“The Army is Reviewing Casualty Reports’ – One family’s story!


halfmastcopy

Chron.com reports that the Army is reviewing the Casualty reports for the conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The review will also cover all other troops killed in other postings. The Army is going back to the year 2001 in their review.

pattillman

Many families have received conflicting information regarding the deaths of their loved ones. However, the friendly fire death of Cpl. Pat Tillman in 2003 in Afghanistan brought forth for public scrutiny questions previously unanswered about troop deaths. Many families, such as my own, spent months, sometimes over a year trying to find out how their loved on really died!

mike

P.O. 2nd Class Michael J. Gray was killed in Kuwait on March 5, 2004. We were initially told Mike was killed when two Iraqi terrorists hit Mike’s vehicle from behind at about 100 mph. Mike was the only fatality.

Over a year later, we found out that we had been deliberately lied to about Mike’s death. The driver of Mike’s vehicle made an illegal turn into the path of a car driven by an Iraqi. The car was speeding and he was found guilty of that charge in a Kuwaiti court and fined appropriately.

The man whose negligence caused Mike’s death and whose lie caused untold emotional pain and distress for Mike’s family got off without even an article 15. This was after he admitted in open Kuwaiti court, finally, the truth. A representative of the local police department where Mike was actively on the payroll as a police officer went to the trial. Mike’s kids and family almost lost the insurance Mike had  purchased at his job to help his family if something happened to him.

It wasn’t until this morning as I read this article at chron.com that I realized that there may yet be more to Mike’s story. The official DOD letter and Navy JAG  report advised us that since American soldiers stationed in Kuwait were all granted “Diplomatic Immunity,” the man who caused Mike’s death could not be charged.

WTF? That did not prevent the military from charging him! Diplomatic Immunity only applies to any charges that Kuwait might want to put forth. Had this man simply been reprimanded and asked to give the family a formal apology, the bitter taste of his negligence in Mike’s death and his subsequent lie might not stay so close to the surface of our emotions.

That pitiful excuse for a man made a terrible mistake. Then he lied about it. He subsequently retired with full benefits to spend the rest of his lying life with his family. Something his negligence took away from Mike and his four little girls aged 7 months to 7 years old, Mike’s wife, Mike’s Mom, Mike’s Gram, and the rest of the family!

Mike was an only child. That man’s actions and lie took everything from his Mom. Do I sound angry? You damn right I am angry. Our family and Mike’s widow and kids have been through hell. We are still going through it.

My family has forever been changed by Mike’s death. I cannot begin to describe the affect it has had on our lives and our family as a unit. We are now a family divided. We are now a family overwhelmed, still, with grief. We are a family that has had a loved one stolen away from us, his life gone forever, only his memories to fill the gaping hole left behind by his death. All our loving memories together cannot fill the void left by his death. All our loving memories cannot stem the anger over the lie we were told. All our anger cannot stifle the anger and for me almost hatred I feel over that man’s lack of acceptance for the consequences of his actions.

Am I happy about the Army’s review of American troop deaths since 2001? In a word, yes! Other families who have suffered as ours has deserve the truth. They deserve the closure. Does it bring me or my family any closure? No! Does it bring us any comfort, no! The Navy isn’t going to do anything. Neither is the DOD! In the end, nothing will bring back our loved ones.

But, as a Veteran, I could accept Mike’s death easier if he had died a soldier’s death rather than to die due to the actions of a liar and coward!

mikes_funeral 

A visit with Michael

I like to go to the cemetery at night
when the darkness spreads its eerie light.

I always drive down the road to the right
following the soft beam of the headlights.

As I drive slowly through the darkness I see
a carpet of beautiful trees scattered randomly.

The road quietly meanders around the outside
as I continue through where you now reside.

Inside the loop throughout the quiet little park
I see scattered here and there lanterns in the dark.

In every direction they cast a soft glow of light
like one big silky blanket of warmth each night.

They maintain their vigilance, the lanterns and trees
like the moon and stars nightly watch over the seas.

Finally I come to a stop and get out and walk a ways
down the little cement path I haven’t visited in days.

Then I look down at the marble plague on the ground
as all around me the crickets are the only sound.

I walk around to make sure nothing’s been disturbed
then I sit and talk to you for a while sure I am heard.

I talk about the good times we all used to share
and tell you how I feel and I lay my soul bare.

I talk about how proud we all are for what you did
and I think a lot about when you were just a kid.

I tell you what I know of your girls and you mom’s life
and then all about you grandma and Tisha, your wife.

But most of all I just sit and talk about things
I didn’t talk about before as I wipe away the tears
that this always brings!

devildog6771

 mikecpd

 “Don’t Heaven Sound Like a Beautiful Place”

[I wrote this poem in memory of my nephew who was killed in Kuwait on March 5, 2004. I also wrote it to honor all our troops on this Memorial Day.]

As he looks across the huge field below,
off to the right he sees a bright rainbow;
Days of rain have washed clean the air,
and fed the grass and flowers growing there.

He gazes at row upon row of granite crosses,
a constant reminder of war’s tragic losses;
in perfect alignment they stand in formation,
brave soldiers who once guarded our nation;

As they rest here peacefully in this holy place,
He hangs his head at the shame and disgrace;
They gave their lives in defense a nation,
that now stands divided by political oration;

Then he reflects on that day in September,
The Twin Towers in New York a burning ember;
The Pentagon in Washington partially ablaze,
A plane crash in Pennsylvania saw panic for days;

On that day of tragedy and foreign invasion,
he reviewed his options and rose to the occasion,
All across America young men and women stood,
All took the oath because they felt they should;

He knew he didn’t have to join up but he did;
He felt God spoke to him and did as He bid;
Tall and proud he told his little girls goodbye,
With hugs and kisses he left with head held high;

Promise me you’ll look after my girls he said,
Tell them I love them when they go to bed;
Make sure they know Daddy didn’t want to go,
But, under the circumstances I couldn’t say no;

Remind them of the promise I made to them,
I’ll be ok and return home but don’t know when;
To say their prayers and think of me often,
He didn’t know that he’d return home in a coffin;

He wasn’t killed by a terrorist bullet or deed,
instead his fellow companion failed to heed;
in a moment of carelessness a man lost his life,
and a moments panic and fear caused great strife;

He looked at the names in this sacred place,
He read each one to himself and saw a face;
Not here in this field where he could never lay,
But in the house of his Father every day;

Though he did not die on any field of combat,
He did die serving his country, you can believe that;
Though he wanted to be with his girls and friends,
He would still have made that same decision again;

After a few more moments of silent reflection,
he forgave the circumstances of his situation;
As he did this he heard the heavenly choir sing,
That was when he knew he had done the right thing;

And as he rose to heaven with a flutter of wing,
I heard him sing,

“*Doesn’t Heaven sound like a beautiful place?
And I’m ready for the day I see his face.
Won’t be no guns.
won’t be no knives.
Hear the best preaching that
you ever heard in your lives.”
[*by: PO2 Michael J. Gray, killed in Kuwait, March 5,2004]

mike_web

devildog6771

Mike wrote the closing words of my poem to him in a rap he wrote for his Church. Mike was a very religious man. He never had an unkind word for anyone. Often his prisoners remarked on the dignity and respect he showed them. Once he was asked about his shinry boots. He told his friend his mom wore combat boots and she showed him how to do a real “spit shine!”

young_mike 

Rest in peace Mike. I love you. We all love you. We miss you!

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~ by devildog6771 on August 25, 2006.

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