Roger G. Ling – Specialist, United States Army

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense

No. 119-04
February 20, 2004

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the February 19, 2004, death in Khalidiyah, Iraq, of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  They died of injuries sustained from small arms fire and an improvised explosive device attack.

Killed were:

  • Second Lieutenant Jeffrey C. Graham, 24, of Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
  • Specialist Roger G. Ling, 20, of Douglaston, New York

Both soldiers were assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, Fort Riley, Kansas.

The incident is under investigation.

For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.

Queens hero dies
Dodges death once in battle but falls in 2nd attack

roger-ling-photo-01Roger Ling


Wai Ling, at his Queens home, grieves for his son Roger.

A heroic Queens G.I. defied death once in Iraq but couldn’t do it a second time. He was killed by a homemade bomb when guerrillas attacked his patrol last week.
Army Specialist Roger Ling, 20, of Douglaston, New York, and another soldier died Thursday, 29 February 2004, when insurgents fired guns and bombs at their unit.

It was only miles from where he’d survived a similar attack and proved his steely mettle just four months earlier, helping to save his superior officer.

Then, Ling was riding in a Humvee when it also was hit by a homemade bomb, said his wounded former lieutenant, who was in the vehicle with him and credited Ling with keeping his head and sticking by him.

“Ling was in the back seat,” said Lieutenant Matt Homa, 23, now recuperating in Pennsylvania, after he was told by a platoon mate that his guardian angel had been killed.

“We were going along normally and [the bomb] destroyed my door. It almost killed me. From what I’ve been told, [Roger] helped keep me awake until my medic arrived,” he said.

“Ling was a good kid,” Homa added. “You could count on him to do anything.”

Just before Ling shipped out in September, his sister, Leona, told him, “Just come home.”

But she got the heartbreaking news Thursday night that her little brother, who proudly joined the military straight out of Benjamin Cardozo High School, never would.

Army officials had trouble tracking down Roger’s father, Wai Ling.

A neighbor in Douglaston said two men in uniform knocked on her door asking if she knew how to contact Ling, a Chinese immigrant who himself had served in the U.S. Army.

“As soon as they said that, I yelled Roger’s name out,” said the neighbor.

“I cried myself to sleep last night,” she said, recalling how Roger Ling used to cut her lawn when he went to Cardozo. “He was a sweet, dear boy.”

The Army then sent officials to Roger’s aunt’s home in West Windsor, New Jersey. “My aunt called me,” said Leona Ling, 24, who lives in Somerset, New Jersey. “I didn’t know what was going on. She just said the Army was there.”

Ling is the 544th U.S. soldier to die in Iraq since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is the eighth G.I. from New York City to die. Lieutenant Jeffrey Graham, 24, of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, was killed alongside Ling.

Both Ling and Graham were assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team at Fort Riley, Kansas. Ling’s family said he will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery once his remains are brought back.

Yesterday, grieving relatives carrying flowers gathered at the home of Roger Ling’s father, a widower after his wife died of an illness 11 years ago.

Leona Ling said she was grateful her brother had been allowed to come home in August just before shipping out to Iraq.

“He had to have his tonsils taken out,” she said. “It was a blessing in disguise because we got to see him again.”

A couple of weeks ago, he called home several times, wistfully talking about returning to New York and going to college.

“He wanted to hear about what was going on at home and all the latest family gossip,” Leona Ling recalled. “He wanted to come home.”

Queens son is buried in Arlington
Courtesy of the New York Daily News

Brigadier General Robert Durbin shakes hands with Leona Ling, sister of Spec. Roger Ling, who was killed in Iraq.

SECTION 60, ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY – This is where the lost heroes of the Iraq War are buried.

And yesterday, Army Specialist Roger Ling – who grew up in Queens, graduated from Benjamin Cardozo High School and joined the same Army that had drafted his father during the Vietnam War – joined the brave ranks of Section 60.

Ling, 20, was laid to rest in a sturdy silver coffin at the end of a line of 48 white tombstones – each marking the grave of an Operation Iraqi Freedom soldier – in this southern section of the cemetery.

Most families of soldiers slain in Iraq have buried their loved ones closer to their homes – only a fifth of the 550 U.S. troops killed since March have been interred at Arlington.

But Roger Ling’s grief-stricken family decided he belonged here.

“We knew that Arlington Cemetery was the best of the best and he would get all the respect and honor that he deserved,” said Ling’s only sibling, his sister, Leona, 24.

Ling was killed February 19, 2004, when his unit was ambushed in the hostile Sunni Triangle.

