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Archive for November, 2010

Jeffrey Curtis Holmes, Contractor, dies in Afghanistan

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 30, 2010

JEFFREY CURTIS HOLMES of Houston, Texas passed away November 21, 2010 at age 50. Jeffrey was born October 21, 1960 in Los Angeles, California.
Jeffrey leaves behind his son Micheal and wife Lacey Mears or Dubuque, Iowa, his Daughter Cynthia and husband Matthew Ball of Pasadena, Tx, son Jared Holmes of Houston, Tx and daughter Grace Holmes and Niece Laura Welch of Jersey Village.
Jeff is also survived by his mother Marie Holmes of Houston and his father Johnny Holmes of Barbers Hill, Tx, his brother Howard Holmes, his brother James and wife Cicely Holmes of Seabrook, Tx, his sister Yvonne and husband David Higgins of Webster, Tx and brother John and wife Heather Holmes of Austin, Tx, as well as grandchildren Hailey and Lyric Ball of Pasadena, Tx along with numerous nieces and nephews.
Jeffrey went by many names, some called him Jeff, others called him Red Rider, but the two that he cherished the most were Dad and Grandpa! Jeff lived an amazing life full of lots of traveling around the world.
He told stories of his travels to Hawaii and befriending the King and Queen, whom he called Mamma Loa. He told stories of traveling to Washington state on a freight train and staying in the mountains with the Rainbow Gathering.
Jeff had traveled to Iraq, but most recently to Afghanistan where he was currently residing.
While in Afghanistan he was working as a general contractor, but Afghanistan was not the only place he shared his gift of construction.
A few of the places he worked as a master contractor were Texas, Hawaii, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Jeff went all over the world building and helping people in any way he could.
During Jeff’s life he walked many paths and along the way he always made lifelong friends as he did while serving as a member of the motorcycle club The Righteous Brothers.
Jeff leaves behind many who loved him dearly and would believe his honesty and integrity to be above reproach. Jeff’s honesty and point of view was in a way his trademark and he will be very deeply missed. Thank you God for giving us every moment that we had with him for he has touched and changed us all forever. 

Funeral services will be November 27, 2010, 10:00 AM at The Grand View Funeral Home, 8501 Spencer Highway, Pasadena, TX.

Posted in Contractor Casualties and Missing | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

500 hidden victims of terror war

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 29, 2010

New probe into MoD’s contractors

The Ministry of Defence has suffered twice as many deaths in the war against terror than have previously been reported.

There have officially been 524 deaths of troops and civilians working for the MoD in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts since 9/11 in 2001. But a shocking report will claim there have also been more than 500 unreported deaths – all civilian contractors paid for by the MoD.

Last night a top British military source said: “It is terribly sad so many civilians have been killed while working for the MoD and they should be remembered.

“Most were foreign workers but contracted by the MoD nevertheless, and part of the budgeted force level in both war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Even though they are largely Afghan, Indian and Iraqi, they were employed by the MoD and counted as part of the UK military force in both countries.

And these figures do not count the hundreds of ex-military Brits killed while working in the private security sector in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the case of Afghanistan many work for a company called Supreme, which supplies food and fuel and bills itself as providing “global service solutions”.

But Supreme, according to a military source, are actually contracted by the MoD. Our source added: “Whether they are employed by the MoD or sub-contracted by Supreme is semantics. The MoD is paying them and their deaths should be recorded in public.”

The report, by Andrew Higginson for think-tank the Royal United Services Institute, discusses the number of personnel deployed to the Afghanistan war zone – Operation Herrick, and Iraq – Operation Telic.

It says: “The force level for Operation Herrick in the area of operations is in the region of 10,000 military personnel. “And there are also 6,500 contracted personnel, making a total of 16,500. Analysis by the author for the Aerospace, Defence and Security Trade Association shows that 500 contracted employees on MoD contracts on Operations Telic and Herrick have been killed since 2003.”

