News | March 7, 2022

Knees In The Breeze

By Staff Sgt. Courtney Rorick

Soldiers, family and friends gathered outside the Hillsborough armory March 5 for the rededication of a granite marker honoring the service of Sgt. Jeremiah Holmes.
 
A truck driver for the 744th Transportation Company, New Hampshire Army National Guard, Holmes died when his vehicle struck an IED in route to Fallujah, Iraq on March 29, 2004. He was part of a convoy hauling fresh supplies to a Marine unit.  At 27, Holmes was the first New Hampshire guardsman killed in the Iraq war and the first to die in combat operations since Vietnam when 3rd Battalion, 197th Field Artillery lost six soldiers in 1969.
 
The engraved stone was moved from the Somersworth armory, Holmes’s former duty station and home to the 744th “Black Sheep.” The armory was recently vacated and returned to the city of Somersworth.

"That tragic day brings us together," said Master Sgt. Edward Wiggin, an operations NCO for the 3643d Brigade Support Battalion. "In his passing he kept a lot of people together. He kept us alive."
 
"When something like this happens that early in the deployment it really wisened us up to what we were there for," he continued. "It made everything that important."
 
Holmes was fondly remembered 18 years later as a family man who loved a good joke and enjoyed motorcycle rides with friends.
 
“Whenever I ride my bike, I think of Jay,” said Sgt. 1st Class Carey Morris, a readiness NCO for Rear Detachment Headquarters, Headquarters Battery, 197th Field Artillery Brigade. “’Knees in the breeze,’ he would say. ‘Knees in the breeze.’”
 
“It really means a lot to see his marker find a permanent home,” Morris added.
 
Holmes’ widow Kim, and his son Kaleb, who was a year old when his father died, attended the ceremony. Kim said she was grateful to see so many people and appreciated the support.
 
“If you look behind you, there are other markers here,” Wiggin said. “The Guard looks after its own. We aren’t afraid to reflect on our losses. Our locations and the soldiers may change, but no matter where you go and what you do, you’re never forgotten about.”