Of all the news stories out there today, none is as painfall as the one from Niagara Falls where a family was told their son was killed in Afghanistan. He wasn’t. And the story has the elusive Minnesota connection.
Robin Jasper said her husband was responding to a message left on his phone by the civilian liaison with whom they had talked once before. That liaison is located in Duluth, Minn.
“She said, ‘Call me as soon as you can,’ ” Robin Jasper said, explaining that the family heard the worst upon calling back. “She said, ‘This is a red-line message. I have to read it to you exactly as it says.’ ”
Then, according to the Jaspers, the voice on the other end of the phone told Raymond that his son had died Saturday, along with a 23- year-old soldier from Kansas.
“I said to [my husband], ‘Is he hurt — how bad?,’ ” Mrs. Jasper said. “He said, ‘He’s dead,’ and he dropped the phone.”
Family and friends posted messages on Facebook. The soldier’s girlfriend saw them and called the parents. “He’s not dead. I just talked to him,” she said.
The military isn’t talking.
What might have happened here? A 2008 USA Today profile of the volunteers who make phone calls might have a clue.
After the Army officially notified next-of-kin about a soldier’s death, Bana Miller had to inform other families in Bravo Troop about the loss of life — calls known as red-line message.
“The first that I made I was breaking down,” she says. Co-workers drove her home.
Back home in Bryn Mawr that Thanksgiving, her family saw her react to news reports of casualties. “I mean she was shaking, physically shaking immediately after the news segment,” recalls her younger brother, Hume Najdawi.
It’s quite possible the volunteer in Duluth got a name wrong and was in the process of telling other families about a death in their son’s platoon, and the father heard the call incorrectly.
Sgt. Tyler A. Juden, of Winfield, Kan., who was in the soldier’s unit, was killed on Saturday.