The MoD said last night: “Providing support to international military operations is an inherently risky business and sadly one that can lead to the loss of life.

“This is vital work and requires a range of professionals both internationally and locally employed to deliver. As part of the contracting process, interested companies are aware of the risks involved in delivering on contracts in hostile environments.”  Please read the original article here

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, UK Contractor killed | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Sun Life Exploits Family of Contractor Killed in Afghanistan

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 23, 2010

Sun Life Loses Bid to Dismiss Benefit Account Lawsuit

By Tom Schoenberg at Bloomberg Businessweek

(Updates with excerpt of judge’s order in third paragraph.)

Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) — Sun Life Financial Inc. lost a bid to dismiss a lawsuit claiming the insurer used the untapped death benefit of a contractor who died in Afghanistan for its own profit rather than to maximize the payout for his family.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner in Boston ruled Nov. 18 that Thomas Luitgaren, the contractor’s brother, made a plausible claim against Sun Life. His suit contends the insurer paid the family a low, fixed rate of interest from a so-called financial benefit account while investing the proceeds of his brother Michael’s policy in higher-yielding securities.

“If the financial benefit accounts were plan funds, and Luitgaren was entitled to have those funds managed for his exclusive benefit, then he may argue he is still entitled to the amount that Sun Life made from his assets over and above the interest paid him,” Gertner wrote in her order.

Sun Life, based in Toronto, argued that once it paid funds into Luitgaren’s financial benefit account it no longer had a fiduciary duty to him so the suit should be dismissed.

The life insurance plan Michael Luitgaren participated in was offered through his company, Perini Corp., based in Framingham, Massachusetts. The beneficiaries of the policies under the plan had the option of taking the death benefit in a lump sum or leaving it in the financial benefit accounts.

Luitgaren’s lawyer, Stuart Rossman of the Boston-based National Consumer Law Center, said in a telephone interview that Sun Life violated its duties under the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act.

A Sun Life spokesman, Alexi Maravel, said by e-mail, “We believe the case is without merit and we will continue to defend ourselves vigorously.”

The case is Luitgaren v. Sun Life Insurance Company of Canada, 09-cv-11410, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

–Editors: Fred Strasser, Peter Blumberg

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Follow the Money | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Turkey Shoot: Spy Kids and Private Dicks

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 23, 2010

In keeping with the spirit of the season we’d like to do a rerun of this post from Workmans Comp Insider

“the next time he is asked to don camouflage, he just might want to take a pass”

Turkey Shoot

William Wehnke, 51, claims to have spotted a wild turkey in his field in rural Annsville, New York (population 3,000). He took aim and fired at the turkey and managed to hit Matthew Brady, a workers comp investigator, who happened to be crouching in the field, dressed in camouflage. Brady was apparently performing surveillance on Wehnke, who is collecting workers comp benefits for an unspecified injury. Whatever his disability, Wehnke is obviously capable of operating a shotgun.

Local authorities are not buying Wehnke’s story about the turkey. He’s been arraigned on a three-count grand jury indictment that includes felony second-degree assault and unlawful manner of taking. He is even charged with using inappropriate ammunition for hunting turkeys. Wehnke is in a lot of trouble for his little turkey shoot.

Investigator Brady was hit in the side, back and legs. He underwent surgery and presumably filed his own workers comp claim for what is surely a work-related – if highly unusual – disability.

Images – Lasting and Otherwise
I could not help but think of the other Mathew (sic) Brady, the 19th century photographer whose iconic images of the Civil War still resonate with us. As pathetic as investigator Brady’s situation is, his earlier namesake fared even worse. After the Civil War, Mathew Brady found that war-weary Americans had little interest in purchasing photographs of the bloody conflict. Having risked his fortune on his Civil War enterprise, Brady lost the gamble and fell into bankruptcy. His negatives were neglected until 1875, when Congress purchased the entire archive for $25,000, which might sound like a lot, but was not even enough to cover Brady’s debts. He died in 1896, penniless and unappreciated. In his final years, Brady said, “No one will ever know what I went through to secure those negatives. The world can never appreciate it. It changed the whole course of my life.”

