Thursday, August 31, 2006

Army Staff Sgt. Michael L. Deason

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Michael L. Deason, 28, of Farmington, Mo.

SSgt. Deason was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Aug 31 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in Ad War, Iraq.

Childhood friend to lead service for soldier
A day Brad Dush never thought would come
By DONNA HICKMAN\Daily Journal Staff Writer

It seemed an odd question for two friends on their way to the movies. Last December, Mike Deason asked Brad Dush to perform his funeral.

“He said, ‘If anything happens to me in Iraq, would you do my funeral?'” Dush recalled Tuesday. “We hadn't been talking about it or anything. It just came out of nowhere. I told him I'd be honored, but there was no reason to think about that now. I never thought that day would come.”

But now, the 26-year-old Dush, a Methodist minister, is preparing the funeral service for Deason, an Army staff sergeant killed last week in Iraq. Deason grew up in Desloge. Dush grew up near Park Hills. They are lifelong friends who last saw each other during that holiday trip to the movies.

Deason was killed in Iraq last Thursday as he rode in a convoy. His Humvee was struck by an armor-piercing grenade. He was one week shy of coming home.

Deason was a year older than Dush, two years ahead of him in school. The two became "cousins" when Michael's dad married Brad's aunt. Over the years, they became fast friends and Dush can't remember a time when Michael wasn't part of his life.

“We traded baseball cards and I remember he was always wanting any Cal Ripken, Jr. I had,” said Dush. “We played sports - especially basketball - and some baseball - and we were both competitive. We listened to a lot of music over the years. Whenever my mom and dad went out of town, I was over at their house in Desloge,”

Sometimes, the two boys took Deason's King James Bible out of the night stand where he kept it and read through the book of Revelation.

"We were trying to figure it out," said Dush, with a chuckle. "Like two 11 and 12-year-old boys could figure out that stuff!"

In 1999, Dush decided to go into the ministry. A year later, Deason enlisted in the Army. Dush recalls how they talked years later about how they'd each found their niche in life. Secure in their careers, married with children, they were content. While they hadn't spent as much time together over the last few years, they did celebrate Christmas together last year. On Christmas Eve, they got together at Brad's house for a "Double D Christmas."

"It was the Deasons and the Dushes together," said Brad. “They came to my church and I gave communion to him. I said a prayer for him in Iraq. I don't remember what I said, but I remember everybody was crying."

It was after that visit, Michael asked his friend about his funeral. It's a request Brad never told anyone about, but Michael's family must have known he would want his cousin to lead the service.

"I've been sitting here thinking about all our times together," said Dush Tuesday. "He had a crazy, loud laugh. His whole body shook when he laughed. I'll always remember that. He loved his kids. You never want to think about this young father dying. You never think it would happen to someone you know."

Brad says the Army made changes in Michael. Stationed at Ft. Campbell, Ky., he was a member of the 101st Airborne Division and the elite Army Rangers. Dush says he was confident about his job as a soldier, though he didn't enjoy being in Iraq.

"He was a soldier and he was doing his job," said Dush. "And he was good at it."

Dush said he'd hoped to help Michael's family move back to Ft. Campbell when he came home. He had hoped to restore the close relationship they'd had in the past.

The funeral for Michael Deason has been moved back to 1 p.m. Saturday at Farmington First Assembly of God Church, with Rev. Hugh Cerutti assisting Dush in leading the service. The time is still tentative as changes in the Army's timetable for returning Deason to the Parkland could result in changes in the times. Deason will be buried with full military honors at the Big River Cemetery in Irondale. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Jayden and Kayler Deason Trust Fund for Michael's two children.

‘He fought for me and I appreciate it'
County residents line procession route honoring SSG Deason
By PAULA BARR\Daily Journal Staff Writer

It seemed as though every flag in St. Francois County was waving good-bye to Staff Sgt. Michael Deason Sunday as his funeral procession made its way from the Farmington First Assembly of God Church in Farmington to Big River Cemetery in Irondale.

Hundreds of supporters lined Route D and Karsch Boulevard in Farmington, Desloge Drive in Desloge, Highway 8 in Park Hills and Route M in Leadwood. As bikers from Patriot Guard Riders led the motorcycle-driven hearse into Washington County and into Big River Cemetery Road, additional groups of residents gathered in front of their homes to raise signs and flags, and wave their thanks.

“We're just showing our support for a fallen comrade,” said Carter Kohlenhoefer of Farmington, an Army veteran who waited along Karsch Boulevard to show respect. “He gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

Mourners arriving at the church drove between lines of flag-bearing members of the Patriot Guard Riders. The organization is comprised of motorcycle riders from all over the country who offer their services to families of soldiers who have been killed in Iraq. Ride captains list an upcoming need on the Internet, and all those who are able to help show up for the ceremonies.

Sunday's Ride Captain Randy Dunn of Cape Girardeau said the group can escort bodies home from the airport, protect families from protesters and escort the funeral procession. The group escorted Deason home from Lambert International Airport Friday night as well as to the cemetery. There were no protesters at Deason's services.

Dunn said he can't recall a family declining their offer to help, but the group's services are not always the same.

“Each family is different,” Dunn said. Some families want something quieter than this. We are not here unless the family wants us, however.”

Members at Deason's funeral included Vietnam veterans, Christian Bikers and American Legion Riders. Approximately 150 bikers, many wearing leathers and red, white and blue bandanas showed up Sunday from several states. Among them were Wendi and Brandon Jones of St. Louis, who joined the Patriot Guard Riders in April. They drive the support goods for the motorcycle riders - coolers, beverages, medical supplies and other items.

Brandon Jones said they joined to show respect for fallen soldiers. Wendi Jones said her reason was closer to home.

“I have a daughter in the Marines,” she explained. “If anything - God forbid - happened to her, I would want the PGA to be there for support.”

Joining the Patriot Guard Riders outside the church were neighbors, including Charlie Berry of Desloge and Lisa Brenneke of Bonne Terre. Berry said he went to North County with Deason and came to the funeral to support the family.

