Mr. James J. Monroe and family
71 East Barnard Street #131
Ames, Idaho 12345
Dear Mr. Monroe,
Please accept my most personal regards and deepest sympathy on the recent death of your son, Sergeant Jason Warren Monroe, a NonCommissioned Officer, an American Soldier, and a good man. This tragedy has taken a nephew from his Aunt, a son from his father, a brother from his siblings, a friend from hundreds here in Iraq, and untold hundreds back home, as well.
Words cannot describe to you how sorry I am about this tremendous loss, and how much Jason's death has and will continue to impact those of us still serving.
As you know, Jason's unit was alerted on February 11, 2004. He mobilized on May 12, 2004, and went with the rest of the battalion to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, here we trained in preparation for deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Jason arrived at Forward Operating Base Salem, near An Najaf, Iraq, on September 1, 2005. The Battalion began displacement operations from Forward Operating Base Salem on September 20, 2005, and has been assigned to our current duty location of Camp Ramadi, Ar Ramadi, Iraq, since that time.
On Tuesday, February 27, 2005, at 7:12 AM, 3rd Platoon, Company C, 123d Engineer Battalion, reinforced with Soldiers from Headquarters & Headquarters Company 456th Engineer Battalion, and departed Camp Anzio, which is on the East Side of Ar Ramadi, to conduct route clearance operations. The purpose of this operation was to clear improvised explosive devices and mined areas in the City of Ar Ramadi. At 9:50 AM, two 155 millimeter howitzer rounds, primed but with no initiating system detected, were discovered by the scanning team. These rounds were placed by insurgents into a pothole in the road. As our primary ordnance removal vehicle (referred to as a buffalo) began retrieving these pieces of ordnance so that they could be detonated, both our advance guard and security team began pulling 360 degree perimeter security. Jason was one of four Soldiers in the M113A3 Armored Personnel Carrier, positioned approximately 200 meters in front of the buffalo, scanning for snipers, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, and other activity in the area.
At 10:03 AM, Jason was engaged by one round from a sniper while standing in the troop hatch of the M113A3. Jason's Squad Leader was within two feet of Jason when he was shot. A Combat Medic assigned to the platoon was on the site within two minutes, as were Jason's platoon Leader and platoon sergeant. Jason was evacuated by the 3d Battalion 151st Ground Medical Evacuation Team very quickly, and received immediate care, but his wounds proved too severe to save his life.
I think it is important that you know how your loved one spent his last days. As the Battalion Commander, I participated in this mission with Company C in support of Task Force Steel. We linked up with this Task Force at Camp Anzio on Sunday, February 25, 2005, and cleared routes in this city on the evening of the 25th and early morning of the 26th. The platoon then had approximately 38 hours of down time between missions, where they had time to enjoy each others' company. I hung out with these Soldiers for this 36-hour period, and remember very clearly seeing Jason with a very content smile on his face on numerous occasions. The platoon enjoyed cooling off by swimming in a converted irrigation pond in the afternoon, joining Soldiers from the 2-9 Infantry. They sat around watching movies on portable DVD players, listening to music, and most of all, talking amongst themselves. I do not recall Jason saying very much -at least when I was around. But, I do remember him glancing from person to person as his platoon communicated amongst themselves, hanging on the words that they used, and clearly being among people whom he truly loved, and who loved him. He was an American Soldier and a Combat Engineer -doing the job that he signed on to do. I am proud to be associated with this outstanding American.
I cannot imagine the impact that this loss will have on you, his family. I don't know how much peace this will bring you but I know that the Soldiers with whom Jason served have a great deal of respect and love for him. We had a memorial service at 10:00 AM today, where we remembered Jason and his contributions to this battalion. The comments made by those who served closely with Jason were spoken from the heart with a great deal of emotion. I think that Specialist Basker's comments best summarized the service when he said, "I am going to miss the person I ate every meal with, the person who would always bring me a cold drink when I needed one, the person who had so many great stories to tell and such a talent for telling them; but, most of all I am going to miss my friend."
Following the formal service, I was provided the honor of rendering the first salute to an M-16, laden with a set of Jason's identification tags (dog tags) that had been secured between a pair of his boots and placed on a pedestal in front of us. As bagpipes played "Amazing Grace" in the background, I watched as each Soldier followed suit over the next 15 minutes. I saw many tears -shed by Soldiers from all of our companies, truly an indication that he will never be forgotten.
Please know that an officer has been appointed to secure and inventory all of Jason's personal effects. Once that inventory is complete, his effects will be forwarded to you, as the person eligible to receive his effects, through the Joint Personal Effects Depot in Maryland. We will include in those effects pictures and a DVD of the memorial service.
It is very important to me that you know two things. First, Jason loved what he was doing. Second, Jason loved the Soldiers with whom he served; and they loved him. I wish you and your family the very best as you deal with this unthinkable tragedy. If there is anything I can do to help ease your pain during this time, I welcome that opportunity. Please know that you are, and always will be, part of the Idaho Army National Guard family. Know also that there are 503 Soldiers who will never forget Sergeant Jason Warren Monroe.
With deepest sympathy,