The world may ultimately take little note of the suffering of the other Matthew Brady, wounded as he crouched in that desolate Annsville field. His life, too, has been significantly changed. But he at least will benefit from the wonders of modern medicine and the cushion of weekly indemnity, until he once again pursues his craft as a comp investigator. But the next time he is asked to don camouflage, he just might want to take a pass.

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, spykids | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Eric Sandoval, Former Marine, military contractor dies suddenly at home in Covina

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 20, 2010

SGV Tribune

COVINA – After multiple tours of duty as a scout sniper and a stint as a contractor in war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan, a former Marine died unexpectedly at home last week.

Eric Sandoval, 30, of Covina had come home from the Middle East in October to help his wife, who had knee surgery, according to a family friend. After a week of head aches and neck pain, Sandoval died suddenly November 12.

He had been working for contractor MVM Inc. in Iraq.

“It was such a shock,” said sister-in-law Jamie York. “Nothing raised a red flag to anybody.”

The cause of Sandoval’s death is being investigated by L.A. County coroner’s office, York said, and the family is wondering if it’s a result of possible brain injury from a bomb blast he survived while a serving as a soldier.

Friends and family described Sandoval as family-oriented, smart, hard-working and loving.

“He was like a father to so many people,” said Nancy Muniz, a family friend. “He took a parental role for his family.”

Sandoval’s wife Sandy said in an email he helped people less fortunate by doing things, such as building homes in Guam.

“Perhaps his biggest gift was the ability to bring family and friends together. Having him home meant barbecues, family, and many laughs,” she wrote.

Sandoval graduated early from Pomona High School and enlisted in the Marine Corps at 17, his family said.

He also earned a degree in accounting and a Master’s degree in business administration, Muniz said.

“He was like an onion – he was so multidimensional,” York said. “His laugh could make anyone smile.”

Sandoval is survived by his wife, Sandy, his 6-year-old son Isaiah, and siblings Robert, Danny, Gabby, Alejandra, Jonathan and Steven.

A viewing and rosary from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday and funeral services at 9 a.m. on Monday at Forest Lawn in Covina.

Posted in Contractor Casualties and Missing, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »


Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 11, 2010

posted by Michael Leon at Veterans Today The 2010 National Veterans Day poster is available for download via the Veterans Day Web site.

The poster was designed by Ron Bergan, of the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System. The Veterans Day National Committee selected his design from more than 40 submissions as part of a national poster search. Bergan’s poster was inspired by a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

“It [the Wall] was functional, beautiful, and simple and I could not comprehend all the names that were on it,” Bergan said.

The same might be said of his poster, which depicts a listing of U.S. military campaigns above a draped U.S. Flag. In addition to VA facilities, the poster is distributed to federal buildings, military installations and regional Veterans Day events. It will also grace the cover of the program booklets distributed at Arlington National Cemetery on November 11.   Veterans Today


Posted in Civilian Contractors, Veterans Affairs | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Departing for Home One Final Time

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 9, 2010

Sometimes civilian contractors die in accidents, have heart attacks or are killed by enemy fire. I guess it didn’t matter. In the eerie green light of the darkened aircraft sitting on my web seating, I glanced back to see the glow off the stainless steel “transfer case” and wondered who back home was at this moment trying to cope as they were notified of their loss, tears streaming with cries of anguish desperately hoping, praying that it is somehow a mistake. In my thoughts, it no longer mattered if “HR” was a civilian or Soldier. Death had come to whoever was lying before us in that C-130.

Thanks to Col. Lance Kittelson at My Army Reserve blog

There was no fidgeting, no complaining at the delay in the flight, just Americans standing in silent respect, civilians with hands over their hearts, Soldiers at attention. They stood silently, not for HR, but for a human being, a fellow American, a child of God who had departed this world all too soon in wartime, and whose remains were now about to depart for home one final time.

