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Soldier accused in Afghan killings was family man

Posted: March 17, 2012 - 8:13am  |  Updated: March 17, 2012 - 8:20am
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In this Aug. 23, 2011 Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System photo, soldiers from Blackhorse Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, including Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, left, take part in exercise at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. Five days after an attack on Afghan villagers killed 16 civilians, a senior U.S. official identified Bales as the suspect in that attack.   AP Photo/DVIDS, Spc. Ryan Hallock
AP Photo/DVIDS, Spc. Ryan Hallock
In this Aug. 23, 2011 Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System photo, soldiers from Blackhorse Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, including Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, left, take part in exercise at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. Five days after an attack on Afghan villagers killed 16 civilians, a senior U.S. official identified Bales as the suspect in that attack.


LAKE TAPPS, Wash. — On a winding road of wood-frame homes tucked amid towering pines, Robert Bales was the father who joined his two young children for playtime in the yard, a career soldier who greeted neighbors warmly but was guarded when talking about the years he spent away at war.

“When I heard him talk, he said ... ‘Yeah, that’s my job. That’s what I do’,” said Kassie Holland, a next-door neighbor to the soldier who is now suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians. “He never expressed a lot of emotion toward it.”

Speaking to his fellow soldiers, though, Bales could exult in the role. Plunged into battle in Iraq, he told an interviewer for a base newspaper in 2009 that he and his comrades proved “the real difference between being an American as opposed to being a bad guy.”

As reporters swarmed Bales’ neighborhood late Friday, Holland and other neighbors shook their heads, trying but failing to reconcile the man they thought they knew with the allegations against him. Military officials say that at about 3 a.m. last Sunday, the 38-year-old staff sergeant crept away from the Army base where he was stationed in southern Afghanistan, entered two slumbering villages and unleashed a massacre, shooting his victims and setting many of the bodies on fire. Eleven of those killed belonged to one family. Nine were children.

“I can’t believe it was him,” said Holland, recalling a kind-hearted neighbor who grew up in Ohio, a “happy-go-lucky” football player and a good student at Norwood High School in a suburb of Cincinnati, a former teacher said. 

“There were no signs. It’s really sad. I don’t want to believe that he did it,” said Jack Bouldin, a retired Norwood High School teacher who was Bales physical education teacher. 

Until Friday, military officials had kept Bales’ identity secret and what little was known about him remained sketchy. But with the release of his name, a still-incomplete, but sharply conflicting portrait of the man comes into focus. Part of it reveals the father and husband neighbors recall, and a soldier quietly proud of his 11-year record of service, including three tours in Iraq.

But it also shows Bales had previous brushes with trouble. In 2002, records show, he was arrested at a Tacoma, Wash., hotel for assault on a girlfriend. Bales pleaded not guilty and was required to undergo 20 hours of anger management counseling, after which the case was dismissed. A separate hit-and-run charge was dismissed in a nearby town’s municipal court three years ago, according to records.

Bales has not yet been charged in the killings in Afghanistan. He was flown Friday from Kuwait to the military’s only maximum-security prison, at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. When the Air Force cargo jet with the soldier aboard arrived at Kansas City International Airport, about an hour from the military prison, security was very tight, with the terminal completely blocked off. It marked the tragic end of Bales’ fourth tour of duty in a war zone, one his lawyer said he had hoped to avoid.

“He wasn’t thrilled about going on another deployment,” said the attorney, John Henry Browne of Seattle. “He was told he wasn’t going back, and then he was told he was going.”

A neighbor, Paul Wohlberg, recalled that when he last saw Bales in November the two men talked briefly about the soldier’s imminent departure for Afghanistan.

“I just told him to be safe. He said, ‘I will. See you when I get back,” said Wohlberg, who recalled attending barbeques at the Bales’ homes. 

Wohlberg described Bales as a man who clearly loved his country.

“I’m sure he still does,” he said.

Bales told neighbors little about his brigade’s three tours of duty to Iraq. But in a 2009 article published in Fort Lewis’ Northwest Guardian, Bales told the interviewer about finding many dead and wounded when his unit was sent to recover a downed Apache helicopter in Iraq.

