September: U.S. Department of Defense Casualties Report (2014)


09/17/2014:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Michael Donahue, 41, Afghanistan, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

09/17/2014:  DoD Identifies DoD Civilian Casualty: Stephen Byus, 39, Afghanistan, Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime, Ohio

09/17/2014:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Charles Strong, 28, Afghanistan, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

09/05/2014:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Brian Arsenault, 28, Afghanistan, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

California National Guard Military Sexual Assault Bill Becomes Law

National GuardA new law passed today removes sexual assault investigations and prosecutions from the military chain of command.

California has just made a major change in the way sexual assault allegations are investigated in the state military department. On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that requires sexual assault cases to be investigated by outside civilian law enforcement, not by military commanders.

Read more here.

Related link: Military Women: We Got Fired for Being Rape

United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals Overturns the Sentence of Lackland Basic Military Training Instructor SSgt Eddy Soto (2014)

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SSgt Eddy Soto, US Air Force

“Soto faced as much as life without parole for the rape, one of six charges and eight specifications of misconduct.” -My SA

SSgt Eddy Soto was a basic military training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Soto was one of the 35 instructors courts martialed in what is referred to as the Lackland Sex Scandal. SSgt Soto was accused of unprofessional relationships, adultery, and the rape of one airman whom it appeared he had a relationship with. Investigators learned of the relationship Soto had with the airman who accused him of rape as part of a widespread probe into MTI misconduct. Soto faced life without parole but prosecutors asked for 12-15 years. Soto pleaded guilty to five charges and admitted that he had unprofessional relationships with a trainee and a civilian who had come to the base to see her husband graduate from basic training. He also admitted to adultery charges but he denied the rape accusation. He was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison in March 2013. After his confinement ended, he would be dishonorably discharged from the Air Force. Soto was the second instructor convicted of rape in the scandal. SSgt Luis Walker was the first conviction and he received 20 years for the rape of one airman and sexual assault of several others.

In an exceptional ruling by the Air Force Criminal Court of Appeals, Soto’s conviction for rape was overturned in Sept 2014. The military appeals court ruled the evidence was “factually insufficient” to support the conviction. In other words, there wasn’t enough evidence to find him guilty in the first place. The appeals court upheld the lesser charges of unprofessional relationships, adultery, and false official statement. The judge ruled the four year sentence and dishonorable discharge should be set aside and the case was referred back to the convening authority who had the authority to hold a new sentencing hearing. Soto remained jailed at the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in California while the government decided whether to ask the appeals court to reconsider their ruling. SSgt Eddy Soto served over a year and a half for a rape conviction that lacked evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Media reports stated Soto would be re-sentenced by a lower court for unprofessional relationships, adultery, and false official statement. Further on-line research did not find evidence of the final disposition of SSgt Soto’s case. We do not know if he was re-sentenced, released from prison and when, or if he was discharged from the military.

The findings of guilty for Charge III, Specification 1 are set aside and dismissed. The remaining findings of guilty are affirmed. The sentence is set aside. The record of trial is returned to The Judge Advocate General for remand to an appropriate convening authority who may order a rehearing to determine an appropriate sentence for the affirmed findings of guilty. If the convening authority determines that a rehearing on the sentence is impracticable, the convening authority may approve a sentence of “no punishment” or dismiss the remaining charges and specifications. –USAF Court of Criminal Appeals

Related Links:
General admits failure in Lackland sex scandal; 32 alleged culprits
Cross-Cultural Expert Brought In For Lackland Court-Martial
Lackland trainer handed 4 years in rape
Lackland sergeant found guilty in rape case
Air Force instructor gets 4 years for raping trainee
Air Force trainer convicted of raping ex-trainee
Air Force trainer found guilty of raping cadet in Lackland base abuse scandal
US v. SSgt EDDY C. SOTO, US Air Force, ACM 38422, 16 September 2014
Court throws out Lackland trainer’s rape conviction (San Antonio Express)
Court throws out Lackland trainer’s rape conviction (Stars & Stripes)
Air Force appeals court tosses MTI rape conviction
Military overturns Lackland Air Force Base rape conviction
SSgt Eddy Soto Court-Martial Conviction for Rape Set Aside by Air Force Appellate Court
The Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal, Texas (2011)
A Complete List of the 35 Basic Military Training Instructors Court Martialed in the Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal

SSG Virginia Caballero, US Army Reserve, Died on Plane Enroute from a Deployment in Kuwait, Family Received Conflicting Accounts of Cause of Death (2014)

If you have any information that could help this family find answers, please contact us at Thank you.

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SSG Virginia Caballero, US Army Reserves (2014)

Honoring SSG Virginia Caballero, US Army Reserves, who became ill while en-route from Kuwait and then died unexpectedly shortly thereafter at a hospital in Rockford, Illinois on September 13, 2014. Apparently the commercial plane needed fuel and/or had to do an emergency landing for Virginia in Rockford, Illinois. It appears that they were on their way to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. According to reports, Caballero was a Reservist stationed with the 452nd Combat Support Hospital, 330th Medical Brigade out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin but trained at Fort McCoy prior to her deployment to Kuwait.  She served in Kuwait for roughly eight months and for some reason was coming home a month early with a high ranking travel companion. Media reports claim she wanted to surprise her family in Texas. It is believed Caballero suffered from a blood clot which was exacerbated with the altitude on the flight. She was not listed as a non-combat death by the Department of Defense but this would in fact be considered a non-combat death due to medical. The family admits in newspaper articles that a lot of the details are sketchy.

Here are the questions we have after combing through the below articles. Why was she coming home a month early accompanied by a high ranking travel companion if she was going to surprise her family? Did something happen in country prior to her boarding that plane? Was this an early surprise for family in Texas or an expedited transfer from Kuwait back to the states? The military isn’t in the business of assigning high ranking travel companions unless there is an issue. Were there any concerns about medical health prior to boarding the plane? Where were they flying to? Rockford, Illinois is only a couple hour drive from Fort McCoy. Why did they not land the plane sooner at a larger airport like Chicago when the medical issues began to develop or the fuel began to get low? Why did the DoD not send out an official notification of non-combat death considering she was on active duty orders in support of war efforts in Kuwait? Criminal Investigation Division (CID) was assigned to investigate the cause of death of Virginia. The family was asked to submit a FOIA request for the results of the investigation.

Related Links:
Army Soldier Reflects on Life Overseas and Time Back Home
Lubbock movers reach out to help purple heart recipient
Soldier flying home to surprise family in Texas dies en route
Decorated soldier flying home to surprise family in Abernathy dies en route
Local Purple Heart Recipient Died While On Active Duty
Purple heart recipient’s body to arrive in Lubbock on Saturday
Family, friends remember Virginia Caballero as Veterans Day approaches
The Heart of a Soldier: Sergeant earns hero’s salute from hometown
USAR SSG Virginia Caballero, 41 (Noonie Fortin)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Other Areas)
Tribute to SSG Virginia Caballero from her Family
Abell Funeral Home Tribute to Virginia Caballero

Lackland Basic Military Training Instructor, SSgt Luis Walker, Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Rape & Sexual Assault, Commits Suicide at Leavenworth

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SSgt Luis Walker, US Air Force

SSgt Luis Walker was a basic training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. After an investigation into allegations of improper relationships and abuse of power at the training facility in 2011, SSgt Walker was charged with sexual assault. One of his victims stated under sworn testimony that he had raped her. As a result of the courts martial, he was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison as opposed to the original life sentence he was faced with. Shortly after the conviction, his wife spoke out publicly claiming that her husband was innocent and that he did not get a fair trial. SSgt Walker also echoed those sentiments when asked for a statement from the Air Force Times (see quote). A few months later, one of the victims in the trial went public with her story. Virginia Messick shared that she was raped by SSgt Walker and that it was a harrowing experience. She also later reported that she was facing battles trying to get disability benefits for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the Department of Veterans Affairs. SSgt Walker’s attempt to overturn the sexual assault conviction on appeal were eventually denied. It was only a few months later that he would be found dead in his cell at Fort Leavenworth from an apparent suicide.

“These setbacks have discouraged me and at times I have wanted to give up, but because of my family, I can not. I am a human being and an American, I deserve the right to a fair trial. There has been a lot of focus on the number of alleged victims in my case, instead of the charges against me, when in fact each charge should stand on its own.” -SSgt Luis Walker (Air Force Times, June 2014)

Lackland Air Force instructor faces sexual assault charges
Air Force sex scandal: Court-martial begins for Texas instructor
Woman says Lackland Air Force Base trainer attacked her
Drill sergeant texted explicit photos, U.S. Air Force trainee tells court
Four women testify in growing Air Force sex scandal
Sergeant charged in Air Force sex scandal a “predator”: Prosecutor
Air Force instructor convicted of rape in wide sexual misconduct investigation
Air Force Staff Sgt. Luis Walker guilty
Air Force instructor convicted of rape asks for leniency
Convicted Air Force Instructor Gets Twenty Years
Disgraced Air Force instructor sentenced to 20 years in sex scandal
SSgt Luis Walker, One Of The Lackland Air Force Rapists, Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison
Air Force instructor sentenced to 20 years in prison after raping female recruit and sexually assaulting several other women
Wife of Staff Sgt. Luis Walker: My husband is innocent
Release Of Former SSGT Luis Walker (Petition)
Lackland Rape Scandal Shines Spotlight On Military Failure
Lackland fallout: Rape victim turned whistleblower calls for congressional hearings
Attacked at 19 by an Air Force Trainer, and Speaking Out
Lackland Air Force Base Rape Victim Talks of Ordeal
A victim in the Air Force rape scandal breaks her silence
Survivor of sexual violence at Lackland Air Force Base speaks out
Lackland instructor’s victim speaks of trauma, fear
Lackland sex scandal prompts U.S. Air Force to discipline former commanders
Edward Rice, AF general who handled Lackland instructor scandals, retires
GI sex-assault victims face battle for disability benefits
United States vs SSgt Luis Walker, US Air Force (Court of Criminal Appeals)
Ex-Lackland instructor dead in apparent suicide
Ex-Air Force instructor in prison for sex assault dies
Convicted Rapist Found Dead in Cell at Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks
Results unclear for new sex assault safeguards at Air Force facilities
The Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal, Texas (2011)
A Complete List of the 35 Basic Military Training Instructors Court Martialed in the Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal