Saturday, September 12, 2009

Roger (By Ben Shaw)

*Reprinted with permission from the Fluvanna Review.

It is the habit of people when they lose a friend to pontificate about how well they knew him or her and how dearly they will be missed. Such talk, however, is often hollow, spoken by distant acquaintances or those that attempt to borrow grief out of some great desire for self-flagellation. Those that know them closest are silent in their grief. They have nothing to say.

As for Sgt Roger L. Adams, I will make no such claim of knowing him closely, for I did not. I knew him only briefly, but what I remember of him was good. He had character.

During our tour in Iskhandariyah, Adams was sent as a replacement for another Marine who not long before was killed in action. He volunteered for the position.

He was friendly, to say the least, and not the sort of leader who needed to resort to screaming and threats to relay orders. If he asked you to do something, you simply did it. Chances are he’d be helping you, anyway. I don’t ever recall seeing him angry. He laughed a lot.

After thirteen years as a Marine Infantryman, Adams moved over to the Army National Guard, and was serving with the 120th Combined Arms Brigade in and around Baghdad. Like all others who choose to make a career of the military, he was doing what loved most.

He rode in our second humvee, which I believe sustained more hits than any other in our unit. Humorous to all of us, including him, it was never hit again after he arrived. Yet that fortune departed him on June 29th, when he and three other Guardsmen were killed in a catastrophic IED attack in Baghdad. He leaves behind a wife and four sons. He was 36.

I spoke with several of the Guardsmen who were serving with Adams when he died, and they miss him dearly. Though it was painful, they wished to tell me more about him and why they liked him. They told me about the memorial service held for him and the three others, and how they found it powerful, tearful, and meaningful. There in Iraq, more than a week later, several still carried the memorial service bulletin in their pockets. One gave me his copy.

A few Guardsmen volunteered with Adams at the local fire department, where he was known for his extensive knowledge and enthusiasm. Another used to spend his free time with Adams, his wife, and four sons. One offered to give me photographs from the service. Several members of that Guard unit are headed home on R&R, and rather than spend time with their own families, they’re planning to attend Adams’ funeral in North Carolina. Adams was family to them, and they loved him.

That I was no longer serving with him is irrelevant; I still take his death personally. And so should this nation, for they have lost a son. He joins the ranks of several over comrades and leaders who I knew but briefly before Providence saw fit to take them home.

For those who believe the war is over here, think again. Continued attacks on US troops prove otherwise, resoundingly. There is still an enemy here, and that enemy demands the attention and ferocity of the United States Armed Forces.

We will release a sigh and solemnly utter, “rest in peace, Roger,” but he shall have none. At least not until there is no enemy, but peace. There is still a war to fight and his brothers will fight it for him, and for his memory, and for the young family that he leaves behind. Victory is his memorial.

Copyright © 2009, Fluvanna Review, All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. A fine tribute to a man who died in the service of his country and his impact on his fellow soldiers. Well written!