Friday, September 04, 2009

Through Amber Lenses, A Light

At times he must have been no more than two hundred feet from me, but I never had the privilege to meet Jordan Shay. Together we chewed up the most inhospitable terrain on earth, and back on Ft. Lewis, we worked daily in the same dilapidated Korean War era barracks. The only connection I shared with Jordan was through the comments section of his blog, which I keep linked on the top of the page under our unit crest. Though our companies faced a heated inter-battalion rivalry, Attack Company was always in the thick of combat with my company, Battle. They shouldered a far greater burden than us, sustaining eight KIAs to our two. Jordan, at 22 years old, saw more combat than a lot of crusty old vets before he could legally buy a beer. For his second combat tour with the 3rd Stryker Brigade, Jordan started a blog to chronicle his experience. He named it Through Amber Lenses, the color of his sunglasses. He wanted to explain to the world what he saw with a bright amber tint.

What I read when I checked his most recent comment section hit me straight in the gut. "RIP Jordan." I rushed to the DoD announcement page and found nothing. Through a Google search I confirmed my worst fear: Jordan Shay, 22 years young, killed in Iraq.

It will always be difficult to hear a Regular soldier has been killed, but to see Jordan leave us too soon hits me especially hard. I didn't know Jordan personally, but I knew him well. I understand his need to commit his thoughts to writing to share with the rest of us. He spoke of his teachers and his mother pushing him to write more. I'm eternally grateful for their efforts, and to Jordan to take them up on their challenge. We did not only lose a great soldier, but a gifted writer. We suffer doubly at his loss, for his talent bridged the gap of understanding between soldier and civilian. Jordan's time on earth allowed just sixteen posts to be written in the span of four months, but his writing was honest, measured and disciplined. He must have thought he was bound for something great, but he never realized he was already there.

The United States lost a brave soldier, and the military blog community lost a brave new voice. I ask that you take the time to read his blog from beginning to end. In his comments section, his girlfriend tells us the blog was important to him. I hope he realized how important it was to those who read it.





"We are respected in Baqubah. We are also feared. Our battalion has a fantastic opportunity to use these facts to our advantage and make a real difference before the withdrawal of all combat forces in the summer of next year. We made a difference in 2007, we could do it again in 2009. I fear we will not."

Rest easy, Jordan. You've made a difference to more than you know.

Update 9:00 PM central - The Department of Defense has officially announced the death of Jordan and fellow soldier SSG Todd Selge. Unlike Jordan, I met Todd at Javelin School on Ft. Lewis. He was a quiet professional, confident in his skills as a leader. I believe he graduated at the top of the class, but it would be no surprise if you had talked to the man for more than a minute. The nation is lesser for the loss of these two soldiers.

33 comments:

Alex said...

Note:

Another soldier was killed along with Jordan, but I do not know his name. My thoughts and prayers are with all the families affected by this tragedy.

Anonymous said...

This is going to be a rough one this time. I think it's harder being out of the loop not only for me but for all of you guys at home this time around. I called Bryan and let him know. I think he's going to call you.

Tabitha Winton

Anonymous said...

I was just reading his blog last nite before I went to sleep. When I saw your post a few minutes ago...my breath was taken away.

God Bless him and prayers for his family.

~janie

Anonymous said...

God bless him... RIP Jordan Shay. Thoughts and prayers to his friends and family. :-(

Homefront Six said...

Damn. I just "found" his blog a few weeks ago. Such a loss. My prayers are with the families.

LL said...

Heartbreaking. JP's tweet about it shocked me.

Bless his family and if you talk to any of them, please tell them I'm so sorry.

lorraine said...

Alex: Just logged on to your site and read about Jordan. I was the last comment prior to the RIP. I picked him up between your site and the Harder Wrong and followed since the beginning. This is my first loss of a blogger. What a great loss it is. He was truly destined to have a great blog and to truly share an honest report of boots on the ground. Thank you for putting this up - I may not have hit the comment section again. How truly sad. Nothing to say but how much my heart goes out to his family and loved ones and also to those of fellow brothers in arms to have lost one of their own. Thank you Alex for continuing your blog and keeping us posted on the truly real bloggers out there. With love, lorraine

kat said...

a fitting and touching tribute - RIP, jordan shay.

Amy said...

For those who knew Jordan, I am so sorry for your loss. Three tours and just 22 years old....


The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Sept. 3 in Baqubah, Iraq, of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over. The soldiers were assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.



Killed were:



Staff Sgt. Todd W. Selge, 25, of Burnsville, Minn.; and



Spc. Jordan M. Shay, 22, of Salisbury, Mass.



The incident is under investigation.



For further information contact the Fort Lewis Public Affairs Office, (253) 967-0147 // 0152, or after-hours (253) 967-0015.

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

Kanani said...

Very nice post.
Like you, Jordan was a gifted writer.
His words --what he thought, what he saw and felt, will be with us forever. My only regret is that we didn't have him around longer to partake of his gift.
Kanani Fong
The Kitchen Dispatch

Amanda H said...

SSG Todd W Selge was also killed with Jordan. He was also returning with 5/20 it do this tour.

Pegge said...

Sending healing blessings from Alaska...

Carl Prine said...

I've been wondering about how we preserve the memories of our days in combat, Alex.

When I was in Anbar, I posted (when I could find the time) on Phil Carter's Intel-Dump. And now that blog is gone and Phil's in the administration.

Who will preserve "Amber Lenses?" If something happens to you, is there an permanent archive for Stupid Shit of the Deployment Awards?

