A day after the remains of Specialist Kamisha Block came home from Baghdad, Jane Block went to the Memorial Funeral Home, in Vidor, Texas, a dirty-air dot on the map, 90 minutes east of Houston, deep in oil refinery territory and hard on the border with Louisiana. Jane wanted to make sure that Memorial’s undertakers would adequately prepare her daughter’s body for burial; the funeral service was going to be open-casket, and Jane wanted Kamisha to look the way she remembered her. Or at least as close as possible.
Although plenty of makeup had been applied to Kamisha’s head and neck, Jane saw something she did not expect to see: a large, dark coloration on the lower right side of Kamisha’s head. She thought the spot looked like a gunshot wound. That didn’t make any sense: Army officials had told the Block family that Kamisha had been the victim of “friendly fire” while stationed at Camp Liberty on the outskirts of the Iraqi capital. No one said anything about Jane Block’s 20-year-old daughter being shot in the head.