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Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey L. Chaney

Died July 17, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

35, of Omaha, Neb.; assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.; died July 17 as a result of enemy action while conducting combat operations in Samarra, Iraq. Also killed was Chief Petty Officer Patrick L. Wade.

Bomb blast kills Omaha-area sailor in Iraq

The Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. — A 35-year-old sailor who graduated from a Bellevue high school has been killed by a roadway bomb in Iraq.

The Department of Defense said July 18 that Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey L. Chaney was assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11, out of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., which is north of Seattle. He and another sailor, Chief Petty Officer Patrick Wade of Key West, Fla., died during combat operations July 17 in Samarra, Iraq, the Pentagon said.

Wade’s mother, Shirley, said she was told the men were on a convoy.

“They were going to take care of some explosives, and their vehicle was hit by a very deep charge,” she said.

The Wade family said they were told the explosion left a crater 40 feet long and 6 feet deep.

Chaney graduated in 1990 from Bellevue West High School and was a 14-year-veteran of the Navy, his family said.

His mother, Connie Chaney, told WOWT-TV in Omaha that she talked to her son often and “never one time ever did he hang up without saying ‘I love you, Mom.’ ”

“I’ll miss ‘I love you, Mom,’ ” Connie Chaney said July 18.

Jeffrey Chaney was the youngest of five children and the father of a 14-year-old girl, Brianna, who lives in Omaha.

He was also survived by his father, Larry Chaney of Minneapolis; a sister; and two brothers.

His mother said funeral arrangements were not final yet.

Her son grew up in “Air Force country” in and around Bellevue, home of Offutt Air Force Base, Connie Chaney said.

“All his friends were Air Force people,” she told the Lincoln Journal Star. “He chose the Navy,” enlisting in 1993.

A public affairs officer for the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island said Chaney was sent to Iraq in May.

Jeffrey Chaney’s cousin Chris Speckmeier said Chaney was committed to his mission in Iraq.

“Jeff had the attitude that it was his job, he loved his job, and all he wanted to do was his job ... even if it meant giving his life,” Speckmeier said.

Chaney is the 52nd service member with Nebraska connections to have died in Afghanistan or Iraq since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Two Nebraskans killed in Iraq remembered at funerals

The Associated Press

Two Nebraskans who were killed by roadside bombs in Iraq this month were remembered July 30 at separate funerals in Bellevue and Norfolk.

The service and dedication of Nebraska Army National Guard Sgt. Jacob Schmuecker, 27, of Norfolk, and Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey Chaney, 35, of Omaha, were celebrated at the services.

Members of the Patriot Guard Riders attended both funerals to screen mourners from any Westboro Baptist Church protesters that showed up. Five members of the Topeka, Kan., based church did show up in Norfolk, but none was present at the Bellevue funeral.

Before Schmuecker’s funeral, his cousin Todd Crosby thanked the riders who showed up to help support his family.

He also thanked everyone for their love and support, and he said the family’s thoughts and prayers were with the soldiers still in Iraq.

“It is a sad and tragic circumstance to come together in this situation,” Crosby said. “The love and prayers we have gotten are what is getting us through this time.”

More than 125 Patriot Guard Riders attended the Norfolk funeral at the Community Bible Church. The rumble of their motorcycles drowned out the protesters’ singing.

The Westboro protesters carried signs with slogans such as “God Hates Nebraska” and “Too Late to Pray.”

Westboro Baptist Church says that troop deaths are God’s judgment against America for tolerating homosexuals. Church members have protested at other military funerals in Nebraska and across the nation.

Norfolk Mayor Gordon Adams complimented the Patriot Guard on his way into the funeral.

“The riders here are presenting a very dignified picture,” Adams said. “It’s very impressive.”

Schmuecker died 10 months into in his first tour in Iraq with the National Guard’s 755th Chemical Company, based in O’Neill.

Crosby said Schmuecker was “calm under pressure,” “a patriot of patriots” and, with a smile, “crazy at times.”

Schmuecker and his wife, Lisa, have three children ranging in age from 4 years to 19 months.

Schmuecker was the second-oldest of eight children in his family.

He graduated from West Holt High School in Atkinson in 1999 and joined the National Guard in 2001.

Dozens of members of the Patriot Guard Riders also lined the driveway and sidewalks outside the Bellevue Christian Center where Chaney’s funeral was held, but no protesters were present.

Chaney joined the Navy in 1993 and dreamed of becoming a SEAL. A problem with his eyesight derailed those plans, but his passion for the service led to a 14-year career in the Navy. He was a 1990 graduate of Bellevue West High School.

In Iraq, he served with the Navy’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit 11, based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington state. He worked to disarm and dispose of explosives in Iraq’s Salahuddin province, north of Baghdad.

Chaney’s commander spoke about the positive attitude and outstanding leadership that he said Chaney exuded.

Navy Capt. Barr Coceano said Chaney had completed 48 bomb-defusing missions. The Navy recognized Chaney’s service posthumously with two of its highest honors: a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.

“He loved his job,” Coceano said. “He loved providing security to the people of Iraq. He did an outstanding job doing it.”

More than 200 people filled pews for Chaney’s funeral, including dozens of Navy personnel and other service members wearing dress uniforms.

At the front of the church, a poster showed Chaney with an American flag and the words, “Lest we forget.”

Street dedicated in honor of fall Nebreska soldier

The Associated Press

BELLEVUE, Neb. — A Bellevue street has been dedicated to the memory of a soldier killed in Iraq in 2007.

A dedication ceremony was held Sunday honoring Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey Chaney. His family was given a replica of the "PO1 Jeff Chaney USN" street sign going up in his memory.

The 35-year-old Chaney was killed in July 2007 as he was trying to dismantle a roadside bomb.

Chaney was from Omaha. He graduated from Bellevue West High School in 1990.

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