The Patriot Ledger wrote:
QUINCY - Ciara Durkin was home on leave last month and expressed a concern to her family in Quincy: If something happens to me in Afghanistan, don’t let it go without an investigation.
Durkin, 30, a specialist with a Massachusetts National Guard finance battalion, was found dead last week near a church at the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. She had been shot once in the head, the Army says.
Fiona Canavan, Durkin’s older sister, said today that when her sister was home three weeks ago, she told family members that she had come across some things that concerned her and had raised objections to others at the base.
‘‘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.’ Then she said, in her light-hearted way, ‘If anything happens to me, you guys make sure it gets investigated,’’’ Canavan said. ‘‘But at the time we thought it was said more as a joke.’’
The family did not know what she was referring to, said Canavan, who lives in Quincy.
Canavan said that her sister was openly gay, but that the family had no specific reasons to think that had anything to do with her death.
‘‘She was gay, but because she really wanted to go into the Army, she had to make a choice and she chose to put that part of her lifestyle behind her,’’ Canavan said.
The family is determined to have the military investigate ‘‘every aspect’’ of her sister’s life at the base and determine the truth of what happened, Canavan said. ‘‘If she was killed because she was a smoker or had red hair - not to be flip, but we want nothing held back.’’
Canavan vehemently denied a published report attributing to her a statement that the family was concerned that Durkin’s lesbianism was the reason for her death.
When her sister told the family three weeks ago about her concerns over her safety at the base, due to whatever information she had found out, Canavan said, ‘‘we reported it to the Army.’’
Canavan said that the offices of Sen. John Kerry and Edward Kennedy have been tremendously supportive in the ongoing investigation. U.S. Rep. William Delahunt has also been pressing the Pentagon for answers.
Other family members are coming in for Durkin’s funeral on Saturday at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Quincy, she said.
Kerry sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Tuesday. It contained a list of questions he said were raised by Durkin’s family:
—Why had the family not gotten a response to its request for an independent autopsy?
—Why did the family not receive the results of the Army’s autopsy when it was told it would?
—Why had the Army not made Durkin’s will and other paperwork available to the family so they could plan her funeral?
Asked in a telephone interview about what the seriousness of the questions might imply, Kerry said there were ‘‘no implications.’’
‘‘There’s simply a request for a family at a moment of great loss and great anxiety to have everything possible happen to put their minds at ease,’’ he said. ‘‘There have been some unfortunate situations, as we’ve seen historically in the past few years, of false information being given, of people not sufficiently having their questions answered.’’
Her family was initially told that Durkin was killed in action on Friday. But on Monday, the family learned that she died about 6:30 p.m. of a single gunshot wound to the head in a non-combat situation.
Durkin had been assigned to a finance unit at the base since February. Her tour of duty had been scheduled to end in February.
Her younger brother, Pierce Durkin, said that because of the nature of the wound and the fact that the shooting happened under ‘‘curious’’ circumstances, the family decided to contact legislators.
The family was going through old photos of Ciara on Tuesday in preparation for the wake and funeral.
‘‘She’s undoubtedly smiling in every one,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s making it all so much more difficult.’’
Durkin was born in Ireland and moved to the United States when she was 9 years old. The family lived first in Dorchester and later in Quincy.
She joined the Army National Guard in October 2005.