Iraqi Trainees Identified as Killers of U.S. Soldiers

Two years ago, two California National Guardsmen died in Iraq. The two young soldiers were killed by members of the Iraqi security forces that they had been training. Army investigators admit they knew the truth nine months ago. But they waited until Wednesday to share it with the soldiers' families.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

Two years ago today, two California National Guardsmen died in Iraq, but it wasn't another insurgent attack. The two young soldiers were killed by members of the Iraqi security forces that they had been training. Army investigators admit they knew the truth nine months ago, but they waited until yesterday to finally share it with the soldiers' families.

NPR's Richard Gonzales reports.

RICHARD GONZALES reporting:

GONZALES: Patrick McCaffrey, a father of two, joined the National Guard a week after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. He was deployed to Iraq, where he was assigned to a unit in charge of training Iraqi civil defense forces. In e-mails to his mother, Nadia McCaffrey of Tracy, California, the soldier said that he never felt safe and that he knew insurgents were offering a bounty for every American killed.

Ms. NADIA MCCAFFREY (Mother of Specialist Patrick McCaffrey): And what I didn't get, either at the time, was that that bounty was specifically targeting the American soldiers who were training the Iraqis. And now I understand. Many things make sense now.

GONZALES: Nadia McCaffrey says her son's fears came true when he and his fellow troops were ambushed by Iraqis they had been training. They survived the attack but they were traumatized. The young soldier reported the incident to his father, Robert McCaffrey, of Redding, California.

Mr. ROBERT MCCAFFREY (Father of Specialist Patrick McCaffrey): They all were thinking, my God, we're training these people to kill us.

GONZALES: McCaffrey says his son tried to warn his commanding officer that the Iraqi trainees were disloyal, but the officer didn't want to hear it.

Mr. MCCAFFREY: And finally, when he got up to the top, he told me that - I believe was the colonel that told him to shut the hell up; they don't need any bad press about the Iraqi forces that we're training that are doing such a marvelous job. Can't let the American people know that they're killing our men.

GONZALES: Not long after that conversation, Specialist Patrick McCaffrey and Second Lieutenant Andre Demetrius Tyson of Riverside, California were killed. At first, the Army claimed that the two soldiers had died in an ambush set by insurgent forces. But soldiers who witnessed the attack told a different story; they fingered Iraqi civil defense forces. That led Nadia McCaffrey to demand more information about her son's death. Yesterday, she finally got it.

Four high-ranking Army officers came to her home in Tracy and apologized for waiting two years to tell her the truth about her son's death. But even then, Nadia McCaffrey says, the officers didn't have much new information about the murders. In fact, she says, they appeared surprised by how much she knew.

Ms. MCCAFFREY: The most stunning thing that I saw and heard today was that I told them some of the details that I had almost since the day my son was killed, and they didn't have any idea about it. They didn't know. They never heard of it.

GONZALES: McCaffrey said the Army officers told her there is a criminal investigation of the incident. But they never did explain why it took so long to tell the real story about how her son died.

Richard Gonzales, NPR News, Tracy, California.

WERTHEIMER: You're listening to MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.

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