In our unit’s flight from Kuwait to Iraq a few months ago in the worst of the desert’s summer heat, we filed into the back of a C-130, crammed cheek to jowl along with a couple pallets of cargo. The sweltering aircraft opens up in the rear of the airframe for cargo, which means that the heat floods inside. That day in June it was nearly 125 degrees, and with the addition of the four engines whining away and spewing forth heated drafts of Kuwaiti air, it was much hotter inside. Needless to say, it was pretty close to miserable, but then again that is what the Army, I believe, exist to do and do very well: teach people to live with and thrive in tough conditions. Now months later, I was headed back to Kuwait to visit some of our troops, and that called for a nighttime flight. Same aircraft, same conditions, only this time it was much more bearable temperature-wise. Plus, there was a somewhat different clientele on board.

There was one passenger. I didn’t know the name by anything other than “HR.” The civilian loading us on the plane said, as we loaded our bags and donned our helmets and protective “Improved Outer Tactical Vests” (“Flak Vest” in Old Vietnam parlance), that anyone who was uncomfortable with HR aboard the aircraft could request to fly on another plane. No one did, as they had waited long enough for a flight out and knew the uncertainty of the military transport system.

Someone asked the inevitable question: “What is HR?” As a Chaplain, I had it figured out, but many didn’t. “HR,” he replied, “means ‘Human Remains.'” We were flying with a casket aboard. As a pastor, I’ve seen a lot of death and a multitude of caskets. I’ve ridden in too many hearses to count on the way to the cemetery. But this time was unique. I didn’t know if it was a Soldier or not.

Sometimes civilian contractors die in accidents, have heart attacks or are killed by enemy fire. I guess it didn’t matter. In the eerie green light of the darkened aircraft sitting on my web seating, I glanced back to see the glow off the stainless steel “transfer case” and wondered who back home was at this moment trying to cope as they were notified of their loss, tears streaming with cries of anguish desperately hoping, praying that it is somehow a mistake. In my thoughts, it no longer mattered if “HR” was a civilian or Soldier. Death had come to whoever was lying before us in that C-130.

Because of the HR, we didn’t land at our final destination. We first stopped at the Kuwait City Airport where the casket would be transferred to the military mortuary affairs personnel for processing on their final flight across the oceans to home. An American flag hung from the ceiling of the aircraft as everyone, civilian and Soldier alike, were asked by the crew to file off the aircraft and form an honor guard for movement to the awaiting cargo truck set to receive the body.

In the 3:30 a.m. darkness of the runway parking ramp, a young Airman called everyone to attention as six Airmen and Soldiers lifted the casket and moved from the C-130 to the truck. There was no fidgeting, no complaining at the delay in the flight, just Americans standing in silent respect, civilians with hands over their hearts, Soldiers at attention. They stood silently, not for HR, but for a human being, a fellow American, a child of God who had departed this world all too soon in wartime, and whose remains were now about to depart for home one final time.

If there is a lesson in that early morning flight, it is in the dignity and respect those young troops showed for the HR, that this was no mere “job” for them. These are Americans, and no matter who they were in life or where they were from in death, they would be treated with the greatest and utmost respect as the fallen deserve. Strangely, that is a comfort for Soldiers, knowing that if their time comes, “No Soldier will be left behind,” as one of the most important core values of the Army states— that somehow, in some way, sometime, someone will see that they get home one last time.

May God bless that flight crew in that early morning, those young mortuary affairs troops doing a hard, solemn job with the greatest of dignity and respect, and those Soldiers and civilians who stood at attention in the early morning darkness to render the respect of Americans for an American ‘HR’ whose name is known to God and a grieving family back home.

Please see the original at My Army Reserve

Col. Lance Kittelson is the Chaplain for the Army Reserve’s 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC). Currently, many of the Soldiers from the 103rd are deployed in support Operation Iraqi Freedom across Iraq. The 103rd is comprised of almost 75 units and has command and control of more than 6,000 Army Reserve Soldiers.

