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From: TSS ()
Subject: Soldier's battle with disease continues to surprise family
Date: November 3, 2006 at 7:41 am PST

Friday, 11/03/06

Soldier's battle with disease continues to surprise family
Brain-wasting rarity ended career in 2003

Staff Writer

James Alford turned 28 on Thursday under the watchful gaze of his parents, John and Gail.

No one expected that day would come, most certainly not the cadre of doctors who have examined him in the past three and a half years.

The physicians, every one of them, said he would die — and sooner rather than later.

In summer 2003, when Alford was 24 and a Green Beret based at Fort Campbell, he was diagnosed with the human variant of mad-cow disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The rare brain disorder produces severe behavior changes, failing memory, a loss of mobility and eventually leads to a coma and death.

But the decorated soldier, a veteran of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq who was initially stripped of his Green Beret because of his illness, is still among the living, defying all expectations.

"I honestly don't know why he's still with us," Gail Alford said via phone from her family's home in Karnack, Texas. Jamie, as the parents call their son, has lived with them since he was diagnosed.

"In June of 2003 they told us he wouldn't see his 25th birthday; then in August they were absolutely certain he wouldn't be here at Christmas.

"Here we are at his fourth birthday since he was diagnosed. I'm not ready to say anything about having a fourth Christmas with him, but we're headed in that direction."

Alford was assigned to the U.S. Army's 5th Special Forces Group. His illness was chronicled in a front-page story in The Tennessean in November 2003.

According to the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Foundation, the incidence of CJD in the United States is one case per 9,000 adults age 55 and older; it occurs much less frequently in people 30 and younger.

The disease can be contracted by contamination during surgery or inherited at birth, but 85 percent of cases are of the "sporadic" variety, meaning the cause for the disease is unknown, the CJD Foundation reported. That's the case in Alford's situation.

Because he was so well traveled as a Special Forces soldier, his family said he may have eaten contaminated beef in England, where more than 125 persons have contracted the disease after eating beef from cows that were fed products rendered from scrapie-infected sheep. Scrapie is a form of a brain disorder found in sheep.

The soldier also told his family that in 2001 he ate a sheep's brain while stationed in Oman. However, while the disease is linked to cattle that have eaten sheep-byproducts, there has been no evidence of direct transfer from sheep to humans, according to the CJD Foundation.

Alford was a stellar soldier until 2003 when his unit went to Iraq. Less than a year after earning a Bronze Star in Afghanistan, the staff sergeant became a foul-up of his unit.

His inability to stay on task prompted his commander to order him to keep a pad and pen handy on which to write down orders. He was demoted in rank and in April 2003 was sent home from Iraq to be drummed out of the Special Forces.

After Alford was diagnosed with the fatal disease the Army made amends, restoring the soldier's rank and making it retroactive to the day of his demotion. But his soldiering days were over.

Today, Alford sleeps on a hospital bed at his parents' home. A nurse helps his mother and father care for their son.

"He's still conscious. He will still look at his dad and I and the nurse. He'll track us with his eyes. That's the most response we get from him," Gail Alford said.

Music or movies are playing almost all the time in his room. The doctors tell the family "it's good stimulation." He receives nourishment through a feeding tube and is given supplemental oxygen to help him breathe.

"He's got everybody fooled, and we're certainly glad," said John Alford.

"You just don't really know why he's hung on as long as he has. If I had to sum it up, I would guess it would be he's hanging on for mine and Gail's sake. I don't know. There's no medical reason at all for this."

The father, a retired Army man himself, said the staff sergeant's military buddies call and visit often.

"They come by when they can, if they get leave, or if they're in the area. Sometimes they have dinner. Sometimes they just sit and visit with Jamie. They haven't deserted him," John Alford said.

"We just take it day by day, doing the best we can with what we've got," added Gail Alford. •

Date: December 6, 2003 at 6:31 pm PST

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Sat, 06 Dec 2003 16:05:48 -0600
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."