Brenneke said her son and Deason were friends.

“He was always a lot of fun,” she said of Deason, who became a Staff Sergeant with the 101st Airborne Division and a member of the elite Army Rangers. “He was always trying to make people laugh.”

Several “flag bikes” rode in front of the hearse. The remaining motorcycles rode behind the hearse or behind the family. They headed down Route D to the intersection and Karsch Boulevard, where a large crowd was waiting.

Misty Halter and Tiffany McCarron took their lunch break from Harris Manor so they could join the supports on the funeral route.

“I went to school with him,” Halter said. “He was a good kid who died for his country.”

Twelve-year-olds Briana Fisher and Jessica Russ of Park Hills joined Dylan Wright, 12, of St. Louis, on the curb of Karsch Boulevard. Dylan was in town visiting his grandmother, Alma Burnside of Farmington. The three youths waved flags in support of Deason and his family.

Near them, approximately 50 members of the American Legion Post stood waiting for their fallen comrade. The Boy Scouts of Troop 999 handed out flags that the American Legion had provided for holiday display so that every one along the route would be able to wave a flag as the procession drove by.

Another crowd waited at Desloge Drive and U.S. 67, where fire trucks from De Soto and Farmington had erected a large flag over the funeral route. Law enforcement officers, ambulance personnel and firefighters from departments throughout St. Francois County, gathered along the intersection to wait for the procession. As the hearse appeared at the end of the exit ramp, Desloge Fire Chief Larry Gremminger gave the command to come to attention.

Further up the hill, the Harvell family of Desloge gathered in patriotic garb to waive flags at the funeral procession.

“We want to show our patriotism,” said Janna Harvell-Williford.

Other onlookers included members of the 220th Engineer Company from Festus and the 735th Quartermaster in De Soto.

“We're here to represent the 220th and give Sgt. Deason respect,” said Sgt. John Pace.

Several Wal-Mart employees scheduled their lunch and breaks so they could wait for the procession. They stood by Dean Gamblin and Karen Macklay, who held a Native American flag. The flag combined the U.S. stars and stripes with the depiction of a dream catcher and an eagle. Gamblin said the eagle soaring to catch the dream catcher symbolizes bringing someone home.

Gamblin summed up the feeling of many onlookers that explains why they turned out to say good-bye to a man many of them never knew.

“He fought for me,” Gamblin said. “And I appreciate it.”

Army Staff Sgt. Michael L. Deason was killed in action on 8/31/06.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Army Sgt. Joshua R. Hanson

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Joshua R. Hanson, 27, of West St. Paul, Minn.

Sgt. Hanson was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 136th Infantry, Minnesota National Guard, Detroit Lakes, Minn.; died Aug. 30 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations, in Khaldea, Iraq.

Rural Minnesota town mourns death of National Guard soldier

SOLDIER:Staff Sgt. Joshua Hanson of Dent, Minn., was the 43rd soldier with ties to Minnesota to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Six other soldiers were injured in the same attack.

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - Residents of nearby Dent are remembering Staff Sgt. Joshua Robert Hanson, a National Guard soldier who died when a roadside bomb ripped through his Humvee in Iraq.

Hanson died Wednesday near Khalidiyah, the National Guard said Friday. The attack wounded six other National Guard soldiers from Minnesota, though they were able to return to duty.

"Josh was a wonderful and loving son and a great friend," said Lt. Col. Kevin Gutknecht, reading from a family statement. "He was proud to serve his country as duty called. We can't express enough how proud we are that he was willing to lay down his life for all of us. He and his comrades are real heroes."

Hanson's parents and brother attended a news conference at the armory here but didn't speak. Hanson was assigned to Company A, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, which is based in Detroit Lakes.

Dave Knopf, whose son, Justin Knopf, 24, was injured in the explosion, described Hanson as quiet and soft spoken.

"But I'm sure he was very determined, and he was there to do his job," he said. "The last time I saw him I gave him a hug, so that was the last time I'll have that opportunity."

Hanson's death affects the entire community because nearly everyone knows someone who's serving in Iraq, Knopf said. Dent, a town of just 200 people, is about 20 miles south of Detroit Lakes.

He was the 43rd person with Minnesota ties to have died in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also Thursday, the Pentagon reported the death of 20-year-old Spc. Qixing Lee of Minneapolis, who was part of the 4th Infantry Division, based in Fort Hood, Texas. He died Sunday, also after an improvised explosive device exploded near his vehicle.

Hanson joined the National Guard between his junior and senior years at Pelican Rapids High School.

He was a team leader responsible for two or three other soldiers and would have been in charge of the Humvee in which he was riding, a 3-ton armored Humvee with bulletproof glass, military officials said.

Jessica Fahje, a high school classmate and friend of Hanson, said she last saw him around Christmas at a going-away party. She kept in e-mail contact with him while he was in Iraq and said he constantly told her not to worry about him.

"We were going to see him in October. He was going to come home for a little leave," she said. "He didn't know his dates, yet. We were going to plan a little hayride for him and get all the classmates together, but we're going to be getting together for a different reason now."

Army Sgt. Joshua R. Hanson was killed in action on 08/30/06.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Army Sgt. Matthew J. Vosbein

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Matthew J. Vosbein, 30, of Metairie, La.

Sgt. Vosbein was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Aug. 29 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his dismounted patrol during combat operations in Sadr Al Yusifiyah, Iraq.


WEST FRANKFORT - Sgt. Matthew J. Vosbein dreamed all his young life of being a soldier in the U.S. Army.

"That's all he ever wanted to be," said his mother, Anna Williams. "He grew up, joined the Army and he became a sergeant in under two years. Not too many people can live their dreams, but Matthew did."

Those dreams died when Vosbein, on his second tour of duty in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division, 502nd Infantry Regiment, was killed at age 30 in a roadside bombing, his mother said.

"He died doing what he loved," said Williams, who learned of her son's death earlier this week. "He could have been done after his first tour, but he wanted to go back. It was his choice. He said he wanted to go back for the freedom of the Iraqi children."

