Siblings await word on grenade victim
- Ben Jacklet
- Portland Tribune - News
Benson grad among those hurt in deadly incident in Kuwait
Tammy Hall says she doesn't care who hurt her brother. She just wants him to get home safely.
That's why she and her 7-year-old son, Cody, decorated the steps in front of her workplace on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard with yellow ribbons on Sunday afternoon.
'This is all I can do for him,' says Hall, who works at Kuts 4 Kids and Adults. 'I can't be with him in the hospital, but I can let him know how much we all support him, and how we want him to come back home.'
Hall's brother, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gregg Stone, was seriously injured Sunday morning in a grenade incident at the Army's 101st Airborne Division's Camp Pennsylvania in northern Kuwait. Stone is a liaison officer with the 124th Air Support Operations Squadron.
Lt. Col. Tim Marsano, a spokesman for the Idaho National Guard, reports that Stone is in serious condition and was being transported Monday afternoon to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
Stone received extensive medical attention at an Army field hospital in Kuwait, but Marsano could not provide specifics Monday about the type of injuries he sustained.
Initial media reports suggested that the assailant may have been a terrorist who infiltrated the camp and rolled hand grenades into tents occupied by the camp's commanding officers. But the U.S. military since has detained Army Sgt. Asan Akbar of the 326th Engineer Battalion.
Akbar is a recent convert to Islam whom authorities say is being investigated in connection with the attack.
'Who do you trust after something like that happens?' Hall asks.
One soldier, Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert of Easton, Pa., died in the attack, and 15 were injured, six seriously. The 40-year-old Stone, who grew up in Portland and graduated from Benson High School, was among the most badly hurt.
Hall says that when her mother saw on the news that one of the soldiers had died, 'she just went hysterical.'
'She started screaming,' Hall says. 'She was sure that it was him.'
The family called around in a panic before finally learning from a news reporter that the serviceman who died was not Stone.
Hall says she is disappointed that the military had not contacted her family with specific information as of Monday morning. 'We never really heard anything from them,' she said Sunday.
Frank Lenzi, Stone's half-brother and a managing editor at KPAM (860 AM), says he welcomed the news that Stone had stabilized sufficiently to be moved to the military hospital in Germany for further medical attention.
Stone graduated from Benson in 1981 and worked at Farrell's, the popular Portland ice cream parlor, on Northeast Weidler Street before enlisting in the Air Force in 1983. He also is a graduate of Oregon State University, where he went through ROTC training.
Lenzi says Stone is outgoing and enthusiastic, 'a fun guy to be around' and a 'surprisingly good karaoke singer.'
Hall describes her brother as loyal, decent and 'the best dad I've ever seen. I would trust him with my kid's life.'
'He's always been a protector,' she says. 'He was always sticking up for me growing up.'
Stone served as a Rose Festival Court escort while at Benson and attended 'quite a few' proms, according to Hall. 'He was definitely a popular kid,' she says.
Stone lives in Boise, Idaho, where he spends much of his time with his two sons, Alex, 11, and Joshua, 7. He divorced Tonya Stone in 2001, and the two share child-raising responsibilities.
Stone's father, Richard Stone, lives in Portland.
Stone was called into service by the Idaho Air National Guard in February and traveled to Fort Campbell, Ky., for training and then to Kuwait.
He was tight-lipped with his family about his specific wartime duties.
While overseas, Stone was in daily e-mail contact with his mother, Betty Lenzi of Ontario. In his most recent note home, he slipped a little humor past the military censors when he complained about how hard it was to trim his fingernails while wearing his chemical suit.
He also complained about how cold the desert was at night, particularly since a shipping mix-up left him without his luggage and his warm clothes.
Lenzi says he hopes the hardest times are over for Stone.
'The tough part was knowing that an attack had happened where he was and not knowing what had happened to him,' he says. 'Now that we know he's alive and he's going to be moved, that's a huge relief. There's still a lot to worry about, but it's a relief.'