Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tell (Yance T.) Gray reported killed in Iraq

A soldier from eastern Montana who was killed in Iraq earlier this week was 1 of the authors of a high-profile New York Times editorial critical of the progress being made in the war.

Staff Sgt. Yance T. Gray of Ismay died Monday when the cargo truck he was riding in overturned in Baghdad.

Another co-author, 28-year-old Sergeant Omar Mora, also was killed in the crash.

The Times piece expressed doubts about American gains in Iraq, but also assured they would see the mission through.

Gray was remembered as a strong and friendly leader who loved the Army and dreamed of being a soldier his entire life. He graduated with a class of 18 from Plevna High School and was 1 of 5 students from the class that joined the military.

Karen Gray told the Miles City Star newspaper that she and her husband had last seen their son two years ago, when he graduated from Army Ranger School. She says she did get to talk to him on the phone last Tuesday.


“Engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act,” the seven soldiers wrote of the war they had seen in Iraq.

They were referring to the ordeals of Iraqi citizens, trying to go about their lives with death and suffering all around them. But sadly, although they did not know it at the time, they might almost have been referring to themselves.

Two of the soldiers who wrote of their pessimism about the war in an Op-Ed article that appeared in The New York Times on Aug. 19 were killed in Baghdad on Monday. They were not killed in combat, nor on a daring mission. They died when the five-ton cargo truck in which they were riding overturned.

The victims, Staff Sgt. Yance T. Gray, 26, and Sgt. Omar Mora, 28, were among the authors of “The War as We Saw It,” in which they expressed doubts about reports of progress.

“As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day,” the soldiers wrote.

Sergeant Gray’s mother, Karen Gray, said by telephone on Wednesday from Ismay, Mont., where Yance grew up, “My son was a soldier in his heart from the age of 5,” and she added, “He loved what he was doing.”

The sergeant’s father, Richard, said of his son, “But he wasn’t any mindless robot.”

Sergeant Gray leaves a wife, Jessica, and a daughter, Ava, born in April. He is also survived by a brother and a sister.

From the NY Times