(This is cross posted from MsSparky.com)
One year ago today, 24 year old Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth was electrocuted and died in his shower at Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Baghdad.
The Army initially reported that Ryan, a decorated Green Beret foolishly took an electrical appliance into the shower and that was the reason for his death.
The Criminal Investigations Command (CID) closed Ryan's investigation on June 11, 2008 proclaiming Ryan's manner of death was "accidental". His mother, Cheryl Harris refused to accept this as the cause of death for her son.
Cheryl launched into her own investigation and took on the two Goliaths, DoD and KBR. She enlisted the assistance of Senator Casey, Senator Dorgan, Congressman Waxman, Jim Risen of the New York Times, Greg Mitchell and CNN. Anyone who would listen to her tell her story about the unsafe living conditions of our soldiers in the Middle East.
Soldiers came forward. Electricians came forward. Total strangers came forward. Offering pertinent information and support.
On July 11, 2008 Cheryl bravely testified before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Cheryl described, in heartbreaking detail, the cause of Ryan's death and the shoddy and unsafe electrical conditions of his building.
On July 30, 2008 The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform thoroughly chastised the DoD Inspector General, The Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), The Army Contract Command, and KBR for shoddy work and total lack of oversight. The Committee presented evidence that was uncovered due to Cheryl's persistence and doggedness.
On August 29, 2008, the Criminal Investigations Command (CID) reopened its investigation into the cause of SSG Ryan Maseth's death. Currently the investigation is "open and ongoing".
Since Cheryl Harris waged war on the DoD and KBR several very positive changes have occurred with regard to the safety of our US Troops and civilians.
- Task Force Safe was implemented to inspect nearly 90,000 DoD buildings for electrical deficiencies and fire hazards.
- A Level III Corrective Action Request (CAR) was written against KBR for electrical deficiencies.
- KBR changed their hiring requirements for electricians and now requires them to be licensed. In order to attract qualified electricians, KBR has dramatically increased their wages.
- The DCMA oversight of the LOGCAP contract as clearly improved.
- Other families are coming forward and some have filed suit against KBR for the electrocution death and chemical exposures of their loved ones.
- And just maybe the DoD will think twice before trying to deceive a family member again.
It is my opinion there is only one logical conclusion to the cause of Ryan Maseth's death. So let's complete the investigation and move on to the next step.
Cheryl, on this day I have no words to comfort you. Nothing to dull the pain you must be feeling. But, I would like to say you are truly a hero. Because of your bravery and determination to find the truth US Soldiers and Civilians are safer. KBR is being called to task. And the DCMA is doing their job more effectively.
Cheryl, I can't help but think that on this day, as Ryan wraps his arms around you to comfort you, he whispers "Mom, not all warriors wear uniforms. Your strength and bravery humble even the most decorated soldier. I am so very proud of you."
May you find peace today my friend.
aka Ms Sparky