Soldier may rest in Arlington
Family of ex-Portlander killed in Kuwait wants national cemetery burial
The family of U.S. Air Force Maj. Gregg Stone hopes to arrange a ceremonial burial for the Portland native at Arlington National Cemetery in northern Virginia.
Stone, a graduate of Benson High School and Oregon State University, died Tuesday from wounds he received two days before during a grenade attack in Kuwait. He was 40.
Stone's half-brother, Frank Lenzi, said the family was considering shipping the soldier's body to Washington, D.C., for interment at the historic cemetery in Arlington because 'that's where Gregg wanted to be buried.'
Stone was seriously injured when an assailant rolled three hand grenades into three tents of the 101st Air Division's Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait at 1:21 a.m. Sunday, Kuwait time.
Military officials on Monday had planned to transport Stone to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. But his condition worsened, and he died the next day at a field hospital in Kuwait.
Stone's relatives expressed frustration with the inconsistent and sometimes contradictory information they received from the military about how he was faring.
'They told us he was on his way to Germany,' said Stone's sister, Tammy Hall of Gresham. 'They had a routing number and everything. They told us they would call us when he landed. And then eight hours later, after they had already said he was on the plane, they told us that he was not stable enough to go on the plane, and he had two hours to live.'
Lenzi said that his first words upon learning of the death were, 'Are they sure?'
'We were getting mixed signals the whole way,' said Lenzi, who works as managing editor for KPAM (860 AM) news radio in Portland. 'But that's a tough job they have,' he said of military officials who are handling the worried and bereaved relatives of soldiers. 'I wouldn't want to be on the other end of the phone, either.'
Meanwhile, the Army announced in a news release from Fort Campbell, Ky., that it was investigating Sgt. Asan Akbar, a member of a mine-clearing battalion, in connection with the attack that killed Stone.
The attack also killed Capt. Christopher Seifert of Easton, Pa., and wounded 14 others.
Akbar, 36, is being detained in a military jail for a pretrial investigation. Media reports have described him as a black loner who complained bitterly to his family about racism in the military. He also is a recent convert to Islam.
Lenzi said the bizarre nature of the attack did not change his feelings about the death. 'It's frightening that someone like that could be up there so close to the front,' Lenzi said.
Lenzi struggled to keep his composure as he spoke to the media Wednesday afternoon on the steps of Benson High, which Stone graduated from in 1981.
'He had a job to do and he wanted to do it well,' Lenzi said of his half brother.
Stone enlisted in the Air Force in 1983. He was called up for duty last month and traveled overseas to serve as a liaison officer with the 124th Air Support Operations Squadron. It was his first wartime assignment in 20 years with the military.
Lenzi said the conflicting reports from the military were finally resolved when officials visited Stone's mother, Betty Lenzi, on Monday afternoon in her home in Ontario, Oregon, to tell her of the death.
Lenzi and Hall traveled across the state to Ontario to spend the rest of the week with their mother the day after learning that Stone had died.
Stone lived in Boise, Idaho, where he spent much of his time with his two sons, Alex, 11, and Joshua, 7. He shared parenting responsibilities with his former wife, Tonya Stone.
He also is survived by his father, Richard Stone, who lives in Riggins, Idaho.
Hall described her brother as a 'protector' and 'the best dad I've ever seen.'