Friday, December 05, 2003

This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, December 4,
Watch The O'Reilly Factor weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen
to the Radio Factor!
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the Personal Story segment tonight, the tragic
saga of 25-year-old Green Beret James Alford.
In 2001, the staff sergeant was assigned duty in the country of Oman,
and, while there, he ate a traditional dinner of goat brains.
About a year later, Alford's behavior began to get bizarre, and he was
demoted in rank. Despite that, the Army deployed him to Iraq in January
2003, but his health continued to decline, as did his behavior.
Finally, in April 2003, he was sent to Fort Campbell in Kentucky to be
court-martialed and kicked out of the Special Forces. But, while there,
doctors made a startling discovery. James Alford had mad cow disease,
which causes progressive dementia. His brain was literally being eaten
The Army then declared Alford medically incompetent and began processing
his retirement. They also reinstated his rank.
But his family says there are still problems. What a mess.
Joining us now from Dallas are the parents of Staff Sergeant Alford,
retired Sergeant Major John Alford and his wife, Gail. Also, from
Boston, Fox News Military Analyst Colonel David Hunt.
Sergeant Alford, first, we want to ask you about James. How's he doing
right now?
SGT. MAJ. JOHN ALFORD, FATHER OF GREEN BERET: He's about the same that
he has been lately. He's not doing any better. He's sleeping quite a bit
more. Sometimes he sleeps by day and stays awake all night, but we've
just adjusted to that.
O'REILLY: All right. Can you carry on a conversation with him? Is he
JOHN ALFORD: No, sir. We talk to him. We talk to him just as if he was
coherent, and I think he hears us, but he cannot answer us. He cannot
communicate in any way.
O'REILLY: All right. So he's in like a vegetative state here, that you
have to care for him, feed him, and all of that?