Children were important to Vosbein; he leaves behind two sons and a stepson who, along with his wife, were the light of his life, Williams said.

"When he went over the first time, all the children were scared of the soldiers. They took it upon themselves to do things for the children in their down time. They built swing sets and played with the kids so they would realize the U.S. soldiers were there to help them, not hurt them," she said. "When he had the chance to go back again, he wanted to. He wanted to finish what he started for the kids, so they wouldn't have to live under the oppression any more. He had such a good heart. He was the type who would stop and help anyone whether he knew them or not."

Vosbein, the son of Williams and her husband Gene, and Tim and Amy Lingle, lived and attended school in West Frankfort until he was 10, when the Williams family moved to Louisiana. He made frequent visits back to the Franklin County city to visit relatives, including his mother and Gene Williams, who had moved back to West Frankfort after 20 years.

Vosbein was corps commander of his ROTC unit when he was in school, his mother said, and also served in law enforcement in Jefferson Parrish, La.

He was killed, Williams said, as he was walking alongside a truck, just a few weeks before he was scheduled to return to the states. Because of the extent of his injuries, she said, Army officials told her Vosbein may not make his final trip home for 10 to 14 days.

Funeral arrangements are pending, but Williams said her son would be buried in his native city.

"He got his orders and was supposed to come home sometime between Sept. 16 and 26," she said. "For those who have children or loved ones serving in Iraq, send them more letters and care packages. Let them know how much they are loved. You may not get another chance."

Army Sgt. Matthew J. Vosbein was killed in action on 08/29/06.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Army Specialist Matthew E. Schneider

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Matthew E. Schneider, 23, of Gorham, N.H.

Spc. Schneider was assigned to the 141st Signal Battalion, 1st Armored Division, Wiesbaden, Germany; died Aug. 28 from a non-combat related cause in Ramadi, Iraq.

Soldier from Gorham dies in Iraq of apparent cardiac arrest

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The New Hampshire soldier who died of an apparent heart attack in Iraq this week was born with a heart condition that his parents said seemed to disappear during his childhood.

Spc. Matthew Schneider of Gorham was found dead in his bunk on Monday in Ar Ramadi.

His mother, Cynthia Tardiff of Lunenberg, Vt., said the condition causes heart muscle to grow abnormally, but that it apparently had cleared up by the time Schneider was two years old.

The soldier's father, Andrew Schneider, of Kittery, Maine, said his son was cleared for military service and had not shown symptoms of heart trouble since he was an infant.

Schneider was taken to a medical treatment center in Ar Ramadi, but could not be revived, authorities said.

Schneider, 23, was assigned to the 141st Signal Battalion of the 1st Armored Division based in Wiesbaden, Germany.

"He was a soldier who cared about his country and liked the fact that the people of Iraq liked the coalition being there," his father said.

Schneider was a 2001 graduate of Gorham High School and was well liked by his teachers and classmates, according to Principal Keith Parent. Teachers said he excelled at computer skills and created a Web page for the students.

"Matt was more than a student, though. He was a friend, a helping hand, an individual who you could count on for a smile, a laugh or a kind word. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Schneider family," Parent said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine, and U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both R-Maine, also expressed their sympathy to Schneider's family.

"Although his death was apparently of natural causes, it does not diminish their loss or the fact that he died while serving our nation in Iraq," Allen said. "Like hundreds of thousands of American service personnel, Specialist Schneider left the safety and comfort of home to travel to a hostile land half way around the world on our behalf. We honor his devotion to duty and his sacrifice."

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Army Specialist Matthew E. Schneider died on 8/28/06.

Army Cpl. Shannon L. Squires

Remember Our Heroes

Cpl. Shannon L. Squires, 25, of Virginia Beach, Va.,

Cpl. Squires died in Brooke Army Medial Center, San Antonio, Texas on Aug. 28, of injuries sustained along Main Supply Route Tampa, Iraq on Apr. 21, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy vehicle during combat operations. Squires was assigned to the Army's 3rd Battalion, 321 Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Field Artillery Brigade, XVIIIth Airborne Corps Artillery, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Cpl. Shannon Lee Squires, 25, died Aug. 28, 2006, at the Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, as a result of injuries sustained in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

This was Cpl. Squires’ second tour of duty in Iraq.

He was a member of St. Gregory The Great Catholic Church and a graduate of Tallwood High School, Class of 1999.

He was a native of Alexandria, Va., and was the son of Ralph and Velma Squires.

He is survived by his brother, Mark Shane Squires of Virginia Beach; his paternal grandparents, Ralph and Kim Squires of Alexandria; maternal grandmother, Teresa Cruz; five aunts, Dale Gagliano, Daisy Reynoso, Zeny Sistoza, Linda Sistoza and Bessie Guzman; and six uncles, Henry Sistoza, Candido Sistoza, Rafael Sistoza, Elwood Guzman, Ronnie Reynoso and Kim Squires. He is also survived by nine cousins, Carol Garcia, Rachel Sistoza, Vincent Guzman, Ralph Sistoza, Ryan Reynoso, Brian Guzman, George Sistoza, Danny Sistoza and Edward Sistoza.

A Mass of the Resurrection will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Gregory The Great Catholic Church by Father Mario Fulgenzi, OSB. Burial with full military honors will be in Colonial Grove Memorial Park.

Cpl. Shannon L. Squires died from combat injuries on 08/28/06.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Army Specialist Shaun A. Novak

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Shaun A. Novak, 21, of Two Rivers, Wis.

Spc. Novak and 3 other Soldiers died in Taji, Iraq, on Aug 27, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their M2A3 Bradley Vehicle during combat operations. All soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Also killed were Sgt. Moises Jazmin, 25, of Providence, R.I., Spc. Qixing Lee, 20, of Minneapolis, Minn., and Spc. Tristan C. Smith, 23, of Bryn Athyn, Pa.

Herald Times News -- TWO RIVERS — News of the death in Iraq of Army Pfc. Shaun Novak, 21, rolled across his hometown Monday, shocking and saddening those who knew him.

