Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Military “honor” includes coverups

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The military, as is increasingly apparent, lies immediately to coverup any wrongdoing and, as in this case, even accidental and unintentional harm it does. Lie, lie, lie: what the military loves to do. Whatever the military concept of “honor” is, it certainly doesn’t include truth as a value. The current lie concerns two friendly fire deaths. At the link is a 12-minute video made with a helmet camera that recorded the incident. The article begins:

Last month, Salon published a story reporting that U.S. Army Pfc. Albert Nelson and Pfc. Roger Suarez were killed by U.S. tank fire in Ramadi, Iraq, in late 2006, in an incident partially captured on video, but that an Army investigation instead blamed their deaths on enemy action. Now Salon has learned that documents relating to the two men were shredded hours after the story was published. Three soldiers at Fort Carson, Colo. — including two who were present in Ramadi during the friendly fire incident, one of them just feet from where Nelson and Suarez died — were ordered to shred two boxes full of documents about Nelson and Suarez. One of the soldiers preserved some of the documents as proof that the shredding occurred and provided them to Salon. All three soldiers, with the assistance of a U.S. senator’s office, have since been relocated for their safety.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Oct. 14 was a long and eventful day at Fort Carson. The post had been in an uproar. The night before, Salon had published my article airing claims that two of the base’s soldiers, Pfc. Albert Nelson and Pfc. Roger Suarez-Gonzalez, had been killed by friendly fire in Iraq on Dec. 4, 2006, but that the Army covered up the cause of death, attributing it to enemy action.

Based on the testimony of eyewitnesses, and on video and audio recorded by a helmet-mounted camera that captured much of the action that day, my report stated that Nelson and Suarez seemed to have been killed by an American tank shell. The shell apparently struck their position on the roof of a two-story ferro-concrete building in Ramadi, Anbar province, Iraq, killing Suarez instantly, mortally wounding Nelson, and injuring several other soldiers. I included both an edited and a full-length version of the video in the article. The video shows soldiers just after the blast claiming to have watched the tank fire on them. Then a sergeant attempts to report over a radio that a U.S. tank killed his men. He seems to be promptly overruled by a superior officer who is not at the scene. An official Army investigation then found that the simultaneous impact of two enemy mortars killed the men.

The article about the alleged friendly fire incident was long overdue for some of the men who fought in Ramadi that day for the Army’s Fort Carson-based D Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Many continue to insist privately that a U.S. tank killed their friends.

But for their superior officers, the publication of the article was a problem to be solved. On the morning of Oct. 14, battalion leaders held an emergency meeting in response to the Salon article. The sergeant in charge of 2nd Platoon, Nelson and Suarez’s platoon, had a pointed confrontation with at least one of his men in a vain search for the source that leaked the Ramadi video to Salon. Soldiers were told to keep quiet from then on.

“Everybody was trying to figure out who released this video and who talked to a reporter,” said Pvt. Charles Kremling, a stout, tough-looking infantryman from the 2nd Platoon, as he recalled the accusatory atmosphere on the base that day. “Pretty much we were made to understand that we are not supposed to be talking about this.”

Kremling was in Ramadi the day that Nelson and Suarez died. He had been huddled among the 2nd Platoon soldiers on the second floor of the ferro-concrete structure when the explosion shook the roof above him and threw him to the floor. Above him, on the roof, soldiers say a tank shell screeched in from the west, killing Suarez instantly and blasting his head and torso clear off the building to the east. The shell severed Nelson’s left leg, and he suffered nearly a half hour waiting for a botched medical evacuation as his buddies struggled to save him. He died at the gates of a military hospital.

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By the evening of Oct. 14, after the battalion leaders’ meeting and after both cable and network news had aired segments on the Salon exposé, the harried atmosphere died down at Fort Carson. When Kremling and Pvt. Albert “Doc” Mitchum, a compact, battle-hardened medic, reported for extra duty at battalion headquarters sometime after 6 p.m., they were tired and facing hours of mind-numbingly boring tasks. Being a private working the late shift in battalion headquarters usually meant a night of filing paperwork or straightening up offices.

Staff Sgt. Swinton was in charge that night. He told Kremling, Mitchum and a third soldier who had reported for duty that the evening’s labor would include the inglorious task of cleaning out a closet. The first priority, Swinton said, was to shred the thousands of pages of documents in two large copy-paper-size boxes. It would be tedious work, but Swinton was adamant. “He says, ‘I need that paper shredded. That has to be done tonight,'” remembered Kremling, who volunteered to get started on the job. …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 November 2008 at 7:47 am

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