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Family Seeks Truth Behind Soldier's Mysterious Death

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy
July 9, 2014
CBS News


During his five deployments over 10 years, Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Venetz fought for America.

As a Green Beret, he earned two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars. At one point, during a fierce, two-day firefight in Afghanistan, he refused to be evacuated despite being wounded and stayed on the battlefield alongside his fellow soldiers, CBS News correspondent Gayle Lemmon reports.

Former Captain Danny Fields was his team leader.

"Anthony would be the first choice on my dream team," Fields said. "When you thought of a Green Beret, Anthony was it. He was a hero to me."

But in January, 2011, this Green Beret's life ended in a bunk at Bagram Airfield. It was just days before coming home to his wife Debbie and their two children, Jace and Alexa.

"I told Alexa that Daddy wasn't going to come home anymore and that he had died. And she screamed and screamed and I think that was probably the worst part," Debbie Venetz said.

Adding to her grief was the mystery surrounding her husband's death.

She was stunned when Army records labeled it an "accident" from "mixed drug intoxication."

The need to discover the truth grew when the Army declared Sgt. Venetz's death "not in the line of duty" due to his "own misconduct." That ruling tarnished his record and deprived his family of military benefits.

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