Novak died when his armored vehicle was hit by a roadside explosion, family members said. His parents, Randy and Brenda Novak, said they were notified Sunday, but declined further comment.

One former teacher characterized Novak's death as a "devastating loss."

"He had so much potential," said Ruth Kadow, who was Novak's fifth-grade teacher at J.F. Magee Elementary School in Two Rivers.

The father of Novak's best friend said the news was "very difficult" to take.

"Shaun was the greatest kid in the world," said John Monka, a Vietnam veteran whose son, Brandon, was a lifelong friend of Novak and is serving a tour of duty in Baghdad. "He was a kid who had everything going for him, and he was very personable and intelligent."

Monka said his son "followed Shaun into the service (Army) last summer."

"They grew up together from little kids on," Monka said. "They worked, played, hung out together."

Monka said he visited Randy and Brenda Novak on Monday afternoon.

"I stopped over to see the parents," Monka said. "They're grieving. They were both young when they had their kids. Two very nice children.

"I was talking with Randy and saying we expect, as parents, that our kids will bury us, not the other way around. They're taking it very, very hard."

Monka sent an e-mail to his son Monday, and said Brandon usually calls when he's able. He wasn't sure if Brandon had heard news of Novak's death, and said he's been worried about both boys since they were sent overseas.

"He was well-liked," Monka said of Shaun. "People are shocked. With how small the community is, lots of people have ties; it's shocking."

Monka said his son and Novak wanted to attend college when their military duties were complete.

"I'm having a hard time with it," Monka said. "It makes me very scared as a father. I pray that nothing happens to Brandon. I don't know how I could take it."

Novak's aunt, Sheila Halverson, said her nephew had been in Iraq since last December.

Halverson did not know what unit Novak was serving in, but said it was out of Fort Hood, Texas, and he had been in the infantry.

Novak's father, Randy, is a Manitowoc County Sheriff's Department deputy; his mother, Brenda, is an employee of the Manitowoc County Human Services Department; and a brother, Danny, 15, enters Two Rivers High School this fall, Halverson said.

Shaun Novak enlisted in the Army in 2004 and was shipped to Iraq in December 2005, his aunt said. Novak was a 2003 graduate of Two Rivers High School. Halverson says he attended the UW-Center in Manitowoc for a year before enlisting and had plans to pursue his education in accounting or marketing.

Novak was "a very strong business student" and had "a love for business," said Cathy Lambries, Novak's business education teacher at Two Rivers High School.

Lambries said that Novak was "very quiet," but always had his work done.

"His work ethic is beyond what you find in the youth today," Lambries said.

Lambries said she tried to get Novak to join the Future Business Leaders of America at school, but he preferred to work and earn money.

Novak worked at Port Sandy Bay, a restaurant in Two Rivers, for a little more than two years and was an "all-around worker" who represented the business well, said Kadow, who is one of the owners of the restaurant.

"He was very dependable, awesome with customers and a joy to work with," Kadow said. "He was an excellent role-model for other employees."

She said she'll miss seeing him mature and grow as an adult.

Hinhlina Phouybanhdyt, Novak's high school math teacher, said Novak also loved cars, spending his salary on his Dodge Neon. They exchanged tips, ideas and stories about cars, Phouybanhdyt said.

Ridgley Schott, Two Rivers High School principal, said he learned of Novak's death when he arrived at the high school early Monday.

Schott said he was shocked and had hoped such news would never come to Two Rivers.

"But here we are," Schott said. "When something like this happens, you just don't quite know what to say."

Novak enjoyed working on cars outside of school, Schott said.

"He was all excited about driving a Hummer" in the military, added Ellen Johnson, the high school's attendance secretary whose son Kurt was Novak's friend.

Schott said Novak had done particularly well in business education at Two Rivers High School.

"He was a quiet, solid student," the principal said. "If he was a soldier like he was a student, he did it well."

Johnson said Novak had last visited home in April.

"He was glad to be there and do what he had to do" in Iraq, she said. "But he was looking forward to coming home."

Novak had expected to return from Iraq for good at Thanksgiving, Halverson said, but was supposed to serve another year in the Army at Fort Hood.

Municipal and school flags were hung at half-staff Monday by a special order, said Fire Chief Kevin Timm, who has some connections to the Novak family. An uncle stood up in his wedding, he said, and his family also knows the family of Novak's girlfriend.

"I think having hit so close to home changes people's perspective," he said. "Just like the firefighter who died in Green Bay, it heightens awareness."

Firefighter and paramedic Arnie Wolff died Aug. 13 fighting a fire in a Green Bay home. People from all over the state attended his funeral later that week.

Phil Rohrer, who owns a Two Rivers diner, said casualties are never easy to take.

"It's too bad," he said. "It's the price of freedom that my grandpa and father paid.

"I remember when one of my high school buddies was killed in the Vietnam War. It was one of the first war casualties to hit me personally.

"I was shocked. But we're also glad these soldiers are willing to pay the price for freedom. It seems like every generation has to go through their sadness for freedom."

Two Rivers resident Walter Vogl expressed sympathy for the family.

"Even though we didn't know him, that news is always sad," he said. "We all hope these boys haven't died in vain."

"It's heartbreaking," said Janice Puls of Two Rivers. "Your heart goes out to the family. When it hits home, you feel like it's family."

Specialist Shaun A. Novak was killed in action on 08/27/06.

Army Specialist Kenneth M. Cross

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Kenneth M. Cross, 21, of Superior, Wis.

Spc. Cross was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Wash.; killed Aug 27 when his M1126 Stryker Vehicle came in contact with enemy forces using an improvised explosive device and small arms fire during combat operations in Baghdad. Also killed was Pfc. Daniel G. Dolan.

A roadside bomb killed Kenneth Cross, who knew he wanted to be a soldier at age 8

Bob King/News Tribune
Friends decorated the Cross family’s mailbox in honor of their fallen son, Kenneth Cross, who died Sunday in an attack in Iraq.

