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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Pentagon announces death of Navy doctor at Guantanamo Bay

Knight Ridder - Grand Folks Herald Publication

MIAMI - (KRT) - Ten months after the fact, the Pentagon Tuesday disclosed the death of a Navy doctor at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

Pentagon spokesmen would not explain the circumstances surrounding the death of Navy Cmdr. Adrian Basil Szwec, 43, of Chicago, a 19-year career naval medical officer who died at the base on April 12.

An announcement described Szwec's death only as "a noncombat related incident."
Szwec's death was still under investigation Tuesday by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, a Navy spokeswoman said at the Pentagon, declining to be identified.

It took the Navy 10 months to make the announcement because the Armed Forces Medical Examiner only recently categorized his death as connected to the war on terror, the spokeswoman said, declining to reveal further details.

Szwec had been assigned to the Navy Hospital at Guantanamo since September 2002. He had previously served at the Navy Medical Center in San Diego, Calif.

The Pentagon announcement said he died ``supporting Operation Enduring Freedom'' - the Pentagon's name for the Afghanistan theater in the war on terror. Guantanamo houses the Pentagon's terror prison where the military interrogates and holds some 540 suspects, mostly sent from Afghanistan.

The Navy commander is the first naval officer and at least the fourth service member to die while working at the base since the terror prison was set up three years ago.

_Army Master Sgt. Herbert Claunch, 58, of Wetumpka, Ala., died April 18 - six days after Szwec - after he collapsed on the floor in his quarters near the terror prison. He was assigned to an Alabama National Guard military police unit.

_Army Sgt. Theodore L. Perreault, 33, of Webster, Mass., shot himself and died on Dec. 23, 2003. He was assigned to a Massachusetts National Guard infantry unit that guarded the prison.

_Army Sgt. Ryan Foraker, 31, of Logan, Ohio, died Sept. 24, 2002. Military investigators found his clothing, but not his remains, near a base beach. His death was ruled an accident.
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