Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Noriega Stand With Family of Fallen Soldier: Sgt. Omar Mora

A Tribute to the Courage of Sgt. Omar Mora (1979-2007)

A Statement from Lt. Col. Rick Noriega

Yesterday, the greater Houston area lost another of its sons in uniform. US Army Sergeant Omar Mora died in a rollover accident while serving in his second tour of duty in Iraq.

Melissa and I extend our deepest condolences to the Mora family, especially his wife and his 5 year old daughter, as well as to the families of the six other soldiers who died in the accident with him. The rising number of casualties strike a chord in even the most hardened among us, and the loss felt as each soldier passes does not diminish. Omar and his brothers in uniform will be missed, and must be remembered.

Omar honored his parents, staying in contact with them regularly. A good son, he let them know he was safe and looking forward to returning home. Omar followed his mother's advice, and honored his God, never losing his faith. And Omar honored his country, not only serving voluntarily and tackling each task he was assigned, but by having the courage to speak out and voice his opinion that our nation's military presence in Iraq was no longer a war of liberation, but an occupation in the midst of a civil war between religious sects.

Omar voiced his concerns in an op-ed to the New York Times on August 19, written along with six other airborne soldiers ... one who died along with him in the accident, another who was shot in the head and is in critical condition.

It is the right of every citizen to speak their mind, as Omar's brother Roger told the Houston Chronicle -- a right that belongs to civilian and soldier alike, regardless of rank. Voicing one's opinion, especially from a soldier, is very difficult when 'management' is wrong. Omar, and his fellow soldiers had a better understanding of the cultural matrix in Iraq than what gets reported by the media, he had walked the walk. He spoke from experience when they said "we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear."

There is another manifestation of bravery that for those in uniform is a matter of course, but takes on special meaning among civilians who do not have to follow a chain of command ... the courage to listen. It's time our political leaders listen to the insights of Sergeant Mora, his fellow soldiers, and the reality in Iraq reported by every objective analysis from the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group to the recent GAO reports.

Sergeant Mora and his soldiers concluded their editorial by making clear "as committed soldiers, we will see this mission through." He lived up to his word. Now the challenge lies with the rest of us to listen and bring this mismanaged war to an end.

Because of extended deployments, Sergeant Mora was serving his 2nd tour in Iraq with the prestigious 82nd Airborne Division.

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