“I’ve never been more proud to be a part of this unit than that day, for the simple fact that we discriminated between the bad guys and the noncombatants and then afterward we ended up helping the people that three or four hours before were trying to kill us, “ Bales said.

After returning from his second deployment to Iraq, Bales was elevated to staff sergeant. In three tours of duty, Browne says his client was injured twice. One of those injuries required the surgical removal of part of one foot. In a vehicle accident, Bales suffered a concussion, the lawyer said.

But by last year, the soldier had reached a disappointing juncture. Bales received more than 20 awards and commendations, including three Army Good Conduct medals. But military files show a largely unremarkable service record, absent the Purple Heart awards that would be expected following a significant injury or wound in combat.

Then he was passed over for a promotion, according to a posting by his wife on her blog, The Bales Family Adventures.

“It is very disappointed after all of the work Bob has done and all the sacrifices he has made for his love of his country, family and friends,” Karilyn Bales wrote early last year on the blog, which could not be independently verified. “I am sad and disappointed too, but I am also relieved, we can finally move on to the next phase of our lives.”

The best case scenario for that next phase, Karilyn Bales wrote, would be an Army assignment in an adventurous location like Germany, Italy or Hawaii, and barring that, possibly an assignment in Georgia, where her husband could become a sniper instructor.

“We are hoping that if we are proactive and ask to go to a location that the Army will allow us to have some control over where we go next,” Karilyn Bailey wrote.

By late last year, Bales was training to be an Army recruiter, Bales’ lawyer said. When he learned he would be dispatched to Afghanistan, Bales and his family were very disappointed. Still, the staff sergeant’s family saw no indication sign of undue anger, Browne said.

“They were totally shocked,” by accounts of the massacre, Browne said. “He’s never said anything antagonistic about Muslims. He’s in general very mild-mannered.”

Bales departed with his unit on Dec. 3 and was assigned about six weeks ago to a base in the Panjwai District, near Kandahar, to work with a village stability force pairing special operations troops with villagers to help provide neighborhood security.

On Saturday, the day before the shooting spree, Browne said, the soldier saw his friend’s leg blown off. Browne said his client’s family provided him with that information, which has not been verified.

On Friday, a senior U.S. defense official said Bales was drinking in the hours before the attack on Afghan villagers, violating a U.S. military order banning alcohol in war zones. The official discussed the matter on condition of anonymity because charges have not yet been filed.

Browne said his client’s family told him they were not aware of any drinking problem — not necessarily a contradiction. Pressed on the issue in interviews with news organizations, Browne said he did not know if his client had been drinking the night of the massacre.

Then, in the middle of the night last Sunday, shots rang out in a pair of villages within walking distance of the base. Soon after, a surveillance camera mounted to a blimp captured an image of a soldier the Army identifies as Bales returning in the dark. A traditional Afghan shawl was draped over the gun in his hands. As he reached the gates of the base, the man in uniform lay the weapon down. He raised his arms in surrender.

Browne said he did not know if his client had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but said it could be an issue at trial if experts believe it’s relevant. Experts on PTSD said witnessing the injury of a fellow soldier and the soldier’s own previous injuries put him at risk.

“We’ve known ever since the Vietnam war that the unfortunate phenomenon of abusive violence often closely follows the injury or death of a buddy in combat,” said Dr. Roger Pitman, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist who heads the PTSD Research Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital. “The injury or death of a buddy creates a kind of a blind rage.”

On Friday evening, Bales’ neighbors said they did not know what to think. They gazed toward the soldier’s home, where overflowing boxes were piled on the front porch and a U.S. flag leaned against the siding.

“I just can’t believe Bob’s the guy who did this,” Wohlberg said. “A good guy got put in the wrong place at the wrong time.”


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spwright 03/17/12 - 08:53 am
No Honor

Sat. 3/17/12
NOTHING Justifies the Killing of Women & Children, Not Family Man, PTSD, Tramatic Brain Injury, Multiple Combat Tours.

