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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Killed on Christmas Day in Iraq

The Pentagon revealed today that a soldier from suburban Detroit died on Christmas Day in Iraq. Sgt. Peter Neesley, 28, was from Grosse Pointe Farms. The military says he died of an undetermined cause in a "noncombat environment" in Baghdad. The military, as usual in these (far too many) cases, says it's investigating the circumstances surrounding his death. As some may know, I have written often about "noncombat" deaths in Iraq for over four years.

In the photo, Neesley is shown on a recent visit to his nephew's 4th grade classroom in Grosse Pointe Farms. The school's newsletter described it this way: "Sergeant Peter Neesley, uncle of Patrick D., visited Richard Elementary while home on leave from Iraq. Sgt. Neesley led the school in the Pledge of Allegiance and visited several classrooms answering questions from our inquisitive students. Thanks for spending valuable time with us Sgt. Neesley and don’t forget to write and keep in touch. Thanks to all the men and women in the armed forces. We are so proud of you!"

Update: There is a followup item now at the top of the home page for this blog, with more comments. It links to my new E&P article on the reaction to Peter's death, at: http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003689713

19 comments:

B17mama said...

Never before have I made a personal comment on the internet, but my heart was drawn to this sad story. While so many of us were cuddled by a warm fire amidst the Christmas twinkle lights and gift wrappings, there lay a young man, Peter, who I've never met, but who breathed his last on this earth during those sacred hours of the birth of Jesus...leaving his grieving family across the miles and his comrades in the war zone with another loss and heartache. Thank you, Sgt, for your short life, your willingness to leave your home and friends for such a strange and hostile land and for such confusing reasons. I believe that the Lord God who was born on Christmas day years ago and was innocently crucified at a young age himself, somehow was present at your time of death, giving you courage, comfort, and peace as He escorted you into eternal life with Him. Thank you, Peter, for being brave and fighting a battle you maybe didn't understand to give us some freedoms that maybe we don't appreciate as we should.
We owe you SO much.. . no matter how you died. My heart grieves for the loss of your young life, but I feel certain your life served a great purpose even in its short time on earth. I will pray for your sad loved ones and someday know I will meet you in heaven. I salute you Sgt !

Anonymous said...

just one? wow, a good day..jesus and santa must be watching over us.

Anonymous said...

"just one...." - Shame on you "anonymous" commenter for trivializing the death of a single person. What an offensive and careless statement! Your ironic stance of detachment and cynicism fools no one but yourself. I gather that this commenter, like most of us, is upset with the state of things, but if the commenter is truly disturbed by the war, it must be for reasons other than the catastrophic loss of human lives. The previous statement illustrates this quite clearly...

RealityCheck said...

The simple fact is many many more will be killed in Iraq. Everyone of those Bush and those who supported Bush are responsible for, blood on their hands.

It is a disgrace but thousands more will die for this unnecessary war.

Dave said...

Don't be too harsh on the "just one" comment. I know where it comes from. The fact is people are still dying and like the writer of that comment I am angry as hell that this continues. He states what I have been thinking. The government has been saying the Surge is a great success, yet last month we lost 30 of our young people. And yet the political right seem happy with that. I am not happy with that and neither is the man that made the angry (yes flip) remark. Forgive him, let us prey for the end to this senseless war.
Dave

Anonymous said...

The power of intense observation is often reffered to as synisism by those who don't posses it?"

Anonymous said...

I knew Peter Neesley since middle school. He was an incredibly loyal and smart individual and he served this country in this senseless war with bravery and courage. My heart weeps knowing I will never see him again.

Anonymous said...

Peter has had my heart as a friend, confidant and protector as long as I have known him. He has always held such a very special place in my heart, as well as all of those close to him. I knew Peter as a boy, and as a young man. He exemplified what an amazing amount of growth and maturity and individual can exhibit. Hearing the news of this most unfortunate loss is nothing short of devastating. I pray God had a good reason for taking Peter from us on earth. I pray Peter a peaceful and eternal existence. Let us all share our stories and comfort each other in the wake of Peter's death. I love you Peter! Always have, and always will!

Anonymous said...

It's hurtful to see the comment someone left about "one more". I also knew Peter and he's more than just a number to those that love him. We caused trouble together, partied together, laughed together. He was one of "the boys" to our group of girls in High School. Everyone that remained close to him over the years were fortunate enough to see his love, compassion and character grow. He will forever be missed and we are all fortunate to know that he will be greeting us when we get to the other side.
We love you Weasel and thank you. xo

Wheeler said...

I knew Sgt. Neesley when he was just Peter Neesley. With that preface I can say this: He was a hell of a guy.

I grew up with him and his younger brother, and we shared a lot of good times together. Sometimes we had too good of a time. There are stories that will be told about him, now in sorrow and later in joy. I still remember his home telephone number where he grew up.

It was a true honor to know him as young and loyal friend. It was a privilege to see him grow into a brave and courageous man who decided on soldiering as his profession.

