Missing Marine Found Dead... COD4 May Have Triggered Combat Flashback

March 14, 2008 -
A badly-wounded Iraq War veteran, missing since February, has been found dead inside a culvert in Charlotte County, Florida, according to Indiana's News and Tribune.

As GamePolitics reported last month, 24-year-old Eric Hall, still suffering from grievous combat wounds as well as post-traumatic stress disorder, fled a relative's home after a session of Call of Duty 4. Hall, who had previously caused a traffic accident in his native Indiana after hallucinating an Iraqi roadblock, may have experienced a flashback of some sort. Relatives report that his combat experiences, which included seeing his best friend decapitated at Fallujah, left him badly traumatized.

It's not clear why Hall crawled 60 feet into the roadside culvert. His motorcycle was found nearby.


Along the vein of all the folks commenting about how PTSD is hard to understand, that's true. In my last job I met a lady who'd contracted in Iraq, but she was mostly telecommuting from home because it's winter in the rockies, and apparently this particular manifestation meant that she couldn't drive in the snow. Don't misunderstand me, I never disrespected it, it was what it was, but I'd always wondered how her mind had somehow connected snow with iraq.


reading this, think maybe I had missed the point. Think maybe it wasn't about the snow so much as just plain driving in adverse conditions.

Ah well. Of course, condolences to the family. Unfortunately, I'm inclined to believe disorders of this nature rise to the surface eventually. If it hadn't been CoD, it might just as easily have been something else. As far as I'm concerned, he should probably be considered a casualty of the war.

A sad ending to this story, but at least there's some closure for the family.


He'd probably been debriefed, but PSTD isn't the sort of thing that goes away easily.


Unfortunately it's almost inevitable that someone will try and use this for an agenda. I can only hope the only agenda it gets used for is to push for better mental care for our veterans.

When I came home from the first Gulf War we didn't get any debriefings but our experience was a much shorter one than what the current vets are experencing. My condolances go out to the family. As a former active duty Marine I have to say that families of returning vets should be told to limit exposure to triggers such as games, movies etc. to prevent something like this from happening. This Marine never should have been playing this game knowing the condition he was in. Believe it or not sometimes a ballon popping can be enough to trigger a flashback in some cases. Hopefully Thompson and others won't use this tragedy as a tool in their misguided efforts to destroy the gaming community.

I feel deeply sorry for this man and his family nya. Any sane person rather for or against the war should know this is a sad incident, and those who will exploit this should not sleep at night nya.

This just goes to prove that we should take better care of our soldiers. This almost has nothing to do with the video game except the fact that it was a trigger as driving a car was. We cannot shut soldiers off from activities that make them citizens. What we need to do is provide better psychological care to soldiers returning home from combat zones. By preference, we should attempt to not send soldiers to combat zones at all.

Many people here feel the same as I and millions of other Americans do. The care for our Soldiers is inept and out of control. It is one of the major issues I have waiting to here about from any of the candidates this election season in any of the political parties. I have heard next to nothing. What a sad situation.

GryphonOsiris, that poem was awesome. Thank you.

@ CommonEffingSense

Didn't we say no soap boxing here, and woop dee dee have a bowl of me. Coming from a Military family doesn't make you an expert on PTSD. FYI I come from a military, oh heres the kicker joined the military and had PTSD.

And wow saying "There's a diffrence between just war and a unjust war" is BS! I can tell you right now, only people who have a pleasure in killing would not go "I just shot a man, what have I done?!" I can tell you from the way I am, I would have PTSD from killing a man in self defense or accidental homicide.

Don't you dare take a Marines death or any brance of service from ANY country to further pro-war or anti-war soap boxing. A death is a death and honorable war or not, this man died with honor so don't you dare attempt to disgrace him.

Once again I'm sorry soap boxing from a soldiers death just angers me to no end.

lol.this guy must be fucking stupid.he shouldnt be allowed to come back if all he's gonna do is hallucinate and try to kill shit.crazy motherfucker.

That's so sad. :(

Please, please please please... I hope no one uses this to further an agenda...

