Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of US Service Members

Featured

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-5-57-14-pm

Objective: Provide support to families who have lost loved ones to non combat death, homicide, and suicide. Prevent non combat death, homicide and suicide by providing an expedited transfer option to whistleblowers and those who feel like their lives may be in danger.

This is a small sample of the many soldiers that have died of non combat deaths, homicide, and suicide. It was hard for me to choose which ones to feature. Given the amount of families who have questioned a ruling of suicide while their loved one was serving in the US military, it’s fair to say that some suicide rulings should have a second look to determine if a homicide was ruled out. It’s important to note that if the cause of death is determined to be suicide, then the military never has to investigate again.

Brief overview of need for expedited transfers for whistleblowers in general:

John Needham and Adam Winfield had a lot in common: they both claim to have witnessed war crimes, one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan. They both wanted to report the war crimes but didn’t feel safe doing so. They both admitted to feeling like they were set up to die or participate in the war crimes. The only difference: John’s parents were able to get him out of Iraq after he started deteriorating mentally. Adam’s parents were not able to get him out of Afghanistan and he was charged with war crimes after he was set up to participate. On the Dark Side of Al Doura and the Kill Team Movie are must sees because they show the similarity in the cases and reveal how an expedited transfer option could have helped them & saved innocent civilian lives. I included a history of crime at the bases they were stationed at to demonstrate that the crime simply follows them overseas.

John Needham, Army (2008):
Retired Army Pvt John Needham Beat Girlfriend Jacqwelyn Villagomez to Death, Then Died of Overdose on Painkillers Awaiting Murder Trial
An Inside Look at Toxic Leadership in the US Army: On the Dark Side in Al Doura, Iraq
On the Dark Side in Al Doura, Iraq on YouTube
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Carson

Adam Winfield, Army (2010):
Army Soldier Adam Winfield Tried to Report War Crimes But Instead was Charged with War Crimes as Part of ‘The Kill Team’
PBS Documentary ‘The Kill Team’ Nominated for an Emmy
The Kill Team on Amazon Prime
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at JBLM

Would the expedited transfer option help prevent suicide or homicide in these cases?

Alyssa Peterson, Army (2003)

There were concerns that Alyssa committed suicide because she didn’t want to participate in war crimes like torture. Could her life have been saved if she felt like she had a way out? Did she commit suicide? Was homicide ruled out?

Gloria Davis, Denise Lannaman, & Marshall Gutierrez, Army (2006)

Reports indicate Gloria Davis, Army (2006) committed suicide hours after she provided names and testimony to CID investigators regarding soldiers involved in a bribery scheme in Kuwait. She was a witness to the crimes and a witness for the prosecution. Did she commit suicide? Was homicide ever considered? How could this have been prevented? She was one of 3 people in the same logistics group in Kuwait tied to the bribery scheme investigation that committed suicide. Both Denise Lannaman, Army (2006) and Lt. Col. Marshall Gutierrez, Army (2006) deaths were ruled suicides by the Army as well. Were any of these cases investigated as homicides? Did anyone question why three soldiers from Kuwait tied to one investigation killed themselves?

Suzanne Swift, Army (2006)

Suzanne refused to redeploy for a third time for fear that she would be raped or assaulted this time. She went AWOL instead & was jailed. Could this have been prevented if she had a way out of Fort Lewis? She hadn’t been raped or assaulted yet. She was trying to prevent it given the isolation in Iraq. Does the expedited transfer apply to sexual harassment situations where the offender(s) are escalating? How could we have prevented this? If you look at the history of violent crime at JBLM and in Iraq, you can clearly see why Suzanne Swift was fearful for her life. She chose life and jail over rape and murder.

Genesia Gresham, Navy (2007)

Genesia and Anamarie Camacho were victims of homicide in Bahrain. Genesia was said to have been in a casual relationship with the shooter at one point. Were there red flags prior to the murder? Was the shooters behavior escalating? Does domestic violence, harassment, and stalking qualify for an expedited transfer? Could this have been prevented if Genesia had a way out when she realized she may have been in danger? The killer was never jail but instead institutionalized for mental health issues.

Jennifer Valdivia, Navy (2007)

Jennifer was at the center of command investigation of abuse of prisoners in Bahrain. It was reported that she did not want to participate in war crimes yet was belittled, harassed, and abused by a supervisor if she didn’t do what he asked. If she had a way out, could this suicide have been prevented? Was it a suicide? Was it ever investigated as a homicide?

Kelsey Anderson, USAF (2011)

The Anderson family reported that Kelsey’s health deteriorated after she learned that she could not transfer or get out of the military while stationed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. Why did she want a transfer? Why did she want to get out of the military all of a sudden? Did something happen to make Kelsey feel the need to get out of Guam as quickly as possible? Her death was ruled a suicide. Could this have been prevented if she was allowed to transfer? The Air Force took her gun privileges away shortly after she got to Guam because of mental health concerns. They gave it back to her a month before she died.

Danny Chen, Army (2011)

Danny was being hazed and bullied by fellow soldiers in Afghanistan. Could his death have been prevented if he had a way out of this situation? Does the expedited transfer apply to scenarios where an individual is being hazed, harassed, and physically assaulted? Did Danny fear murder? How could this have been prevented so Danny didn’t feel like suicide was the only way out?

Ciara Durkin, Mass Army National Guard (2007)

Ciara found discrepancies in the finance office in Afghanistan & feared that she made enemies. She asked her family to investigate if anything happened to her while she was overseas. Could we have saved Ciara’s life if once she realized that crimes may have been committed, she could leave and then safely report? Ciara was a witness to crime yet had to remain in the setting. Do expedited transfers apply to those who want to report crimes yet cannot do so safely in an isolated location?

****************************************

I researched the non combat deaths of female soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas. I was alarmed by what I learned. It appears that close to 30% of the deaths of female soldiers in Iraq alone are from homicide, suicide, or unknown causes. I am working on doing the same research for male soldiers but have been overwhelmed with the number of non combat deaths of male soldiers. I am starting with 2010 to 2016. Then will focus energy on 2001 to 2010.

