12 September 2007

In memoriam, Yance T. Gray and Omar Mora

"War As We Saw It," a powerful and deeply skeptical Op-Ed about the Iraq occupation, written by seven soldiers in the field—Buddhika Jayamaha, Wesley D. Smith, Jeremy Roebuck, Edward Sandmeier, Jeremy A. Murphy, Yance T. Gray and Omar Mora—was published in the August 19, 2007, New York Times. "In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act," the soldiers wrote. "Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, ”We need security, not free food. In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are—an army of occupation—and force our withdrawal." Yance Gray, 26, and Omar Mora, 28, were killed in action Monday. [The art is by Wesley Kimler.]