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Marine colonel, pilot takes his own life in VA parking lot while sitting on his military records


A retired Marine colonel was found outside of a Florida VA hospital wearing his dress uniform, sitting on top of his military records in the hospital’s parking lot after he took his own life with a firearm.

Retired Colonel James Flynn Turner IV committed the somewhat-ceremonial suicidal act on December 10 outside of the Bay Pines Veterans Affairs complex, becoming the fifth person to kill themselves at the facility.

Once a young man from a well-to-do Baltimore family, Turner joined the Marines over two decades ago, flying F/A-18 Hornets before becoming an infantry officer, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan before taking a position with the US Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base.

According to his family, however, he became aimless after the Marine Corps, having lost his purpose in life.

“My brother’s identity was being a Marine,” said Jon Turner, the late colonel’s younger brother.

Turner’s issues became apparent over time, and ultimately ended up with Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies detaining him under the state’s Baker Act in 2016, after he chased his own son out of his home with a weapon. He and his wife, Jennifer, separated shortly after.

“He came home seemingly fine,” said Jennifer Turner. “It was a couple of years later that he just got more aggressive.”

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Turner left a suicide note behind that expressed his frustration with the VA.

“I bet if you look at the 22 suicides a day you will see VA screwed up in 90%,”Turner wrote. “I did 20+ years, had PTSD and still had to pay over $1,000 a month health care.”

The VA did not comment on the matter, citing privacy concerns.

Turner’s obituary indicated that funeral services took place on Friday.

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