Caption: BARWANAH, Iraq (November 7, 2006) - U.S. Marines gather around the boots, helmet and rifle to pay homage to a fallen Marine during a memorial service in Barwanah, Iraq, on Oct. 25, 2006. Photo by Sgt. Jason L. Jensen, U.S. Marine Corps.
Two of the seven enlisted soldiers who wrote the extraordinary op-ed to the New York Times have died in Iraq:
Sgt. Omar Mora and Sgt. Yance T. Gray died Monday in a vehicle accident in western Baghdad, two of seven U.S. troops killed in the incident which was reported just as Gen. David Petraeus was about to report to Congress on progress in the "surge." The names have just been released.
Mora, 28, hailed from Texas City, Texas, and was a native of Ecuador, who had just become a U.S. citizen. He was due to leave Iraq in November and leaves behind a wife and daughter. Gray, 26, had lived in Ismay, Montana, and is also survived by a wife and infant daughter.
Two of Seven Soldiers Who Wrote 'NYT' Op-Ed Die in Iraq
As I noted previously, one of the soldiers, Jeremy Murphy, had been wounded before the article was published.
To me, this is symbolic of our experience in Iraq. We're losing some of our best people over there, and hurting many more in a vain effort to make something of our tragic decision to invade the country.
(h/t Taylor Marsh)
UPDATE: Over at TPM, Greg Sargent has a postscript of sorts, coverage of an interview with one of the dead soldier's mother in the Galveston paper. The inner quotes are from the interview itself:
For instance, Mora's 15-month deployment was nearing its end. His tour of duty was marked with some horrific moments:
The Capetillos last saw their son in April, when he was on leave after a roadside bomb damaged his ears and left one of his friends without an arm. He eventually redeployed, and in August saw another friend shot in the head, a wound that later killed him, the Capetillos said.
Mora apparently undertook to write the Op-ed out of despair with the way things were going in Iraq:
Olga Capetillo said that by the time Mora submitted the editorial, he had grown increasingly depressed.
“I told him God is going to take care of him and take him home,” she said. “But yesterday is the darkest day for me.”
Mora also felt that the Op-ed had been misunderstood as a call for withdrawal by some antiwar people, though in the Op-ed he and his fellow soldiers wrote that the war had become the "pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends."
Mom Of One Of Dead Soldiers Who Penned Critical Op-Ed Speaks Out
While I can't speak for the state of mind of others, I take my own lessons from what I see, hear, and read. Whether Sgt. Mora meant it to be so or not, I took his op-ed as more proof that things are going very badly in Iraq, and are beyond the capacities of our forces there to fix. Sgt. Mora and his comrades clearly were dissatisfied with the course of the war, and spoke up in the hopes of changing things. Their action was heroic, because it clearly was not going to be taken lightly by their superiors.