Letter of Sympathy (from AR 600-8-1)

Mr. James J. Monroe and family 71 East Barnard Street #131 Ames, Idaho 12345

Dear Mr. Monroe,

I offer my sincerest condolences and deepest sympathies on the recent loss of your son, Sergeant Jason Warren Monroe. As an American Soldier, he volunteered to serve his country, and he was known as a good man to all who had the privilege of knowing him. This tragedy has taken away a nephew, a son, a brother, and a friend, leaving a void in the hearts of those who served alongside him in Iraq and the countless others back home.

Jason joined Bravo Company, 52nd Infantry Battalion on February 11, 2004. After completing his training at Fort Benning, Georgia, he proudly wore his black beret and eagerly embraced his new unit and family, the Bravo Company Bulldogs. He arrived at Forward Operating Base Salem, near An Najaf, Iraq, on September 1, 2005, following the unit’s training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Since then, the battalion has been stationed at Camp Ramadi, Ar Ramadi, Iraq.

On Tuesday, February 27, 2005, at 7:12 AM, 3rd Platoon, Company C, 123rd Engineer Battalion, joined by Soldiers from Headquarters & Headquarters Company 456th Engineer Battalion, departed Camp Anzio to conduct route clearance operations in Ar Ramadi. The purpose of this mission was to clear improvised explosive devices and mined areas in the city. At 9:50 AM, while retrieving two primed 155 millimeter howitzer rounds placed by insurgents into a pothole in the road, tragedy struck. As Jason stood in the troop hatch of the M113A3 Armored Personnel Carrier, he was struck by a sniper’s round. Despite the immediate response of his Squad Leader, a Combat Medic, and the platoon Leader and sergeant, Jason’s wounds proved fatal. Efforts were made to save him, but unfortunately, they were unsuccessful.

I believe it is important for you to know how Jason spent his last days. As the Battalion Commander, I personally participated in the mission with Company C, supporting Task Force Steel. After joining forces at Camp Anzio on Sunday, February 25, 2005, we cleared routes in the city, providing security and working tirelessly. During the subsequent 38 hours of downtime, the platoon had a chance to enjoy each other’s company. I had the opportunity to spend time with these Soldiers, and I vividly recall seeing Jason’s content smile on numerous occasions. They swam in a converted irrigation pond, watched movies on portable DVD players, listened to music, and engaged in heartfelt conversations. While Jason may not have spoken much during that time, his presence among his comrades, hanging on their every word, demonstrated the genuine love and camaraderie he shared with them. He was an American Soldier and a Combat Engineer, fully committed to the responsibilities he had embraced. I am honored to be associated with such an exceptional American.

I cannot fathom the depth of impact this loss will have on you, his family. While I cannot provide the peace you deserve, I want you to know that the Soldiers who served alongside Jason hold him in great respect and affection. Today, we held a memorial service at 10:00 AM, where we remembered Jason and honored his contributions to our battalion. The heartfelt remarks shared by those who worked closely with him were filled with profound emotion. Specialist Basker expressed it best when he said, “I will deeply miss the person I shared every meal with, the one who always brought me a cold drink when I needed it, the person with countless great stories and an unmatched talent for storytelling. But most of all, I will miss my friend.”

Following the formal service, I had the privilege of rendering the first salute to an M-16, bearing Jason’s identification tags, securely placed between a pair of his boots, which stood on a pedestal before us. Over the next 15 minutes, each Soldier paid their solemn respects with a salute. Tears were shed by Soldiers from all our companies, a testament to the indelible mark Jason has left on our hearts.

Please be aware that an officer has been assigned to secure and inventory Jason’s personal effects. Once the inventory is complete, his belongings will be forwarded to you, the designated recipient, through the Joint Personal Effects Depot in Maryland. Among his personal effects, we will include photographs and a DVD of the memorial service.

It is of utmost importance to me that you understand two fundamental truths. First, Jason loved what he was doing as a Soldier. Second, Jason cherished the Soldiers with whom he served, and they reciprocated that love. I wish you and your family the very best as you navigate through this unimaginable tragedy. If there is anything I can do to ease your pain during this time, please do not hesitate to reach out. Know that you are, and always will be, part of the Idaho Army National Guard family. Rest assured, 503 Soldiers will never forget Sergeant Jason Warren Monroe.

With deepest sympathy

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