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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

U.S. Soldier Speaks the Names of His Victims, Admits to Killing 16 Afghans in March 2012 Rampage

Posted By on Wed, Jun 5, 2013 at 3:59 PM

Wednesday afternoon, an Army Judge accepted a plea deal that enables a soldier to avert the death penalty for his murder of 16 Afghans and attempting to murder six others as well as burning bodies and the illegal use of steroids and drinking alcohol while on duty.

Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales pleaded guilty earlier in the day to the March 2012 murderous rampage. Bales entered his plea during a court martial hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Seattle.

For the first time in court, Bales spoke the names of his 16 victims and acknowledged he killed them. There were nine female victims and seven male victims.

Bales said, in reviewing investigative reports and listening to witness testimony at a pretrial hearing, that he did in fact use a kerosene lantern to set the bodies afire.

Under the terms of an agreement, Bales will serve a life term in prison—with or without the possibility of parole depending upon another phase of the court martial proceedings which will begin Monday, August 19.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

American Soldier Prepared to Plead Guilty in Seattle Coutroom to War Crimes

Posted By on Thu, May 30, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Wednesday, June 5, a small courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Seattle will be the scene of a familiar proceeding: An American soldier pleading guilty to charges in connection with the death of civilians during the war in Afghanistan.

An attorney for Sergeant Robert Bales said his client is prepared to plead guilty to premeditated murder in hope of attaching a possibility of parole to a life sentence.

Prosecutors said Bales used a pistol, rifle and grenade launcher to attack people—mostly women and children—as they slept in their homes in March 2012. Bales' attorney said his client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and a head injury before deployment.

In November 2010, Boise Weekly traveled to Joint Base Lewis-McChord to chronicle the court proceedings of Pfc. Andrew Holmes of Boise.

Holmes was sentenced to seven years behind bars for killing an unarmed 15-year-old Afghan boy in January 2010. Homes was one of six soldiers charged by the military with being part of a so-called "kill team," slaying Afghan civilians while deployed to Kandahar Province.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Massachusetts Soldier, Killed in Afghanistan Blast, to be Buried in Idaho Next to Grandfather

Posted By on Sun, May 26, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Following a May 24 funeral service in Massachusetts, the body of U.S. Army Specialist Mitchell Daehling, killed May 14 by an improvised exposive device in Afghanistan, will be flown to Idaho in the coming week, where he'll be buried in Lewiston, next to his grandfather who served in the Army during the Korean War.

Three other soldiers were killed in the May 14 blast in Afghanistan's Kandahar province. Daehling was the infantry team leader.

The Springfield, Mass. Republican reports that Daehling attended Pocatello public schools before his family moved to Dalton, Mass. where he graduated from high school. He joined the military in 2010.

The 24-year-old Daehling, who is survived by a wife and two siblings, received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and five other medals posthumously

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Body of Idaho Soldier Comes Home, Another Afghanistan Bomb Blast Kills 2 U.S. Troops

Posted By on Thu, May 16, 2013 at 9:43 AM

One day that the body of an Idaho soldier, killed earlier this month in Afghanistan, was brought back home, news from Kabul this morning is that another suicide bomb attack killed two Americans and 10 others.

Thursday's bomb struck a NATO convoy, killing two U.S. troops, four civilian contractors and several Afghan civilians, including two children. The attacker rammed a car packed with explosives into the convoy as it passed the home of an Afghan lawmaker.

On May 4, 22-year-old U.S. Army Specialist Thomas Murach of Meridian was one of five U.S. troops killed in a blast in southern Afghanistan when their armored vehicle hit a roadside mine in Maiwand district.

Murach's family accepted his casket in an honorable transfer ceremony May 15 at Boise's Gowen Field. His funeral will take place at Capital Christian Center in Meridian Monday, May 20. He will be buried at the Idaho Veterans Cemetery.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Idaho Soldier Killed In Afghanistan IED Blast

Posted By on Tue, May 7, 2013 at 9:34 AM

A Meridian soldier, 22-year-old Specialist Thomas Murach, has become at least the 69th Idahoan to die while serving his country since the 9/11 attacks.

Murach was one one of five U.S. troops killed in a bomb blast in southern Afghanistan May 5, when their armored vehicle hit a roadside mine in Maiwand district. The attack came four days after three British soldiers were killed in a similar blast in the neighboring province of Helmand.

There was no immediate claims of responsibility for the deaths but Taliban militants frequently use roadside bombs against U.S. and NATO-led troops and their Afghan allies.

Murach served in the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss, Texas.

Meanwhile, anger in Washington, D.C. continues to grow over a scandal alleging that the CIA has been delivering huge amounts of cash packed in suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. The White House insists that the cash is being used for health care and scholarships but critics argue that the payments are fueling endemic corruption.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hymns, Prayer, Reminders Mark Idaho's Remembrance of Holocaust

Posted By on Tue, Apr 9, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Boise Dave Bieter led a candle-lighting ceremony at Idahos 33rd Annual Observance of Holocaust Remembrance.
  • Sam Alderman
  • Boise Dave Bieter led a candle-lighting ceremony at Idaho's 33rd Annual Observance of Holocaust Remembrance.