Non Combat Death of Female Soldiers:
Iraq
Afghanistan
Other Areas

****************************************

There are many cold cases in the military. The Army has the most cold cases. This list is a small sample of the cold cases in the military. Each case has the same theme. The families feel like they can’t get cooperation from the military to figure out what happened to their loved one. The families are devastated by the loss and traumatized further by the indifference, lack of support, and bureaucracy. If the homicide occurred on a base, they have nowhere to turn but the military because of federal jurisdiction issues. Most civilian cold case investigators ask for other investigators to take a look at cases to give them a fresh set of eyes. New investigators can add additional expertise to help find answers and give families closure. Two must see documentaries highlighting some of the major issues with investigations in the military are The Tillman Story (Pat Tillman) and The Silent Truth (LaVena Johnson).

Cold Cases:
Darlene Krashoc, Army (1987)
Gorden Hess, Army (1998)
Col Philip Shue (2003)
Lavena Johnson, Army (2005)
Nonnie Dotson, USAF (2006)
Tina Priest, Army (2006)
Kamisha Block, Army (2007)
Benjamin Griego, Army NG (2007)
Seteria Brown, Army (2008)
Stacy Dryden, USMC (2008)
Blanca Luna, USAF (2008)
Keisha Morgan, Army (2008)
Cherie Morton, Navy (2008)
BG Thomas Tinsley, USAF (2008)
Anton Phillips, Army (2009)
Amy Seyboth-Tirador (2009)
Katherine Morris, Army Spouse (2012)
Sean Wells, Army (2013)
Virginia Caballero, Army (2014)
Devin Schuette, Army (2016)
Justin Lewis, Army (2017)

Cases Solved by NCIS Cold Case Squad:
Lt Verle Hartley, Navy (1982)
Andrew Muns, Navy (1968)

****************************************

Other Areas of Concern:
David Dickson, US Army (1984) Tracking criminal behavior world wide
Kathleen Lipscomb, USAF spouse (1986) Jurisdiction Issues
Walter Smith, USMC (2006) Use of PTSD defense/stigma
Maria Lauterbach, USMC (2007) Expedited Transfer Policy
Jennifer Cole, Army (2008) Accountability/Investigations
Holley Wimunc, US Army (2008) Domestic Violence/Military Role
Morganne McBeth, Army (2010) Sentencing/Negligent Homicide
Mikayla Bragg, Army (2011) Mental Health/Suicide/Personnel Records
Kelli Bordeaux, Army (2012) Sex offender registry/Army role
Michelle Miller, Army (2013) Accountability of those in positions of power
Shadow McClaine, Army (2016) DV & attempted murder prior to homicide
Cati Blauvelt, US Army spouse (2016) DV/Accountability/Fugitives
Army Reserve Veteran Micah Johnson Murdered Five Dallas Police Officers (2016)
A List of Soldiers Targeted & Murdered for the SGLI
5 Service Members Currently on Military Death Row at Leavenworth
The US Military Recruited Violent Felons to Support the War Efforts

History of Homicide/Suicide on Military Bases:
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at US Military Bases

Recommendations:

  • Expand expedited transfer policy to include whistleblowers (war crimes, hazing, stalking, sex harassment, witnesses to crimes) in an effort to prevent homicide and suicide
  • Creation of cold case squads in the Army & Air Force to investigate homicide & suicide rulings
  • Centralized location for families to call to initiate an investigation of suicide ruling or cold cases, with mental health component
  • Official way to dispute findings of military investigators/medical examiners, ability to request a second independent investigation

The Feres Doctrine prevents soldiers from suing the Armed Forces for injuries incurred in the line of duty but families can sue the government in an effort to hold them accountable. Although lawyers and lengthy court battles are costly and re-traumatizing for the families. They shouldn’t have to sue the the government to get answers. They shouldn’t have to submit a FOIA request to find out how their loved one passed. Therefore it only seems fair that we give families the answers and support they need when they lose a loved one who is serving in the US military.

We need centralized databases so that records of criminal activity can be more readily tracked to prevent a violent criminal from escalating to homicide. The military is considered one team now and their criminal activity impacts service members in all branches and civilians in the US and other countries. Given the transient population and jurisdiction issues, it only makes sense to utilize the existing FBI national database in an effort to connect crimes committed on bases, overseas, deployed locations, and in the civilian jurisdictions here in the US. The overall goal is to prevent multiple victims and homicide.

The Silent Truth: The Rape, Murder & Military Cover-Up of Army Pfc LaVena Johnson in Iraq

Ninety-four US military women in the military have died in Iraq or during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). ‘The Silent Truth’ tells the story of one of these women, PFC LaVena Lynn Johnson, who was found dead on Balad Air Force Base in Iraq. The army claimed she shot herself with her own M16 rifle, but forensic evidence, obtained by the Johnson family through the Freedom of Information Act, brings the army’s findings into question. The Army refuses to re-open LaVena Johnson’s case, leaving the family in limbo. ‘The Silent Truth’ follows the Johnson’s pursuit of justice and truth for their daughter. -The Silent Truth

What happened to LaVena Lynn Johnson and so many others speaks to a Pentagon culture which more closely resembles a rogue government–than a legitimate branch serving under civilian control. It is highly telling that this family, along with the Tillman family each had to have a documentary film made JUST TO ALERT THE PUBLIC TO THE TRUTH OF PENTAGON COVER-UPS. I urge everyone to view this important documentary–before the local military recruiter mandated under No Child Left Behind–‘friends’ their child at school. God forbid, they could wind up coming home in a body bag–like LaVena. –Truthout

LaVena Johnson

Pfc. LaVena Johnson, US Army

Learn more:
The Silent Truth on YouTube
The Silent Truth on Amazon Video
Army Pfc LaVena Johnson Died of Non Combat Related Injuries in Iraq, Death Ruled Suicide But Autopsy Report Revealed Rape & Murder (2005)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Iraq)
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Campbell, Kentucky (US Army)
The Silent Truth Documentary aka The LaVena Johnson Murder Cover-Up
What Really Happened to Pat Tillman?
Pat Tillman: The US Army Murder Scandal

Link

Military family puts lives on hold to care for wounded vet

When someone you love is hurt it’s amazing which — capable — like taking care of them in the absolute worst of circumstances. But it happens every day quietly among families and friends. People putting their own lives on hold for some of America’s bravest men and women returning from the battlefield.

Watch video: http://video.foxnews.com/v/2727035710001/military-family-puts-lives-on-hold-to-care-for-wounded-vet?intcmp=related

Link

PTSDIs PTSD Contagious?

It’s rampant among returning vets—and now their spouses and kids are starting to show the same symptoms.

Researchers posit that traumatic brain injury can make the brain more vulnerable to PTSD, or that it can exacerbate its symptoms of exhaustion, agitation, confusion, headaches.

