Roanoke College

Joseph Weeren '03, Roanoke College's former lacrosse standout, was injured earlier this year in an explosion in Iraq

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  • Joseph Weeren '03, Roanoke College's former lacrosse standout, was injured earlier this year in an explosion in Iraq

  • 02/20/08
  • Roanoke College graduate Joseph Weeren '03 was injured earlier this month in an explosion in Iraq. Sgt. Weeren suffered a severe concussion, according to an article in the New York Times. Weeren, who is a sniper team leader, was part of an offensive effort to clear insurgents from an area north of Baghdad. The New York Times reports the building had been cleared of explosives two weeks earlier, but Weeren's unit was lured back there after the house had been rigged to explode.

    Six American soldiers from the Third Squadron, Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment, based in Vilseck, Germany, died in the explosion, along with their Iraqi interpreter. Weeren helped rescue survivors from under rubble of concrete and mud bricks.

    A January 14, 2008, New York Times story recounts the rescue:

    A soldier who was there, Sgt. Joseph Weeren, described in a telephone interview on Sunday how, after he was pulled from the wreckage, he and his comrades pulled four badly wounded survivors, men "screaming in pain," from the rubble using only their bare hands and vehicle jacks.

    "It was scary, because how do you move 1,000 pounds of concrete?" said Sergeant Weeren, 27, a sniper team leader from Winchester, Mass. "At that time that's all I was thinking."

    "It was difficult because your buddy is screaming out in pain about his legs and to get him out, but we all pitched in and focused, and we jacked up that concrete," he said from an American military base in Diyala where he was recovering from a severe concussion that he suffered in the initial explosion.

    The New York Times story then describes how Weeren later returned to the village, alone, to arrest the person who directed the military unit to the building. Click here for the full New York Times story(subscription may be required).

    The Roanoke Times ran a front page story on Weeren with reaction from Roanoke College lacrosse coach Bill Pilat. Click here for The Roanoke Times story.

    Coach Pilat has heard from many former players and alumni sending best wishes for Weeren as he recovers. Several other coaches, including the Lynchburg College coach, called to express their gratitude and admiration for Weeren's heroic service. Pilat spoke to Weeren's mother and reports he is out of the hospital and doing well. "She told me he is sad about his lost comrades but is hoping his recovery will help other survivors as they start to recover."

    "As you know, the Roanoke lacrosse family is a very large, passionate and connected group of people," Pilat says. "I have heard from alums from the '70s, '80s, '90s and 2000's extending their thoughts, prayers and amazement over the recent events in Iraq. I am humbled by the outpouring, and I know Joe would be also. He is a proud and humble person and has always thought of his teammates, classmates and friends before himself."

    Best wishes to Sgt. Weeren for a speedy and complete recovery. He is just one of the many Maroons who serve their country every day with dedication and distinction.