Violent Crime, Non Combat Death, and Suicide at Camp Pendleton, California (US Marine Corps)

USMC

*Research not complete and includes combat deaths.

2017:

Laurel Chasmar, US Marine Corps Veteran: Died in murder-suicide, New Jersey
John Deshaies, Canadian Citizen: Suspect in homicide of Marine & GF in Belize
Drew DeVoursney, US Marine Corps Veteran: Homicide victim in Belize, unsolved
Cody Haley, US Marine Corps: Died after tree fell on him during physical training
Francesca Matus, Civilian: Homicide victim in Belize, unsolved

2016:

Oscar Aguilar, Civilian: Accused of homicide of US Marine, awaiting trial
Esau Rios, Civilian: Accused of homicide of US Marine, awaiting trial
Carlos Segovia, US Marine Corps: Homicide victim in Los Angeles
Ricky Valente, Civilian: Accused of accessory after the fact, homicide of US Marine, awaiting trial

2015:

Sergio Medina, US Marine Corps Veteran: Robbery & physical assault, 6 years
Leonardo Ortiz, US Marine Corps Veteran: Robbery & physical assault, 3 years
Rodrigo Sanchez, US Marine Corps Veteran: Robbery & physical assault, 3 years
Dominic Schraft, US Marine Corps: Found dead with gunshot wound on base

2014:

Erin Corwin, US Marine Corps Spouse: Pregnant, Homicide Victim
Emilio Harvey, Civilian: Homicide victim, child
Christopher Lee, US Marine Corps: Homicide of Erin Corwin, Sentenced to Life
Stanford Morocho, US Marine Corps Veteran: Homicide, sentenced to 15 yrs to life
Sean Neal, US Marine Corps: Non-combat related incident, Iraq

2013:

Alvin Bulaoro, US Army Reserve: Homicide victim
Kevin Coset, US Marine Corps: Accused of homicide, awaiting trial
Karen Lange, Civilian: Attempted murder by AWOL Pendleton Marine
Mathew Marsh, US Marine Corps: Training accident, EOD explosion on base
Gregory Mullins, US Marine Corps: Training accident, EOD explosion on base
David Oppelt, US Army Spouse: Suspected of homicide, under investigation
Imelda Oppelt, US Army Guard Reserve: Homicide victim, death by hanging
Miguel Ortiz, US Marine Corps: Training accident, EOD explosion on base
Eric Summers, US Marine Corps: Training accident, EOD explosion on base

2012:

Clayton Beauchamp, US Navy: Unit attacked with IED, Afghanistan
John Berry, Civilian: Homicide victim of deceased Marine veteran Itzcoatl Ocampo
Amyjane Brandhagen, Civilian: Homicide victim of AWOL Pendleton Marine
Lukah Chang (Danny Wu), US Marine Corps: AWOL, homicide, sentenced to 35 yrs
Ryan Jeschke, US Marine Corps: Died conducting combat ops, Afghanistan
Brittany Killgore, US Marine Corps Spouse: Rape & homicide victim
Matthew Manoukian, US Marine Corps: Died conducting combat ops, Afghanistan
Sky Mote, US Marine Corps: Died conducting combat ops, Afghanistan
Louis Perez, US Marine Corps: Rape & homicide, sentenced to life
Camella Steedley, US Marine Corps: Died supporting combat operations, Afghanistan

2011:

Mario Arias, US Marine Corps: Homicide victim, beat to death in barracks
Yvonne Baldelli, Civilian: Domestic violence & homicide victim in Panama
Brian Brimager, US Marine Corps Retired: Homicide, Panama, 26 yrs in prison
Raquel Estrada, Civilian: Homicide victim of dead Marine vet Itzcoatl Ocampo
Darren Evans, US Marine Corps: Homicide on base, sentenced to life
Adan Gonzales Jr, US Marine Corps: Died conducting combat ops, Afghanistan
Juan Herrera, Civilian: Homicide victim of dead Marine vet Itzcoatl Ocampo
James McGillivray, Civilian: Homicide victim of dead Marine vet Itzcoatl Ocampo
Lloyd Middaugh, Civilian: Homicide victim of dead Marine vet Itzcoatl Ocampo
Itzcoatl Ocampo, US Marine Corps Veteran: Accused of 6 homicides, died in prison
Joshua Robinson, US Marine Corps: Died conducting combat ops, Afghanistan
Paulus Smit, Civilian: Homicide victim of dead Marine vet Itzcoatl Ocampo

