A 22-year-old Amesbury soldier was killed this week on his second tour of duty in Iraq, town officials said.
Jordan Shay, an E4 leader in an attack company assigned to the 5th Battalion of the 20th Infantry regiment, was killed Tuesday, said Kristen LaRue, director of veterans services.
Details about how Shay was killed have not yet been released. But he belonged to the 3rd Stryker Brigade, based in Fort Lewis, Wash., and was on his third tour of duty, LaRue said.
At times he must have been no more than two hundred feet from me, but I never had the privilege to meet Jordan Shay. Together we chewed up the most inhospitable terrain on earth, and back on Ft. Lewis, we worked daily in the same dilapidated Korean War era barracks. The only connection I shared with Jordan was through the comments section of his blog, which I keep linked on the top of the page under our unit crest. Though our companies faced a heated inter-battalion rivalry, Attack Company was always in the thick of combat with my company, Battle. They shouldered a far greater burden than us, sustaining eight KIAs to our two. Jordan, at 22 years old, saw more combat than a lot of crusty old vets before he could legally buy a beer. For his third combat tour with the 3rd Stryker Brigade, Jordan started a blog to chronicle his experience. He named it Through Amber Lenses, the color of his sunglasses. He wanted to explain to the world what he saw with a bright amber tint.
What I read when I checked his most recent comment section hit me straight in the gut. “RIP Jordan.” I rushed to the DoD announcement page and found nothing. Through a Google search I confirmed my worst fear: Jordan Shay, 22 years young, killed in Iraq.
It will always be difficult to hear a Regular soldier has been killed, but to see Jordan leave us too soon hits me especially hard. I didn’t know Jordan personally, but I knew him well. I understand his need to commit his thoughts to writing to share with the rest of us. He spoke of his teachers and his mother pushing him to write more. I’m eternally grateful for their efforts, and to Jordan to take them up on their challenge. We did not only lose a great soldier, but a gifted writer. We suffer doubly at his loss, for his talent bridged the gap of understanding between soldier and civilian. Jordan’s time on earth allowed just sixteen posts to be written in the span of four months, but his writing was honest, measured and disciplined. He must have thought he was bound for something great, but he never realized he was already there.
The United States lost a brave soldier, and the military blog community lost a brave new voice. I ask that you take the time to read his blog from beginning to end. In his comments section, his girlfriend tells us the blog was important to him. I hope he realized how important it was to those who read it.