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WAR WITH IRAQ

Camp Grenade Attack Claims 2nd GI

An Air Force major dies of wounds from an assault Sunday blamed on a disgruntled fellow serviceman. A judge finds ground for trial.

March 26, 2003|From Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho — A second serviceman has died of wounds suffered in a grenade attack at a tent in Kuwait blamed on a disgruntled Army sergeant, the military said Tuesday.

Air Force Maj. Gregory Stone, 40, based in Boise, was pronounced dead early Tuesday at an Army field hospital in Kuwait, the Idaho Air National Guard said.

Sgt. Asan Akbar is in custody in the Sunday attack. He was shipped to a military jail in Germany on Tuesday after a judge found probable cause to try him for the crime. Akbar, a Muslim who had told family members that he was wary of going to war in Iraq, has not been charged.

Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert, 27, of Easton, Pa., also was killed and 14 other soldiers were injured in the attack.

Lt. Col. Tim Marsano, spokesman for the Idaho Air National Guard, said Stone, a 20-year active and reserve veteran of the Air Force, was the air liaison officer with the Army's 101st Airborne Division at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait.

Stone's injuries were so severe that doctors could not stabilize him enough to transport him to a U.S. military medical center in Landstuhl, Germany, Marsano said.

"My son died to allow the guy who killed him to believe what he believed," Richard Stone of Riggins, Idaho, told television station KIVI.

The father said his last contact with his son was through an e-mail Saturday. In it, his son said that things were going well and that he was a little nervous but ready for the mission.

Stone graduated from Benson High School in Portland, Ore., and Oregon State University. He enlisted in 1983, went through the ROTC program at Oregon State and was commissioned in 1988.

"He was wonderful, the best son anybody could ask for," said his stepmother, Sally. Stone's mother, Betty Lenzi of Ontario, Ore., said she was too upset to talk.

Stone is survived by his ex-wife and two sons, ages 11 and 7, who live in Boise, and several siblings from the Portland area.

The Army said Akbar was taken from Camp Doha, Kuwait, to the Mannheim confinement facility, where he will await a pretrial investigation.

Akbar was taken into custody shortly after explosions rocked several tents at the headquarters of the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade.

"It appears that the explosions were the result of three grenades that were thrown or rolled through the front ... of each of these three tents," said a statement from Fort Campbell, Ky., where the division is based.

Army investigators will complete a report and send it to Akbar's superiors, said Marc Raimondi, a spokesman for the Army's Criminal Investigation Division in Virginia. He wouldn't speculate on when the investigation would be completed.

Before Stone's death was reported, military experts said Akbar could face one charge of intentional murder and additional charges of attempted murder for the wounded.

Eugene Fidell, a Washington lawyer and founder of the National Institute of Military Justice, said the crime could warrant the death penalty, which is rare in the military. Six people are on the military's death row. There have been no military executions since 1961.

Akbar's family members in Louisiana said they were stunned to learn that he had been accused of attacking his comrades.

During an interview Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Ismail Bilal said his brother "spoke just like any other soldier going overseas." Akbar told him, "I would rather be at home. But I got to do my job," Bilal said.

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