On this most recent Memorial Day weekend, I stood before the grave of Captain Brian Freeman at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. Freeman had graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1999, branched armor, and had served in Afghanistan. He later became a member of the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program, competing in bobsled and skeleton. He was recalled to active duty after his five year post-West Point commitment and was sent to Iraq as an Army Reserve civil affairs officer. Then on January 20th, 2007 Freeman was killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Captain Freeman, along with three others, were captured and murdered by Iraqi insurgents (twenty other American were killed as well during the preceding battle). He was 31 years old, leaving behind a wife and two young children.
A month or so before he was killed he told Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn) regarding Iraq:
Senator, it’s nuts over there. Soldiers are being asked to do work we’re not trained to do. I’m doing work that the State Department people are far more prepared to do in fostering democracy, but they’re not allowed to come off the bases because it’s too dangerous there. It doesn’t make any sense.
Freeman was fighting in a war that was supposedly won years earlier, against a different enemy than the original one, and did not die in combat per se, but was murdered.