Monday, August 2, 2010

A Soldier's Nightmare and a Family's Love

Combat Veteran Pat Lamoureux

Pat survived really awful circumstances while serving in Iraq. He's haunted by the memory of a girl in her early teens who blew herself up near his heavy equipment transport truck. He said she, "came out of nowhere."

He talked about a firefight near the airport in Baghdad. Staff Sergeant Robert J. Brown, Lamoureux's convoy commander on the majority of his missions, talked about how the convoys were shot at "day and night." "If you stopped, you got shot. We were sitting ducks outside of that wall, wire, perimeter or sand berm."

Brown said, "When Pat says what happened at the airport, that happened." Any of us can only imagine. I don't know very much about Iraq, but I have been to that airport and it isn't in an extremely secure part of the city. I can only imagine how horrific the circumstances were that this Nevada soldier survived[1].

Pat also talked about an old man with a donkey, who would not stop when soldiers ordered him to and was shot. Sue told a reporter that, "To this day Pat believes the old man may have been deaf, and the image of him haunts Pat."

Pat Lamoureux serving in Iraq

These stories leave behind many important, unanswered questions. These soldiers were put through things that no human being can easily withstand. Pat was eventually evacuated for a respiratory disorder. Just after that, one of his friends and fellow soldiers from Las Vegas was killed when his truck was struck, as he was changing a tire on his military vehicle in Kuwait.

Staff Sgt. Cameron Sarno was in the same Army Reserve group, the Las Vegas-based 257th "Rolling Thunder" Transportation Company.

Sue Lamoureux told the Las Vegas Review Journal, "That night before things spiraled out of control, Pat was screaming, 'Sarno' at me. I told him there wasn't anything about that situation that was his fault."

She added that he screamed again. "Sarno, you don't know.... I could have kept him from dying."

This is what he was talking about before things spun out of control that night at Terrible's Lakeside RV Park and Casino in Pahrump[2]..

Sue knows why Pat couldn't hold it together. We have written many times about the 'legal' prescription drugs that are so often prescribed to veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. According to reports from the Nye County, Nevada Sheriff's Office, Pat Lamoureux was prescribed no less than 14 such drugs, possibly more[3].

Pat Lamoureux was out of control to the point that his wife Sue had to leave. That is when things really began to spin out of control. Pat fired several rounds at Sue's laptop computer and this brought the instant response from Local Nye County deputies.

When they pulled up, a gunbattle quickly ensued, and both Pat Lamoureux and a deputy named Eric Murphy were wounded, with non-life threatening gunshot injuries.

The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that Lamoureux was interviewed several hours after the shooting, after he had been transported to the Nye County Detention Center.

When Officer James Chandler asked, "You know why I am here." Lamoureux is said to have replied, "No, I don't even know what my charges are."

When Chandler began naming the charges, including attempted murder and battery on a police officer, "Lamoureux slumped forward and asked if the officer he shot was OK."

This former U.S. Army soldier has a huge family that supports him without question

Chandler wrote. "I told him the officer will be OK."

Lamoureux then inquired about his wife, and asked again if the officer would survive.

"I told him both were OK. Lamoureux still slumped forward was crying and said nothing," Chandler stated in a narrative filed two months after the shooting[4].

The former Army Reserve sergeant pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity when he was arraigned on the charges.'s Dr. Phil Leveque, a WWII Combat Veteran, PTSD patient and doctor to hundreds of PTSD patients from multiple wars, said that is not hard to believe at all.

More of Pat's family, Mica & Heather, grandson Kain

"These guys have been through Hell and back, few people can understand their experience unless they have been through it themselves. Take the PTSD and add a bunch of prescription drugs to the mix, and you are setting a person up for real trouble," Leveque said.

Sue Lamoureux said of her husband, "This is a great man who had NEVER been in trouble IN HIS LIFE. What makes someone reach the age of 46 years old - and then they SUDDENLY decide that getting into a gunbattle with 4 law enforcement officers is a great idea?"

"He wasn't a "bad guy" - and there was no "battle plan", there was no malice or hatred of law enforcement in Pat Lamoureux's mind. There were VAST amounts of psychotropic drugs all prescribed by the VA, but there was no intention on Pat Lamoureux's part to purposely facilitate the events of September 19, 2008."

Indeed, records indicate that Pat Lamoureux had a clean record prior to September 19, 2008.

His wife says Combat Veterans deserve a second chance if they become involved in the criminal justice system. As Americans in a modern society, incarcerating Veterans instead of offering in-patient jail diversion programs is barbaric in her opinion and that of many others.

"These brave soldiers were willing to sacrifice their lives in combat - not sacrifice their lives sitting in a jail cell. As Americans, we owe our Veterans more than we are giving them."

Pat Lamoureux - 100% disabled Iraq Veteran

She says she is tired of the perception that our law enforcement officers are on a higher level than anyone else.

"Especially, that they are on a higher level than our combat veterans. A large number of them will retire never having pulled the trigger on their weapon except when they had to qualify on the shooting range."

She says what is also devastating is that the "local justice system" sees it fit to send a man away for what will be the rest of his life - when that man had never been in trouble in his life. We can offer jail diversion programs to drug addicts - but we can't offer jail diversion programs to Veterans who are first time offenders."

She says the VA has shown support lately, and for that she is grateful.

"Our country has failed Pat Lamoureux; Nye County, Nevada is trying to crucify Pat Lamoureux. By the time Pat Lamoureux even gets a trial, he will have been sitting in a county jail for 22 MONTHS - 22 months of his life wasted, he could have been getting in-patient treatment instead of being incarcerated."

She says the idea of endlessly incarcerating an Iraq War Veteran is bad enough, but that it gets even worse.

"Of course, there is also the issue of the ACLU's investigation of the detention facility that Pat is being housed in - and that it falls below Federal standards and should be deemed uninhabitable. There is the issue of the bullet that was left in his leg on September 19, 2008 - that burst open and started oozing in August 2009 - and the bullet is still in his leg... This is how Americans say, 'Thank you for your service', but oh my God - Pat Lamoureux was involved in an incident with Law Enforcement - and NOBODY wants to talk about this Veteran's heartbreaking story."

Well Sue, for what it is worth, I greatly respect your courage through all of this. I don't know how much more of a challenge you could be faced with, but I do know that law enforcement in the backwaters of Nevada can be shabby. We learned this sadly, when my friend and fellow war photojournalist Caleb Schaber supposedly killed himself, but we'll never really know, since the deputies there conducted a botched investigation[1].

I hope people reading this story will take the time to learn more about Pat Lamoureux, and all of the other Combat Veterans who are in his shoes. Links below will take you to vital information about his case, and there is a lot of information on Pat that goes beyond what I have stated here. It isn't a theory that he put his life completely on the line for the rest of us in this country, Iraq is a Hellish place to have your psyche splattered with the blood and guts of other human beings. The little girl, the old man with the donkey, the firefight at the Baghdad Airport, it is just unimaginable. Then to be placed on so many 'legal' drugs by doctors, it is such a shame.

If you want to do something that won't cost anything, open these Websites and contact Nevada's political leaders, and ask them what they are doing to help Pat Lamoureux in light of these unusual circumstances, his previously clean record, honorable military service, and the fact that he was out of his mind on legal prescription drugs that he was told to take.

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