You are currently viewing all posts written by Hal Bernton.
December 13, 2012 at 8:27 PM
By unanimous consent, The U.S. Senate Thursday approved a bill introduced by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wa., that would end a ban on Department of Veterans Affairs funding of in-vitro fertilization services.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wa, who chairs the Senate Veteran Affairs’ Committee.
In remarks on the Senate floor Thursday, she noted that — between 2003 and 2008 — nearly 2,000 service members suffered reproductive and urinary trauma injuries. Due to a lack of insurance coverage, some of these injured service members and veterans have had to pay for in-vitro services out of their own pocket
“I have heard from these severely injured veterans, and while the details of these stories vary, the common thread that runs through them all is that these veterans were unable to obtain the type of assistance they need,” Murray said.
Rep. Rick Larson, D-Wa., has introduced companion legislation in the House.
November 16, 2012 at 6:51 PM
Staff Sgt. Rayvon Battle, a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier from Rocky Mount, N.C., died Nov. 13 in Afghanistan.
Battle, 25, served with the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division in Kandahar province. He arrived in Afghanistan earlier this month, and the cause of his death is under investigation, according to a base official.
Battle joined the Army in June, 2005, and came to Lewis-McChord in November of that year. He deployed twice to Iraq before serving in Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 38th Engineer Company, and deployed to Afghanistan as a squad leader.
His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal with 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster.
Battle was the first soldier from the 4th Stryker Brigade to die during the unit’s deployment to Afghanistan, according to a base official. Since the start of this year, 33 Lewis-McChord soldiers have died in Afghanistan.
November 13, 2012 at 12:22 PM
The Associated Press
SPOKANE — The Department of Defense has announced the death of a soldier from Spokane in Afghanistan.
The military said 26-year-old Sgt. Matthew H. Stiltz died on Monday at Zerok, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with indirect fire.
Stiltz was assigned to the Army’s 1st Battalion out of Fort Riley, Kan.
November 13, 2012 at 12:02 PM
An Army prosecutor Tuesday requested that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales face a death penalty court-martial, alleging that the Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier has committed “the worst, most despicable crimes a human can commit, murdering children in their own homes.”
“Terrible, terrible things happened. That is clear. The second thing that is clear, sir, is that Staff Sgt. Bales did it,” said Army prosecutor Maj. Robert Stelle in closing arguments at a preliminary hearing into charges that Bales killed 16 Afghan civilians, most of them children and women, and wounded six people.
Stelle addressed an Army investigating officer who will recommend how the biggest U.S. war crimes case to emerge from the Afghanistan war will proceed.
Stelle portrayed Bales, in the aftermath of the March 11 killings, as someone with a clear memory of what he had done and “conscious of wrong doing.”
Defense attorney Emma Scanlon, in her closing argument, asked that the investigating officer recommend against making this a death penalty case.
She portrayed Bales as a troubled infantry soldier split off from his commanding officers to serve at a Special Forces outpost, where he was given steroids and sleep medications and drank liquor before the predawn killings. ”We have a dysfunctional and drinking and drugging ODA (Special Forces) team. We can’t isolate Sgt. Bales in a bubble,” she said. “That’s not what happened here.”
Scanlon noted Bales’ erratic behavior in the hours before the killing, as he entered the quarters of a Special Forces soldier and woke him up to talk about family and other problems. Scanlon also recounted how Bales was wearing a cape when he was apprehended by other soldiers as he returned to base.
This was part of a broader attack by the defense counsel on the prosecution’s assertion that Bales has been fully conscious of his actions when he was taken into custody on March 11. “Why in the world is someone so lucid wearing a cape?” Scanlon said.
Scanlon also noted that one of the survivors had told investigators that two soldiers took part in killing her husband, raising the possibility that more than one soldier might have been involved in the events.
In her closing arguments, she also sought to raise questions about the care Bales received at Madigan Army Medical Center for a concussive head injury. She indicated that a clinic there didn’t track him and make sure that he came to his next appointment.
The hearings began Nov. 5 and included testimony from more than two dozen witnesses, including Army criminal investigators, Special Forces and infantry soldiers and Afghan civilians.
Col. William L. Deneke, the Army investigating officer, is expected to make a recommendation within the next week about the case. Another Army officer, known as the convening authority, will then make a decision on how to proceed.
If a court-martial takes place, it will be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the Washington state base south of Seattle, and witnesses will be flown in from Afghanistan.
After the hearing ended, the Bales family released a statement.