PARKLAND, Wis. - Cpl. Kenneth Cross proposed to his girlfriend after two weeks of dating. He enlisted in the U.S. Army without discussing it with his parents. Cross, 21, was a man who knew what he wanted in life and made it happen.

Cross was killed Sunday in a roadside bomb explosion in Iraq, his parents, Michael and Elizabeth Cross of Parkland, east of Superior, said Monday.

Based in Fort Lewis, Wash., Kenneth had been in the Middle East for two months, stationed in Kuwait and then Baghdad. As a driver of a Stryker tank, he was trained in frontline combat duties.

"He was a fun kid - always smiling, laughing, joking - you never knew what he was going to do," Michael said.

"He was up to mischief most of the time," said his mother, laughing. She added that he loved kids and animals, and they loved him in return.

As he drove down a road in Iraq recently, a young girl walking nearby with her mother blew Kenneth a kiss, Elizabeth said. He caught it in his hand and smiled at her.

"Everywhere he goes, little kids warm up to him," Michael said.

Kenneth Cross is the second former Superior High School student killed while serving in Iraq. Marine Lance Cpl. Adam Van Alstine of Superior suffered fatal wounds from a roadside bomb in February.

Kenneth dropped out of high school during his senior year and earned his general education diploma, "because he wanted to go right into the service," Elizabeth said.

Influenced by a grandfather who served in World War II, he knew he wanted to be a soldier since he was 8 years old.

"He was determined; he was going to be in the infantry and you couldn't talk him out of it," Elizabeth said. "I didn't think it was the right time for him to go into the service."

Kenneth met his future wife, Heidi, of Steilacoom, Wash., through an online dating service about two years ago. The two were friends for some time before dating; they married in April. The couple had planned to start a family when he returned from Iraq next year, and a reception for those who missed their wedding in Washington was in the works.

"He was always doing something goofy to make me laugh, even on the bad days," Heidi Cross said in a phone interview. "He treated me like a queen and an angel. I don't think we ever had a bad moment."

Kenneth could be trusted with anything, she said, and he wanted a big family like his own, with five brothers and one sister.

She spoke to her husband two hours before his death.

"People say I'm pretty lucky to have talked to him right before it happened," she said, grateful she was able to tell him she loved him. "I don't know how many times."

Kenneth's brother, Cliff Hoyt, said he was "a character."

"A great little brother," Hoyt said. "I used to chase him around the yard, but I could never catch him."

Kenneth liked to play guitar and video games, watch horror movies and jog. He got used to doing push-ups in basic training, his mother said, because his sense of humor often got him in trouble.

But he was intelligent, his father said, and he loved what he did.

The Cross family, possessing a rich military history, was still afraid for Kenneth as he worked in Iraq.

"I told him when he went over there it took me nine months to put him together perfectly, and there better not be any more holes in him than when he left," Elizabeth said. "He didn't listen."

The family was told by military personnel that he didn't suffer.

"That was a big thing," Elizabeth said. "But there are too many wasted lives over there."

Funeral arrangements are pending. The family is unsure when his remains will be returned to the United States or where he will be buried.

The Crosses had just learned his address in Baghdad and had begun assembling a care package filled with drawings from his nieces and nephews, beef jerky and dill pickle-flavored chips, his favorite.

"We weren't prepared for the worst," his mother said. "Kids are supposed to grow up and have grandchildren for you. Hopefully, you live to see the great-grandchildren, and then they carry on. It's not supposed to happen this way."

Army Specialist Kenneth M. Cross was killed in action on 08/27/06.

Army Specialist Joshua D. Jones

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Joshua D. Jones, 24, of Pomeroy, Ohio

Spc. Jones was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Aug 27 of injuries sustained when his Humvee came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations in Baghdad.

He fought so others didn’t have to, says dad of fallen soldier
Meigs County native, 24, killed Sunday in Iraq
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Holly Zachariah

Spc. Joshua D. Jones was in a Humvee hit by small-arms fire and died of his injuries. He leaves a wife, who is pregnant, and a 2-year-old daughter.

As the oldest of six children, Joshua D. Jones had always taken on the role of family protector.

That sense of responsibility was also behind the southeastern Ohio native’s decision to sign up for military service nearly three years ago.

"Whenever he was talking about the Army, he always said he was going to go fight so that his siblings would never have to," Jones’ father, Gary, said yesterday from his home in Langsville, in Meigs County. "I was just so proud of him for everything."

The Department of Defense says that Jones, a 24-year-old Army specialist, was killed Sunday in Baghdad when his Humvee was attacked by small-arms fire. Jones was assigned to the 3 rd Battalion, 67 th Armor Regiment, 4 th Brigade Combat Team, 4 th Infantry Division, in Fort Hood, Texas.

Now that word of the death is spreading through the tightknit Appalachian community where Joshua Jones was raised, his father says he has been overwhelmed by the support of others.

Jones and his wife, Tiffany, had moved to Georgia just before he enlisted in the Army in January 2004. There, he earned his general educational development diploma. After finishing boot camp at Fort Knox, he was stationed in Louisiana, and then at Fort Hood. He shipped to Iraq on Dec. 6 last year, his dad’s birthday.

He last visited home in June, and spent some quality time with his 2-year-old daughter, Cami, the elder Jones said.

"And then not long after he was home, we got the call.

"His wife is expecting again," Gary Jones said. After pausing to collect himself, he added: "He was a great husband, and a great father. I wish this second child would have at least gotten the chance to know that."

Gary Jones said his son most cherished his role as protector, but he also was passionate about his hobbies, which included riding all-terrain vehicles in the rough Meigs County countryside and racing remotecontrolled cars.

"If it had wheels, he loved it," Gary Jones said. "That’s all he loved until his daughter came along, and then he understood the joys of being a dad."

He said he’s still awaiting word from the Army on when his son’s body will arrive home. Whenever that is, he said, the whole family will be there waiting.

Army Specialist Joshua D. Jones was killed in action on 08/27/06.

For Cami

Cami Jones

For Sadi

Sadi Jones

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Army Sgt. Darry Benson

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Darry Benson, 46, of Winterville, N.C.

Sgt. Benson was assigned the 730th Quartermaster Battalion, North Carolina Army National Guard, Ahoskie, N.C.; died Aug 27 from a non-combat related cause in Camp Virginia, Kuwait. -- WINTERVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- A National Guardsman from North Carolina has died in Kuwait from a non-combat related cause, the Department of Defense said Tuesday.

Sgt. Darry Benson, 46, of Winterville, N.C., died Sunday, in Camp Virginia, Kuwait. Benson, who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, was assigned the Army National Guard's 730th Quartermaster Battalion in Ahoskie.

His death is under investigation. -- An Ahoskie, NC-based soldier has died in Kuwait.

The Department of Defense said Sgt. Darry Benson, 46, of Winterville, N.C., died on Aug 27, in Camp Virginia, Kuwait.

Officials said he died "of apparent natural causes" but didn't elaborate. He was pronounced dead at the Troop Medical Clinic Sunday morning after fellow soldiers reported that he was non-responsive.

Benson was assigned the Army National Guard's 730th Quartermaster Battalion, Ahoskie, N.C.

The incident is under investigation.

A military funeral will be held at St. John's Missionary Baptist Church 2921 Briery Swamp Road, Stokes NC 27884 with burial following in Brown Cemetery, Engelhard NC.

The nearly 60 Soldiers of Sgt. Benson's unit were mobilized in late April to provide command and control for base operations at Camp Virginia.

A statement released by his family said, "We the family of Darry Benson would like to thank everyone for their support during this time of our grieving. He was a very humble and lovable person and all who met him new they could trust him. He will be truly missed, he was our best friend."


Sgt. Benson was a 15-year military veteran with 4 years in the North Carolina Army National Guard starting in 2002. His awards and decorations include five Army Achievement Medals, the Global War on Terror Service Medal, Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

This was Sgt. Benson's second deployment in support of the Global War on Terror. He previously deployed to Iraq with A Company, 230th Support Battalion, 30th Brigade Combat Team in 2004 as Heavy Equipment Transport truck driver.

"Sgt. Darry Benson was an outstanding Soldier; he served his country and his state of North Carolina with honor," said Lt. Col. George F. Robinson, III, Commander, 730th Quartermaster Battalion. "He believed in his country, a patriot. He was a true gentlemen and a good friend to all the soldiers in the 730th."

Army Sgt. Darry Benson was killed in action on 08/27/06.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Marine Cpl. Jordan C. Pierson

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Jordan C. Pierson, 21, of Milford, Conn.

Cpl. Pierson was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Plainville, Conn.; killed Aug. 25 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

By HILDA MUÑOZ AND TINA A. BROWN, Courant Staff Writers

Marine Cpl. Jordan C. Pierson of Milford, 21, died Aug. 25, 2006 from hostile gunfire while on foot patrol in Fallujah. He was a member of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines.

A U.S. Marine corporal from Milford died from hostile gunfire Friday while on foot patrol in Fallujah, the U.S. Defense Department said Saturday.

Cpl. Jordan C. Pierson, 21, was shot once through the shoulder and died at 12:12 p.m. Iraqi time, according to Lt. Col. Gerald Larghe, commander of the U.S. Marine Center in Plainville, where Pierson's company - Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines - is based.

He became the third Marine with ties to the company to be killed in action since the unit was deployed in March.

Pierson joined the U.S. Marine Corps in December 2003. He was wounded in the arms and legs by shrapnel from an insurgent grenade in May. He was treated at Camp Fallujah and awarded the Purple Heart.

A full-time student at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Pierson postponed his studies to go to Iraq, military officials said. The unit is scheduled to return to Connecticut in October.

Milford Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. visited Pierson's family Saturday. "I expressed the condolences from the city of Milford," he said. "Once the time comes, this city will remember him in a big way. We are known as a small city with a big heart."

For now, Richetelli said, the family asks for privacy.

"The family is in shock and is trying to process this," he said.

Pierson's profile on mentioned the Marine Corps more than once. He said he thought of his staff sergeant as a "hero," and he also wrote "Marines 4 life" at the top of his page.

Pierson, a 2003 graduate of Joseph A. Foran High School in Milford, was also a fan of Elton John, Britney Spears and Hilary Duff, according to the profile. He had an obvious sense of humor and a personality.

"I think I'm cooler than you," Pierson wrote. "I'd like to meet cute girls."

Flags were lowered to half-staff in Milford and at the state Capitol in Pierson's honor.

A tree in front of Milford City Hall that was lit to honor men and women in service the day the Iraq war started in March 2003 will be darkened until after Pierson's funeral, Richetelli said. Pierson is the only U.S. serviceman from Milford killed in the war, he said.

He is survived by his father, Eric C. Pierson; his mother, Beverley A. Pierson; and 11-year-old brother Ethan.

Marine Cpl. Jordan C. Pierson was killed in action on 08/25/06.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Army Sgt. Wakkuna A. Jackson

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Wakkuna A. Jackson, 21, of Jacksonville, Fla.

Sgt. Jackson was assigned to the 710th Combat Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; killed Aug. 19 when an improvised explosive device detonated near her convoy vehicle in Kunar, Afghanistan. Also killed were Spc. Robert E. Drawl Jr. and Spc. Christopher F. Sitton.

By Victor Blackwell
First Coast News

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- In mourning and in celebration the two families of Wakkuna Jackson merged.

There were the blood relatives who loved carefree Wakkuna, 21, who served her church; and the military members who respected Sergeant Jackson who served her country.

Her casket was draped in the colors she died for as family members admired military formality.

Like in-laws, the two families shared stories about Wakkuna Jackson at work and at play.

"She was just a really cheerful person," said Mary Hester attended church with Jackson.

All the smiles faded after she was killed in Afghanistan when Taliban fighters ambushed her vehicle.

"She just really gave everything she had," said Sgt. Charles Bartell served alongside Sgt. Jackson.

