View Full Version : No Seabee Cover-Up at Junction City

03-23-05, 05:45 AM

Guest Column: No Seabee Cover-Up at Junction City

By Josephine D’A****o

After reading Col. David Hackworth’s column on the Seabee deaths (“Another Shameful Navy Cover-Up,” it is apparent to those of us who were there that Col. Hackworth has taken what is obviously scuttlebutt regarding the mortar attack on NMCB 14 and published it as gospel without reaching out to the command to verify before publishing.

The truth is difficult enough for us to deal with, and we certainly do not need to continuously dispel myths.

If his intent was to assist us, please know that instead, Hackworth’s column has only served to add to everyone’s pain and suffering. The family members of our fallen heroes, as well as the battalion members and leadership, need peace and comfort in order to heal. Getting everyone all riled up over untruths is not conducive to that healing. It is shameful to use our loss and pain as tool in a witch-hunt for Rear Adm. Charles Kubic. If he took a bar or traveled when it financially benefited him, look into it if you feel you must, but please do not involve the members and families of NMCB 14.

There was no wrongdoing on his or anyone’s part with regard to the events which led to our attack, and the actions which followed were nothing less than immediately heroic on the part of the men and women who rushed to provide medical attention, and caring and professional on the part of the commanding officer and others in leadership positions, both in theater and in our CONUS element in the days that followed – and are still ongoing – in support of the WIAs and families of KIAs.

Much of what Hackworth stated in his column is incorrect. If his intent is to seek out the truth and if his desire is to help, perhaps I can assist. I was the acting admin officer for the battalion. I was very much involved in preparing casualty/injury reports and passing information to our higher headquarters and to our CONUS element so that they could assist the KIAs’ families immediately, and care for our WIAs as soon as they got back to the states.

I wasn’t at the scene, but I personally received the initial report of the mass casualty and passed it to our COC, who immediately dispatched medical teams to the scene. As one of the first to receive updated reports from the attack site, as they occurred, I compiled the data and prepared the official reports, which were passed to the commanding officer and our higher headquarters.

I am wondering who Hackworth’s sources are. What exactly are “off the record patriots?” I, too. will return to Iraq if necessary – under Adm. Kubic or whomever else the Navy deems appropriate to appoint over me. I believe that's in my contract. We call that commitment. It shouldn’t be all that noteworthy as it is only what is expected of all of us.

I have the official, truthful records and you can use my name. There was no cover-up because there was nothing to cover up. I do not tolerate lies or dishonorable behavior. Anyone who knows me will attest that if there had been a cover-up, my article would have been published long before Hackworth’s column.

Here are the on the record facts:

On May 2, 2004, we had 132 people in camp, the majority of whom were not in the equipment yard, because they were working at their usual jobs. There was no muster or formal assembly in the equipment yard. No one was called out of his or her quarters to report anywhere because the attack occurred during normal working hours and that’s where everyone was – at work.

Immediately after the attack, we had three KIA and 28 wounded, two of whom died of wounds later the same day. Many WIAs were immediately evacuated to Level I hospitals in theater, subsequently to the hospital in Germany for further treatment and ultimately to the United States; and some were returned to duty in Iraq, as their injuries were not serious enough for evacuation.

At the time of the mortar attack, our convoy had just returned from a mission, and they were just plainly and simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. No members of the battalion were in the area unless they had a routine work related reason to be there, and no one was ordered to report to the area, either by Adm. Kubic or anyone in the battalion for any reason at all.

Coincidentally, Adm. Kubic was in the same equipment yard inspecting vehicles that had been damaged in an ambush two days earlier. He most likely didn’t even acknowledge, let alone speak to, the troops who were out there.

The attack site was close enough to other battalion members who were working in adjacent areas and buildings, whose immediate, unselfish and professional response in providing first aid and ensuring expedient evacuation was responsible for saving many lives. NMCB 14 is comprised entirely of well trained and very much skilled, unselfish, patriotic and heroic men and women.

To a person, everyone who responded to the attack acted immediately and voluntarily, without hesitation or regard for his or her own safety, while still under attack and well before the all clear was passed – in undisputedly valiant efforts to rescue our fallen comrades.

What the families of our KIAs need to be told and made aware of is that every single one of their loved ones’ fellow Seabees of NMCB 14 would have rushed out there to save them if they were nearby. It is appalling and far beyond my comprehension why anyone would convey anything other than truth or comfort to these families whose loved ones gave the ultimate sacrifice. One of our commanding officer’s (and everyone in any leadership capacity’s) main priorities was the proper training, outfitting, safety and well being of everyone in our command – why not publish that?