Read more: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/ptsd-epidemic-military-vets-families?page=2

Link

Shutdown halts death benefits for military families

A growing number of military families are facing temporary denial of the $100,000 death gratuity benefit the Defense Department typically provides after service members are killed while on active duty.

At least 17 troops have died — including six killed in Afghanistan — since the government shutdown began Oct. 1. But their family members have not immediately received the lump sum payments known as a “gratuity benefits.”

Read more: http://www.armytimes.com/article/20131008/BENEFITS/310080023/Shutdown-halts-death-benefits-military-families

Amber Lowery’s Remains Identified; Husband & Army Veteran Michael Lowery Found Guilty of First Degree Murder and Sentenced to Life (2013)

57363a

Amber Lowery, US Army Veteran Spouse

Amber Lowery, 34, went missing on July 23, 2013. Her brother reported her missing on July 24th. Days later on July 31st, human remains were found on the Lowery property; they were later identified as Amber Lowery. As a result, Army veteran Michael Lowery, 34, was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife. Amber’s siblings described Mike Lowery as a controlling individual who received counseling for anger management, was “kicked out” of the Army for drug use and insubordination, and was fired from several jobs because of the abuse of his wife while on the job. A Texas jury found Lowery guilty of murdering Amber, dismembering her body, placing her remains in a pile, and burning them. Michael Lowery was sentenced to life in prison for first degree murder.

Related Links:
Amber Lowery (34) was allegedly murdered by her husband
‘I think he did it,’ says Rising Star murder suspect’s brother
Family of suspected murderer say Michael Lowery has ‘a dark soul’
Lowery capable of murder, according to brother
Missing former Kingman woman suffered in abusive marriage, authorities say
Lowery drove wife’s SUV to Rising Star and left it, lawmen allege
Lowery’s Remains Identified
Human Remains Found on Lowery Property
Human remains found in search for West Texas woman
Authorities Didn’t Inform Amber Lowery’s Family of Positively Identified Remains, Brother Speaks Out
Brownwood’s Air Evac reacts to new details in Amber Lowery’s case
Husband of missing former Kingmanite arrested for murder
Husband of missing Comanche County woman arrested on murder charge, held on $1 million bond
Michael Lowery Found Guilty of Murder, Sentenced to Life with No Chance for Parole
Lowery Murder Trial: Rising Star man receives life sentence for killing wife
Michael Lowery Found Guilty For The Murder of His Wife

US Air Force TSgt. Jennifer Norris Testified Before the House Armed Services Committee in Washington DC (2013)

Jennifer Norris

Jennifer Norris, USAF Ret.

It 
is 
with 
a 
heavy 
heart 
that 
I 
sit 
here 
today. 
Because, 
I
 am 
not 
only 
speaking 
for 
myself 
but 
I
 am 
speaking 
for 
thousands 
and 
thousands 
of 
male 
and
 female
 survivors, 
both 
military
 and 
civilian, 
whose 
lives 
have 
been
 forever 
altered 
by 
the 
military’s 
sexual 
assault 
epidemic, 
a
 culture 
that punishes 
the 
victim
, and 
a 
broken 
military 
justice
 system.

Core 
issues 
must
 be 
addressed. 
The 
military 
justice
 system
 elevates 
an individual’s
 discretion 
over 
the 
rule 
of 
law. 
The 
system 
is 
encumbered 
with personal 
bias, 
conflicts of interest and abuse of authority. The cycle of repeated 
scandals,
 self‐investigations, 
and
 ineffective reforms must be broken. Click here for full House Armed Services Committee testimony.

I 
want
 to
 recognize 
the 
service
members 
who 
have 
not 
survived
 due 
to
 non‐combat
 deaths, murder, 
and 
suicide 
and 
their 
families 
who 
are 
still 
waiting
 for 
answers. -Jennifer Norris, USAF Retired

Please note the same day of the military sexual assault hearings before the House Armed Services Committee on January 23, 2013, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the Pentagon was lifting the women in combat ban.

Personal Story:

I am older now and I have had a lot of time to reflect back on what happened to me. And it is now evident to me that I am one of many who have experienced the same kind of treatment simply because I reported sexual assault by a fellow, higher-ranking soldier.

I was raised by a father who worked hard as a logger his entire life. He taught me early in my childhood that I was equal with my brothers. I was expected to help prepare the firewood every season, I was expected to help mow the fields, and I was included in any and all activities. I grew up in a small town and never once experienced someone trying to harm me in a violent way or discrimination based solely on my gender. I grew up with a sense of confidence and determination that I could do anything I wanted to with my life. That is the American dream, right?

I learned quickly after joining the USAF that I had stepped into a whole new world, one that eventually made me feel like I was dealing with an underground mob. Shortly after I enlisted, I was invited to a “new recruit” party. I was really excited to attend so that I could meet others who were also going through the excitement and fear of becoming a soldier. Instead I became the victim of a calculating predator who used the “party” as a way to set up his attack. And, as I commonly see in many of the cases in my work as a victim advocate, he used alcohol as his weapon. When he was unable to pressure me to drink, he used whatever means necessary to incapacitate his victim. When I was raped, I was chemically restrained and could not move; yet I knew what was happening to me. In my works as a victim advocate, I frequently saw this same modus operandi.

I didn’t report that crime and here is why. I could not face that it happened. I didn’t want to start out my military career like that and so I determined that I would never talk about it to anyone. From that day forward, I avoided the recruiter at all costs and soldiered on. I have never seen him since.

I had an amazing basic training experience at Lackland. My military training instructor was SSgt Knight and that professional NCO taught me how to be a good follower and he also believed in my leadership skills.

The majority of the people that I served with were amazing, inspiring individuals who truly were dedicated to the mission. But just like me, there are far too many who fall victim to manipulation and abuse of authority by perpetrators who are higher ranking and have more credibility with those who are in charge. We have no choice but to acquiesce when under the leadership of a heavy fisted Chain of Command.

I was assaulted a second time at Keesler Air Force Base after Basic Training by my instructor. I was attending Satellite and Wideband Communications technical school. I was there for 6 months. While there, I learned very quickly that if you reported sexual harassment, assault, or were offended by someone’s lewd and crude remarks that you will be quickly turned out of the Air Force. So, I planned to get through it, go back home and serve with the Maine Air National Guard, where I thought I would be safe. I just sucked it up and kept my mouth shut so I could graduate. I watched an Active Duty Air Force female, who to this day is one of my best friends, get swiftly booted from the military, after she reported that one of her instructor’s made derogatory remarks to her during class. This girl was 19 years old. The military training managers engaged in what appeared to be a witch-hunt and looked for anything and everything to kick her out. In the end, they were successful. Today she suffers severe PTSD from this experience.