I can't even imagine what these people are going through.

No one likes knowing the marine is dead, but at least theres closer knowing he was found. My condolences to the family.

Semper Fidalius

Wow. How sad...

I thought soldiers had to be debriefed after returning home. A family member of mine was in Iraq a few years back and was told not to drive until after he had been debriefed (for fear of flashbacks). Was he not yet debriefed? Or was he just that upset?

@ Gameboy

It's more of what's referred to as "Wife Beating Debriefing" it's an unpleasent term where small groups of people returning from a conflict are "briefed" on how to readjust to realitively peaceful area.

Wife Beating Debriefing I know is used in the USAF, not sure about the other brances.

Just a thought and I hate to take this off topic but doesn't stuff like this kind of help the argument that video games don't desensitize us to violence. Obviously I don’t know Eric Hall at all but being as young as he was chances are he played a lot of violent games. And after witnessing what he did first hand he really wasn’t prepared for it.


The transition from full-time garrison life state-side is hard enough. War veterans will still try to take cover whenever they hear someone say "Wow, look at that!" even if they haven't been near actual combat. I can't even imagine what it must be like for someone like this Marine.

As for the agenda, this will more than likely be used to enhance PTSD awareness. With any luck, it'll also be used to shorten tours.

PTSD is the forgotten ailment. Not enough is understood about, and not enough resources are put in place to help deal with it.


Sounds like he may have been trying to escape a brush fire by hiding in the culvert. He may also have had another flashback and panicked. But the official investigation is still ongoing.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

My dad was in Vietnam and still have flashbacks to this day. He sometimes have to take sleeping pills just to get a good night's rest. When the Iraq war started, my mom had to limit the amount of time he could watch the news reports because she found him crying one day while watching. Whatever some people believe, PTSD is real and may never go away.

That's awful, my condolences to his family.

Eugh. This is so terrible, but not really unexpected.

My sympathies for the family.

At least they found him. But this is truly sad news.

My heart goes out to all the friends of families of this latest victim of the trouma of war...

And I hope, for gods sake hope to everyone from Hilary to the Jack of all trades never tries to use this for any Videogame Bashing....because it is just too much in bad taste...

I don't know what they go though, but I sure hope that people who return home from war hope that they go to see someone to talk to about their problems if they know themselves that their war expeirience has stressed them out so badly.

As we say in Australia, less we forget....

Also Post Troumatic Stress Disorder is so hard to overcome, you don;t know what it is like to live with it until you have experienced it in some way or another.

It is so hard to control something like that when it happens in the mind...it is something that I feel no one can fully control or get over.


Being debriefed wouldn't probably made a difference. I'm a veteran myself, but I'll give you an example. Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? Well... just add images to that! One thing that helps is meditation, taking control of your mind and focusing on something else. Believe it or not this is harder than what it sounds, but once achieved this can help immensely. To any veterans out there take my advice buy a book on meditation and take control.

We can only hope that this case will be used to further the research to PTSD, got a couple of friends in my dorm who are in the army/marine corps nd I hope all goes well for them when they deploy.

Yes, War is hell. May he Rest in Peace, if it is indeed him.

Post Troumatic Stress Disorder is very real, and is hard for non-sufferers to understand. A close relative of mine was hit by a car years ago (nearly died). To this day, she has nightmares about it and has trouble at road crossings.

Its not a matter of "if" certain anti-game folks exploit this, just a matter of "when".

Condolences to the family.

I have a great idea, stop sending our people over to other countries to fight in unjust wars. Then there is no post traumatic stress to suffer from. Games are games and war is war, I feel that his mental distress would have surfaced sooner or later dispite playing the game.

Have any games tried to simulate PTSD? It'd be kind of interesting to have a game where it looks like an FPS, you fight one level and you're either wounded & evac'd or win but wither way the actual full game is an RPG or adventure where you have to cope with the aftermath. Might be a good way to raise awareness of the condition.

My condolences to the family.

I have a cousin in the Air Force right now. He'll be off to Iraq again in a few weeks. My family is terrified for him.

