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A Casualty of War

Friday, May. 02, 2008 3:49 AM

Sgt. Russ Dwyer was attached to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, deployed to Iraq in 2003 and safely returned a year later. He continued on active duty until 2006, ending his 20-year career as a cavalry scout instructor before retiring that year.

I only knew Russ peripherally - we'd worked together on the staff of an online game - and knew him to be a devoted husband and father. Qualities that were in evidence in a letter he wrote to friends a few days prior to his deployment to Iraq, in which he spoke of his wife and children, duty, and the men under his command.

The other day I learned that Russ was dead. Not from the war, though I suspect his experience on the front lines may have contributed to things.

On March 18, Russ shot and killed his estranged wife, Colleen, and then himself in front of their home. I can't speak to any ongoing problems with his marriage, nor do I offer any defense for his actions.

In fact, it's easy to portray Russ as the villain of the piece. But it is clear that the system failed both Colleen and Russ - she was unable to obtain a permanent restraining order as their marriage fell apart, and he does not appear to have had access to necessary assistance.

Their children, two from Colleen's previous marriage, and the son and daughter she had with Russ, are with their grandparents.

As an ironic footnote, there's this observation by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

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