Sunday, December 22, 2013

Death Memorial

Family sues military, doctors in Marine's boot camp death

DETROIT -- Renee Thurlow knew her 18-year-old son was sick when she talked to him about two months after he left for boot camp at Parris Island, S.C.
"You sound awful," she told Justin Haase over the phone about a week before Christmas 2001.
Haase, of Macomb County's Chesterfield Township, promised to see a doctor, but didn't mention how exhausted he was or the headaches that made him cry.
One week later, he died of bacterial meningitis.
Now, nearly two years after Haase's death, his mother has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Detroit against the Navy, two Marine sergeants, a Marine medic and a Navy doctor. The suit, filed last month, says an internal military report shows a series of medical mistakes hastened Haase's death.
The lawsuit challenges a 54-year-old U.S. Supreme Court ruling that essentially says the military cannot be held responsible for the death or injury of active duty service members.
"That law has got to be changed," Thurlow told the Detroit Free Press for a Tuesday story.
Maj. Ken White, a Parris Island spokesman, said a thorough investigation was conducted.
"We identified people who violated policy and we held them accountable for their actions," White said.
Thurlow and her lawyers hope to show that a neglectful chain of events began when Haase arrived at Parris Island.
Haase missed the dose of antibiotics that recruits receive to ward off infections because he was allergic to penicillin.  He should have received an alternative, but the Marines' review found no evidence that he did.
Military doctors argue that the initial treatment would not have fought bacterial meningitis. The lawsuit claims Haase likely would not have become susceptible if treated upon arrival.
During a Dec. 22 training course that began at 6:30 a.m., Haase vomited and later began to cry.
A drill instructor took Haase to a military field medic who did not check his breathing, his pulse or temperature, records show.
Haase stayed in bed for most of the day. When he awoke that evening, he could barely keep his eyes open and was incoherent.
Just after 8 p.m., a senior drill instructor called 911 and said Haase had "taken a spill" during the training course. He was sent to Beaufort Naval Hospital.
A doctor initially focused on a possible head injury until a rectal temperature reading showed a 102-degree fever. A bacterial infection was suspected.
But Haase's spinal fluid was not checked for more than another two hours. Healthy people have clear fluid. Haase's looked like skim milk.
At 11:30 p.m., Justin received his first antibiotic treatment.
At 1:55 a.m. on Dec. 23, he was taken for a brain scan. Care for meningitis patients includes five methods to reduce or pre-empt brain swelling. None of those methods was used, medical records show.
Haase was again moved at 2:25 a.m. He spent the next several hours thrashing in bed and was put in restraints.
A nurse found Haase with fixed and dilated pupils at 5:30 a.m. He had suffered severe brain trauma.
Around 7 a.m. doctors prepared to fly him to Savannah Memorial Hospital in Georgia and called his family in Michigan.
Haase was pronounced brain dead at 3:16 p.m. on Dec. 23.
In early January, a one-page, unsigned letter from Parris Island arrived at the Thurlow house.
"What happened to your son," the letter said, "was a freak accident that could have been prevented."
Thurlow began her quest for answers.
Haase's father, Don Haase, though angry and grieving, said it is difficult to blame the Marines.
"Clearly things could have been done differently," Don Haase said. "At any point, they could have done something to save him and maybe the outcome would have been different.
"But at what point in time was it too late?"
Field medics at Parris Island now must consult a doctor by two-way radio when recruits are sick or injured. Drill instructors are educated about warning signs of infectious disease.
But Thurlow, who wears Haase's dog tags around her neck, says the lawsuit remains necessary.
"It's about stopping this before it ever happens again," she said.
--From the Wednesday, August 20, 2003 online
edition of the Augusta Chronicle
Dear Military People and Nonmilitary People:
What you are about to read is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, your family and any future person who is to ever join the military. I will try to keep this short, but must explain some things first so you know this is not a farce.

My name is Renee Thurlow. My husband is in the military and in October 2001 our son joined the USMC. Our son never finished. He died a horrible death in boot camp on December 23, 2001. We are NOT placing blame on the institution. We need a strong military. We need one with honorable people in it. That is why we are trying to make it a safer place. Through these last two years we have found that many military people and people in general are under the misconception of being able to sue the government and not being able to sue the government.

I am going to pass on what we have learned. There are thousands of others out there like us who have lost children going to serve this country and the government gives us no help. They fill everything full of lies and cover-ups. We are not taking this sitting down. I am not some freaked out mother who cannot deal with the loss of her son. I am a PROUD mother and wife of two of my guys who serve/served this country like you do.

This could happen to you or one day if your child or grandchild goes off into the military it could happen to them.  Those in our government will NOT help you. THIS IS ABOUT THE Feres doctrine.  IT IS A DOCTRINE THAT PREVENTS ANY MILITARY MEMBER FROM SUING THE GOVERNMENT not for simple negligence but for intentional, deliberate or grossly negligent acts.

If you go to a military hospital and they cut off the wrong foot, oh well! Tough is what you will be told basically. Many of us have been busting our humps trying to change this. We KNOW if there were an ACCOUNTABILITY factor there would be almost no deaths due to pure grossly negligent or criminal negligence.  Unfortunately, the only way to hold someone accountable for their individual wrongful acts if the government will not is through petitioning the federal court for redress of wrong.  All of us who have lost a child would rather have our children back, but that is not going to happen.  Many people out there have their children living with them because they were not taken care of medically (in a proper manner) in the military hospitals and these children cannot function on their own.  This could one day be you or someone you know. We have the greatest chance coming up to change this forever.

WE CANNOT do it without the entire United States joining us!

NO Senator as of this date has stepped forth to stop the abuses under the Feres doctrine!  This is unsatisfactory and they have their cushy jobs because of men and women who serve this country and they will not lift a finger to help protect you!

We want them to recognize that fact and care enough to make things safer for those serving this country. It is only right!  It could happen to your child.

Justin's story has been featured in People magazine December 15, 2003, issue and NBC Dateline is on the agenda.  The problem of Americans dying due to the gross negligence and or wrongful acts and omissions of federal employees in our military is alarming!  Since Justin died I know of at least 6 other deaths in boot camp alone and this does NOT include the ones who died at Camp Pendleton from Meningitis.

This is obscene that these kids are dying needlessly!

This is not just for those of us who have lost kids. It concerns the VA and the people who have served and have been thrown to the side. This is NOT a joke.

Just a FEW minutes of your time can help prevent the possibility of you or someone you love dying needlessly. Your voice can aid in changing the fact that abuses that are happening right here in our own country to our own men and women go unanswered and without any accountability to those who inflicted the injustice.

Our prayers and thanks go out to ALL of the military men and women who serve this country and to the families who know the deepest meaning of sacrifice and support.
Our prayers and thanks go to those who have been lost on the battlefield and to their families who know the truest meaning of loss.

Our prayers and hearts go to those especially who have been robbed of their family member through the abuses caused by an institution that promotes honor as one of their first attributes.
This is for you son - every tear and every heartbeat.  I love you with all of my heart. "Until we meet at HIS feet."


Renee Thurlow

Contact Renee Thurlow through this website.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Marine's Family Sues Greek Entities for Lost Heart

The parents of a Marine whose body came back from Greece missing his heart amended their federal lawsuit Wednesday to add the Greek government and an Athens hospital as defendants.

Craig and Beverly LaLoup, of Coatesville, are also suing the U.S. Department of Defense over the remains of 21-year-old Sgt. Brian LaLoup.

Read the entire story here.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Death Memorial


By Charolette Traylor

On December 6th, a week after Thanksgiving 1998, AOC Thomas Richard Traylor, USN, age 36, was found dead, in rural Inyokern, CA, from a gunshot wound to the chest. The cause of death was listed as suicide. He had been missing for two days. Traylor was a Navy Aviation Ordinance Chief on active duty stationed at the Weapons Testing Squadron, Naval Station, China Lake, CA.
On that morning of Dec 6th, Traylor’s neighbors, Larry Seymour & Joanie Hanson, found Traylor. They became alarmed when Traylor’s vehicle set on a dirt road for two days, only a quarter of a mile from Traylor’s home. They drove to the scene and found Traylor dead sitting behind the steering wheel of his vehicle. They immediately returned home and called the authorities.

The Inyokern County Fire Department was the first to arrive on the scene. Next was the County Reserve Deputy Roger Clark and Reserve County Coroner Ron Lunsford. The Liberty Ambulance Service arrived but did not transport. The remains went to the Kern County Morgue, Bakersfield, CA.

Mrs. Traylor had been in San Francisco for a couple of months making arrangements to place an elderly aunt into a rest home. She last spoke to Traylor on Thursday evening, Dec 03, 1998, around 6:00 P.M. from (SF). At that time Traylor was on his way out to a squadron get-together and promised to call her the following morning – which would be then Friday, Dec 04, 1998. When Mrs. Traylor did not receive the promised phone call from her husband the following morning she immediately contacted Traylor’s Gunner, CWO2 Vince Howell, at the Weapons Testing Squadron and was told Traylor had not been heard from or seen since the previous day which had been Thursday.

Mrs. Traylor continued to try and contact Traylor by phone through Saturday. Alarmed because this was not Traylor’s pattern of behavior by not calling his work, Mrs. Traylor drove home to Inyokern. When she left SF on Sunday, Dec 06, at 9:30 A.M. she gave specific instructions to contact her by cell phone immediately if her husband was located. After seven hours of driving she arrived home at 4:30 P.M. Mrs. Traylor’s neighbor, Joanie Hanson then went to the Traylor home and informed Mrs. Traylor she was a “widow.”

Around 5:30 P.M. Deputy N. Dancy and Deputy J. Dancy arrived at the Traylor home – they had had a shift change at the Sheriff’s Dept and had no details on Traylor’s death. In shock, Mrs. Traylor called the Coroner’s Office, Bakersfield, CA and spoke to the Homicide Officer Glenn Johnson, who informed Mrs. Traylor her husband had committed suicide. Mrs. Traylor protested and told Homicide Officer Johnson her husband had never been suicidal and that Traylor detested anyone who considered such a cowardly act!

The China Lake Weapons Testing Squadron personnel arrived after Mrs. Traylor’s son-in-law, CAPT T. Glick, USMC, Cherry Point, NC called the China Lake Command – they were LCDR Severson, CDR J. L. Budnick, MMCM(SS)B. Stone, and The Gunner, CWO2 V. Howell. They had no further information on the death.

China Lake is located in a remote area, 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles, CA, between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Death Valley, away from the public eye. Traylor was attached to VX-31, Hanger-3, at China Lake. Traylor supervised the Avionics/Armament Division of the Naval Weapons Testing Squadron and overlooking the Explosive Safety Inspections. He was instrumental in the squadron’s preparedness for the rigorous maintenance, and loading/downloading of conventional weapons on FA-18s. Traylor’s technical knowledge of missile and bomb launching well qualified him in the training of weapons personnel and he often made trips to Point Mugu, CA and Puerto Rico, Cuba. He was extremely conscientious in the sensitive information surrounding his work. The China Lake Bombing Range covers 20,000 square miles of restricted air space where the famous Sidewinder and Tomahawk missiles were developed.

Traylor was written-up by his command for been absent from work that Friday, Dec 04, 1998.
Traylor was buried on December 10, 1998, Mrs. Traylor spent the remainder of December 98 with her parents in Missoula, MT.

In January 1999, when Mrs. Traylor returned to Inyokern she went to the Sheriff’s Branch Office, Ridgecrest, CA, and learned her husband’s case had been closed. Not accepting her husband’s death as a suicide she started her own investigation as follows.

When Mrs. Traylor took her case to Traylor’s Squadron Commanding Officer, Commander R. Rutherford he stated “Well, you and your husband were having marital problems, you were separated and he killed himself”. This was a shock to Mrs. Traylor she expected the Commanding Officer to support her in a further investigation.

Prior to Mrs. Traylor going to SF she had been counseling with a Mr. Richard Rohrlick, the China Lake Base counselor, concerning her husband’s increased drinking; she also spoke to her husband’s Gunner concerning this same matter.

Mrs. Traylor last visited her husband at Inyokern on Nov 19,1998, two weeks earlier, to celebrate their wedding anniversary. At that time Traylor seemed jumpy and paranoid in public (which was not like him) and then cried when she left to return to SF.

She spoke to her husband weekly and it was during one of the last conversations he told her “he didn’t think he was going to live long,” when the remark alarmed her he changed the subject.
Below is a list of things Mrs. Traylor noted at her home on her arrival on that fatal Sunday, Dec 06, 1998:

  • Traylor’s uniform for work was folded and lying on the bed in preparation to wear Friday, Dec 04, 1998.
  • On the couch was clean unfolded laundry.
  • Traylor had his stair-master in front of the TV for exercising in preparation of his annual physical.
  • The master bathroom window was open, the screen lying on the lawn, and a towel lain over the windowsill. Someone had broken into the house by crawled through the window.
  • Traylor had just purchased a $350.00 pipe corral for his horses and was assembling it in the yard.
  • All the small animals at the Traylor home were locked in the house the two days Traylor was missing: three cats, two dogs, and outside were three horses, starving. Traylor would never have left his beloved animals without first making arrangements for their care and feeding.
  • Back tracking Traylor’s days leading up to his death:
  • Dec 02-Wed: Neighbor, Joanie Hanson noticed Traylor was outdoors cleaning the horse corral and later with his friend, The Gunner outside working on Traylor’s motorcycle.
  • Dec 03-Thur: At 3:00 P.M. Traylor left his work on base to kept his appointment with Richard Rohrlick, the base counselor, to discuss rehabilitation for himself.
  • At 9:00 P.M. Traylor was seen by a female bartender, Mickey at Tommy T’s, a local sports bar in Ridgecrest. Later it was verified there had been a military get-together on that evening Dec 03, 98, the last night Traylor spoke to his wife and was seen alive.
  • TRAYLOR’S Planned Schedule for 4,5,6 Dec 1998:
  • DEC04-Fri: Traylor had a Squadron promotion ceremony to conduct.
  • DEC05-Sat: Traylor was to attend a farewell party for his First Class John Barfield, Traylor never missed a party but he was a no show.
  • DEC06-Sun: Traylor had committed himself to drive to San Diego, CA to move shipmate, Todd Roger and wife who were transferring to China Lake, a 3-1/2 hour drive one-way.
  • Traylor’s Military Identification card had been on him when he was found and the Officer-of-the-Day, at Weapons Test Squadron, LT Neviou and AO2 Hall were notified, but Mrs. Traylor was never called.