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WARNING to DBA claimants/ injured civilian contractors in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama:

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 9, 2010

AIG (via the taxpayer) is paying this firm to spy on you for days on end, and what’s worse is they guarantee “well over a 90% video success rate on all files … Unheard of in the industry.”
In other words over 90% of us are lying about our injuries, or they either grossly exaggerate and/or photoshop and manipulate the video surveillance which is a far more likely scenario.

Private Dick

Your Claims Defense Specialist !!

Alliance Investigations,
P. O. Box 1451, Bainbridge, Georgia 39818
Telephone – (229) 400-0841 Fax – (229) 246-7229 Contact: Darrell D. Cox (President)
It’s surely just a matter of time before someone gets hurt in the ongoing despicable practice of stalking and filming DBA claimants, many of whom suffer from PTSD, TBI and other war-related trauma known to significantly reduce impulse control. The fact that two insurance whores now team up to spy on claimants at any given time is just making matters worse.
The latest culprits making their living by spying on injured contractors for AIG are S.R. Stone and M.A. Wheatley presumably of Bainbridge, GA. If anyone can dig up mug shots please send to us asap.
Case No.: 2009-LDA-00055
S.R. Stone testified that he is a private investigator for Alliance Investigations performed video surveillance of the Claimant from 4:37 PM, September 24, 2008 through September 27, 2008.
He identified EX 23 as an accurate report of his activities during his surveillance of the Claimant as well as containing the previous surveillance attributable to his associate Mr. Weatley. Mr. Stone testified that he was working another case when he was called on September 24, 2008, and assigned to assist Mr. Wheatley in the surveillance of the Claimant.
On re-cross examination, Mr. Stone testified that at some points in time he was five to ten feet away from the Claimant while the Claimant operated the motorcycle and sometimes he used the zoom-lens on the camera.
Testimony of M.A. Wheatley (TR 35-46)
Mr. M.A. Wheatley testified that he is a self-employed licensed private investigator and has been an investigator since May 1995. He is licensed in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. He reported that he conducted surveillance of the Claimant for a day and a half on September 23 and 24, 2008.
He stated that the portion of EX 23 from 2:07 to 5:14 PM, September 24, 2008,
reflected the observation he and Mr. Stone made since they were both observing the same
activity together at that time.
NOTE to the computer-savy among us, the software they use is Trackops.

Alliance Investigations is a specialized investigative agency, specifically focused on the needs and demands of the insurance industry. We provide services to clients in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Alabama and operate on an old-fashioned philosophy whereby success is achieved through quality work, honesty and an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction. In addition to our commitment to quality, our clients also receive an industry-exclusive product quality guarantee for surveillance investigations.

(Are they guaranteeing to produce positive results for the insurance company whether they exist or not?)
Quality Assurance Policy
On any 2-day surveillance budget in which we fail to obtain documentation of your CLAIMANT, we will continue with additional surveillance at no cost to your office. How do we do it? Our Investigators are without peers. Simply put, we can afford to guarantee you results on your Worker’s Compensation or Liability claims investigations because our field Investigators are just that good.
As an adjuster or defense attorney, you’ve heard that phrase, said it yourself many times and by now, probably believe it to be true.
While other companies may take that slogan to heart, we at Alliance Investigations make it our mission to limit the misses and amplify the hits.
AND we have become quite good at it. In fact, as a company we maintain well over a 90% video success rate on all files … Unheard of in the industry.

Posted in AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Injured Contractors, PTSD and TBI, spykids | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »


Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 8, 2010

From Death Valley Magazine by James G posted November 8

The following Facebook Group “Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order” is an Islamic Jihadist terrorist organization using Facebook to target Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They are using Facebook to gather Intel on Contractors and their Families – including location [CONUS and OCONUS] and movement Intel.