2010:

Christopher Boyd, US Marine Corps: Died supporting combat operations, Afghanistan
Max Donahue, US Marine Corps: Died supporting combat operations, Afghanistan
Daniel Fedder, US Marine Corps: Died supporting combat operations, Afghanistan
Floyd Holley, US Marine Corps: Died supporting combat operations, Afghanistan
Kevin Oratowski, US Marine Corps: Died supporting combat operations, Afghanistan
Ronald Rodriguez, US Marine Corps: Died supporting combat operations, Afghanistan
Jose Saenz III, US Marine Corps: Died supporting combat operations, Afghanistan

2009:

Donald Hogan, US Marine Corps: Died conducting combat operations, Afghanistan

2008:

Kevin Cox, US Marine Corps: 2 homicides, sentenced to life, no parole
Stacy Dryden, US Marine Corps: Non-hostile incident, homicide, Iraq
Michael Heflin, Civilian: Beating & stabbing victim, survived
Emrys John, US Marine Corps: 2 homicides, sentenced to death
Summer Lang, US Marine Corps Spouse: Rape, torture, & kidnapping victim
Robert McClain, US Marine Corps Veteran: Rape & kidnapping, sentenced to life
Adam McKiski, US Marine Corps: Died conducting combat operations, Iraq
Tyrone Miller, US Marine Corps: 2 homicides, sentenced to life, no parole
Jan Pietrzak, US Marine Corps: Homicide victim
Quiana Pietrzak, US Marine Corps Spouse: Rape & homicide victim
Kesuan Sykes, US Marine Corps: 2 homicides, sentenced to death
Stewart Trejo, US Marine Corps: Died conducting combat operations, Iraq

2007:

Jon Bonnell Jr., US Marine Corps: Died conducting combat operations, Iraq
Matthew Medlicott, US Marine Corps: Died conducting combat operations, Iraq
Rogelio Ramirez, US Marine Corps: Died conducting combat operations, Iraq
John Tanner, US Marine Corps: Died conducting combat operations, Iraq
Michael Tayaotao, US Marine Corps: Died conducting combat operations, Iraq
Cristian Vasquez, US Marine Corps: Died conducting combat operations, Iraq

2006:

Lawrence Hutchins III, US Marine Corps: Kidnapping, murder of Iraqi civilian

2005: 

Frank Wuterich, US Marine Corps: Accused of role in killing 24 unarmed Iraqis

2004:

Ryan Weemer, US Marine Corps: Acquitted in homicide of unarmed Iraqi detainee

1996:

Cassandra Corum, Civilian: Homicide victim of Marine Andrew Urdiales, IL
Thomas Heffner, US Marine Corps: Attempted homicide victim
Lynn Huber, Civilian: Homicide victim of Marine Andrew Urdiales, IL
Daniel Kidd, US Marine Corps: Homicide victim
Jessie Quintanilla, US Marine Corps: Homicide, sentenced to life
Laura Uylaki, Civilian: Homicide victim of Marine Andrew Urdiales, IL

1993:

Kenneth Cook, US Marine Corps: Homicide of infant child, sentenced to life
Tiffani Cook, US Marine Corps Dependent: Homicide victim
Denise Maney, Civilian: Homicide victim of Marine Andrew Urdiales, CA

1992:

Marilyn Allen, Civilian: Homicide victim, cold case, solved
Jennifer Asbenson, Civilian: Rape & abduction by Marine Andrew Urdiales, CA
Roosevelt Gipson, US Marine Corps: Manslaughter, sentenced to 11 yrs in prison

1991:

Lindell Mitchell, US Marine Corps: Homicide victim, cold case, solved

1989:

Tammie Erwin, Civilian: Homicide victim of Marine Andrew Urdiales, CA

1988:

Julie McGhee, Civilian: Homicide victim of Marine Andrew Urdiales, CA
Mary Ann Wells, Civilian: Homicide victim of Marine Andrew Urdiales, CA

1986:

Robbin Brandley, Civilian: Homicide victim of Marine Andrew Urdiales, CA
Andrew Urdiales, US Marine Corps: Homicide of 8 women, sentenced to death

1985:

Kathleen Allen, Civilian: Missing, homicide victim
Lonnie Bond, Civilian: Missing, homicide victim
Michael Carroll, Civilian: Missing, homicide victim
Jeff Gerald, Civilian: Missing, homicide victim
Brenda O’Connor, Civilian: Missing, homicide victim
Cliff Peranteau, Civilian: Missing, homicide victim
Robert Scott Stapley: Missing, homicide victim

1984:

Richard Carrazza, Civilian: Attempted homicide victim
Paul Cosner, Civilian: Missing, homicide victim
Deborah Dubs, Civilian: Missing, homicide victim
Harvey Dubs, Civilian: Missing, homicide victim
Sean Dubs, Civilian: Missing child, homicide victim
Donald Giulietti, Civilian: Homicide victim

1983:

Charles Gunnar, Civilian: Missing, homicide victim

1982:

Charles Ng, US Marine Corps Veteran: Multiple rapes & 12 homicides, sentenced to death
Donald Lake, US Army Veteran: Missing, homicide victim
Leonard Lake, US Marine Corps Veteran: Multiple rapes & homicide, committed suicide

1980:

Eugene Brunelle, US Marine Corps: Homicide victim
Roy Garcia, US Marine Corps: Homicide of Marine, sentenced to 20 yrs to life

Related Links:
Seven Marines, Navy corpsman charged with murder in Iraqi civilian’s death

Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Lewellen Died of Wounds Sustained When Team’s Convoy Came Under Fire Entering Jordan Military Base (2016)

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Staff Sgt. Matthew Lewellen, US Army

Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Lewellen, 27, of Lawrence, Kansas died of wounds sustained when his team’s convoy came under fire entering a military base in Jafr, Jordan on November 4, 2016. Staff Sgt. Lewellen was on a training mission in Jordan on behalf of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Green Beret’s Staff Sgt. Kevin McEnroe and Staff Sgt. James Moriarty also lost their lives in the deadly attack. The Department of Defense reports that the incident is under investigation. Initial reports indicate that Jordan accused US Army soldiers of sparking the incident but the US disputes those allegations and stated the attacks appear to be deliberate.

Related Links:
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
Sgt. 1st Class Matthew C. Lewellen
Fort Campbell soldier, Staff Sgt. Matthew Lewellen
5th Special Forces Group casualties identified
US Special Forces Killed in Jordan Identified
Fort Campbell soldiers killed in Jordan shooting
Soldiers from Kansas, Texas, Arizona killed in Jordan
Army identifies three Special Forces soldiers killed in Jordan
Army ID’s 3 Highly Decorated Green Berets Killed in Jordan After Convoy Comes Under Fire
Soldier From Kansas Killed in Combat
Missouri Native Killed In Jordan Attack
Kirksville, Mo., native and two other Green Berets killed in attack in Jordan
Kirksville graduate one of three U.S. service men killed in Jordan
Green Berets killed in Jordan shooting has Kansas, Missouri roots
Kansas man killed in attack on Army soldiers in Jordan
Friend remembers 27-year-old Missouri Green Beret recently killed in action
Body of soldier killed in Jordan returned to hometown Kirksville, Mo
Services held for Special Forces soldier killed in Jordan
Services held for Missouri soldier killed in Jordan
Sergeant First Class Matthew Lewellen laid to rest, northeast Missouri pays respects
Missouri soldier killed in Jordan buried Saturday
Army Special Forces soldiers killed in Jordan were working for the CIA
U.S. Investigates Deaths of 3 Soldiers in Jordan as Possible Terrorism
U.S. Investigates Jordan Troop Shooting as Terrorism
US disputes Jordan’s claim that Americans caused shooting
US disputes Jordan’s claim that Americans caused shooting
US refutes claim Americans, including Kan. soldier, sparked deadly shooting
Killing of U.S. soldiers in Jordan appears to have been deliberate, investigators say
The US lost 6 elite Green Berets in a 72-hour-span last week
Gov. Nixon orders flags to half-staff statewide on Nov. 19 in honor of fallen solider from Adair County

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

Featured

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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.

