Tom Ricks's Inbox

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Last January, this feature carried an excerpt from an article in the Marine Corps Gazette by Marine Staff Sgt. Travis N. Twiggs, detailing his struggle with the post-traumatic stress disorder that resulted from one tour of duty in Afghanistan and three in Iraq. Twiggs pulled no punches about his "psychosis," writing that he acted out combat episodes in the halls of the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center. But it concluded on what I thought was a generous, upbeat note: "[T]he PTSD is not completely gone. There can be a helicopter passing by or a loud noise or even certain words and it will remind me of the past. It's just that now I know how to deal with it. . . . If you have any of these symptoms and you can't get help, you can always contact me, regardless of your rank. . . . My e-mail is travis.twiggs@usmc.mil, and I will help anyone in need."

He sounded like he was getting the help he needed. Then, on Thursday, I saw this article by the Associated Press:

2 suspects dead after police pursuit on Interstate 8

STANFIELD, Ariz.

Two men who led law enforcement agents on a lengthy pursuit on Interstate 8 Wednesday morning were found dead after their car was disabled, and authorities said it appeared to be a murder-suicide.

The dead men were brothers who had been sought since they reportedly carjacked a couple and took their white Dodge sedan at the Grand Canyon on Monday night, said Pinal County Sheriff's spokesman Mike Minter.

Minter said officers approaching the white Dodge Caliber after it was disabled by spike strips heard gunshots and later confirmed both died of bullet wounds. No officers fired or were hurt.

"It appears one man in the vehicle shot the other guy and then turned the weapon on himself," Minter said.

Minter said the men were identified as Travis N. "T-Bo" Twiggs, 36, and Willard J. "Will" Twiggs, 38.

Authorities from the National Park Service had been searching for the brothers since two men stole a car at gunpoint from two people Monday night at the Grand Canyon National Park. The men had crashed their own car several hours earlier but walked away carrying backpacks. Travis Twiggs was recently an active-duty member of the military based at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., said national park spokeswoman Shannan Marcak. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and was reported to be unpredictable. Will Twiggs was from Louisiana.

* * * At this point, I'm not blaming anyone. I'm just sorry for Staff Sgt. Twiggs and his family.

* * * Tom Ricks is The Post's military correspondent. This feature aims to give readers a snapshot of the conversations about Iraq, Afghanistan and other matters that play out in Ricks's e-mail inbox. Have an interesting document? Send it to TheInbox@washpost.com


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