Army Reservist SSG Virginia Caballero Died on Plane Enroute in US After Deployment in Kuwait, Family Received Conflicting Accounts of Cause of Death (September 13, 2014)

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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

2 thoughts on “Army Reservist SSG Virginia Caballero Died on Plane Enroute in US After Deployment in Kuwait, Family Received Conflicting Accounts of Cause of Death (September 13, 2014)

  1. Omg!! This is my sister!! I am so sorry, but I just ran into this. I decided to look for a post about my sister someone posted when she passed away and this one popped up. I can’t believe there are others out there who have the same questions we have!! You summed it up pretty well and what you are doing for these victims without voices, AMAZING!! I love your website, I love your fight!! Thank you so much for adding my sister.
    As for questions… Don’t even know where to start, but for some odd reason, the one very simple question we wanted the answer for, especially for Easter, I was trying to make mom a scrap book of my sister’s life to death, asked a couple of soldiers that claimed were with her on the “plane” for the name of the plane they were on…you’ll never believe that NO ONE could remember!! I mean, come on, were they blindfolded or what? I didn’t finish mom’s scrap book because I didn’t want to put that she was last known alive on a “plane” without the company name, but sometimes they say, when you don’t have answers for a situation, then maybe the situation doesn’t exist…but they sure do remember details of the situation because, again, for some odd reason, her “Investigation case” was reopened a year after her death which gave mom much hope that we might just FINALLY get answers, but instead, we are told that the investigation wasn’t for the cause of death but to gather everything they hadn’t gathered before, for instance, the WITNESS reports, medical records, and autopsy reports we never received, yeah, well, still haven’t received anything, but hey, I guess people can remember details but as for a huge plane with the name on the side of it, no-one could remember….smh…we never received ANY simple questions, like, “who was she sitting next to?” “Where’s her itinerary?” “How did she become brain dead if you worked on her immediately?” “What time did y’all land?” “What time did she announce she was sick and why would a plane full of medics let her walk to the bathroom alone, but wait, did she “hop” to the bathroom? I mean with a blood clot big enough to kill you “almost instantly”, shouldn’t her leg been throbbing and hurting badly? But instantly? She supposedly had the phone to her ear while I was talking to her hoping to spark a nerve and she’d wake up, but that was at almost 1 am on the 13th, so that’s not instantly especially after calling mom at 8pm on the 12th saying they were at the hospital. But wait, They also didn’t explain the blood in her abdomen or the bruises on her hands, what looked like a bump on her forehead, why her face looked slouched to one side and other things. Then after asking to have our Dr perform an autopsy, not given the chance, and any time I asked questions, they treated me like I was doing something wrong..but f+ that, that’s my sis and since none of the stories they told ever were repeated, but changed, we had nothing but questions. There was no family history of pulmonary embolism and she never sat STILL for long periods of time, nor could she really sleep while on a plane, she had a prior health assessment that said she was as healthy as a 37 year old in a 41 real old body, never drank, never smoked, no drugs, only one attached to the unit she was with and the only one not to come home alive 😦 so many other questions and a wonderful lady, Jennifer, asking some of the same. There is so much more to this story, and my sister’s life taken.
    Sorry, but even now, without ANY closure, I know in my heart, something’s not as it seems.
    Thank you very much, once again, for adding my beautiful sister to your list!! Sincerely, Suzie

    • DVT in the legs presents with either no discernible or deceptively-minor symptoms in approximately half of all cases; a minor burning or dull pain (that can come and go) is often mistaken or dismissed by the person as a muscle strain or something else that isn’t a serious problem. Contraceptive pills significantly increase the risk of PE (and stroke) in women over 30. The longer they have been on them, the higher the risk goes. Pregnancy also raises risk of blood clot and coagulopathy. Blood in the abdomen can be caused by a number of things, including pulmonary embolism (and sometimes CPR chest-compression), ovarian cysts (PCOS), endometriosis. Blood pooling and ecchymosis after death is easily mistaken by lay persons for “bruising”. None of these things are particularly “suspect” and quite common. Lots of “healthy” persons with no particular risk factors develop DVT and PE every year, some of them die, unfortunately. It is probably the largest cause of unexpected death about which many people have poor awareness, never heard of before, or thought was more rare/unusual than it actually is. Prior to contemporary medicine, anyone who clutched their chest, had difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, collapsed and died were usually said or deemed to have died of a “heart attack”, coronary, or some other language that indicated the heart, but some percentage were most certainly due to PE. Sorry for your loss and hope you get satisfactory answers to the other questions.

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