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Old 10-04-2007, 03:21 PM   #46
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mysterious Death Of US Soldier In Afghanistan

Quote:
Originally posted by Varitek


Thanks for the link.

I find it interesting that they did not mention that she was gay.
You know what, I find that interesting also. In fact it has not been mentioned in any of the articles here.
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Old 10-04-2007, 03:35 PM   #47
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mysterious Death Of US Soldier In Afghanistan

Quote:
Originally posted by unico


I also thought it was interesting that the headline says she died in combat. Isn't that misleading?
Yeah. Maybe "in combat" has a different connotation in Ireland than the technical meaning. It might essentially mean "in uniform."
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Old 10-04-2007, 03:39 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally posted by AEON


Animal Farm alert.


AEON, this is how it works.

i was flipping through Huckabee's -- who comes off lite a totally amiable guy who actually says nice things about both Clintons -- website, and i came across this paragraph on the "sanctity" of marriage:

[q]The late Cardinal O'Connor decried a domestic partnership law (which provided that all couples who signed up, whether heterosexual or homosexual, would be treated the same as married couples) as legislating that "marriage doesn't matter." I agree with the Cardinal that marriage does matter, I would add that nothing in our society matters more. Our true strength doesn't come from our military or our gross national product, it comes from our families. What's the point of keeping the terrorists at bay in the Middle East if we can't keep decline and decadence at bay here at home? The growing number of children born out of wedlock and the rise in no-fault divorce have been a disaster for our society. They have pushed many women and children into poverty and onto the welfare, food stamp, and Medicaid rolls. These children are more likely to drop out of school and end up in low-paying, dead-end jobs, they are more likely to get involved with drugs and crime, they are more likely to have children out of wedlock or get divorced themselves someday, continuing the unhappy cycle.[/q]



note how he links gay people to terrorism, poverty, drugs and crime. it's breathtaking. how does my getting married to Memphis increase crime and drug use?

this is the same thing when you declare something a "gay free" zone. it's the same as if you called it a "black free" or "jew free" zone. you create an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust towards those who are explicitly marginalized.
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Old 10-04-2007, 03:42 PM   #49
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mysterious Death Of US Soldier In Afghanistan

Quote:
Originally posted by Varitek


Yeah. Maybe "in combat" has a different connotation in Ireland than the technical meaning. It might essentially mean "in uniform."
true true. but now i'm thinking they said "in combat" bc the Mass Nat'l Guard originally said she died in action...meaning she died while serving. however the DD has come right out and said she died in a non-combat-related incident. so i think that the independent should do some editing.
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Old 10-04-2007, 03:44 PM   #50
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mysterious Death Of US Soldier In Afghanistan

Quote:
Originally posted by financeguy


You know what, I find that interesting also. In fact it has not been mentioned in any of the articles here.
it also doesn't mention that she told her family before she died of something happened to her to probe an investigation.
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Old 10-04-2007, 03:48 PM   #51
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mysterious Death Of US Soldier In Afghanistan

Quote:
Originally posted by unico


it also doesn't mention that she told her family before she died of something happened to her to probe an investigation.
Yeah it doesn't convey how suspicious the whole thing was. But the article was published 2 days ago (3 with the time difference...sort of) so it's possible the info wasn't out there at the time, or wasn't available to an Irish reporter who wasn't interviewing the Boston relatives.

The ommission of her sexual identity is still very interesting with regards to Irish/catholic culture.
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Old 10-04-2007, 04:10 PM   #52
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^ Looking at the stories in the Google News queue about it though, it looks like her family didn't reveal that about her before Oct. 2, to the Boston Globe. I didn't see any Irish stories that were clearly more recent than that, though there were several dated Oct. 1 and 2 (which was earlier in Ireland, as you pointed out).

ETA: Also the Patriot-Ledger quoted her older sister as saying "She was in the finance unit and she said, 'I discovered some things I don’t like and I made some enemies because of it' " so I think that may be a separate strand of speculation. (Her job was doing payroll, according to CBS.)
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Old 10-04-2007, 04:22 PM   #53
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It apparently broke on RTE (irish radio) on Monday when the brother-in-law went to them, then broke in the US on a Quincy town site. From there presumably the Globe picked up on it and got the family interviews. But, in light of the statement today and the release about funeral details, the Irish papers are probably due for an update tomorrow, so we'll see.
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Old 10-07-2007, 10:44 AM   #54
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Ciara's funeral was yesterday

Her mother



By Peter Gelzinis | Sunday, October 7, 2007 | http://www.bostonherald.com

The fog of war in Afghanistan has shrouded Ciara Durkin’s death in mystery.

But it could not engulf a Quincy church yesterday, or the large Irish family who celebrated a daughter’s irrepressible spirit, as well as the sacrifice she made to the adopted country she loved.

Before the Honor Guard guided Army Spc. Ciara Durkin’s casket down the aisle of St. John the Baptist Church, Mairin Keady - who emigrated from the West Coast of Ireland with the Durkin clan and grew up with three of Ciara’s sisters - used her magnificent voice to lead a tear-soaked congregation in the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as well as “Amhran na BhFiann,” the Irish national anthem.

Ciara Durkin, 30, died some 10 days ago within the secure confines of Bagram Air Base in Afganistan. Her body was found near a base chapel with a single gunshot to her head. She was attached to the 726th Finance Unit of the Massachusetts National Guard.

When Durkin was home on leave less than two months ago, her older sisters say she told them of things in Afghanistan that troubled her. She left them with an ominous request: If she were to die, Ciara told her family to investigate any official explanation.

So far, those explanations have been murky to the point of suspicion. Ciara Durkin’s family has made no secret of the fact that she was gay. Yet, they have resisted any knee-jerk temptation to make that a reason. Ciara Durkin handled payroll and was around money.

Yesterday morning, as one friend and mourner waited for Ciara’s coffin to arrive, he wondered if what haunted her had to do with money.

In a search for the truth, U.S. Sens. John F. Kerry and Ted Kennedy, along with U.S. Rep. William Delahunt of Quincy, facilitated the Durkin family’s request for an independent autopsy that was to be performed after yesterday’s funeral service.

The only acknowledgement of the extra turmoil this family has been forced to endure was done lyrically, gracefully, in the poignant verse of a poem, “Ciara With the Wild Red Hair,” written by her older sister, Aine Durkin.

“Seasons to seasons bid farewell,” Aine read aloud from the foot of the altar. “Time as natural as the ocean’s swell/But what is natural in a war unfair/That stole our Ciara with the wild red hair.”

Before Aine spoke that verse, she took time to pay tribute to the Army liaison officer the family had come to embrace. Ciara’s brother Pierce choked back a riptide of emotion to remember the force of nature that was his sister.

“What was it about Ciara that trapped us into loving her?” he asked.

It was her selflessness, he told the throng through his laughter and tears. Ciara’s silliness, her laughter, her blue eyes, fiery hair and exuberant face that never failed to overwhelm you. They were all part of a lovely, relentless effort to make someone else happy, Pierce Durkin said.

The brother captured his sister’s spirit with a wonderful anecdote about how the Alzheimer’s patients she once worked with came to love her. Ciara could mesmerize them, Pierce said, to the point where he recalled one elderly woman running toward his sister.

“I don’t know who you are,” the woman told Ciara, “but I know I love you.”

Keady, the dear friend who filled St. John’s Church with songs that recalled their Irish homeland as well as the American spirit, said that as she sang for the friend she lost, she also sang for the son, Seosaimh Keady, a sergeant with the 82nd Airborne, now on his fourth tour in Iraq.

Because a portion of Ciara Durkin’s ashes will be sprinkled in her native Ireland, some buried with full military honors in Arlington and the rest to remain with her family in Quincy, her mother, Angela, was presented with a flag during a “graveside” service that was held in front of the church after the service.

When a volley of 21 shots echoed off the adjacent apartment buildings, Keady’s body shook.

“God forgive me, but I can’t help but think that’s the same sound that killed Ciara. I hear that and think of what our children hear. God, I love this country, but sometimes I wonder if the price is too high.”
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Old 10-07-2007, 10:46 AM   #55
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By Brian R. Ballou, Globe Staff | October 7, 2007

QUINCY - Ciara M. Durkin was remembered yesterday as a quirky woman whose smile lit up a room, a person who considered the well-being of others before herself.

She was remembered as "Ciara with the wild red hair."

About 2,000 people packed St. John the Baptist Church for her funeral Mass, with mourners standing in the back of the church and several hundred more outside. Durkin, a 30-year-old Army National Guard corporal from Quincy, died Sept. 28 in Afghanistan from what the military has called a "noncombat related" gunshot wound to the head. Military officials are investigating the circumstances of her death, which occurred in a secure area of Bagram Air Base.

Durkin was one of two Army soldiers with New England ties commemorated yesterday. Family and friends of Sergeant Zachary D. Tellier, 31, honored him at a service on Cape Cod.

During the two-hour Mass yesterday, Durkin's older sister, Aine Durkin, read in Gaelic and again in English a 24-line poem she wrote for Ciara. Each verse ended with the phrase "the wild red hair."

Pierce Durkin, the soldier's brother, said during the funeral Mass, "there were parts of her that we didn't understand. She could be flighty at times, messy at times, and she sometimes had gross habits. But when you think of her smiling face, you think of a time when she made your day brighter. She was unselfish to a fault, and her physical well-being didn't matter. It was our well-being that made her happy."

Born in Ireland, Durkin moved with her family to the United States when she was a child. Yesterday, her Irish heritage and her US citizenry were remembered in word and song. Mourners sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and immediately after sang the Irish National Anthem in Gaelic.

As the ceremony drew to a close inside the church, the Rev. Raymond Kiley walked around Durkin's casket carrying a thurible that gave off plumes of incense smoke. The act, he said, was a blessing of the soldier's body, and the smoke that rose to the rafters symbolized mourners' prayers.

At the conclusion, the crowd, including Governor Deval Patrick and Senator John F. Kerry, filed outside and formed a circle around the flag-draped coffin. In a ceremony that lasted about 30 minutes, Major General Joseph Carter, the adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard, handed Durkin's mother, Angela, several commendations awarded posthumously to her daughter.

Many in the crowd shuddered as a deafening noise pierced the quiet air - a rifle salute to the fallen corporal.

As the mourners made their way to their vehicles, Carter told several reporters "to serve this great nation during a very troubling time, that is the personification of her sacrifice."

Details remained sketchy about Durkin's death.

The family has questioned whether she was targeted because she was gay. According to Doug Bailey, a spokesman for the Durkin family, Ciara had called home the day before she died and several hours before she died, indicating she was looking forward to returning home.

Another sister of Durkin's, Fiona Canavan, said in an interview with WGBH-TV this week, "She did say to us that she had concerns about things she was seeing when she was over there. She told us if anything happened to her, that we were to investigate."

Durkin is the first openly gay member of the military to be killed in Afghanistan or Iraq, according to the Servicemembers Defense Legal Network, which provides legal help to gay service members.

Although there is no evidence that Durkin was a victim of a hate crime, her death prompted some gay and lesbian groups to renew their calls to repeal the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, which President Clinton approved in 1993 as a compromise between ending a ban on gays in the military and allowing gays to serve openly.

Durkin's death "shows our country what a significant sacrifice lesbian and gay service members are making in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Steve Ralls, a spokesman for the Servicemembers Defense Legal Network.


And I don't think there has been a photo posted of Ciara, this is her

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Old 10-08-2007, 07:01 PM   #56
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QUINCY, Mass --A family spokeswoman says an independent autopsy has been done on the body of a National Guard soldier from Quincy who died under suspicious circumstances in Afghanistan.

Justine Griffin, a spokeswoman for the family of Specialist Ciara Durkin, tells The Patriot Ledger of Quincy that the second autopsy was done Sunday in Massachusetts. Griffin said Sen. John Kerry's office made the arrangements.

The 30-year-old Durkin was found with a single gunshot wound to her head in a secure area of Bagram Airfield last month.

Her family initially complained that the National Guard told them she was killed "in action," but then the Pentagon later said she died in a "non-combat related incident."

After meeting with Army investigators, they said they were reassured the investigation was comprehensive. The family discounts the possibility of suicide.

Durkin's funeral was on Saturday.

------

Information from the Quincy Patriot Ledger: http://www.patriotledger.com/
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Old 10-08-2007, 07:47 PM   #57
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Hmmm.... I find this most of this discussion ridiculous -- that she might simply take a bullet for being a lesbian in the army. Are you kidding?

I have no statistics, but clearly, the % of lesbians in the military is much, much higher than in society. In my culture, it's well accepted, and has been for years. It's a given.

I'd say the odds are a lot higher to have a love triangle between astronauts way before a murder in Afghanistan because she was a lesbian. Way-off!
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Old 10-09-2007, 06:05 AM   #58
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Re: Mysterious Death Of US Soldier In Afghanistan

Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen

"She did say to us that she had concerns about things she was seeing when she was over there," Ciara Durkin's sister, Fiona Canavan, said in an interview with WGBH-TV. "She told us if anything happened to her, that we were to investigate it."
Based on this quote from the initial Globe article at the beginning of this thread and from what Yolland said, I don't think her being gay had anything to do with her death. It's sounds like Ciara Durkin saw some shady dealings going on--stuff she knew wasn't right or in line with military policy, ethics etc. Somebody thought she might talk and decide to make sure she didn't.

That in itself definitely merits some serious investigation.
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Old 10-09-2007, 08:48 AM   #59
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I don't find it to be out of the realm of possibility that anyone could be killed for being gay in the military (and there could be other surrounding issues in such a scenario). Not saying at all that's what happened to Ciara, but given the environment that exists in the military and the actions that environment can allow and create, it is possible. Probable? No. There are also so many fantastic and wonderful people in the military who would never be capable of such a thing and who love and accept their fellow soldiers completely for who they are.

Personally I think it is far more likely that it had to do with her job and what she possibly knew, but that really isn't much more "comforting" and is an extremely serious problem.
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Old 11-19-2007, 10:30 AM   #60
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There was a front page story in the paper yesterday, it disclosed that she had a gun held to her head at one point. Those close to her don't feel that it had to do with her being gay, apparentl her fellow soldiers didn't know she was.

A death shrouded by war, mystery
Soldier's family and friends want answers from Army

By Sally Jacobs, Globe Staff | November 18, 2007

One morning this past June, Ciara Durkin sat at her computer at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and wrote a chilling e-mail to a friend in Massachusetts.

"Ok. so today a crazy soldier pulled a 9mm on me . . . don't go telling people. . . . he's in jail and i'm doing better. TTYL," she wrote.

Weeks later, Durkin, an Army specialist who worked in finance, dispatched another in a series of e-mails to family and friends. The tone of this message, sent on the Fourth of July, was utterly different. She was exultant.

"Well, as the first of the gang of us to officially hit the 4th of July (12:10 am here, lol) Happy 4th," Durkin wrote. "I am more than happy to be here making sure you have this day to celebrate. Regardless of politics, this is worth it to me."

She signed off with a mention of her upcoming leave. "I'll be home in 2 months, no complaints here."

Durkin, 30, came home as planned, but would never make it back for good. On Sept. 28th, her body was found on the base with a single bullet in her head, her M-16 nearby. The Army has declared her death a noncombat related incident, but has provided no more public information about how the ebullient flame-haired soldier died.

There are only two ways that Durkin could have died: She either shot herself or was shot by someone else on the base. Her first e-mail suggests she had something to fear. And friends and family have said that she was a passionate young woman who had many plans for her life after the service. They insist she would never have killed herself, and are increasingly anxious for the Army to offer some definitive answers. Soon.

Durkin's family declined to be interviewed, saying they are waiting for the military's explanation. Army officials also declined to answer any questions and have prohibited soldiers on the base from talking with the media. In that silence, questions about Durkin's unexplained death have multiplied.

First, there was the soldier who pointed a gun to her head, an encounter that she reported to several people. Then there were her unsettling comments while on a home leave in early September, just two weeks before her death. Durkin told several people that she had uncovered some things that had made her some "enemies," although she did not say exactly what. Durkin, an information technology specialist whose unit worked with finance and commercial contractors, said that if something happened to her, "We should come and investigate," said Dawn Hurley, a close friend of Durkin's.

"I didn't know what she meant," sighed Hurley. "Maybe I didn't want to know."

Durkin, nonetheless, seemed to thrive overseas. E-mails that she sent to a group of more than two dozen friends and relatives reflect a soldier who was as enthusiastic about her military experience as she was proud of it. Durkin had struggled with depression a few years earlier and had sought treatment, according to one person who knew her. But friends say that those dark days were long gone. Her boisterous e-mails have further convinced them that Durkin, an ardent Red Sox fan who comes from a sprawling Irish clan, would never have taken her own life.

Durkin also had extensive plans for after her return, expected to be in February. She hoped for a job with a Boston bank, and was taking computer courses to enhance her resume. "Boy, I can't wait. I'm so excited," Durkin wrote. "It feels good to talk about my plans after this deployment because that means I'm not too far from it." Durkin, a lesbian, also had plans to get married.

Those close to her do not believe that Durkin was targeted because of her sexual orientation. Durkin had talked with her friends, before she enlisted, about the Army's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which allows gays and lesbians to serve as long as they do not disclose their sexual orientation or act upon it. She was, they recall, not particularly concerned about being found out. Durkin apparently did not reveal that she was a lesbian while in the service and, according to one soldier who knew her, her unit members were as shocked by her death as the discovery that she was a lesbian.

"It just doesn't add up," said Douglas Bailey, a spokesman who is representing the family at the request of Senator John F. Kerry. "Ciara was very happy when she was home. She loved being in the military; it was really the right place for her. The family absolutely does not believe it is suicide."

The military has said that its autopsy should be done by the end of this month, but that its investigation into how Durkin died could take many months, even years. An independent autopsy, paid for by Kerry, is also expected to be presented to the family soon.

What will those reports say about the bullet that killed her? The Durkin family has been told it was fired directly into her mouth, according to Bailey.

"All the evidence may add up to a suicide, or somebody who staged a suicide," added Bailey. "The evidence would look the same either way."


A desire to enlist

Ciara Durkin was not the kind of woman some might expect to enlist in the military. She liked to eat tofu scrambles and grow organic vegetables on the roof of her Jamaica Plain apartment. She was a lover of animals and spent some of her spare time rescuing wild cats and playing with her pet rabbit, Ms. Wilbur. She worked with Alzheimer's patients and the needy. A member of the vestry of her church, she sometimes handed out small stickers that said, "God Bless You."

Ciara Durkin was also precisely the kind of woman some might expect to enlist in the military. A stocky figure with a barrel chest, she was strong and proud of it. Her daily uniform included cargo pants, a T-shirt, and a Red Sox cap into which she vainly tried to cram her red curls. She smoked Marlboro cigarettes and sometimes had lunch with female veterans at the VFW post. She was a defender of creatures large and small.

"Ciara was the savior of marginalized populations," said Jennifer Jensen, Durkin's former partner of seven years. "Bunnies, gay men, the elderly. She really believed in fairness for everybody. She was their protector."

And so it was that when Durkin enlisted in the National Guard in fall 2005, no one was much surprised. She had been talking about it for years.

"The surprising thing was that she finally did it," said Jensen. "But Ciara was very adventurous. Anything worked for her. Anything. She was always the one who jumped off the boat first."

Adventure was part of it. But there were other reasons, too. Durkin wanted to use her military benefits to get a college education. She had a keen mathematical mind and years of information technology experience. She hoped to start a business on her return home, according to several friends.

Durkin was also deeply patriotic. Born in Ireland, the eighth of nine children, Durkin came to America at age 9. Her father died months after the family settled in Dorchester, leaving her mother to raise the clan. As she grew older, Durkin celebrated the liberties of being an American and exercised her right to vote with pride.

"She voted in every election she could," said Jensen. "It was very important to her."

If losing a parent and learning the customs of a new country were difficult for a young girl with a brogue, Durkin did not show it. With her broad face of freckles and goofy sense of humor - she kept a photo in her wallet of herself dressed for her prom. Proof, she would laugh, that she could look like a girl - Durkin made friends fast in the Tedeschi's parking lot in Lower Mills and the Dorchester playgrounds where she played stick ball.

And yet, somehow, she was different. Part of it was her boyish clothes. Durkin, as her friend Kellyanne Mahoney, now a teacher at Boston Latin Academy, recalls, "always wore a backward scally cap, shorts, and skateboard sneakers. At first I thought she was a little odd, the way she always hung out with the boys. But I don't think there was anyone who knew her who didn't like her."

Her boyish ways blended with a rescuer's zeal, even then. When her friends were in trouble, it was often Durkin who calmed them down. When a young man fell down a steep hillside in Dorchester one afternoon, it was Durkin who carried him back up. And when as a young teenager, Jessica Pabon, a friend of Durkin's, found herself pressed up against St. Gregory's Catholic Church in Dorchester by a group of bullies, it was Durkin who swept onto the scene and got rid of them.

"She was bigger than they were so I think just her coming to my defense stopped it," Pabon, who lives in Texas, wrote in an e-mail. "Ciara was . . . available for anyone who might need to lean on her strength."

Although a member of the Fontbonne Academy class of 1994, Durkin was unable to graduate with her class at the Catholic girls school in Milton because she did not have enough credits. After two additional years of work with tutors she received her diploma in 1996, according to Fontbonne president Anne Malone.

Durkin worked for a couple of years as a program assistant caring for Alzheimer's patients at the Rogerson House in Jamaica Plain, formerly called the Boston Alzheimer's Center. But her thoughts soon turned to the military.

A lover of the water, Durkin considered joining either the Navy or the Coast Guard, according to several of her friends, and may have started to enlist. But in 1999, Durkin encountered a seeming roadblock. On a September morning in Dorchester, she was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, according to Dorchester District Court records. The charge was dismissed, but the incident apparently caused her to back off her plan to join the military, at least for a while, according to one of her friends.