In a brief but emotional Statehouse ceremony, public officials stood with local religious leaders Tuesday afternoon to mark Idaho’s 33rd Annual Observance of Holocaust Remembrance.

The Idaho Capitol's newly-named Lincoln Auditorium was the scene of the Yom Hashoah, the Hebrew name for Holocaust Remembrance Day, which included song, prayer and speeches.

Members of the Boise Philharmonic Master Chorale sang hymns between speakers, invoking a somber tone for the ceremony.

“The day’s principle message is that another Holocaust must never be allowed to happen again,” said Lieutenant Governor Brad Little.

Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter made an additional acknowledgement to two World War II veterans in the audience.

Other speakers included Boise State professor Carole Whitleather, who shared new information that has shed new light on Holocaust casualties.

“The new number is 15,000,000 to 20,000,000,” said Whitleather. “Fifteen to 20 million human souls who died or were imprisoned by the Nazi killing machine.”

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter led a candle-lighting to represent the groups sought out by Nazis and those who were “deemed unworthy of life.”

“By remembering the anguish of those who died, we honor their memories,” said Bieter.

The ceremony concluded with a traditional Jewish mourner’s prayer and a final hymn from the chorale.

The Boise Philharmonic Master Chorale sang hymns between speeches at Idahos 33rd Annual Observance of Holocaust Remembrance.
  • Sam Alderman
  • The Boise Philharmonic Master Chorale sang hymns between speeches at Idaho's 33rd Annual Observance of Holocaust Remembrance.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

More Iraqi Dead On Tenth Anniversary of War

Posted By on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 9:04 AM

A study by Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies estimates that the war in Iraq has cost the United States $1.7 trillion thus far, with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans. The report concluded that the war cost could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next 40 years.

More than 4,400 American armed service members made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives to fight the Iraq War, which officially began on this date 10 years ago. Additionally, the war killed as many as 180,000 Iraqi civilians, security forces, insurgents, journalists and aid workers.

Soon after the American engagement in the war, Idaho joined the rest of the United States in sending thousands of its best young men and women to flight in the conflict, which was waged concurrently with the war in Afghanistan.

More than 5,000 members of the Idaho National Guard were deployed to combat zones across the world during the two conflicts.

At least 68 Idahoans have been killed in war since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Meanwhile, a series of car bomb explosions rocked the Iraq capital of Baghdad this morning, killing dozens of people on this 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Idaho Soldiers Return to U.S. After Nine-Month Afghanistan Assignment

Posted By on Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 9:11 AM

Sixty Idaho soldiers are one step closer to home after landing in Fort Hood, Texas, following their nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.

The Associated Press reports that the soldiers, members of Company A, 1-168 General Support Aviation Battalion of the Idaho National Guard, were greeted by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter when their charter flight landed in Texas. The soldiers are expected to remain at Fort Hood for about a week before returning to Idaho.

The soldiers supported Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, operating UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to transport personnel and equipment in the Afghanistan combat operations area.

Since September 2001, more than 5,000 members of the Idaho National Guard have been deployed to combat zones across the world.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Record Number of 2012 Military Suicides Outpaced Afghanistan Casualties

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 4:34 PM

2012 was the worst year on record for suicide among active duty members of the US military.

New figures, unveiled on Monday, revealed that with 349 suicides in 2012, the 15 percent rise outpaced the total number of combat deaths in Afghanistan for the same year.The figures exceeded the military's own internal projection of 325 deaths by suicide in 2012, and was the highest recorded since 2001, when suicides first began to be closely tracked.

Figures found that the Army, the largest division of the US military, reported the most suicides, followed by the Marine Corps, which saw the largest percentage increase.

The Military Suicide Consortium found in a recent study that the vast majority of those who attempted suicide cited "a desire to end intense emotional distress" as one of their primary reasons. The study also found that troops who were either divorced or single were 24 percent more likely to commit suicide than their attached counterparts.

Suicide rates in the US Army have risen by 80 percent since the beginning of the Iraq War, found the Army Public Health Command, another depressing indicator that suicide is a massive problem among American servicemen and women.

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Stars and Stripes: Idaho Biologists Saving Troops, Equipment in Afghanistan

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 9:03 AM

Bagram Air Base, southeast of Charikar, is one of the largest U.S. military bases in Afghanistan.
  • Bagram Air Base, southeast of Charikar, is one of the largest U.S. military bases in Afghanistan.

A Boise man—one of four Wildlife Services biologists from Idaho—is being heralded for his work, but he's nowhere near the Gem State's wilderness. Instead, he's in a war zone.

This morning's edition of Stars and Stripes reports that the challenge of George Graves, along with his fellow biologists, is to keep wildlife away from military airstrips, preventing costly collisions that jeopardize the lives of military personnel. His work is being credited for a $2.6 million reduction in damages at military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Meanwhile, there's a second benefit from the biologists' work: They're compiling a catalog of animal species in and near Afghanistan bases and have provided hundreds of specimens to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Stars and Stripes reports that a week after Graves arrived at Afghanistan's Bagram Air Force Base, two mortars exploded about 100 yards from his office.

"It's been a privilege and honor for me to have been given this opportunity," Graves told Stars and Stripes.

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