This USArmy SpecOps Sniper has betrayed Himself, His Family & His fellow Soldiers.
More Americans will Die because of His Actions.

Court Marshall then Death by Firing Squad.


Jerry 03/17/12 - 10:41 am
The truth about this action

The truth about this action is not being printed by wannabe news.
There were actually 20 military men involved in this planned attack, but we arn't gonna hear about that.

What i can't figure out is why the uproar. According to Islam those killed get to go to paradice right now to be with allah.
The other thing that makes me scratch my head about Islam is this, when some act like this happens to muslims, what do other muslims do? They go out & kill other muslims.

Do any of you realize that muslims kill more muslims than ANY OTHER FORCES on earth?
Do you realize that muslims believe that the first drop of a marters blood allows 70 of their family members free access to paradise?
Yet muslims claim that the blood of Jesus can't save any one at any time, but a marters blood can save 70 family, go figure.

It's like the supposed Quran burning in Afgan. It never happened. The real story is that some muslims paid to burn differant articles by the military had gathered up things to dispose of and some other muslim walked by and saw the Qurans in the disposal barrel & went off from there.
No Qurans were ever burned, yet what did muslims do, they killed other muslims & some military personel.

So i guess it's OK for muslims to kill women & children almost daily, every where, even in America, but others that are non muslim can't commit the same acts?
These animals kill women & kids with no thought of it being wrong daily and for the slighest reasons as well, and it's even allowed here in America now.
What a crock this supposed outrage is over women & kids being killed when muslims are the most responcible of ALL forces on earth for killing these supposed innocent ones.

What part of a muslim, is a muslim, don't we seem to get?
What part of there is no such thing as radical Islam, don't we get?
Ever muslim is commanded to kill every one that rejects islam, and that even goes for other muslims in the Quran/Koran.
What part of being a muslim that is obedient to the Quran or not being obedient don't we get that at any moment any & all muslims MAY become obedient to what the Quran says to do, and thats kill every one that rejects Islams sharia law.

It's like saying that Christians that pay their tithes are radicals because we obey what the Bible says to do.
Can all other Christians decide to obey the Bible & start paying tithes? Yes they can, so it's the same with Muslims, they can start to obey thier rule book as well at any time & it commands them to kill all non muslims.

Personally i think all this is a planned actions to keep the fight going for our money hungry business men that seek to cause world wide war to bring forth their ancient gods for the tribulation period of 7 yrs to close out the end of this age of time in 2012.
The Torah & Bible says it's coming, the Quran, a revised version of the Hebrew Torah & Christian Bible, also say's it's coming, so do ya think maybe it's coming??

2/3rds of all life will die in WWIII, thats 70 times more that WWII's 56 million, which is 7 times more than WWI 8 million and it's about to start any day folks.
What ya think the 20,000+ we have in the Persian Gulf as well as the 6000+ in Israel & Mediterianian Sea are on a walkabout? We are preparing for WWIII any day now.

Jesus is the only way out of this mess we are in as man tries to control other men, a control thing that was never Gods plan from the Beginning. God said have dominion over all the earth & sea, not other humans.

Norseman 03/17/12 - 11:17 am
agree spw.....death by firing

agree spw.....death by firing squad.

Jerry 03/17/12 - 06:03 pm
Did ya hear about the two

Did ya hear about the two muslim women looking at pictures of their children? One said to the other, this was my youngest & last son that sacrificed himself last week for allah, too which the other replied, ah! they blowup so young.
Then their moms have a party & give out treats because their babies get to go to paradise along with 70 family members.

As the now famous dead muslim leader said, "you Americans love life, we muslims love death." He got his wish, but now he also knows that he made a bad choice on who to obey.
What part of let them live & they will grow up to kill others, EVEN OTHER MUSLIMS, don't you get? Muslims get, why can't we?

Please explain to me what the purpose of war is, do you know?
War is to either defeat & subject others to your desires or be defeated & become subject to their desires.

Thats why in the Quran it says if they repent & accept Islam then they may live, if they reject Islam, then they are to be killed. Its called warfare and it was the only way Muhammad conducted business and has also instructed his followers to do as well.

