Details surrounding soldier’s death emerge
Stars and Stripes May 31, 2008
His relationship with the girl of his dreams was on the rocks. He attempts suicide, but fails. Then he learns his own roommate is dating his dream girl, and things are serious between them.
"I’m going to kill you," Army Pvt. Jeremiah W. Carmack reportedly said to the pair March 8 as they prepared to drive away from him and the Bamberg PX.
Five days later, Carmack is standing in his dream girl’s home, in the shadows, brandishing an Army rifle. She doesn’t notice him until she is on the phone with her new beau. The boyfriend hears her pleading, and then the line goes dead.
In an Army 15-6 investigation report released Friday, the Army said Carmack acted with premeditation when he took a weapon off post in Schweinfurt and drove to his former girlfriend’s house. After briefly taking her hostage, German police fatally shot Carmack in a nearby field a few hours later when he leveled his gun at them.
The purpose of the report was to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding Carmack’s death, particularly how he managed to smuggle the M-4 carbine and ammunition off of Conn Barracks. While not a criminal investigation — that is being handled by German authorities — the investigating officer determined that Pvt. Carmack acted in a premeditated manner," according to a V Corps news release.
"The investigation also revealed procedural errors in the unit’s arms room and in the management of Pvt. Carmack’s personal information," the release stated.
Citing current Defense Department policy, the report does not identify the investigating officer by name, or anyone else for that matter, including Carmack and the more than 20 people interviewed.
Army officials said recommendations in the report are being implemented. The recommendations pertain to the unit’s armory and to the management of personal information.
In the latter case, Carmack’s chain of command, which had just reasserted its authority after a tour to Iraq, was unaware of the soldier’s attempted suicide while he was a member of the rear detachment. This gap was especially troublesome because the unit was apparently thinking of reassigning Carmack, a logistics specialist, to the arms room, the operations of which he knew well from a previous enlistment.
Based on the report, Carmack was on his third enlistment. The first went well. Carmack left the Army in April 2001 with an honorable discharge and the rank of specialist.
But after two months in the civilian world, the Ohio native itched to get back in. However, the second stint ended after only 18 months. The V Corps report states Carmack was discharged under honorable conditions and that he left as a private.
According to his uncle, Carmack evidently struck a superior, which probably explains why he left with the rank of private in January 2003.
Last July, Carmack was allowed to enlist a third time, despite a previous finding that found him "not qualified for continued service." The report indicated a doctor with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command granted Carmack a medical waiver. There was also mention made of Carmack attending anger management courses.
Within a few weeks, Carmack was in Schweinfurt, assigned to the Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment. With his unit in Iraq, Carmack served in the rear detachment, working at the motor pool and assisting whenever he could in the armory. Not long after that, Carmack met Anne Frank, and the two started dating.
On his MySpace blog, Carmack wrote in September 2007 about how he had "found that one person that you want to spend the rest of your life with." But in that same entry, he also hinted there were some problems.
In recent interviews with Carmack’s uncle and stepmother, it appears he lied to them about the nature of his hospitalization in December. They said he told them he was injured in a car accident. The Army’s report stated that Carmack "attempted suicide by overdosing on prescribed medications."
Efforts to reach Carmack’s family on Friday were unsuccessful.
Earlier, stepmother Caryn Carmack recalled that her stepson said Frank broke off the relationship on Christmas Eve.
Less than two weeks later, Carmack was discharged from the hospital, about the time 1-18 Infantry was reclaiming its duties from the rear detachment. The unit has since been reflagged.
While knowledge of his failed suicide was known within the rear detachment, the Army report chronicles a series of missteps and oversights that contributed to that information not being passed along.
On March 9, the day after the parking lot threat, Carmack’s roommate moved into another room. The following day, a Monday, the soldier reported Carmack to his superiors. But the incident didn’t move far up the chain of command because Carmack’s platoon sergeant did "not consider [the threat] credible."
That same day, according to the investigating officer, Carmack most likely used a weapon’s qualification opportunity to take 15 rounds of ammunition and one magazine from the small-arms range. Authorities suspect he placed the ammo in an assault pack he was "using" to steady his gun while on the range.
Carmack apparently secured the M-4 carbine during an Expert Infantry Badge qualification event held a few days later. Although he was not a participant, Carmack used the distraction it generated in the arms room to sign out a weapon, hoping it would be forgotten by day’s end, which it was.
"I did not see [Carmack] again until Thursday, after close of business," the former roommate said in a sworn statement to investigators. "We said nothing to each other."
At this point, the boyfriend was returning to his barracks. Unbeknown to him, Carmack was leaving to confront Frank. The Army suspects the M-4 was already in Carmack’s private vehicle.
A couple of hours later, Carmack’s old bunk mate was on the phone with Frank. At some point, she cried out: "He’s here," and "Don’t shoot me." The line then went dead.
Somehow later that night, Frank managed to escape. By then, authorities were already on the scene, or heading there.
For Carmack, there was no place left to hide.