A resident of Inyokern saw Traylor’s truck sitting on the dirt road near the Traylor home on Friday and Saturday, Dec 04, 05, 1998.

A neighbor told Mrs. Traylor how her husband had been parking his vehicle in the desert in the evenings for a couple of weeks before his death. From where Traylor parked he had a clear view of his home without being seen himself.

Traylor’s AO1 “Shorty” Wellington and AME3 Gerry Sims claimed to have driven to the Traylor home on Saturday, Dec 05, 1998, searching for Traylor but did not see Traylor’s vehicle sitting near the Traylor home.

AO2 Phil Kamp’s wife, Brenda stated that Traylor started to act strange, no longer would he let anyone drive him home after he had had to much to drink; instead Traylor would leave the social gatherings when no one was aware, this was just prior to his death.

During Mrs. Traylor’s investigating she was told her husband often expressed his love for her and looked forward to her return from SF at Christmas permanently; and how he expected a visit then from their first grandchild.

Mrs. Traylor had to harass the Naval Crime Investigator Service’s (NCIS) for their results, it was a duplicate of the Sheriff’s Report. NCIS reasoning behind the lack of a JAG investigation was because Traylor was found off the base and it was Kern County’s responsibility to investigate. The Navy was tossing the case back to the County.

After six-months of waiting Mrs. Traylor received Coroner D. Brown’s report. The report was vague and assumptions were made about the Traylor’s separation supporting suicide. No internal autopsy had been performed to validate the gun and shells found in Traylor vehicle with him were the weapons that killed him. There were no X-rays. No tape recording of the external autopsy or diagram. No resin testing of the hands – proving Traylor held the gun. Last, no time of death was established through eye testing or did the report state if rigor had set-in yet, how long had Traylor been dead? A Toxicology Test was done showing an alcohol level of 0.28 but no urine test to back it.

In June 1999, Mrs. Traylor met with Kern County Coroner M. Kaiser at Bakersfield, in protest of the suicide theory and present the true facts. Coroner Kaiser agreed there was not enough evidence to justify a suicide. She changed the death certificate to “undetermined” and amended the Coroner’s Report – still the case was not reopened by the county.

Mrs. Traylor was not able to obtain an appointment with the China Lake Base Commanding Officer CAPT C. H. Johnston, to present the new death certificate and to again request a reinvestigation. Nor would the California Congressman William Thomas pursue the case. The FBI stated they saw no crime committed.

Traylor’s best friend, “The Gunner” avoided Mrs. Traylor for a year after the death. When she was finally able to corner him he told her “All you want to do is talk about Traylor, I want to believe it was a suicide,” and avoided Mrs. Traylor from then on.

The Summer of 1999, Mrs. Traylor drove her husband’s vehicle to the base gas station and while inside paying she noticed CDR Budnick, the Squadron Test Pilot, standing frozen in shock staring at Traylor’s vehicle like he’d just seen a ghost until he saw Mrs. Traylor and regained his composure.
In November 1999, Mrs. Traylor obtained the photographs of the scene of death from the County Technical Laboratory. The photos revealed the following:

  • Traylor is shown sitting behind the steering wheel of his vehicle with his cap on his head and his glasses in his right hand.
  • A shotgun is pointing at Traylor from the floorboard of the passenger’s side of the vehicle with the barrel propped against the side of the console, a card, and a “Bud Light” beer can.
  • Blood is shown running straight down Traylor’s right-thigh verifying he died where he was found.
  • Mrs. Traylor can verify the blood location and pattern in the vehicle, because on Monday, Dec 07, 1998, the day after Traylor was found Mrs. Traylor reclaimed her husband’s vehicle. The vehicle has not been impounded in a police lot but towed to a business garage in Inyokern on Dec 06.
  • Blood was found on the front of the console and the cup-holders in that area – the console divided the bucket-seats. Blood was found near the gas peddle and the seat part of the driver’s buck-seat and blood dripped to the floorboard. But, the largest splattering of blood is on the drive-shaft.
  • A box of shells (birdshot) was on the passenger seat with opened mail.
  • When Mrs. Traylor presented these photos to Kern County Homicide Officer Johnson for answers and a reinvestigation he became angry and escorted her out of his office.
  • After AO1 Wellington viewed the photos he stated “the Squadron never thought Traylor committed suicide”. Unfortunately, the Squadron couldn’t help – they had been given a “Gag Order” not to speak to Mrs. Traylor; they feared for their own lives if they talked.

The investigation was shut down because the Navy had Kern County close the case immediately without an investigation through their “Good Old Boys Connect”, call the death a suicide and lay blame on the wife.

So, it wasn’t necessary to notify or even contact Mrs. Traylor for questioning as a suspect of murder. That is why Homicide Officer Johnson so bluntly informed Mrs. Traylor her husband had committed suicide, nine hours after Traylor had been found.

To strengthen their suicide theory, there was a letter found in the vehicle addressed to Traylor asking him to sign a waiver. This was assumed to be leading towards divorce papers in the first Coroner’s Report. The letter actually concerned Mr. Traylor’s release from Mrs. Traylor retirement money. Mrs. Traylor of course, was never questioned about the letter.

Traylor, himself was an extremely private individual and more so about his personal life. The only two people that had information on the Traylor’s marriage were The Gunner, (CWO2 V. Howell), and Mr. Richard Rohrlick, the base counselor. One of these two people gave the background for the theory of suicide.

The vehicle was moved and never sealed-off because again there wasn’t going to be an investigation. The Coroner’s Report lacked vital information, as stated previously. The Sheriff’s Report excluded fingerprints, footprints, or tire prints from the scene. Photos: show Traylor’s hands and arms had no blood or blow-back from skin on them. Traylor didn’t drink Bud Light beer as the photos show from inside the vehicle; and he didn’t take his glasses off and hold them after he shot himself. The photos were staged.

When Traylor made the statement to his wife “he didn’t think he was going to live long” that was a tip-off his life was in danger. He tried to avoid his death by hiding in the desert. But Traylor was ordered to the Thursday night military get-together; here he was gotten drunk, followed, stopped just short of his home, and killed. Traylor’s shotgun was obtained from his home by gaining entrance through the bathroom window – so identification was not necessary. The squadron get-together may have occurred at the Sierra Club, Inyokern, CA a mile from the Traylor home.

The China Lake Base is a highly secured installation due to warfare weapons developed there. Traylor was military property for fifteen years, there should have been a JAG investigation by the Navy.

In 2000, Mrs. Traylor again tried to re-open the case by contacting Kern County and she received a reply from Sheriff Sparks threatening to reverse the cause of death “Undetermined back to suicide” if she continued to pursue the matter.

In Aug 2003, Prof. J. Starrs, Dr. J. Frost, and team from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., performed the internal autopsy on Traylor. It was found that the angle of the shot was from the upper right side of the chest to the lower left side of the media. The angle of the shot was not possible inside the confinement of the cab of the vehicle.


The shot came from outside of the passenger’s side of the vehicle when Traylor leaned over and opened the passenger’s door. The impact forced Traylor’s body back into the area of the console and the drive-shaft of the vehicle where the majority of the blood was located. There was no blood on the dashboard, steering wheel, windshield, driver’s door, or the roof of the vehicle. According to the autopsy Traylor’s heart stopped immediately. Traylor’s body was set back into the seat, glasses placed in his hand and cap put on his head. Some item was removed from Traylor’s right thigh that left a square pattern clear of blood. There was no blood on the beer can or the card that supported the gun pointing at Traylor. Again Mrs. Traylor can verify the location of the blood splatter. Last, Traylor’s wristwatch was not on any of the photos from the scene but returned to Mrs. Traylor with the personal effects.

