Two Fort Stewart Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan
One soldier's wife learned of his death through a text message -- a violation of notification procedures that remains under investigation, according to a Fort Stewart spokesman.
Two Fort Stewart soldiers were killed in Afghanistan Feb. 23 when their unit came under small arms fire, according to a WSAV report.
Sgt. Joshua A. Born, 25, of Niceville, Fla., and Cpl. Timothy J. Conrad Jr., 22, of Roanoke, Va., were killed. Both were assigned to the 385th Military Police Battalion, 16th Military Police Brigade (Airborne), an XVIII Airborne Corps unit based out of Fort Stewart, the report stated.
According to the WSAV report, Born's wife, Megan, who lives in Illinois, found out about her husband's death from a text message before she was contacted through military channels. News of the soldiers' deaths had leaked and spread through Facebook posts, the report stated.
Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson told Patch that Megan Born never should have been informed of her husband's death by text.
"The Army has an official process in place to notify family members of the death or injury of their soldiers," Larson said Friday. "It's a process intended to handle the situation with compassion and dignity, because bottom line, we care about our soldiers and our families. When someone goes outside of that official process to notify a family, well-intentioned or not, that is a violation of the Army's established protocol to notify families."
Larson said that while the incident remains under investigation, it appears that soldiers in Afghanistan passed along news of the deaths of Born and Conrad via social media. "And then a spouse here took it upon herself to inform Mrs. Born by text message."
When Megan Born received the text message, there was already a notification team en route from Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., to give her the news in person, Larson said.
Larson added that following established notification procedure is not only more compassionate, but keeps rumors and half-truths from spreading.
"We stress to families and soldiers not to speculate in situations like this. It is not a soldier's place, it is not a family members place, to go out and start speculating on anything," he said. "And we stress that to them -- to be careful about what they post on social media, to be careful what they say to friends.
"It's appropriate to want to share your condoloences," he added. "Of course you want to share your condolences if you're a compassionate human being. But there is an official process in place."
Soldiers killed in the line of duty are not identified by name until the Army notifies the next of kin, Larson said.
"Twenty-four hours after the last next-of-kin is notified, the Department of Defense posts a notification about it," he said. "Once you see that notification on the Department of Defense website, that's your green light as a soldier, as a family member, to talk about it."
Editor's note: Updated at 11:28 a.m. to include comments from Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson.