EAST MONTGOMERY COUNTY- Army paratrooper Sgt. Jeremy Keaton Roebuck of Splendora, was killed in a motor vehicle crash in North Carolina on Jan. 28 and laid to rest in Cleveland on Wednesday following a military funeral service. He did not die in battle, or even on foreign soil, but his name was already known nationwide and will live on because of a single document.
The 23-year-old soldier’s legacy will be not only his two tours of duty in Iraq, but more so as one of seven commanders in the 82nd Airborne Division who co-authored a controversial op-ed piece about the conflict while fighting in that country. The article was published in the New York Times on Aug. 19, 2007.
Roebuck was the third of the seven co-authors to die in an automobile crash. The first two died in Iraq.
Sgt. Omar Mora, 28, of Texas City and 26-year-old Staff Sgt Yance T. Gray of Ismay, Montana died on Sept. 10, 2007, less than one month after the article ran. According to an Army press release, their transport vehicle plunged off of an overpass while returning to their base from a late night mission north of Baghdad.
Five other soldiers and two detainees also perished in the crash.
A fourth member of the seven, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Murphy, survived a gunshot wound to the head shortly before their collaborative effort was printed.
Army specialist Buddhika Jayamaha, Sgt. Edward Sandmeier and Sgt. Wesley D. Smith remain unharmed as of this writing.
Their work was titled, “The War as We Saw It,” and questions the effectiveness of the continued U.S. presence in Iraq and the accuracy of the information relayed to the American public regarding the U.S. military’s success. The piece points out the constant danger to American soldiers not only from overt enemies, but the insidious and often deadly danger presented by the American soldiers’ inability to know the true loyalty of individual Iraqi soldiers and police. Many of those trained and armed by the U.S. military as allies, they said, have since been responsible for taking American lives.
“In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear,” the article stated.
The piece explains their belief that the Iraqi people have begun to see the American military not as their liberators, but as an occupying force, and that Iraqis must be allowed to “take center stage,” and begin resolving their own differences.
The work, which has been quoted, referenced and reprinted all over the US and other countries, never criticizes the decision to enter Iraq, or those responsible. The last line reiterates that the authors’ merely meant to present Americans with their view of the conflict from the inside, and was no indication of disloyalty to the military or apathy regarding their duties.
“We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.”
All seven did just that, and three have now completed their service to their country.
Roebuck’s family and fiancée still reside in East Montgomery County where he grew up. He was buried Wednesday in Ryan Cemetery in Cleveland.
The Patriot Guard Riders, many of whom are veterans, honored Roebuck during his lengthy military funeral, along with his family, friends, brothers in arms, and area law enforcement.
To watch video of Roebuck’s funeral and an interview with his grandmother, click the arrow below:
To read the full text of the New York Times article, click below: