Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Perspective: Unit Ponders the Hard Lessons of Loss

By now the soldiers know the ceremony by heart, but Monday afternoon, on day 62 of the Iraq war's escalation strategy, they rehearsed it yet again, starting with the display that people would want to look at and to touch.

Photograph on the bottom. Then the boots. Next, the rifle. Then the dog tags. Finally, on top, the helmet. Five days after his death, it was all that remained here of 29-year-old Army Sgt. Raymond S. Sevaaetasi...

Since U.S. and Iraqi forces began implementing their new Baghdad security plan Feb. 14, nine soldiers from the battalion have been killed. No battalion has had more. Even harder, after a relatively uneventful deployment that began last November, those nine deaths have occurred in the past 32 days.

"It just seems like it's been blow after blow after blow," said the battalion's chaplain, Capt. Roger McCay. "They're sad. Very sad," he said of the battalion's 750 soldiers. "They question, 'Is this how it's going to be from now on out?'"

Read the rest at the Washington Post