The whole concept of suicide is an insult to Thomas R. Traylor’s integrity.


Why wasn’t Mrs Traylor notified that Sunday? It wasn’t necessary. Her name and SF phone number were written on an envelope next to the Traylor’s kitchen phone.

Why was it not necessary to identify the shotgun as being owned by Traylor? (The gun had never been registered nor had a hunting license been bought. Traylor had not used any of his number of guns in years nor in the thirteen months he had been at China Lake and his only acquaintances were military. Traylor also owned a handgun – which would have been easier to use in the vehicle).
Traylor grew-up outside of El Paso, TX, enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1983, a Navy career-man retiring in five years. He was a kind-hearted, soft-spoken man with no enemies.

If you have information about this case, or would like to contact Mrs. Traylor, email us  and we’ll forward your message to her.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Death Memorial

Our son TJ was on the promotions list to get his Sgts promotion.  On the day of his death he was threatened that he was being removed from the promotions list.  He was pronounced dead at 7:19AM Iraq time and at 2:30PM was posthumously awarded his Sgt. stripes.  What they withheld from him in life, they gave to him in death.
His death was deemed a suicide by his commander before the CID investigation was completed and before the autopsy was completed.  In their circular thinking, we have been told that the suicide determination was made based on the CID report, but CID says it was based on the autopsy.
On the day of our son’s death, as I said, he was pronounced dead at 7:19AM Iraq time, CID was not notified until 10:00AM of his death and CID did not arrive until 2:00PM.  Before they arrived,  someone in the chain of command ordered the area to be cleaned.  As a result there was nothing for CID to look at when they did arrive.
A ballistics expert, who looked at the CID report and autopsy for us, says that the wound described in the autopsy could not have been made by the weapon our son was carrying, less than 12-18 inches from his head.
As he told us, “Your son’s arms were not long enough to have held the weapon that far from his head and pulled the trigger.”  He shared that without a doubt, “Your son did not take his own life.”
The investigation done by CID was ordered reopened by the Army Office of the Inspector General.  Their findings were that there had been procedural errors made in the investigation, but they did not comment on the outcome.
My husband, who is a Viet Nam vet says we will never know what really happened that morning.
Liz Sweet
If you have any information on this case, contact Liz Sweet through this website

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Death Memorial

Spc. James Pizzo, Jr.

I lost my brother SPC James Pizzo Jr on Nov. 20, 2011. He was found dead in his barracks at Ft. Riley, Kansas in the warrior transition battalion. He joined the army in February 2008. He survived boot camp and graduated in May of 2008, and by September 2008, He was boarding a plane to Iraq.

He spent about 14 months in war before he came back to US soil. While overseas, he hit an IED with his Hum V that flipped causing him to have a neck injury resulting in two separate disk surgeries. He was ready and willing to sign up for his 2nd deployment but his neck injury prohibited his return and he continued working on base. My brother also suffered from PTSD. My brother suffered physically and mentally with pain from his neck, and many nights of panic attacks, and flashbacks. He was supposed to be medically discharged April 2012.

The Last my mother spoke with him was Thursday November 17, 2011. He sounded good, was excited to come home for the holidays and spend time with his children. His autopsy was ruled “Acute Bronchial Pneumonia”. My brother smoked, had sometimes a smoker’s cough, but being a 31 year old otherwise healthy man just does not make sense that he would die from Acute Bronchial Pneumonia overnight. There are so many questions that need to be answered. We were told when he was found that his door was already kicked in, the man who found him was released from the army two days after my brother’s death. Several weeks later, he confirmed that my brother’s door was already kicked in, and then told me to “stop digging, you may not like what you find and you are only going to make things worse.” How can things be any worse?

My brother is already dead..He has not responded to me since then. We were told that his room was ransacked and the evidence was compromised, but the army did not think it was foul play. His heart was kept for further testing which we had to then bury separately three months after his body, but yet, he died of Pneumonia. Why wouldn’t they keep his lungs for testing? The autopsy report makes note of bruising on his abdomen, back and chest, and yet, the medical examiner says “The bruising is not his cause of death.” We have now found out that my brother was on numerous anti psychotics (11 out of 12 prescriptions to be exact) to treat for his PTSD, insomnia, and depression. We are still fighting for records, information, and seem to not be getting far..but i am hopeful that finding this amazing group, and reading all of the accomplishments thus far, i feel I am in the right place to find some justice. Thank you for giving me a chance to tell some of my brother’s story.

If you have information about this case, contact Melanie Pizzo through this website.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Four Marines killed in Camp Pendleton maintenance accident

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — Four Camp Pendleton-based Marines were killed Wednesday in an accident during regularly scheduled maintenance at one of the base’s artillery impact areas, Marine officials said.

The incident happened around 11 a.m. at the Zulu Impact Area during upkeep of the range meant to keep the areas safe and remove obstructions, a Marine official said. Impact areas are where Marines fire artillery and drop bombs from aircraft.

The names and ranks of the Marines killed are being held while their families are notified.

Read the entire story here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Death Memorial

MSG Sean M. Mocabee
MSG Sean M. Mocabee died by suicide on 12 November 2008.  He served his country for twenty-three years.  Served two tours in Iraq and one or two in Afghanistan plus various other places around the world.  He was a medic for eighteen of those years receiving two Bronze Stars for his service in this area.  The second Bronze Star was given posthumously.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Group of senators begin push to remove sex assault cases from chain of command

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of senators began an effort Wednesday on Capitol Hill to pass a measure removing sexual assault prosecutions in the military from the chain of command.

Opposed by the Defense Department and top lawmakers such as Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., the controversial bill nevertheless has a significant measure of support and will be debated sometime in the next two weeks.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, led a press conference that included a politically eclectic group — Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky.; Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii. Also appearing were several advocates of the proposal as well as a husband-and-wife team who described personal experience with the crime.

Read the entire story here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Death Memorials

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

SGT Christopher T. 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

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Death Memorial

Sgt. Loren James Janeczko, Aug. 6, 1972 – Oct. 12, 2001

After Sept. 11, 2001, Loren Janeczko returned to active service in the Army.
On Oct. 12, 2001, one short month later, Sgt. Janeczko was killed in a “shoot out” with New Jersey Police. According to media reports, he was supposed to have “flipped out” and started shooting people, wounding two fellow soldiers on the Ft. Dix Army base, fleeing in a vehicle, and then wounding two New Jersey police officers, and taking a hostage before he was shot and killed by police.

According to the richly detailed story presented to the media in a press conference, the hostage got away when Loren’s gun jammed and Loren was then killed by a member of the New Jersey Police.
The Army claimed that there had been a “mental health hearing” the morning of his death, and that “two soldiers were accompanying him to clean out his locker” prior to discharge.
It was a year after his death when the investigation reports, requested in October 2001 through the Federal Freedom of Information Act, were received. The reports are not complete. Much of the information is redacted. One brief report is from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The other, more voluminous in terms of paper, was from the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID).
In a brief sentence, within the Army CID report, it is revealed that NO HOSTAGE WAS EVER TAKEN. This was confirmed on the telephone by a CID officer. Why would such a story be fabricated and fed to the media? Why has this story never been corrected in the media? The hostage story was not a garbling of events. It was presented in a formal press conference given by the New Jersey State Police spokesperson a day or two after the incident. It was a deliberate dissemination of misinformation.

