Fallen in Iraq, Soldiers Honored with Post Offices in Their Name
Some day later this week the House will overwhelmingly pass H.R. 3974, a bill renaming a U.S. Post Office on Sam Bass Road in Round Rock, Texas.
With a population of less than 90,000, the small city just north of Austin boasts of being the 13th safest city in the nation and the sports capital of the Lone Star State. It was also the home of Steven P. Gill, who on July 21, 2005 was killed in action near Zaidon, Iraq by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations.
Gill, a Marine Corps corporal, was 24.
Assuming the Senate follows suit and passes similar legislation, by the end of this year Gill's hometown post office will be named after him, for his service to the nation and for paying the ultimate sacrifice. Gill is far from alone. He will be at least the 10th Iraq war veteran killed in action to have a post office named after him so far by the 110th Congress.
Republicans have belittled the Democratic majority on Capitol Hill this year for doing little of real legislative consequence other than naming post offices and courthouses. Sadly, a large share of those post offices are being named after soldiers fallen in battle in a war that has bitterly divided the nation and Congress.
To honor Veterans Day, Capitol Briefing is paying tribute to those soldier like Steven Gill. A post office in their honor is no small favor for sacrificing their young lives. It's a tribute that Congress -- unable to come to a bipartisan agreement on how to end the war -- has paid to family and friends hoping to bring some small degree of solace to their pain in the wake of their loss.
As much as the war heightens tension on Capitol Hill, the deaths of soldiers like Gill are honored on both sides of the aisle. Sponsored by Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), the bill renaming the Round Rock post office after Gill is co-sponsored by the other 31 members of the Texas delegation.
Three weeks after her son's death, Gill's mother, Rose, lost her job because she was too distraught to go back to work. "My life has gone to hell," she told USA Today in 2006. Three months after her son was killed by an IED, she came to Washington and ran the Marine Corps Marathon in his honor. "I would have crawled if I had to," she told the paper.
Gill was assigned to the Marine Reserve's 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, San Antonio. On a web site dedicated to soldiers from Iraq, the mother of another soldier killed in battle wrote a message of sympathy for Rose Gill: "The loss of a son hurts beyond what words can express. I still struggle daily with the reality that my son is no longer here. May your family lean on each other and give comfort to each other during this time. Draw closer to each other and God not away from. May Jesus give you peace and may the Holy Spirit comfort you."
Here are the other soldiers who have had post offices named after them this year by Congress, with links to their own stories. This list may not be complete, so, please, if there are other soldiers, other post offices, leave their names and links to their stories in the comments section below:
â€¢ H.R. 514 - To name the Lea Robert Mills Brooksville Aviation Branch Post Office: Mills, 21, was killed by an IED on April 28, 2006 in Al Anbar Province.
â€¢ H.R. 577 - To name the Sergeant Henry Ybarra III Post Office Building: Ybarra, 32, was killed Sept. 11, 2003, in Bala, Iraq. He left behind a wife and three children.
â€¢ H.R. 988 - To name the Lieutenant Todd Jason Bryant Post Office: Bryant, 23, was killed by an IED in Al Fallujah on Oct. 31, 2003.
â€¢ H.R. 1402 - To name the Sergeant Dennis J. Flanagan Lecanto Post Office Building: Flanagan, 22, was killed by an IED in Al Huwijah on Jan. 20, 2006.
â€¢ H.R. 2078 - To name the Staff Sergeant Omer T. 'O.T.' Hawkins Post Office: Hawkins, 31, was killed in Ar Ramadi on Oct. 14, 2004.
â€¢ H.R. 2563 - To name the Major Scott Nisely Post Office Building: Nisely, 48, left behind a wife and son on Sept. 30, 2006. He was killed by gunfire in Al Asad.
â€¢ H.R. 2765 - To name the Master Sergeant Sean Michael Thomas Post Office: Thomas, 33, was killed by rocket fire in the Green Zone on March 27, 2007. His daughter was six months old at the time.
â€¢ H.R. 625 - To name the Atanacio Haro-Marin Post Office Building: Haro-Marin, 27, was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade on June 3, 2003 in Balad.
â€¢ S. 1772 -- To name Private First Class Shane R. Austin Post Office: Austin was just 19 when he was killed by grenade fire on Oct. 8, 2006.
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