Army Cpl. Ciara Durkin, 30, died from a non combat related incident in Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan on September 28, 2007. Cpl. Durkin was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom on behalf of the 726th Finance Battalion, Massachusetts Army National Guard in West Newton, Massachusetts. According to the Department of Defense, the circumstances surrounding the incident were under investigation at the time of the press release. Ciara was found dead near a chapel on a secure base with a gunshot wound to the head about an hour and a half after leaving work on a Friday. The cause of death was ruled a suicide by Army investigators. According to media reports, the family believes Ciara’s death is suspicious because she shared in an e-mail that in her Finance role, she uncovered some things she didn’t like and feared she made some enemies. She asked her family to investigate if anything were to happen to her while she was serving. Ciara’s brother indicated that Ciara had left a happy birthday message for him on the day that she died. He said she sounded heartbreakingly upbeat.
The family announced they were going to commission an independent autopsy and were demanding answers from the military with the assistance of then Senator John Kerry (D-MA). They told CBS News that initially they had been told that she was killed in action then later the manner of death was changed to non combat related injuries. After the e-mails, warnings, and other observations, the family rightfully feared Ciara had been murdered. They were not sure what the motive was but they speculated that it could be because of what she uncovered in the Finance office and/or a hate crime. The family feared that Ciara’s sexual orientation played a role in her death as well. In media reports, the family expressed that their grief is made more torturous by the limited information released by the Army, and rumors. They shared that misinformation following the deaths or injuries of service members does not help them with remembrances of their loved one during a time of grief. Like most families who have lost a loved one, they want to know what happened and they want to know the truth.
Most frustrating to the family, the Army is offering very little information and no explanations…Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who has been helping the family, says it’s not enough and he and is demanding answers. In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Kerry asked why the family had not been given autopsy results and why the Army hadn’t answered the family’s request for an independent autopsy. –ABC News (October 4, 2007)
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