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Sig Christenson
Worked at San Antonio Express-News
Attended University of Houston
Lives in San Antonio
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Sig Christenson

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When I began reading the motion yesterday, I was stunned to see that Gen. Robert Abrams, the head of the Army's Forces Command at Fort Bragg, had burned more than 100 letters mailed to him concerning Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. That was a strange thing to do, given it was potential evidence, and so I reached out to some of my experts. What I've learned is that the lead defense attorney, Eugene R. Fidell, has raised two issues that could mark a major turning point in the case, as you'll see in this story.
Lawyers for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held prisoner by the Taliban for nearly five years after abandoning a remote Army outpost in Afghanistan and faces criminal charges for leaving his unit, on Friday accused his top commander of burning more than 100 letters regarding the case. The defense, in a court motion, asked a judge to remove Gen. Robert Abrams from the case and to cancel a scheduled Feb. 6 trial because Abrams told Bergdahl’s defense...
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Sig Christenson

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As Turkey has unraveled, no one's said much about the nuclear weapons there. If you're weren't aware of it, we have several dozen tactical nuclear bombs in storage at Incirlik Air Base, most of them more powerful than the atomic bombs used to end World War II. One general who knows a lot about nukes is worried about that, and others say he has a point. We explain why.
Given the attempted coup and increasing instability of Turkey, they worry one San Antonian, a former commander of all Air Force and Navy strategic nuclear weapons. Yet 200 of them are still in NATO’s European arsenal, along with 62,000 U.S. troops, because European policymakers have wanted to make sure the United States is part of any war with Russia from the first day of conflict, he said. The attempted coup in Turkey a week ago and the result...
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The look at his face explains why this story was so difficult. Retired Army Lt. Col. Charles S. Kettles' son, Chris, called me weeks ago ready to share photos as well as witness statements from the day of battle. A day or so later, he balked, saying he needed permission to release those statements. Soon after, Chris told me a family member told him not to help at all. Frustrated, I told the Army I was done with the story but asked if they'd keep me in the loop on developments, and in time a public affairs officer invited me to join a round table press conference. The elder Kettles didn't talk about himself much last Sunday. When asked about his role in the battle where he's credited with saving 44 lives, Chuck Kettles talked in short paragraphs. It wasn't about him, but the Medal of Honor will transform everything. Asked in Sunday's interview if he'd thought about how life would change, Kettles noted that it already had and vowed to adjust to the changes that are bound to come. “It has to be done,” he said. “We’ll get it done.”
[...] retired Army Lt. Col. Charles S. Kettles, 86, downplayed his role as a helicopter commander extracting troops caught in a fierce firefight in 1967, including eight soldiers he saved after other Americans had pulled out. [...] the team made multiple trips to pull troops back out after an ambush from a much larger enemy force along the Song Tra Cau riverbed near Duc Pho, Vietnam. The landing zone was under a “savage barrage,” according to t...
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There's no news yet about the skin graft procedure Gov. Greg Abbott will undergo today in San Antonio. He's suffered second- and third-degree burns to two layers of his skin. Just how much of his lower legs and feet were burned hasn’t been made public, but here are two things to know: The area and depth of injury are complicating factors, as is his age, 59.
Gov. Greg Abbott, whose legs and feet were burned by scalding water in a vacation accident, was admitted Monday to San Antonio Military Medical Center’s burn unit after doctors found that he had developed what his office called a “minor infection.” A longtime burn specialist, Dr. Basil Pruitt, professor of surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center, called the revelation of an infection worrisome but added that “the fact that they ...
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In this war, the women served, too, and made a huge difference, especially if you were a dying soldier. Our story looks back at the world 72 years ago on D-Day through the eyes of two nurses, one of them who hit the beach. Ht/ to Hernan Rozemberg, who told me about Josephine Reaves.
A doctor ordered the other leg amputated in a desperate bid to save him. Reaves held Ken’s hand and listened to him talk of boarding a hospital ship and seeing the Statue of Liberty as the ship arrived home. In all, roughly 74,000 women worked as nurses in the Army and Navy Nurse Corps during World War II. Sheets, now living in Bel Meade, a residential community bordering Fort Sam Houston’s golf course, gets around in a wheelchair, her eyes an...
