Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Tragic Case

[posted by Callimachus]

Some of you have probably seen the bitter, angry letter cited here, from a woman obviously in anguish over the loss of her husband in Iraq. The plight she describes is dire; she and her unborn child need help and support.

What's puzzling is that so many have reprinted the letter, but I have not seen anyone try to reach out and help this woman. The letter is unsigned, and apparently it was first posted at a generic online message board (not a blog). Her desire to speak anonymously is understandable, but in a cry of pain like this, it behooves a concerned people to discover the author and do what we can do to ease her burden.

Fortunately, she leaves enough clues in her letter that she ought to be identifiable. She says she's a Marine who left the service six months previous when she got pregnant. The letter is dated April 10, 2007, and in it she writes that "three days ago" she learned her husband, also a Marine, and a veteran of several tours of Iraq, was killed there.

America has lost a great many men in Iraq, but not an infinite number, and the casualties are documented. The very thorough Iraq Coalition Casualty Count Web site lists five Marine deaths in the period March 17 to April 2:

03/17/07 Timberman, Harry H. 2nd BN, 7th Marine Reg, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force Twentynine Palms, CA

03/21/07 Lee, Dustin Jerome Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga. Albany, GA

03/22/07 Bogrette, Henry W. Combat Logistics Battalion 6, 2nd Marine Corps Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force Camp Lejeune, NC

04/01/07 Marcial III, Miguel A. 1st BN, 2nd Marine Reg, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force Camp Lejeune, NC

04/02/07 Olsen, Daniel R. 2nd BN, 7th Marine Reg, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force

It also lists two deaths from the Marine Reserves in that period:

03/24/07 Roberts, Trevor A. 2nd BN, 14th Marine Reg, 4th Marine Division Oklahoma City, OK

03/27/07 Golczynski, Marcus A. 3rd BN, 24th Marine Reg, 4th Marine Division Nashville, TN

Apparently it is the goal of the military to notify next-of-kin of a death within 24 hours, at least in the Army. But confirmation of a battle death may take longer than that, and the 24-hour goal may not always be met. So, since none of the casualties fit both the time frame given by the letter-writer and the 24-hour notification procedure, obviously the death was one that is on the official records before April 7. Unless the death has been entirely unreported, but I think the letter writer would have made a point of that if it were so.

Yet according to the information in their obituaries or tributes, Timberman, Lee, Bogrette, Marcial, Olsen, and Roberts do not appear to have been married. Also, most of them were serving their first tours of Iraq. Please take the time to read their stories, and imagine the lives they would have lived, and give thanks or prayers for them.

Golczynski fits the letter-writer's description best. He was married and a father, and he was due home only weeks from the date he died. Yet the description of his memorial service does not seem to fit the letter-writer:

As Lt. Col. Ric Thompson presented 8-year-old Christian Golczynski the flag from his father's casket as tears flowed freely from the mourners. Golczynski was honored with a Purple Heart during the service.

"My Marc made the sacrifice for my freedom,'' said Golczynski's wife, Heather Southward Golczynski. "That is a debt I won't ever be able to repay.

"I find comfort from looking at Christian and seeing Marc reflected,'' she said.

In a later article, published May 13, the wife does not seem to have taken on the tone of the anonymous Internet letter.

His son was 8, and his wife makes no mention of being pregnant. Take time to read his story, too, and to see the poignant picture of his brave boy. It will touch your heart as much as the anonymous letter perhaps does.

So I'm stumped. I want to find a way to help this woman in her pain, but I have been unable to discover who she is. I am not an expert at this sort of thing, and I might have overlooked something obvious. The search has led to other lives of the lost, however, and perhaps the best way to help her is to do justice to them, their memories and their families, and to carry on the commitments they no longer can fulfill.

But if anyone has any more information about this tragic case, please pass it along.