Below is the Facebook page for their Facebook Group:

Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order

I have received dozens of emails about this from my buddies in Iraq and Afghanistan warning me of this group. Please remember to maintain OPSEC and check your privacy settings on your Facebook Page. For people like myself who are pretty public already there is not much I can do, but for everyone else lock down your Facebook profile and be aware of whose friend requests you accept.

If you are a contractor like I am one of the easiest things you can do is blur out your face on any pictures you post. And for fucks sake do not have your email, state where you live, phone number or any other identifying info visible to anyone including your friends.

Please see Norm W.’s Article on Facebook Privacy 101 for more detailed information on how to secure your Facebook Profile

Facebook Privacy 101

Additional Intel on Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order:

Name: Army Men Naqshbandi
Category: Organizations – Religious Organizations
Description: In the name of God the Merciful

(We shall test you until We, and the patient ll tell)

Surah Muhammad verse: 31

Our jihad

Praise be to God, prayer and peace upon our beloved Muhammad and his family and companions and allies

1 – we started in our blessed jihad in terms of the fact that a legitimate jihad of religious duties, a duty and even the imposition of time applicant for the Iraqis after Jeict the forces of infidelity and was able to armies under the known circumstances of the occupation of Iraq (and the command of Allah dictated by fate).

2 – the goal of our jihad infidel occupier (individuals and machinery and equipment and equipment) wherever it is found on the land of Iraq at any time.

3 – we did not target any of the Iraqis of different nationalities, religions and denominations has blood on our hands the blood of any Iraqi would not be as well that God is only present himself before the Jund al-Suh disbelief in the battle for the assault on the Iraqis and protects the chest was master infidel.

4 – Do not disbelieve any of the Muslim people of the Qiblah (the people is no god but Allah) except in accordance with the legitimate parameters (outright disbelief) and the consensus of the Muslims and not the suspicions and prejudices, and wherein they differ.

5 – does not and will not Ntqata with any of the jihadist factions unlocked but sincere cooperation and cooperate with many of them as long as all the guns went to the issuance of long-standing enemies and these factions parameters of legitimacy and the national agenda.

6 – Thanks to God we relied on our own capabilities and our personal insurance requirements of the work jihadist since the days of jihad First, we still, in addition to what can be obtained from the support of Muslims and true believers did not extend our hands to any source of financial support suspicious or conditional terms inconsistent with our established legal and national, although the internal arena and filled with such external sources.

7 – adopt the principle of confidentiality and secrecy, one of the years the beloved prophet (peace be upon him) in the planning and implementation of jihad operations with documented in writing and a figurehead since the days of Jihad, the first in 2003 and has not announce it, which led to the adoption of some factions, some of our jihadist quality with a view to a project or not project because of its echo in the arena of jihad.

8 – may not be dealing with the occupier, whether the job or buy or sell, directly or indirectly, to the fact that it falls under the subsidy infidel occupier and improve its image in the eyes of the ugly people.

9 – not to engage in a game the political process because it is invalid by law and under the occupation may not be any dialogue or meeting or appease or negotiate with the occupier only by the Sultan of the legitimate or authorized.

10 – We will fight for the unity of Iraqi land and people to preserve the Arab and Islamic identity and we will be on the lookout for projects division under various names, both federal malicious or other labels failing.

11 – We will fight until the last inch of the land of Iraq and return to his family and Omteh Arab and Islamic countries have promised God and His Messenger, and promise all true believers and all honest we will not take up arms will not stop our jihad until the blessed God recognizing us in one of two goals: victory or martyrdom.

12 – older students minimum transient and do not seek positions of false and ephemeral and chairs when recognizing us victory by God, and the expulsion of the occupiers and requires the interest of religion and our homeland, we want a legitimate policy (according to the legitimate parameters) do not want a political law.

