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Corps investigating death of Marine colonel days before his retirement
The Marine Corps is investigating the death of Lt. Col. Brett A. Hart, the executive officer of Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron One, who was found dead at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma on April 19, a Corps spokesman told Task & Purpose.
"There is an open investigation into the incident," Capt. Christopher Harrison told Task & Purpose. "Further details will be available once the investigation is complete."
Hart, 48, was just days from retirement after 30 years of service when he took his own life, according to multiple sources. He left behind a wife, son, and daughter. A memorial service for Hart was held at the Yuma Chapel on April 26 — the same day his retirement ceremony had been scheduled.
"No rank is immune to suicide, not even an O-5 in the Marine Corps with over 30 years of service and one week away from retirement," Marine veteran Samuel Grayman wrote in a public post on Facebook. "RIP Lt. Col Brett A. Hart, it was an honor to serve under your command at VMMT-204."
Many of those who served with him during his career were shocked by his death, which came "out of the blue," according to Task & Purpose columnist Carl Forsling, a friend and colleague of Hart.
"Brett was one of the people that was so with it, he would be the guy I would call for advice," Forsling said. "I can't figure out why he would do this."
Hart enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1989 as a military policeman before earning a commission and beginning pilot training in May 1994, according to an official biography. He completed his initial training and was designated a naval aviator in Aug. 1997 before training on and deploying multiple times as a CH-46E "Sea Knight" helicopter pilot. In 2006, Hart began flying MV-22B Ospreys, and eventually became an Osprey flight instructor.
All told, Hart spent 1,200 hours in the MV-22B and 1,400 hours in the cockpit of the CH-46E. He flew under the callsign "Stork" — a reference to a character in the 1978 film Animal House with just one memorable line of dialogue, Forsling said.
Hart's awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal with Strike Numeral "2", the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, according to his bio.
"Lt. Col. Hart was an exceptional leader who cared deeply for his family, the Corps, and his fellow Marines," Col. Peter L. McArdle, commanding officer of VMX-1, said in a statement to Task & Purpose. "We are deeply saddened by the loss of a great leader and friend, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to support his family throughout this difficult time."
"The one thing that scares me about the whole thing, it's not the paradigm of the 'troubled Marine,' or the sad person," Forsling told Task & Purpose, adding that Marines may not tell others they love them since it could be perceived as weakness.
"If you have those feelings about someone, you should let them know," he said.
If you're thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press "1" to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead
"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.
They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.
As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.
But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.
Sen. Rick Scott is backing a bipartisan bill that would allow service members to essentially sue the United States government for medical malpractice if they are injured in the care of military doctors.
The measure has already passed the House and it has been introduced in the Senate, where Scott says he will sign on as a co-sponsor.
"As a U.S. Senator and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, taking care of our military members, veterans and their families is my top priority," the Florida Republican said in a statement.
Little girls everywhere will soon have the chance to play with a set of classic little green Army soldiers that actually reflect the presence of women in the armed forces.
Russia established an air base in the Syrian city where withdrawing US troops were pelted with potatoes
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia landed attack helicopters and troops at a sprawling air base in northern Syria vacated by U.S. forces, the Russian Defence Ministry's Zvezda TV channel said on Friday.
On Thursday, Zvezda said Russia had set up a helicopter base at an airport in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli, a move designed to increase Moscow's control over events on the ground there.
Qamishli is the same city where Syrian citizens pelted U.S. troops and armored vehicles with potatoes after President Donald Trump vowed to pull U.S. troops from Syria.