Army Ties Expose Violence

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrea Damewood and Susan Palmer The Register-Guard

The Creswell man accused of fatally shooting his neighbor Saturday was an Army veteran who served with a Colorado-based unit that has been linked to so many slayings that the Army Surgeon General conducted a study into the unit's high rate of violence.

Jarrod William Pardun, 28, was arrested Saturday and charged with intentional murder in connection with the killing of Stephen Thurston, 59, following a confrontation in Thurston's front yard over speeding.

Thurston was hit by a single shotgun blast to his chest and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Pardun served as an Army specialist in a unit with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, part of an infantry division stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., an Army spokesman confirmed Wednesday.

In a report released last week, the military found that soldiers from Pardun's unit were accused in as many as 11 slayings since returning home from deployment, according to The Associated Press.

Soldiers from his unit have been accused in five deaths in the Colorado Springs area, home to Fort Carson, in 2007 and 2008.

Fourth Brigade Combat Team members also were involved in six other slayings by unit soldiers in Colorado and other states since 2005.

Pardun served from August 1999 to August 2004 and served as a light wheel mechanic, Army spokesman Wade Hall said. He served one year in Korea and earned six medals, ribbons and badges for his service.

Kathy Franklin, Pardun's sister, said her brother did not see combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Rather, while stateside recovering from an injury, he watched via a remote video as a helicopter transporting members of his brigade was shot down by mortar fire.

That experience led to post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor's guilt that have plagued Pardun ever since, she said.

Hall said he was unable to verify Pardun's injuries or any later diagnosis due to privacy laws.

Pardun seemed to have been worse since an incident that triggered his PTSD at the start of the month, Franklin said.

"He never really completely came back out of it," she said. "He didn't want to be alone, he was afraid to leave the house by himself."

The Army study found that soldiers involved in the killings were affected by intense combat in Iraq, where the troops suffered heavy losses, alcohol and drug abuse, previous mental health issues and PTSD. …