In memoriam

TL recently posted on the deaths in Iraq of two of the sergeants who wrote an op-ed recently published in the NY Times, critical of current policy and trends.  I was writing this diary at the same time.

Two of the seven paratroopers from the 82d Airborne who recently wrote the Op-Ed published in the New York Times, highly critical of the current policy and prosecution of the war, have been killed.

Sergeant Omar Mora, 28, of Texas City, Texas  and Staff Sergeant Yance Gray, 26, of Ismay, Custer County, Montana, were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 73d Cavalry Regiment, a constituent unit of the 82d.  They were killed, along with 5 other soldiers and two Iraqis, when the cargo truck in which they were riding rolled over during operations in the Baghdad area.  An additional eleven other soldiers and one more Iraqi were injured. According to the Army, the dead and injured Iraqis were previously-detained persons who were being transported.  

Sergeant Mora leaves a wife and 5 year-old daughter.   Sergeant Gray leaves a wife and infant daughter.

They had already volunteered and proven their courage three times over before coming to the crossroads of their op-ed, and that doesn't even address the everyday courage of wives and kids.  They volunteered for the Army, volunteered for the airborne, and volunteered again, re-enlisting somewhere along the way.  

One can tell a little about them by where they came from.  Gray, from the cowboy country of southeast Montana, came from a town so small the lead story in the area newspaper last week was the jury trial of a woman who allegedly drove drunk and the wrong way on a local road. The lead obituary that of the only local doctor, killed in an auto accident.  I suspect Sergeant Gray's death will lead this week.  Mora, from Texas, tried college and a few jobs before entering the Army.  Their families loved them, no doubt, but we should love them for their courage and integrity too.

It takes a certain level of toughness and physical courage to again and again throw your body and life out the door of an airplane in flight, trusting that the riggers who packed your chute did it right.  It takes devotion to more than just a job, paycheck and benefits, to stay in the military service.  These two, along with their co-signers, had this sort of courage.  

But, they also had moral courage, a trait too often lacking in this day, and one which is winnowed out of officers as they climb the ladder of rank and prestige.  Those who bothered to look and listen yesterday saw the culmination of that winnowing and sieving in the person of General Petraeus, saying what his bosses wanted said, dodging pointed questions with no small degree of art, always coming back to the propaganda bullsh*t his political masters wanted spouted, spread and piled high.

Sergeants Mora and Gray had neither the luxury of soft words and softer hands, nor the misguided, misapplied education, refinement and politesse that permits stories hiding behind our language's innumerable names for the many flavors of lying-passing-as-truthtelling to glide easily over their lips.  Though I never met them, I have no doubt they were direct, plain-spoken men who knew truth and knew falsity, could distinguish the one from the other at a glance from 400 meters away and did not tolerate the latter.  Leading soldiers - rather than giving orders to be carried out by soldiers farther down the chain - requires integrity, another trait too often sanded away (if it was ever present) in the process of reaching and climbing for generals' stars.  These sergeants surely would have gagged on their words had they been called to give the kind of performance their general did yesterday.

Their moral courage and probity prevented them from averting their eyes when confronted with the chicanery that is United States policy in Iraq, the policy they were required to carry out regardless of its futility.  Their integrity commanded them to speak out.

Their courage, integrity and devotion to duty reflected the highest traditions of the military service and brought great credit and honor upon themselves, the 82d Airborne Division and the United States Army.  

We are poorer for their loss.

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    "We are poorer for their loss." (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Edger on Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 12:06:42 PM EST
    Well spoken diary, scribe.

    "We are poorer for their loss."

    How much poorer are our (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 02:38:19 PM EST
    leaders going to allow us to become?

    Well, I think (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Edger on Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 02:43:45 PM EST
    the questions really are how much poorer are they going to become? And when are they going to become real leaders?

    Thank you for this diary Scribe (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 02:44:21 PM EST
    It was nice to pop in and see it.  We've been moving our daughter all day today between her work schedule and her Dad's.  I don't know why I feel so shocked, but I do.  Thank you for your thoughtful and honestly patriotic tribute to them.  May their families be blessed with all of their beloved memories of these soldiers and may time caress and ease the wound.  We owe their soldiers so much, may the courage their soldiers shared with us all and the risks that they took be reaped and bring their families a balm when needed.  God's speed brave ones.

    The Sound of Silence (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by john horse on Sat Sep 22, 2007 at 06:08:17 PM EST
    Allow me to get something off my chest.  Congress says not one word about Sgt Mora and Sgt Gray paying the ultimate sacrifice for George Bush's bullsh*t war.  Meanwhile they cry crododile tears about the "insult" to General Petreaus.

    They'll maybe cry more "real" tears (none / 0) (#8)
    by Edger on Sat Sep 22, 2007 at 07:46:56 PM EST
    in November 2008.

    Unfortunately, whether they retain Congress or not, and whether they win the Presidency or not, everyone else will. There'll be no "maybe" about that, at the rate the Democratic Leadership is going...


    Good article/diary (none / 0) (#5)
    by dutchfox on Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 03:35:10 AM EST
    Thanks, scribe!

    Regarding Sgt Mora's Patriotism (none / 0) (#6)
    by john horse on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 12:13:12 AM EST
    Good post scribe.  Unknowingly I posted on the same subject today.  I wouldn't have done so had I read your post first.      

    Referring to the NYT op-ed, I noticed this comment from Sgt Mora's widow that she "doesn't want anybody to think that he was unpatriotic."  Her comment reflects the view of some people that you shouldn't criticize the government during a time of war.  This view is wrong.  To use an analogy I heard from a former secretary of state, suppose you found out a weapons manufacturer was producing defective guns.  These defective guns resulted in unnecessary deaths of our soldiers.  Would you keep quiet or raise holy hell?  How is a failed policy any different than a faulty weapon?  

    Sgt Mora and Sgt Gray were true patriots.  Like most organizations the standard operating procedure in the military is to keep quiet.  You get ahead by not making waves.  To their credit their conscience would not allow Sgts Mora and Gray to remain silent.