Both the FBI and CID reports refer to the fact that Loren made an allegation of sexual assault against soldiers in his sleeping quarters four days before he was killed. The reports state that the Department of Defense Police on Ft. Dix were investigating the matter. He was placed in a private room for his own safety and security. He wasn’t being escorted to his locker and there wasn’t any “mental health hearing” the morning of his death. The commander had decided to turn the tables on him, as is frequently done in the Army, and to accuse him of assault. This is how the Armed Services get rid of whistleblowers and people who “make waves” by expecting to be treated with respect.
On October 12, 2001, a commanding officer decided to interrogate him for what was described, by a DOD officer’s statement to the CID, as a prolonged period of time. He was not allowed to make any arguments in his own defense and became increasingly stressed, as he watched the accused soldiers walking freely near the office and speaking to one another.

At this point, according to the report, this commanding officer decided to search his room and locker. He was ordered to lay out his possessions on the bed. Reportedly, rolled up inside a “dirty T-shirt” was a gun and ammunition. Strangely, the ‘statement’ of the DOD Police Officer In Charge (OIC), for that day’s shift, states: “…had been searching Sgt. Janeczko’s wall locker and as he had removed some items, some ammunition had fallen on the table.” Note that the OIC made no mention of a GUN! In fact, Loren possessed no gun at Ft. Dix which used that caliber ammunition.

The commanding officer, by her own statement, corroborated by other statements, said, “Now we’ve got you, buddy! You are going to jail.” She then left Loren in the room with two other soldiers and events proceeded.
When the DOD police were called and asked for a copy of their investigation into the allegation of sexual assault, their first response was that there was no report of any allegation or investigation. After the JAG and Inspector General were contacted, the chief of the DOD Police stated that there was, indeed, an investigation report. He supplied the case number and said that it would be supplied to the family. Two weeks after that conversation, a person in the DOD Police office stated that the report would be delayed because the “legal department” was reviewing the report. A month after the request was made, another fragmentary and incomplete report was received. The summary states that the matter would be handled by the Unit Commander, however, a DOD police officer’s statement claimed that the sexual assault investigation was ongoing at the time of the Commander’s “interrogation”.

The CID report also states that the death investigation was jointly handled with the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice. They house exhibit 16, which includes the total summary of the investigation, all crime scene photos and evidence.

The New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice states that they are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act and that they will not give up any or all of their investigation reports. New Jersey has an Open Records Act and a Government Records Council, which has the power to help people get such information. At present, all requests for investigation reports have been denied and appealed. It seems that in the “opposite speak” so prevalent in America today, the Act is actually a Closed Records Act, designed to protect the police from scrutiny by the public.

The autopsy report supplied by the New Jersey Medical Examiner’s Office contains no forensic information. There is no ballistics information. There is no powder burn analysis, even though it was noted that Loren’s hands were “bagged.” A letter to the ME resulted in a reply that requests for further information have been referred to the NJ Division. of Criminal Justice.

Update, 2007:
I have now received an unredacted (although still incomplete) Investigation Report from the State of NJ. I also requested and received photographs, audio and video tapes, and other evidence. This required hiring a lawyer and going to the NJ Superior Court Law Division. Common law, in most States, allows the family to have access to such records.

By cross-referencing information contained within the report, I know that other specific documents have been withheld. My next task is to find someone in the government who will listen to reason and will follow the law in regard to access.

This investigation report sheds a new light on the events immediately leading up to my son’s death. I will not publicly reveal these facts here, but the story told to the media by the police and the Army differs wildly from what actually happened.

The Army, in the meantime, insists that they must suspend the re-investigation of the case and a DoD Hotline case, while individual civilian police sue the Army in the US District Court for money damages. Naturally, this makes no sense at all to the family. We have never threatened to sue the Army and we know that, in any case, we are precluded from doing that by the Feres Doctrine.
There will surely be an appeal if the tort case is dismissed, which will prolong the inactivity of the investigations. It is all a well-established method of withholding information. I maintain that there is no valid excuse for suspending and withholding new investigation material from an immediate family trying to understand what happened.

No forensics have been released by any of the three agencies involved. Repeated requests of the FBI have only resulted in FOIA denials so far.

I will press on.

Update, 2009:
The Department of Defense Hotline Inspector General, in a written report, has acknowledged that the Department of Defense Police on Ft. Dix did not meet their responsibility of investigating a reported sexual assault. They did no investigation at all, instead, turning the matter over to Command, as has been very common in the military services. (This is often the time when soldiers who have reported sexual assault by fellow service members will be punished for doing so.)

I have also obtained the depositions in the Civil Tort. This turned out to contain much valuable information about Loren’s death and the events leading up to it. There are also specific references to additional investigation material, including who possesses it. Some of this material was already requested in the Superior Court and declared “lost.”

The officer who has referred to herself as his Commander, was actually a Major and the Mobilization Commander, and had only met Loren the morning of his death. She set the day in motion and then proceeded to manage the media reporting from Ft. Dix. She also arrived at the scene of Loren’s death and identified his body at the Medical Examiner’s Office, referring to herself the whole time as “his Commander.” Her name appeared in the autopsy report incorrectly, either an inadvertent clerical error or a deliberate attempt to mislead. It was revealed in her testimony that she had previously worked in the NJ Attorney General’s Office and that the lead investigator in the death investigation was someone she referred to as her “buddy.”

There is much more to this story, but the Army is being given an opportunity to do the actual investigation of the events leading up to Loren’s death. It’s been eight years. I wonder how much longer they will take.
Update, 2011:
I continue to ferret out information and documents, even though certain specific documents and evidence are being withheld without explanation by people who simply have the power to keep our family at bay.  I’m hoping that someone from the giant blue wall of silence (police) or the giant green wall of silence (Army) will want to unburden his/her conscience after ten years.  I’m not looking to sue, I just want to have the truth come out.
I have serious concerns about the climate of our country in terms of the Media and of the inordinate power of Federal agencies to keep secrets.

The print and electronic media in this country is willing to publish whatever they are told by police without any independent verification. The “facts” published are fed by other unverified “facts” which appear to fit the pattern of whatever scenario has been presented. The media is now an entertainment business, which does not encourage actual investigative reporting with very few exceptions.

As we know from current events, the Federal Government now has usurped the power of the people in the United States. Expectations that public servants must respond to requests for information are ignored and the people have become the servants of the Government.

We can reverse these injustices, but only if each of us makes the personal effort to challenge the government, at any level, and insisting that government honors its responsibility to provide truthful information.

Donna Janeczko

If you have any information about this case, please contact me through this website.
Link to interview: Donna Janeczko/Dr. John Johnson

Monday, October 07, 2013

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Death Memorial

1st Lt. Phillip Kent
Who was Phillip?  …My only son, grandson, soldier, comrade, friend, and scholar who loved his country and was ready to fulfill his military duty with enthusiasm and determination.
Phillip was a Veteran (one of who fought in a war) of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He brought his men/equipment home safely but tragically he came home a broken man suffering from PTSD.
Upon returning he found his marriage broken, little or no debriefing from the Army….  As a parent, I contacted Army Chaplains.  ‘No help, no returned calls.
Phil was forced to resign his commission or face more harassment from fellow officers.  Phil left Fort Hood, Texas in November 2004.  He returned home to South Carolina, and succumbed to death by his own hand.
Each time I share my story I become a stronger human being.  I appreciate the many Care Organization that help bridge the gap that exists between soldier families, citizens and bureaucrats, who have never been there; who cope with their fears and inadequacies by avoidance and denial.
Laura Kent
Mother of 1st Lt. Phil Kent
If you have any information about this case, please contact me through this website.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Death Memorial

The Torment Must End: Let the Truth Be Told

My son, Jayson David Coffman, my firstborn of five children was taken from me, brutally, violently and without justice, without the truth. Jayson was stationed at Ft. Story, Virginia, a U.S. Army post right on Virginia Beach. His life was taken at the young age of 20, without justifiable cause and without the benefit of support from his family or legal counsel. Jayson, like many military personnel, did not die in battle overseas, but on a military facility right here in the United States.

I will never forget the day I heard the news. It will ring in my mind for the rest of my life. I was told my son committed suicide and was hung in the woods just five minutes from his barracks. I was shocked beyond my wildest dreams and it was then that my life came crashing down around me. My head was spinning and my heart went numb. I lost all composure and at times I was a rock. I was angry, hurt, confused and shocked to the bone. I had just spoken to him only a few days beforehand. I heard a happy, well-adjusted voice over the phone announce to me that he had purchased a ring and was going to ask his girlfriend to marry him. We laughed, teased each other and both said, “I love you” before we hung up.

Little did I know that my son would leave this earthly plane through such a vicious attack to his person. The information became known to me long after the investigation was over through military personnel who did not want to get into trouble for telling the truth, but had to get it off their chests.
My dear one, the one I held in my arms, formed in my body and cared for over twenty years of his life, was beaten by soldiers on his post for talking to a girlfriend of a fellow soldier. Alcohol was purchased for him by an NCO (non-commissioned officer) and he was then reported for drinking on the job. The NCO kept his job and was told to keep his mouth shut. When Jayson was counseled for the drinking, he was told that his Army career was over and that life as he knew it would never be the same.

He was reported missing on September 24, 1999 and was not “discovered” until three and a half weeks later. The military police told me they would not look for him.  The Marines found him hanging from a tree just within sight and walking distance from his barracks. The Army told me that two soldiers, the Captain and a Sergeant, looked for him daily. How could they have not seen him? The smell from rotting flesh was so strong that when the Marines found him, they could hardly stand it. He was found with his wallet, ID and a note to his girlfriend in his pocket, yet I was told that those things were found in his locker. He was not searched for because his things were thrown in a box marked AWOL (absent without leave). He was just left to hang there and rot for three and a half weeks so there would be no toxicology report in the autopsy. He was found with his knees on the ground, legs crossed; one arm was dislocated from his shoulder and found to the right of his body and on the ground. (No explanation for this was noted in the autopsy report.) Beer bottles were at the scene, yet the mother of the girlfriend called me to tell me that the autopsy report had shown no alcohol in his blood. The thing was, that the autopsy report had not yet come out and his body was too decomposed to even get a toxicology report. His girlfriend’s father was a Colonel in the Air Force and was notified of my son’s death three days before I was notified. My son was dead and discovered and I was not even told for three days! It took until the end of October to get his body back in California.

I was contacted by soldiers he worked with, and told that the Army killed my son. I believe them, they were present. They covered it up by allowing a great deal of time to pass by so no evidence could be found. They lied about his wallet and told me it was in his locker and then placed it on his body with his ID and a note to his girlfriend that they most likely got out of a box of letters that my son kept for his girlfriend. He wrote to her often and sometimes did not send the letters.
Jayson was drowned in alcohol; died from his own vomit and hung to make it look like a suicide. His things were all sent back to me at Christmastime all thrown in a box: dirty underwear and socks all mixed with now-broken items that had belonged to my son. His pillow was included and still had the stains from his tears on it.

He was supposedly on 24-hour suicide watch that night, but if he were, he would never have been able to get out alone unseen. The last time he was seen by his roommate, it was late at night and he was in his bed, asleep, yet his body was found fully dressed in his Army uniform. He was hung by his bedsheet, which was never reported missing from his room.

I had made a big deal about the fact that my son would never have left and gone AWOL without his wallet and personal items. I find it strange that his wallet and ID were then found on his body.
I was not sent the Criminal Investigation Report and autopsy until a year later. The report states that he died from suicide. We live with a lie and my son’s life looks just like a lie.
No family should have to go through this kind of pain. Every day after taking my kids to school, I would park in th garage in my car, turn off the engine and cry until my guts felt like they would fall out. Then I just went numb.

I was warned not to pursue investigation of the Army and their deeds because my fate may end up just like my son’s. This came from a dear friend who worked closely with my son and knew all of the truth. He was there. Many stories have emerged over the years and brought to my attention regarding military abuse of our enlisted soldiers. These are our husbands, wives, and children. Our kids, from the age of eighteen, are being told that the military will assist them to further their careers and give them pride. They enlist, as Jayson did, to make a better life for themselves. They just never are told about the humiliation, and the fact that they might just have to die at the hands of their fellow soldiers.

There are many stories that are coming out into the open and our purpose is to expose them all in order to enlighten the public as to what kind of behavior goes on in our U.S. Military. Don’t get me wrong, we love our country. It is the wrongdoing from our U.S. Forces and officials who turn a blind eye when it comes to military accountability. We desire justice for the sake of our kids. Our kids and loved ones deserve to have the truth be told concerning their deaths. No other family should have to endure what we have had to endure. The cover up and the murder and the reckless care of our military personnel must be stopped NOW.
Update on Story “The Torment Must End”
Murder of PFC Jayson David Coffman

As of September 24, 2011, it has been 12 years since my son Jayson had suffered brutality while enlisted in the US Army which led to his death. My four other children are still going through bouts of grief, confusion, and lack the full truth of their brothers death. We have moved forward but we still suffer great pain and our lives have never been the same. One of my daughters describes her experience as, “when Jayson died a part of me went with him”. We all feel this way.

As Jayson’s mother, I can say that not only has part of me left with him but also I grieve what “might have been”. We are robbed of my son’s future with us. I will never have a daughter- in law, grand children through him, holiday memories, his laughter in hard times, and so much more I could not even list them all. As survivors we not only grieve the loss of our loved ones presence but the losses of a life completely altered and changed forever. Even as a minister, my grief is often not comforted. I receive some strength and comfort from my faith, but there is no “healing” from love. Love is just love. Just because my son is now dead, does not mean I will ever love him less. My heart longs for him and although I know by faith where he is and that he is no longer suffering from this world, my “mother’s heart” will always ache for him.

We have recently received some updates on Jayson’s case through communication sent to us by an individual who worked with Jayson and knows some of his story. It has been confirmed once again through this person that Jayson’s wallet, and personal belongings were in his locker the morning it was discovered he was “missing”. The report we received from the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) clearly states that Jaysons wallet, dog tags, ID, and supposed suicide note was found on his body after he was discovered in the woods hanging from a tree three and a half weeks after he went missing. The individual who contacted me has also stated that he and his wife met with Jayson prior to his death and he seemed fine, even in light that there were issues going on concerning Jayson and the Army.

