April 28, 2008 – The U.S. military is promising action to address conditions in a barracks at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, after a soldier’s father posted images on YouTube showing a building that he said “should be condemned.”
“This is embarrassing. It’s disgusting. It makes me mad as hell,” Ed Frawley said of the building where his son, Sgt. Jeff Frawley, had to live upon his return this month from a 15-month deployment to Afghanistan.
Frawley said Monday that Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Dick Cody called him to say he shares Frawley’s anger and that “there’s no excuse.” Cody said he would not want his own sons or any troops to return to such conditions, Frawley said.
Frawley’s 10-minute video shows still photos from throughout the building, which appears to be falling apart and filled with mold and rust.
Paint — which Frawley said is lead-based — is chipping. Ceiling tiles are missing. A broken drain pipe allows sewer gas into the building, while another one has tissues stuffed into it in an apparent effort to stop the gas from coming in.
Photos from the communal bathroom show some of the most disgusting images. In one, a soldier stands in a sink to avoid what Frawley describes as 3 inches of sewage water that filled the floor when toilets overflowed.
At times, “sewage water backs up into the sinks in the lower floors of these barracks,” Frawley said in his narration. “The soldiers have to tell one another who’s taking a shower when they turn the sinks on, or the person taking the shower gets scalded with hot water.”
Watch barracks in bad condition
Watch more about Frawley’s Afghanistan deployment
Frawley said the Army promised to have new barracks ready when his son’s unit, part of the 82nd Airborne Division, returned.
“The conditions depicted in Mr. Frawley’s video are appalling and unacceptable, and we are addressing the concerns he expressed,” said Maj. Tom Earnhardt, spokesman for the 82nd Airborne, in a written statement.
“Our paratroopers are our most valuable resource, and our commitment is to their well-being. Our actions now must represent the best we can do for our soldiers.”
“Fundamentally, we acknowledge these conditions are not adequate by today’s standards,” he added. “The images in Mr. Frawley’s video are alarming, and our soldiers deserve the best conditions we can provide as an institution.”
Officials at the base invited the media into the barracks and acknowledged that there are serious problems.
Earnhardt said the building had been mostly unused during the 15 months Frawley and his unit were away. Fort Bragg has a massive construction project under way to create housing, but it is behind schedule, Earnhardt said.
The buildings used by the 82nd Airborne are about 50 years old, he said.
Earnhardt said the incident with the overflowing toilet took place the first day after the unit’s return and has been addressed.
Sen. Elizabeth Dole is among government officials who have responded to the video. In a written statement, she called living conditions in the barracks “unacceptable” and said the situation “must be immediately corrected.”
Ed Frawley said he is “hoping no one gets fired. I just want to see it get fixed.”
“They have the slowest contractors in the world,” he said, adding that people in jail live “in better conditions.”