"Even with the way things were over there, I never heard her say anything negative about anyone or anything," added Sgt. Bartell.

"It takes a strong person to be able to do that. That strong person was Wakkuna," said friend Ramonda Walton. "She was always willing and able to give a helping hand to help anyone in need," she added.

As two very different families said good-bye Wakkuna Jackson, they realized that on this day Jackson made them one family in their mourning of a life lost and the celebration of what they gained.

Army Sgt. Wakkuna A. Jackson was killed in action on 08/19/06.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Marine Sgt. John P. Phillips

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Sgt. John P. Phillips, 29, of St. Stephen, S.C.

Sgt. Phillips was assigned to the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan; died Aug. 16 at Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, from wounds sustained March 7 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

Marine fought to the end
St. Stephen native was badly burned 5 months ago in Iraq roadside bombing
Saturday, August 19, 2006

Schuyler Kropf contributed to this report.

John Phillips grew up hunting and fishing in St. Stephen. On Wednesday, the Marine Corps sergeant lost the battle for his life after five months in a Texas military hospital. He was 29.

Phillips, a graduate of Macedonia High School, had been critically wounded in a March explosion during his second tour of duty in Iraq.

"He was a Marine's Marine, a stand-up guy," his father, Allen Phillips, said Friday night from a cell phone at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. "He loved his country, and he didn't mind going to fight for it."

John P. Phillips, the youngest of three brothers, was a bomb disposal technician assigned to the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa, Japan.

March 7 was like many of his days, which were spent disarming explosives, his father said. His group was in a little town outside of insurgent-plagued Fallujah at about 9 p.m. when the vehicle he was traveling in hit an improvised explosive device and, in the explosion, the vehicle's burning fuel spilled onto John, his father said.

"He had third-degree burns over 77 percent of his body," Phillips said.

Phillips remembers getting the phone call the next morning at his St. Stephen home, and recalls the sinking realization that he and his wife, Linda, would once again face a long recovery for one of their sons. Their oldest son, Will, had died in 2003 after a seven-year struggle with a brain injury from an automobile accident.

"I thought, 'Not again,' " Phillips said. "We went from one nightmare to the next."

John Phillips was flown to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio five days later. His burns were cleansed and redressed every morning, and afternoons were spent in painful physical therapy.

By early June, doctors were hopeful for a recovery, and the sergeant married his longtime girlfriend, Stephanie Neart, from his bedside.

"She stood by his side and didn't leave him to do anything," Phillips said. "She stayed beside him faithfully to the last."

The Marine's condition turned for the worse a few weeks after the wedding, when infection set into his wounds.

"It was downhill from there," the father said.

As the infection spread, doctors amputated the soldier's fingers, and then his legs.

"His organs shut down, and they rallied it a couple of times with dialysis and what-have-you, but it just got to be too much," Phillips said. "The doctors had been fighting for months. They just lost the battle."

After a long day of airplane flights, Allen and Linda Phillips made it home to Berkeley County at about 9 p.m. Friday. They had spent most of this year at the hospital with John.

Their son's body is due to arrive in the Charleston area next week with a military escort. Dial-Murray Funeral Home of Moncks Corner is handling the arrangements.

Phillips said he does not regret the sacrifice his family made.

"We knew that John was doing what he wanted to do, serving his country and protecting all of our lives," he said. "He was a great son, a very devoted son, and a great Marine."

Marine Sgt. John P. Phillips died as a result of injuries sustained in action on 08/16/06.

Army Cpl. Jeremiah S. Cole

Remember Our Heroes

Army Cpl. Jeremiah S. Cole, 26, of Hiawatha, Kan.

Cpl. Cole was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; died Aug. 16 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in Bermel, Afghanistan.

Cpl. Jeremiah S. Cole, 26, a fire support noncommissioned officer assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, was killed in August 18 when his vehicle was struck by a mine near Bermel, Afghanistan.

Cole was a passenger in a vehicle convoy when a mine, suspected to be remnants of the Soviet incursion in Afghanistan in the 1980s, detonated under his vehicle.

A native of Hiawatha, Kan., Cole enlisted in the Army in May 2004 and trained at Fort Sill, Okla., to be an indirect fire specialist. Upon completion of basic and advanced training, he was assigned to Fort Drum in September 2004.

Army Specialist Jeremiah Scott Cole is remembered by his family and friends as a hero.

The Cole family says they are holding on to their happy memories of Scottie Cole.
They say he was proud to serve and protect not only his country but also his town.

"Pride, we`re so proud of that boy, a lot of people look at it like anger. And yeah that's a normal reaction, we`re shocked, hurt, that's a chunk of our heart gone," said Tom Jimeson.

Jimeson is remembering his nephew, 26-year-old Army Specialist, Jeremiah "Scottie" Cole who was serving with the 10th Mountain Division, and was station in Fort Drum, New York.

Cole and three other soldiers were riding in a humvee in Afghanistan on August 16th, when it hit an IED or a land mine. Cole was the only one to die.

"He was doing what he wanted, he loved his wife, he loved his boy he loved his country and he loved his town," said his mother, Candice Cole.

In May of this year, he shipped out for his first tour of duty and left behind his new wife, Andrea and his now five-and-a half month old son, Nicholas.

"They had their goals and it was get her thru school, get him thru school, he wanted to be a history teacher and a coach," she said.

His family has found strength in each other and the Hiawatha community. They all want to honor and remember the happy memories that Scottie created when alive.

"He had the best heart; in every situation and would go the extra mile, to make sure that things were fair if it was something he could fix," his mother said.

Cole came from a strong military background, his father and uncles all served their country.

His family says Cole always fought for the underdog and was loved by everyone he befriended.

He made a big impression on everybody and he expected nothing in return,Candice said.
His family says the small town of Hiawatha that he loved so much, will for ever remember his giving heart and smile.

Specialist Cole's funeral arrangements are still pending. But his family says the Hiawatha community is invited to pay their respects.

His awards and decorations include the Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

He is survived by his wife, son and parents.

