- Date of passing: Jul 6, 2003
|Let the memory of Spc Jeffrey be with us forever|
22, Gainesville, Fla.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Orlando, Fla.; shot and killed on July 6 in Baghdad while conducting military operations.
A gung-ho young soldier falls victim to a Baghdad sniper
By Andrea Stone and Deborah Sharp
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Army Spc. Jeffrey Wershow never let his guard down. His buddies nicknamed him “The General” because he strode about with a sense of purpose and confidence.
Wershow, 22, was a stickler for rules and regulations. He always stood at attention when addressing officers, when most other soldiers sweltering in the heat here would take a more casual attitude.
So it was a shock on July 6 when the aspiring politician from Gainesville, Fla., was gunned down on the campus of Baghdad University after buying a 7-Up. If this gung-ho soldier who wanted another stint in Iraq could be killed in such a brazen way in a crowded place, his buddies figured it could happen to them, too.
For the men of “Charlie” Company, 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment of the Florida National Guard, Wershow’s death occurred when most thought they would already be home. They have seen major combat turn into guerrilla war. “You can never let your guard down. You can never truly relax. And that wears on you,” says Spc. Thomas Stanley Sr., 27, of Melbourne, Fla., who’s in Wershow’s unit.
It didn’t help that these Guardsmen left their families and jobs — or, in Wershow’s case, his college campus — a day after Christmas. Or that they’d never received praise for their exploits in Iraq’s western desert, a corner of the war still shrouded in secrecy. Or that they felt overshadowed by regular Army units. And now, like the other 146,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq, Charlie Company finds itself in a situation in which every Iraqi could be the enemy.
“Over the last six months, we’ve grown to be close. We’ve lived the same hardships, shared the same glories,” Capt. Blake Glass, 29, told several hundred people at Wershow’s memorial service here Friday. “We must continue to persevere.”
But that isn’t easy for U.S. troops. Attacks against the military are continuing, with one servicemember dying, on average, every day. As of Wednesday, 222 U.S. service members have died since the war began March 19. And 84 of them have died since President Bush announced May 1 that major combat here had ended.
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