Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

James McLaughlin, MPRI Contractor, Killed in Afghanistan Attack

Press Democrat. com April 28, 2011

James McLaughlin Jr., 55, and eight U.S. troops died early Wednesday when a veteran Afghan pilot opened fire during a meeting in a military compound near the airport.

His wife, Sandy McLaughlin, said Thursday she was notified that he had been shot to death, but was not told any of the circumstances.

“The only thing I know is an Afghan pilot opened fire and my husband was shot and killed,” she said.

Her husband retired as a lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Army in 2007, after 25 years in the service.

The following year, he began training helicopter pilots in Afghanistan for L-3 MPRI, an Alexandria, Va., division of the giant defense contractor, said Rick Kiernan, a vice president of communications for L-3.

“He was one of 12 trainers we have,” Kiernan said. “Having been a retired lieutenant colonel, his skills were in aviation.”

McLaughlin, who had lived in Sonoma County since 1987, was also an avid ham radio enthusiast. He helped set up a digital communications system for the ham operators who are part of the Sonoma County Office of Emergency Services disaster communications network, said Ken Harrison of Santa Rosa, a friend for 20 years and fellow ham operator.

In Afghanistan, McLaughlin worked on the U.S. Army Military Auxiliary Radio System, a Department of Defense-funded ham radio program that helped keep U.S. troops in contact with family at home.

“He didn’t talk too awful much about the danger,” Harrison said. “I think he liked to downplay that end of that. He didn’t want people to worry.”

McLaughlin’s death sent shock waves through the close-knit ranks of ham radio operators. He had been home in Santa Rosa two weeks ago before returning to Kabul.

“My gut hurts,” Harrison said. “He was just in town. I am upset that I didn’t get to see him.”

Wednesday’s attack was the fourth in the past two weeks in which someone wearing an Afghan security-force uniform struck from within a government compound.

The shooting occurred during a morning meeting between American and Afghan officers. Nine Americans were killed and five Afghan soldiers were wounded.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces killed the attacker in a gunfight.

L-3’s Kiernan said the shooting occurred in what has been considered a secure compound in Kabul.

“They are looking into the incident to find out what would have motivated the perpetrator,” said L-3’s Kiernan.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, identifying the assailant as a Taliban militant named Azizullah from a district of Kabul province.

The gunman’s brother insisted he was not a Taliban sympathizer. The attacker, identified as Ahmad Gul Sahebi, 48, was an officer who had served as a pilot in the Afghan military for two decades and was distressed over his personal finances, said the brother, Dr. Mohammad Hassan Sahibi.

“He was under economic pressures and recently he sold his house. He was not in a normal frame of mind because of these pressures,” Sahibi said. “He was going through a very difficult period of time in his life.”

Since March 2009, 48 NATO troops and military contractors have been killed in at least 16 attacks in which Afghans have turned their weapons on coalition forces, for reasons investigators later attributed to battlefield stress and personal animosity toward coalition soldiers, rather than Taliban infiltration.

Sandy McLaughlin said she was naturally concerned about his work in the war-torn country.

“This job was offered, he was using his military background and he was doing something he loved,” she said. “He loved doing the work.”

The couple had been married 28 years. They have three adult children, Adam McLaughlin, Eve McLaughlin-Suttif and James McLaughlin, all of Santa Rosa.

Sandy McLaughlin said her husband’s body is being brought back to Dover, Del., on Friday and then will be returned to Santa Rosa.

Please read more about James McLaughlin here

April 28, 2011 - Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, NATO, Private Military Contractors, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , ,

16 Comments »

  1. My heart goes out to you Sandy and your family.My husband was killed May 6th 2010 as a Civilian Contractor in Afghanistan.I was married a long time 24 years just as you were for 28 years….My thoughts are with you all…. Angie xxxx If I can help anyway please let me know.God bless you xxx

    Comment by angela spain | April 28, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks Angie for your kind words to my sister Sandy. I cannot imagine losing my husband in such a manner. It is really nice of you to think of her. You have walked in her shoes and no one knows the pain as you do. I would pray that if she ever wants to talk she can do so with you. Right now, which is understandable, she just wants to be alone. I love her, and pray for God to provide her strength to endure.

