Shortly after noon on Jan. 8, 2006, Spc. Donald Anthony Wilder was declared dead in his Mannheim, Germany, barracks. The 21-year-old soldier and Iraq war veteran died from alcohol poisoning.
Wilder, who referred himself for treatment for an alcohol problem, was diagnosed in October 2005 as suffering from alcohol abuse. He was found dead in a shower in Room 230 of Building 1586 on Spinelli Barracks. His death was ruled accidental.
Wilder was a radio communication security controller repairman with the 512th Maintenance Company. Fellow soldiers described him as a fun-loving person who tried to get along with everyone.
In March, Wilder was set to transfer to Fort Hood, Texas. Wilder dreamed of opening a dive shop and becoming a scuba diving instructor after his Army career.
In the hours before his death, Wilder participated in a Masonic ritual during which he drank and was repeatedly hit with several wooden paddles.
Photos of his body taken the day he died show bruises and scrapes to his buttocks, thighs and scrotum. Stars and Stripes recently obtained a copy of his autopsy, witness statements and the Criminal Investigation Command report of what happened to Wilder.
Today in Stars and Stripes, an account — based on a review of hundreds of pages of documents — of Wilder’s final hours.
— Steve Mraz
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