Hillary’s remarks about too many U.S. citizens allowing too many guns into Mexico? This marine inserted himself right into her scheme. Then he was thrown under the bus.

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      Rating: 4.9/5 (27 votes cast)
    • patebooComment by pateboo
      December 22, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

      Obama doesn’t care about you even if you DID vote for him either. I keep thinking about my LIBERAL friend who told me not too long ago, how Obama and Michelle care SOOOO MUCH for the people currently serving in the military and all our veterans. I used to think she was so smart. Just wait until these fools who supported and voted for Obama find out what happens in a matter of days from now. What I still can’t figure out for the life of me is, why did all these rich people,(Clooney, Springsteen, Spielberg et al) support and throw fundraisers for Obama when he keeps saying he wants to tax THEM more! Granted, they have all the tax attorneys to find the loopholes,and mostly live in other countries, but even still, why would you vote for a Socialist when you’re RICH???

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      Rating: 4.8/5 (32 votes cast)
    • oleteabagComment by oleteabag
      December 23, 2012 @ 12:57 am

      Obama does not care for you if you DID vote for him. He cares for NOTHING except himself and destroying this country.

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      Rate this comment:
      Rating: 4.5/5 (13 votes cast)
  2. bizzybuzzerComment by bizzybuzzer
    December 22, 2012 @ 9:23 am

    I asked Senator Tom Coburn (R) OK, to help out on this project. Most likely he did and I want to thank him for it.
    I hope not, but if Hillary ever hears that we know that she knew about this she will probably send Mexico some more money or some guns.

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    Rating: 4.6/5 (31 votes cast)
    • bna42Comment by bna42
      December 22, 2012 @ 11:04 am

      All it took to get this done was for someone in Congress to request that all aid and cooperation with Mexico be halted until this U.S. citizen was released. Notice how quickly it took place.

      Congress should learn a lesson from this.

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      Rating: 4.8/5 (25 votes cast)
    • MorganComment by Morgan
      December 22, 2012 @ 11:22 am

      Poor Hillary. She was so busy nursing her alleged “concussion” that her state department told this young marines parents they couldn’t do anything to help them.
      http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2012/12/unreal-obama-state-department-tells-parents-of-iraq-vet-held-in-mexico-they-cant-help-them-video/

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      Rating: 4.8/5 (21 votes cast)
    • MaryComment by Mary
      December 22, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

      I’ll just bet that if George Bush had been handling this, he would have stood at the microphone and told the Mexican government that we would purchase more petroleum products from them when they decided to release our U.S. citizen. That’s the kind of man he is.

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      Rating: 2.2/5 (18 votes cast)
  3. Ollie_FanComment by Ollie_Fan
    December 22, 2012 @ 9:27 am

    So this time, US customs screwed up. Is there any component of this government that is actually competent?

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    Rating: 4.6/5 (39 votes cast)
    • bless2liveComment by bless2live
      December 22, 2012 @ 9:46 am

      No!

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    • gopluvaComment by gopluva
      December 22, 2012 @ 10:05 am

      Not only US customs, the mexican border patrol let him take it in too. Should have taken it and told him to retreive it on his way out. I think O’Reilly and fox news had more to do with freeing this man than obama. As far as the news went obama knew nothing. How is he even president when every time we have an important happening he knows nothing.You can bet if he knew he would have made it a political thing in his favor.

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      Rating: 4.8/5 (58 votes cast)
    • bizzybuzzerComment by bizzybuzzer
      December 22, 2012 @ 10:50 am

      The way I read the report and heard from his parents, the US customs had nothing to do with this. They let him pass into Mexico saying the gun was ok and it was ok.
      The Mexicans just saw an opportunity to make a quick buck.

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      Rating: 4.8/5 (32 votes cast)
    • MorganComment by Morgan
      December 22, 2012 @ 11:27 am

      To gopluva….Obama recently sent his 14 year old daughter on a spring break vacation to Mexico. Along with her went 24 Secret Service agents and what ever else was necessary to keep her safe. Cost? Approximately $115,000 of Taxpayer money. I’ll bet if his daughter had been arrested by the Mexican police, he would have sent an entire Marine task force down there to rescue her. She also took 12 of her friends with her. http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2012/03/malia-obama-vacations-in-mexico-with-25-secret-service-agents/

      But this honorable Marine, serving his country in two wars was not worth his time. He was too busy preparing for his $4 million trip to Hawaii for Christmas.

