Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr., 21
3rd Marines, 3rd Marines Division,
Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii
Killed Aug. 10, 2012
As Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. lifted weights on his small base in Afghanistan in August, a teenage aide to an Afghan police commander walked into the gym and shot Buckley in the chest and stomach with an AK-47.
To Buckley’s family, his death in an insider attack wasn’t a casualty of war.
It was murder.
“I didn’t want my son to die like this,” his father, Greg Buckley Sr., told news cameras after a memorial service in a seven-minute, teary diatribe against the government. “If it was in battle, I could understand. But he was murdered.”
Had Buckley, 21, been killed by a sniper or a roadside bomb, it would have been “a heartache and a terrible, terrible thing,” his cousin, Laura Grosseto, said. “But if you’re a Marine or in the Army, it’s one of the consequences of war.”
The family could make peace with that kind of death.
An attack by someone he was supposed to be able to trust, on base where he thought he was safe, “is like you walked into my living room and shot me with my own gun,” Grosseto said.
With the insider attack, the family is left with unanswered questions. Mainly, how could this possibly happen?
“It’s disgusting,” Grosseto said.
In a letter to President Barack Obama, Buckley’s aunt said the family’s seething anger stemmed from how he died — “at the hands of a 15 year old Afghan assassin armed with an [automatic] rifle we supplied & who was given the liberty to roam our base ad-lib.”
Given that Obama has apologized to President Hamid Karzai for U.S. troops’ actions, Mary Liz Grosseto asked in the letter: “Where is our apology Mr. President? Have you contacted President Karzai and DEMANDED he apologize for the cowardly, actions of his officers?”
The Taliban “see a way to get us and we let it happen,” Laura Grosseto said about the increasing insider attacks. “They keep shooting our troops because the United States is allowing them to.
“They’re probably laughing their asses off.”
The family was unhappy with the military’s push to have U.S. troops try to forge deeper relationships with the Afghans as a way to stop the attacks, many of which are said to stem from disgruntled Afghan allies.
“As an American I am horrified & disgusted that your solution to these insider attacks is to ask our soldiers to be more courteous and polite to these murderers,” Buckley’s father wrote to the president.
Buckley’s tight-knit Long Island, N.Y., family is campaigning for an end to the war in Afghanistan.
“Enough already,” Laura Grosseto said, adding that Buckley’s parents “think their son died in vain.”
“My family believes they should send us to a country where we’re appreciated,” she said. “We’re not going to win. We don’t understand why we’re there.”
In his plea to the president, Buckley’s father’ wrote: “As one father to another I beg you to please allow these young men and women to come home to their families and friends and to a country that loves and respects them. They should not be used as pawns, or be executed by people that do not respect any of our values.
“I’m begging you, in the name of my son Greg Jr., to bring our troops home NOW!”