In my original account of our experience concerning Jayson’s murder, (called suicide by the US Army) I made mention that Jayson’s things were sent back to us in a huge mess and most of his belongings broken. Jayson’s captain had expressed to me that he personally packed Jayson’s things himself with the help of a newly stationed female soldier. This is contrary to the new information received in the email sent to us by the individual who worked with Jayson. His statement was that he and his wife packed his clothing, and things that were sent back to me, personally, and he assured me his things were in good order when they packed them. Strangely, there is no explanation as to the reason a confederate flag was stuffed in the bag Jayson’s clothing was packed in. Continued attempts to connect and ask about this flag have now been met with no response. When Jayson was alive he told me in a phone conversation of this confederate towel which was purchased by his room mate for racial reasons because they had an African American soldier moved into their barracks with them. Jayson explained his room mate’s reason was to get the soldier to desire to be transferred to another room, and that clearly his room mate’s actions were racially motivated. Jayson said he had no problem with the latest soldier added to their room and stated he appeared to be a very nice guy. Jayson had many friends prior to enlisting in the army and they were all of mixed races.  In fact, quite often Jayson was the only Caucasian person in his circle of friends.

Jayson also expressed a more intense desire to know his “nationality” and wondered in light of the fact his last name was Coffman if he was of any Jewish descent. I had to once again explain to him that Coffman was his given name because that was my last name at the time and that it was not that of his true father. Although Coffman is considered a name of Jewish descent, we have no Jewish lineage, and nor did Jayson. My next question was why he wanted to know all of this. In the past we had already discussed the fact that Jayson’s given name on his birth certificate was not that of his real father and it was done that way because his father was not in our lives and I wanted his name to match mine even though it was one of a different marriage.

I suppose my next concern on this matter is if the confederate flag which was packed in his bag was a hate message or even why it would be sent when it was not Jaysons. I did a search on racism and what the confederate flag stands for and I found a page explaining that it usually
stands for racism by white supremacists against those of African and Jewish descent. The symbolism is that if a “noose and cross”. Jayson “lost” his cross he always wore around his neck a month prior to his death and was hung on a tree by his bed sheet formed into a noose around his neck. I can’t help but feel that my son’s death had some form of racial hatred attached to it.

Jayson loved rap singing and was quite good at it. I did not always approve of the lyrics but he definitely had a talent for rapping. I was told by a soldier’s wife that Jayson and another soldier had rap “competitions” between them and that other soldier was a black man. My son was a young man who was persecuted all of his life but he had an acceptance of all people. He had his enemies, but he found it to be a continual battle and not something he wanted in his life.

Another area of concern is that the military police commented to me that Jayson was not being looked for even though he was missing. This was confirmed by the message I have recently received in the statement that many of the soldiers wanted to immediately go and look for him.
They were told that if they did they would be disciplined. In light of the fact that my son’s body was found about 5 minutes from the army barracks, this is inexcusable! He would have been found for sure and it is obvious to me that the intent was that he not be found. In fact he was found by Marines who were doing training in the woods on Army property.

My question in mind at this point, is “Why won’t these people come forward who know facts regarding my son’s murder, and as a group, present these facts to the criminal investigation department so that we might have a resolution? Can the US military intimidate others so much that they can get away with murder untouched? I know there are many families who really would like to know the answer to this question. No one should have to live with the pain my family lives with and the lack of closure. No soldier should have to live with the  guilt of knowing the truth about a crime but feel intimidated into keeping silent.  This can’t help but eat at someone’s guts. I am reminded by the truth of my Christian faith. To know sin and do nothing about it is to be a part of it. So therefore those who know things and do not come forward are just as guilty of the crime as those who committed it. This is not a comment I want to say but it is the truth so I have to say it. Even in civilian investigations those who know about a crime and keep silent are considered an accomplice to the crime itself. It is standing in the way of justice and also allowing others to be subject to those who obviously got away with murder. My plea, and that of my family, is please come forward so we can all have the truth.

In light of all that has happened we still love our county, the freedoms our military soldiers stood for and still fight for today. We are forgiving people. We only want closure, justice, and truth.

 Jenine Marie Mason

If you would like to contact Rev. Mason,
please email us and we
will forward your mail to her.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Marine killed, 4 hurt at combat training center in Calif.

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- A Marine has been killed and four others injured in a training accident at the Twentynine Palms base in Southern California.

The accident occurred shortly before 11:20 a.m. Monday at the Air Ground Combat Center in the desert about 130 miles east of Los Angeles.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Death Memorial

My son’s name was Kenneth John Laga, he died on 31st August 2005, along with two other young soldiers in Gutersloh, Germany.
I had lost my oldest son (non military) 7 months earlier, so Kenneth’s death was unbearable, and also totally needless.  The 3 boys were on a visit to the medical centre at another barracks.
Kenneth was with 26 Regiment, Royal Artillery.  The regiment had to replace the original duty driver that morning, as he was on a course.  The replacement driver, it transpired, had never driven a Land Rover Wolf alone, let alone on right hand drive roads (Germany), he should not have been given the full license to drive the vehicle as he should have undergone conversion training before being allowed to drive, this was his first driving duty!
 He did not get his work ticket signed before setting off (the work ticket is the equivalent to the insurance document), he lost his way, took a gentle left hand bend too quickly for his ability and lost control of the vehicle and smashed into two trees.  All the three boys died later that day of massive head and body injuries.
The front seat belts were torn apart as the roof ripped off the vehicle, it was left holding on by one screw.  What happened after has been a disaster as far as I am concerned.  My husband died  16 months later, he had a massive heart attack at the age of 53.
The only person who has faced any punishment was the driver, he was fined £1,000 at a court martial for careless driving, he appealed against this all the way to the House of Lords, all paid for by  tax payers money.  I have lost track of how many times I have asked about the Sgt who issued him with the full license, in fact he has been promoted now to Staff Sgt.  He has not had a  court martial or faced any internal discipline, he answered at the inquest that he had had an informal chat with his new commanding officer.
Elaine Laga, Mother of Kenneth Laga.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Death Memorial

PV2 NOLAN EDWARD STITES, (August 31,1981-August 29, 2000)
My son, Nolan Edward Stites, was an Army Reservist assigned to the 52nd Combat Engineer Battalion on Fort Carson, Colorado. He successfully completed nine months in the Army Reserve “delayed entry” program with the 52nd Engineers and received a promotion due to his excellent performance. In the summer of 2000 he reported to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for Basic Combat Training where he became ill with clinical depression shortly thereafter. Nolan sought help for his illness and was a patient under care of the U.S. Army when he died during his seventh week on the Missouri army post.
Nolan graduated from high school with honors, never got into trouble and was respected as mature by all adults that knew him. He was an active church member, did not smoke, drink, use drugs or have any history of mental or family problems. Nolan was a rugged and physically fit outdoorsman, expert marksman with all types of firearms and loved the military. He held high ideals and was very patriotic. Nolan’s many NCO and Officer friends familiar with his out-door skills and endurance considered Nolan potentially a model soldier.

During his second week at Fort Leonard Wood, Nolan complained of the heat and humidity and said his forehead was severely sunburned and swollen. Nolan, a native of Colorado, was not used to Missouri’s climate in July. Two weeks later he called home and reported leg cramps, insomnia, loss of appetite and cognitive problems with reading, writing and understanding what was being said to him. I, as his father, unwittingly made the mistake of responding with a letter, advising him to seek medical care on post, a recruit’s only source of  help. Nolan, being one not to complain, tried to tough it out and continued training until his ailments progressed to bladder control problems, making it impossible to go on. He went to his roommates, drill sergeants and finally the Brigade Chaplain for assistance.