A few very significant things happened while I was at Keesler. One of the female airman that I was going to school with admitted that she had sex with her recruiter. This conversation was in the presence of another Maine Air National Guardsman who shared that the same recruiter who raped me had also sexually assaulted his cousin, who as a result did not join the military. When he explained to me how it occurred, my blood began to boil with rage because I recognized the pattern immediately. The recruiter had done the same thing to me and I determined I was going to press charges against him, when I returned home, to stop him from harming anyone else.

The Post Traumatic Stress, which I didn’t realize I had, kicked in to overdrive after learning this information. I wanted to take action. I did an impulsive thing. I called up the recruiter who raped me and told him I was going to press charges against him and that I knew what he had done to another girl as well. He quickly hung up on me. My thinking was maybe just maybe he would be too scared to try this again.

About two weeks before graduation from Keesler, I was performing a maintenance loop on a mobile satellite communications van as part of the testing to move on to the next block. I had it down. I loved my job and everything stuck. For this test, we needed to step inside the enclosed satellite communications maintenance van. The instructor shut the door and stood there with his clipboard behind me while I configured the van. Shortly after starting the task, he came up from behind me, attacked me, pushed me into the wall of the van, rubbed his groin area on my body and whispered in my ear, “let me help you, let me help you.” Those words trigger me to this day.

I got angry, I flipped out and pushed him away and told him not to touch me ever again. He was surprised and didn’t say a word. My fight or flight response had kicked into overdrive and my anxiety was so high that I was shaking while I finished configuring that van and waited for him to give me permission to leave the enclosed van. But, I did it. I passed the test.

Unfortunately, it did not end there. This TSgt told me to stay behind after class. Because I could not disobey a direct order without consequences, I stayed only for him to tell me that he was going to fail me for attitude even though I passed the final test. I immediately broke down and started crying. All I could say is why are you doing this to me? Why? I begged him to reconsider. He told me to report the next morning an hour before the rest of the class and he would reconsider. I did not do as ordered and I never saw him again.

Instead of going to school the next morning, I instead went to the Air National Guard liaison, who I had established a nice relationship with, and I informed her that my instructor wanted to fail me for attitude, despite passing my test. The Guard gave the TSgt. a call. He acquiesced and I was told to report to my next class. While at Keesler, I never saw him again. I did not report this crime for a number of reasons. First I witnessed first hand what happens when you report that type of behavior. Second, I was only two weeks away from graduation, and, third, I did not want an investigation launched and risk being stuck on that base with that predator. Lastly, I did not want to be stigmatized as a female who alleges sexual assault before I had even entered the operation Air Force. These fears and attitudes exist to this very day.

When I got back to the Maine Air National Guard, the recruiter was gone. He had quit his full time AGR position, which rarely happens in the National Guard. He was a MSgt and he effectively gave up his career and his retirement. He moved to North Carolina. I was so relieved that he was gone. Again, I did not report because I knew I could potentially lose my career. I let myself become excited about starting my new career. I planned on staying in for 20 plus years and despite being raped and assaulted in the first year of my career, I loved being in the military, I loved my job, and I loved being a part of a family and a team.

I thought I would be safe at the Maine Air National Guard. The Commander put me to work as soon as I got back from Technical School to help me transition back into civilian life and I totally excelled and became a superior performer. As a result, unbeknownst to me my Commander asked my NCOIC to coordinate hiring me as temporary federal technician. My NCOIC notified me and began the hiring process. I was ecstatic beyond belief and made the most money I had ever made for doing a job I loved!

Shortly after beginning my job, I noticed that the Maintenance Superintendent, also my NCOIC, and boss began treating me differently than the guys. It made me feel uncomfortable, because I didn’t want the guys I worked with to be resentful. But, I also knew that I was a great troop, so I ate up all the extra responsibility that was assigned thinking he must recognize that I am a true leader. No, that was not the case at all. Eerily similar to the recruiter, my NCOIC was beginning to set up his attack. He began assigning me jobs that would isolate me so that he could make his move. He would give me the assignment, then show up unexpectedly to “check in on me,” but instead forced himself on me every chance he got. I could not escape. The abuse escalated over time and he became more abusive the more I resisted and told him NO. His attitude was that I should be flattered that he wanted me. I was in pain. I was there to do a job, to serve my country, why must I deal with this?

The more I fought him off and begged him to stop, the more he would escalate. He regularly forced himself on me, but when I fought back, he called me names and belittled me. He would tell me that my breasts were too small and tell me that it would be in my best interest. I was too scared to report this behavior because he was the Commander’s right hand man. And in the military, rank does come with its privileges including the higher rank you are the more credibility you have with the Commander. After what happened with the recruiter and the technical school instructor, I was already fearful of rank and abuse of authority.

Meanwhile, while my NCOIC was sexually assaulting me and abusing me during the week, there was another National Guardsman, who was considered a weekend warrior, doing the same exact thing to me. I did my best to stay clear of both but they would sneak up on me when I was least expecting it. It was like it became a sick game for them. To this day, I cannot handle anyone coming up behind me or hovering near me. I watched both of them escalate while I felt powerless to do anything about it, if I wanted to save my career. After a while, they did it in front of people as well and nobody said or did anything. Why would bystanders put their career at risk for me? I felt totally isolated.

One night when my NCOIC attempted to rape me in a drunken rage, I started screaming and someone heard me. I escaped but I fell apart. I turned into an emotionless robot. I continued to do a good job but I was dying inside. My attitude began to suffer. I was looking for a way out. One day, one of the professional NCOs in our squadron approached me and said he was concerned about me. I had just received an award for Superior Performer during an Operational Readiness Exercise, but I wanted to get out and he wanted to know why. All it took was that one person showing genuine concern and care for the floodgates to open.

I immediately started crying and opened up to him forgetting that by military law, he was supposed to report any crimes that he became aware of. I begged him not to report because I was afraid that it would end my career. He told me if I did not report that he would. I then reported all four of the perpetrators to my Commander.

The Commander initially doubted me. It was not until after I provided him with proof that he raised from a seating position in anger and screamed with powerful emotion, “he betrayed me.” The Commander then told me he had instructed my NCOIC to hire me because of my excellent work performance. We discussed the recruiter and he admitted he was confused why the recruiter suddenly gave up his career and retirement, but it all made sense to him now. All of these predators appeared to be stellar troops. All of them had histories of sexually assaulting others.

