Murdered soldier's mom: Officers 'screwed up'


The release of an investigation into the kidnapping and killing of three U.S. soldiers has rekindled an Oregon woman's anger and grief.

Pfc. Thomas Tucker of Madras was one of the soldiers killed by Iraqi insurgents last June. A summary of the military investigation found that inexperienced officers overseeing an undermanned platoon left the three men alone for up to 36 hours last June to guard a bridge without proper backup. Two officers have been relieved of their commands.

Tucker's mother, Meg Tucker, read the report on a confidential basis last fall. She read news accounts of it Thursday and, in an interview with The Oregonian newspaper, said she's angry at the Iraqi insurgents and the Army commanders who exposed her son to attack.

"They screwed up big-time," Tucker said of the commanders. "They were very lacking in people and lacking in leadership, and I'm angry about that."

Her son was 25 when he died. He joined the Army in 2005 and trained at Fort Campbell, Ky., before proceeding to Iraq to join his unit, B Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

Tucker's mother said he arrived the day of a rape and murder incident involving his unit, a March 2006 incident that Army officials said did not involve Tucker and the other soldiers who were killed &

Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Spc. David J. Babineau.

Three soldiers have pleaded guilty, and two others are being prosecuted, in connection with the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killings of her mother, father and younger sister.

Insurgents claimed the killing of Tucker and his fellow soldiers was retribution for the rape and murders. But the investigation found no link between the two incidents, and Meg Tucker believes the attack was retribution for the death of al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who died earlier the same month when U.S. warplanes bombed his safe house.

She perceives a similar pattern in the current kidnappings of three U.S. soldiers, which follow the killing of another senior leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Meg Tucker said there's not a minute that goes by that she doesn't think about Tom. But the latest kidnappings, and this week's release of details about her son's death, have brought unwelcome attention to her family.

"I don't want everybody to forget my son, but I'm just too tired to keep dealing with this month after month after month," she said.


Information from: The Oregonian,

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