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Two of Seven Soldiers Who Wrote 'NYT' Op-Ed Die in Iraq

Editor & Publisher | September 12, 2007

NEW YORK The Op-Ed by seven active duty U.S. soldiers in Iraq questioning the war drew international attention just three weeks ago. Now two of the seven are dead.

Sgt. Omar Mora and Sgt. Yance T. Gray died Monday in a vehicle accident in western Baghdad, two of seven U.S. troops killed in the incident which was reported just as Gen. David Petraeus was about to report to Congress on progress in the "surge." The names have just been released.

Gen. Petraeus was questioned about the message of the op-ed in testimony before a Senate committee yesterday.

The controversial Times column on Aug. 19 was called "The War As We Saw It," and expressed skepticism about American gains in Iraq. “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,” the group wrote.

It closed: "We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through."

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.

The accident in Iraq occurred when a cargo truck the men were riding in overturned.

The Daily News in Galveston interviewed Mora's mother, who confirmed his death and that he was one of the co-authors of the Times piece. The article today relates: "Olga Capetillo said that by the time Mora submitted the editorial, he had grown increasingly depressed. 'I told him God is going to take care of him and take him home,' she said. 'But yesterday is the darkest day for me.'”

One of the other five authors of the Times piece, Staff Sergeant Jeremy Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head while the article was being written. He was expected to survive after being flown to a military hospital in the United States.

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