Please explain to me just exactly who is killing who in EVERY ARAB SPRING uprising, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Yeman, Qutar, Syria, & on & on it goes.
Answer: Muslims, killing Muslims, killing Muslims, killing Muslims, and on it will always go, because they are a religion of hate & death for ALL, Period.

Anyone want to bet whether the Afgan Prez. Karzia doesn't take all the money & run any day now?? Watch and learn.

I still say this guy took the fall for the 20 others and it was a designed act to keep unrest going in Afgan as a possible way for Obama on pulling out our troops earlier than 2014.
Karsia evewn said that he wants ALL troops back on their bases & gone by 2013.
Now who would have thunk that might be something that is said.

JOAT 03/17/12 - 08:05 pm
Bassackwards Reactions

Let me see if I've got this straight. Our military tosses a couple old terrorist handbooks (koran) into the trash, which then gets burned per standard refuse disposal policy and procedure. The locals, who we've been trying to help get out of the Stone Age for the last 9 years then choose to go on massive, violent riots and try to kill us. They murder dozens of people, including innocent civilians as well as our military and even high ranking officials. They send many dozens to the hospital. They indiscriminately blow stuff up.

Americans say, "it's our fault for burning the trash". Huh?

Now, we have one of our own soldiers who has been forced into a situation of mental anguish that very few Americans could even begin to imagine. He has a mental break down and is clearly suffering from psychological dysfunction. He retaliates against those who are trying to kill him by killing a bunch of them outside of our rules of war.

Americans say, "throw him in front of a firing squad!".

Really? You folks are truly pathetic. How can you support the enemy as they are exhibiting every form of evil? They attack us over a stupid book. Then we turn around and throw one of our own people under the bus who has stood the line of defense, asked for help, been denied it, and then broken down into a state of mental illness. What's wrong with us?

This man needs our full help and unwavering support. Mercy is required. What he did was wrong and he must answer for that. But WE are collectively at fault for pushing him into the situation. Reduction in combat zone tour lengths and numbers as well as an increase in R&R time is what we need to be doing for our troops. A man can only take so much war before it will eat him up from the inside. He is not a criminal; he is the victim. Yet another history lesson we have forgotten.

spwright 03/18/12 - 06:07 pm
My Lia ?

Sun 3/18/12
JOAT, What is your opinion concerning the My Lai Massacre March 1968 ?
Should those Soldiers involved in that Massacre been found Innocence & allowed to walk free ?

I respectfully disagree with You. SSG Robert Bales is a War Criminal & he committed premediated 1st degree MURDER.
Rant all You wish about the Horrors of War & the effects on Our Soldiers NONE of which Justifies the MURDER of Women & Children There is No Honor in MURDER.

He is now being held at the Displinary Barracks, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas in Solitary Confinement.
No One has ever Escaped from Leavenworth.

SPW "Airborne" Drafted July 1969

JOAT 03/18/12 - 07:39 pm
Typical all or nothing response

No one said the guy is innocent. Might want to take another gander at the multiple times where I said the Sgt has to pay for his crime of murder.

What I detest is all the sheeple who seem to be fine with all the Afghan civilians running around murdering our people because of a stinking book. They actually sympathize with them and make excuses about why it is our fault.

Now this guy "snaps" and murders a bunch of those people. The same folks who are spewing sympathy for the terrorists are now screaming death by firing squad about our guy. You folks make me sick with your backwards thinking.

Every war has "crimes" committed "on the side". These crimes were generally ignored until the news media sent civilian reporters to Vietnam and started reporting on such things. Quite frankly, our current engagements in the ME have had a lower level of 'crime on the side' than any war in history.

Jerry 03/18/12 - 11:08 pm
He should have straped bombs

He should have straped bombs to them sent them into a crowd & set them off i guess, then it would have been ok.
Who made up these silly rules of war which say don't kill women or kids and do you really understand what the purpose of war is? Thats real war, not these games we play with our citizens lives on foriegn soil.
Do any of you remember what the Revolutionary war against England was all about? They wanted to subject us to their rules and we did not want to accept those rules, so it was war.
Some times you have to wipe out the entire lott or there will never be peace from spiritually depraved people, remember they train these kids to grow up, too blow up.

