The NY Times recently did a piece on the 2000th servicemember killed in Iraq, and included Cpl. Starr, and two lines of what is known in the military as a death letter. The one you write and hope no one has to send home for you. Relatives and friends who were in ground combat in wars past have mentioned them to me at one time or another.
This is the NY Times Piece:
Another member of the 1/5, Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr, rejected a $24,000 bonus to re-enlist. Corporal Starr believed strongly in the war, his father said, but was tired of the harsh life and nearness of death in Iraq. So he enrolled at Everett Community College near his parents' home in Snohomish, Wash., planning to study psychology after his enlistment ended in August.
But he died in a firefight in Ramadi on April 30 during his third tour in Iraq. He was 22.
Sifting through Corporal Starr's laptop computer after his death, his father found a letter to be delivered to the Marines girlfriend. ''I kind of predicted this,'' Corporal Starr wrote of his own death. ''A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances.''
It looks like the poor guy was burned out, ready to come home, and who would blame him. However, they only included part of the letter, and it was pointed out by his uncle.
This is the whole letter he wrote to his girlfriend:
Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I'm writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances. I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."
Reading the article in the Times it looks like they did the "snippet" job on a lot of letters. I wonder how many other folks felt more deeply about what they were doing than the Times showed in their profiles. And if they were only going to use two sentences, why not start with "A third time.." and move to the next sentence?