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Archives: 2010

Dec.
30th

Family of fallen soldier warmed by letters, stung by politicians

The parents of a Yelm soldier killed in Afghanistan earlier this month have received cards from friends and strangers expressing condolences, and they’re grateful for the support.

“As a father of someone killed, it is overwhelming,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Collins (Ret.). His son, Sgt. Sean Collins, was buried Wednesday at the Tahoma National Cemetery.

Among that outpouring of empathy, two politicians inadvertently stung the family.

One slight came in a letter of condolences the family received from the office of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

At first, the Collins family appreciated that Cantwell had taken the time to send a

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Dec.
29th

Stars and Stripes calls Lewis-McChord the nation’s “most troubled base”

Stars and Stripes‘ list of its top stories in 2010 says Joint Base Lewis-McChord “developed a reputation as the most troubled base in the military,” citing several scandals that people affiliated with Lewis-McChord view as isolated events.

It’s an ignominious spot built on allegations that five soldiers from the base murdered civilians during their deployment to Afghanistan with the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. They’re awaiting trials at Lewis-McChord.

Stars and Stripes also looked to reports that steroid use is increasing, Oregon National Guard soldiers did not receive appropriate care at Madigan

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Dec.
28th

Fallen soldier from Yelm “raised the morale” of his platoon

Sgt. Sean M. Collins of Yelm “raised the morale” of his fellow soldiers and “always picked up on the small details that the rest of the platoon missed,” two of his officers said at a ceremony in Afghanistan honoring him and other fallen soldiers five days after their Dec. 12 deaths in a suicide attack on a small outpost in Kandahar Province.

Five others in his company died with him. Collins, 25, is to be buried tomorrow at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent.

Gen. David Petraeus, commander of joint forces in Afghanistan, attended the Dec. 17 ceremony where Collins’ company

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Dec.
27th

Silver Star recipient from Gig Harbor tells Army “expect the unexpected”

The News Tribune on Sunday printed this account of Gig Harbor’s Spc. Nicholas Robinson earning a Silver Star for holding off a May attack at a joint base in Orgun, Afghanistan.

The Army produced another video report of the sun-burned soldier receiving his honor last week from Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey. It’s available here, and it includes a short interview with Robinson.

“Never expected it. Never thought it would happen to me, and it did. Expect the unexpected,” he told the Army interviewer about the attack, where he held off a well-coordinated attack

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Dec.
27th

Funeral services set for Yelm soldier killed in Afghanistan

Cpl. Sean M. Collins of Yelm is to be buried Wednesday with a military funeral at Tahoma National Cemetery.

Collins, 25, died Dec. 12 in an attack at the combat outpost in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province, where he served with the 101st Airborne Division. His division, based in Fort Campbell, Ky., has lost 104 soldiers during its deployment.

His father, Lt. Col. Patrick Collins (Ret.), said a Mass will take place at St. Columban Catholic Church, 506 1st St., Yelm. The funeral is to follow about 2:30 p.m. at the cemetery, 18600 S.E. 240th St.,

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Dec.
27th

Alleged “kill team” leader should face one fewer murder charge, officer recommends

An investigating officer has recommended that the Army drop one of its three murder charges against Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, The Seattle Times reported today.

Col. Thomas Molloy’s recommendation is not binding, and Gibbs still could go to trial for three murder charges if the commanding general at Joint Base Lewis-McChord finds there’s enough evidence to forward the charges to a general court martial.

Molloy reportedly found that the Army didn’t have enough evidence to put  Gibbs on trial for murdering an Afghan man on a January patrol. Gibbs of Billings, Mont., allegedly provided a grenade to Spc.

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Dec.
22nd

Attorney argues for release of photos showing slain Afghan

Lawyers representing a Stryker soldier accused of murdering an Afghan civilian on Wednesday pressed their case that the Army is denying him a fair hearing by withholding images of the man he allegedly killed.

Proceedings against Pfc. Andrew Holmes of Boise, Idaho, are on hold while the Army Court of Criminal Appeals considers whether the government should disclose the photos to his attorneys.

Dan Conway, Holmes’ attorney, submitted a brief to the court Wednesday that criticized the Army for concealing photos that could demonstrate whether Holmes was responsible for the Afghan’s death. He’s now awaiting a decision from the appeals

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Dec.
22nd

I Corps at JBLM keeps Pacific commitments but turns focus to Afghanistan

The Army I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is scaling back its plans to spend the next year strengthening ties with Pacific allies and instead focus on its upcoming assignment in Afghanistan.

Soldiers from the corps are still committed to participating in annual exercises with the Japanese military next month, but Lewis-McChord will send a smaller contingent than it had originally planned, I Corps spokeswoman Maj. Kathleen Turner said.

Those drills, called Yama Sakura, ranked highly among Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti’s priorities when he took command of the corps in October. He flew to Japan to meet one

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