Saturday, January 20, 2007

Army 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz

Remember Our Heroes

Army 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Neb.

1st. Lt. Fritz was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska; died Jan. 20 in Karbala, Iraq, from wounds sustained when his patrol was ambushed while conducting dismounted operations.

Nebraska soldier killed in Iraq
By CINDY LANGE-KUBICK / Lincoln Journal Star

The e-mail arrived Friday.

It came to the Falls City newspaper from a local boy, Army 1st Lt. Jacob Fritz.

"To Friends and Family, I deployed to Iraq back in October 2006 … It has been quite the experience so far." By Sunday, the word was out: Jacob was dead, killed Saturday in an ambush in Karbala, Iraq.

He was 25.

He was a small town son made good, family spokesperson Karen Mezger said Monday.

“From a little boy on he knew what he wanted and he worked to get there.”

He wanted to be a leader. And he wanted a career in the military.

In 2000, he graduated from Dawson-Verdon High School, active in everything. Speech. Drama. Basketball. Football. Track. Singing. Band.

He organized drug-free parties and dances, even taking a leadership role at the state level.

“He was the kind of kid other kids wanted to follow.”

In 2005, he graduated from the West Point military academy, on his way.

"I was trained to be a Field Artillery officer, but I have found myself acting as a liaison officer between the Iraqi police in Karbala to the U.S. forces on my Forward Operating Base…"

On Saturday, 25 U.S. troops were killed — the third deadliest day since the war began in 2003.

Fritz is one of 38 U.S. service members with Nebraska connections who have died in military operations in Afghanistan or Iraq since Sept. 11, 2001.

"My guys have gotten to know a lot of the Iraqi police that we work side-by-side with here in Karbala. We have made some really good friends, and are getting to know more and more about each other everyday."

His parents were so proud of him, Mezger said.

“They would definitely want everyone to know that he loved the military and that was his passion. That was his dream.”

His mom sent the e-mail to the Falls City Journal at her son’s request.

He wanted to share his experiences — and thank the community, said the paper’s publisher Scott Schock.

Regardless of when we come home, my soldiers and I want you all to know that we couldn’t have made it this far through the deployment without your support back home.

He ended the e-mail this way:

We all thank you very much and wish that you all have a safe rest of the year.

Fritz is survived by his parents, Lyle and Noala Fritz of rural Verdon, and two younger brothers, Daniel, a third-year cadet at West Point, and Ethan, an eighth-grader.

Army 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz was killed in action on 1/20/07.

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