Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What a difference one year makes

July 15, 2008, SSG Jeremy Vrooman was with 1st Platoon Palehorse Troop 4th Squadron Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment.

When the surge went into Iraq, 2SCR was at the tip of the spear.

Pete was clever enough to not let us know that. They first cleared the worst of Baghdad, and then went on to Diyala.

Jeremy was in rear detachment. He was called into Iraq in early 2008.

Husband of Latrecia, father of two, he loved his job.

When the platoon went into Diyala one year ago, Jeremy was the first off the Stryker that morning. He was the first into that warehouse.

It was rigged with what is known as a "house borne bomb". He knocked the door down and walked into hell. Just behind him was John Humphrey.

Jeremy lost his life. John lost most of one arm. Jeremy is dead. John has been at Walter Reed for most of the past year, and is still in the Army serving us today.

I will never forget the phone call from Chaplain Bryan Smith. He was so disheartened that Palehorse had lost a second soldier.

Jeremy's wife, Latrecia, was from San Antonio. Jeremy's funeral was in San Antonio, and he is buried at San Antonio National Cemetery.

I was only 4 hours away. I had seen this movie. Thankfully, when Pete came home, I had lots of friends and family around.

Jeremy was from South Dakota.

I got to the funeral home where his visitation was held. There weren't alot of folks there. But, I got to meet Latrecia. She had been at Pete's memorial in Vilseck, Germany.

I got to meet the kids.

I got to meet Jeremy's mom.

I got to meet Jeremy's dad and his step-mom. The step-mom that loved him like her own.

At the visitation, I got to meet General Gilman. He was in charge of the Center for the Intrepid. The rehabilitation facility for wounded soldiers in San Antonio.

At Jeremy's funeral, I got to meet Colonel H.R. McMaster.

Colonel McMaster took Jeremy under his wing when Jeremy was first enlisted. He made him his driver. He made Jeremy understand.

Colonel McMaster was the first to figure out Iraq. His story can be Googled. He went into Tal Afar in northern Iraq. He made his men make allies with the locals. He got the locals to tell him where the bad guys were.

General David Petreaus learned from Colonel McMaster and that was his strategy for calming Iraq. The same strategy is being used today in Afghanistan.

Jeremy, thank you for being willing to give all for me and our country. No one asked you to. You just signed up as a man and did your job. We will never forget.

Thru Jeremy, I have been blessed to meet his parents. We are close friends. We were together last November for the homecoming of the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment in Vilseck, Germany.

We are forever bonded.

Thru death, there is life.

Mine is so much better because of Jeremy Vrooman.

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