So much of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been told not by reporters or memoirists or the writers of letters, but by guys who had a few minutes to spare and a keyboard.

Should we not work with veterans' organizations and federal archivists to preserve these works before they're lost?

Rosemary said...

Rosemary's Thoughts says:

Specialist Jordan Shay Killed In Iraq.

...There is a good article written about him over at Army of Dude. It may leave you with the feeling that you should get to know your neighbor. Why? Read his article!...

PS. Thank you, Amy. I added your info.

Sabra said...

Shit. There is just nothing good to say. I'll light a candle for Jordan & Ssgt Selge the next time I get out to San Jose. Seems I'm doing a lot of that lately.

Anonymous said...

A fitting memorial Alex, I"m sure his family and friends will appreciate your words. As you said it is never easy to hear about the loss of a fellow Regular. Me and my family's thoughts and prayers are with his... I'm not sure how much solace that offers, but those are the only words I have to express the sadness I feel. These two warriors are heroes and patriots and like too many of our other friends will not be forgotten.

Regulars Forever Forever Regulars

Sincerely,
Winton, Bryan SGT USA

CI-Roller Dude said...

Damn it! Now I have to go to work and I'm crying.
I hate this.
-Dan

Long-time RN said...

So very sorry to read this news. Damn.

Thank you, Alex, for leading readers to Jordon's work.

Sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Rogue Gunner said...

Deepest Condolences for the sad death of a brave American Hero, Jordan will be sorely missed but never forgotten, from your British brothers, RIP.

OLUWAFEMI( OVALPHORMING ) FISCHER said...

Death comes in miraculous ways, it could happen as an accident, it could be a deliberate homicide, and it could be encountered in altercation of Wars. But the glorious fact remains, Death is inevitable, It comes anyways! Living experiences, enables human maturity at his naturally theme or rhythm. The good a man does, lives long after earthly departure. Duty called, and action formed the patriotic syndrome, of a good Soldier, consequently on a mission to defend his Country and Legacy. A Life actively pronounced, is a living rejoiced. The Spirit shall Joyously Liberate, in continuous personal pursuits, even after earthly death. Temporal moments, are the inertial segments, of every earthly existence. May the Spirit of these Soldiers, get good ethereal beyond's guiding helpers, that would lead them into lighter regions, in the Grace of Jesus Christ, according to the Will of Almighty God!

Jean said...

Heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the fallen.
May they rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

Went to bed that night hearing over the radio that a truck had rolled, woke up the next morning to hear it was Shay and SSG Selge. Shay was a genuinely good dude, as I'm sure SSG Selge was also. RIP brothers.


To The Limit

membrain said...

This is just heart wrenching news. The lives of two brave Soldiers lost. SPC Shay was a promising writer indeed. I'm sure his future stories would have featured Staff Sgt. Todd W. Selge under a pseudonymn.

Thanks for posting this Alex. I hope I can offer some small solace to the families of SSG Selge and SPC Shay by offering my sincere condolences. They are in my thoughts and prayers.

Opus #6 said...

Deepest condolences to the families and friends of these fine soldiers. Love to all.

Anonymous said...

I am so going to miss him. It's just heartbreaking. Thank you for posting Alex. With condolences to you, Jordan's family, friends and "brothers" and SSG Selge's family.
Marian

Coffeypot said...

Excellant tribute to a good soldier and man. You did him justice. Now you stay upright and breathing, ya hear?

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

Thanks for posting. Every single loss makes me cry. Wiping tears away as I type. Thank you Jordan and Todd. Godspeed fellahs.

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 09/05/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

De Campo said...

I never had the pleasure of meeting SGT Shay. I enjoyed his outlook through the amber lenses immensely. Whether he was ragging on his no-load PL, the uniform standards of REMFs, or how the battle space has transformed; he had a great handle on the written word.

He will be missed.

Pearl said...

Over from deCampos and am so sorry to read this. I have three nephews (22, 23, and 24) in the Armed Services, two currently in Iraq. It twists me up every time I hear of another loss.

Thoughts and prayers to the families involved, from Minneapolis,
Pearl

Fragrant Liar said...

So sad to hear this. RIP Shay and Selge. Watch over your brothers and sisters still over there.

Kimber

Kyle said...

As a friend Jordan could not be beat, he was always there when you needed him and never judged. Though i did not get the pleasure of knowing jordanfor verry long I appreciated his outlook on life and enthusiasm for his service. I met Jordan through my roomates while i was assigned as a recruiter in boston (though I was not his recruiter) Jordan and I quickly became friends. By the time that I met him he had already signed his contract and had been assigned his ship date. The enthusiasm that he displayed reminded me of myself, he wasnt joining because he had to, he wasnt doing it for recognition he was doing it because he wanted to. I respected him and over the next few years he was who i knew I could talk to when I needed an army budy to look to for an escape from the civilian world.
I am also currently in Iraq now and when I heard the news of the Army, his family, and the comunity that called him son my heart sank. I only wish that I had the time to serve with him as soldiers. I will always call him brother, I will always bare his name apon my chest and I will never forget the friendship that he shared with me, the love that he had for his family & friends and the sacrafices that he made for his country!

Mona Radlow said...

This memorial day is not a day for shopping it's a day to remember the fallen in all wars. My dad whom I was very proud of fought in WWII as a Paratrooper. I miss him as he passed 5 years ago from pancreatic cancer. I gave him a military funeral with flags an taps playing and my friend Vincent Sica Officiating reading a eulogy that I couldn't read as I was so upset. To all who gave everything for us I honor you today and everyday.
MONA