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Donald Tolfree-KBR Archive

The Uncounted Contractor Casualties

Posted May 9, 2011 By Ms Sparky

David IsenbergThe PMSC Observer & Huffington Post

Author, Shadow Force: Private Security Contractors in Iraq (Praeger Security International)

Of all the things said and written about private military and security contractors working for the U.S. government in various war zones one of the least discussed is the sacrifices they make. And like regular military forces they also pay the ultimate sacrifice, as in dying. Unlike regular military personnel their deaths rarely get any notice, aside from a company press release and a few paragraphs in the hometown newspaper. (click HERE for Fallen Contractors Memorial at American Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan)

Their sacrifices are so unrecognized that if Washington, D.C. were to build yet another war memorial on the mall The Tomb of the Unknown Contractor would have to be considered a viable candidate for selection. To paraphrase the old saw about regular military forces, one might say in regard to recognition of contractors wounded and killed, “nothing is too good for our contractors so that’s what we’ll give them. Nothing.”

Admittedly there is slightly better recognition of the wounded and dead contractors than when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and Iraq but that is not saying a whole lot.  There simply has not been much detailed analysis of this subject. That is why a recent paper strongly deserved attention. It is Dead Contractors: The Un-Examined Effect of Surrogates on the Public’s Casualty Sensitivity by Prof. Steven L. Schooner and student Collin D. Swan, both of the George Washington University Law School,  was recently published in the Journal of National Security Law & Policy.

In the paper they examine the “casualty sensitivity” effect. Economists define this as an inverse relationship exists between the number of military deaths and public support. Currently, most studies suggest that “majorities of the public have historically considered the potential and actual casualties in U.S. wars and military operations to be an important factor in their support.” Read the remainder of this entry »

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I published my first post on this tragedy well over a year ago. I was inundated with comments from people who had information or insight on this case. After you read this post be sure to read the comments on Lawsuit blames KBR in driver death at Anaconda Iraq. FYI last I heard Frazier Shack now works for Dyncorp in Texas.

Halliburton Can’t Shake Friendly Fire Lawsuit

By JEFF GORMAN – April 19, 2010

(CN) – Halliburton and other U.S. military support contractors cannot escape a lawsuit filed by a woman whose father was gunned down by friendly fire in Iraq, the 5th Circuit ruled.

Kristen Martin claimed her father, Donald Tolfree, relied on the defendants’ assurances that he would be protected by the U.S. military while working in Iraq.

Tolfree was driving a “chase truck,” an empty semi-truck cab which could be used to help a disabled semi in a military convoy.

According to Martin, the convoy commander did not tell the sentry that her father was returning to camp after his truck was no longer needed for the mission.

Tolfree drove back to camp without an escort and died when an American gunner fired 100 rounds into his truck. Read the remainder of this entry »

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Oops he lost his cap and lanyard

Judge permits convoy ambush trial, but delays it

By TOM FOWLER HOUSTON CHRONICLE – March 25, 2010
A federal judge ruled today that most of the lawsuits claiming Houston-based KBR should have stopped a deadly 2004 truck convoy in Iraq can move toward trial, but a May 24 trial date is off to allow KBR time to file an appeal.

The case centers on April 2004 attacks on a convoy of supply trucks KBR ran in Iraq, during which six civilian truck drivers were killed and 14 wounded.

The drivers caught in the ambush were delivering fuel under KBR’s multibillion-dollar contract to transport supplies, build bases, serve meals and provide other support services for American troops in the Middle East.

Plaintiffs in the Houston lawsuits — two injured workers and the family of one who was killed in the attack — allege that the company knew of the likelihood of the attacks in advance and had the authority to cancel the convoys.

U.S. District Judge Gray Miller previously dismissed the collection of lawsuits, saying the U.S. Army had control over KBR and thus KBR wasn’t responsible.

Read the remainder of this entry »

Lawsuit blames KBR in driver death at Anaconda Iraq

Posted February 6, 2009 By Ms Sparky

Houston lawsuit blames Halliburton, KBR in Iraq death

KBR denies responsibility in trucker’s 2007 death at Camp Anaconda

By MARY FLOOD Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle
Feb. 6, 2009

A Michigan woman whose father was shot to death by American soldiers while driving a truck in Iraq filed a lawsuit in Houston this week against his employers, Halliburton and KBR.

Kristen Martin alleges wrongful death, fraud and conspiracy regarding the February 2007 shooting of her father, Donald Tolfree.

Guy Watts, the Austin lawyer who filed the lawsuit, said Tolfree was assured he would be protected by the U.S. military 24 hours a day. Instead, because of gross negligence and fraud on the part of his employer, he was killed by the U.S. military, Watts contends.

The lawsuit states that the family in no way blames the military, but does blame the practices of Halliburton, KBR and their affiliate Services Employees International for mistakes that led soldiers to think Tolfree might be an insurgent driving a bomb-filled truck onto a military base.

“He was recruited in Houston, oriented in Houston and assured of his safety in Houston,” Watts said in explaining why the lawsuit was filed here.

He said Tolfree’s daughter has been negotiating with the companies since her father’s death. There is some question about whether the companies told the daughter incorrectly that her father had been killed by a roadside bomb. Watts said it is very clear the companies falsely wrote in a letter to her U.S. senator 11 months after the death that Tolfree was killed by a roadside bomb.

Watts said Tolfree wasn’t properly trained on the night he was sent out as a backup for a convoy while it stayed on the base. Instead, the lawsuit states, Tolfree wound up past the base gates and, when he turned around, he did not know he wasn’t expected back and was suspected as an attacker.

Tolfree, who was in his 50s, was killed when about 100 rounds from a U.S. machine gun were fired into the cab of his truck, according to the lawsuit. Another truck also was fired upon, but the driver survived.

Several other lawsuits are pending in Houston federal courts against Halliburton and KBR concerning deaths in Iraq. Many have taken years to get to trial.

Watts said he expects the companies will claim they are not subject to lawsuits over deaths in Iraq under a law called the Defense Base Act.

Heather Browne, spokeswoman for KBR, said the company has sympathy for Tolfree’s family but denies that it is liable or responsible for his death.

“At the time of the incident at issue, Mr. Tolfree was employed by KBR pursuant to KBR’s LOGCAP III contract with the U.S. government for the purpose of supporting the U.S. military operations in Iraq. As such, any claims by Mr. Tolfree’s estate or family members against KBR arising from such incident lie solely under the Defense Base Act,” Browne wrote in an e-mail.

She said Tolfree’s truck and another KBR truck were part of a convoy controlled by the U.S. military out of Camp Anaconda when he died.

Browne said many tactical decisions at the heart of this incident are not susceptible to judicial review, including the reasonableness of the military’s escalation-of-force procedures and decision to fire on the KBR drivers. She wrote that, because so many military procedures involved can’t be reviewed by the courts, the lawsuit cannot proceed very far.

Halliburton spokeswoman Diana Gabriel said the company has not been served with the lawsuit and that, if it is related to KBR work in Iraq, Halliburton would be improperly named in this matter. (This original Houston Chronicle article has been removed)

Added 2/08/09: If you were at Camp Anaconda when this incident occurred or having any information about the incident, please contact me via the Contact Us tab above or leave a comment.

Ms Sparky