Continue reading

Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at United States Military Bases

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*Research not complete.

My experiences as a victim of crime in the United States military inspired me to do the work I do today as a military justice policy analyst. Not only did I witness first hand how a predator operates but I witnessed multiple predator types in real time while serving my country. If these people committed these acts of crimes at work in the civilian world, they would have been in jail or I would have been rich after taking my employer to civil court. Well maybe not because the deck is stacked against the accuser but we do in fact have a civilian justice system that allows us to hold others accountable, while it simultaneously protects the due process rights of the accused. This cannot be said of the military justice system. There is no guarantee a military Commander will do anything with a crime report let alone process the felony crime effectively. We do not want a justice system where one man or woman decides whether to do nothing, give a non judicial punishment for a felony crime, or railroad the accused or accuser. We do want a justice system where we can hold our employer accountable without roadblocks from the Pentagon, Congress, and the Feres Doctrine. We cannot effectively tackle the violent crime issue in the military until the victims of crimes, like sexual assault and domestic violence, feel safe enough to report. Crime victims have expressed that they do not want to report crimes to a Commander for fear of retaliation. The Department of Defense admitted that of those of who did report the crime, 62% perceived that they faced retaliation. If service members felt safe enough to report, it could help us prevent homicide, suicide, and non combat death.

If we think about violent crime committed by military personnel compared to violent crime statistics in the United States (reference above graph), at first glance it appears the military has a homicide ‘issue’ among the ranks. Please see the below links for a sample of crime on some of the U.S. military bases. All military bases worldwide will eventually be included in this research. And the research for sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, and physical assault specifically has not been conducted yet either. Because the research is far from being complete, it is too early to make any assumptions so I will put the data in one place and let you come to your own conclusions. But if military crime mirrors civilian crime statistics, one can deduce that if the military has a lot of homicide, there is even more rape. Currently the number one concern in the military is a Commander’s ability to give a non judicial punishment for a felony crime. A Commander can bypass the courts martial process simply by punishing and/or discharging the accused with a preponderance of the evidence. This does nothing to protect our military personnel and the civilians who live near our bases in America and worldwide. Predators do not discriminate. They are just as likely to harm civilians as they are military personnel. They know their rights and they know that jurisdiction issues and lack of communication among law enforcement agencies will help prolong getting caught. We need to be one step ahead.

We can’t get real violent crime numbers for the military bases unless we include those who died of non combat deaths while they were deployed. Veterans Noonie Fortin and Ann Wright inspired me to initially look into the non combat deaths of female soldiers overseas because they observed the unusually high number of female soldiers who died of non combat deaths during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their chief concern was that although the military labels a non combat death as a suicide, there are suspicions that some female soldiers were murdered, like LaVena Johnson, Amy Tirador, and Ciara Durkin. I did the research on every single female soldier who died from non combat deaths overseas and their concerns are valid. My research on non combat deaths in Iraq alone revealed that roughly 30% of female soldiers died as a result of homicide, suicide, and other unknown causes. I am working on collecting the data for male soldiers who died from non combat related injuries in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas. I started with 2010 so we can get the most recent cases but I will go back to September 11, 2001 in the next phase of data collection. The first male soldier non combat death case I found in 2010 was an unsolved homicide. His name was SSG Anton Phillips and he was stabbed to death in Afghanistan. Further research in this area has uncovered that non combat deaths of male soldiers are just as prevalent.

Learn more:
The US Military Recruited Violent Felons to Support the War Efforts
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Afghanistan)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Iraq)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Other Areas)
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (US Army)
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at Fort Campbell, Kentucky (US Army)
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at Fort Carson, Colorado (US Army)
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas
Violent Crime at Fort Wainwright, Alaska (US Army)
Violent Crime at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska
A List of Soldiers Targeted & Murdered for the Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance Benefits
Rep Nikki Tsongas & Rep Mike Turner Host Educational Caucus: Improving Treatment Resources for Male Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma
An Open Letter to the Senate and House of Representatives in Support of the Military Justice Improvement Act
Letter of Support for Save Our Heroes in Our Shared Quest for Military Justice Reform & Constitutional Rights

A 2011 Documentary Gives You an Inside Look at Toxic Leadership in the US Army: On the Dark Side in Al Doura, Iraq


U.S. Army Ranger John Needham, who was awarded two purple hearts and three medals for heroism, wrote to military authorities in 2007 reporting war crimes that he witnessed being committed by his own command and fellow soldiers in Al Doura, Iraq. His charges were supported by atrocity photos which, in the public interest, are now released in this video. John paid a terrible price for his opposition to these acts. His story is tragic. –On the Dark Side in Al Doura

After watching the 2011 documentary ‘On the Dark Side in Al Doura’ which profiles the case of Army Private John Needham, one can clearly observe the similarities to ‘The Kill Team’ PBS documentary released in 2014. On the Dark Side in Al Doura interviewed Michael Needham, the father of John Needham, who was an Army whistleblower from Fort Carson, Colorado and reported witnessing war crimes and atrocities in Iraq; The Kill Team profiled Adam Winfield, an Army whistleblower from Fort Lewis, Washington who witnessed and tried to report the same war crimes and atrocities in Afghanistan. For the sake of preservation, both John Needham and Adam Winfield admitted feeling pressured to conform or risk their own lives if they didn’t. They both felt like they were being set up to die or participate in the war crimes. Both soldiers at times felt like suicide was their only way out because there was no safe place for them to report overseas nor could they escape the situation. If they made it out of the war zone alive, the return home didn’t fair well for them. The PBS documentary  ‘The Wounded Platoon’ released in 2010 reveals the impacts the wars overseas had on Fort Carson soldiers. After watching these three documentaries, it’s clear why our soldier’s combat experiences traumatized and changed some of them. They not only had to fight a credible threat on the battlefields but some were betrayed by the very team they depended on for their lives.

Michael Needham takes us through the series of events that occurred in the course of John’s short Army career. He shared how John was the fifth generation in the family to fight in a war. John volunteered to join the Army in the spring of 2006, went to Fort Benning, Georgia for training, and then got stationed at Fort Carson. John was an Army Ranger assigned to the 212th, 2nd Combat Team, 12th Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. He was part of the infamous team known as the ‘Lethal Warriors’ which now appears to be disbanded. Part of his initiation into his new band of brothers was fighting other soldiers to determine where one fell in the pecking order. John held his own in the fights and was respected for his wins. According to John, the soldiers that didn’t fair so well in the fights were ‘smoked’ by leadership and peers, which ultimately forced them to leave, quit, or commit suicide. In October of 2006 John was deployed with his Fort Carson team to Al Doura, Iraq. His team was assigned to the Quarter Cav which was known for having some of the deadliest fights in the Iraq war.

John was a good soldier. He worked hard, saved lives in Iraq, and was awarded three medals for heroism and two Purple Hearts. John excelled as part of team, was brave, and his resilience was admirable. But during the course of John’s deployment, he witnessed war crimes and other atrocities committed by leadership and his fellow soldiers that affected his morale. John would also admit that initially he wasn’t quiet about it and when he did question superiors, he was told he didn’t have the right to question leadership. He didn’t dare report the war crimes via e-mail or telephone because he knew leadership could monitor everything. So for the sake of preservation and life’s sake, he did what he had to do to get by and stay alive. John would share that the Army was short of personnel so most of the soldiers got driven into the ground and deprived of sleep. After awhile John felt that he was forced into committing war atrocities that were illegal but feared if he didn’t do it, he would become a liability to the team and ultimately a casualty of his own people.