Four months earlier, in nearly the same spot, Ling barely escaped death when a Humvee he was riding in was hit by a bomb. As his lieutenant, Matt Homa, bled from a chest wound, Ling stayed with him in the demolished vehicle until help arrived.

Yesterday, at the graveside funeral beneath a heavy, cloudy sky, Wai Yuen Ling, who has barely spoken since his son’s death, was presented with two medals for Roger: a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

“This hurt him so much,” said Gabe Mui, who served with the elder Ling in Vietnam.

Mui, along with six other Chinese-American vets from Chinatown’s American Legion, drove six hours yesterday to pay their final respects to a comrade in valor and heritage.

“We came on behalf of our community and to show our deepest gratitude for Roger’s ultimate sacrifice,” said Frank Gee, a Vietnam veteran.

The Army’s Old Guard carried out the military funeral for the younger Ling, complete with a 21-gun salute, taps and the presentation of a folded American flag.

“It was an honor,” said Wan Tam, the Chinatown American Legion commander before heading back to New York. “We are all proud of him.”

Farewell to a Young Soldier From Queens
Iraq Casualty Is Laid to Rest At Arlington
By Michael Amon
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Friday, March 5, 2004

Like a classic New Yorker, Roger Ling didn’t know how to drive when he graduated from high school.

So the Queens native was surprised when he learned that his first assignment upon joining the Army would be chauffeuring officers around in Humvees, said Lieutenant Matt Homa, Ling’s platoon leader.

“I was with him when he got his first civilian driving license,” Homa said. “He drove my car to the testing center. . . . It was kind of scary.”

Far more harrowing experiences awaited Specialist Roger G. Ling, 20, when his regiment was deployed to Iraq in September. His platoon’s mission was to make sure the highways around Habbaniyah, a town about 60 miles west of Baghdad, were free of roadside bombs and guerrillas.

Ling faced hostile fire on about 60 percent of his missions, Homa said. On February 19, 2004, he was killed outside the town of Khalidiyah when guerrillas opened fire on his vehicle and an improvised bomb exploded nearby, Department of Defense officials said.

Ling’s family traveled from Queens yesterday to Arlington National Cemetery, where Ling was buried alongside 48 service members who have died in Iraq in the past year. Members of American Legion Post 1291 in Manhattan’s Chinatown attended the ceremony for Ling, the son of a Chinese immigrant.

“We wanted to pay our respects,” said Paul Tam, a family friend and American Legion member. “He’s an Asian American who died in Iraq.”

The simple ceremony lasted about 10 minutes in a secluded area of the cemetery where tourists seldom go and where the western side of the Pentagon is just visible over a small hill. On a cool, overcast day, the sun broke through the clouds as the eight pallbearers folded an American flag. The only sounds were birds singing from the oaks and the dull roar of traffic.

Wai Ling, the soldier’s father and a former Army enlisted man, accepted the flag from Brigadier General Robert Durbin. Roger Ling — a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 34th Armored Regiment, 1st Infantry Division — was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart for being wounded and a Bronze Star for valor.

With about three dozen family and friends looking on, Wai Ling, a widower, sat in silence for a few moments before his only son’s grave. The group then slowly walked to their cars and left.

“This has hurt him so bad,” Tam said of Wai Ling. “He doesn’t want to talk about it. The only thing he knows how to say now is ‘Thank you.’ Everything is hurting for him.”

Roger Ling was the 544th U.S. service member killed in Iraq since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, defense officials said. Homa said Ling was one of about a dozen friends who have died in Iraq.

Homa was injured and nearly killed October 15, 2003, when a bomb exploded near a truck he and Ling were riding in. Ling kept his platoon leader awake, tried to stop bleeding and located Homa’s shrapnel wounds before medics arrived.

Quiet and homesick, Ling often wrote and called home, Homa said. But he also stayed focused on his mission, that most unfamiliar task of driving.

And he was getting to be good, Homa said. Once, a roadside bomb exploded in front of his moving Humvee outside Habbaniyah.

The road “just turned into nothing but a black cloud,” Homa said. “All he did was just keep driving straight like he was supposed to. It goes against all instincts to just drive right through, but that’s what he did.”


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 04/18/1983
  • DATE OF DEATH: 02/19/2004
Wai Ling, father of Army Specialist Roger G. Ling (shown above) received the U.S. flag from Brigadier General Robert Durbin during his son’s funeral.
An honor guard carries the casket of US Army Specialist Rodger G. Ling during his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. Ling was killed 19 February in Khalidiyah, Iraq when he sustained injuries from small arms fire as wellas an improvised explosive device attack.




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