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Soldier and Replacement Die Together


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Soldier and replacement die fighting together
By Michelle Tan - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Feb 7, 2007 16:26:45 EST

Camp Ramadi, Iraq — Spc. Alan Eugene McPeek was just days away from completing his 14-month tour in Iraq. Pvt. Matthew Thomas Zeimer had been at Combat Outpost Grant for less than two hours.

Close to 1 a.m. Friday, on what was supposed to be his last night at Combat Outpost Grant in central Ramadi, McPeek and his fellow soldiers came under attack. It was an intense and coordinated attack launched by insurgents from nearby buildings and streets.

McPeek, 20, and Zeimer, 18, ran together to the roof to fight back.

McPeek took Zeimer, a member of the 3rd Infantry Division unit set to replace the outgoing soldiers, under his wing. He coached him and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the young private as they fought for their lives.

But a shot fired from what commanders believe was a recoilless rifle blasted through the reinforced concrete wall near McPeek and Zeimer. The impact killed them both.

McPeek, with Company A, 16th Engineer Battalion, was attached to Task Force 1-37 Armor while he was in Iraq. Zeimer belonged to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor.

On Tuesday, more than 350 soldiers gathered in the dining facility on Camp Ramadi to honor the two young men, one a veteran of combat, the other a young soldier fresh from training. Both fought fiercely until the end.

“Whenever we lose someone we love, it hurts,” Chaplain Nathan Kline, of 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor, said during the 40-minute service. “Our instincts tell us to avoid suffering and discomfort, but avoiding and repressing painful thoughts can be selfish. Our brothers deserve to be missed. We cannot honor them without remembering them. Remembering the fallen is a sacred duty none of us can afford to shirk.”

The dining facility where the service took place was transformed from a typically noisy, messy place into a quiet, sacred hall set aside to honor the two soldiers.

Two helmets placed over two rifles, accompanied by two pairs of combat boots, sat on an altar in the front. The soldiers’ Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals flanked each rifle.

Their photos, images frozen in time, smiled down on the soldiers who had gathered to grieve their loss as music written by a soldier from the 1-37 floated from loudspeakers.

A recording of the service and taped messages from the soldiers who knew McPeek and Zeimer will be sent to their families.

Lt. Col. Michael Silverman, commander of 3-69, spoke about Zeimer’s dedication to his country and how important he was to his fellow soldiers.

“The time came to enter the world of war [and] he fought for his nation, his Army, his buddies,” Silverman said. “He fought like a veteran. What we are all asked to do is answer the call to arms with the same courage and tenacity as Matthew.”

Zeimer, who joined the Army on June 13, 2006, was proud to be a soldier, and he was determined, helpful and kind, said Spc. David Seth, one of Zeimer’s close friends. He often talked about his family and his fiancée, and how much he looked forward to being reunited with them.

“Matthew wasn’t interested in being a hero,” Seth said. “Being a soldier was good enough for him.”

McPeek, who enlisted on June 30, 2004, was a natural leader, a warrior and a skilled sapper, said Lt. Col. V.J. Tedesco III, commander of the 1-37, a unit also known as the Bandits.

“His final act of professionalism as a soldier placed him in the line of fire,” Tedesco said. “It breaks my heart … I will never understand why God chose to call Specialist McPeek home on his last day of service in Iraq. [But] the Bandits do not fail those with whom they serve, and we will not fail Specialist Alan McPeek.”

Spc. Solomon McCabe, one of McPeek’s best friends, said his buddy always knew how to keep his fellow soldiers motivated.

“No matter how difficult the missions, McPeek was always there to lighten the mood and get us through those tight spaces,” McCabe said. “Specialist McPeek, we will always miss and love you. You’re in our hearts and we’ll never forget you.”


Army.ca Legend
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At the going down of the sun
and in the morn
We will remember them!

CHIMO! :salute:


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I hate news like this. Its every day here. Although common, I feel the tragic loss of these two MEN for our US allies. US casualties are about to top 3100.

With the loss 7 in that downed Marines CH-46 yesterday, I know there is many of these grey beasts in the air, but often I see this awkward helicopter making its way, 'chopping' around Baghdad with a Cobra as escort, and today I wonder if that was the one which crashed.

I've been right behind 28 CSH helipad many times seeing the Blackhawks medivacing the wounded. Chilling and real images that I'll take to the grave. Men on litters, placed on gators by a determined staff in their hospital uniforms, then quickly driven from the helipad like a scene similar to TV's MASH to the awaitng emergency rooms inside, except its for real.

I hate this place.


George Wallace

Army.ca Dinosaur
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Wesley (Over There) said:
I hate news like this. Its every day here. Although common, I feel the tragic loss of these two MEN for our US allies. US casualties are about to top 3100.

Just a small point of clarification there Wes.  There are double that amount of casualties in this War on Terror.  Everyone seems to have forgotten the 2,749 who died in the Twin Towers.