Thursday, October 25, 2012

Death Memorials

PFC Christopher Klassen
December 13, 1986 — October 25, 2008

Christopher Monroe
December 3, 1985 — October 25, 2005
When Chris turned 17, he got his mother to sign the papers so he could join the Army Reserves. Part of the reason he joined was the educational benefits that he could use when he graduated from high school. The other reason was the terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. He went to his basic training at Fort Jackson the summer of 2003. He would wear his uniform to high school twice a week during his senior year.
After he graduated from high school he was interested in going to Indiana University and he met the love of his life. Angela is a good hearted girl who was just a few months older than Chris but that made no difference to him. He had asked her to marry him about six months after they had met and her family had adopted him like he was their son.
In 2004 his reserve unit in Indiana said that a unit in Michigan needs a few people to go on a deployment to Iraq starting in the summer of 2005. Without hesitation he volunteered for this deployment and was transferred to the Michigan reserve unit. He was looking into buying a house so
that when he married Angela they had a place of their own. He wanted to get married before he went to Iraq but Angela said that they should wait because they would have plenty of time after he got back from Iraq for that.
On October 25, 2005, Chris was driving a 5 ton truck pulling an armed HUMV that was going to have maintenance work done on it. They were just outside of Basra, Iraq on a 6 lane highway with a gravel median separating the 3 lanes. Chris was driving the number two vehicle in the convoy when on the other side of the road they saw a civilian BMW flip over. The NCO with him yelled IED! but they discovered it was not an Improvised Explosive Device. The convoy from Chris on back stopped to help the civilian driver. The senior officer on site ordered Chris to pull his 5 ton across the road so the weapon on the HUMV could provide defense in front of the convoy. Everyone was to get out and provide security while the medics helped out the Iraqi civilian driver. Chris was standing on the left front side of his 5 ton with his weapon at the ready, providing a secure perimeter when it happened.
Unknown to the convoy the rear check point had let a 3 SUV British security detail enter the convoy’s perimeter. It was 850 meters from the rear check point to where Chris was standing.
The next morning around 10:30am, an Army Chaplain and a Sergeant First Class were at my door. This is where the real story about Chris begins. I was told that Chris had been killed in an accident the night before and was handed a business card to the Fort Hood Casualty Affairs Office. They told me to call them and they would give me more information. I called them and they told me as much as what I had already been told. My family was dealing with the Casualty Affairs Office at Fort Knox my father gave me the phone number to that office so I gave them a call as well. They said they did not have a copy of the divorce decree and needed to see it so I faxed it to them. It was at this point I was asked as the primary next of kin what I wanted to have done with the body. We had planned to have him sent back home to Indiana to go with what had already been planned. It was about this time they discovered I had served in the military and all information about Chris was only volunteered if I asked, and then it was limited.
Even though by Army regulation I was the primary next of kin, that was removed from me. On the Friday after he was killed I asked what the time frame was for him getting back home. I was told that when he got to Dover they would have to do an autopsy and then embalm him that this would take about 72 hours. That Friday he had not left Iraq yet but they would let me know anything when it happened. Over the weekend and Monday no one called me about Chris so Tuesday I called Fort Knox. When I asked the first thing out of the mouth of the Casualty Affairs Officer was, “Uh Oh, they have already sent an escort.” I asked what that meant because I had never had this happen before. They said Chris had arrived from Iraq Sunday night and that Chris was going to be coming in to Indianapolis the next night. I had to go to Fort Hood and get my airplane tickets to leave the next day. I got to Indiana a few hours before Chris did.
No one beyond the Chaplain and the SFC came to see me before I left for Indiana. That night my ex-wife and I met with the Casualty Affairs Officer from the reserve unit in Indiana. We went to the Indianapolis airport with a hearse to pick up Chris. The next time I saw Chris was the Flag draped coffin on the loading dock at the freight section at the airport. The Casualty Affairs officer did not bring enough people to put Chris into the hearse. The Casualty Affairs Officer, his driver, the escort, two police officers, Angela’s aunt, and I. put Chris in the hearse. At the funeral home I asked the funeral director if an autopsy had been done on Chris. He said he could not see that one had been done. Even when I got to Indiana no one from the military came to see me to offer their condolences. The Casualty Affairs Officer spent all of his time with my ex-wife even though his driver had been assigned to be her escort. Even though Chris was at his battle station with his weapon loaded ready to return fire if fired upon, he did not receive the Purple Heart. so before we buried him I gave him mine that I had received when I was in the Marines when I was in Beirut, Lebanon.
