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Afghan Allies Threatened Marines Before Shootings

The grieving father of a Marine shot to death by an Afghan wearing a police uniform said his son was threatened earlier by another Afghan army officer and feared for his life.

Lance Cpl. Gregory T. Buckley wrote of the threat and his concerns in a four-page letter home shortly before he was killed on Aug. 10 in the Sangin district of Afghanistan’s southwestern Helmand province.

“My son said ‘Daddy, I’m scared,’” Greg Buckley Sr. told WCBS-TV. “I didn’t tell my wife or my boys but he said ‘Dad I’m scared. I don’t want to be here no more. Something could happen to me.”

Buckley, 21, of Oceanside, N.Y., on Long Island, Staff Sgt. Scott E. Dickinson, 29, of San Diego, Calif., and Cpl. Richard A. Rivera Jr., 20, of Ventura, Calif., were killed when an Afghan police officer carrying an AK-47 rifle walked into a Marine gym and opened fire.

“Get the rest of those boys out of there,” Buckley’s father told the New York Daily News. “He had only four months left on his tour. There’s no purpose for us being there.”

The three slain Marines had been serving with the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force based in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Three other Marines serving with a Special Operations unit were killed on the same day Aug. 10 in the Sangin district of Helmand province in a similar incident in what the Pentagon is now calling an “insider attack” by another rogue Afghan police officer.

Capt. Matthew P. Manoukian, 29, of Los Altos Hills, Calif., Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Jeschke, 31, of Herndon, Va., and Staff Sgt. Sky R. Mote, 27, of El Dorado, Calif., were shot to death after a routine meeting and a meal with local Afghan officials to discuss their concerns, U.S. military officials said.

The three had multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and were assigned to the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Jeschke, a 12-year Marine veteran and first degree black belt in martial arts, was quoted in the book “Generation Kill,” by Rolling Stone reporter Evan Wright, and was later portrayed in the “Generation Kill” HBO series on the Marines during the Iraq invasion.

The book noted Jeschke’s reaction when an Iraqi girl was killed after the car in which she was riding failed to stop at a Marine roadblock:

"War is either glamorized -- like we kick their ass -- or the opposite -- look how horrible, we kill all these civilians," Jeschke was quoted as saying. "None of those people know what it's like to be there holding that weapon. After (another Marine) and I went up to that dead girl, I was surprised, because honestly, I was indifferent. It kind of disturbed me. Now, sometimes, I think 'Am I a bad person for feeling nothing?'"

At a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joinst Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said military officers investigate the vetting process for Afghan police and army recruits every time an insider attack occurs. 

These attacks have now taken the lives of at least 107 U.S. and coalition troops since 2007.

Panetta and Dempsey said U.S. and coalition troops will continue to use the “Guardian Angel” program to protect themselves. The program dictates that at least one service member remains armed and on guard when troops are in the presence of Afghans.

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Afghanistan