Fort Carson Honors 2 More Slain in Iraq

Published July 19, 2007 by Colorado Springs Gazette.

The maroon pews of Soldiers Memorial Chapel were filled with mourners Thursday in what has become an all too common occurrence at Fort Carson — a memorial for fallen soldiers.

Sgt. Eric Snell and Pfc. Jerimiah Veitch, both serving with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, died three days apart in June in fighting in Baghdad and Balad. Since the Iraq war began in 2003, 217 Fort Carson soldiers have died. The 35 deaths this year already surpass last year’s total of 27 Fort Carson soldiers who died in Iraq.

Snell, 35, and Veitch, 21, were gunners and each was remembered as men who took care of their families as well as fellow soldiers. Veitch was from Dibble, Okla., with a population of 282, so his stepfather Tony Sanchez was shocked when 700 people attended his funeral.

“We knew there was going to be a lot of people but we had no idea they’d line the street with flags,” he said.

His family was presented with a framed No. 11 football jersey by his high school football team. The school has retired the number in tribute to Veitch. Sanchez says the two worked together doing roofing and shared a bond closer than he’s had with anyone, even his own father.

“He worked with me, he laughed with me, we were just partners,” Sanchez said. A staunch supporter of the war, Sanchez says he’s changed his view since his stepson’s death. “I just want our kids to come home, you know?” he said.

Snell, of Trenton, N.J., had two young sons. Before joining the Army, he drove tractortrailers and was a model. He could have played professional baseball — the Cleveland Indians drafted him — but he chose to attend college.

Once he became a soldier, Staff Sgt. Kevin Bailey said Snell was “a big brother type” to all.

Bailey was shot in the thigh and forearm during his third tour of duty in Iraq a day before Snell, who was nine months into his first tour, was killed in roughly the same place.

“I was in the hospital in Germany when I got word that he was injured,” Bailey said after the memorial. “It hit hard but I also knew right there not only were we down a team leader… but the Army and everybody else was down a great guy.”

Capt. Dave Larimer, who delivered the commander’s tribute for Snell, called him a man who followed the road less traveled.

“Sgt. Snell’s choices say a lot about the integrity of the man,” Larimer said. “He went to college instead of playing minor league baseball for the Cleveland Indians. He could have chosen a lucrative civil job but instead chose the Army. He could have been an officer but instead chose to be in ground forces.”

The Army’s records show Snell is survived by two sons, Shameer and Khalil, his parents Arthur Snell and Mittie White, and his sister, Alaina. Veitch is survived by his father, Lynn C. Allan, mother Valorie Sanchez, stepfather Tony Sanchez and grandparents, James and Alice Veitch.

SGT. ERIC SNELL

During ceremonies held in Iraq, Staff Sgt. Romesha recalled a time when he asked Snell why he chose to be a sergeant instead of an officer. “I want to be on the front line, not behind a desk hearing about it,” Romesha said.

PFC. JERIMIAH VEITCH

Veitch was a man of short stature and had to stand on boxes of ammunition to shoot the .50-caliber gun on top of the Hummers. Even so, his squad leader Sgt. Daniel Salazar always chose Veitch to be the gunner.

“When it came down to it, he was the guy that I always chose to have by my side. Whenever we rolled out, whenever we did anything, I always made sure he was next to me. Cause if anything happened or anything went down, I knew that I would have somebody there that I knew that I could depend on.”

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