Pfc Shane M. Reifert

Pfc Shane M. Reifert
Shane during a sweep of the Shuryak Valley, approximately 3 weeks before he was killed. Photo Credit: PFC Sean Stromback

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Reading a death report from the Army is like playing the worst game of Mad Libs you can imagine.

There are no nouns. No names of characters. No places. No times. Just cold details and multiple versions of the same exact thing, signed with signatures that have all been redacted, labeled like exhibits for a trial in which no one will ever be charged. So much the same exact thing, that there is no way it's what the writers of those different versions actually remember. I've read enough police and eyewitness reports to know that it's impossible for 30 people to remember something taking place in the same exact way. The human brain just doesn't work that way.

I am in no way suggesting that this indicates any kind of fraud or deception. The report has to read this way because most people would probably infer that different stories indicates some kind of fraud of deception. And a part of me does understand why I was forced to play a terrible game of Mad Libs. But the rest of me thinks that I've gone through enough pain as part of the aftermath of Shane's death that I should just get to read the real report, just one time, so that my brain doesn't have to play mental gymnastics to make sense of document with redaction after redaction.

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