Colonel's Don't Get Shot: Six Years Later and the Fight for Colonel Stahlman Continues
We want to take the time to pay homage to him and to provide all of his supporters with updates.
As of now, the case is in the hands of Federal Judge Mark Barnett. While awaiting his decision, we are pouring through a new set of documents recently received through a FOIA request. These documents are proving to be very enlightening as to the circumstances at Camp Ramadi in the days leading up to the cold blooded shooting of this honorable man.
However, no matter what the judges decision, we will be taking the story to the court of public opinion with the book tentatively titled "A Non-Hostile Incident." We'd like to offer you two small excerpts of this incredible story. Excerpt 1 starts with the initial phone call informing Kimberly that her husband was shot. Excerpt 2 reveals the gutwrenching task of telling their oldest daughter the news. As you read this, keep in mind that if this can happen to a man like Colonel Stahlman, then none of us are safe.
Thank you for standing with the Stahlman family and please continue to show your support by sending letters to your state representatives demanding proper action.
Links to the Bill of Rights for Bereaved Military Families can be found at www.militaryfamiliesforjustice.org. While there, please take a moment to visit Mike's page.
Excerpt 1 Chapter One - River City Charlie
Back in Connecticut, Kim was sound asleep until the shrieking sound of her cell phone ringing roused her awake.
“Mrs. Stahlman?” the caller asked.
“Yes,” Kim sleepily replied. “Who is this?”
The caller identified himself as a Marine calling from DC Headquarters, an announcement that jolted Kim. She instinctively rose and started walking out of her bedroom.
“Mrs. Stahlman, I’m calling to tell you that your husband Colonel Michael Ross Stahlman was found in billeting at 8:45 am with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to his left temple.”
Kim, by this point standing at the top of the stairs, managed to make it down to the kitchen as the caller finished these first words, but she found that her legs felt like heavy cement blocks and could not make it any further. Her parents, Bob and Shirley, also awakened by the call, rushed to Kim as she fell to her knees. Bob reached out to catch her and took the phone from her hands.
The room spun violently; the sound of her father’s voice while he talked to headquarters, sounded as if he were talking under water. The phrase “left hand” was the only thing Kim could hear. “Wait, wait,” she shouted to her father. “Mike’s not left handed, he’s not left handed.” The words tumbled out of her mouth. “Something’s wrong Dad, Mike is not left handed.” Bob was aware of his daughter’s confusion and patted her shoulder as he tried to focus on the information coming from DC.
A telephone call from a pencil-pushing desk jockey is such a cold way to find out life as you know it is over, not to mention that notifying a military family of a tragedy so early in the morning goes against protocol. Mike was still alive but not conscious. After being stabilized at Camp Ramadi’s on-site hospital, he was flown by a Blackhawk to the Balad Medical Facility north of Bagdhad. Shortly thereafter, he was sent to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and would ultimately be transferred to Bethesda Naval Hospital in the United States.
The caller’s words were grim, but also very revealing: Mike’s shooting was only a few hours old, and there was no way an investigation could have occurred in that short span of time, yet the Marines had already determined it to be “self-inflicted.”
Excerpt 2 Chapter One - River City Charlie
Two days later, Mike was finally able to fly home. Kim realized she would be at Bethesda indefinitely and she needed to get the girls prepared. Piper was too young to comprehend what had happened, but MacKenna was 11-years-old and needed to know as much as possible to cope with Kim’s absence.
“I was laying down in my bed when MacKenna was brought back from Rafe’s house to Mom and Dad’s.” Kim said. “I asked her to come lay with me so we could talk.”
MacKenna, is a serious child with replicas of her Daddy’s blue eyes and dark brown hair. She cuddled up with Kim and asked what was going on.
“Mac,” Kim began, “honey, your Daddy has been in an accident. He is coming back home and I need to go be with him at the hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.”
“What happened Mom?” “What kind of accident, will he be okay?” MacKenna asked.
“I don’t know exactly what happened MacKenna, but your Daddy was shot.” Kim tried to explain, but she was losing her breath trying to hold back tears.
“What do you mean he got shot?” MacKenna pressed.
Kim had no answers for herself, there was no way she could begin to share with their child the thoughts that were running through her mind. Despite trying to put on a brave front, Kim was by now crying so hard she could barely speak. So she repeated herself.
“He got shot MacKenna and the doctors are flying him back to the States to the hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. I am going to need you to be strong and look out for Piper. She is too little to be told any of this and I need you to help her while I am gone."
MacKenna, true to form, did not get hysterical, but her face flooded with tears. And with the kind of honesty only possessed by a child, she asked the most salient question of all:
“But Mom,” she stammered, “why did he get shot? You told me before he left that Colonel’s don’t get shot.”
Unbeknownst to Kim, she was about to embark into a war of her own to get an answer to that question.