His anger known only to a few other soldiers, Barrett went routinely through his paces at Lewis-McChord, acting as if nothing was amiss after his rebuke and loss of leave time. He performed his duties and promptly showed up for an alcohol assessment at Madigan Hospital on July 15, 2010, according to the Army's report, from which all names except Barrett's have been redacted. A doctor recorded his reactions:

"Patient states he was pretty drunk after drinking Jaeger bombs and beers which began between 8 PM and 10 PM and he stopped between 1 AM and 2 AM and was approached by the MPs around 3:05 AM, with an initial [blood-alcohol count] of 0.164. When this therapist suggested he may have had 15-16 drinks, the patient replied, 'that sounds about right.' "

Barrett told the doctor he "likes to drink a lot and just about every day he would drink beer and become drunk." He had been a heavy drinker since age 18, and before he deployed to Afghanistan drank a six-pack and Jäger bombs four or five times a week. He built a tolerance for booze, he said, which was good, because he could "drink more and make it last throughout the day."

He was told to enroll in an outpatient program and attend weekly group meetings. Barrett, who was also confined to a limited area of the base, agreed to do whatever they asked. Then, the day after the hospital session, he quietly disappeared. On July 17, he was declared AWOL. Lewis-McChord officials placed at least five calls to his father's home in Tucson (his parents are divorced), getting no answer. (The Army, it was later discovered, apparently had called the wrong number.) Officials also typed a letter to the family, as required, informing them that Barrett was AWOL. But the letter was never mailed: The Army says one unit thought another unit was sending the notice, and vice versa. Neither did, and the family was never notified.

Barrett, investigators would determine months later in reviewing the case, slipped off the base, bought a 20-year-old Nissan Pathfinder, and arrived at his father's home in Tucson on July 27. His family was delighted to see him. He didn't tell them he was AWOL or mention his DUI, according to Army records and interviews. For almost three weeks, Barrett enjoyed special outings, lunches, dinners, and movies with his family. It was one of their most memorable times together, brother Shane recalls.

Barrett had stopped playing video combat games, however. Family members noticed that right off. He also told his mother that during his last deployment he didn't think he'd make it back home. Despite that rosy post-deployment report on his mental-health status, he admitted to his family that he might need some counseling. But, he said, he couldn't reach out for the Army's help for fear of being labeled weak, or a nutcase. "Brandon," says Shane, "was afraid that being labeled would jeopardize his Army career."

The family commiserated, but felt it would all work out. After all, Brandon seemed in good spirits. "He was looking forward to being transferred to Fort Hood at the end of the year," says Shane, "which would put him closer to his family." Everyone commented on how Brandon had grown up. "The Army," says Shane, "was good for him."

In fact, it was the other way around. But Brandon never let his family know how bad Army life had become. He was telling others, however.


On August 18, his third week home, Barrett chatted with a friend on his MySpace page — where Barrett listed Nirvana and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer among his favorites. The friend, a soldier from his unit who was aware Barrett was AWOL (and called him by a nickname, Beezy), asked if he was still in Arizona.

Barrett: Yeah for now. I leave sunday morning for utah

Soldier: You coming backt? to the unit I mean

Barrett: No I got big plans going to make a name for myself.

Soldier: What are you up to? You aren't going to [do] anything crazy . . . Right?

Barrett: Just watch the news on the night of the 26th.

Soldier: Bud unless you plan on showing your naked ass on tv . . . it isn't worth it man, we all want you back.

Barrett: I cant come back. If I do Im weak. Its flight or flee.

Soldier: Fight what beezy nobody wants to see you get hurt. Your our brother.

Barrett: I love you guys but sometimes you just have to let go of things you love.

Soldier: You don't need to let go of us. we are family. let me help you.

Barrett: My mind was made up a long time ago.

Soldier: Beezy are you going to hurt someone?

Barrett: I got to get ready to go out right now, but ill hit you up later/

Soldier: Keep in touch brother just think about what I said. We all want you back/

Concerned by Barrett's tone and aware he had the date and place for what could be a tragic event, the soldier notified one of his Stryker superiors at Company C, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. He didn't want to overreact, the soldier said. But two of Brandon's comments — "make a name for myself" and "watch the news" — seemed to mimic the stated motivations of the Columbine shooters. That kind of thinking was really out of character for Barrett, the soldier would later tell investigators.

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Usgovfail
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The federal government will pay for their war crimes some day. They send these ignorant young people to do their bidding, not so that citizens can be free, but so that politicians and war contractors can get rich. Its ridiculous the brainwashing that occurs in this nation. I hope china attacks the USA one day focusing on wiping out government installments. Fuck the US federal government, I hope you all die.

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The members of the VFW were truly exemplary of the good in man.My condolences to the Barrett family, and to all families touched by these horrific governmental mistakes abroad.

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Arizona Darkblade
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RIP Brandon. Angel wings of comfort to his family. The toll of war is tragic. All around a very sad series of events. Blessings to the Army, and all the soldiers serving in valor for our country. I believe in our Armed Forces despite the casualties that can't help but happen. Bless and comfort them all. Amen.

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