Saturday, March 03, 2007

Army Sgt. Michael C. Peek

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Michael C. Peek, 23, of Chesapeake, Va.

Sgt. Peek was assigned to the 630th Military Police Company, Bamberg, Germany; died March 3 in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Also killed were Sgt. Brandon A. Parr and Sgt. Ashly L. Moyer.

An Isle of Wight family grieves the loss of a "regular guy with the best woman ever" who died before he could marry her.
Courtesy of the Daily Press of Hampton, Virginia

ISLE OF WIGHT -- When Kathy Jordan dialed a German phone number Saturday evening - moments after two uniformed men had delivered tragic news to her home - she pulled together all the courage and compassion she could muster.

Destined to pick up the other end was the woman Jordan's son called his true love - the woman he was scheduled to marry later this month when he left Iraq on a two-week vacation from the war zone.

Army Sergeant Michael Peek was so excited about it, in fact, that he counted down the days on his Web page.

"The big number is 1 ... the number of months I have 'till I say 'I do' for the first and last time of my life," Peek wrote on his Web page, where he's known as soccer586 and describes himself as a "regular guy with the best woman ever."

Jordan called Saturday to tell her son's fiancee that 23-year-old Peek was one of three soldiers with the Germany-based 630th Military Police Company killed in Baghdad when a roadside bomb exploded near the Humvee he was traveling in.

"Calling her was the hardest phone call I've ever had to make," Jordan said Thursday at her Isle of Wight County home.

"This has destroyed a family, a family he and his fiancee would have had," said Steve Jordan, Peek's stepfather. "We don't hold grudges. But that was taken away."

Dealing with the "train wreck" of emotions created by the news, Kathy Jordan said, remains the hardest thing she's ever had to face.

No arrangements have been made because Peek's body has not yet been returned to the United States.

When the family has a better idea of the timeline, they'll host a memorial service in Smithfield and work with the Army to have him buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

"It's what he wanted," Kathy Jordan said. "Before he left he told me, 'I'm a soldier. If something happens to me, I want to be buried there.' "

That final wish was but one example of the pride Peek often expressed for his profession.

It wasn't a career he'd always dreamed of, his mother said.

In fact, she was surprised when, not too long after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and his graduation from Lake Taylor High School in Norfolk, Peek came home and said, "Mom, I'm going to enlist in the Army."

"I just told him I was '100 percent behind you.' "

Once she started thinking about it, though, Kathy Jordan understood the appeal. He had a strong sense of patriotism, both an uncle and brother are also in the service and he "had some wanderlust in him. He wanted to travel."

Steve Jordan said Peek requested an overseas assignment and was grateful to be stationed in Germany in 2002, shortly after graduating from basic training.

Peek's first year in Iraq was from 2004 to 2005. In December 2005, he brought his fiancee, whom he'd met in Germany, home to Isle of Wight for Christmas.

It was the last time the Jordans saw him. He deployed to Iraq again last summer.

"Right now, I have to fight early mornings and late nights here in Iraq," Peek wrote on his page.

"But that is a little price to pay to be a part of the best country in the world," he said.

Steve Jordan said Peek knew his job as a military police officer in Baghdad was dangerous. "But he believed in doing the job at hand and doing it right," Steve Jordan said. "He didn't want to leave the country until the job was done."

In the last few months, Peek wasn't convinced that it was.

One day, "he noticed women and children in the street stepping over something," Steve Jordan said Peek told him. "When he took a closer look, he saw that it was a body. They had stepped over it like it was just a normal part of life."

Three days later, Peek told Steve Jordan, the body was still in the street.

"He felt that someone needed to do something before the people were too far gone," Steve Jordan said.

By Thursday, the family's tears were starting to dry up.

They were celebrating Peek's life and the realization that at only 23, Peek had loved, been loved and touched a great many people. Many of his comrades have called the Jordans from Iraq to offer condolences and share in the grief.

"You raise them and they go into the service and never, until now, do you realize how many lives they touch in such a short time," Kathy Jordan said.

"Our main concern right now is for the soldiers still over there," Steve Jordan added.

In the days since his death, some of those soldiers have left messages on Peek's page.

"You were ... one of the best friends I have ever had," one wrote. "I love you, man. I'm sorry I couldn't have been there for you this time."

"If I could, and I know you know this, (I'd) give my life for yours," wrote a soldier Peek served with during his first trip to Iraq. "I would give anything, and I mean anything, to bring you back."

Army Sgt. Michael C. Peek was killed in action on 03/03/07.

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