Civics & Politics The Environment Health Economics Social Issues Full Archive
NOW on Demand
Week of 11.17.06

Web-Extended Interview: Peggy Buryj

Peggy Buryj's son, Private Jesse Buryj, was killed in Iraq on May 4, 2004. She was first told that her son when a truck hit his vehicle, but later found out that he was killed by "friendly fire." Now, after receiving more conflicting reports, she's trying to uncover where that "friendly fire" came from. This is an edited transcript of her interview with NOW.

NOW: How did you feel when you found out that the U.S. army had reviewed over 800 casualty reports of fallen soldiers and discovered that only seven families had been misinformed about their loved ones deaths?

Peggy Buryj Peggy Buryj: I find that hard to believe that there were only seven problems. I know seven people in Ohio that had problems with their notifications were told one thing and found out maybe a day later, or maybe even that same day. But there were problems. I don't believe it.

NOW: Why do you think more people haven't come forward?

Buryj: I think when you are first told that your soldier's been killed, you're grieving, you're upset. You're not thinking straight. And everybody deals with things their own way. And you want to believe what they're telling you. For me, it literally wasn't until months later that I started to come up out of the fog and said, "This isn't right. Nothing they've told me has been accurate or consistent."

I think the people that have come forward and made the stink and questioned it are the people that are getting the attention. I think it hurts to think that you're being lied to.

NOW: What made you question the information given to you by the military?

Buryj: From getting killed in a car accident, to getting shot, to getting shot in the back, to we don't know who shot [him]. Those are all inconsistencies. . . I just knew in my heart and my mind things weren't right. I knew it. It would be very easy for me to say, 'Well, nothing's going to bring Jesse back, or nothing's going to change this.' But I just felt like they dishonored my son. And I wasn't going to let it go at that. They had to tell the truth.

NOW: After you found out that your son was killed by 'friendly fire,' a second investigation into his death was opened. The military will deliver their findings to you on Friday. How are you feeling?

Buryj: I'm very nervous ... They have two options: to tell me who killed my son, or to have a very good reason why they can't figure it out. Those are their only two options. And one will not be acceptable.

NOW: Do you think it will bring you some kind of closure?

Buryj: No, there'll never be closure, but at least I can say I fought a good fight for my son ... I hope the military's accountable. I hope for the truth. All I ever wanted was the truth.

What hurts is not knowing. And then your mind goes a million directions, and you think, you know, my husband, for months, didn't even think we buried our son. I mean your mind just goes because you're not being given the truth ...

I mean, I knew every cavity in his head, every hair on his head. I knew his hopes, his fears, his likes, his dislikes. And you're not going to tell me how he died? Yeah, they are.

NOW: How has this journey changed you?

Buryj: It's made me sad. It's broken my heart worse. I mean when your son's a soldier you know they could get killed. You know, you pray. But what happened after Jesse died, and the journey to find out what happened to him, has just broken my heart worse.