Soldiers Omar Mora & Yance Gray killed in Iraq -- yet their truth lives on

Two of the active-duty U.S. soldiers who wrote a controversial Op-Ed (The war as we saw it) in the New York Times questioning the direction of the Iraq war--Sgt. Omar Mora and Staff Sgt. Yance T. Gray--died Monday in Baghdad.

Mora, 28, hailed from Texas City, Texas, and was a native of Ecuador, who had just become a U.S. citizen. He was due to leave Iraq in November and leaves behind a wife and daughter. Gray, 26, had lived in Ismay, Montana, and is also survived by a wife and infant daughter.

Jeremy Murphy, another of the seven authors, was shot in the head in Iraq on Aug. 12, before the Op-Ed was even published. He is recovering at the National Naval Medical Center in Maryland.

Tonight, President Bush is scheduled to tell the nation that the "surge" is working, Iraq is being pacified, and that we should stay the course. He follows General Petraeus' report to the U.S. Senate in which he honestly could not answer the question: Is America safer as a result of the U.S.-Iraqi War.

But as Mora and Gray understood, "pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities" is wrong--as well as deadly. May they rest in peace.

Here is an excerpt of their letter:

BAGHDAD -- Viewed from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counter insurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. 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. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the "battle space" remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers' expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.
Click here for the full letter.

Honor Mora and Gray by demanding that President Bush and the U.S. Congress end the foreign war in Iraq and the homeland war on immigrants.

Photo: Sgt. Omar Mora

Related The unsettling deaths of Omar Mora and Yance Gray.


  1. It is too bad the military chain of command did not do their legal duty and bring these seven non-coms up on several charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) for writing and sending their document of discontent to the New York Times. Their traitorous efforts should have gotten them court-martialed and removed from duty. This effort would have removed them from harms way as well as giving them a dishornorable discharge. These seven soldiers broke at least 7 articles of the UCMJ.

  2. Vietnam-era Army vet says

    Stop this liars' and scoundrels' War Without End NOW.

    Bring our guys and gals home NOW.

    These talented writers and sensitive observers and humane, decent guys deserved to live, and had a lot more of great value to give us.