One night John was sent out on a mission with a Lieutenant (who did not commit war crimes yet remained silent). John thought this was unusual because they didn’t usually get sent out in pairs. They were ambushed by three shooters in the middle of the night who were determined to see them dead. When the shooting began, John pushed the Lieutenant to safety and kept the shooters at bay. He shot every round he had and when he was almost out of ammunition, he called the 212th for back-up on the radio but nobody answered him. Luckily another team was nearby who did answer him and was able to extract the soldiers from the situation and save their lives. It would be this incident that would break John’s spirit. He immediately suspected that he and the other soldier were sent on this mission to be killed. When he got back to the base, he began yelling “Why did you set us up?” And “If you want to kill me, kill me to my face!” But nobody acknowledged him so he went back to his tent where he decided that he would commit suicide. John was exhausted, irate, and he saw no way out. He didn’t want to live anymore. He felt that committing suicide was his only way out. John put a handgun to his head but just as he got ready to pull the trigger, his roommate dove and pushed the gun away from his head. The gun discharged and put a hole in the wall. Soldiers immediately began ascending upon the area. According to John, once leadership learned what happened, they held him down and beat him then locked him in captivity in a small room. The Battalion Commander was the one who kept John captive yet he didn’t press any formal charges.

John’s father Michael learned through John’s friends in Afghanistan that John was being held captive by the Battalion Commander. They were concerned about him. John’s family was already concerned about John’s earlier e-mails and posts on MySpace because it sounded like he had given up, which was not like him. With this information Michael Needham contacted Army commands, Fort Carson, Congressional leaders and the Army Inspector General (IG). He reports that the only office that took him seriously at the time was the IG. Michael was trying to save his son’s life. He told the IG that he didn’t want him to die. The IG’s office shared a list of rights for both John and Michael. And it was at this time Michael learned that he had third party rights and could intervene and act on John’s behalf. Michael was finally able to get in touch with the Battalion Commander only to learn that John was being treated like a criminal. The Battalion Commander informed Michael that John committed crimes and was being sent to prison in Kuwait. But Michael was able to intervene and get the Command to send him to medical instead. Medical determined that John was severely injured both physically and mentally. He had significant back injuries from the multiple explosions and blasts, shrapnel in his body, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Army medical in Iraq referred John to medical in Germany and from there he would be sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the states. But not before the Battalion Commander would put up one more roadblock. Instead, Michael Needham won this battle and John was flown to Germany.

Eventually, John was sent to Ward 54 which is the psychiatric ward at Walter Reed. Michael shared that John appeared to like the psychiatric help he was getting. A month into John’s stay at Walter Reed, he was informed that the Iraq Battalion Commander contacted the 212th Command in Colorado and requested that John be sent back to Fort Carson where he was facing criminal charges including unlawful discharge of a weapon. They were making him go and sent armed guards to accompany him back to Fort Carson. Michael Needham tried to intervene with the 212th at Fort Carson but they said they couldn’t do anything because they had orders from the Battalion Commander. John was sent back to Fort Carson and the harassment he endured in Iraq continued with the 212th in Colorado. John shared that they mentally tortured him, banged on his barracks door, stole his things, and isolated him. It was at this time Michael elicited the help of a veteran advocate Andrew Pogany who went to the command in Colorado and held these people personally accountable. Andrew helps soldiers in John’s situation because he understands how important it is to intervene. John could not get the kind of help that he needed at Fort Carson. Michael shared that the soldiers could see a professional once a week if they were suicidal and once a month if they were not. John’s father wanted him transferred to a Naval Medical Center in San Diego for intensive treatment and so he could be closer to home. Andrew helped make that happen.

Michael began to understand the impacts the war had on his son after John got back to California. John couldn’t handle driving above 35 mph, was suspicious of trash on the side of the road, and was easily startled by loud noises. He could not function in public and suffered with what is known as flashbacks. The Naval Medical Center in San Diego recommended that John get surgery on his back right away. They warned him that he could become paralyzed if he didn’t get the surgery. In the meantime Johns father spoke candidly with one of the Navy doctors about the treatment John received both in Iraq and at Fort Carson. He reiterated that he was concerned about his well being and asked him to help him find a way to prevent John from being sent back to Fort Carson, Colorado. Michael Needham feared that if John got sent back to Fort Carson that he would not return. This doctor agreed to help John. And Andrew Pogany recommended that John report the war crimes to the Army in an effort to protect John from being complicit and implicated in the future. John reported to the Army that he witnessed both leadership and peers killing innocent Iraqi civilians during the October 2006 to October 2007 timeframe in and around Al Doura. It wasn’t long after John made the report that all the charges against him were dropped and Fort Carson gave the necessary approval to transfer him to Balboa Naval Command. John went in front of the medical board and was medically retired for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and back injuries. He was discharged honorably from the Army. The Army investigated John’s claims but concluded that no war crimes were committed.

Michael and John won a lot of battles with the US Army but soon they would lose the war. Just days after John was discharged from the Army, he would be accused of beating his new girlfriend to death with his bare hands. John Needham was charged with the murder of Jacqwelyn Villagomez and jailed for ten months until his family raised enough money to get him out on bail. John was not given treatment while jailed so the family was motivated to get him out so he could get the treatment he needed. John did in fact follow through with getting treatment and he learned a lot about himself in the process. He spent some time on camera talking about how the combat stress and the betrayal from his team impacted him. He talked about how he didn’t realize the significant impacts from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. John recognized how PTSD and TBI did in fact play a role in his fight or flight response mechanisms and that it may be because these conditions went untreated that he disocciated, snapped and beat his girlfriend to death. The two were in a heated argument after Jacqwelyn attacked one of John’s female friends. Both of them were volatile but unfortunately there were no witnesses to the event as John’s friend was outside the home calling the police to report Jacqwelyn. While John was awaiting trial, he went to Arizona to get another surgery and visit with his mom. On February 19, 2010 following treatment at the Department of Veterans Affairs, John would be found dead in his room from an overdose on painkillers. The cause of death at autopsy was considered undetermined and it is unclear if John accidentally overdosed or committed suicide.

Brig. Gen. Stephen Xenakis, M.D. (Ret.), a former top military psychiatrist who until recently was a consultant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told us: “[TBI ]most sensitively affects executive functioning, that part of the brain that we use for judgment and we use for decision making … when we are in situations of intense emotion. So if a person is affected neurologically … they don’t have the controls that they had before. … They can’t think as clearly. …They are really vulnerable to just reacting, overreacting, particularly maybe doing something that they had done when they’d been in combat.” –The Wounded Platoon

As a parent, Michael Needham has questions for the Army. Why don’t they even recognize the problem? Why don’t they take care of the soldiers? And why did they leave his son John Needham behind? The documentary ‘On the Dark Side in Al Doura’ concludes with the reminder that since the Patriot Act was passed and Dick Cheney declared that we needed to go into the shadows, the definition of torture has been blurred. The Abu Ghraib prisoner torture and abuse scandal erupted under the Bush administration in 2003 but no war crimes have been investigated under President Barack Obama’s administration. If the rule of law has been lost, what do we have? Our military personnel have a responsibility to abide by the rules established by the Geneva Conventions. John Needham and Adam Winfield both reported witnessing innocent civilians murdered by their fellow leadership and peers in Iraq and Afghanistan. They both also shared the impact the crimes had on their mental health and morale. They wished they could have reported the crimes to someone who would have listened and understood that their lives were in danger. We can learn a lot from John Needham and Adam Winfield; they have experienced what it’s like to be a whistleblower in the US Army. They have clearly illustrated what toxic leadership in the Army looks like and how whistleblowers in the US military have nowhere to turn.

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Private John Needham, US Army

Related Links:
Dateline NBC Mystery: Private Needhams War
PBS Documentary: The Wounded Platoon
On the Dark Side in Al Doura: A Soldier in the Shadows
PBS Documentary: The Kill Team
The PBS Documentary ‘The Kill Team’ Nominated for an Emmy
Retired Army Pvt John Needham Beat his Girlfriend Jacqwelyn Villagomez to Death, Then Died of an Overdose on Painkillers Awaiting Murder Trial (2008)
Honoring Jacqwelyn Villagomez who Died at the Hands of Retired Army Private John Needham (2008)

Army Captain Nathan Smith Suing Barack Obama Claiming ISIS Fight is Illegal, Unconstitutional, and US President Lacks Authorization (2016)

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Captain Nathan Smith, US Army

Intelligence Officer Captain Nathan Smith, 28, US Army, is suing President Barack Obama in federal court claiming the war with ISIS/ISIL is unconstitutional and illegal. Captain Smith alleges President Obama does not have authorization to engage in a fight with Syria. At the time of the case filing in May 2016, Captain Smith was overseas deployed to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. The original suit was rejected in November 2016 ruling that Captain Smith ‘didn’t have standing to sue and that disputes over war powers are best left to Congress and the president to fight out in the political arena.’ In April 2017, Captain Smith asked an appeals court to take the case and settle the issue once and for all.