In many ways, I am one of the lucky ones, which is sad to say. My Commander believed me. He did the best he could to handle the case against my NCOIC and his friend given the complexities involved. He strove to be fair, neutral, and impartial. I was forced to leave the Squadron if I wanted to be safe, while he conducted the investigation. Because he could only investigate on Guard weekends, the case got dragged out for months. While I was isolated at Headquarters, the two predators were able to stay and inject their version of how things went down. They had all that time to convince many in the squadron that I was the bad guy. After they admitted guilt the day prior to the administrative hearing, they were both forced to leave my squadron and I was allowed to return.

Sounds like a success story right? Wrong. My Commander deemed the crimes sexual assault. When the crimes were reported to the Adjutant General for the state, it somehow became sexual harassment. Our only recourse was to file an EEO complaint. I filed the complaints against two of the four perpetrators, because we didn’t have jurisdiction over the Active Duty Air Force Technical School Instructor and the Recruiter had skipped town. I had no one assisting me.

I was contacted by the one of the perpetrator’s lawyer both on the phone and in writing. I never responded. While waiting for the investigation to conclude, I was physically attacked by a friend of one of the perpetrator’s. I pressed charges but unfortunately the civilian authorities did not pursue the case. I told my Commander and he said there was nothing he could do because it happened off base. The day before I was to go to the Administrative Hearings for the “trial” of my NCOIC and his friend both of them copped a plea. They agreed to the punishments that the Commander recommended. The Commander told me they were willing to plead guilty. He asked if I was okay with it so he could proceed with removing them from the Squadron. I was so tired and beat down by this point that I just wanted it to be over. I wanted to go back to work and resume the career that I loved. When I agreed to the terms of the punishment it caused the EEO complaint to be withdrawn. Therefore, the Maine Air National Guard either didn’t have to report the crimes at all to the Pentagon or they could report the crimes as sexual harassment.

The punishment imposed by the Commander was that both perpetrators were permitted to agree to resign in lieu of Administrative Hearings, which would have become a matter of public record. I wasn’t offered the chance to proceed with a court martial. I was glad they were gone, but the reason I pressed charges was to prevent any other woman from having to go through this. My efforts were futile. I was told that because my NCOIC had over 18 years of service that he was allowed to stay in the military until he reached his twenty years. When he reached his twenty, he would be forced out. No sex offender record, nothing. Because we didn’t have as much evidence against the other perpetrator, the National Guardsman, he was kicked out of the Maine Air National Guard and given a LOR. He was discharged honorably; he joined the New Hampshire Air National Guard. Ironically, the last time I saw him he was in charge of a training conference I was attending and he was a MSgt working at the Pentagon. Both of these perpetrators retired with full military benefits. Meanwhile, I was retaliated against by the enlisted Chain of Command.

In 2006, The NCO in the Maine Air National Guard, who had me physically beat, was found guilty of manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident in another case. But because he had a top-secret security clearance he somehow got off. And as I went back to my squadron, I had to work with this man. I tried to pull myself together and continue with my career, but instead I was met with resistance from almost everyone I encountered. I was the bad guy, because I made the predators lose their jobs. As a cruel joke, men literally hugged the wall as I passed by pretending I might falsely accuse them of assault. I was treated like a leper. I was pulled from leadership positions. I was denied training I needed to become eligible for my SSgt stripe. I continually asked to complete my training and was called a spoiled brat, by the Officer in Charge. And I was assigned menial tasks that isolated me. By this time, the Commander who investigated the case had been promoted to Headquarters and a new Commander was in charge. He depended heavily on the enlisted chain of command and was willing to sell me out for the mission.

I felt like an outcast and people did not hide their disdain for me. I had no more fight left in me. I didn’t want to give up my career, so I transferred to the Massachusetts National Guard, which was a four-hour drive one way. It was the only way to continue my career progression and promotions. I needed to remain in the same career field, at least until I was a TSgt.

I went from one snake’s pit to another. My old squadron called up my new squadron and informed them that I was a troublemaker. A person, in my enlisted chain of command, shared this with me when I asked why everyone was treating me so badly. I was met with resistance from the get go, despite the fact that I was a super troop and worked very hard at my job. While serving at the Massachusetts Air National Guard, I experienced gender discrimination. I was held to double standards. If others came in late, it was no big deal. If I came in one minute late, I was getting hauled into an office for a big meeting with 3 or 4 people. My new Commander recognized my skills and considered me a subject matter expert. He even hired me during the week to help keep things running smoothly because of the multiple deployments the squadron endured after 9/11. I helped keep things running smoothly back home and continued to train all the new airmen that came into the squadron. We had a lot of folks leave after their first deployment and the only ones left were the ones who wanted to be there. As a result, we got a lot of new airman.

My new squadron Commander recognized that I was a superior performer and promoted me to SSgt shortly after transferring to that base. The Maine Air National Guard would not give me my SSgt stripe claiming that I lacked leadership skills, despite the fact that I was an Airman Leadership School instructor, not only met the standards but exceeded them, including going to Airman Leadership School in person, unlike a lot of National Guardsman. And, I had to fight the Massachusetts Air National Guard for my TSgt stripe despite the fact that I had not only met the standards but also far exceeded them. I had become a very effective satellite communications trainer and had a record set up time. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the day that my NCOIC told me that he was going to make one of the Airman that I trained the Team Chief. I had 8 years in the field, while this airman had only two. I demanded to see the First Shirt regarding this issue because I didn’t want to turn this into an EEO issue.

My Chain of Command eventually acquiesced and gave me my TSgt stripe and the Team Chief position. I was the most qualified to do the job. But, this job came with big consequences. Instead of supporting me in my position, I was overworked, blamed for things out of my control, and not respected. I was left with no support or direction so I had to come in during the week and teach myself. After teaching myself, I would then create standard operating procedures to help train my troops. I always trained myself out of a job because I took serving seriously. If anything was to happen to me, I needed to have people that could seamlessly pick up where I left off.

After months of setting me up to fail they threatened to pull my TSgt stripe from me as a punishment for “substandard performance.” They had been planning it for quite some time because by this time, they had the Commander on their side and I didn’t stand a chance. As a result, I filed an EEO complaint against my NCOIC for gender discrimination. I chose to report informally because I had been through a formal reporting process before. I did not have the energy.