      His state department couldn’t do anything. This President is such a total lost cause.

      http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2012/12/unreal-obama-state-department-tells-parents-of-iraq-vet-held-in-mexico-they-cant-help-them-video/

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    • oleteabagComment by oleteabag
      December 23, 2012 @ 1:01 am

      Sadly, no. The most corrupt, incompetent administration in the history of the country–and the fool liberals RE-ELECTED him. Still can’t believe they could be that STUPID, but apparently they are. i don’t understand how Obama is able to hypnotize these fools so completely–he is not even a convincing liar. But then maybe I’m not convinced because I have learned from experience that every word proceeding from his mouth is a LIE, or at best, a half-truth.

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      Rating: 4.5/5 (8 votes cast)
  4. RattlerjakeComment by rattlerjake
    December 22, 2012 @ 9:49 am

    Besides the release of the marine, what about his antique weapon? Interesting how Mexico has such strict gun laws but they have one of the highest violent crime rates in the world, more than twice that of the US. They spend their time arresting law abiding citizens instead of the drug dealers and corrupt politicians; much like the US is doing.

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    Rating: 4.7/5 (46 votes cast)
    • mach37Comment by mach37
      December 22, 2012 @ 10:42 am

      Law-abiding peaceful persons are the easiest marks for bribe-hungry Mexican “law-enforcement.”

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      Rating: 4.9/5 (35 votes cast)
    • bna42Comment by bna42
      December 22, 2012 @ 11:14 am

      “Besides the release of the marine, what about his antique weapon?”

      I am certainly glad this man was released and back home. However, with the knowledge of conditions in the world currently, IF this marine was going to meet a friend in Costa Rica for a “surfing” expedition, why did he find it necessary to carry a firearm of any kind with him, especially an “antique” shotgun? Everyone hears daily about the drug cartel violence, the murder of innocent people, the corruption of the Mexican government, U.S. citizens killed simply for boating or skiing near the Mexican border, etc.

      It just seems that people have lost their ability to rationally make decisions and have given up their common sense.

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      Rating: 3.6/5 (14 votes cast)
    • bna42Comment by bna42
      December 22, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

      It never ceases to amaze me that when someone points out an obvious fact, out comes the people who want to give the 1 or 2-star ratings. Since they seem to be offended at the comment, why don’t they try to carry a firearm into Mexico and see how far they get? What in the world is wrong with people these days? Isn’t it just common sense that you don’t enter a war zone with a firearm unless you plan to join the war? There are too many trolls on this forum.

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      Rating: 3.5/5 (11 votes cast)
    • mach37Comment by mach37
      December 22, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

      bna42, your two comments are so ‘right on’ – my thinking exactly. To try to carry any firearm into Mexico from the US is just asking to be thrown into prison. Maybe Jon Hammar is too young to have read enough true stories to have been concerned.

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      Rating: 3.1/5 (9 votes cast)
    • MaryComment by Mary
      December 22, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

      This made us feel real good, because we live in Mission, Texas, right on the border about 70 miles west up the Rio Grande from Brownsville. It is not unusual to see the border patrol chasing illegals down the road right behind our house. In fact one of them crashed into our back fence being chased in a stolen car by the border patrol. I’m glad to see an American citizen getting a fair shake for once. Almost every day the border agents arrest anywhere from 50 to 100 illegals somewhere in a stash house. And we are supposed to feed, clothe, and educate them, all on our taxpayer money.

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      Rating: 4.7/5 (14 votes cast)
    • oleteabagComment by oleteabag
      December 23, 2012 @ 1:02 am

      I’ve heard getting anybody out of a Mexican jail involves bribing every official, guard, etc. along the way.

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      Rating: 4.2/5 (5 votes cast)
  5. bless2liveComment by bless2live
    December 22, 2012 @ 10:00 am

    There is good in Mexico,but don’t want to go there and try to find it. There is drinkable water in Mexico but I would not look for it. Grateful the lad got home!

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    • mach37Comment by mach37
      December 22, 2012 @ 10:38 am

      I have heard so much bad about Mexico, I have felt a strong urge to stay out since the ’80s. Tijauna, publicized so thoroughly in the movies, sounds like no place I would find entertainment in, let alone feel comfortable there, and towns along the Texas border from Brownsville to Laredo to El Paso strike me as downright dangerous since the rise of the cartels.

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      Rating: 5.0/5 (26 votes cast)
    • MorganComment by Morgan
      December 22, 2012 @ 11:32 am

      To mach37…When I was in the Navy, stationed in San Diego I used to go to Tijuana all the time. It was a fun place to go. I also used to drive on down to Encenada as well. But you would not get me to go into Mexico now for any reason. It’s a very dangerous place.

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      Rating: 4.9/5 (19 votes cast)
  6. Pingback: JON HAMMAR, U.S. Marine is confirmed to be on U.S. soil. « The Susan Smith Show

  7. bizzybuzzerComment by bizzybuzzer
    December 22, 2012 @ 11:02 am

    Mexico used to be a nice place to go and party or hold a convention. Used to take a couple of days and go to shop and see the sights. Even back then, the government was corrupt but nothing like now. Even my friends who made it a ritual to go to Mexico every month or so have quit going at all now.
    Mexico and the US needs to do some serious cleaning house in their governments. It is getting so bad here now that we have Americans crossing into Mexico illegally. Well, maybe not just yet, but once Obama is sworn at the second time it might become a reality.

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    Rating: 4.6/5 (20 votes cast)
  8. LAPhilComment by LAPhil
    December 22, 2012 @ 1:09 pm

    Bill O’Reilly deserves a lot of credit for getting this marine home. He pushed for his release every night on The Factor, which has a worldwide audience, and I’m sure the word got out to the Mexican government that there would be economic repercussions on the part of American tourists if he were not released immediately. Florida congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (I may not have the spelling exactly right) also deserves a lot of credit, as she pushed for his release constantly. Those who deserve no credit are Obama and the State Department, who were undoubtedly more concerned about not upsetting the Mexican government than about the welfare of this brave man. It may be unfortunate, but it seems we can depend on our fellow Americans to take of business more than we can depend on our own government.

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    Rating: 4.8/5 (20 votes cast)
    • lwessonComment by lwesson
      December 23, 2012 @ 11:58 am

      Scant little is being said in “the media” about this. Likely to not upset the most upset-able Mexicans and their tender tender feelings. Two US Armored Divisions should have rescued Hammar!

      My own backpack adventure through Mexico, was highly foolish, but I was young and naive. The open hostility to the US by Mexicans had me faking my National Origin to those that I encountered, most of the time. They were friendly if I said that I was a Soviet Russian! (I spoke enough Russian to fool them) Played a Brit and German too.

      I have had it with our Southern neighbor that encourages it’s citizens to invade the US in countless numbers. I have had it with our so called Representatives that encourage the invasion. No skin off their shiny soft noses per the criminal acts of the invaders. We live in fear at our home, of home invasion, burglary, and other unspeakable crimes. My Wife and I are prepared, hint hint, but… This is no longer the Nation that my Father risked his life for in WW2.

      Hammar likely has had it too!

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      Rating: 4.3/5 (6 votes cast)
  9. gnafuComment by gnafu
    December 22, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

    I’ve been following this story since the mother, Mrs. Hammar, asked people to sign a petition online. Mrs. Hammar did a good job with the video and my heart went out to her and her son, Jonny Hammar who was chained to a cot in a very nasty looking jail cell. I don’t know who took the photo but thank you. I’m elated that Jonny is released – Thanks to many people across this country who believed in real justice. And, thanks to President Nieto who also finally saw that Jonny did not have any ill intent on the people of Mexico. VP Acevedo Danache, VP of Tamaulipas Chamber of Commerce, did a marvelous and wonderful deed in contacting the Mexican President Nieto. Welcome Home, Jonny Hammar! You have two wonderful parents and I’m sure you will all have one of the best celebrations! Merry Christmas!

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    Rating: 4.7/5 (12 votes cast)
  10. wedeyComment by wedey
    December 22, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

    I bet if this was Chelsea Clinton, Valerie Jarrett or one of O’s kids, Obama wouldn’t be saying there is nothing he could do. It doesn’t matter to him that this man served two tours in Afganistan and Iraq for America. Of course, O wasn’t all that concerned about the ambassador and others in Benghazi either, just a bump in the road.

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  11. TaquoshiComment by Taquoshi
    December 22, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

    Well, well, well. Where was La Raza in all this? Oh, he was a gringo and it was Mexico, so it’s all good, right? No protests, no signs, no riots.

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  12. Bill from MiddletownComment by Bill from Middletown
    December 22, 2012 @ 6:26 pm

    We can thank Bill O’Reilly for his role in this. My son served in Fallujah, too.

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  13. giant33Comment by giant33
    December 23, 2012 @ 9:10 am

    So happy he got out. Like Paul Havey use to say (I’d like to here) the rest of the story.

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