A photo of Sylvia Young, Anthony Benavides, and William H. Young in an article by Allen West on the Old School Patriot

Heartfelt Thanks from Behind Prison Walls

In Front Page, Military by Allen West

Last week I shared the story of Sylvia Padilla Young of New Market, MD. She was crying out for attention to her situation of having a terminal illness and praying for her son to be at her side. I read her letter to y’all on Facebook Live. I posted a picture of the family and her letter to our website as well.

As of this date, I have heard nothing back regarding her plight, or the injustice done to her son, Anthony Benavides.

I shared this story with Pastor Ramiro Pena of Waco, Texas, who just last week was sitting next to President Trump . . . nothing. I would have thought that the proponents of criminal justice reform would have seen this story and taken action.

Just as with the plight of US Army 1LT Clint Lorance, Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, and Airman Michael Giles, I am disappointed when such travesties occur but yet no action is taken. I hear more about helping Roger Stone.

Well, I am reminding y’all about this issue with Sylvia and her son, Anthony, who, I would assert, has been wrongfully imprisoned for 20 years of his life. Amazingly enough, the people that I have heard from are Sylvia — through my daughter, Aubrey — and now her son, Anthony. Anthony learned of our efforts during his allocated internet time, and he penned this note to me, which I now share with y’all.

Dear Colonel West,

Hello, sir.  It’s truly a sincere honor to finally introduce myself to you, present circumstances notwithstanding. During the week I’ve spent cogitating how best to articulate my thoughts, I’ve spent my time researching the various projects and initiatives in which you endeavor. Troy [Aubrey’s boyfriend] has also told me countless admirable stories about you. I am unspeakably touched to know that a statesman of your esteemed caliber uses his gifts and platform to help the forsaken few who have been marginalized by the political elite of the entrenched beltway intelligentsia. For your truly selfless and benevolent acts of service, I harbor nothing but the utmost respect for you, sir. Your website’s masthead is aptly named because you are indeed a true American patriot.

My new friendship with Troy came to be out of sheer serendipity, and it has blessed me the rare gift of having someone to talk to, someone in which to confide my family’s plight. In prison, having companionship without precondition or ulterior motive does not exist. It may interest people to know that the most popular movies and novels that we seek are ones that take place in prisons, real or imagined. This is because all prisoners are constantly searching for any means of escape, even if it’s only in their minds. For the most part, we all survive by imitating and emulating the heroes, or in most cases the villains, of those cautionary tales. We all have an insatiable need to escape the horror, the pain, the crushing isolation, and the hopeless abyss that prison life perpetuates. I’ve strived for many years while being criticized, verbally abused, discriminated against, and blatantly harassed by the administrators in power within the BOP. In short, I’ve existed without any semblance of hope whatsoever . . . until this past week, sir.

I can honestly admit to you that this past week has been the most joyous I’ve experienced within the past 18 years of my life. Since 2001, when I was first taken away from my infant daughter, I’ve only had (4) visits from my parents, or anyone for that matter. I have only smiled, laughed, and let my guard down on only (4) previous occasions in the past 18 years. On those few days, I felt that someone cared for me, that there was light in my life. When I saw the picture of my family that you featured on your website, I felt like I’d been saved. Ever since my Dad passed away I haven’t allowed myself the simple human act of crying. Honestly, I couldn’t stop my eyes from tearing up when I felt hope for the first time since this nightmare started. Thank you for that, Colonel.

As a man who found God in prison, I have begun to believe that you are the savior that I have been praying for, to help me and my family. I have worked my absolute hardest throughout my incarceration for the smallest chance of finding someone in your position to speak for my family. As dismal as things may seem, I have never lost faith that the Lord would bless my good deeds and for not quitting when the odds were truly impossible. Thank you for being the voice that I do not have, and for being the champion that I cannot be. No matter what words I may write herein, I can never articulate what your help means to us. I only pray that you do not forget us or leave me behind if our efforts are stalled or blunted by the tumultuous political environment in Washington. My family’s predicament has now reached a critical impasse. Unfortunately, in addition to my mom’s most debilitating ailments, she is suffering from the onset of liver failure. I mention this because, since the BOP forbids me to undergo any medical procedures to donate part of my liver to my mom while I am incarcerated, I am praying that I am soon granted a presidential reprieve, which to me, means that I have a chance, however infinitesimal, to save my mom’s life by donating a portion of my liver to her. I am willing to endure anything for a chance to save her.

I am not afraid to admit that my hopes have never been higher than they are at this very moment. All my dreams and fantasies have come to the surface. Because my life was taken from me and effectively paused back in 2001, although I’m certainly more wise and better educated, in my heart, I am still 27 years old. I dream of finding my children and being a “dad” again. I dream of getting married in a church with my mom watching. I dream of her surviving to see me earn a doctorate in mathematics. I don’t know if Troy has told you about my applied mathematical research, but I have spent every day of my incarceration trying to earn a Nobel Prize for changing how the world communicates digitally. As absurd as it may sound for a prisoner to say, I am getting close to achieving this goal.

I dream of being able to bury my dad at Arlington National Cemetery with the honors he earned with a life spent in service of his country. This distinction applies to my mom also, as she’s sacrificed in the name of our country. Just today, I watched a news story about a fallen soldier who died without any family, and, at his funeral, strangers showed up and honored him. What about my dad? He still hasn’t been properly laid to rest. I’m certain that a soldier of your pedigree can attest to the solemnity of this right. My mom, who will soon join him, will also never be laid to rest if I am not there. This is my greatest fear, sir. In my dreams, I am given a short furlough from prison to bury my mom and dad, and then, for that privilege, I am taken back to my cell for the rest of my life. I am not ashamed to say that I would gladly sacrifice my freedom for this gift.

When you are given the opportunity to speak for me and my mom, I pray that my words and sentiments give you the power to steel your voice and make an impassioned argument to save us. All of my hopes and dreams are with you, sir. As you so eloquently wrote in your website article: “we do not have an illustrious Kardashian to meet with the President on our behalf.”  You are my celebrity savior. I will proudly take a decorated war hero to champion my family’s fight over any celebrity any day. 

In closing, I wish to thank you for all you have done, and all that you are doing on behalf of my family. If there is anything I can do to help your efforts, please let me know sir.  Have a wonderful day Colonel and may God bless you.

I have the honor to be, most respectfully, yours,

Anthony Benavides

Anthony, I will never stop speaking up for you, and your mother, Sylvia. I am so sorry that this fate has befallen you, but know that there are many of us who will champion your cause.

President Trump, you pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Dinesh D’Souza, and Alice Johnson (on behalf of Kim Kardashian). Mr. President, step up in this case, as we have made public Sylvia’s letter, and now this response from her son, Anthony. This is not about me, it is all about justice . . . which should not just work in favor of celebrities, but for all Americans.

Anthony, stay strong, and if you do get that Nobel Prize, I will be the first to celebrate you. And when you earn that Ph.D. in Mathematics, I will try to be at your hood ceremony. But just know that we, the Old School Patriots will never allow your parents to be buried alone, and we will seek to have them honored at Arlington National Cemetery, where my father-in-law is laid to rest.

Stay strong, son!

Steadfast and Loyal,

Col. Allen B. West