Monday, March 19, 2012


Accused of the murder of 16 Afghan villagers, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales might go down as one of the more infamous names in United States military history.  What ever happened that caused a soldier who had served numerous deployments to commit such a heinous act?

For whatever we find out, it will not answer the real question for us all.  Are any of us capable of such an atrocity?   To put a different spin to the question, let's hear from Bale's wife, Karilyn, as she detailed the Bale's family life in the military through her blog, courtesy of the New York Times.      

"She detailed her pregnancy, with her husband a world away. She described the knot she got in her stomach from missing him. She wrote of her disappointment after he was passed over for a promotion.

But mostly, Karilyn Bales — the wife of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers last week — relayed the simple anguish of life as a military spouse, tending to a home with two young children, with a husband summoned for repeated deployments.

“Bob left for Iraq this morning,” she wrote in her family blog on Aug. 9, 2009. “Quincy slept in our bed last night.”

Staff Sgt. Bales (left) at Fort Irwin, California in August, 2011  

Though much of the family’s online presence appears to have been removed in recent days, the fragments that remain capture the daily travails typical of any family with a loved one stationed abroad.

A little less than a year ago, in March 2011, Ms. Bales wrote on her blog that her husband had not received a promotion to E-7, sergeant first class. The family was disappointed, she said, “after all of the work Bob has done and all the sacrifices he has made for his love of his country, family and friends.

But Ms. Bales was also relieved, she wrote, because she hoped that the Army might allow the family some autonomy in choosing its next location, after Sergeant Bales had spent years at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State.

She listed her top choices: Germany (“best adventure opportunity!”); Italy (“2nd best adventure opp”); Hawaii (“nuff said”); Kentucky (“we would at least be near Bob’s family”); and Georgia (“to be a sniper teacher, not because it is a fun place to live”).
In some of these locations, Sergeant Bales’s chances of being deployed to a war zone would probably have been lower. Wherever they went, Ms. Bales said, she hoped to rent out their house in Lake Tapps, Wash., she wrote, “so that we would have it to come back to when our adventure is over.”

More often, Ms. Bales focused on ordinary struggles. She described surprise phone calls and solo doctor’s appointments, attempts to clean the house while Sergeant Bales was gone and the “bad dreams” she woke from after a nap on the day he left in 2009.
She recalled discussions of baby names with him while he was away, and celebrating Easter one Sunday early, so that Sergeant Bales could decorate eggs with their daughter, Quincy, before leaving home again.

In 2006, while she was pregnant with Quincy, Ms. Bales wrote that though she was careful not to wish the days away, “I only want the days to go by fast when it comes to Bob coming back home.”

A few days later, Ms. Bales wrote about a common tic she shared with her unborn child: “I get the hiccups all the time these days, I always think that Bob is thinking about me.”  One morning, she continued, she could feel the baby hiccupping in her belly. “I guess Bob was thinking about her too,” Ms. Bales wrote.

When Quincy was born in December 2006, Ms. Bales wrote, she received a call at the hospital. “It was Bob calling from the airport in Kuwait!!” she wrote. “It was so good to hear his voice. I told him how the birth went and he got to hear Quincy squeaking in the background.”

In August 2007, she described some of the child’s first words. “Much to Daddy’s happiness,” she wrote, “she now says ‘D’ as in Dadadadadada.”

Ms. Bales’s post from March 2011, about the Army promotion, appears to have been the blog’s latest entry. In it, she seemed to hint at why she maintained the site in the first place. The collection of posts was a “time capsule,” she wrote, and she hoped that her children would one day “enjoy reading about the decisions that Mom and Dad went through during their lives.”

With a relocation expected, she said, the family’s coming months would be full of change. “I am hoping to blog about it and look back in a year,” she wrote, “to see how far we have come from right now.”

I'm sure Karilyn didn't see her husband's actions could she think a man who was the loving father of her children capable of such an act?  Does Staff Sgt. Bales seem like the typical murderer we've seen depicted over the years?  I think not. 

A Fox News report this afternoon painted a picture of  a man (Bales) who was feeling the pressures of financial and legal woes.  This is only a beginning.  I'm sure no rock will be left unturned as every media outlet imaginable does its due to speak.

ABC News reported this today.  "Staff Sgt. Bales. who allegedly shot and killed 16 Afghan villagers, including nine children, during a nighttime rampage, is meeting with his lawyers for the first time today.

Bales has yet to be charged, although charges could be filed as early as today.
According to military law expert Eugene Fidell, Bales will likely face either life in prison with possibility of parole or the death penalty, a punishment the military hasn't carried out since 1961.

In capital cases deposition testimony is not allowed, Fidell told ABC News. This means if there are Afghan witnesses to the massacre, they must travel to the U.S. to testify in person. And since they cannot be forced to testify some witnesses may decided not to make the trip because they do not trust the U.S. military.

Bales, a 38-year-old father of two, is being represented by John Henry Browne a Seattle attorney whose clients have included serial killer Ted Bundy and Colton Harris-Moore, the "Barefoot Bandit."  Browne, who said he has taken on only three or four military cases, will have a team that includes at least one military lawyer.

"You couldn't imagine a more difficult case, I don't think," Browne said. "This case has political ramifications, it has legal ramifications, it has social ramifications. So you couldn't really imagine a bigger case."

Bales is being held in an isolated cell at Fort Leavenworth's military prison in Kansas. He is a man some describe as a virtual case study in what war can do to a person. Neighbors, friends and fellow soldiers all describe him as an easy going family man.
"It's like you're talking about two totally different people," Michelle Cadell, Bales former neighbor, told ABC News. "Every older woman in the neighborhood calls him 'my Bobby,' not Bobby Bales. You don't know who Bobby Bales is. It's my Bobby."

What strikes me most in the dialogue above is the point that Bales could be a case study in what war CAN do to a person.  This causes me to reflect and pray for any soldier, parent of a soldier, spouse of a soldier or child of a soldier asking for God's protection in what they do for us and the sacrifices they make not only to body, but to mind and family. 

And additional prayer to the Bale's family and the families of the sixteen killed last week. 

Father, in the midst of our trials may the problem at hand not be the single focus of our prayers.  Help us to seek You for godly understanding and patient endurance, so that our lives are spiritually maturing in the process of waiting upon You to answer our prayers.  May seeking You be our primary focus in fulfillment of Christ’s command in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto You.” In His precious name we pray, Amen.




  1. The new media should let the world know where exactly in Texas criminal George W Bush lives. I'm sure many people would like to know that.

  2. Not quite sure what you mean by your comment.