Sunday, June 24, 2007

Jacob T. Tracy 'died June 18 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an IED detonated near his vehicle June 17 in Baghdad'

When Army Pfc. Jacob Timothy Tracy was fatally injured in Iraq a week ago, his cousin and best friend, a medic stationed only 10 minutes away, wasn't able to be by his side.

After Tracy died Monday, his parents have been concentrating on one thing: They have been calling everyone they can -- from the Red Cross in Washington, D.C., to U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) -- to try to get his cousin home to Palestine, in southern Illinois, for their son's funeral on Wednesday.

"It's kept us busy, kind of kept our minds off of things or at least helps," said Tracy's father, Don.

Jacob Tracy, 20, died of injuries received June 17 when an explosion went off near his vehicle in Baghdad. Tracy, of the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based at Ft, Hood, Texas, had been in Iraq less than four months.

He knew he was going to have to go to war when he joined the Army, said his mother, Sheila.

But Jacob Tracy, who dropped out of Palestine High School his senior year and got into some minor trouble with the law, wanted to turn his life around. He passed a General Educational Development test before leaving for Iraq.

"He told us that he wanted to make me and his dad proud," Sheila Tracy said. "He knew he needed discipline in his life and structure, and he knew the Army would give it to him."

But Sheila and Don Tracy said they were already proud of the son they adopted before he was 5.

Jacob Tracy and his medic cousin, Levi Estock, were friends even before they were relatives, Sheila Tracy said. Jacob Tracy's birth mother had asked Estock's mother to adopt the boy.

"Jacob and him were just two peas in a pod," Sheila Tracy said. "They always wanted to be brothers."

Estock's mother couldn't adopt another child but said she knew someone who might, and the two boys ended up as cousins.

"We couldn't resist him," Sheila Tracy said. "We just couldn't. He had the biggest, brownest eyes."

Jacob Tracy grew up to be the type of guy who always wanted to make people laugh, his father said.

The family learned about Jacob Tracy's injuries on Father's Day after Don Tracy missed a phone call from Iraq and he and his wife checked the messages at their home.

Jacob Tracy was unconscious when his parents called overseas, but someone held the phone up to his ear, his mother said. "They let us talk," Sheila Tracy said. "We got to tell him we love him."

From the Chicago Tribune