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‘Another Man Without A Country'

January 08, 2002

The following story is part one in a two-part series.

Author's note: One of the most interesting events of the American-assisted war in Afghanistan was the capture of John Walker, a young American fighting with the al-Qaida. When I first saw the news of his capture on TV, the story, "The Man Without a Country," written by Edward Everett Hale, came to mind.

As a young man the story had made a great impression on me. I found a copy of the story in one of my books. I attempted to read it to my students as it was written. However, I found that most did not understand it because of the vocabulary and language usage.

However, the story remains important. Therefore, I have undertaken to fold, spindle and mutilate that story to make a new story understandable for today's students.


I make no claim to the literary talents of Mr. Hale, and there may be others who wish to retell his story in the manner it was originally written. However, for me the importance of the basic theme is paramount.

Any words attributed to Philip Nolan are either italicized or in quotes or condensed quotes of the original materials contained in, "The Man Without a Country," written by Edward Everett Hale.

Another Man Without A

Country© By Thomas W.


I doubt that many casual readers of the magazine paid any attention to the obituary that said:

BENTLEY. Died at his own hand, on board USS Nimitz, Lat. 2° 11''S., Long. 131° W., on the 11th of May, Michael Bentley."

The only reason I noticed it was that I was sitting in the airport in Atlanta after another weather delay, and a passenger had left the magazine behind when the flight was called. After three hours, I felt as if I had spent a lifetime in Atlanta, and I was reading anything I could get my hands on.

My memory for names and people is good, and the reader will see, as he goes on, that I had plenty of reason to remember Michael Bentley. However, there are hundreds of former sailors and officers who would have paused at that announcement, if the officer of the Nimitz had chosen to make it like this, "Another Man Without a Country," Died at his own hand, May 11."

I have no doubt that many of the officers and sailors who served on ships with Michael Bentley never knew his real name, thus without the title, "Another Man Without a Country," the name Michael Bentley would have meant nothing.

Up until now there have been many reasons, with honor and secrecy being among the greatest, for not talking about Michael Bentley. One can only be surprised by the fact that his imprisonment has been kept secret by so many Navy personnel for such a long period. The news media had forgotten him as much as the rest of the country.

As far as I can tell there is no record of Michael Bentley in the archives of the Department of Defense or any other national archive. One would believe that Michael Bentley never existed. In fact, as far as I can determine, no official mention of him exists anywhere, even in the logs of the ships that have carried him around the world for the past few years. Each captain seems to have gone to great lengths to insure that his name appeared on any records. Thus, Michael simply disappeared.

Since he is dead, there doesn't seem to be any need for secrecy anymore, so I have decided to share his story, as I remember it for today's young Americans.

Michael Bentley had been a young student, known for his curiosity, when he began to study Islam. Teachers and peers remember him for his seriousness when he studied his new faith and his devotion to learning as much as possible. In fact, his family was supportive of his efforts because it was clear that his devotion would not be a passing fad.

During his studies, Michael began to become concerned about his new religion. Then he heard of a new leader of Muslims committed to removing "infidels" from Islamic countries and the expansion of Islam.

Those who knew him were amazed at how devoted Michael had become to this new person whom most had never heard of. Those who had heard of him remembered only that President Clinton had once tried to have him bombed. Because of that, the few friends he had laughed at him as he talked of how he had written and volunteered to join with Osama bin Laden.

Most Americans simply didn't care about Michael Bentley or Osama bin Laden, for that matter, until after THAT DAY. Every reader knows what day n Sept. 11, 2001. That was a day that added many names and words to our daily vocabulary; 911, WTC, anthrax, smallpox, Taliban, al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden.

Today, we all know those words, but when Michael left the United States of America, they had only been the dreams of madmen and the nightmares of the military and governmental leaders. However, I am getting a little ahead of myself, and you the reader, should know, as Paul Harvey used to say, "The rest of the story."

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