Bragg widow: 'No such thing as friendly fire'
Posted June 11, 2014
Wade, N.C. — News this week that five American troops had been killed in a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan frustrates a Cumberland County woman whose husband died 12 years ago in another friendly fire incident.
Sheila Harriman-Reid said Wednesday that the military needs to do more to protect U.S. troops.
Fort Bragg soldier Justin Helton, 25, was among the five killed Monday when an airstrike was called in after a U.S. unit was ambushed by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. Military officials are investigating the incident.
"There's absolutely no such thing as friendly fire," Harriman-Reid said. "There's nothing friendly about getting bombed. There's nothing friendly about getting shot at or being shot."
When Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stanley Harriman died in Afghanistan in March 2002, the Army initially told Harriman-Reid that her husband had been killed in an enemy attack. Officials later changed the story, saying that U.S. aircraft providing cover for ground troops at night mistook his convoy for al-Qaeda and attacked.
"It made me angry that that had happened," she said. "Then it turned into more frustration because it's like, let's fix this problem."
Harriman-Reid said there's no excuse for friendly fire deaths. There must be better systems of identification and protocols, she said.
"I understand that, through war, there is a lot of confusion when things get hectic and we are human, and because we are human, we make human error," she said. "I think the technology is there and it's advanced enough so that a lot of this can be avoided."
Her face clenches when asked if the passage of time makes her husband's death any easier to handle.
The couple's 18-year-old daughter graduated from high school Wednesday, and their son, who is about to turn 16, plans to follow his father into the Army after he attends college.
"We will always keep Stan alive for our family in whatever we do," Harriman-Reid said, adding that, regardless of how he died, "It will never change the fact that he's still an American hero."