NC officer killed in Iraq shooting

May 13, 2009 10:17:39 AM PDT
One of five U.S. soldiers killed in a shooting at Camp Liberty in Iraq is from North Carolina.The Department of Defense released the names of three of the five soldiers killed in the Camp Liberty shooting on Monday.

The Pentagon says one of the officers is 52-year-old Navy Commander and Doctor Charles Keith Springle. He is a Wilmington native and a commander at Camp Lejeune.

Pfc. Michael Edward Yates Jr., 19, of Federalsburg, Md., and Dr. Matthew Houseal, of Amarillo, Texas, also were identified. The names of the two others have not been released.

Springle joined the Navy in April 1988, and was trained as a licensed clinical social worker. He was promoted to the rank of commander in May 2002. He also was the recipient of several military honors.

A Navy spokesman said Springle went by his middle name of "Keith" and left behind a wife and two children.

Springle's family, which lives in Craven County, says they are shocked about what happened and says he was trying to help others.

"Honest, hard-working, devoted to his job and helping people," relative Al Dudley said, The job he had was definitely a job you help in need and he was fully dedicated to it and he was just a fine, outstanding American."

Helping soldiers deal with those problems was Springle's life's work, said Bob Goodale, a friend and colleague, and director of behavioral mental health for the Chapel Hill, N.C.-based Citizen-Soldier Support Program.

"He regarded it as very important work," Goodale said. "We all who work in this know that it is difficult. This is an example of how difficult."

Springle, who was a clinical social worker, also was director of the Camp Lejeune Community Counseling Center and worked closely with Goodale's program. The two helped present training called, "Painting a Moving Train: Preparing Community Providers to Serve Returning Warriors."

Goodale said Springle understood deploying to Iraq was part of his job and planned to keep helping service members with mental problems when he returned. Their presentation outlines potential traumas experienced by service members and the barriers that keep them from being treated.

"He wasn't talking about getting out," Goodale said. "This epitomizes how important the work is. We have to find better ways to reduce the stigma. To work on the acceptance of combat stress as a real thing. It has been for centuries, and we must persevere."

Meanwhile, a fellow American soldier, Sergeant John Russell is accused of opening fire at a military stress center in Baghdad on Monday.

Russell's father says his son was just six weeks from completing his third tour of duty.

A Pentagon official says Russell had been referred to the clinic by his superiors. But when he got there, he got into an argument with staff and was asked to leave.

The official says Russell allegedly grabbed his escort's weapon and returned to the clinic.

Russell is currently in custody and is charged with five counts of murder and one of aggravated assault.


Load Comments