Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Staff Sgt David Senft, Symptoms Ignored, dies from “injuries sustained in a noncombat related incident”

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 2, 2011

Several Warnings, Then a Soldier’s Lonely Death

With Sergeant Senft, the warning signs were blaring.

Staff Sgt David Senft Memorial Information

Evidence suggests that Sargeant Senft committed suicide.

By James Risen at The New York Times

WASHINGTON — A gentle snow fell on the funeral of Staff Sgt. David Senft at Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 16, when his bitterly divided California family came together to say goodbye. His 5-year-old son received a flag from a grateful nation.

But that brief moment of peace could not hide the fact that for his family and friends and the soldiers who had served with him in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, too many unanswered questions remained about Sergeant Senft’s lonely death in a parked sport utility vehicle on an American air base in Afghanistan, and about whether the Army could have done more to prevent it.

Officially, the Army says only that Sergeant Senft, 27, a crew chief on a Black Hawk helicopter in the 101st Airborne Division’s aviation brigade, was killed as a result of “injuries sustained in a noncombat related incident” at Kandahar Air Base on Nov. 15. No specific cause of death has been announced. Army officials say three separate inquiries into the death are under way.

But his father, also named David Senft, an electrician from Grass Valley, Calif., who had worked in Afghanistan for a military contractor, is convinced that his son committed suicide, as are many of his friends and family members and the soldiers who served with him.

The evidence appears overwhelming. An investigator for the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division, which has been looking into the death, has told Sergeant Senft’s father by e-mail that his son was found dead with a single bullet hole in his head, a stolen M-4 automatic weapon in his hands and his body slumped over in the S.U.V., which was parked outside the air base’s ammunition supply point. By his side was his cellphone, displaying a text message with no time or date stamp, saying only, “I don’t know what to say, I’m sorry.” (Mr. Senft shared the e-mails from the C.I.D. investigator with The New York Times.)

With Sergeant Senft, the warning signs were blaring.

Please read the entire story here

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