SALT LAKE CITY, April 4, 2013—With the American withdrawal from Iraq complete and irreversible, it is up to historians to measure the worth of the US expedition there. Whatever their collective judgment, the warriors who lost their lives in Iraq will be regarded as the best America had to offer.
Casey Sheehan was such a warrior. He died nine years ago today during a battle in Sadr City in Iraq.
Black Five blog has a section called, “Someone You Should Know” dedicated to those fallen warriors; the authors recently reposted the eulogy originally written for Spc. Sheehan back in 2007.
Sheehan’s story is by itself, unremarkable. Seven others died with him that day. Their names are (Spc.) Robert R. Arsiaga, (Spc.) Ahmed Cason, (Sgt.) Yihjyh L. “Eddie” Chen, (Spc.) Stephen D. Hiller, (Spc.) Israel Garza, (Cpl.) Forest J. Jostes, and (Sgt.) Michael W. Mitchell. Hundreds of others died during the eight-year campaign under similar circumstances.
But considering that less than one percent of eligible Americans volunteer to serve in the military, it seems that Spc. Sheehan might be a bit more remarkable than the average young man. Sheehan and nearly everyone else in the services at that time had enlisted or reenlisted during a time of war. They knew the risk, and they accepted it.
Consider also the fact that Sheehan and his fellow soldiers volunteered for the morning mission that got them killed. And that it was a rescue mission.
According to Black Five,
“Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment were ambushed with RPGs and pinned down and dying. While fighting off an attack himself, the Commander of the 2/5th, LTC Volesky, called for help. A Quick Reaction Force (QRF) was formed of volunteers - their mission was to go out and rescue the American troops.
Sheehan was among those who volunteered. As a US soldier, he lived by the ethos that taught him to never leave a fallen comrade.
His leader gave him a chance to back out.
Casey responded with words that so few of his peers outside of the military could fully appreciate: “Where my Chief goes, I go.”
That is Casey Sheehan’s legacy. Duty and loyalty at the risk of personal harm and death. The remarkable epitome of the volunteer Army.
It was Palm Sunday when Spc. Sheehan died.
Casey’s mom, Cindy Sheehan, turned the loss of her son into short-lived political movement that ended in 2007 when she left the Democratic Party.
For too long the media was trained on her activism, ignoring the sacrifices that Casey and others like him made, and were making, in Iraq and Afghanistan. The media used Spc. Sheehan’s death to push an agenda.
Long after that agenda has been forgotten, soldiers (like those who maintain Black Five) remember the real reason that Spc. Sheehan sacrificed himself: because he was part of a team, and he put the welfare of his fellow soldiers above that of his own.
Americans have the best trained Army in the world. It is manned by some of the bravest and brightest men and women our country has to offer.
Casey Sheehan was one of them.
Rest in peace.
Rich is a teacher and a soldier. In addition to writing the “Rich Like Me” political column at the Washington Times Communities, he is the author of Nine Weeks: A Teacher’s Education in Army Basic Training; Tunnel Club; and Not Another Boring Textbook: A High School Students’ Guide to their Inner Conservative.
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