"Ciara said that that was why she did not go into the military the first time," said Jane Greenspan, a friend whom Durkin met at her church, St. Luke's and St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Allston. "The charge happened in between the time she enlisted and then did not go. She was very matter of fact about it. She did not screen a lot of details about her life."

Greenspan, a clinical psychologist and neighbor, knew Durkin well for a time. Between 2000 and 2005, Durkin worked in information technology and data management at Fenway Community Health, a health center in Boston that specializes in services for gay men and lesbians. But she also did some jobs on the side, and one of them was providing insurance billing services for Greenspan's practice.

She had briefly tried medication to deal with depression, according to Greenspan, but she found it made her manic and soon discontinued it.

"Ciara was not so much worried about her mental health, as she was puzzled about it," said Greenspan, recalling their conversations. "She was really trying to figure out who she was and why she was that way."

Another of Durkin's friends, who asked not to be identified, said that Durkin's depression stemmed from difficulties in her relationship with Jensen and lasted only a few months.

Indeed, by 2005, Durkin seemed to have pulled herself out of her slump. She had a met a new woman, Haidee Loreto. Having left Fenway Health that spring, Durkin decided to revisit her dream of joining the military. In October, Durkin enlisted in the US Army National Guard and was eventually assigned to the 726th Finance Battalion in West Newton. After training she was deployed with the 13-member Task Force Diamond. This February, she went to Afghanistan. She expected her tour to last one year.

A trip near the front lines

Durkin took to the Army well. In an April e-mail, she wrote that she liked her fellow soldiers, and that the temperature never got below 70 degrees.

"I'm in a good mood, for the most part," Durkin wrote. "Kinda reaching my groove state now. Watching a repeat of yesterday's Red Sox game. I don't know how it ended so no one tell me."

By May, the daily temperature had risen to the 90s. Durkin and the other soldiers were required to drink eight bottles of water and two rehydration bottles a day. Durkin wrote that she had received an Army Achievement Medal for working two jobs, one handling staffing reports, the other managing the computer system. She said her workload had eased of late.

Safety was on her mind.

"My fellow troops are well, we are close and getting closer," Durkin wrote. "I have the best boss in the world, SSG Sullivan. We are the best of friends and he watches out for me at every turn. Regarding the battlefield itself, we're kicking butt. I am doing what I can to stay safe. 'Stay Alert, Stay Alive,' is my motto."

In early July, Durkin headed out on a monthlong tour of eastern Afghanistan. Her job was to set up computers and train soldiers on the Army's Eagle Cash system, a finance system for military members overseas that uses stored-value cards. The tour would take her from Kabul to Jalalabad to Sharana, some of which she videotaped. She flew in a Black Hawk helicopter: "Now, that's the way to fly," she wrote.

Durkin was clearly excited to get close to the front lines, and felt her work was meaningful.

"Educating troops about money is a great feeling because they feel supported," Durkin wrote. "The last thing a guy needs to worry about after fighting is if his finances are OK."

In her group e-mails, Durkin was chatty and sometimes jocular. She rarely mentioned politics or the larger backdrop of the war. Nor did she ever make reference to the "enemies" she would later describe to friends and family. Friends say that she wrote more intimately in her individual e-mails, but they were of a similar positive tone.

There were two things, however, of some concern. Jensen noted that Durkin's e-mails became far fewer as time passed, as though she were preoccupied. Durkin also e-mailed her friend Dawn Hurley about the soldier who put his gun to her head, saying she had had a "close encounter," but did not elaborate. Back home on leave, she told Hurley that, "he was someone having a bad reaction, but she felt completely safe after that," said Hurley. "She said she was OK."

Durkin also told her family about some worrisome things she had seen in Afghanistan, and about enemies she might have made.

At the time, no one took her comments all together seriously. "They certainly believed that she saw something she didn't like, but when she said they might need to investigate, it seemed it might be a flip remark," said Bailey.

In any case, Ciara was home and the celebration was big. There were several parties. At one barbecue, Durkin had a tattoo of a soldier done on her shoulder and back. She went to a few Red Sox games, and visited her siblings and mother in Quincy. She spent time with her partner, Loreto, to whom she was engaged.

And on Sept. 11th, she spent the day training at the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston, which helps manage the military's Eagle Cash system. Durkin was excited about the visit and hoped that she could get a job there when she returned home for good.

And that was a day she was very much looking forward to.

"I'm always a soldier, that's in my blood," Durkin wrote in one of her last e-mails. "But I will enjoy a reprise from the whole war thing."
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