My Commander conducted his investigation and determined that my allegations could not be substantiated, but in the same breath told me that I could have anything I wanted. All I wanted was to go to my planned NCO Academy School and be transferred out of that squadron. I also no longer wanted to work for my abusive and belittling boss and refused to return back to satellite communications. Again, not a huge victory but at least I was able to escape that horribly oppressive environment. By this time in my career, I was beginning to unravel and feel completely ready to break. I decided to transfer back to the Maine Air National Guard and this time I chose a critical career field where women might be treated a little better than in the maintenance field. My boss was promoted to SMSgt shortly after.

I met my husband at Keesler while attending another training school in 2001. We finally made the commitment to one another in 2005 even though I realized I was severely damaged by the rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault, abuse, retaliation, and gender discrimination. Love is the only thing that pulled me through this relationship, because I was literally incapable of having interpersonal relationships. I was hardened, damaged, hyper vigilant, and defensive.

Because of him, I reached out to the VA when I found out that they finally were treating Military Sexual Trauma. I have been getting counseling and treatment at the VA since 2006. As a result of getting that help, I was forced to list on my security clearance form that I was receiving counseling for military sexual trauma. The security clearance folks wanted a release of information signed so they could gain access to my medical records from the VA. I signed them, out of fear. But, then called the VA and revoked it, essentially ending my career. I did not want to jeopardize my future career opportunities because I had been labeled and diagnosed with PTSD from military sexual assault.

After being medically retired from the Air Force for PTSD due to MST, I felt like a fish out of water. I had no purpose in life. I was taking a ton of prescription medications, to help me feel less angry, depressed, and help me live without constant anxiety and fear. I felt like I had lost my life’s dream and there was no reason to live anymore. I came very close to ending my own life, because I felt broken, damaged, and unsure of myself. I literally felt like I was invisible and what I thought or felt did not matter. I wanted to die because I basically got fired for being raped.

Working with veterans and active duty personnel who are victims of military sexual assault, I came to recognize that I had been shamed into silence. My fellow veterans helped me find my voice again.

If anyone ever tells you that women are the weaker sex, don’t you believe it.

Related Links:
Jennifer Norris, USAF Full HASC Testimony
Jennifer Norris, USAF HASC Personal Story (PoD)
Jennifer Norris, USAF HASC Testimony (C-SPAN Video)
The Battle Within: Examining Rape in America’s Military (Photos)
Women in Combat: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Lifts Pentagon Ban
Now That Women Are Cleared For Combat, How About A Rape-Free Workplace?
Time to act on sexual assault in the military, Susan Collins says
Senator Susan Collins Leads Effort to Reform Military Justice System to Address Sexual Assaults (Military Justice Improvement Act)
Sexual assault victim, “The system is rigged”
Claire McCaskill’s ‘lonely’ sex-assault stand
The war in Congress over rape in the military, explained
Letter of Support for Save Our Heroes in Our Shared Quest for Military Justice Reform & Constitutional Rights
Massachusetts School of Law Interviews Veteran Jennifer Norris About Violent Crime in the Military & Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
What Happens When a Rape is Reported in the Military?

Army Staff Sgt Amy Tirador Died of a Non Combat Related Incident in Iraq, Army Ruled Suicide But Family Believes Execution Style Murder & Cover-Up (2009)

Honoring SSG Amy Seyboth-Tirador, US Army (2009)

Staff Sgt. Amy Tirador, US Army

Staff Sgt. Amy (Seyboth) Tirador, US Army, died of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident in Kirkush, Iraq on November 4, 2009. Staff Sgt. Tirador was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom on behalf of the 209th Military Intelligence Company, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division in Fort Lewis, Washington. This was Amy’s third tour of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Department of Defense announced the circumstances surrounding the incident were under investigation at the time of the press release. Media reports declared that Amy was found by a maintenance worker in the base’s small generator room with a single gunshot wound to the back of the head. The Army pathologist ruled the cause of death as a ‘self inflicted gunshot wound’ but Amy’s mother Colleen Murphy disagreed and vowed to launch a private investigation. The family expressed concerns publicly that this was an execution style murder on a secure base and that she was killed in the generator room to muffle the sounds of the gunshot. Amy’s DNA evidence was found on the 9mm and that of another person. The family shared that the investigation report attempted to lead one to believe that Amy was considered high risk for suicide because of pressures at work as an Arabic translator and a strained marriage. Amy’s husband Michael Tirador was living at the same deployed location in Iraq as Amy at the time of her death. Amy’s mother denied any history of depression or substance abuse and does not believe her daughter committed suicide.

A year after Amy’s death the Army Criminal Investigation Division indicated in media reports that the investigation was not completed and no final rulings had been made. Yet Colleen Murphy shared that she was told the case was officially closed and expressed frustration with the miscommunication she typically experienced with Army bureaucracy. Amy’s mother also indicated that a lot of women in the military who have died have had their deaths falsely ruled as suicides. Colleen learned from other families who have lost their loved ones that they have even exhumed their daughters’ bodies and found that, without a shadow of a doubt, they did not kill themselves. Colleen indicated that she was going to get a second autopsy in light of the Army pathologist’s determination of cause of death. Michael Tirador expressed in interviews that he did not believe that his wife committed suicide and ordered that her body be exhumed for a second autopsy. Michael was of course a person of interest but his DNA did not match the second DNA profile on the gun. Colleen Murphy indicated that despite Michael’s claims that they had a good marriage, Amy wanted to divorce him. Amy’s father Greg Seyboth expressed concern that her work as a interrogator made her a high-profile target. Retired Army Colonel Ann Wright validated Amy’s family when she published an article stating that several female soldier’s deaths have been grossly mislabled by the military yet when faced with further evidence, they refused to change their findings. Colleen Murphy stated that she will never accept that her daughter committed suicide and that the Army is covering up the real reason that she was killed.

Tirador’s “greatness” has been shrouded in military “secrecy”. Her military legacy clouded by the military’s label of a “non-combat” death. An execution-style death in a “secure area” on an American military base in a war zone. –Family of Amy Tirador

Learn more: Who Murdered Staff Sgt. Amy C. Tirador While On An American Base In A Secure Location?

