New Facts In 2004 Deaths Of Two GIs

Nadia McCaffrey, 60, of Tracy, Calif., decorates a cross on 7-4-05 with flowers at the Arlington West Iraq War Memorial at Santa Monica Beach, Calif., in memory of her son, National Guard Sgt. Patrick R. McCaffrey, who was killed 6-22-04 in Iraq. AP (file)

A source says U.S. military investigators have concluded that two California soldiers shot to death in Iraq were murdered by one or more Iraqi civil defense officers who were on patrol with them.

The deaths of California National Guardsmen Spc. Patrick R. McCaffrey Sr. and 1st Lt. Andre D. Tyson were originally attributed to an ambush during a patrol near Balad, Iraq, on June 22, 2004.

A U.S. military official says an Army Criminal Investigation Division report expected to be released Wednesday says that one or more of the Iraqi officers fired on the American soldiers.

Word of the new facts in the case comes as military families cope with the shock of this week's discovery in Iraq of remains believed to be that of kidnapped soldiers Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker. DNA tests have been ordered to definitively identify the bodies.

The families of McCaffrey and Tyson are to be briefed on the report's by Brig. Gen. Oscar Hilman, the soldiers' commander at the time, and three other officers.

"When they come, I have my list of questions ready, and I want these answers and I don't want lies," said McCaffrey's mother, Nadia McCaffrey, in an Associated Press interview.

McCaffrey says soldiers who witnessed the attack told her that two Iraqi patrolmen opened fire on her son's unit. She says the witnesses also said a third gunman simultaneously drove up to the American unit in a van, climbed onto the vehicle and fired at the Americans.

"Nothing is clear. Nothing is clear," says McCaffrey. Her son was shot eight times by bullets of various calibers, some of which penetrated his body armor, she said. She believes he bled to death.

Nadia McCaffrey has become a vocal critic of the war in Iraq, and says her son had reservations about it, too, though he served well and was promoted posthumously to sergeant.

"I really want this story to come out; I want people to know what happened to my son," she said. "There is no doubt to me that this [ambushes by attached Iraqi units] is still happening to soldiers today, but our chain of command is awfully reckless; they don't seem to give a damn about what's happening to soldiers."

Patrick McCaffrey joined the National Guard the day after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, his mother said.

Tyson's family could not be located, and a message left with his former unit was not immediately returned.

McCaffrey, 34, and Tyson, 33, were members of the California National Guard. Both were assigned to the Army National Guard's 579th Engineer Battalion, based in Petaluma.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., pressed the Pentagon for answers about the case when Nadia McCaffrey was not satisfied by explanations from the military.

"Mrs. McCaffrey is set to receive a briefing from Pentagon officials (Wednesday) afternoon in California, during which we hope they will provide her with a full report of the facts surrounding Sgt. McCaffrey's death," said Natalie Ravitz, a Boxer spokeswoman.

  • Joel Roberts

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