BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — Staff Sgt. Daniel Clark loved nothing more than connecting and video chatting with his wife back in the states. Not long ago, the deployed NCO came off a particularly tiring shift and called her up. That's when he saw it.
"Something big was creeping around behind her," said Clark. "I nearly panicked and yelled for her to watch out."
Clark's wife assured him that the 'something big' was nothing more than a harmless moth.
"Her explanation made sense," said Clark, "but I just had this... uneasy feeling."
While Clark didn't want to make a big deal of the situation, he also couldn't let it go. Over the next few days he did a little digging and noticed a spike in the electric bill. When he confronted his wife about it, she claimed it was probably related to the air conditioner.
"I knew right then and there she was feeding me bullshit," said Clark. "She's always griping that I crank the A.C. too low. If anything, the electric bill should've gone down."
Clark also noticed the moth was becoming a regular part of the background whenever he dialed home during hours of darkness. Clark said his wife denied running the lamp any longer than necessary. She was growing more defensive and agitated whenever he mentioned the issue. Eventually, things came to a head.
"I couldn't believe it," said Clark. A tear ran down his cheek. "I gave her my heart. I trusted her."
After noticing a $200 Amazon purchase on the credit card, he logged into their account to check the order history.
"She bought a set of those color-changing 'smart' light bulbs—" He sniffled and used his forearm to wipe his eyes. "and some blackout curtains."
When she stopped answering his repeated calls and messages, he knew their marriage was over. He'd seen this scenario play out with too many battle buddies too many times. Defeated, he informed his first sergeant that a divorce packet was incoming. When the company commander asked him to check his bank account, Clark responded that it wouldn't be necessary. He already knew it was cleaned out.
Two week later, Clark received a divorce packet in the mail.
"Everyone always thinks it'll never happen to them," said Capt. Pete Harrington, Clark's company commander. "Soldiers hate safety briefings and marriage counseling, but it's all done in an effort to protect their best interests — to prevent these sorts of tragedies."
Harrington added: "It takes a real son of a bitch moth to do this."