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Letter to Secretary Robert M. Gates


Location: Boston, MA

Senator John Kerry sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates requesting a thorough, objective investigation by the Department of Defense into the U.S. Navy's actions following the death of 20-year-old U.S. Navy Sailor Caitlin Trask. Trask, of Bradford, was killed by her former boyfriend Darren Mackie, a fellow U.S. Navy sailor, in February of 2009.

Mackie received a 10 year prison sentence for the murder after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter, but was never given a dishonorable discharge by the Navy.

"I want justice for the Trask family. The notion that an active duty sailor could shoot and kill another sailor but avoid a dishonorable discharge is beyond comprehension. No family deserves to go through this -- first burying their daughter, then being forced to live with the nightmare of knowing that her killer will walk free in 10 short years without even a dishonorable discharge. The "other than honorable' discharge he received doesn't cut it, and it certainly doesn't live up to the Navy's high standards. Secretary Gates is an extraordinary public servant who reveres the military and its men and women in uniform, and I know he will give this the attention it deserves," said Senator Kerry.

The text of the letter is as follows:

Secretary Robert M. Gates

1400 Defense Pentagon

Washington, DC 20301-1400

Dear Mr. Secretary:

On behalf of the family of deceased U.S. Navy sailor Caitlin Trask, who was killed by her former boyfriend on February 12, 2009, I respectfully request an investigation by the Inspector General of the Department of Defense into the conduct of the United States Navy.

The notion that an active duty sailor could shoot and kill another sailor and then manage to avoid a dishonorable discharge is beyond my ability to comprehend. I would ask that the investigation determine if any options remain to facilitate a dishonorable discharge for Darren Mackie and to identify what Navy procedures need to be changed in order to ensure that no such travesty is ever allowed to happen again. Additionally, the investigation should determine if any Navy personnel were derelict in their duty with regards to this case.

Mr. Secretary, I have been working closely with the Trask family for well over a year now in their pursuit of justice for their late daughter. I can attest that this is extremely important to the surviving parents of a young woman who was proudly serving her country. A thorough, objective investigation is absolutely essential.

Thank you for your assistance and cooperation.


John F. Kerry

United States Senate

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