Army’s largest base suffers four suicides in one weekend
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
Four soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas died over the week. In all four cases, it appears the soldiers, all decorated veterans from the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, took their own lives…
If confirmed as suicides, it would be on top of 14 other suicides on the base this year. Base officials called a news conference for Wednesday afternoon to discuss the problem of suicides at the huge base in central Texas.
“Every one of these is tragic,” said Maj. Gen. William Grimsley, the post commander. “It’s personally and professionally frustrating as a leader.”
Grimsley did not announce any major action or response during the news conference. “I don’t think there is a simple answer,” he said.
The recent spate of incidents, began Friday Sept. 24 when the body of Pvt. Antonio E. Heath, 24, of Warren, New York, was found in Temple, Texas, the victim of a gunshot wound. Heath was deployed to Iraq for most of 2009 and earned a number of medals including the Army Commendation Medal.
The next day, Master Sgt. Baldemar Gonzales, 39, of Victoria, Texas was found dead in his residence on Fort Hood. During his service he had fought in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. During that time he earned a Bronze Star, a Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, an Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters as well as numerous other decorations.
That same day the body of Sgt. Timothy Ryan Rinella, 29, of Chester, Virginia, was found in his home in Copperas Cove, just outside of Fort Hood. He had an “apparent gunshot wound,” according to information released by Fort Hood. Rinella served three tours of duty in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan.
And then on Sunday, Sgt. Michael F. Franklin and his wife, Jessie, were found dead of apparent gunshot wounds in their home on the post. The case is being investigated as a murder-suicide. They were the parents of a 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. Franklin served two tours of duty in Iraq in just the past four years, earning an Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters and several other decorations…
What is there to say? Speculation is easy. I think the sum of our government’s reliance on the military to achieve questionable political goals for decades makes incidents like these – absolutely unsurprising. The rest is details.