Widow of Marine Corps Colonel Involded in Haditha Trials Launches Campaign to Prove Her Husband Was MurderedMilitary widows join forces to raise awareness of non-hostile military deaths.
Marine Corps Colonel Michael Stahlman was an investigating officer in the case against Lt. Andrew Grayson, an intelligence officer charged with making false statements, attempting fraudulent discharge, and obstructing justice, in connection to the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in the city of Haditha.
Colonel Stahlman was vocal in his disappointment with the manner in which the entire Haditha matter was handled by the Marine Corps hierarchy and recommended that charges against Grayson be dropped. The recommendation was rejected by prosecutors and Grayson eventually was cleared of all charges in June 2008.
At the time of Grayson’s acquittal, Colonel Stahlman was serving as the Rule of Law Coordinator at Camp Ramadi Iraq, where he was found unconscious with a gunshot wound to the left side of his head on July 31, 2008. Never regaining consciousness, he died months later on October 5, 2008 at Bethesda Naval Hospital.
His shooting was immediately suspicious to his widow Kimberly. Despite the fact that Colonel Stahlman was right-handed and had no history of depression, the Naval Criminal Investigative Services and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology apparently labeled his shooting a suicide within hours of the incident without performing all available evidence testing.
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Bizarre, Unexplained Marine Colonel 'Suicides'
What the Hell's Going on?
Take the case of Marine Colonel Michael Stahlman who you might say was the ultimate Marine officer. Enrolled in Marine military school from the age of 14, Col Stahlman's father was one of the founding members of President Kennedy's Peace Corps. After becoming an officer in 1985, Michael Stahlman went to flight school and became qualified to fly the F-4 Phantom jet fighter. Then his career took a turn and he became increasingly involved in the legal aspects of the United States Marines. Along the way he became parachute qualified and as a result, his uniform bears both the wings of a Naval Aviator, and the jump wings synonymous with the legendary Marine Corps Force Recon Battalions. Those two areas, aviation and infantry, could not be any farther apart in the Corps.
At the age of 45, this Marine Colonel was about to begin a new life as a civilian with his wife and daughters who he always stayed in touch with via email and phone, according to Cilla McCain, author of Murder in Baker Company: How Four American Soldiers Killed One of Their Own. She's researching the story behind Col Stahlman's death and talked about her work in a recent interview with an Encino, California radio station.
This Marine officer was preparing to head home on leave, and he was close to retiring from his career in the military, according to author Celia McCain, when his untimely death came out of nowhere on 31 July 2008. Oh, and it was also a 'suicide' the Marines said. It happened at Camp Ramadi in Iraq's Anbar province, a place I flew into as a reporter covering the Iraq war about a month after the Colonel's death.
McCain explains that right-handed Stahlman suffered a gunshot wound to left side of head. His wife just never believed that it was suicide, and she was given the standard regard, and treated as a 'widow in denial' by a government content to view this warrior's death simply as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His wife and McCain both seem to believe there is quite a bit more to it.
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--submitted by Cilla McCain