The Sad Aftermath of a Superbowl Party

The command decision to allow a couple of beers a piece for servicemembers stationed in the Middle East this Superbowl Sunday did not directly cause any incidents as far as anyone knows. Although servicemembers at Forward Operating Base Union III were grateful for the chance to have a couple of cold beers, the excitement of the game was what held the rapt attention of the dozen or so people who stayed past the first quarter. Everyone was tired here. Not to mention, as strict as the issuance of each person's two beers had been, it's surprising that military personnel weren't required to dip their fingers in india ink to prove they had already taken their quota. Most people shuffled off to bed as soon as they finished their beers, but the diehards rode it out to the bitter end, staying until nearly 6 a.m. to take in the Steelers' last minute triumph over Arizona.

Unfortunately, the fun was cut short in one of the residential trailer blocks that night, in a mysterious incident that had many scratching their heads as to why KBR issued a note that the rooms (which the contractor cleans and manages) were to undergo a mandatory inspection today. The note they left in each hooch said that it was a fire inspection, but camp gossip said otherwise - they were looking for contraband. My photographer John and I had left the game early (his being a native Arizonian made a bold statement about his utter lack of interest in televised football games), and walking back to our hooch, we came across a cluster of ambulances, police trucks, and humvees next to the entrance to one particular row of trailers. We stood there for a while trying to figure out what was going on, even asking a long haired guy with a southern drawl standing nearby what was happening. He didn't seem to know. We all stared at the flashing lights. Jokes were bandied about that God was angry at the Army for allowing alcohol consumption in a Muslim country, and we all went to bed.

Dirty Details, Done Dirt Cheap.

It wasn't until the next morning that news of the incident began to circulate, but it propagated throughout the base and through rumor mill rather quickly. It turns out that an Air Force Captain - by accounts a happy-go-lucky guy who seemed to be liked by his office mates - had ended up with a bullet from a 9mm service pistol inside of his head. Nobody can confirm whose pistol it was, if there were others involved, or what the exact story is, but it is fairly certain that some kind of hard alcohol was involved, and that the round entered from below his jaw and bounced around like a pinball a few times inside his skull - heard that from a firefighter, so it must be true, but who knows. From what i was able to dig up today, he might still be alive, but details are scant. The Criminal Investigative Division (CID) remains tight lipped. An alcohol-related incident of this magnitude is ill-timed for commanders who allowed military personnel to drink beer that same night, but it would seem that they can rest easy in that it appears to be unrelated to their benevolence.

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