This young man is no different. And although I don't know what PTSD is like, I can understand, even if its the tiniest bit. A teacher of mine had flashbacks very rarely. He's an ex-Marine. I forget where he served though... I want to say Vietnam... but that might not be right...

"Have any games tried to simulate PTSD?"

Not that I'm aware of, but I do know some therapists have used FPSs to try to trigger certain emotions in PTSD patients in order to help treat them. It's not usually the patient playing though, just watching the action on a screen.

Some games have done flashback type events. MGS 3, where you go down the 'Sorrow river' surrounded by all the ghosts of those you've killed up until that point in the game. Max Payne, where you twice 're-live' the trauma of finding your wife and child murdered (those were whacked levels...)
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

I blame the US Government and the Military. They are not doing enough for people coming back with PTSD. In fact they have never done enough for these people. These soldiers serve with dedication and honor, but when they get home the Military and Government just dump them pell mell right back in to normal civilian society. After months or years of hardcore action this is not an intelligent thing to do to the soldiers. They need time to readjust or even have serious treatment for PTSD. People should not blame a game. The problem started long before this young soldier ever touched COD4.

Rest in peace.

@mudwhistle - Please leave your politics out of it. PTSD happens in the 'just' wars as well. It's also prevelant throughout the civilian communitity. Traumatic Stress isn't limited to the battlefield. I feel that having served in a number of conflicts during a 22 year stint in the service give me a bit of a platform to speak from, but I'd not say that for example, a bank teller who's been held up at gunpoint couldn't have similar problems.

Thoughts and well wishes to this Vet's family.

What a sad ending. Condolences to his family and friends.

@ Mudwhistle69er

I'm going to school you in a little psycology. PTSD can happen from even seemingly minor events, such as a near miss on the freeway, it's the inability to form a proper chping mechignism.

I had PTSD after being stabbed, so it can be triggered from minor events. So get off you damn soap box and show the Marine some proper respect.

Sorry things like that just piss me off that someone uses a member of the military members death to further their soap box.

@ GP
Can you by chance put Semper Fi somewhere in the post?

@ Aliasalpha

Actaully yes Max Payne had PTSD, they we're flash backs and bad dreams.

PS Sorry for double post.

Yes, it can happen to civilians, but it is more prevalent in Soldiers than any other segment of society. It also is often much more severe in them as well. I have not been in the military, but I do have family member and close friends that have. What most of these people go through is far worse than any car accident or similar civilian experience.

I still maintain that this is the responsibility of the US Military and the Federal Government.

RIP to all fallen soldiers.

Not quite sure what to say here. The POW/MIA tribute seems appropriate because, by all indications, his mind never really came back from the sands. Rest well brother, and godspeed.

God, this is horrible, but, I swear, if a single goddamned politician uses this tragedy to their advantage, I suggest we kidnap the bastard and drop him (or her) in Iraq.

It's a sad story, but should someone with PTSD really be playing a game about war? That's seems a little irresponsible. It's like someone with liver disease swilling a few at the bar. One has to take responsibility for one's own health. For that matter, Saving Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket, or the endless war coverage could have done the same thing.

FACT:The great Audie Murphy (hero of WWII) had Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and was one of the first to bring attention to it.FACT: The damn thing's an epidemic among most soldiers.THEORY: In a controlled setting, you could probably use FPS games to help with the condition.


It's in human nature to do things to ourselves that we shouldn't. Especially when we're very far from in our right minds, which is unfortunately the case for most sufferers of PTSD.

My prayers and condolences go out to the family.

This story also fills me with something approaching white hot rage. I've felt for a long time now that there's not enough done for the wounded soldiers. It seems like we just patch up their bodies and send them home with a pat on the back. There needs to be follow up and psychological care as well. I think this story, and the others like it, are a clear indicator of just how much reform we need in this area.

My condolences go out to the family.

But the potential for a political scandal is nauseating, Florida? Jack Thompson is a Florida attorney.


This bothers me mostly because maybe this wouldn't happened if he got that Vetern treatment he was refused in the first place....