“Much of the testimony was painful, even heartbreaking, but we are not convinced that the government has shown us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about what happened that night,” the statement said. “As a family we all grieve deeply for the Afghani families who lost their loved ones on March 11, but we must not rush to judgment.”
November 5, 2012 at 4:05 PM
Update: After allegedly killing Afghan civilians in a first village, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales came back to his combat outpost. At around 2 a.m., he flipped on the light switch in the quarters of some other soldiers and began talking about what he had done and where he was headed, according to the testimony of Sgt. Jason McClaughlin.
Bales said he had killed some military-age males, McClaughlin testified. Then, Bales drew up close and asked McLaughlin to smell his gun. “His weapon was right in front of my face,” said McLaughlin.
McLaughlin said he reacted with disbelief.
Bales left McLaughlin’s quarters but soon returned, according to the testimony. This time, Bales said he was heading to a second village, and would be back by around 5 a.m. “Then he takes my hands, and says ‘take care of my kids,’” recalled McLaughlin.
“And, I’m like , ‘no, Bob, take of your own kids.’ ”
After Bales left, McLaughlin said, he drifted back off to sleep, then woke shortly before 3 a.m. to take a scheduled turn at guard duty. When he got to the guard post, McLaughlin said, another soldier reported hearing gun shots outside the outpost during his time on watch.
About five minutes later, Afghan soldiers arrived with an interpreter. They told told him about a soldier who had come back to the base, and then left.
McLaughlin said he then recalled his earlier conversation with Bales, and feared the sergeant might be that soldier.
“I ran to see if Staff Sgt. Bales was in his room,” McLaughlin testified.
He found the door open, and the light on.
“Staff Sgt. Bales wasn’t there,” McLaughlin testified.
Update: Cpl. David Godwin, a 3rd Brigade soldier, testified that he was one of the first to meet Staff Sgt. Robert Bales outside the base gate when Bales returned from what prosecutors allege was a killing spree in an Afghan village.
Godwin described Bales’ demeanor as “kind of like he got his hand caught in the cookie jar. ” Godwin also quoted Bales as saying: “I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought I was doing the right thing.”
Godwin said Bale’s response “… was kind of surreal. I kind of thought that Bob (Bales) thought … he was doing this to better us.”
Godwin served under Bales and was one of the soldiers who had been drinking with him on March 10, the night before the killings. Godwin testified that Bales and a third soldier had the equivalent of one or two shots of whiskey and that they were not seriously impaired or slurring their words.
While they drank, Godwin said, they watched the 2004 movie “Man on Fire,” which stars Denzel Washington in a thriller involving a former CIA operative turned bodyguard who goes on a killing rampage after a child is abducted.
After they finished drinking, Godwin said he accompanied Bales to his quarters, and thought that he was going to go to bed.
Somewhere between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. the next morning , Godwin was woken up by another soldier. He and another soldier went outside the gate of the outpost and called for Bales. Sometime before 5 a.m,, Godwin said he saw Bales walking down a road that led to the base.
The hearing for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales opened Monday morning with the Army prosecutor offering a chilling summary of the events of March 11, when Bales allegedly murdered 16 Afghan villagers, mostly women and children.
Lt. Col. Joseph Morse said that testimony at the pretrial hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will show that Bales was deliberate, methodical and “lucid and coherent” as he went on a killing spree during a five-hour period. Bales, a Lewis-McChord infantryman who was assisting a Special Forces unit, returned to a small base in the Kandahar District of Afghanistan shortly before 5 a.m., according to the prosecutor.
Prior to leaving the base, Bales had been drinking Jack Daniels and Diet Pepsi with other soldiers and had a conversation with a Special Forces soldier expressing his concerns that the unit had not responded forcefully enough to an IED attack.
According to the timeline laid out by the prosecutor, Bales first walked some 600 meters north to murder civilians in one village. Then, he returned to the base and even told one soldier that “I just shot some people.” But that soldier thought Bales was kidding, and did not act to restrain him.
Then Bales exited the the base a second time, and finished off the shootings, according to the prosecutor.
A video surveillance camera from a helium balloon captured images of Bales, with a cape across his shoulder, approaching the base and being apprehended.
Morse said Bales appeared surprised by his detention.
His first reaction was, “Are you (expletive) kidding me,” Morse said. According to the prosecutor, Bales also asked a Special Forces soldier, “Did you rat me out?”
Morse says that Bales repeatedly confessed to the murders after his return to the base. The prosecutor said Bales did not show remorse but did fear that his actions might have let down the Special Forces unit he was assigned to in Afghanistan.
