On the first day of August, my second cousin (whom I never had the honor of meeting) was killed in Iraq.
Here is the Department Of Defense release:
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sgt. James R. Graham III, 25, of Coweta, Okla., died August 1 as result of a suicide, vehicle-born, improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations near Hit, Iraq. Graham was assigned to Marine Reserve’s 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Broken Arrow, Okla. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Graham’s unit was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
Because we had never met, I’m not sure how to feel about it…
First, I feel guilty for even bringing it up. I have a problem with people using the sacrifices of others as a means of gaining personal sympathy. Let me say right now that any sympathy you might have towards me is going to the wrong place. Duh!
I feel sad because Sergeant Graham’s father is a good man and is probably (assuredly?) devastated. I know his grandfather (my mother’s brother/my uncle) certainly is. He's the one that called my mom earlier this week to tell her the news. I also think that all his friends and acquaintances are feeling this in ways that I am not, and my heart goes out to all of them.
I found this item on a Tulsa station's website:
An Oklahoman has become the latest casualty of war in Iraq. US Marine Sergeant James Graham of Coweta was killed by a suicide bomber. And that has his family and friends mourning the loss of a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice.
News on 6 Anchor Craig Day says Graham was a husband, a father of two. A man loved by his family. James Graham III trained with the Anti Tank Company in Broken Arrow.
The US Marine Corps says Graham was killed in the Al Anbar Province in Iraq. He was conducting combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The military isn't releasing any further details, but attacks on US troops are common in the predominantly Sunni Muslim western province that borders Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Graham lived in Coweta. He left Oklahoma for Camp Pendleton in January. Then it was on to Iraq to take part in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The News on 6 talked with Sergeant Graham's family in Coweta back in January. They shared their concerns at that time about the dangers he faced. His mother said as an only child his deployment was tough for them, but they knew they had to be strong for him because he had a job to do.
And Graham's wife said being a US Marine is something he wanted to do. He wanted to serve his country. Graham was only 25.
Graham was killed while conducting combat operations near Hit, Iraq.
I believe he was casualty #1,805.
Is what I feel the same feeling that you hear survivors of battles and horrible accidents deal with? The guilt of having "made it"? Granted, I'm too old to fight, and I don't know that I would have to courage to do so.
I have on recent occasions been prompted to, when seeing a serviceman/woman, thank them. Sometimes I actually can summon the courage to do so. Sometimes I can't. Sometimes it seems cheesy. Sometimes it works.
I hope that maybe now I can do it more frequently, and with the honor these young men and women deserve.
And I will also start being a little more careful about how much gas I use...
In the meantime - To everyone "In Country", stay alert and keep your eyes open!