      Comment by Debbie | May 4, 2011 | Reply

    • thank you angela.still adjusting to my new normal :(
      sandy mclaughlin

      Comment by Sandy Kolb McLaughlin | February 12, 2012 | Reply

  2. God bless our 8 troops xxxx Their families will need every support from every direction in the following months. Angie Spain xxxx

    Comment by angela spain | April 28, 2011 | Reply

  3. my regards to Jim’s family I was visiting a mutual friend in CA this month (Jan 2012) and she told me of your tragedy , I knew Jim back in the late 70′s when he was attending Dexel in Phila..he loved ROTC and looked forward to a career in the Army. I have a few photos of him and his parents from back then please contact me if you want me to send you copies.I can email them if you wish,
    I’m so very sorry for your loss
    dc_rusty1@hotmail.com
    Debby Camp

    Comment by Debby Camp | January 30, 2012 | Reply

  4. [...] have included people like James McLaughlin, 55, who trained pilots on a contract for MPRI and was killed by a rogue Afghan pilot who also killed eight American soldiers last April; and Todd Walker, Michael Clawson and James [...]

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  5. [...] have included people like James McLaughlin, 55, who trained pilots on a contract for MPRI and was killed by a rogue Afghan pilot who also killed eight American soldiers last April; and Todd Walker, Michael Clawson and James [...]

    Pingback by Afghan War Risks Are Shifting to Contractors | G7Finance.com - Finance News & Personal Finance Resources | February 11, 2012 | Reply

  6. [...] have enclosed people like James McLaughlin, 55, who lerned pilots on a agreement for MPRI and was killed by a brute Afghan pilot who also killed 8 American soldiers final April; and Todd Walker, Michael Clawson and James Scott [...]

    Pingback by Afghan War Risks Are Shifting to Contractors | Liberty Reporter | February 11, 2012 | Reply

  7. [...] have enclosed people like James McLaughlin, 55, who lerned pilots on a agreement for MPRI and was killed by a brute Afghan pilot who also killed 8 American soldiers final April; and Todd Walker, Michael Clawson and James Scott [...]

    Pingback by Afghan War Risks Are Shifting to Contractors | Mobile News Plus | February 11, 2012 | Reply

  8. [...] have enclosed people like James McLaughlin, 55, who lerned pilots on a agreement for MPRI and was killed by a brute Afghan pilot who also killed 8 American soldiers final April; and Todd Walker, Michael Clawson and James Scott [...]

    Pingback by Risks of Afghan War Shift From Soldiers to Contractors - Top Rated Insurance Providers - Personal Insurance Direct | February 11, 2012 | Reply

  9. [...] have enclosed people like James McLaughlin, 55, who lerned pilots on a agreement for MPRI and was killed by a brute Afghan pilot who also killed 8 American soldiers final April; and Todd Walker, Michael Clawson and James Scott [...]

    Pingback by Afghan War Risks Are Shifting to Contractors | World News Portal | February 12, 2012 | Reply

  10. [...] have included people like James McLaughlin, 55, who trained pilots on a contract for MPRI and was killed by a rogue Afghan pilot who also killed eight American soldiers last April; and Todd Walker, Michael Clawson and James [...]

    Pingback by The secret contractor toll in Afghanistan; this is how we fight our wars — Antony Loewenstein | February 12, 2012 | Reply

  11. [...] have enclosed people like James McLaughlin, 55, who lerned pilots on a agreement for MPRI and was killed by a brute Afghan pilot who also killed 8 American soldiers final April; and Todd Walker, Michael Clawson and James Scott [...]

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  12. [...] have included people like James McLaughlin, 55, who trained pilots on a contract for MPRI and was killed by a rogue Afghan pilot who also killed eight American soldiers last April; and Todd Walker, Michael Clawson and James [...]

    Pingback by NYT: Contractors, new target in Afghan war | February 12, 2012 | Reply

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    Pingback by Afghan War Risks Are Shifting to Contractors - World Bad News : World Bad News | April 3, 2012 | Reply

  14. [...] have included people like James McLaughlin, 55, who trained pilots on a contract for MPRI and was killed by a rogue Afghan pilot who also killed eight American soldiers last [...]

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