July 6, 2010
Killed at Qalat, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device.
|From The Los Angeles Times latimes.com 08/15/10:
Army Spc. Roger Lee, 26, of Monterey; among 3 killed by roadside bomb
Two years ago on his first tour of Afghanistan, he was in a Humvee when a roadside bomb killed his driver and translator. This time he was in a heavily fortified vehicle, but the blast was too strong.
August 15, 2010|By Garrett Therolf, Times Staff Writer
Roger Lee had settled into a happy life on California's Central Coast with his girlfriend, infant daughter and a good job working as an auto mechanic — yet he longed for one thing more.
"He wasn't fully satisfied," said his brother Linstun. "He wanted to serve his nation. He had wanted to do it since he was 10 years old."
On July 6, three years after quitting his job at the car dealership, Lee's platoon was on patrol in Qalat in southeast Afghanistan when a powerful roadside bomb tore his vehicle apart. The explosion killed him and two other members of the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment based in Hohenfels, Germany — Staff Sgt. Marc A. Arizmendez, 30, of Anaheim, and Pfc. Michael S. Pridham, 19, of Louisville, Ky.
Lee, a 26-year-old native of Monterey and graduate of Monterey High School, has been remembered in the weeks since his death as a fearless adventurer who loved hot rods, his country and family.
"He had a passion for everything. Everything he did, he put his heart and soul into it. He would get everything done for others before he would take care of himself," said his childhood friend Joe Solis, 27, who worked alongside Lee at a grocery store and remembers play-fighting in the parking lot after their shifts.
"Roger had a lot of passion for martial arts and combat-style sports," Solis said. "I think that's what drew him to the military."
Linstun Lee said his younger brother, an Army specialist, found the military rewarding, even if his phone calls home sometimes conveyed a growing sense of unease with his mission.
The first trouble came two years ago during his first tour in Afghanistan. He was on patrol in a Humvee when a roadside bomb exploded, killing Lee's driver and translator.
Lee called his brother and said, "Hey man, if the Red Cross come to your house, don't worry."
"Hey, I think you overcome the worst part," his brother recalls replying.
But on the second tour — just months after marrying his wife, Evilina — Lee told his brother that the mission had seemed to become even more perilous.
"They were going to uncharted territories and stretching the boundaries of the American presence," Linstun Lee said.
"He felt that they weren't really making an impact because the insurgents were running to Pakistan, where the Americans couldn't go. That's the problem: the limitations, the rules of war."
On June 30, Lee called his brother for the last time.
"Hey bro, I'm not going to lie to you, it's pretty sketchy," Linstun Lee recalled him saying, with fear creeping into his voice.
A week later, Lee was traveling in an MRAP, or mine resistant ambush protected vehicle, heavily fortified to withstand roadside bombs. But the explosion was too strong.
Army Spc. Roger Lee
|From the Stars and Stripes stripes.com 07/21/10:
Hohenfels honors three soldiers killed in Afghanistan
By Seth Robson
Stars and Stripes
Published: July 21, 2010
HOHENFELS, Germany — Three 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment soldiers killed in southern Afghanistan this month were honored Wednesday by family, friends and comrades at Hohenfels.
Staff Sgt. Marc A. Arizmendez, 30, of Anaheim, Calif.; Spc. Roger Lee, 26, of Monterey, Calif.; and Pfc. Michael S. Pridham, 19, of Louisville, Ky., were killed by a roadside bomb that struck their vehicle July 6 during a patrol in Qalat, the capital of Zabul province.
The three were serving with 1-4’s Team Dragon, a company task force that deployed to Zabul earlier this year. During the ceremony at Hohenfels’ on-post theater, Arizmendez’ widow, Barbara, wept softly as members of his unit spoke of her late husband.
Sgt. Christopher Bockhol said Arizmendez, who also is survived by daughter Jennifer and son Justin, taught him to grind his snowboard on a box at the Grosser Arber ski area in Bavaria last winter.
“He loved to play his guitar and listen to rock music and heavy metal, or play with his kids and get into water and snowball fights,” Bockhol recalled.
In remarks read at the ceremony, Sgt. Travis Stockdale, a team leader serving with Team Dragon in Afghanistan, described Lee as 2nd Platoon’s “quiet professional” who proudly displayed his daughter Jazmyne’s artwork in his room and talked about his wife Elvina’s new job.
Stockdale said he spent hours trying to persuade Lee to make the Army his career but acknowledged that the young soldier had other options, such as taking over his family’s business or working in law enforcement.
Spc. Thomas Schmitt, another member of the unit whose remarks were read at the ceremony, said Pridham, his best friend, was known as a joker.
After he was injured in a vehicle roll-over, Pridham returned to work and said: “I’m still the driver. I win the races and I get the money,” Schmitt recalled. Pridham is survived by his wife Deidre Marie Spencer.
Lt. Col. Rafael Paredes, 1-4 commander, praised Company D soldiers and family members for showing strength in the face of the losses. By staying focused on their mission the unit can honor the memory of their fallen comrades, he said.
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