Angela had been named as the beneficiary of Chris’ SGLI and had a power of attorney to deal with Chris’ affairs before he was killed. At a meeting Angela had with the Casualty Affairs Officer. he gave her copies of the interim casualty report. When I asked for a copy of the documents I was told I would have to file a freedom of information act request to get them. When the media reported about Chris’ funeral on TV all of his family and Angela were mentioned but I was not. It was a sad joke that we made that I was nobody, just his father.
When I got back to Fort Hood and told them what had happened they could not believe it. The woman at Fort Hood that I was dealing with I had known when I was in the Army gave me the documents I could not get in Indiana.
It took about 4 months for the Army to send me the reports about the events of Chris’ death. One of the first documents I received was the autopsy results. The cause of death was blunt force trauma, they claimed. A few days later I received a copy of the final casualty report stating the cause of death was blast force trauma. It was when I got the final report from the Army investigator I had more questions than they answered. The first lie was the conditions at the time of the accident. In the report they said it was pitch black outside at 6:30pm but I had been over there and knew this is not right. I have a program for star watching that allows me to program in day, time, and place. When I put in the day, time and as close to the place of the events there was almost 2 hours of daylight when it happened.
The blame for the accident was placed on several American soldiers. rather than the driver of the SUV that had hit him. The investigator said because the British security detail driver was allowed to enter the convoys perimeter he was not at fault. I contacted the British government about this accident but they informed me they knew nothing about it. It was not a British SUV like the Army investigator said. I found out that Chris was fully conscious from the moment he was hit to the moment he died. One of the things that got me was that the onsite medical personnel took 15 minutes to determine that a traumatic surgical amputation of his right leg was urgent and he needed to be Medevaced out.
It was during the flight to the hospital that Chris died. The death certificate lists cause of death as traumatic amputation of the right leg but the autopsy does not list amputation at all. Many of the injuries listed in the autopsy were not evident on Chris. On the autopsy report the cause of death was blunt force trauma but the final casualty report the cause of death was blast force trauma. That is not a misspelling that is a mistake. All reports are screened to be sure they are accurate.
The driver of the SUV, a British citizen, works for a company called Erinys which is a South African company with its home office in London. This company serves one propose and that is to supply mercenaries to hot spots world wide. The driver a British citizen was one of these mercenaries. The director of operation in Iraq for this company is a good friend of Dick Cheney and was supposed to become the Prime Minister of Iraq but things did not work out the way they had planned. Erinys has a web site that states they have an office in Houston, Texas, but when you go to the address it is nothing but a post office box. The company states it has a manager of operation at this office but they have failed to register this office with our government. Failing to register their office is a violation of federal law. Neither the mercenary company nor the driver of the SUV is not being held accountable for the wrongful death of SGT Christopher Monroe. I was told that because the Army investigator blamed U.S. soldiers for letting the SUV pass they were the cause of death. There is a belief that the investigator was paid off by the mercenary company to put the blame on our soldiers because of the flaws in statements and documents.
The driver makes the point in his statement that at the time of the accident he was told it was not his fault. There is no way anyone could make that statement without an investigation. The SUV was destroyed that night burned in place because they said it could not be recovered but when the investigator went to the accident site later the burned our SUV was gone. That was the way of destroying any evidence.
The Casualty Affairs Officer when he received the personal effects of my son by regulation he was to hold them for 40 days so that any legal action could be made in dividing them between the mother, father, and fiancée. The Casualty Affairs Officer, who was a Captain, was advised by an Inspector General Officer of the rank of Colonel. He told the Captain to follow regulations. The Captain told the Colonel what he could do with the regulation and immediately gave all of the personal effects to the mother who said she would return things to the father and fiancée.
When I was in the military, regulation was the heart of the operations of the military. You can add to the regulation but you could never take away from the regulation. I have a JAG lawyer and Inspector General Officer who agree that by regulation I should have been the primary next of kin and the one to receive the personal effects, but the Army refuses to agree with their own regulations. I have even gone to my congressional representative and senator in getting things corrected but they have not done a thing. One of the things I was promised was photographs taken by the unit photographer of Chris in his casket at the funeral home. The Army refused to answer all requests made of them.
Perry Monroe
If you have any information about this case, please contact me through this website.

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