This is why i really believe that the people who make decisions about VA services should not be some REMF, but someone who has had frontline combat experiance. They would know what those who had served went through, what kind of problems they'd suffer from, and how to best treat them.

It's sad that events like these show the short-comings in the VA system.

To remember our fallen son, I have no words that can express the feel we all have, only a poem that have been spoken hundreds of thousands of times before.

The Final inspection by Anonymous

The Marine stood and faced God
Which must always come to pass
He hoped his shoes were shining
Just as brightly as his brass.
"Step forward now, you Marine,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?"
The Marine squared his shoulders and
said, "No, Lord, I guess I ain't
Because those of us who carry guns
Can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays
And at times my talk was tough,
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just too steep,
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here,
They never wanted me around
Except to calm their fears.
If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand,
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand."
There was a silence all around the throne
Where the saints had often trod
As the Marine waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God,
"Step forward now, you Marine,
You've borne your burdens well,
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell."

PTSD can occur even outside of combat, as other posters have said. Look, the validity war stirs up passions on both sides, but the debate doesn't have to be brought to this thread.

Having a sick loved one missing for a whole month must have been terrifying. I feel so sorry for his family.

Well I don't think JT has attacked CoD4 yet. So I guess that's his next target. That asshole better not use this against the game.
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Andrew EisenAnd again, you keep saying "accountable." What exactly does that mean? How is Gamasutra not accounting for the editorial it published?07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - I disagree with your 9:12 and 9:16 comment. There are myriad ways to address content you don't like. And they're far easier to execute in the online space.07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - Banning in the legal sense? Not that I'm aware but there have certainly been groups of gamers who have worked towards getting content they don't like removed.07/28/2015 - 11:45pm
DanJAlexander's editorial was and continues to be grossly misrepresented by her opponents. And if you don't like a site, you stop reading it - same as not watching a tv show. They get your first click, but not your second.07/28/2015 - 11:40pm
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Mattsworknameanother07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
Mattsworknameyou HAVE TO click on it. So they get the click revenue weather you like what it says or not. as such, the targeting of advertisers most likely seemed like a good course of action to those who wanted to hold those media groups accountable for one reason07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
MattsworknameBut, when you look at online media, it's completely different, with far more options, but far few ways to address issues that the consumers may have. In tv, you don't like what they show, you don't watch. But in order to see if you like something online07/28/2015 - 9:12pm
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Mattsworknameexpect to do so without someone wanting to hold you to task for it07/28/2015 - 9:00pm
MattsworknameMecha: I don't think anyone was asking for Editoral changes, what they wanted was to show those media groups that if they were gonna bash there own audiance, the audiance was not gonna take it sitting down. you can write what you want, but you can't07/28/2015 - 8:56pm
MattsworknameAndrew, Im asking as a practical question, Have gamers, as a group, ever asked for a game, or other item, to be banned. Im trying to see if theres any cases anyone else remembers cause I cant find or remember any.07/28/2015 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenAs mentioned, Gamasutra isn't a gaming site, it's a game industry site. I don't feel it's changed its focus at all. Also, I don't get the sense that the majority of the people who took issue with that one opinion piece were regular readers anyway.07/28/2015 - 8:43pm
MattsworknameDitto kotaku, Gawker, VOX, Polygon, ETC07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
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Andrew EisenHave gamers ever tried to ban a product? Can you be more specific? I'm not clear what you're getting at.07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
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MattsworknameAndrew Youd have to ask others about that, I actualyl didn't have much beef with them till last year, so I can't speak to there history. I simply feel that gamesutra chose politics over gaming and chose to make enimies of it's prime audiance. For that,07/28/2015 - 8:40pm
Andrew EisenI'm still not clear on how Gamasutra was lacking in accountability or what it was lacking in accountability for.07/28/2015 - 8:38pm
MattsworknameAndrew: You and I agree on most of that. I don't diagree that there should ahve been other actions taken. Now, I do want to point something out, casue Im not sure if it's happened. Have gamers ever tried to have a product banned?07/28/2015 - 8:37pm

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