JOHN ALFORD: Yes, sir. He's fed through a tube, but he does take some
foods orally, baby foods, and some foods that we process ourselves.
O'REILLY: All right. So he's in bed all the time.
JOHN ALFORD: Yes, sir.
O'REILLY: You have to take care of him, make sure he's alive. Now this
is not going to change, right? You can't turn this around, correct?
JOHN ALFORD: No, sir. As far as we know, we cannot.
O'REILLY: All right. Now, Mrs. Alford, what do you want to see happen
GAIL ALFORD, MOTHER OF GREEN BERET: I want my son to remain on active
duty until his death, and I want his durable power of attorney that he
initiated for me prior to being deployed to be honored by the Army.
O'REILLY: What does that mean, though, in concrete terms for you?
GAIL ALFORD: In concrete terms, I want them to fully reinstate his pay
and to honor it completely.
O'REILLY: All right, but his rank has been reinstated. I assume he's
gotten the back pay that he...
O'REILLY: No? He hasn't gotten the back pay yet?
JOHN ALFORD: No. They took him back to his E-6 -- his staff sergeant pay
grade, but they're still processing and working on his back pay, and we
assume it will be forthcoming.
O'REILLY: Yes, the Army tells us it will be.
O'REILLY: So I wouldn't worry about the financial end of it.
JOHN ALFORD: Yes, but what we're concerned with now -- his pay has been
frozen, and it was released temporarily pending my wife being appointed
guardian, and then they're only going to pay 80 percent of his pay.
O'REILLY: All right.
JOHN ALFORD: He's an American soldier and he's entitled to it.
O'REILLY: You're right. Got it. You think that he was wounded in the
line of duty because, you know, you eat this stuff over in a country
where you're posted, so he should get full pay until he's deceased?
JOHN ALFORD: Yes, sir.
O'REILLY: All right.
JOHN ALFORD: And medical benefits.
O'REILLY: And medical benefits. Well, we assume that the V.A. is taking
care of him, are they not?
JOHN ALFORD: Well, sir, they would. We want our son to be provided the
best medical care available, and we would like to see that either in a
military medical facility, not a V.A. hospital, but a military medical
facility or a commercial hospital. If he is retired as they're trying to
do, he can be treated in a civilian facility, but they will only pay 80
percent of it.
O'REILLY: Eighty percent of it, all right.
JOHN ALFORD: Yes, sir.
O'REILLY: Now, Colonel Hunt, you're heard this terrible story. I mean
everybody watching it now -- this poor guy goes over there, and, through
no fault of his own, I mean, what is he, 27, 28 years old.
COL. DAVID HUNT (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Twenty-five.
O'REILLY: Well, I think that was when he was -- OK.
JOHN ALFORD: No, sir. He celebrated his 25th birthday three Sundays ago.
O'REILLY: All right. So he's 25 -- geez, just 25 years old. Amazing. So,
anyway, he's going to die. And, you know, what do you do? What should
the Army do here?
HUNT: This the worst case of abuse of a soldier I've seen in 30 years.
O'REILLY: Really?
HUNT: I have never seen, heard, read, dreamed that the United States
Army, that this Special Forces group that I'm a proud member of, a
historic unit, would treat another human being, a soldier, a Special
Forces soldier like this. The last thing this great kid remembers is the
Army called him a liar.
What they've got to do is get the chief of staff of the Army -- this has
got to happen fast. He doesn't have a lot of time. His parents -- his
mother -- his father is a 34-year veteran of the military, his mother is
a nine-year veteran in the military, and his wife is a three-year
The power of attorney is so stupid, they deployed over in Iraq together,
so they had to have a power of attorney with somebody else.
The Army has made a mistake every step of the way. This guy made staff
sergeant in five years. It takes normally seven to 10 years.
He got sick, by the way, not at Fort Campbell, but trying out for Delta
Force. Besides SEAL Team 6, the Army's Delta Force, the premier
counter-terrorism unit in the world. That's the kind of guy he is,
four-time volunteer, Bronze Star medal-winner in Afghanistan, goes to
Iraq, and they treat him like dirt.
And they're still doing it to his family. This is the biggest outrage I
have ever heard of in 30 years.
O'REILLY: So we need to contact the head of the Army right now, right?
HUNT: They ought to get this fixed. There's a great guy who's a deputy
commander at 5th Special Forces group, who heard about this in the
This wouldn't have been done without Fox News and The O'Reilly Factor
doing this and some local papers writing about it. And they need rank to
push this fast.
It's got to be fixed immediately, it will take about a four-star
general, pick up the phone, talk to this man's family, 34-year veteran
father, a sergeant major, and a nine-year veteran mother and fix it now.
O'REILLY: All right. Well, we can make that happen. I think we can make
that happen. So he should get full back pay right away, and he should
get into the best medical facility the government can provide and they
should pay 100 percent of it, right?
HUNT: Absolutely. Absolutely. And they can do that, exceptions, it
doesn't matter, take care of this guy now.
O'REILLY: All right. And that would be OK with you folks if we get your
full pay coming in and then the best medical facility the government can
provide a hundred-percent paid?
JOHN ALFORD: Sir, that's what we're asking for, that and respect and
honor the power of attorney, not just for my son, but if he's having
this problem, we're having this problem -- we're losing people every day
in Iraq, and there's got to be a lot of other families having the same
trouble and don't know what to do about it.
O'REILLY: All right. Well, let's work on this first, and then we'll get
to the other problem.
All right. Well, we're going to work with Colonel Hunt, and we're going
to try to get a definitive word by Monday. You know, we'll give the Army
a little time to cut through the bureaucracy, but I think we'll work it
out. I really do, and if we don't...
HUNT: I do, too.
O'REILLY: Yes. If we don't it ain't going to be good.
All right. Mr. and Mrs. Alford, we want you to have a very merry
Christmas, and we're very sad that this happened to your son.
HUNT: God bless the family.
O'REILLY: And we will try to do everything we can for you.
And, Colonel, as always, we appreciate it.
And we'll have an update on Monday about this situation,2933,105003,00.html

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Fri, 05 Dec 2003 14:21:34 -0600
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
Reply-To: cjdvoice@YAHOOGROUPS.COM
References: <>

Hello again Bill,

I heard you ran a story last night on our war hero and CJD and
what the Gov. did to him. I want to thank you, We all want to
thank you. I am sorry to say I missed the show. Is there any transcript
of the show we can locate on the www (url)? if so I would very much
like to read it. again, many many thanks. BUT, there are many more
out there that the Gov. is refusing to acknowledge. I only hope that
you continue to pursuit and keep a close eye on this issue of human/animal
TSEs aka mad cow disease in the USA, _especially_ the sporadic CJDs
and the continued denial and flat refusal to rapid test USA cattle for
TSEs and to refuse to make CJD reportable Nationally ASAP...

again, many thanks,

I am sincerely,

Terry S. Singeltary Sr.

Terry S. Singeltary Sr. wrote:

------ Original Message --------

Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2003 10:19:16 -0600
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."

> Hey Bill, maybe you can help this family out. After this soldier being a
> special forces war hero, and then left to die a most hideous death,
> this is not right. Another thing, this is a 25 year old dying from
> sporadic CJD.
> please do not let the Government confuse you with the myth that
> sporadic CJD just falls from the sky with no route and source. This is
> total crap......please help this family;
> Family of dying GI battles bureaucracy
> Associated Press
> KARNACK - By the time he shipped out for the war in Iraq in January,
> Special Forces Sgt. James Alford was a wreck of a soldier.
> For five months, he had been doing odd things. He disappeared from
> Fort Campbell, Ky., for several days. He lost equipment and lied to
> superiors. In December, he was demoted from staff sergeant to sergeant.
> In the Kuwaiti desert, he came apart. The hotshot Green Beret, who a
> year earlier ran circles around his team members and earned a Bronze
> Star in Afghanistan, was ordered to carry a notepad to remember
> orders. By March, he was being cited for dereliction of duty, larceny
> and lying to superiors. He couldn't even keep up with his gas mask.
> Finally, in April, his commanders had had enough. They ordered him to
> return to Fort Campbell to be court-martialed and kicked out of the
> Special Forces.
> "Your conduct is inconsistent with the integrity and professionalism
> required by a Special Forces soldier," Lt. Col. Christopher Conner of
> the 2nd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group Headquarters in Kuwait
> wrote April 10.
> Confused and disgraced, the soldier moved back into his off-base home,
> where he ate canned meat and anchovies, unaware of the day, the month
> or the year.
> Sensing something was wrong, a neighbor called Alford's parents. They
> drove 600 miles from East Texas to find a son who had lost 30 pounds
> and could no longer drink from a glass, use a telephone, button his
> shirt or say "Amber," the name of his soldier wife, who was still
> stationed in the Middle East.
> They rushed him to an emergency room. A month and several hospitals
> later, Alford's family learned that he was dying of a disease eating
> away his brain. He had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, an extremely rare
> and fatal degenerative brain disorder akin to mad cow disease that
> causes rapid, progressive dementia.
> Now, as the 25-year-old soldier wastes away in his boyhood home, his
> parents and his wife are struggling to understand how the military
> could have misdiagnosed Alford's erratic, forgetful behavior as
> nothing more than the symptoms of a sloppy, incompetent soldier.
> "He had to hold his hands to keep them from shaking, but they saw
> nothing wrong with my child," his mother, Gail Alford, a nine-year
> Army veteran, said recently from her home in Karnack, a rural
> community near Marshall.
> Alford's parents say Special Forces staff members told them that a
> doctor in Kuwait had found nothing wrong with him and that a
> psychiatrist there had said Alford was "faking it."
> Army officials have acknowledged that the 5th Special Forces Group
> erred and, more than eight months after Alford's demotion, they
> reinstated his staff sergeant rank.
> But the dying soldier's family members want more. They want a public
> apology for the ridicule and disgrace that they say filled Alford's
> final days of service.
> "They called him stupid, told him he was lazy, he was a liar, that he
> wasn't any good, that he was a faker," his mother said, recalling what
> little her son could tell her about his time in Kuwait. "I want them
> shamed the way they shamed my son."
> And they want his pay restored and his medical benefits maintained.
> The Army declared Alford medically incompetent, placed him on
> retirement status and froze his pay this month until his parents can
> prove in court that they are his legal guardians. His mother said she
> was given power of attorney long ago.
> Special Forces blamed
> Alford's father, retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Alford, who
> served 34 years, said that Army doctors have been caring and
> professional and that commanders stationed his son's wife, Spc. Amber
> Alford, in Texas near her husband.
> He mainly faults the Special Forces.
> "I think they did everything they could to break him, mentally and
