James M. Treber – Sergeant, United States Army

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

June 30, 2008

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died June 29, 2008,  in Khosrow-E Sofla, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when their vehicle rolled into a canal. They were assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Killed were:

Sergeant First Class Jeffrey M. Rada Morales, 32, of Naranjito, Puerto Rico

Master Sergeant Shawn E. Simmons, 39, of Ashland, Massachusetts

Sergeant James M. Treber, 24, of Imperial Beach, California

The incident is under investigation.

Elite soldier killed in rollover
Astoria Navy veteran and his family mourn death of Green Beret on patrol in Afghanistan
21 July 2008
Courtesy of The Daily Astorian (Oregon)

Memories of this Special Forces soldier can be found around the world. He was deployed in Afghanistan, was born in Hawaii, spent most of his life in San Diego and was stationed at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

After many visits to his father’s home on the North Coast, memories of James M. Treber, 24, can also be found in Astoria.

On Saturday, near Khosrow-E Sofla in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan, Treber’s Humvee rolled into a riverbed on a night patrol. Treber and two other members of his unit drowned, according to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command News Service.

“He died doing exactly what he wanted to do,” said a neighbor and family friend, Rich Hedlund, of Astoria.

Treber’s father, Gordon Treber, and stepmother, Nicole, flew to Fort Bragg early Tuesday to coordinate memorial services.

His father was a 26-year Navy veteran. The military was in James Treber’s blood.

“It’s something he wanted to do when he was in high school,” said his father, Gordon Treber.

James Treber was a member of the Junior ROTC program at Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach, Calif. His father moved the family from Hawaii to San Diego in 1990.

“He’d win all the time,” said Gordon Treber with a laugh.

James Treber was competitive and motivated.

He’d have to be. As a Green Beret – a member of the Army’s Special Operations Forces division – Treber went through six training phases of the Special Forces Qualification Course after joining the Army in November 2005. This intensive training often lasts longer than a year. After completing every phase, the candidate is then awarded a Green Beret.

“He was extremely motivated,” Gordon Treber said. “I believe he was a perfectionist as well. He was a risk-taker. He was always with the skateboards and the mountain bikes and the scrapes and scratches. It didn’t seem to bother him too much.”

After high school, James Treber earned a spot as a merchant mariner where he worked on military sealift command ships.

“He was an incredible young man,” said Hedlund, the family’s next-door neighbor in Astoria.

The Lord’s Prayer is displayed as the headline on his MySpace page. It features a picture of Treber and his wife, Tamila, hugging. Tamila and James were married in October.

They met while he was stationed at Fort Bragg. She is from North Carolina. They found that they shared certain passions, especially enjoying their BMW.

“They’re both car fanatics,” said Gordon Treber.

In addition to his widow, he leaves other relatives. His grandparents, Kate and Paul Treber, are from Colton. Other family members include his mother, Laurie Treber, of Mohave, Arizona; brother Gordon Treber, Jr., of National City, California; step-mother Nicole Treber, of Astoria and sisters Barbara Hunt of Orange County and Angel Hunt of Modesto, California.

Just seven months after his wedding, Treber was deployed to Afghanistan as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom. On Saturday, nearly two months into his deployment, Treber and two other members of his company were killed when their RG-31 mine-protected vehicle rolled.

“This matter is under investigation,” said Army Special Forces Command Public Affairs Officer Captain Chris Augustine.

Treber was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group based at Fort Bragg. During his 2-year, 7-month military career, Treber earned the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge and the Special Forces Tab.

In a tribute article in The San Diego Union-Tribune, his hometown newspaper, Monday, friends were quoted as saying that they didn’t believe that the accident had occurred – they believed that Treber was the type who could get out of any situation.

“You could always tell that he wanted to join the military,” Billy Schultz, 23, a Junior ROTC friend told the San Diego newspaper.

A memorial has been planned at Fort Bragg, and Gordon Treber hopes to hold another in San Diego.

The memory of James Treber has stretched across forums all over the Internet. The Patriot Guard Riders’ forum says, “Stand down, Sgt. James M. Treber, your mission is now complete, may you rest in Honored, Eternal Peace.”

Special Forces soldier died saving colleague
Friday, 29 August 2008

A Special Forces soldier died heroically in a June vehicle accident in Afghanistan when he gave his life to save a fellow soldier from drowning, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command announced in a news release.

Master Sergeant Shawn E. Simmons, Sergeant First Class Jeffrey M. Rada Morales and Sergeant James M. Treber, all from Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, drowned June 29, 2008, when, under the cover of darkness, their heavily armored mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle dropped off a narrow, unimproved dirt road and rolled upside down into a water-filled canal.

After recovery efforts performed by the rest of the combat convoy, Sergeant First Class Joseph A. Serna was found alive but suffering from hypothermia and hypoxia, the release said.

An investigation into the events that led to the rollover of their RG-31 MRAP was conducted by the Combined Joint Task Force – 101.

Serna’s sworn statement reveals that, in the immediate aftermath of the rollover, he was trapped in the passenger compartment by ammunition cans and unable to free himself as water began filling the vehicle.

“I was covered in ammo cans so I couldn’t release my seatbelt, at which time the water began to fill up inside the cab (and) I became totally submerged in my seat,” Serna said in his statement, according to the release. “I felt a hand come down and unfasten my seatbelt and release my body armor. Sergeant Treber picked me up and moved me to a small pocket of air.”

That air pocket originally was Treber’s, who had been sitting one seat ahead of Serna during the operation.

However, once Treber freed Serna from where he was trapped, he left that air pocket to Serna after determining that there was not enough air in that particular pocket for both men to breathe as the two struggled in the darkness against frigid and rising water, the release said.

“He knew there was not enough room for both of us to breathe so he went under water to find another pocket of air,” Serna stated. “Once he re-emerged we attempted to open the door and hatches with no success.”

Serna’s statement indicates that he blacked out shortly thereafter and, before his comrades were able to save them, Treber, Simmons and Rada Morales all died.

“Sergeant Treber’s selfless actions are in keeping with those traditions internalized within the ranks of our regiment,” Brigadier General Michael S. Repass, commander of U.S. Army Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg, said in the release. “Valor and sacrifice were not mere words to Sergeant Treber. Rather, he lost his life living the Warrior Ethos. The great sacrifice and courage which soldiers like Sergeant Treber exhibit each day inspire us to protect the values and ideals of this great country.”


At the 7th Special Forces Group unit memorial ceremony July 17, 2008, Treber was remembered as a hero that gave his all even though it may have contributed to his death.

Half of Treber’s cremated remains were interred in a memorial wall, in keeping with his wishes, after a service with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Treber’s wife keeps the other half in an urn at their home, the release said.

Serna has recovered from his injuries and is back serving with his unit in Afghanistan.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 02/23/1984
  • DATE OF DEATH: 06/29/2008


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