Michael C. Peek
Sergeant, United States Army
RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 258-07 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2007
Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.They died March 3, 2007, in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle.They were assigned to the 630th Military Police Company, Bamberg, Germany.
Sergeant Brandon A. Parr, 25, of West Valley,
For more information on these soldiers, contact the 1st Armored Division public affairs office at 011-49-611-705-4859.
Local family mourns lost son
An Isle of Wight family grieves the loss of a "regular guy with the best woman ever"
who died before he could marry her.
BY STEPHANIE HEINATZ
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 MySpace.com 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 MySpace.com 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 MySpace.com 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
17 March 2007:
Family and friends gathered for a memorial service today at Colonial Funeral Home in Smithfield.
The memorial was in honor of Sergeant Michael Peek. Peek was killed in Iraq on March 3, 2007, when a roadside bomb exploded next to his vehicle.
Peek lived in Chesapeake and graduated from Lake Taylor High School in Norfolk in 2001.
"Even though I haven't seen him for the last nine months we were still...he always called us the best team," said Peek's fiance Mel.
Now, half of Mel's team is gone. Mel and Michael were supposed to get married next Monday.
"It's just so hard to be here right now, and accept that he's gone," Mel said.
Family and friends paid tribute to Peek Saturday.
"He just gave himself all to whatever he did," said John Hudak, Peek's uncle.
Peeks was excited by school and swimming.
"He was always the first one out of the locker room. He was ready to practice. 'Coach, coach, coach!' I said, 'Mike, calm down buddy,'" former swim coach Scott Evans said.
Peek fought for his country.
"He wanted to make sure we would all never lose our freedom. That was very important to him," said Hudak.
He loved the people that meant most to him.
"I want to thank you baby, for showing me what true love is and means," said Mel.
Peek's enthusiasm spilled into every area of his life. His love filled the hearts of everyone who knew him, even if it was only for a short while.
Separated when they were just 2-years-old, Michael and his brother Justin were reunited last year.
"There wasn't anything said; it was too great to fill in words for what could have been said. It was surreal," said Justin.
That was the last time they saw each other.
Peek will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday.
Soldier Buried Days Before He Was to Wed
By Nick Miroff
Courtesy of The Washington Post Staff
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Army Sergeant Michael C. Peek was buried yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery on the last day of winter, less than a week before his wedding date. Peek was the 319th service member killed in the Iraq war to be laid to rest at Arlington, his grave the first in a new row.
Family, friends and Peek's fiancee, Melanie Link, trailed a gray hearse to Section 60 of the cemetery, then watched solemnly as an honor guard carried Peek's silver coffin to his gravesite. A cement caisson had been placed in the ground to fit Peek's coffin, and on the headstone of another soldier buried nearby, there were fresh flowers and a banner that read "Happy Birthday, Andy."
Peek, 23, of Chesapeake, Va., was killed in Baghdad on March 3, 2007, when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee. Sergeant Brandon A. Parr, 25, of West Valley, Utah, and Sergeant Ashly L. Moyer, 21, of Emmaus, Pennsylvania, also died in the blast.
Peek was born in Silver Spring and graduated in 2001 from Lake Taylor High School in Norfolk. He enlisted in the Army after the September 11, 2001, attacks, joining his brother, Justin M. Peek, and John A. Hudak, his uncle.
After completing boot camp in 2002, Peek was assigned to the 630th Military Police Company, based in Bamberg, Germany. He served a year-long tour in Kosovo in 2003, then volunteered to go to Iraq in 2004. He began his second Iraq tour in June 2006.
Attempts to reach Peek's family were unsuccessful, but the soldier and his fiancee kept MySpace profiles largely devoted to their relationship. "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 site. "Mel I am in love with you and am so gratefull to have you by my side. The Best Team love. Right now I have to fight early mornings and late nights here in Iraq but that is a little price to pay to be a part of the best Country in the world. LOL. For real though i'm just a regular guy with the best woman ever," he wrote.
Link, 21, a native of Wurzburg, Germany, wrote in red-purple-and-pink letters on the top of her page that "1/2 of my heart is in Iraq." Further down, a ticker counts down every day, hour, minute and second to the couple's wedding date, which had been scheduled for Sunday.
Friends and fellow soldiers posted online tributes and messages. Major Will McKannay, Peek's commander during his first tour in Iraq, remembered Peek as well liked and professional. "His terrific attitude, motivation, and care for his fellow soldiers were always a breath of fresh air for us in this unstable and arduous time of war," McKannay wrote on a tribute site. "For that I am truly thankful. His attributes as a soldier and human being will provide strength and direction for all of us."
"I remember u bein my all star soldier," another comrade wrote on Peek's page, "U are in another place, my brother but u will always be in my heart, and thats for real! I luv you man."
Peek is also survived by his mother, Katharin
L. Jordan, and stepfather, Steve Jordan, of Smithfield, Virginia, and his
father, Floyd Peek of Boise, Idaho.
Six soldiers towered over the silver casket. With a quick snap of their wrists, they lifted the American flag draping it.
Steadily and solemnly, they held it up.
Off in the distance, seven soldiers dressed in their finest blue uniforms pointed ceremonial rifles toward the grave site.
The three rifle volleys they fired symbolically told the dozens of weeping loved ones gathered around the casket that the Army had cared for its dead. The Army had brought Sergeant Michael Peek home and placed him in his final resting place in Arlington National Cemetery.
A lone bugler standing in Arlington's field of white tombstones came to life. The notes of taps began strongly and ended softly. Civil War soldiers had played the tune to tell their comrades the day was done, the lights were out.
Peek, a 23-year-old who graduated from a Norfolk high school and whose mother and stepfather reside in Isle of Wight County, was one of three soldiers killed in Iraq on March 3, 2007. A roadside bomb exploded near their Humvee while on a combat patrol through Baghdad.
The flag the soldiers held high above Peek's casket had traveled home with him from Iraq. It draped his casket when the family received it from Dover Air Force Base last week at a funeral home in Smithfield. After folding it tightly into a small triangle, Army Brigadier General Rodney L. Johnson formally presented it Tuesday to Kathy Jordan, Peek's mother.
"I'm here to honor a fellow soldier," Johnson said at the graveside ceremony. "I'm here to honor a fellow military policeman. And I'm here to honor a true American hero."
At the funeral service, which was held at the Fort Myer Chapel near Arlington, Johnson also presented Peek's mother and father with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart he earned but died before receiving.
U.S. Senator John Warner stopped by the chapel to extend his sympathies to the family. Dozens of soldiers - from general to colonel and command sergeant major to specialist - sat in the pews as an Army chaplain blessed Peek's casket and encouraged his family to celebrate his life. At the grave site, acting Secretary of the Army Pete Geren stood off to the side, showing his respect through his presence.
There were 21 funerals at Arlington on Tuesday. While not all of those were for troops killed in Iraq, 319 men and women killed in that war have been buried at Arlington. Ten had ties to Hampton Roads.
Peek had been scheduled to leave Iraq on Tuesday for a two-week leave from the war zone. That he was buried that day instead was not lost on his family.
During that two-week vacation, Peek had been scheduled to marry Melanie Link. On a personal Web page he updated from Iraq, Peek counted down the days to his March 26 wedding and told the world he was lucky to have found such an extraordinary woman.
Link sat in the front of the chapel Tuesday constantly wiping tears away.
It's been hard for her, said her mother, Joy Link. But when she returns to Germany, where she and Peek made all their memories and were supposed to wed, the pain is bound to intensify.
Steve Jordan, Peek's stepfather, said the family is "holding in there."
The last couple of weeks have been as busy as they've been emotional. Before coming to Arlington, the family had to get through the delivery of the tragic news, informing Peek's friends and loved ones, receiving the body from Dover Air Force Base and a memorial service at Colonial Funeral Home in Smithfield.
"I don't know where we're going to land in a couple of weeks," Steve Jordan said. "For Mel, there's another hurdle to cross - the day they were supposed to get married."
Melanie Link struggled to leave Peek's grave site after the ceremony concluded, spending several moments alone with Peek before becoming the last family member to turn away.
Kathy Jordan walked away first, crying and clutching tightly her folded flag.
Before making her way out of Section 60, the area of Arlington where those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been buried, she stopped to pay her respects at another grave site.
There was no tombstone at the site, just an index card-size slip of paper bearing the name of a young woman. There was no grass. The dirt was still loose from a Friday burial.
The woman beneath the soil was one of the soldiers killed alongside Peek in the Humvee explosion. Kathy Jordan felt for that young soldier, too. She wept for her family as well.
Before Peek headed off to war, he told his mother to bury him in Arlington if anything happened to him. He said it would be an honor to be buried there.
Looking beyond Peek's casket before leaving, Kathy Jordan could see the fields of white tombstones. Arlington is sacred. It is hallowed ground. Peek deserved burial there with all the honors bestowed on him.
Posted: 9 March 2007 Updated: 17 March 2007 Updated: 19 March 2007 Updated: 21 March 2007 Updated: 25 March 2007 Updated: 2 July 2007
Updted: 18 october 2007
Photo By: M. R. Patterson, October 2007
Photo Courtesy of Holly, March 2007