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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Posted: December 3, 2009 11:54 PM

Was U.S. Soldier Who Killed Two Army Buddies Shattered by Iraq Tragedy?

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It's gotten remarkably little coverage so far -- perhaps because there's no "terrorist" angle -- but we're now catching up with the case of an Iraq war vet now captured and suspected of killing two of his fellow servicemen, age 20 and 23, near the army base at Fort Drum, N.Y., where they all served.

Spc. Joshua Hunter, a military cop, fled to Ohio and has now been brought back to New York. It's not known what sparked the murders but he had returned from 15 months in Iraq. The two victims served with him there and his wife says he considered them his "best friends."

Tonight, the AP talked to his wife, who said he had seen a good friend die at close range in Iraq, and held the victim in his arms afterward. He was totally changed when he got home, flying into rages, "abusive," sleepless, "edgy." His father and mother tell much the same story but it is unconfirmed by the military.

Earlier today, the Watertown paper, near Fort Drum, cited quotes from Hunter's My Space page:

I dont need anyone but me, I am cold and heartless. unhappiness can be a way of life, but im not gonna be one of those little bitches who kills themselves i will take down anyone who gets in my way by any means necessary.

After using some profanities, he continued, "i will not be stopped until i get my revenge. i am angry at the world and i will take it out on anyone... ."

The AP's story tonight kicks off:

Relatives of a Fort Drum soldier accused of stabbing his two Army buddies to death said Thursday that he told them he saw his best friend "blown to pieces" in Iraq and came back a changed man: abusive, violent, sleepless, edgy and plagued by flashbacks.

More:

Hunter's wife, Emily Hunter, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that her husband was outgoing before he went to war, but when he returned stateside, he was an emotional wreck. "He wasn't in any good mental shape at all," Emily Hunter said. "I tried to get him to go to therapy. They prescribed him medicine and stuff, but it just wasn't enough."


She said he saw a therapist at Fort Drum because of his volatile emotions and violent outbursts. He'd just burst into tears; spouts of anger or sadness," she said. "There'd be one emotion but it would be really deep, just extremely happy or extremely sad. His emotions were always on the rocks."

Emily Hunter said her husband was haunted by one image: "He saw his best friend get blown up to pieces and he tried to put him back together," she said. "He was never right after that."

The AP also talked to Hunter's mother, Judy, who said he was not the same after coming home.

He had trouble sleeping and would stay up for days on end. He sometimes suffered flashbacks. Though her son never talked to her about the war, he did confide in his father about "the trauma he went through," she said.

She added: "Something went desperately wrong."

A story tonight in the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington, W. Va., reports:

Joshua Hunter told his wife, Emily, that he and his two friends -- both fellow soldiers and roommates of him and his wife -- had been drinking at their off-base residence near Fort Drum in New York. He woke to find both servicemen dead. He freaked out, fled upstate New York and called his wife from a hotel room in Wheelersburg, Ohio, where he was arrested on Wednesday.

UPDATE: Some have now raised questions about his claims of witnessing death at close range in Iraq.

More here.

Greg Mitchell's latest book is "Why Obama Won." His book "So Wrong for So Long" includes many stories on Iraq vet problems, murders and suicides. He blogs here and can be reached here. .

 
 
 

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