October 13, 2007

Another Questionable Fake War Story

Via a reader in the comments of the my most recent TNR post, a story about a solider wounded and a squad virtually wiped out in an apparent youth suicide bombing in Iraq in the Cleveland Daily Banner in Cleveland, TN:

Christopher H. Bagwell, grandson of Nancy and Richard Hughes of Cleveland, was severely wounded Tuesday, Sept. 18, in Iraq.

Bagwell and his squad leader were the only two survivors of a 12-member squad decimated when an Iraqi youth detonated explosives wrapped around his body.

A graduate of York Institute and Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Bagwell spoke with his grandmother last week.

She said the young soldier told her he had just passed the youthful bomber with his squad leader, with his squad following behind handing out candy to children. The Iraqi village was believed to be a friendly zone for the U.S. military.

The youngster, believed to be 10 to 12 years old, detonated the explosives as the soldiers were walking by. Ten members of the squad were killed, along with the youngster.Bagwell was severely injured.

The thing is, I can't find any such record of a young suicide bomber causing so many fatalities among U.S. troops in Iraq, or for that matter, even ten U.S. fatalities on Sept. 18 in total.

Anti-war casualty clearinghouse has no record of such an attack, or even anything similar. According to U.S. Central Command Casualty Reports, there was one attack on Sept. 18, where 3 soldiers were killed and 3 wounded near Tikrit. There was nothing like a suicide bombing attack that killed ten soldiers and wounded two. A search of Google News also fails to uncover a similar account.

Update: The military weighs in:


After reviewing available information, we are unable to confirm the
story's legitimacy. Thank you.


OIC, JOC Public Affairs
Multi-National Corps - Iraq

10/15 Update: Catherine Caruso of the Fort Lewis PAO responds via email:

4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) is a unit stationed here at Fort Lewis, and is currently deployed to Iraq. Madigan Army Medical Center is also located on the installation, but I do not have access to patient names or information and can't release names of wounded Soldiers due to patient privacy laws- MAMC has their own public affairs office which may be of more help if you would like to contact wounded Soldiers who are assigned to the hospital.

There was an incident on Sept. 18th in which three Soldiers from the
brigade's 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, were killed...

...The editor of that paper called here a few minutes ago, and it appears
this may have been the same incident the paper referred to. I could not
answer all of his questions, but it appears he also believes the paper
may have inadvertently published inaccurate information re: the number
of casualties. For my part, I can confirm there was an incident that
date, but don't have details about the incident beyond what was in the
DoD release, nor do I have information about any Soldiers wounded in the

However, 2-23 IN has suffered 10 casualties since their deployment in
April through their most recent loss on Sept. 22 (this includes all
causes- accidents, combat, and medical). It seems likely that this could
be the source of the confusion re: the number of Soldiers involved, if
this is the same incident in which the Soldier referenced in the story
was injured.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 13, 2007 02:29 AM

Iraqis are not usually suicide bombers by choice. Some have been drugged or tied to vehicles that were remotely detonated. This does not ring true to those of us in Baghdad.

Posted by: Randy at October 13, 2007 02:55 AM

And the newswriter might want to look up the meaning of "decimate."

Posted by: Bill Smith at October 13, 2007 03:30 AM

No! Really? TNR? Who would have thought that? It seems I may have heard of such a story seeing that my son is over there.

The Leftinistra are SO needing a truthful phony soldier story.

Makes my warrior's blood boil.

Posted by: Snooper at October 13, 2007 03:56 AM

It seems TNR makes up stuff right and left. But when the aim is to demoralize the home front, "by any means necessary is the rule of thumb."

Posted by: Banjo at October 13, 2007 08:32 AM

This is the incident, I suspect.

Same unit. 3 dead, 3 WIA

Posted by: Chuck Simmins at October 13, 2007 11:09 AM

Three killed to "only 2 survivors in a decimated 12 member squad".

At the very least this is staggering incompetence by Larry C Bowers of the Cleveland Banner

Posted by: Grrrrrrrrrrrrr at October 13, 2007 11:45 AM

I have written the author of this article asking them to check their facts before spreading inaccuracies.

The article reeks of the desire to "get a scoop" at the expense of the military.

As Blackfive states, this has got to stop.

Posted by: Snooper at October 13, 2007 12:31 PM

This paper is a very small, almost community paper. Cleveland TN not Ohio. They got a call from the grandmother, probably, and reported what they were told.

The injured soldier may believe what was reported. He was injured badly enough to be evaced to Germany and may not remember or have been told the results of the attack. And the info passing through Grandma may have gotten a little fuzzy.

Posted by: Chuck Simmins at October 13, 2007 01:35 PM

Here's a lead for getting further on the story but it doesn't have a date. It looks like the one you folks are noting: three dead from an IED on the 18th and the other from an unrelated illness on the 19th.

(delete the - in "the-news-tribune". I had to add to get past a filter.

Posted by: Dusty at October 13, 2007 03:26 PM

They got a call from the grandmother, probably, and reported what they were told.

That's the kind of fact checking Weekly World News used. Maybe BatBoy is reporting from Iraq for this fish wrapper?

Posted by: Purple Avenger at October 13, 2007 03:38 PM

One other thing I noticed. They never mention the soldiers rank. Why not? I don't know if this is simply an oversight because as a previous commenter speculated, the author wanted to scoop the military. Or maybe they didn't think it important. Either reason is irresponsible.

Posted by: Andy B at October 13, 2007 03:58 PM

As others have pointed out, it sounds like the grandparents miscommunicated to a local paper. Here are a few related links I found. Bargewell is mentioned on crutches in the first one. Take out the space between news and tribune to make the link work, the site wouldn't accept the comment with the entire link.



Posted by: daleyrocks at October 13, 2007 04:38 PM

[Andy B at October 13, 2007 03:58 PM]

Chris Bowers doesn't note any ranks, or names for that matter, because he didn't investigate any of the details, Andy. If he had, he would have ran into the brick wall of it not happening as he describes in his second paragraph.

Bowers didn't scoop anyone and I don't believe he planned to. This was first covered on October 4th in the Tacoma News Tribune. It was merely a local interest story and, for the most part, a tribute.

It's just too bad the "how it happened" was totally wrong. Bagwell's grandparents have my prayers, and humble thanks, for their grandson.

Posted by: Dusty at October 13, 2007 04:50 PM

All due respect, honor, and sympathy to Bagwell's grandparents...

This seems to be Same Song, Second Verse for the leftymedia:

* Story shows Bad Things happening in Iraq, run with it without verification.

* Story shows Good Things happening in Iraq, bury it.

Posted by: C-C-G at October 13, 2007 08:53 PM

I picked up this story a couple of days ago. Try finding an email address for the 4-2 PAO is your not in the military...fat chance. I can't even find a website for the 4-2.

The local paper just printed what Grandma said. I've known a couple of soldiers that have been evacced from Iraq thru Landstuhl to Ft Lewis and there recollections of how they got there are somewhat fuzzy....along the lines...'I was in the truck...then I woke up and I was in the hospital at Fort Lewis'.

Posted by: Soldier's Dad at October 14, 2007 05:29 PM

In unrelated news, the Cleveland Daily Banner>/i> announced it has a new Iraq correspondent, S. Thomas Beauchamp.

Posted by: TallDave at October 15, 2007 12:30 AM

12-man squad? That's one heck of a squad. A US Army squad will normally have two four man fire teams and a squad leader. Marine squads, on the other hand, supposedly have three fire teams.

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at October 15, 2007 08:55 AM

Granny's probably got a dope farm in her basement and has been sampling the product.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at October 15, 2007 09:22 AM

Decimate? How do you kill 0.2 of a soldier?

Posted by: David at October 15, 2007 10:50 AM

[Purple Avenger at October 15, 2007 09:22 AM]

Purple, it isn't known how the story's basic details originated and why it was so inaccurate. It may have been the result of an innocent misunderstanding and mixing of facts. As Tacoma's News Tribune reported, 6 members of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division died in September; it's major has attended 10 ceremonies honoring 27 under his command.

If Bagwell recounted much of what has happened to him in one call to his grandparents, it could easily be misremembered.

You are allowing the ignorant, superficial and often deceitful respect of the military on the part of many on the Left, including those who inhabit the MSM, to get the best of you. Cynicism and suspicion is not warranted in this case, I think, and your snarky cariacature is, at best, premature and uncalled for at this time.

Posted by: Dusty at October 15, 2007 11:36 AM

I think the point is that small newspaper or not, there should be some standard of reporting, some basic rules of fact checking. I don't believe there was a conspiracy of any sort on the newspaper's part to make this story bigger than it is in a negative way. I think they are probably just negligent.

However, I don't think they should be given an easy pass just because they are a small newspaper or had kind intentions. Bloggers are often held to fact finding standards before publishing a post, so how can we hold a newspaper with a staff of at least 2 to less of a standard?

Posted by: Holly at October 15, 2007 12:13 PM

But Dusty, don't you ever wonder why each and every one of the "mistakes" are all on one side? I can't recall any positive stories that were "mistakes."

Posted by: Capitalist Infidel at October 15, 2007 12:20 PM

[Holly at October 15, 2007 12:13 PM]

I agree whole-heartedly, moreso if your "negligently" was intended as 'too casual'. It was good that CY brought attention to this and I commend him on it.

[Capitalist Infidel at October 15, 2007 12:20 PM]

Yes, I do wonder about it, CI. Every day, it seems. A fuller answer to that would be too complicated to go into here, so let me just say I try to take every case as it comes, especially so when I don't have a history in which to frame it, like link this new case of the Daily Banner. I did notice their paper had a story yesterday on the some of their local kids just entering the services. They are keeping tabs on their kids and IMHO honoring them by recognizing their decisions, (as I notice now that they have done since before the 9/11, judging by their archives).

So I have formed my opinion on this story, and my opinion of the Daily Banner is separate and much different in this light, which is why I responded to PA's comment when it is likely I wouldn't have had the story been done in the LAT, the NYT, etc.

Posted by: Dusty at October 15, 2007 01:45 PM

I'm watching Shattered Glass right now and I cannot believe this is happening again. What fools.

Posted by: capitano at October 17, 2007 09:05 PM