SEATTLE (AP) — Tomas Young, a wounded Iraq War veteran who was an outspoken critic of the conflict and the subject of the 2007 documentary “Body of War,” has died. He was 34.
Young died early Monday at his home in Seattle, his wife, Claudia Cuellar, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
“He just went to sleep and never came back,” she said. Details about the cause of death were pending, the King County medical examiner’s office said.
Young joined the Army when he was 22, two days after the 9/11 attacks. He had been in Iraq less than a week when he and fellow soldiers came under sniper fire on April 4, 2004, while riding in an unarmored truck in a rescue convoy in Sadr City outside Baghdad, the Kansas City Star reported.
Young was paralyzed from the chest down because of a bullet to his spine, and he used a wheelchair to get around.
The documentary follows Young as a 25-year-old as he deals with his disability and finds his voice speaking out against the Iraq War.
“Tomas was a voice for his generation, both compassionate and uncompromising,” Ellen Spiro, who co-directed the film with Phil Donohue, said in an email Tuesday.
Cuellar, who met Young in 2008, said her husband wanted to continue speaking, attending rallies and being an activist, but he had suffered a blockage of an artery in his lungs that made it physically difficult for him to do so.
“He had to let that go,” she said.
The two got married in 2012 and moved to Oregon so they could access medical marijuana for his pain, she said. They moved to Seattle last month because they were frustrated with the care he was receiving.
Young was a native of Kansas City, Missouri, and graduated from Winnetonka High School. He joined the Army hoping to fight in Afghanistan but was distraught when he was sent to Iraq because he believed that conflict wasn’t justified.
In 2013, he told the Star that he planned to refuse food, water and life-extending medication. He later had a change of heart, saying he wanted to spend more time with his wife.
“He was so patient. He wasn’t a complainer. He was so loving, despite all the stuff that he went through,” his wife said.
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