Wednesday, October 11, 2006.
Last modified on 10/11/2006 at 12:09 am
Sniper in Iraq kills Montanan

MISSOULA - U.S. Marine Jeremy Scott Sandvick Monroe, 20, of Darby died Sunday in Iraq, one of three Marines killed in action in the western province of Anbar.

Monroe, a lance corporal with the 2/3 Echo Company 4th Platoon, was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq. He died when a sniper attacked his vehicle.

He was the son of Monte Monroe of Darby and Mellissa Pike of Chinook.

More than 2,753 U.S. soldiers have died fighting since the Iraq war erupted in March 2003.

Monroe, who grew up in Darby and moved to Chinook at 14 to be with his mother, graduated from Chinook High School.

On Sunday night, the Monroe family received word. Two Marines knocked on the door.

"You knew damn good and well what it meant," Monte Monroe said.

Soldier died instantly

The Marines relayed that Jeremy Monroe had been caught by a sniper. He was shot in the head and died instantly, Monte said.

"He was such a fine young man," Monte said. "He's my hero."

The elder Monroe described his son as a fun-loving man who loved to play rock music on his guitar.

"He was a wonderful musician. His guitar was like one of his best buddies," said the father, who also plays guitar. "We talked about him and my other son who also plays guitar getting together."

Monroe also loved the mountains and camping, his father said.

Enlisting in the Marine Corps right out of high school, Monroe hopped on the bus bound for Butte just hours after his graduation commencement, skipping even his family celebration, the elder Monroe said. He knew he wanted to be a Marine and defend his country, his father said.

On Monroe's last trip home in August, Monte said, his son laid out his burial plans just in case. But he didn't want to believe it would happen, he said.

"I knew (Missoula resident) Denny Bedard lost his son (Andrew) and I always kept him in my prayers, but son of a *****, he (Jeremy) was 20," Monte said.

'We're all kind of numb'

Monte and his wife, Dana, Jeremy's stepmother, have taken the news hard, he said. For Monroe's younger brother, Logan, 13, it has been especially difficult.

"He's doing better," Monte said. "The first night was difficult. We're all kind of numb, I guess."

Monroe's body will be shipped back from Iraq today and will likely arrive in Chinook near the weekend, when final arrangements will be made for his funeral.

The family plans to have a memorial service in Chinook, east of Havre on U.S. Highway 2. He will be buried farther east in Dodson.

"That's where he wanted to be buried," Monte said.

Out on the town at a big barbecue get-together in August, lots of people came up and shook Monroe's hand, telling him how proud of him they were, Monte said.

"He said, 'Dad, that there means more to me than anything,' " Monte said. "I don't know if people out there know how much it means (to a soldier) to go up to them and show your appreciation.

"I'm proud of all of them."

The Marine Corps has shown its admiration for Monroe by helping comfort his family, Monte said.

"The Marine Corps has been really good," he said. "My son's commander called, who was there at the time, and he said he was a very ferocious warrior, and outstanding Marine and an exceptional young man.

"I've been getting calls from all over the world. It's very comforting."