Local News

Third N.C.-Based Soldier Dies After Exhibiting Flu-Like Symptoms

Posted February 18, 2005

— The mysterious death of a third soldier with North Carolina ties is raising questions. All three died from flu-like symptoms after returning from overseas deployments.

Sgt. Clay Garton was a flight medic at Fort Bragg. He spent 16 months in Iraq and returned home in July. Then, he got sick.

His family said he had symptoms like the flu. He fought it for three weeks, but his fever soared to 106 degrees. The day after Christmas, he died.

"They came out in five minutes and said, 'He's gone,'" said Duane Garton, Clay's father.

According to a preliminary autopsy report, Garton's liver and spleen were swollen. His wife said doctors told her he died from infection.

It is the third recent example of soldiers dying after exhibiting flu-like symptoms. Capt. Gilbert Munoz was a special forces soldier at Fort Bragg who was deployed to the Middle East. After he got back, he died from a bacterial infection.

Sgt. Christopher Rogers was a reservist from Raleigh. He went to Afghanistan. After he came home, his temperature hit 109 degrees. His widow, Windy Rogers, wonders whether he had what Munoz had.

"Chris was admitted with flu-like symptoms. Whatever it was, it shut all of his organs down -- shut them all down -- and I want to know what happened," she said.

Garton's family has questions, too. His wife said while Garton was in Iraq, he treated someone exposed to depleted uranium. Garton's father wonders if that had something to do with his death.

"He went through 16 months of hell and he came back and they didn't do nothing for him," he said.

WRAL called Fort Bragg, the Department of the Army and some congressional offices. At this point, it does not appear that anyone is investigating the deaths or trying to determine if there is a common cause.


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