The following story appeared in the Albany Times Union in June. Lurking midst the report is a paid flak for the military. Mssgr O'Brien failed to let his readers in on this little secret. Can you spot the interloper? For the answer, read "Media No Longer Taking Flak?"
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Members of a division in mourning
return for a break from Iraq
By TIM O'BRIEN
Staff Writer Albany Times Union
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
TROY - Members of the 42nd Infantry Division say they hope the murder of two commanders, allegedly by one of their own, will not overshadow the hard work they are doing in Iraq.
Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez, 37, of Schaghticoke, is charged with two counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of Capt. Phillip T. Esposito and 1st Lt. Louis E. Allen. Martinez is accused of using an explosive to kill the two leaders, then trying to make it look like an attack by insurgents.
On Monday, a few members of the 4,000-person 42nd Infantry Division returned from Iraq for two weeks of rest and relaxation. They arrived at noon at Albany International Airport to the welcoming arms of friends and family.
Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo, a 24-year Guard veteran, said she had met Martinez but was limited in her freedom to discuss him. "Other than hard-working, there is nothing I can say," she said.
"I can see where it's going to be a topic of conversation and interest. Personally, I just hope it doesn't taint the accomplishments the 42nd has made."
She described Esposito as a commander who cared for those he led. "Eight of 10 conversations I had with him were conversations about bringing his soldiers home safely," she said.
The infantry division is overseeing a force of 23,000 soldiers in an area the size of West Virginia. They have been working to rebuild Iraqi infrastructure, "everything from transportation to the power stations to rebuilding oil pipelines."
"A great deal of what we're doing is training the Iraqi forces so they can take over the mission," she said.
"Unfortunately, it seems the more efforts the coalition forces and the Iraqi forces do, we're still fighting terrorists that are causing problems."
Capt. Robert Giordano of Niskayuna said he too knew Martinez but could not discuss the case. "Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Capt. Esposito and Lt. Allen," he said.
"We have a mission to do, and we're proud of what we're doing. I've seen news reports that say morale is low. It's garbage. Morale is doing well. I liked Sgt. Martinez. I can't talk about it. It's still under investigation."
Martinez is accused of using an explosive device to kill Esposito and Allen, then allegedly trying to camouflage the murders as an attack by insurgents. Martinez also has been accused of trying to cover up for a crime in a lawsuit he filed against an insurance company over a December 2002 fire that destroyed his home in Cohoes.
Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company contended the fire was arson, made to look like an electrical fire. Court papers show Martinez's co-workers at Watervliet Arsenal claimed he had said he might burn his home down if he could not sell it.
He also doubled the insurance policy coverage on the house, a move that took effect seven weeks before the fire, the court records show. The defense in the case, which is scheduled for trial in September, focuses on Martinez's financial troubles.
He had not paid his mortgage in four months, attorney Thomas O'Connor said in the documents. "Mr. Martinez was having difficulty making ends meet and, in fact, his gas and electricity service had been frequently terminated for nonpayment," he wrote.
During his stay home, Giordano said he planned to spend time with his family. It was his first visit home since being deployed in November. Lombardo, a Scotia resident, said she is grateful for the support she has received.
But she said she was especially happy to be home now, to celebrate both her wedding anniversary and her daughter's 12th birthday. And despite all the 42nd Infantry is enduring, Lombardo signed up for another six years the day before she left Iraq - two days after the charges against Martinez were announced.
"I enjoy what I'm doing over there and enjoy getting to know the Iraqi people," she said. "The support of my family has been tremendous."
Tim O'Brien can be reached at 454-5096 or email@example.com.