Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Fourth Annual EOD Charity Golf Tournament October 6 in Charleston

Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Association, Charleston Local Chapter 6, is hosting the fourth annual EOD Charity Golf Tournament Oct. 6 at the Shadowmoss Golf Plantation in Charleston.

The association provides funds to the Wounded EOD Warrior Foundation and the EOD Memorial Foundation, which provides legacy educational scholarships to children and spouses of fallen service members.

For more information or to participate, contact Tuck LeBree at eodtuck@aol.com.

September 26, 2012 Posted by | Bomb Disposal, Explosive Ordnance Disposal | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bomb Blast robs Navy EOD Taylor Morris of parts of four limbs

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Taylor Morris, right, sits with a fellow service member in Afghanistan during a lull in a firefight.

But the 23-year-old’s inner strength and determination remain undented

Des Moines Register

The bomb blast in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, earlier this month took so much from Taylor Morris, a former soccer player and top-notch wrestler at Cedar Falls High School.

Morris, 23, lost his right leg at the knee, his left leg at mid-thigh, his right arm at the wrist and his left arm at the elbow.

But somehow, the explosion did little damage to his major organs. And it didn’t dent his determination to recover and move on with his life. His parents are grateful for both those blessings.

“We are blessed in that his organs and core received only scratches … and we are thankful for that,” said Juli Morris, Taylor’s mother.

Taylor Morris, a U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal technician, was wounded May 3 by an improvised explosive device while on foot patrol with U.S. forces in Kandahar province.

He had only arrived in Afghanistan in February, his first deployment.

He joined the Navy right out of high school in 2007 and has always been interested in Navy special operations, his mother said.

Based at Virginia Beach, he underwent 10 months of training in disarming and disposing explosive ordnance, in addition to underwater dive training and parachute jump school so he could accompany Special Forces on missions. Based at Virginia Beach, he was attached to a unit of Army Green Berets at the time he was wounded.

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June 5, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Bomb Disposal, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Improvised Explosive Devices | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ken Falke, retired Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal, breaks ground on Wounded Warrior Retreat

Hoo Ah Ken et al !

The Leaf Chronicle  June 24, 2012

BLUEMONT, VA. — A group of investors, government officials, business executives and former military personnel has broken ground on a private retreat they hope will become a premier getaway for wounded warriors recovering in the Washington, D.C., area.

Boulder Crest Retreat will be 37 acres where recovering service members and their families can vacation, enjoying therapeutic and recreational activities, said founder Ken Falke, a retired Navy explosive ordnance disposal master chief.

“A large percentage of our military members come from rural America. Wounded warriors treated at Walter Reed can sometimes be assigned there for one to four years. While they are in top facilities, at the end of the day, they are still living in military apartments and medical clinics. This will give them the chance to get out of the city,” Falke said Friday.

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June 5, 2012 Posted by | Bomb Disposal, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Veterans | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Taylor Morris, Determined to Recover After Afghan Blast

Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier  June 2, 2012

Taylor Morris remembers and feels everything. He remembers the explosion that blew him off the ground and took portions of all his limbs.

He still feels his hands — every knuckle, every fingernail — as though they’re knotted up inside him and being crushed, and the stinging where his legs were, as though they’ve fallen asleep.

But he feels other things, too, the recuperating Cedar Falls sailor told the Courier Wednesday in an exclusive interview from his hospital room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

He feels the love and support of a family and his girlfriend, Danielle Kelly, who have never left his side. Of his comrades in arms, including fellow amputees, at Walter Reed who give him hope for recovery. Of his brothers and sisters who are working to raise funds for whatever expenses may be ahead for his eventual homecoming. Of folks in Northeast Iowa he barely knew or never knew — from a classmate organizing a fundraiser at Tony’s La Pizzeria, to the lady in New Hampton who simply wanted to know where to send a check.

He wants people back home to know he appreciates the support, and that he’s determined to fight back to recover on his own terms.

“Tell folks back home I chose this path, and I knew it was dangerous going into it,” Morris said from his hospital room at Walter Reed via Skype and telephone. “And it’s unfortunate it happened. But I don’t want them to pity me or to feel bad. I’m doing fine, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get back to 100 percent.”

Morris, 23, a 2007 graduate of Cedar Falls High School and a U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal expert, suffered debilitating injuries from a bomb blast while on patrol with U.S. Army Special Forces troops in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. He lost portions of both legs, his left arm at the elbow and his right hand.

“So far, everything’s been ahead of schedule” in his recovery, Morris said. “It’s pretty miraculous.”

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June 3, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Explosive Ordnance Disposal | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

War Risks Shift to Contractors

Even dying is being outsourced here.

by Rod Nordland The New York Times   February 11, 2012

This is a war where traditional military jobs, from mess hall cooks to base guards and convoy drivers, have increasingly been shifted to the private sector. Many American generals and diplomats have private contractors for their personal bodyguards. And along with the risks have come the consequences: More civilian contractors working for American companies than American soldiers died in Afghanistan last year for the first time during the war.

American employers here are under no obligation to publicly report the deaths of their employees and frequently do not. While the military announces the names of all its war dead, private companies routinely notify only family members. Most of the contractors die unheralded and uncounted — and in some cases, leave their survivors uncompensated.