The last prayer is praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and blessings of Allah and peace upon His slave and lover and Mustafah Muhammad and his family and his companions

Council Operations Command

Army Men Naqshbandi (read less)

Posted in Civilian Contractors | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Herb Samme of Spread Eagle delivers supplies to U.S. troops after son Eric Palmisano dies in Iraq

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 7, 2010

“It feels good — it really does,” he said. “He’s with me every step of the way.”

Just two months into his tour of duty in Iraq, Eric Palmisano died in a tragic accident in 2006.

The Green Bay Press Gazette

The 27-year-old Wisconsin man’s dream of serving his country would have gone unfulfilled if not for one thing: His father would not allow that to happen.

Taking extraordinary steps to complete his son’s final mission, Palmisano’s father, Herb Samme, has accepted a job with a military contractor in Iraq and is working in the same war zone where his son died.

Samme even is performing the same hazardous duty as his fallen son: delivering supplies to U.S. military bases.

“My whole idea was to finish off his deployment, to finish off his mission,” Samme said in a telephone interview from Iraq. “It means that, in one way or another, he accomplished what he set out to do.”

The gesture stunned family members and others close to Samme, a 59-year-old truck driver who lives in Florence County and has no previous military experience.

Victor Singleton, a friend who has been in the U.S. Marine Corps for 20 years, said he had not heard of a parent going to such lengths to pay respects to a child lost in military conflict.

“That demonstrates a lot of courage and extreme patriotism,” Singleton said. “I’ve never seen anything like it whatsoever.”

Before he knew Herb and Bobbie Samme as friends, Singleton was the Green Bay-based Marine Corps casualty officer assigned to deliver horrible news to their home in Spread Eagle, about two hours north of Green Bay.

On April 2, 2006, the couple’s Marine lance corporal son drowned after his truck overturned in floodwaters during an Iraqi supply mission. Searchers did not find his body for nine days.

Losing Eric

Eric Palmisano was one of five children for the Sammes, who married when Eric was a teenager. His biological father had died years earlier, so Palmisano forged a close bond with the man he came to regard as his father.

On the news that Eric was missing in action, Herb Samme asked the Marine Corps if he could go to Iraq and join the search party. The military said no.

Shortly after Eric’s funeral, the family received a sympathy card from KBR Inc., a Texas-based trucking firm. The company is contracted by the U.S. military to service troops in Iraq, and had occasionally worked in partnership with Eric’s unit on supply missions.

That was when a light went off in Samme’s head: If he could get a job with KBR, maybe he could work in Iraq as a civilian and get close to where his son lived and died.

“I wanted to walk a mile in his shoes,” he said.

So the gray-haired father gave up his job hauling plywood to Chicago and applied for a position with KBR.

Samme wanted to reach Iraq by April 2 — the four-year anniversary of Eric’s death. He arrived March 20 to begin a one-year assignment as a civilian military contractor.

Bobbie Samme said she and other family members initially were opposed to the idea, because of the danger involved. But she soon realized that her husband was still grieving Eric’s loss and that he needed to go to Iraq to find closure.

“I couldn’t be more proud of him,” she said.

A family duty

The Sammes also honor their son’s memory by organizing personal supply shipments to U.S. soldiers overseas under the name Palmisano Care Package Project.

In his new position with KBR, Herb joins about 35,000 employees working in Iraq and Afghanistan on the firm’s contract to keep U.S. troops supplied with fuel, water, food and other basics.

“KBR could not provide these services, which allow troops to focus on their combat mission, without committed employees such as Herb Samme,” company spokeswoman Heather Browne said in an e-mail.

Although confidentiality rules prohibit Samme from discussing details of his work, he said his truck-driving job has involved some close brushes with combat action. But he also has achieved the desired sense of picking up where Eric left off.

The father has visited his son’s old barracks. He has talked with people who knew Eric. And he has hauled supplies along some of the same routes that Eric drove.

The experience leaves Samme feeling that he has reconnected with his son one last time.

“It feels good — it really does,” he said. “He’s with me every step of the way.

Please see the original story and leave comments here

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Iraq | Leave a Comment »

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