- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 21, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Two California soldiers fatally shot in Iraq were killed by Iraqi civil-defense officers patrolling with them, military investigators have found.

The deaths of Army Spc. Patrick R. McCaffrey Sr. and 1st Lt. Andre D. Tyson originally were attributed to an ambush during a patrol near Balad on June 22, 2004. But the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command found that one or more of the Iraqis attached to the U.S. soldiers on patrol fired at them, a military official said yesterday.

A Pentagon spokesman knew of no other similar incident, calling it “extremely rare.”

The Army has conducted an extensive investigation into the deaths but declined to provide details out of respect for relatives of the soldiers, spokesman Paul Boyce said last night.

It was not clear whether the investigators had established a motive or arrested any suspects.

The families of Spc. McCaffrey and Lt. Tyson were to be briefed on the report’s conclusions yesterday and today by Brig. Gen. Oscar Hilman, the soldiers’ commander at the time, and three other officers.

“When they come, I have my list of questions ready, and I want these answers and I don’t want lies,” said Spc. McCaffrey’s mother, Nadia McCaffrey.

Soldiers who witnessed the attack have told her that two Iraqi patrolmen opened fire on her son’s unit. The witnesses also said a third gunman simultaneously drove up to the U.S. unit in a van, climbed onto the vehicle and fired at the Americans, she said.

“Nothing is clear. Nothing is clear,” she said. Her son was hit eight times with bullets of various calibers, some of which penetrated his body armor, she said. Mrs. McCaffrey thinks her son bled to death.

She has become a vocal critic of the war in Iraq.

“I really want this story to come out; I want people to know what happened to my son,” she said. “There is no doubt to me that [ambush by attached Iraqi units] is still happening to soldiers today, but our chain of command is awfully reckless; they don’t seem to [care] what’s happening to soldiers.”

Iraqi forces who trained with the Americans had fired at them twice before the incident that killed Spc. McCaffrey, and he had reported it to his superiors, she said.

Mr. Boyce said the U.S. military remained confident in its operations with Iraqis.

“We continue to have confidence in our operations with Iraqi soldiers and have witnessed the evolution of a stronger fighting army for the Iraqi people,” he said. “The Army is committed to investigating each battlefield death and providing accurate information to families.”

Spc. McCaffrey joined the National Guard the day after the September 11 terrorist attacks, his mother said.

Lt. Tyson’s family could not be located, and a message left with his former unit was not returned.

Spc. McCaffrey, 34, and Lt. Tyson, 33, were members of the California National Guard. Both were assigned to the Army National Guard’s 579th Engineer Battalion, based in Petaluma.

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