Two years ago this Saturday, seven U.S. marines and sailors were killed in Iraq when their medical evacuation helicopter was shot down over Iraq. You can send their families a message by visiting each crewmember's online guestbook. I've listed the link for each guestbook below, and you can click on each one and then follow the instructions for leaving a comment. I ask you also to use Saturday as a day for remembering all our soldiers who have died, and all those veterans who are suffering with physical and emotional scars. Perhaps you have lost a loved one. I pray God comforts you somehow as you mourn. Things like this remind me my problems are really not that important. I've repeated the story below I posted earlier about the seven who died on February 7, 2007. Here's the links to their online guestbooks:
Marine Captain Jennifer J. Harris:
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Manuel A. Ruiz:
Marine 1st Lieutenant Jared M. Landaker:
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Gilbert Minjares, Jr.:
Marine Sergeant James R. Tijerina:
Marine Sergeant Travis D. Pfister:
Marine Corporal Thomas E. Saba:
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I was running on a treadmill, watching three televisions at once, during the evening of February 7, 2007. On one television, there was an NBA basketball game, and another had a commentator giving a detailed description of the day’s stock market woes. The third screen showed footage of a U.S. helicopter shot down over Iraq. Since I’m a former U.S. Air Force pilot, I became keenly interested in the report, and tried, without much success, to understand what had happened to the crew. The news show soon moved on to other stories, and the basketball game and financial fretting droned on and on.
The more I thought about the helicopter crew, the more I was amazed that all the networks weren’t reporting the story. Eventually I discovered there were seven souls on the medical evacuation helicopter. How could we stand idly by while seven of our soldiers suffered horrible deaths?
Driving home that night, about 7 pm, I kept thinking, “seven died today, seven died today.” Dropping my workout bag on the floor of my bedroom, I went into the adjoining room and sat down at my computer. I had started writing songs with my friend Gustavo Renovalez, a missionary to our country from Argentina, and I felt compelled to write a song about the seven soldiers. In about two hours the lyrics were complete, and I emailed them to Gustavo. I waited for his response.
A few minutes before midnight, Gustavo emailed the song “Seven Died Today” to me, a simple acoustical ballad he recorded in the basement of his home. It was solemn, emotional, and a beautiful tribute to the crew. Gustavo shared that he felt he had to finish this initial version before the end of the day. So, a U.S. military veteran and a Hispanic immigrant had collaborated on a song asking our country to remember seven of our heroes.
Later, after doing some research on the internet, I found the names of the five U.S. marines and two sailors onboard the helicopter. Four had Hispanic names. There were six men and one young woman, the pilot of the medical evacuation helicopter from the “Purple Foxes” U.S. Marine squadron based in Iraq.
I also found a horrifying video of the crash, posted on the Internet by the people who killed Jennifer and her crew. They claimed their success in shooting down the crew was evidence God was on their side, and boasted they would eventually humiliate and defeat the “cross lovers.” Jennifer’s nickname was “The Dove,” and she was flying blood supplies on her last mission before going home in three days.
I’m a self-taught filmmaker, and several months ago, I created a music video, “Seven Died Today,” using the crash video and Gustavo’s performance of the song by the same name. We’ve posted the video, song, lyrics, and biographies and internet photos of the crew at the following website: www.sevendiedtoday.com. I hope you will take a few moments to visit the website, and then pray for the families of the seven, and for the families of all who have lost loved ones, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War. Please remember all the U. S. servicemen currently serving, and all our veterans, many seriously injured and suffering.