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Archives: April 2013

April
30th

“Kill Team” documentary exploring JBLM war crimes earning acclaim

Filmmaker Dan Krauss obtained unrivaled access to three Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers who in 2011 were convicted of murdering Afghan civilians during their deployment to Kandahar Province. His documentary looking at how the soldiers changed from patriotic troops to notorious members of a so-called “kill team last week won first place in its category at the Tribeca Film Festival.

I haven’t seen Krauss’ “Kill Team,” but its preview shows several convicted  soldiers speaking on camera. It’s striking because these are people known around the world only in the gruesome photos they

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April
25th

“Six months is long enough:” Accelerating drawdown has Stryker soldiers coming home early from Afghanistan

Sgt. Ryan Ellenberger’s 2-month-old son left him speechless.

He held the baby for the first time Thursday in a Joint Base Lewis-McChord gymnasium when the soldier came home from his Stryker unit’s shortened tour in Afghanistan.

Tears welled up in Ellenberger’s eyes. His wife, Summer, leaned over to give him a long kiss.

Their ecstatic expressions conveyed far more than they could express out loud.

“It’s amazing. Words can’t describe it. I just can’t,” he said as he held Ryan Jr. with the baby’s eyes fixing on dad’s.

Their reunion took place four months earlier than the family expected when

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April
23rd

Attorneys for Kandahar massacre suspect Staff Sgt. Robert Bales must declare mental health defense by late May

Attorneys for the Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians last spring are approaching a deadline at the end of May to declare whether they intend to use a mental health defense at his court-martial.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales’ faces the death penalty on charges that he slipped out of his combat outpost by himself twice in the early hours of March 11, 2012 to murder the civilians in their homes and to wound six more noncombatants. He allegedly burned some of the corpses, and reportedly returned to his base wearing a sheet like a cape.

His

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April
22nd

“I wanted the pain to stop,” Army sergeant says in pleading guilty to killing five others

1:10 p.m. update:

Sgt. John Russell returned to a Baghdad combat stress clinic “in a rage,” seeking out the doctor who he believed had encouraged him to commit suicide that day.

He didn’t see the doctor, but he attacked the clinic nonetheless.

Russell, 48, today admitted that he shot five fellow military service members to death at a combat stress clinic at CampLiberty in Baghdad on May 11, 2009.

“I wanted the pain to stop,” he testified in court at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Russell of Sherman, Texas struck a plea agreement with the Army that capped his maximum punishment at

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April
19th

JBLM’s new chief of warrior transitions brings a background in medical evacuations

The Army tapped a veteran helicopter pilot from Oregon with deep experience in medical evacuations to be the newest leader of a unit that cares for ill and injured soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Lt. Col. Jeffery Mosso is the fourth commanding officer of the base’s Warrior Transition Battalion, a unit created in 2007 to care for troops in a vulnerable period in their careers when they could either leave the service or return to duty.

Mosso’s commander, Col. Dallas Homas, said the job has a “noble mission.”

“For many of your soldiers, you will help carry them through one

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April
19th

Soldier accused of killing five service members at Baghdad clinic expected to plead guilty next week

A soldier who faced the death penalty on charges that he murdered five service members at a military mental health clinic in Baghdad reached a plea agreement with the Army this week and is expected in court at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Monday.

The Army’s announcement of the agreement and coming court date signal the end of a four-year effort to bring Sgt. John Russell, 48, to trial for allegedly killing Navy Cmdr. Charles Springle and the Army’s Maj. Matthew Houseal, Sgt. Christian Bueno-Galdos, Spc. Jacob Barton and Pfc. Michael Yates Jr. on May 11, 2009.

The charges marked the

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April
19th

No definite plans to cut ranks at JBLM, but losing a Stryker brigade might look like this

It’s true that “no decisions have been made” with respect to Army downsizing at any particular stateside post.

But … business and civic leaders around the South Sound are bracing for cuts to the 36,000 active-duty soldiers stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. That decision is expected to come this summer.

If Lewis-McChord’s number is pulled, it likely would lose a Stryker brigade and portions of other units as the Army draws down its strength from its wartime peak of 570,000 active-duty soldiers toward a total force of 490,000.

Lewis-McChord has three of the Army’s nine Stryker brigades. No other

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April
17th

Evergreen State lawmakers lobby Air Force to place new refueling tankers at Fairchild

The Evergreen State’s congressional delegation today renewed its push to secure the future of Fairchild Air Force Base by asking the Air Force to place its newest refueling tankers at the Eastern Washington airfield.

The lawmakers contend the Air Force has good reasons to place a squadron of KC-46A refueling tankers at Fairchild.

That tanker is meant to replace a jet that calls Fairchild home, the decades-old KC-135. It’s flown by the Fairchild-based Air Force 92nd Air Refueling Wing and the Washington National Guard’s 141st Air Refueling Wing.

They further write that stationing the KC-46A jets at Fairchild would conform

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