In U.S., family seeks sympathy from commander in chief
ARLINGTON, Va. — Jennifer Jamar feels slighted.
President Bush was to meet Thursday with families of British servicemembers killed in Iraq. She wants to know why he isn’t doing that with more families in his own country.
“How did you read my mind?” Jamar said when asked what she thought of Bush’s plans.
“When I heard that I thought, ‘Well, gee, he hasn’t visited with us.’ I think he needs to visit with his own,” said Jamar, whose son, Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Scott Jamar, was killed in Iraq on April 2 when a Black Hawk helicopter he was in crashed as a result of hostile fire.
“All we got was a form letter — and I’m not even sure he really signed it.”
Scott Jamar, with 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, flew helicopters, but was not piloting the Black Hawk that crashed in April, killing six 3rd ID soldiers.
Jennifer Jamar, 56, admits she was just letting off more steam than angry thoughts, but the notion of Bush meeting with families of British soldiers still stung a bit.
Bush arrived Tuesday night for a three-day visit in England. On Thursday, he was scheduled to sit with several family members of British soldiers killed in Iraq.
“I’m not angry,” said Texas grandmother of Scott Jamar’s two sons, ages 8 and 5. “I just think it’s kind of rude.”
“He was just a wonderful son,” his mother said. “He was a very outgoing person, he always seemed to be happy. He was mischievous and loved to tease and was everyone’s friend.”
A spokesman for the president said Bush understood the anguish of families.
“We mourn every loss, honor every name and grieve with every family,” said White House spokesman Allen Abney.
“The president has met with families — he went to Fort Stewart last week, and is going to Fort Carson next week,” Abney said.
Bush will get around to meeting with more family members, believes Eustace Bibby, 62.
“Give him time,” said the North Carolina father of Army Cpl. Mark Bibby, 25. Bibby was killed July 21.
“What I’d like to see happen is that our president of this great country of ours to invite the parents and the wives of our sons and daughters that gave up, that sacrificed for our freedom — I’d like to see [Bush] invite us to the White House lawn and say to this great nation of ours ‘Thank you.’”
Cpl. Bibby twice gave up pursuing a college education in order to serve in the military, his father said. “He said, ‘Dad, I want to do something for this country,’ and he joined the Army” where he trained to be a chemical specialist, his father said.
He got out and was pursuing a degree in transportation when the Iraq war started.
“He put that on hold because he had experience, and we knew this dictator had biological and chemical weapons,” Eustace Bibby said.
His son was killed when his convoy from the 422nd Civil Affairs Battalion, out of Greensboro, N.C., hit an improvised explosive device on the way to a water treatment facility in Baghdad.
Asked what he would say if he could speak to the president, Eustace Bibby replied: “What can I say to the commander-in-chief? To protect our freedom, he did a wonderful job.”
If Jamar had the chance, the message would be different.
“I’d tell him to bring our boys home. Bring our boys home. It seems what’s going on now needs to stop. I feel like we’ve done all we can for those people. The accidents happening now could be prevented; they seem to be getting careless.”
She pauses. She’s crying now.
“I don’t want the other parents to go through what we’ve been through. It’s just devastating.”
— Stripes editor Pat Dickson contributed to this report.