The only source I’ve ever seen or heard of regarding a formal muster was in grossly inaccurate newspaper accounts published in the few days after the incident. If in fact Hackworth got that misinformation from members of NMCB 14, I seriously doubt that they were the survivors of that attack, because it is absolutely untrue. If anyone in our battalion actually told you that the group was ordered or directed to form up or muster out there it is because they were not there and unfortunately don’t know the truth. There were over 400 of us spread out in several locations and perhaps those not stationed at Ar Ramadi got their information from the previously mentioned grossly inaccurate newspaper accounts.

I can’t speak for any Casualty Official giving information to Mrs. Cherly Dossett [the mother of a Seabee killed in the attack], but if that is true, then this whole thing is out of control. The KIAs’ families of course want answers and what they get should be facts. The information the families were given by the command at the time of the incident was 100 percent truthful and factual. It is unconscionable for anyone to provide the families with misinformation. The only purpose this serves is to cause the families to distrust the command whose only goal is to assist them and only serves to add to their suffering.

As part of my area of responsibility, in the days following the attacks, I read approximately 80 statements from Seabees (WIAs, rescuers and witnesses) who were at the scene. I personally guarantee you that not one of these first-hand sources mentions ever being ordered to form up or muster for any reason at all.

Unfortunately, the irresponsible reporting immediately following the incident may have been the only information some of our troops (especially those who may have been in remote locations) received. The reason that they may have gotten inaccurate information is because we did not gather in large groups and getting the word out was difficult. Perhaps the only word they got on the incident was from newspapers.

Adm. Kubic visited a few times during our deployment – what the dates were is irrelevant. His purpose was to meet with key members of the battalion staff for future planning. He was not in the habit of giving pep talks to the troops. He only spoke with the troops at our location once – to give out awards for their heroism during the ambush and the mortar attack. We were in a hardened building and the event was as brief as possible for everyone’s safety.

Our battalion leaders, members and our KIAs’ families have to remember and cope with the unforeseen and unavoidable attacks which occurred during our deployment for the rest of our lives. I would hope that we could rely on Hackworth as a retired colonel and one of us to make it easier – not more difficult for us. Perhaps Hackworth could use his rank and magazine to see what can be done about ensuring that our WIAs who are unable to return to their civilian jobs get some sort of annuity so that they can support their families after they are released from active duty.

Inaccurate reporting and false accusations that the members were not properly trained or equipped or that the command or our superiors made poor or self-serving decisions does not contribute to anything good for us. We have enough to deal with for the rest of our lives. Please do not continue to cite us, and this most painful and horrific event in any agenda against Adm. Kubic.

I have neither personal loyalty toward, nor any knowledge of Adm. Kubic’s activities outside what I have documented here; therefore, if you feel that he needs to be investigated for incidents that do not involve NMCB 14, I have absolutely no opinion. But Hackworth’s column publicly misrepresents the actual events of what took place on May 2, 2004, to NMCB 14, and I emphatically take exception to what is essentially an affront to my family. If Hackworth continues to involve the attack on NMCB 14 as part of his call for an investigation, please be sure to name me as a witness Sir, so that I can help to set the record straight.

I believe that the circulation of this began with the incorrect media reports in May 2004 and is perpetuating as you and others (hopefully not maliciously) recycle the untruths regarding the events on that day. I hope that since you now have facts, you will become part of the solution in providing peace and closure to the families of our KIAs and WIAs. They are the ones who are suffering the most, and we as a military family should do all we can to help them ease their pain.

Guest Contributor YNC (SCW/AW) Josephine D'A****o was acting administrative officer for NMCB 14 at the time of the May 2004 mortar attack. Send Feedback comments to dwfeedback@yahoo.com.


03-26-05, 03:12 PM
Hackworth is a drouge.

03-26-05, 03:19 PM
What the hell is a "drouge"?

03-26-05, 06:37 PM
hackworth is a dumb**** Now i said that... enuff said...

03-26-05, 07:55 PM

03-26-05, 09:01 PM
Answers.com (http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery;jsessionid=cml4mm5r0xil?method=4&dsid=1555&dekey=S0182900&gwp=8&curtab=1555_1&sbid=lc01b)
sea anchor
n. Nautical.
A drag, usually a canvas-covered conical frame, floating behind a vessel to prevent drifting or to maintain a heading into the wind. Also called drogue.

In this case similar to:

1. A stream of water, often containing medicinal or cleansing agents, that is applied to a body part or cavity for hygienic or therapeutic purposes.

2. A stream of air applied in a similar way.