Nolan told the Chaplain he was depressed and had suicidal thoughts, a common symptom of depression. The Chaplain recognized Nolan needed to be seen by a mental health professional and, as required in this type of case, reported his findings to the Company Commander.  The Company Commander immediately removed Nolan from training and put him on  “Suicide or Unit Watch,” the Standard Operational Procedure in use on Fort Leonard Wood at that time. According to the Captain, Nolan ranked in the top 10% of the company when he placed my son on unit watch.

Unit watch is a disciplinary program of humiliation and ostracism used by the military to deter manipulative recruits from claiming mental problems to get out of the service.  They removed Nolan from all training but not the unit; made him sleep in the War Room, using tired, resentful, and untrained teenagers to guard him at night. Without any medical treatment, Nolan was forced to parade around in front of his peers for fifteen days, minus belt and bootlaces. Ostracized from training and humiliated as a marked man, Nolan was so distraught over his situation he told a roommate he was considering ending his life by jumping from the third story window. The worried roommates got together and wrote their drill sergeant a note expressing their concerns to no avail; their note was ignored!

On the fifth day of his ordeal, Nolan saw an Army social worker that misdiagnosed him as “a Special Ed. student that never got help” and “unfit for service.” (Nolan had just graduated from high school with a grade point average above 3.5.) The social worker returned Nolan to the barracks on full “Unit Watch” without further follow-up for the last ten days of his life. On unit watch, Nolan was subjected to sleep deprivation, humiliation, and embarrassment. In front of the entire platoon, Nolan’s drill sergeant challenged him to jump and kill himself, even offered to open the window. (This kind of mental abuse is devastating to a patient suffering from clinical depression.) Nolan wrote his drill sergeant a note pleading for help, “nobody will help now but I need emergency help to live, my parents want me to live and so do I.” The platoon sergeant in charge never took appropriate action with the note.

After two weeks of unit watch my son called me about his desperate situation. I then called the Red Cross for help and they misspelled Nolan’s last name so bad they had difficulty in locating him on Fort Leonard Wood. Over the telephone, eight hundred miles away, I told the drill sergeants to take Nolan to the hospital. After examining Nolan, the ER doctor gave him an I.V. for dehydration, set up an appointment with the mental health service for the next day and returned Nolan back to the barracks for more “unit watch.” The platoon sergeant placed Nolan next to a window on the third floor. Nolan saw no hope for help and wrote a farewell letter to his family stating, he didn’t know how to get help, there was only one place left for him to go, and “God could never forgive me for disgracing my country and my family.” Stripped of self-esteem and with “no light at the end of the tunnel,” my son, PV2 Stites, did as his sergeant suggested, jumped to his death!

A year later I received a pathetically flawed CID investigation report through FOIA. It did not explain the pencil point size puncture wound to my son’s abdomen, inconsistent with injuries sustained from landing on his back.  The CID agent in charge of the investigation photographed another recruit’s ID tag at the death scene and identified it as Nolan’s without reading it. The broken chain from the tag was in blood, two inches from my son’s right ear. Nolan was right handed and his body position was face up. The other boy’s ID tag was sent to us in my son’s personal possessions. Based on my research about unit watch, I suspect my son was being hazed but because of the Feres Doctrine I cannot sue and subpoena witnesses to find out the truth.

If a soldier is suicidal he doesn’t belong in the unit, if he is not suicidal, why take away his belt and bootlaces to mark and humiliate him in front of his peers? That defines what unit watch is all about, punishment for saying you are ill. Nolan’s death did not result from an accidental slip of a surgeon’s knife but 15 days of deliberate abuse. I consider his death a “psychological homicide.” The culprit in this case was not any one individual but the government of the United States for allowing this sadistic and abusive program to exist!

Five weeks earlier, another recruit, PVT Gary Moore from our state of Colorado, also killed himself on Fort Leonard Wood after suffering three weeks of abuse and being made fun of on “Unit Watch.” Both families were denied redress when we filed Tort claims for gross negligence and medical malpractice, resulting in death. The government using the Feres Doctrine responded with a letter denying our claims

 stating, “The United States is not liable to service members under the FTCA for injuries that arise out of or are in the course of activity incident to service.” No one was held accountable or punished; the sergeant that told Nolan to kill himself was promoted.

Our and Gary Moore’s family discovered, like many other families of deceased active duty soldiers, the Federal government is above the law and you can’t do anything about it.

Richard R. Stites, AKA, “Singe”
Father of the late PV2 Nolan Edward Stites

If you have any information about this case, please contact me through this website

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Army Releases July 2013 Suicide Information


           The Army released suicide data today for the month of July 2013. During July, among active-duty soldiers, there were 19 potential suicides: One has been confirmed as a suicide and 18 remain under investigation. For June 2013, the Army reported 14 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers: six have been confirmed as suicides and eight are under investigation. For CY 2013, there have been 94 potential active-duty suicides: 46 have been confirmed as suicides and 48 remain under investigation. Updated active-duty suicide numbers for CY 2012: 185 (169 have been confirmed as suicides and 16 remain under investigation).

           During July 2013, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were eight potential suicides (six Army National Guard and two Army Reserve): None have been confirmed as suicides and eight remain under investigation. For June 2013, among that same group, the Army reported eight potential suicides; however, subsequent to the report, two more cases were added bringing June's total to 10 (six Army National Guard and four Army Reserve): Four have been confirmed as suicides and six cases remain under investigation. For CY 2013, there have been 90 potential not on active duty suicides (58 Army National Guard and 32 Army Reserve): 57 have been confirmed as suicides and 33 remain under investigation. Updated not on active duty suicide numbers for CY 2012: 140 (93 Army National Guard and 47 Army Reserve): 138 have been confirmed as suicides and two remain under investigation.

           Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained consultants are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and can be contacted by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by visiting their website at

           The Military Crisis Line offers free and confidential support to service members in crisis or anyone who knows a service member who is. The service is staffed by caring, qualified responders from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), many who have served in the military themselves. Support is offered through the crisis line, online chat, and text-messaging services for all service members (active, National Guard and reserve) and veterans 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year by visiting the Military Crisis Line website at; Online Chat at:; sending a text to: 838255 or calling toll free at: 1-800-273-8255, Press 1; in Europe Dial: 00800 1273 8255 or DSN 118. Services are available even if members are not registered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or enrolled in VA health care.

           The Army's comprehensive list of Suicide Prevention Program information is located at

           Information about the Army's Ready and Resilient campaign is located at
           Army leaders can access current health promotion guidance in the revised Army Regulation 600-63 (Health Promotion) at: and in Army Pamphlet 600-24 (Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention) at

           Suicide prevention training resources for soldiers, leaders, Department of the Army civilians, and family members can be accessed at (requires Army Knowledge Online access to download materials).

           Information about Military OneSource is located at or by dialing the toll-free number 1-800-342-9647 for those residing in the continental U.S. Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource web site for dialing instructions for their specific location.

           Information about the Army's Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Program (CSF2) is located at

           The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, via electronic mail at and at

           The website for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is, and the Suicide Prevention Resource Council site is found at

Source:  DOD Announcement, verbatim