Over the years he and I lost touch. We saw each other occasionally on the big bar nights around our hometown, but we never really kept in contact. But I know this, everyone who knew Peter will all use this one word to describe him; loyal. There is one story about him that will always stick with me that would illustrate his loyalty, but it is for a different venue, for different people.

My deepest and most heart felt condolences are extended to the Neesley family, and all those who knew him.

He died as a soldier and I will always remember that, but I will always remember him as one hell of a guy. In closing I will leave you with something that he and others like him would understand: Scouts out!

Anonymous said...

I knew Peter for most of my life; he was an amazing human being, loving and giving to those he trusted and I watched him grow from a silly yet sensitive teenager to a courageous and brave young soldier. He told me in an email recently, that he wanted to come home- he was proud of what he'd done but that he couldn't take the pain and heartache of seeing his close friends-brothers-lose thier lives. Peter, you're home now...words cannot describe how truly SAD I am that I won't be able to hug you again, my heart aches for ONE more time to laugh with you, cheers your bravery-tell you thank you again...Thank you, my tears have not stopped falling, my memories of you will be with me forever. I know you are safe now-and I will wait until we meet again. I love you Peter, you're forever in my heart and in my mind.

TigerSnw86 said...

Pete is my cousin. I just want to say thank you for all the nice posts. Even though it bring tears to read them, it warms our hearts to know he will live forever in your memories.

Our hearts go out to his brothers in Iraq and everyone away from their families. I want all of you to stay safe and strong.

Thank you everyone.

Greg Mitchell said...

Thank you all for writing and coming together here. At the top of the blog right now is a link to an article that I wrote today for E&P that collects some of your reflections -- and now people will be posting comments there, too. Best to all.

Greg Mitchell said...

The new E&P article is at:

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003689713

Anonymous said...

I first met Peter in junior sailing when I was a kid, he was an awesome sailor. From that time on we were friends... As I sit here crying knowing that I will never see him again, I know that what he did was for all of us; he was selfless in giving himself for our freedom. He gave off an energy that no one else did, I always felt wanted and important around him, he always made me feel special no matter what we were doing. Peter was an angel that the higher power let us have for a short time, I feel like he knew that too as he lived and did everything to the fullest...Even from Iraq he would send me emails telling me how proud he was of me, I feel honored that he stayed in touch with me. I miss you so much Weasel, you will be in my heart forever. Thank you for the precious time we spent together, I will never forget your smile. You deserve the greatest honor our country can give, you have inspired so many people, including me. Thank you for being my friend and for all the memories. My heart goes out to his family. I can only hope to live life like you did...

Anonymous said...

To say nothing of the line: Jesus "born on Christmas day..."

NOT

Jesus was NOT born on Christmas. In reality, likely born in Spring or Summer, but no one really knows.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus

The nativity accounts in the New Testament gospels of Matthew and Luke do not mention a date or time of year for the birth of Jesus. In Western Christianity, it has been traditionally celebrated on December 25 as Christmas (in the liturgical season of Christmastide), a date that can be traced as early as 330 among Roman Christians. Before then, Jesus' birth was generally celebrated on January 6 as part of the feast of Theophany,[9] also known as Epiphany, which commemorated not only Jesus' birth but also his baptism by John in the Jordan River and possibly additional events in Jesus' life. (Many today in Eastern Christianity celebrate Christmas on January 7 because they continue to use the Julian calendar, in which December 25 corresponds to January 7 on the Gregorian calendar now in common usage.) Some scholars note that Luke's descriptions of shepherds' activities at the time of Jesus' birth suggest a spring or summer date.[10] Some scholars[specify] speculate that the December 25th date of the celebration derived from a Christian opposition to or absorption of the cult of the unconquered sun (Sol Invictus) promoted by Roman emperors in the third century in their efforts to establish a new imperial religion. The pope, Benedict XVI, has challenged this theory, arguing that a December 25th date was determined simply by calculating nine months beyond March 25th, regarded as the day of Jesus’ conception (the Feast of the Annunciation).[1

Anonymous said...

I met Peter once and was so amazed at his devotion to his country. On his last days at home, he spent his precious time home talking with the children at his nephew's school about the poor children in Iraq; and how he would give them candy and a smile. He shared many pictures of how people (especially children) are suffering; and how lucky we are in our country. The elementary children collected items to send over to the children of Iraq after this visit. Thank you, Peter, for sharing your precious time home educating our children. God bless you and your family!!

Anonymous said...

I knew Pete, breifly, but I KNEW him. It's horrifying to find out what happened after so long... Not to know if he ever found a peace in his life, not to know if he ever found Jesus... It's heartbreaking to know that I DON'T KNOW. It would just be so comforting to know that he found Christ, but that, I'll never know.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry I wasn't there for you Pete, If only I had known things got so bad. I still think of you, I still thought about you all the time long ago, and I'm so sorry we weren't on contact anymore... :(

-Me.

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