Morse said the evidence against Bales also includes a DNA match of blood from one of the female victims on the boots, pants and underwear worn by Bales.
November 1, 2012 at 2:57 PM
Joint Base Lewis-McChord — A C-17 left this Western Washington base early this morning to support the East Coast relief response to Superstorm Sandy.
The aircraft, a C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing, will first stop at March Air Reserve Base in southern California to pick up technicians, supplies and equipment — including 69 vehicles belonging to the Southern California Edison utility company.
The aircraft is scheduled to land at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y., this evening, according to Col. Jeffrey Philippart, 62nd Airlift Wing vice commander.
October 16, 2012 at 9:34 PM
Spc. Brittany Gordon, a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier who deployed to southern Afghanistan, died Saturday in a suicide bombing attack, according to a spokesman for Rep. C.W. Bill Young, a Florida Republican who represents her hometown of St. Petersburg. Florida.
The U.S. Army on Monday announced her death, disclosing only that she was killed by an improvised explosive device. Typically, such devices are buried bombs, but in this case the explosive device was a suicide vest, according to Harry Glenn, Young’s spokesman.
Col. Thomas Collins, a spokesman for NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed Tuesday that Gordon died in a suicide bombing attack that also killed another American and four members of the Afghanistan intelligence agency.
Citing international and Afghan officials, The New York Times reported that attack was carried out by an suicide bomber who was a member of the Afghanistan intelligence agency.
The Associated Press, in a story published Tuesday, said that Afghanistan’s security service had denied claims that a suicide bomber was a member of the country’s intelligence agency.
Collins, in a statement to The Seattle Times, said that the attack “remains under investigation,” which will ultimately determine how it is classified.
Gordon, 24, was on her first tour of overseas duty, and was assigned to the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd infantry Division.
July 9, 2012 at 5:01 PM
A Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier on his fifth tour of duty to a combat zone died on July 4th in Afghanistan.
Staff. Sgt. Raul Guerra, 37, of Union City, N.J., was assigned the 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, and arrived in Afghanistan in May.
Guerra was assigned to Spin Boldak in southern Afghanistan’s Kandahar province. Army officials said the cause of his death was undetermined, and is under investigation.
Guerra joined the Army in 1999. Between 2002 and 2008, he served four tours of duty in Iraq , according to Army records released Monday.
He arrived at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in July 2011, where he was assigned to the 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion of the 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade.
His awards and decorations include the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star, Iraq Campaign Medal with campaign star and Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.
June 19, 2012 at 3:11 PM
The barnacle-covered boat that washed up on a southwest Washington beach Friday has been traced to its owner in Japan, who says he lost it during the March 2011 tsunami, according to a staffer with the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle.
U.S. officials provided the Japanese government with what appeared to be a registration number on the boat. The owner, who lives on the northern part of the island of Honshu, which was hard-hit by the tsunami, confirmed to Japanese officials that the boat was his, according to Travis Doty, a staffer with the Consulate General in Japan.
Doty did not have information about the owner’s occupation, or how the boat was used.
The boat, estimated to be about 20 feet in length, was found beached at Cape Disappointment State Park.
The boat was cleaned of barnacles and other sea life by a team of state officials who filled some 20 trash bags with it. No invasive species were found, according to Curt Hart, a spokesman for the state Department of Ecology.
Along with the boat, state officials found a battery, marine radio and several life jackets that made the long sea journey from Japan.
June 14, 2012 at 3:04 PM
Sgt. 1st Class Sgt. Barett W. McNabb, a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier on his fourth overseas deployment, died Tuesday in Afghanistan from a roadside bomb attack.
McNabb, 33, was the 12th soldier from the military base of south of Tacoma to die in Afghanistan in 2012, with most of those deaths occurring in the past few months, according to a base official
McNabb was from Chino Valley, Arizona, according to an Army statement released Thursday.
“Sgt. 1st Class McNabb was an inspirational and highly motivated leader who always put the needs of his Sappers [engineer Soldiers] before his own,” said 1st Lt. Robert Gold, executive officer of the 562nd Engineer Company, which is part of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat team, 2nd Infantry Division.
McNabb’s brigade deployed to Afghanistan in late April, and has lost four soldiers since arriving there and taking up positions in the southern province of Kandahar.
McNabb joined the Army in November, 1999. He deployed to Kuwait in 2001, and twice to Iraq before he went to Afghanistan this spring.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart and the Army Commendation with Valor.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
Trending with readers