“By continuing to outsource high-risk jobs that were previously performed by soldiers, the military, in effect, is privatizing the ultimate sacrifice,” said Steven L. Schooner, a law professor at George Washington University who has studied the civilian casualties issue.

Last year, at least 430 employees of American contractors were reported killed in Afghanistan: 386 working for the Defense Department, 43 for the United States Agency for International Development and one for the State Department, according to data provided by the American Embassy in Kabul and publicly available in part from the United States Department of Labor.

By comparison, 418 American soldiers died in Afghanistan last year, according to Defense Department statistics compiled by icasualties.org, an independent organization that monitors war deaths.

That trend has been growing for the past several years in Afghanistan, and it parallels a similar trend in Iraq, where contractor deaths exceeded military deaths as long ago as 2009. In Iraq, however, that took place as the number of American troops was being drastically reduced until their complete withdrawal at the end of last year. And last year, more soldiers than private contractors died in Iraq (54 compared with 41, according to Labor Department figures).

Experts who have studied the phenomenon say that because many contractors do not comply with even the current, scanty reporting requirements, the true number of private contractor deaths may be far higher. “No one believes we’re underreporting military deaths,” Mr. Schooner said. “Everyone believes we’re underreporting contractor deaths.”

Qais Mansoori, 20, may have been among the uncounted. An Afghan interpreter employed by Mission Essential Personnel, a leading provider of interpreters in Afghanistan, Mr. Mansoori was killed along with five other interpreters when Taliban insurgents overran the military base where the interpreters were staying in the Mirwais district of Kandahar Province in July 2010.

That attack, typically, was scantily reported, since no soldiers died — although the death toll was 17, including an unidentified American civilian, according to Afghan officials and Mr. Mansoori’s friends and family.

Under the federal Defense Base Act, American defense contractors are obliged to report the war zone deaths and injuries of their employees — including subcontractors and foreign workers — to the Department of Labor, and to carry insurance that will provide the employees with medical care and compensation. In the case of foreign employees, which many of the dead were, survivors generally receive a death benefit equal to half of the employee’s salary for life; American employees get even more.

Mr. Mansoori’s brother, Mohammad, 35, an employee of a mine-removal charity in Afghanistan, said his brother’s employer, Mission Essential Personnel, promptly contacted the family and made a lump sum payment of $10,004, never mentioning the lifetime annuity to which they were entitled — which given Mr. Mansoori’s salary of $800 a month would have been closer to $150,000 over his survivors’ lifetimes. “I wish he was still here to look after my father and mother,” Mohammad Mansoori said. Their father is blind, and Qais Mansoori was his parents’ sole support, he said.

A spokesman for Mission Essential Personnel, Sean Rushton, disputed that, saying that his company has been making biweekly payments of $190 to Mr. Mansoori’s family and will continue doing so for 29 years. The $10,004 lump sum payment was a voluntary death gratuity paid by the company, Mr. Rushton said.

There were 113,491 employees of defense contractors in Afghanistan as of January 2012, compared with about 90,000 American soldiers, according to Defense Department statistics. Of those, 25,287, or about 22 percent of the employees, were American citizens, with 47 percent Afghans and 31 percent from other countries.

The bulk of the known contractor deaths are concentrated among a handful of major companies, particularly those providing interpreters, drivers, security guards and other support personnel who are particularly vulnerable to attacks.

The biggest contractor in terms of war zone deaths is apparently the defense giant L-3 Communications. If L-3 were a country, it would have the third highest loss of life in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq; only the United States and Britain would exceed it in fatalities.

Over the past 10 years, L-3 and its subsidiaries, including Titan Corporation and MPRI Inc., had at least 370 workers killed and 1,789 seriously wounded or injured through the end of 2011 in Iraq and Afghanistan, records show. In a statement, a spokeswoman for L-3, Jennifer Barton, said: “L-3 is proud to have the opportunity to support the U.S. and coalition efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. We mourn the loss of life of these dedicated men and women.”

Other American companies with a high number of fatalities are Supreme Group, a catering company, with 241 dead through the end of 2011; Service Employees International, another catering company, with 125 dead; and security companies like DynCorps (101 dead), Aegis (86 dead) and Hart Group (63 dead). In all, according to Labor Department data, 64 American companies have lost more than seven employees each in the past 10 years.

The American dead 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 Scott Ozier, employees of AAR Airlift, who were killed in a helicopter crash in Helmand Province last month for which Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility.

For every contractor who is killed, many more are seriously wounded. According to the Labor Department’s statistics, 1,777 American contractors in Afghanistan were injured or wounded seriously enough to miss more than four days of work last year.

Marcie Hascall Clark began the Defense Base Act Compensation Blog after her husband, Merlin, a former Navy explosives ordnance disposal expert, was injured in 2003 while working for an American contractor. She and her husband have spent the past seven years fighting for hundreds of thousands of dollars in disability payments and medical compensation. “It was quite a shock to learn how little my husband’s body, mind and future were worth,” she said.

Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kandahar, Afghanistan.

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See also US Insurance Firm CNA Neglects Survivors of Iraqi Translators May Face Criminal Charges

February 11, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Iraq, KBR, L-3, Mission Essential Personnel, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, State Department | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment