The Dallas Morning News
June 27, 2004, Sunday
Mourning one of their own had to wait for soldiers in firefight
By Ed Timms
967 wordsBAGHDAD, Iraq _ There was little time to grieve early Saturday, as insurgents pummeled a U.S. patrol inBaghdad's al-Sheik Maruf neighborhood with homemade bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and automatic fire.Soldiers of C "Crazy Wolf" Company pushed back hard, pursuing their attackers in a running gun battle.But one of their own fell early in the fight. Spc. Jeremy Heines, 23, of New Orleans, an affable young man whodreamed of opening a bar and starting a family _ and never grew tired of talking about the wife he adored _ diedwhen a rocket-propelled grenade punched through the windshield of his Humvee.In an instant, their lives changed. All that they would say to Spc. Heines had been said. All that they wouldexperience with him was in the past. But the grieving had to wait until later in the day."When you're out there on a mission, you don't have time to worry about it then," said Spc. Andrew Busing, 20, of Fairbury, Neb. "You've got to hold your grieving back."After things calm down, Spc. Busing said: "Then you start thinking, the guy who got hit, he's just not there anymore.You start thinking about all the people he left behind, how it's going to affect them."The mission had begun quietly. Soldiers with the unit, part of the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Battalion, 9th CavalryRegiment, had set up "traffic control points" in the al-Sheik Maruf neighborhood in hopes of catching insurgentstrying to bring weapons into the area.After receiving a report that men armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s were at a certain location,soldiers were dispatched to investigate.Two Bradley Fighting Vehicles moved forward, along with the Humvee driven by Spc. Heines.
Suddenly, explosives detonated, and insurgents opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s. None of thevehicles were harmed by the improvised explosive devices. At least three RPGs streaked harmlessly by the soldiers, but one found its mark, slamming into the up-armored Humvee's thick windshield.The impact knocked the helmet off the Humvee's gunner, Pfc. Gregory Dejuan Williams, 23, of Louisville, Ky., andhis weapon ended up on the ground.Pfc. Williams, however, was not injured. Nor was the third soldier in the Humvee, 1st Lt. Fred Saxton, 35, of Akron,Ohio, who commands C Company's 2nd Platoon.He radioed one last report _ "We're hit" _ and then got out."I was yelling, 'Heines, come on! Let's go," 1st Lt. Saxton recalled later Saturday. "He wasn't coming, so we knewthat he was hurt."A spiderweb of cracks blocked the view into the smoldering Humvee. Pfc. Williams moved to the driver's side of thevehicle."He opened the door and started yelling, 'Sir, he's gone! He's dead,' said 1st Lt. Saxton, who grabbed a portable radiofrom the vehicle and continued issuing instructions to his soldiers.Elsewhere in the neighborhood, other soldiers also came into contact with insurgents.Capt. Scott Holden, 39, of Killeen, who commands C Company, said the attack by the insurgents involved a level of planning and coordination that his soldiers had not encountered before.