Related Links:
Nathan Smith, US Army v. Barack Obama
Army Captain sues Obama over ISIS fight
Is the U.S. War Against ISIS Illegal?
Army Captain sues Obama over ISIS fight
An Army Captain Takes Obama to Court Over ISIS Fight
Deployed Army captain sues Obama over ISIS fight
U.S. Army Captain Is Suing Obama Over Legality Of The War Against ISIS
Army Captain Sues Obama For Unconstitutional War Against ISIS
Army Captain Sues Obama over Islamic State War
Army captain sues Obama over lack of ISIS war authorization
28-Year-Old Army Officer Suing Obama Over ISIS
Soldier Suing Obama Over ISIS War Is Doing Fine, Lawyer Says
Army captain sues President Obama over claims the war on ISIS is illegal
Army captain sues President Obama, saying he lacks authority to fight ISIS
Who Is Capt. Nathan Michael Smith? US Intelligence Officer Sues President Barack Obama Over Legality Of ISIS Fight
‘My conscience bothered me’: Army captain sues Obama over ‘illegal war’ on the Islamic State
My Brother’s Challenge to the Undeclared War Against ISIS
Analysis of Lawsuit Challenging War Against ISIL
Constitution Check: Has the U.S. war against ISIS in Syria been illegal from the start?
Does the president think his own war is illegal?
The Dangers of the Ever More Powerful Presidency
When The U.S. Military Strikes, White House Points To A 2001 Measure
Suit Calling War on ISIS Illegal Is Rejected
Soldier who supports war against Islamic State files lawsuit calling it illegal

Link

Iraqis Accuse US Defense Contractor CACI of War Crimes and Torture

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – CACI agents committed war crimes, torturing and humiliating detainees, as part of a defense contract to provide linguistic services, dozens of Iraqi citizens and their families claim in Federal Court.

Read more: http://www.globalresearch.ca/iraqis-accuse-us-defense-contractor-caci-of-war-crimes-and-torture/5352769

The Kill Team: The Army Drops Charges Against Spc. Michael Wagnon in Afghan Civilian Murder Case (2012)

Specialist Michael Wagnon is seen in this undated handout.

Spc. Michael Wagnon, US Army

Army dropped charges against Spc. Michael Wagnon in Afghan civilian murder case on February 3, 2012.


Equal parts infuriating and illuminating, THE KILL TEAM looks at the devastating moral tensions that tear at soldiers’ psyches through the lens of one highly personal and emotional story. Private Adam Winfield was a 21-year-old soldier in Afghanistan when he attempted with the help of his father to alert the military to heinous war crimes his platoon was committing. But Winfield’s pleas went unheeded. Left on his own and with threats to his life, Private Winfield was himself drawn into the moral abyss, forced to make a split-second decision that would change his life forever. -The Kill Team 

Related Links:
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5 U.S. Soldiers Charged In Afghan Civilians’ Deaths
U.S. soldiers charged with murdering civilians, collecting their fingers in Afghanistan
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Pre-trial hearings loom for U.S. soldiers accused of killing Afghan civilians for sport
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Did U.S. Soldiers Kill for Thrills?
Allegations Of Murder Mar American Mission In Afghanistan
Possible Army atrocities put U.S. in bind
Army looks at officers of accused
The Kill Team: How U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan Murdered Innocent Civilians
Defend Michael Wagnon
Trial International: Michael Wagnon
For Former Military Lawyer Colby Vokey, the Defense Never Rests
Army urged to drop murder charge against Stryker soldier
Stryker soldier’s charges of murdering Afghan civilians should be dropped, investigator says
Army drops charges against last soldier in Afghan murder case
Army drops murder charge against last soldier tied to ‘kill team’ cases
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Charges dropped against soldier in Afghan deaths 2
Stryker ‘kill team’ trials left some soldiers’ families deeply in debt
The PBS Documentary ‘The Kill Team’ Reveals How the Military Justice System Operates in Response to Media Scandals

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