Saturday, July 05, 2003

Bravo Co. 3rd Battalion 69th Armor 

Soldier honors the memory of those who died in Iraq

By Rose Post, Salisbury Post
Capt. Jim Lee went to Iraq to fight a war -- and did.

But he and his soldiers also made the media limelight.

The captain is the son of Gibby and James Lee and the brother of Crystal Houston, all of North Kannapolis, and when he showed up on CBS' "60 Minutes" in early April, his brother-in-law, Dale Houston, just happened to be clicking the remote ...

Of course, he recognized him instantly and screamed for his wife.

"Crystal! There's Jimmy!" and the family crowded around the television set, completely transfixed.

Capt. Lee graduated from South Rowan High School, where he played football and went on to be starting center for Catawba College his freshman year.

But on Sunday, March 30, when he showed up on the television screen, it was because he was in Iraq with the U.S. Army and commander at a checkpoint where a suicide bomber killed four American soldiers the day before.

And he was surprised when he received a copy of a Salisbury Post that had a story about his appearance on "60 Minutes" and his family's reaction to his appearance.

"I had no idea it would end up on there," he wrote. "Skynews did the interview. I figured it would only air in Europe or something."

But since that "60 Minutes" appearance, he said, he's been on "Good Morning, America," and "Nightline" ("two times each -- weird") and personally feels "blessed to command such a fine group of soldiers" and share what they had done.

"I will never forget what they did here or the ultimate sacrifice six soldiers paid while under my command. My company (Bravo Co. 3rd Battalion 69th Armor) -- "Black Knights" -- just recently returned to Kuwait and completed turn-in of our equipment. We now await further instructions. ...

"The company not only fought well, but performed outstanding during our Stability and Support Operations in Baghdad.

"We conducted patrols, raids against militia, guarded the UN's World Food Program warehouse, assisted with the distribution of propane and fuel, and assisted in the paying of over 15,000 teachers in the Al Rasafa school district.

"Many of my soldiers made friends with the locals where they were invited for dinner regularly.

"I dined with a retired Iraqi general, the Catholic bishop here in Baghdad, as well as many other key locals in my assigned sector. The locals welcomed us with open arms.

"We are ready to leave and join our families back at Ft. Stewart as soon as 3rd Infantry Division gets word to redeploy.

"Additionally, I am ready to get home to N.C. for some barbecue, Cheerwine and Sun Drop, but most importantly, to visit family and friends."

And he concluded his letter with thanks to everyone for their "continued support."

Contact Rose Post at 704-797-4251 or rpost@salisburypost.com.


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