Thursday, December 20, 2007

The stories behind more war tragedies: Exporting domestic violence

What follows is the particularly disturbing story of three young American servicemen and women: two female sailors were killed in "non-hostile" fire in October. At the time, I was at home recovering from surgery, so maybe I wasn't following the news enough, but I don't remember this story being reported. If anyone else does, please let me know. Most of the initial coverage came from overseas news sources, and there has been very little reported since the killings occurred. There are several details about this story which make me suspicious about the lack of news coverage. From the [Bahrain] Gulf Daily News:
Anamarie Sannicolas Camacho, 20, and her colleague Genesia Mattril Gresham,19, were shot dead at the Naval Support Activity Base, Juffair, at around 5am on October 22.

Their alleged killer, fellow serviceman Clarence Jackson, 20, is still clinging to life after apparently shooting himself in the head immediately after the murders.

He is now at the National Naval Medical Centre in Bethesda, Maryland, US, after being transferred to the US from a specialist hospital in Germany. . . .

[Camacho's mother, Jovie] Paulino, who served in the US Air Force for six years, is also angry at the way the navy have handled the shooting.

"I had entrusted my daughter to the navy when she joined and this is what has happened, I just don't understand," she said. "I was in the military and right now I feel so angry and disappointed. She put her life on the line for our freedom and the only thing they should do (in return) is protect her."

Her comments echo that of Ms Gresham's mother Anita, who earlier blamed officials for leaving her daughter exposed to danger from a man she said turned nasty when she tried to cool their "casual" relationship.

Ms Gresham revealed Jackson had a restraining order against him and had been on suicide watch, after he allegedly attacked Miss Gresham less than four months ago.

She was also angry that Jackson was allowed to carry a gun after his alleged attack on her daughter and that officials were not telling her what happened in the run-up to the killings.
The last report I can find about Jackson states that he is in critical condition at Bethesda Naval Hospital, but is not expected to survive.

Approximately 20% of American casualties in the Iraq War effort are attributed to "non-combat" reasons. Some argue that these types of deaths should not be included in the same category as those who die in combat. I disagree. These two women enlisted in the military, and were killed while serving. By not protecting them from Jackson, the American military might as well have sent them into combat, unarmed.

Jackson previously made threats against Gresham and was ordered to stay away from her. However, as part of the security detail, Jackson was authorized to carry a gun while on duty, which he apparently was at the time of the shooting. Camacho and Gresham were also part of the security detail and each held the rank of master at arms; however, they were off duty at the time of the shooting, and therefore unarmed. According to details of the event, Jackson knocked on their door, immediately shooting both women when the door was opened. There was a great deal of tension on the base following the incident. From Stars and Stripes:
The shooting shocked those stationed on this important Navy base located on this tiny island Persian Gulf nation. But some sources say there were warning signs before the shooting occurred.

Jackson and Gresham had a volatile relationship, sources said. He had made threats against her in the past, was punished for it and ordered to stay away from her. Sources who would only speak on the condition of anonymity said Jackson had just gotten off restriction when he allegedly shot Camacho and Gresham.
Here are their stories.

Anamarie Sannicolas Camacho, 20

Ms Camacho, 20, from Panama City, Florida, joined the US Navy in June last year, because she could not afford to go to college, her heartbroken mother has revealed.

[Her mother] said her daughter knew that going to college would be too expensive, so she joined the navy after graduating from school, so she could fulfill her dream of obtaining a degree.

"She always had big smiles," she said, "She was an individual who was filled with energy."

Genesia Mattril Gresham, 19

From the Gulf Daily News:

Ms Gresham's mother Anita paid a poignant tribute to her 19-year-old daughter yesterday.

She confirmed that Ms Gresham had a casual relationship with Jackson and that he turned nasty after she tried to cool it.

The mother dismissed as untrue reports that the victims were lesbian lovers.

"My daughter, who was affectionately known to her friends and family as Snowflake, was a wonderful person."

I don't know why the mother felt compelled to refer to rumors of a lesbian relationship; I haven't come across this in any of the stories I've found online. It is true, however, that details about these two women have been very scarce, and details about the shooter, Jackson, are just about non-existent. Whether there was a lesbian relationship or not, the women were shot by Gresham's former boyfriend, and as noted by the Daily Kos in an October tribute to these two women:
Every day four women die in this country as a result of domestic violence, the euphemism for murders and assaults by husbands and boyfriends. That's approximately 1,400 women a year, according to the FBI. (link)

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