By Rowan Wolf
Last week the big news was the on-stage murder of Dimebag Darrell Abbott of Damageplan and three others at a concert Alrosa Villa by Nathan Gale. It seemed more than random, but in what way. This week Nightline is running three nights about soldiers returning from Iraq and their problems with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As many as 1 in 3 of the returning troops may be impacted. Lest one think these items are totally unrelated, Nathan Gale was discharged from the Marines last year for paranoid schizophrenia.
Nathan Gale was with the Second Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. While members of this division are, and have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have no idea whether Gale was one of those. Given the deployments, however, it seems there would be a high possibility that he had been in at least one of the two theaters. Was Nathan Gale a victim of combat related PTSD?
But why kill Darrell Abbott? While that is a question that will probably never be answered, there are some tantalizing questions to be asked.
According to a CBS (12/10/04) report Inside The Mind Of A Killer, Gale was a long time Pantera and heavy metal fan. According to an Associated Press report, when Gale was a semi-professional football played he psyched himself up for games by playing Pantera songs. He was also apparently convinced that Pantera had stolen songs that he had written. Abbott had been a member of Pantera before forming Damageplan.
But there is another troublesome issue that links back to military issues. For those of you who watched Fahrenheit 9/11, there was the scene of troops plugged into sound systems blasting heavy metal music as they went into combat. [There was a heated discussion on UTJ around this use of music - Reflections on Fahrenheit 9-11].
So here you have Nathan Gale who was apparently obsessed with Pantera from high school on. He uses blasting heavy metal music to amp himself up for football games. He joins the Marines who are also using the same music for the same purpose to amp folks up for combat. He possibly goes into combat, but we know he is discharged after serving two years in the Marines with a unit that is frequently deployed. He kicks around for a year and then leaps onto stage and kills Abbott. He is then killed himself.
Now I don't want to get into an argument here about music and violence, though it is clear that for Gale that seems to be true, and the military apparently thinks it has some sort of "beneficial" edge for troops. But the connections are alarming. They are more alarming in light of troops coming home from heavy combat who may have certain "triggers" or associations that trigger PTSD episodes. Are we ready for this? We had better be, because I doubt that Nathan Gale is the last veteran who will be suffering on hometown streets.
In The News
CBS Inside The Mind Of A Killer
Marine Corps Times Nightclub slayer had served in Marine Corps