by Patrick Lang (bio below)

My friend Paul Petty wrote last night to tell us that his son, Captain Christopher Petty was killed in action yesterday in Iraq.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that he give up his life for his friends.”

Early this morning In Iraq, Chris and four of his soldiers were killed by a so-called “improvised explosive devise” implanted along the route they were taking between Baghdad and Najaf, to the South. Details, at this point, are sketchy but we know that the explosion was powerful enough to kill all five occupants of the armored HUMVEE in which they were traveling. He had been in Iraq only a few weeks. This we know for certain. Chris was in harm’s way out of dedication to his comrades and soldiers. He loved his family deeply. But he also loved his troops and, after he took command of the Headquarters Battery, despite his frustrations with the army and a full awareness of what was right and wrong about Iraq, there was absolutely no question in his mind that he had to go back with his soldiers for the second deployment. He would never expect them to do anything that he wouldn’t do himself. He was a professional in every sense of the word, as were his men. Their dedication to their mission and to each other was unswerving. Those of us who have never been in combat do not know of the kind of bonds which develop among fellow soldiers. And though my heart ached to see him go for a second time, I could never bring myself to pressure him not to do what he did. I know his wife feels the same way. It was his choice as it is the choice of all of our soldiers. The level of dedication and selflessness among them is unequaled and almost unfathomable in our society.

Chris is the first member of our family to die in combat since W.W.II. He is survived by a Grandfather who served in that war and an Uncle who served in Vietnam. We grieve! Oh, how we grieve for him! And for his wife, Deb, his 3 year old son, Oliver, and his less than three month old son, Owen, who will never know his sweet Daddy. God rest his soul.

Chris asked to be buried in Arlington, should the worst happen. He liked the dignity of military ceremony and took the rituals seriously. I am sure he thought they would comfort us and in some small way demonstrate the appreciation of the nation to his grieving family and friends. We will do our best to see that his wishes are honored and to honor his memory in our lives.

Yours, Paul

Continued below with Alan Farrell’s thoughts on this sacrifice:

It is the sad business of this kind of thing that we thin the gene pool by its best and most able, aggressive, and dedicated representatives.

It was, seemed to me in Vietnam, the best of my buds who stood up under fire, went over the ridge first, stayed at the site of contact last. It fell to guys like me follow them… and, sadly, to survive them out here where I bear the double shame of not being their worthy and of living among those who neither went out, nor went after. Now I see my best students go out, then come back bearing that same shame over outliving their bros and returning to this anthill of weaker citizens, “blinding and pinching and fucking,” as I think T.E. Lawrence said in his “Mint”; “filching their lucre and gulping their stale beer,” as I think Conrad says on last page of “Heart.” So it goes…” AFF

“Pro Patria.”

Pat Lang

Col. Patrick W. Lang (Ret.), a highly decorated retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces, served as “Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism” for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and was later the first Director of the Defense Humint Service. Col. Lang was the first Professor of the Arabic Language at the United States Military Academy at West Point. For his service in the DIA, he was awarded the “Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive.” He is a frequent commentator on television and radio, including MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann (interview), CNN and Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room (interview), PBS’s Newshour, NPR’s “All Things Considered,” (interview), and more .

Personal Blog: Sic Semper Tyrannis 2005 || Bio || CV
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Novel: The Butcher’s Cleaver (download free by chapter, PDF format)

Drinking the Kool-Aid,” Middle East Policy Council Journal, Vol. XI, Summer 2004, No. 2

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