, Salem, MA

Local News

June 21, 2014

Collapse of Iraq military frustrates North Shore veterans

SWAMPSCOTT — Agnes Raymond has been watching the news showing the unraveling of Iraq, and, while it’s frustrating, she does not want to see one more American solider die over there.

“I don’t want to sound angry,” she said, “but we have to stay out of it and mind our own business.”

Raymond has a unique perspective on the news as the Iraqi government loses ground to insurgents known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, wiping out the gains American servicemen and women fought for during the long Iraq war.

Her grandson, Jared Raymond, enlisted in the Army a month after graduating from Swampscott High School in 2004. Two years later, on Sept. 19, 2006, he was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near the tank he was driving in Balad, Iraq. He was 20 years old.

He was “the perfect child,” his grandmother recalls. Now, 10 years later, she still stops by his grave in the Swampscott Cemetery, she said, almost every time she heads to the nearby Stop & Shop.

When asked about the sacrifice her grandson made, however, Agnes Raymond said he would not have said he died in vain.

“It was probably worth it because that’s what Jared would have said. Not my words, but his.”

This small town of 14,000 saw two funerals with full military honors within the span of six months during the Iraq war.

Another Swampscott High graduate, Marine Capt. Jennifer Harris, a Naval Academy graduate and helicopter pilot, was killed in Iraq on Feb. 7, 2007. She was 28, and the first Massachusetts servicewoman to be killed in the war.

Harris was completing her third tour in Iraq, set to return home that week, when she volunteered for a mission to pick up wounded Marines, and then to pick up blood to deliver to a hospital. Her helicopter was attacked and shot down.

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