Related Links:
DOD Identifies Army Casualty
Army Staff Sgt. Amy C. Tirador
Staff Sgt. Amy Tirador
Amy C. (Seyboth) Tirador Obituary
Last rites for Colonie soldier
Bike ride for Amy Seyboth-Tirador
Ride to honor Staff Sgt. Amy Seyboth Tirador, 3rd Brigade
Soldiers of Misfortune: Months Before an Army Psychiatrist Went on a Rampage at Fort Hood, a Texas Army Sergeant Allegedly Murdered Five Troops by Non-Hostile Fire in Iraq
Army says it was suicide; family of soldier not so sure
Report says soldier ‘defeated’
Report says soldier ‘defeated’ (SF Gate)
Fort Lewis soldier was murdered, family says
Mother claims coverup in daughter’s death
Family Seeks Answers in Soldier’s Mysterious Death
Fort Lewis Sgt. Amy Tirador May Not Have Shot Herself in Back of the Head After All, Army Says
New info. could turn Colonie soldier’s death into murder case
Honoring Our Fallen Soldiers (New York State Senate Resolution)
“She always smiled:” New documents raise old questions in soldier’s death
Colonie soldier’s mom pledges to investigate death
Military women die in suspicious non-combat events. Families ask: Why?
Staff Sgt. Amy C. Tirador (Memorial Day i-note)
Is There an Army Cover Up of Rape and Murder of Women Soldiers?
Is This How We Treat Our Female Soldiers?
Lavena Johnson, Morganne Mcbeth, Amy Tirador, Where Is The Justice? – Poem by Luke Easter
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Iraq)
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington (US Army)

Navy Master Chief John Bench Murdered Son & Attempted to Murder Wife & Daughter in Japan, Then Killed Self in Motorcycle Crash (2009)

648859904

Master Chief Petty Officer John Bench, US Navy

Investigation Discovery’s show Forbidden: Dying for Love aired an episode titled ‘An Officer, Not a Gentleman’ which featured the story of Navy Master Chief Petty Officer John Bench. Bench first killed his son and then attempted to kill his wife Agnus and their daughter on August 30, 2009 at Sasebo Naval Base in Japan. After the attacks, he then made a run for it and left the base traveling on his motorcycle. On that ride, John Bench slammed directly into the path of an oncoming truck and was killed instantly. NCIS was assigned to the case and discovered the crime scene. As a result they were able to get care for John’s wife and daughter who survived the brutal attack. Once Travis Tritten of Stars and Stripes discovered John Bench was involved in a homicide investigation in the Philippines, he did some digging because he knew this was no coincidence. The story he uncovers leads the Philippines police to another killer.

The Philippines is a key site for military and home to about 12 million citizens. Lilibeth Eniceo, 29, lived in the Philippines with her parents where she shared a room with her five children. Every day was a struggle for survival. A series of men let Lilibeth down but she continued to have hopes for a relationship. Ultimately, she was looking for love and stability for her family. Then one day in January 2007, she got a friend request from a Navy man named John Bench. He was a completely different kind of man than most. And he was the highest enlisted rank one could be in the Navy, therefore highly successful. But John was stationed thousands of miles away in Japan. Regardless, John continued to woo her and they stayed in constant contact; an internet romance grew very quickly.

Months later, John told Lilibeth his ship was traveling to the Philippines and he wanted to meet her in person. So Lilibeth traveled 100 miles to Subic Bay to meet John where his ship was at port. She was so excited to be meeting her prince charming for the first time. Lilibeth was upfront about her children from the beginning so John knew what he was getting into. John had no problems with her family and let her know he was committed to all of them. During the visit, John told Lilibeth he was divorced with two kids and free to pursue a relationship. John purposefully made her think that they had a future together. Lilibeth was happy and overwhelmed that she found a man like John Bench. It felt like they knew each other for years. Before John went back to Japan, he assured Lilibeth he would send money to support her and her family.

After years of despair and heart break, John Bench gained Lilibeth’s trust but he was keeping a secret too. John was still married with two children and they all lived on Sasebo Naval Base in Japan. John was married to Agnus, also a native of the Philippines, and they had two children: Anthony, 10, and Angelica, 15. But John was deeply unhappy in his marriage. And the success he worked so hard for would be destroyed in a divorce. John didn’t want to lose half of his military pension. Although, John was obviously not thinking clearly when he decided to have an affair because adultery is a crime in the military. John took a big risk when he started sending money to Lilibeth regularly. John felt trapped in a life he didn’t like and wanted to be free of it. He took a big gamble with his career because if caught he could lose everything. But no one could imagine the plot he was scheming.

Lilibeth and John had fallen madly in love but they had to keep it a secret. A year or so after they met, Lilibeth and John had another rendezvous but this time she introduced him to her children. John appeared to be the ideal family man because he was loving and very good with the children. They had a great visit. Right before he left, John informed Lilibeth he couldn’t give her anymore money because most of his money went towards alimony he was forced to pay after the divorce. John made it appear to Lilibeth that his ‘ex-wife’ was endangering their relationship and standing in the way of their future. He was point blank and didn’t mince words. He said he wanted to kill his wife. Because Lilibeth was blinded by her dreams of getting everything she ever wanted, she asked him what he wanted her to do. John asked her to find a hitman in the Philippines and then he returned to Japan.

Lilibeth was nervous and never thought she would be involved in an assassination plot. But she found someone to kill John’s wife. The hit would cost $1,250 with a downpayment of $700. John called Lilibeth to let her know when his wife was going to be in the Philippines visiting her family. This was the first opportunity they had to make their move. Lilibeth and the hitman lied in wait outside Agnus’ hotel and after she appeared, Lilibeth aborted the plan because her mother instincts kicked in. Agnus was exiting her hotel with her daughter. Lilibeth couldn’t imagine killing a mother in front of her daughter. Lilibeth told John she couldn’t do it and he was furious that his orders were not carried out. He eventually apologized for getting angry at her. The vulnerable Lilibeth forgave him and continued to remain under his spell.

In February 2009, John returned to the Philippines for another visit. Lilibeth still saw a relationship happening and the perfect life with John. She wanted security for her family so badly. On this visit, John asked Lilibeth to marry him and of course she said yes. She was so excited because this was a fairy tale turning into reality. But unfortunately this reality was built on lies. John was not divorced yet told Lilibeth that because he was paying alimony to his ‘ex-wife’, he would have to support two families and things would be tough. Lilibeth told him she didn’t care about the money as long as they were together and happy. But John continued to pressure her and this time he wanted her to find someone to kill his ‘ex-wife’ and the two children. Lilibeth wanted no part in this plan because to her it was unthinkable that someone would consider murdering their own children.

