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Archives: Aug. 2011


Memorial service set for Tacoma soldier killed in Afghanistan helicopter attack
















The Army aviator from Tacoma who was killed in Afghanistan earlier this month will be remembered Tuesday at a memorial service at a Tacoma church.

Sgt. Alexander Bennett, 24, was killed with 29 soldiers and Special Forces service members in an Aug. 6 helicopter attack in Afghanistan’s Wardak Province. It was one of the deadliest attacks against American forces over the past decade of war in Afghanistan.

His mother said Bennett will be buried Sept. 2 at Arlington National Cemetery. She greeted his

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Soldier suicides at Lewis-McChord rising one year after major homecomings

The Army is investigating 11 suspicious deaths among Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers so far in 2011, raising the possibility that the base could surpass its previous peak of nine suicides in a single year.

The trend is stoking concerns among officers at Lewis-McChord and Madigan Army Medical Center. They increased their behavioral health staff last year to prepare for the homecomings of 18,000 soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan in 2009-10.

Now the base is again stepping up its suicide prevention outreach, asking soldiers to look for signs of depression or stress among peers.

It’s expected to release a

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Good news for JBLM Stryker soldiers: New design adds protection

Here’s some good news for the roughly 10,000 Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers serving in Stryker brigades: A new model of the eight-wheeled infantry vehicle is protecting troops better from improvised explosives in Afghanistan.

USA Today is reporting that the newly designed double-v hull has seen some success on the battlefield in deflecting some of the worst damage from bomb blasts.

“This is a case study in how to deal with a rapidly changing insurgency,” Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute, told USA Today. “You can’t go through normal process. You must quickly turn around relatively

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Army reports record number of suicides in July; cases surface at JBLM

The Army last week reported that more soldiers killed themselves in July than in any previous month over the past two years, suggesting that the military still has many challenges in delivering psychological care to veterans.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord has not yet released its own report of confirmed suicides this summer. Several troubling accounts have appeared in recent weeks in Puget Sound media outlets, but it’s not yet clear whether the base south of Tacoma is experiencing an abnormal number of suicides. It has recorded nine suicides in each of the past two years.

As we reported in

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Bear scratches Army employee at Lewis-McChord

Joint Base Lewis-McChord officials are searching for a bear that scratched a civilian Army employee this afternoon, giving him minor injuries to his arm and leg.

Army spokeswoman Catherine Caruso said the man was walking his dog in a wooded area near base housing about 12:45 p.m. The dog reportedly slipped into the woods, where the bear spotted the pet and gave chase. It scratched the man as it followed the dog out of the woods.

The bear is not considered a threat to people. Officers from the Department of Fish and Wildlife are trying to trap the animal, Caruso

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Obama recognizes fallen Muslim soldier from Fort Lewis at White House dinner
















The memory of a Muslim soldier from Fort Lewis lives on four years after he was killed in Iraq by an improvised explosive.

President Obama today at a White House dinner honored the sacrifice of Cpl. Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, a 20-year-old soldier from the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division whose death has become a symbol of sacrifices made by Muslim service members since 9/11.

“During the 10 hard years of war, our troops have served with excellence and with honor.  Some have

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Friends of fallen soldier aim to draw attention to Army suicides

Former Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers are hosting a forum Friday night on military suicides, aiming to draw attention to psychological strains on service members who carry out multiple combat deployments.

The panel discussion is taking place at 7:30 p.m. just outside the base’s gate at Coffee Strong on Union Avenue in Lakewood.

It’s centered on the March 2010 suicide of Spc. Derrick Kirkland, who hung himself at Lewis-McChord after he was evacuated from Iraq because of concerns about his psychological health.

Kirkland of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division twice tried to kill himself in Iraq before

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Lewis-McChord soldiers training with Pacific allies on their turf

Goodbye desert, hello jungle.

Soldiers from the last combat brigade to fight in Iraq are making the rounds along the Pacific Rim this summer with a couple training exercises partnering them with militaries in Australia and Singapore.

In Singapore, a platoon from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division last month practiced urban warfare in a hot, humid city.

Stryker soldiers told an Army writer that the exercise felt familiar because they’re accustomed to working with foreign militaries in Iraq. The main difference for them was trudging through a jungle instead of a dry desert.

“Our army

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