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When photographer Robert Owen and I first arrived at Owl Creek Park on Lake Belton, it became clear that they were concentrating on an area outside the mouth of the creek where 12 soldiers were thrown from their tactical vehicle into swiftly moving floodwaters. The search parties probably were elsewhere along the lake as well, but we saw intense activity here involving UH-60 Black Hawk and AH-64 Apache Longbow helicopters. They hovered slowly over parts of the lake where the water met brush and trees, not far from where we stood. We came back around 3:30 p.m. or so and saw that the helicopters and small boats were gone. There was no sign of a search anywhere at the lake, and there was a reason for that. It was a sign of trouble many people here dreaded but knew was coming.
FORT HOOD — The bodies of four missing soldiers were found Friday after a day of extensive searching that started on a creek where their tactical vehicle had been knocked over by floodwaters in a training exercise. Maj. Gen. John Uberti, deputy commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, confirmed the grim results of the search at a Friday evening news conference. Area and state law enforcement officers and emergency responders, more than 170 in all,...
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I find it hard to call up people who've lost loved ones, especially just after a tragedy. It is the worst part of my job and the thing I really don't want to do. But that is exactly what I did last week, starting with two mothers and one brother who lost people in the balloon crash near Lockhart. I then was asked to do this story. If anyone has the right to weigh in on what Donald Trump said about Khizr Khan and his wife, Ghazala, it's the Gold Star families, but I'm well aware that every time I pick up the phone I am re-traumatizing these people. Their pain never goes away, and I tried to stress that in this story. I stress it because many folks don't know that, and I'm afraid that few also are connected with their profound sense of loss in a country where less than 1 percent have gone to war. They'll tell you as much, but they'll also say that perhaps one good thing will come of this.
[...] over the past several days, wounds that have never quite healed were torn open again when Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump criticized the parents of a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq. The flap began after Khan, his wife standing silently at his side, raised a copy of the Constitution and lectured Trump, who avoided the war in Vietnam, saying, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.” The controversy brought families belonging to...
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After suffering severe burns, the governor came to the right place for care.
[...] mostly it’s the experience and the specialist care that is available there, said Dr. Basil Pruitt, a retired colonel and longtime commander of the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, or ISR, which oversees the burn center. The San Antonio burn center, the only one in the Department of Defense, owed its creation to the atomic bomb, which produced up to 60,000 victims with significant burn wounds and sparked the Army’s interest in the ...
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It's hard to say if Gov. Greg Abbott's burns were worse than previously described, but the governor's office this afternoon called them 'significant' and said he would remain at the San Antonio Military Medical Center. As has been the case from the start, the brief press release issued by the governor's office Tuesday left out some significant details, one of them the area of the burns on his lower legs and feet, which could be important to his recovery, and when he might leave the hospital. We also do not know the circumstances of the accident that landed him at SAMMC.
Gov. Greg Abbott underwent surgery Tuesday and will stay at least another night at the San Antonio Military Medical Center's famed burn unit to repair damage from what his office called “significant burns” on both feet. In a brief statement issued Tuesday afternoon, the governor’s office said Abbott “underwent a successful skin graft procedure” and would “extend his stay” at the military hospital “to allow for further healing and to ensure a pro...
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One advocate called Ash Carter's announcement historic, a last step in a series of decisions over the decades that have opened the military to troops from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life, saying, “I would say it’s the logical conclusion of what President Truman started.” Truman desegregated the military 68 years ago this month, on July 26, 1948.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Thursday that the Pentagon will allow transgender people to serve openly in the armed forces, a decision one activist called the final barrier to military service to fall in a series begun 68 years ago with President Harry Truman’s desegregation order. “We have to have access to 100 percent of America’s population for our all-volunteer force, to be able to recruit from among them the most highly qualified — and ...
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What did we learn from Vietnam?
U.S. forces in Syria will increase six-fold, to 300, following an order last month to add another 250 troops there.There’s been talk of slowing the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and even adding troops to counter Taliban gains. “I just think we need to recognize those people who stayed behind and kept the home fires going,” said Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, who, at a recognition ceremony for veterans, thought of a friend whose husband, a Marine, w...
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First Sgt. William Phelps got all the dope on Patton, Churchill, Montgomery and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower's staff officers. It happened as they sat at a small table alone for lunch in '45. At 90, Phelps looks back on a war that included his role in liberating a Nazi death camp and making the cover of Yank magazine. Happy 71st V-E Day.
San Antonio veteran who helped liberate Nazi death camp heads to Israel William Phelps wore a first sergeant’s stripes as the unlikely age of 19 as a World War II tank gunner, heard Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s unvarnished opinions over lunch one day and made the cover of Yank magazine in 1945 in a memorable photo, patching his trousers with a sewing machine in front of a tank. The Americans saw German guards in the distance running for their li...
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