> physically," he said.
> A Special Forces spokesman did not respond to phone messages and an
> e-mail request for an interview with The Associated Press.
> In a July 30 letter responding to an inquiry by U.S. Rep. Max Sandlin,
> D-Marshall, Army Lt. Col. Johan Haraldsen wrote that the Special
> Forces group to which Alford belonged expressed "its deepest concerns"
> to the soldier and his family.
> "All actions taken ... involving Sergeant Alford were appropriate
> based on the best information available at that time," Haraldsen wrote.
> Alford himself may have tried to conceal his symptoms, said Dr. Steve
> Williams, a clinical fellow in the division of infectious diseases at
> Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.
> "He was capable of masking the symptoms because he was resourceful and
> he was a smart guy," said Williams, who diagnosed Alford with
> Creutzfeldt-Jakob. "I'd ask him what floor he was on, and I could
> catch him looking outside and counting the number of windows."
> Doctors believe that Alford has the classic form of the disease, which
> develops spontaneously. It affects one in 100 million people under 30,
> according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
> Col. David Dooley, an infectious-disease doctor at Brooke Army Medical
> Center in San Antonio, said Special Forces staff members shouldn't
> take the blame for missing Alford's illness. A delayed diagnosis is
> "typical and classic"; the average lag time for the disease is five to
> seven months, he said.
> "If I'm going to hold anything against them, they might have come
> around a little faster when a medical problem was recognized," Dooley
> said. "The Special Forces group was fairly inert to the face of data
> that we medics were showing them."
> Alford's parents believe that he has the variant form of the disease,
> caused by eating brains or nervous-system tissue from an infected cow.
> They worry that he may have gotten it from eating sheep brains locals
> served to soldiers as an honor in Oman two years ago.
> But there is no evidence that people can get the disease from sheep.
> Doctors also note that Alford didn't have the outbursts of anger and
> depression usually associated with the variant form and that the fast
> progression of his illness is more consistent with the classic form.
> Losing everything
> Alford was the youngest man in the 5th Special Forces Group, and his
> wife says some of his team members resented his promotion. At least
> one said Alford seemed a bit immature and made a few bad decisions
> when he first joined, but military records show that he earned
> decorations.
> He was awarded the Bronze Star in May 2002 for "gallant conduct" in
> leading reconnaissance patrols in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar
> and helping capture Iranian terrorism suspects.
> Staff Sgt. Miguel Fabbiani, a friend of Alford's and a member of the
> same team based at Fort Campbell, said Alford's symptoms escalated
> during wartime when he was working with a new group that didn't know
> him as well.
> Alford's parents said they didn't see him enough to detect a problem.
> His wife was stationed near him for a while in Kuwait, but she chalked
> up his odd behavior to stress.
> Alford's father said the actions of his son's superiors broke the
> spirit of a young man who had wanted to become a soldier since he was 4.
> He now lies in pastel sheets next to a wall painting of John Wayne.
> Wearing a Houston Texans T-shirt that hangs like a hospital gown, he
> stares absently into a television that glows 24 hours, his hands
> gripping stuffed animals to keep them from clenching shut.
> "He knows his name, sometimes," says his wife, a tiny woman in
> sneakers who helps tend to her husband as she ponders a life alone.
> "Sometimes I'll go up to him, wink at him and make kissy faces, and he
> laughs."
> Her eyes well up as she remembers the handsome, arrogant boy she met
> as a teen-ager at a barrel-racing contest in Texas.
> As his brain deteriorates, his organs will fail.
> "He will go blind, he will go deaf, he will lose everything," his
> father said.
> He stopped walking more than a month ago, mumbles when he tries to
> speak, is fed intravenously and takes medicine for insomnia, pain and
> tremors. Doctors have told the family that he probably won't live to
> see Christmas.
> The Army has said that the issues over Alford's pay could be resolved
> within weeks, but the family members are skeptical. They aren't sure
> how they will pay his bills and maintain his 24-hour care without his
> salary.
> "It's very sad when the people who are putting their life on the line
> for this country should be treated like this," Alford's father said.
> "This has been a bureaucratic nightmare. We've got enough to deal with
> on a daily basis, caring after our son and dealing with our pain and
> weariness and our suffering to have to fight the U.S. Army."
> They fought for four months before his rank was reinstated in September.
> John Alford knew his son might not live long enough to get the good
> news, so he had already told him a "white lie" that he had been
> vindicated.
> "It was very important to him because he kept saying, 'I didn't do
> anything wrong, Daddy.' "

Office Note


A The Present Position with respect to Scrapie
A] The Problem

Scrapie is a natural disease of sheep and goats. It is a slow
and inexorably progressive degenerative disorder of the nervous system
and it ia fatal. It is enzootic in the United Kingdom but not in all

The field problem has been reviewed by a MAFF working group
(ARC 35/77). It is difficult to assess the incidence in Britain for
a variety of reasons but the disease causes serious financial loss;
it is estimated that it cost Swaledale breeders alone $l.7 M during
the five years 1971-1975. A further inestimable loss arises from the
closure of certain export markets, in particular those of the United
States, to British sheep.

It is clear that scrapie in sheep is important commercially and
for that reason alone effective measures to control it should be
devised as quickly as possible.

Recently the question has again been brought up as to whether
scrapie is transmissible to man. This has followed reports that the
disease has been transmitted to primates. One particularly lurid
speculation (Gajdusek 1977) conjectures that the agents of scrapie,
kuru, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and transmissible encephalopathy of
mink are varieties of a single "virus". The U.S. Department of
Agriculture concluded that it could "no longer justify or permit
scrapie-blood line and scrapie-exposed sheep and goats to be processed
for human or animal food at slaughter or rendering plants" (ARC 84/77)"
The problem is emphasised by the finding that some strains of scrapie
produce lesions identical to the once which characterise the human

Whether true or not. the hypothesis that these agents might be
transmissible to man raises two considerations. First, the safety
of laboratory personnel requires prompt attention. Second, action
such as the "scorched meat" policy of USDA makes the solution of the
acrapie problem urgent if the sheep industry is not to suffer



1: J Infect Dis 1980 Aug;142(2):205-8

Oral transmission of kuru, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and scrapie to nonhuman primates.

Gibbs CJ Jr, Amyx HL, Bacote A, Masters CL, Gajdusek DC.

Kuru and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease of humans and scrapie disease of sheep and goats were transmitted to squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) that were exposed to the infectious agents only by their nonforced consumption of known infectious tissues. The asymptomatic incubation period in the one monkey exposed to the virus of kuru was 36 months; that in the two monkeys exposed to the virus of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was 23 and 27 months, respectively; and that in the two monkeys exposed to the virus of scrapie was 25 and 32 months, respectively. Careful physical examination of the buccal cavities of all of the monkeys failed to reveal signs or oral lesions. One additional monkey similarly exposed to kuru has remained asymptomatic during the 39 months that it has been under observation.

PMID: 6997404

[Docket No. FSIS-2006-0011] FSIS Harvard Risk Assessment of Bovine
Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)

[Docket No. 03-025IFA] FSIS Prohibition of the Use of Specified Risk Materials for Human Food and Requirement for the Disposition of Non-Ambulatory Disabled Cattle



Terry S. Singeltary Sr.

P.O. Box 42

Bacliff, Texas USA 77518

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