As i said before this guy was not alone & 20 other army troops were involved in this planned murder to force more supposed pressure on Obama to withdraw early.
The only thing is that Obama probably gave the order by Leon Peneta last week when he was there to give this order.

Make no mistake folks this playing war in Afgan is a dead end street because we don't fight wars to win, we fight them to make big bucks for Americas war machine suppliers.
But there are Bigger fish to fry & Bigger money to be made now with all the Springs poping up every where in Muslims Land, and Iran not playing the game right.

I'm sorry but there is no fair in war, either you kill them or they kill you as i told my son, don't trust a single one of those people in the middle east with your life, because they hate us all and will shoot you in the back if they can.
Why? Because they hate themselves and they are not going to appreciate any attempt to help change their ancient ways and will kill everyone if given a chance, even other muslims.

These people aren't playing war like the USA, they will never change their mind set no matter how long it takes,
They will continue to regroup after short time outs, hudnas, then it's game on again, time after time.
It does not matter how much time passes, 20 yrs, 50 yrs, 400 yrs, they will never give up or relent in their mission to subject every one to Islamic rule world wide & regain All lands once held by muslims, never.
How can they, it's their only hope of Paradise and thats only if allah decides they did enough killings.
There is absolutely NO HOPE IN ISLAM for salvation when your never sure YOU DID ENOUGH. There right, there isn't.

Thats the differance with Jesus Christs plan of salvation, there is nothing we can do except accept Gods FREE GIFT, purchased by Jesus' Blood, not yours. John 3:16-18

This is a spiritual war with Satan who is using men to destroy each other and it's heating up as Satan knows his time is very short.
Ephesians 6:12 says that are battle is not against flesh & blood (each other), but against rulers, powers, against world forces of darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Whose side are you on?

Jerry 03/21/12 - 09:03 am
You know i've been thinking

You know i've been thinking about the timing of this entire matter.
All this killing of 16 differant Afgan people in two villages and they were of a couple differant families only, also makes me wonder why these were only singled out in the two villages.

I wonder if this was a payback after the murders of two army officers that were shoot in the back of the heads by Afgans that worked for the army on the base?
The two officers were killed all due to the supposed Quran burning that never happened?
Could these Afgan people have been family members of those that killed the officers?

The thing is that on other media networks not controled by the money people & govt. of America shows that this was actually 20 army members, not just the single troop as is being proclaimed by controled media.

About the Quran burning thing, it never happened, but was blown out of context by a muslims that saw some Qurans that were in a trash can of other papers due for burning.
The Qurans were in fact placed in the trash by the Afgan men, not the Americans.

Just wondering as i smell a rat here with this entire thing and the circumstance surrounding the killings & burnings in two villages & only two familys being targeted.
As i said, i'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but i do think about what is being said & done & evaluate my opinion from that, and something seems amiss here.

War is ment for distruction of lives and is a sad thing we do to other humans, i can't pretend to know all the answers, i don't even know all the questions yet. I will say this, war is every where & is on the rise all around the world and appears to be at a point of total abandonment of any natural affection for our fellow humans, all of which i think is only going to get much worse until some one with more power than mankind posses stops it all.

spwright 03/23/12 - 10:41 am
Justify MURDER

JOAT 3/23/12 Please ask yourself this Question :
How does anyone go face to face with a CHILD then PULL THE TRIGGER & MURDER THAT CHILD not once but 9 CHILDREN ? ?


PTSD, TBI, Multiple Combat Tours, Death of a Friend, Depression, Family Stresses NONE repeat NONE JUSTIFY THE MURDER OF CHILDREN. I served with many Soldiers that endured All of the Above & NONE of them Murdered Children.

SSG Robert Bales is NOT the Victim here. Those Afghan CHILDREN ARE THE VICTIMS.

Court Martial then Death by Firing Squad ASAP

SPW "Airborne"

Norseman 03/23/12 - 11:27 am
spot on spw

spot on spw

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