[Vision2020] Soldier Called Back to Iraq as Infant Struggles for Life
godshatter at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 26 19:26:22 PST 2007
I am conflicted by this story. I see the stress that is being put on
him and his family. I can also see the legal point that he was told he
was granted extended leave by someone not permitted to grant such leave,
and thus it is invalid from the point of view of his chain of command in
Iraq. For one thing, we don't know what that soldiers job is in Iraq,
or what he might be doing if he returned. It's possible that if he does
not return in time that the lives of US servicemen or Iraqi civilians
might be put at undue risk. How can we know?
If it really is just a screwup with someone making the wrong decision
based on the fact that the baby was discharged from the nursery, then
maybe it will be worked out in time, or maybe he will be able to ask for
extended leave once he gets back in country and be shipped out again. I
wouldn't place all the blame on that one phone call, though - it sounds
like the Red Cross screwed up by asking the rear detachment for the
leave authorization in the first place instead of asking it of the right
people in Iraq, and the officer posted at the rear detachment screwed up
by granting it as well.
This kind of crap happens in the country's largest bureaucracy. It
sucks for the soldier and it sucks for the soldier's family. I don't
think it's indicative of some new kind of anti-family policy on the part
of the Army, it was just a series of unfortunate events. What we used
to call a Charlie Foxtrot (cluster f***), back when I was in the Navy.
Tom Hansen wrote:
> >From the December 24, 2007 edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer at
> 'AWOL' over sick baby
> Soldier called back to Iraq as infant struggles for life
> By Mike Barber
> An inspiring quote in a key Army manual for commanders of rear detachments
> says soldiers have "two supreme loyalties," to country and family.
> But "even the bonds of patriotism, discipline and comradeship are loosened
> when the family itself is threatened."
> Sgt. Chris Williams, 24, a Fort Lewis 4th Stryker Brigade soldier home from
> his second deployment to Iraq, never wanted to test the idea's validity when
> he came home to Indiana on leave for the birth of his first-born in early
> As he spends Christmas with his newborn son, who is battling for his life in
> critical care while his wife remains stressed out from a difficult delivery,
> the battle-tested soldier has been told his extended leave is canceled and
> to hurry back to Iraq or be declared AWOL, the soldier's family said Monday.
> "My kid and his wife don't need this right now," the soldier's father, Doug
> Williams, said.
> If ever there was a hardship, this is one, he said.
> "This is a career soldier -- or was -- who has been hit with IEDs and been
> there for the Army. Before all this, he could have come home from Iraq for
> knee surgery but didn't feel right leaving Iraq and all the guys there. And
> now with his son in critical care, this is the response he gets from the
> military?" Williams said.
> Chris Williams serves with the 4,000-member 4th Stryker Brigade, which left
> Fort Lewis in April for a 15-month tour of duty. He returned home for his
> 15-day leave on Dec. 4 but requested an extension when his son's condition
> suddenly worsened hours after the baby's difficult birth Dec. 18.
> Catherine Caruso, a Fort Lewis spokeswoman, said Williams appealed for
> emergency leave through the American Red Cross to the 4th Stryker Brigade's
> rear detachment. The rear detachment allowed Williams' leave to be extended
> after he was unable to get a response from Williams' chain of command in
> Iraq, she confirmed.
> The rear detachment commander, however, is not in Williams' chain of
> command, which is in Iraq, she noted. The rear detachment commander at Fort
> Lewis "has no authority to grant leave but is in a position of some trust
> and took it upon himself to say (Williams) needed to stay home," Caruso
> The decision was based upon information from the American Red Cross, which
> handles military requests for emergency leave, she said.
> Chris Williams was at Munster Community Hospital in Indiana Monday and could
> not be reached for comment.
> His family says he followed orders to return and booked the first flight he
> could find, slated to leave Friday.
> But they and he can't understand the sudden reversal that has added so much
> distress to their lives.
> On Sunday, Williams' son's condition was downgraded to critical at almost
> the same time Williams received the message to return to Iraq, the soldier's
> father said.
> "The baby's condition worsened 12 hours after he was born," Doug Williams
> said. "Sunday morning he stopped breathing twice and had to be resuscitated.
> He was sent back to neonatal intensive care, and has undergone spinal taps."
> Williams' family, which includes numerous military retirees "disgusted" by
> the turn of events, are outraged, Doug Williams said, while Illinois public
> officials are demanding answers from the Army on their behalf.
> Over the weekend, Doug Williams said, an adjutant general said flatly that
> Sgt. Williams' extended leave had never been granted.
> Yet, he notes, "I have copies of voice mails from a sergeant and captain at
> Fort Lewis rear detachment who told him that because we were running out of
> time and they had not heard from (commanders in) Iraq, they were extending
> his leave to Jan. 3."
> There's also the voice mail from his son's commander in Iraq, a captain,
> that Williams has retained.
> "He told Chris to ignore the previous messages from the rear detachment and
> the extension was revoked, that it was not deemed of any immediate emergency
> and that he had to be on the first plane back to Iraq or he would be AWOL,"
> Doug Williams said.
> On Monday, Williams said he learned from an Army officer that an executive
> officer in Iraq had made the initial decision to rescind leave.
> "He didn't ask for the Red Cross to check, like he should have. He called
> the hospital from Iraq, asked for the nursery and was told the baby was
> discharged from the nursery. Of course he was discharged from the nursery.
> He was sent to neonatal intensive care," Williams' father said, fuming.
> Williams said the Army should put more faith in his son's integrity.
> "I'll tell you the kind of man Chris is. He joined the Army for six years
> instead of the usual four after 9/11," Doug Williams said.
> When his son returned to Iraq with Fort Lewis' 4th Stryker Brigade last
> spring, Williams said, he had scheduled other soldiers to take their leaves
> around Christmastime instead of him. When Chris Williams learned his wife
> was pregnant, however, his commanders suggested he take leave for the
> December delivery instead.
> Williams said his son has been in two Stryker vehicles damaged by improvised
> roadway bombs.
> He suffered a severe concussion in the first explosion but was back on
> patrol two days later when the second hit.
> "I was never in the military," the soldier's father said, "but in my
> opinion, these are the types of men and women the military wants to keep,
> not to chase off."
> Seeya round town, Moscow.
> Tom Hansen
> Moscow, Idaho
> "Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil
> and steady dedication of a lifetime."
> --Adlai E. Stevenson, Jr.
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