Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Most Remarkable Recovery

Remember Major Jill Metzger? She's the now-retired Air Force officer who was the purported "victim" of a bizarre kidnapping incident in Kyrgyzstan two years ago. According to her version of events, she was abducted in a local shopping mall, taken to an undisclosed location and held against her will. After three days, the 87-pound officer managed to overpower her captors, ran miles to freedom (she is a champion marathoner) and was returned to U.S. forces.

But her "story" had more holes than the proverbial block of Swiss. Video from mall security cameras showed Major Metzger deliberately separating herself from a group of other airmen. On the same tape, Metzger can be seen riding an escalator to the ground floor, where a Kyrgyz man--that she seems to know--is waiting.

And the list of contradictions doesn't end there. Metzger told local cops that she had been robbed by the kidnappers, despite the fact that her expensive wedding ring was never taken. She claimed to have run at least 30 miles to escape--in her bare feet. But a medical exam showed that her feet were in remarkably good shape; ironically, doctors found blood on the top of her feet, rather than on the bottom, despite that long-distance sprint to safety, through rugged terrain.

Additionally, investigators wonder why didn't Major Metzger use her cell phone to summon help in the early stages of the ordeal. As you might expect, the phone was "lost" during the incident, but she still received at least two calls after leaving her friends at the mall. Who made those calls, and what do they reveal about events surrounding her disappearance?

Also unanswered are questions about cash withdrawals Metzger made before her "abduction," and the role of a third-country national in the episode. That individual was seen driving a white van that followed the bus carrying Major Metzger (and other airmen) to the shopping mall on the day she disappeared. The man in the van asked a guard at the base gate if Metzger was on the bus before it departed.

Then, there's the issue of Metzger's refusal to submit to pregnancy or blood tests after her return; the Air Force's "rush" to get her out of the country. It's also worth noting that the Major subsequent failure of a polygraph test (by a mile) at her home station, Moody AFB, Georgia. After that, she refused to talk to military or Justice Department investigators, citing the stress of her experiences in Kyrgyzstan.

Despite all that, Metzger was temporarily retired (with full pension benefits) in July 2007. Since then, she's maintained a low profile, living with her husband (who's also an Air Force officer) at a base in the Florida panhandle.

But according to, Major Metzger emerged from the woodwork last weekend, participating in the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio. She finished second among all female finishers, with a time of 3:11:58. Metzger won the women's division of the marathon in two previous races, before her "kidnapping."

That would suggest that Metzger has made a remarkable recovery from the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that forced her temporary military retirement last year. While many victims struggle with PTSD for years--some are even afraid to leave their homes--Major Metzger appears to be in the pink of health (and fitness).

Her participation in the Air Force marathon is just one more indication that Ms. Metzger has perpetuated a remarkable scam, with the apparent assistance of senior Air Force officials. We've had our differences with on other stories, but they deserve great credit for sticking with the Metzger case, digging out new details and demanding answers.

Earlier this month, they published a two-part interview with an Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) agent who participated in the Metzger investigation. He confirmed many of the rumors surrounding the case, including the Major's refusal to take blood and pregnacy tests after her "release;" the obvious contradictions between her story and independently-corroborated fact, and the failed polygraph test.

The agent also described the "kid glove" treatment that Metzger received. From their interview with the OSI member, identified as "Insider:"

(MCC) -- Then Metzger was getting special treatment from the start?

(INSIDER) -- The word went out to lay off her, she's got somebody big (a general or generals) by the balls.

(MCC) -- Tell us about the nervous breakdown at Moody AFB, when she lost it while on the treadmill in the gym.

(INSIDER) -- Right. We heard not long after she got back to Moody she was exercising in the base gym on the treadmill.Anyway, Maj. Metzger was talking to someone standing nearby when she had like, a psychotic episode, a breakdown, if you will, and went into a fetal position on the floor. She was crying hysterically, and during the incident, witnesses heard her say she'd had two affairs while deployed to Manas.

(MCC) - My God! Didn't that right then and there shoot down her false story of kidnapping? Why would the brass continue to protect and cover-up for her?

(INSIDER) -- Like I said. She had just incredible connections, and no one was going to do or say anything that could get them slammed by the Command.

The "real" story of Jill Metzger's "ordeal" probably goes something like this. During her deployment to Manas AB, she had an affair, became pregnant, and sought an abortion (a local doctor told Kyrgyz police that he performed the procedure on an American woman identified as Metzger). Complications arose during the abortion, preventing the Major from returning to base before the local curfew. The "kidnapping" became a means for explaining her absence, supported by wild claims of heroism and escape.

Why did Metzger receive special treatment? She apparently has close ties to senior generals; her husband is an OSI agent, and Metzger's father-in-law is, reportedly, a high-ranking officer in that organization. With those connections, Major Metzger had the horsepower to sidestep a multi-agency investigation, earn a "disability" retirement and pursue her hobby of distance running.

Two years later, this entire episode still stinks to high heaven. While hundreds of combat vets from Iraq and Afghanistan awaiting rulings on their PTSD claims, Major Metzger is collecting a nice retirement check. Look for that "temporary retirement" to become permanent in the near future.

The Air Force apparently has no interest in re-opening the matter, so Congress needs to investigate the Metzger case. An officer who disappeared without authorization, lied about her activities and (in the process) touched off a minor international incident deserves something besides a comfortable retirement.

1 comment:

Gator said...

Agree this story stinks bad, and is a slap in the facing to those combat veterans truly dealing with PTSD.