The cold hard truth is if John Bench was capable of committing these crimes, Lilibeth was one of his victims too. She desperately hoped John would abandon the evil plan. He told her his family didn’t care about him or love him. He made himself out to be the victim. She was torn because she would be letting go of a future with security if she said no, so she agreed to take part in the plot to kill his family. Lilibeth found another hitman and this time tried to limit her involvement by having John speak directly to him. John and Lilibeth met with the hitman and John told him how he wanted the plan to go down. He told the hitman he wanted him to carjack his family and then kill them. John assured Lilibeth afterwards they would finally be together.

The whole idea behind the plot was that this would be a failed robbery attempt and John would miraculously be the lone survivor. But again Lilibeth was having a hard time coping with the reality of the situation. She knew that a family was going to be murdered. The hitman waited at a pre-determined location and pulled the taxi over at gunpoint. He jumped in, demanded they drive to a remote location, and then told them all to get out of the car. He killed the taxi-cab driver first. Then he hesitated and called Lilibeth to tell her he was going to kill them. She told him she didn’t want to know anything. While the hitman was distracted, Agnus lunged at him and fought back in an attempt to get the gun. John hesitated to help her because he had been waiting so long for this plan to unfold so he could be free. John finally acted because otherwise he risked his wife finding out about his murderous plan.

The Bench family was taken to the local police department to give a statement. John Bench was quietly concerned about the hitman being on the run. He knew if he was caught and the plan was made public, it would ruin him. Ruby Ramores was also looking for answers as her brother was the taxi-cab driver who was murdered. She wanted justice for her brother; he was a father of three children and was just trying to make a living. John appeared to want to brush the whole incident under the rug. He denied hesitating to assist Agnus and boldly stated that he was simply waiting for the right opportunity. He then told the police he was tired and leaving so his family could go back to Japan. Ruby read the police reports and questioned why John was hesitant to help his family especially since he had the training to do so. Ruby wasn’t going to let this case go cold.

John kept a very low profile the weeks following the incident and stopped sending Lilibeth any money. Then after months of silence, John called Lilibeth out of the blue. He told her he missed her, wanted to be with her, and apologized for his actions. She eventually relented and forgave him. John told her they would be together soon. But once again, John was lying. After this call to Lilibeth, John unraveled and took matters into his own hands. First he savagely beat and murdered his son. Then he bludgened his wife and daughter with a baseball bat and left them for dead. Afterwards, he fled the scene on his motorcycle. Everything in John’s life was on the line and there was no coming back from this. So John gunned his engine and slammed directly into the path of an oncoming truck. He was killed instantly.

When Japanese authorities realized John was in the Navy, Naval Criminal Investigation Services (NCIS) took over. As a result, they went to John’s home and discovered the crime scene. They were able to save both Agnus and her daughter’s life. Once the news was reported, Travis Tritten of Stars and Stripes began looking into the case. He learned that John Bench was also involved in a homicide case in the Philippines. He suspected something wasn’t right and John’s involvement in the homicide in the Philippines was not coincidental. Travis found out that John Bench was having an affair so he contacted Lilibeth. She opened up to him about the details of the relationship and the various plots to kill John’s family. Lilibeth also gave him the name of the hitman who killed Ruby’s brother. The hitman was charged and imprisoned for the homicide. Ruby opted not to press charges against Lilibeth because she empathized with her and her children. Everyone involved was a victim of John Bench. He used a victimhood narrative to justify his evil intentions and manipulated others to do his dirty work for him. He is the definition of a sneaky sociopath.

I made a mistake. If I have to pay for it, I will pay for it…I was in love with a monster. -Lilibeth Eniceo

Related Links:
Sailor dies in crash after alleged assault leaves 12-year-old son dead
Probe centers on Task Force’s top enlisted
Mistress reveals plots that led to a senior enlisted sailor’s brutal attacks
NCIS investigates Filipino cabbie slaying
Navy officer’s mistress questioned in Philippines murder case
Man accused of plotting murder with U.S. sailor arrested in Philippines
Victim’s sister, sailor’s mistress form unlikely partnership
Hit man in Bench murder plot pleads guilty in Philippines
‘Forbidden: Dying for Love’ Eyes Story of USS Denver, Navy Officer Who Wanted Family Dead
Forbidden: Dying for Love “An Officer, Not a Gentleman” (Investigation Discovery)


A Filipino woman falls for a married US Navy Officer who will do anything to keep his mistress and his money. -Discovery ID

Lance Cpl Stacy Dryden, US Marine Corps, Died of Injuries Sustained in Non-Hostile Incident in Iraq, Death Ruled Homicide, No Charges Filed (2008)

Honoring Stacy Dryden @USMC (2008)

Lance Cpl. Stacy Dryden, US Marine Corps

Lance Cpl. Stacy Dryden, US Marine Corps, died of injuries sustained in a non-hostile incident in Anbar province, Iraq on October 19, 2008. Lance Cpl. Dryden was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom on behalf of the 1st Supply Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group in Camp Pendleton, California. The Department of Defense announced that the incident was under investigation at the time of the press release. Media reports suggested that Stacy died of a suspected head injury she sustained during a wrestling match with a fellow Marine. In one report, a Marine public affairs officer stated that her manner of death has been ruled a homicide, but no wrongdoing was found and no charges were filed. The family expressed their frustration with the investigation of the murder of Stacy and additionally feel that no one was held accountable in an effort to protect the reputation of the Corps.

“They circle the wagons,” she says about how the military handled Maria’s murder and other female soldier deaths. “They are trying to protect their reputation.” And the military is protecting its reputation while struggling to recruit soldiers for an all-volunteer military. –City Beat

Learn more: The US Military Recruited Violent Felons to Support the War Efforts

Related Links:
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
Legislation would commemorate Ohio Marine who died in Iraq
My Perspective on “Fragging” and Sexual Violence in the Military
Military Sexual Trauma: Is this how we treat women in the military?
Hiding Military Sexual Trauma
Fallen Angel: A North Canton soldier was found dead in Iraq. How she died depends on whom you ask
Is This How We Treat Our Female Soldiers?
Families seek answers about daughters’ “Non-Combat” deaths
Military rules in Marine’s death
Questions Are Discouraged When Women in Military Die, Pentagon seeks to spin, squelch stories on female fatalities
Marine’s father has questions about her death
Marines Probe Woman’s Death in Iraq
Canton Marine killed in non-combat incident in Iraq
Service members gather to honor fallen
Marine Lance Cpl. Stacy A. Dryden