Army Cpl. Jeremiah S. Cole was killed in action on 08/16/06.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Marine Lance Cpl. Kane M. Funke

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Kane M. Funke, 20, of Vancouver, Wash.

Lance Cpl. Funke was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.; killed Aug. 13 by enemy action in Anbar province, Iraq.

Those who knew Kane M. Funke as a high school wrestler or hardened Marine may never have guessed he was born weighing 2 pounds, 6 ounces with a 10 percent chance of survival.

"He came into this world fighting, and he left fighting," said his uncle, Eric Funke.

By age 3, Funke was hyperactive and constantly running on tiptoe, Eric Funke recalled. Within five years, Kane Funke had decided he wanted to be a Marine and asked his uncle for old uniforms.

Funke grew up in Montana before moving to Vancouver and living with his stepfather. Friends say he skipped graduation for boot camp.

"He was doing what he always wanted to do since he was about 8 years old," said stepfather Dale Johnston. "That's about all he could think about, some branch of the military."

Funke was buried in Polson, Mont., where his uncle, Eric Funke, gave the eulogy: "At eight years old, Kane knew he wanted to be a Marine. He'd hide out in people's back yards at night all camou'ed [camouflaged] up."

In the hours before he died, Kane Funke tried calling his mother, Stephanie, but he got voice mail. “At least I still have his voice on my cellphone” she said. His message: “Hi, Mom. I love you. I’ll be there in two weeks.”

Marine Lance Cpl. Kane M. Funke was killed in action on 08/13/04.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Army Staff Sgt. Kenneth A. Jenkins

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Kenneth A. Jenkins, 25, of Fouke, Ark.

SSgt. Jenkins was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Aug. 12 in Balad, Iraq, of injuries sustained when he came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations in Baghdad.

Texarkana Gazette -- When a soldier dies serving his county, it is an immeasurable gift not only of his life, but often a sacrifice of love made by those who knew him best.

Army Staff Sgt. Kenneth Jenkins, 25, a Fouke, Ark., native, was killed early Saturday morning after his Humvee was ambushed in Baghdad.

"Kenneth would have been home in November, home from Iraq," said Jenkins aunt Kathy Sutton, of Fouke.

Jenkins wife, Brandy, lives in Nolanville, Texas, near Fort Hood where he was stationed. Brandy was notified of his death a little after 4 p.m. Saturday.

Sgt. 1st Class Mary Glaze, casualty assistance officer, said Jenkins was killed by small-arms fire while conducting a checkpoint operation near Baghdad.

Jenkins enlisted July 1, 1999, and trained at Fort Benning, Ga. He toured in Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Cuba.

Jenkins first tour to Iraq began June 2003, and he returned home in June 2004. His second tour to Iraq began November 2005 and ended fewer than 90 days from completion.

"The only way to sum Kenneth up is that he touched every life he came in contact with. He was that special of a person," said Theresa Jenkins of her son.

A man who shared a brotherhood and generosity with everyone he bonded with, friends say, Jenkins would give someone in need the shirt off of his back.

"He was very dependable. He would give you anything he had," said friend Justin Jones. "We were always together doing something, going out or playing pool."

He said Jenkins enjoyed working on his car and physical fitness.

"After he got married, it was all about family," Jones said.

Brotherhood came easy for Jenkins as he maintained his close friendships from his childhood and developed new ones in the Army.

"He had some really good friends in the Army, and as soon as we met them, they were our friends, too. You could see that they looked at Kenneth just like we did," said Jones.

Jenkins was just as generous and giving with his family, watching out for them protectively.

"We all grew up close. He was like my best friend," said Stephani Richard, 24, of Texarkana, Ark., Jenkins sister. "He wanted to be a soldier for a long time. He wanted to protect his family and his country." Jenkins brother is Mack Jenkins, 30, of Fouke, Ark.

Jenkins was a decorated soldier with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

Other military honors include Kosovo Campaign Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, NCO-2 Professional Development Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, German Marksmanship Badge, two Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, two Army Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal and NATO Medal.

Army Staff Sgt. Kenneth A. Jenkins was killed in action on 08/12/06.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Army Sgt. Steven P. Mennemeyer

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Steven P. Mennemeyer, 26, of Granite City, Ill.

Sgt. Mennemeyer was assigned to the 82nd Medical Company (Air Ambulance), Fort Riley, Kan.; he was declared Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown Aug. 8 when his UH-60 Black Hawk crashed into a lake in the vicinity of Korean Village in Rutbah, Iraq; his remains were recovered Aug. 9. Also killed was Sgt. Jeffery S. Brown; his remains were recovered Aug 10.

The Telegraph -- A Granite City man was one of two soldiers killed when their helicopter crashed in Iraq, his grandfather confirmed Saturday.

The U.S. Department of Defense announced late Friday that Sgt. Steven P. Mennemeyer, 26, of Granite City, was killed Tuesday along with Sgt. Jeffery S. Brown, 25, of Trinity Center, Calif., when their UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crashed into a lake near Rubtbah, Iraq, west of Baghdad.

Mennemeyer was the son of Steven Sylvester Mennemeyer of New Albany, Ind., and Ramona Lynn Phillips of Granite City, his grandfather, Junior Mennemeyer, 72, said Saturday.

Before joining the U.S. Army Reserves and his subsequent active duty, Steven Mennemeyer was employed by Abbott EMS, an ambulance company based in St. Louis with stations in St. Louis, St. Louis County and the Metro East. He worked out of the Belleville station, 25 Royal Heights Centre, and received a five-year service award pin last year, said Larry Stone, vice president of administration for Abbott.

Stone remembered Mennemeyer, who had aspirations of continuing work as an emergency medical technician after he returned to the United States, as an "exemplary medic."

"He had a goal of maybe taking it a step further into physician assistant training," Stone said Saturday. "It was very much in his blood, for sure."

Mennemeyer was assigned to the 82nd Medical Company (Air Ambulance), based in Fort Riley, Kan., said his grandfather, who lives in New Albany.

Steven Mennemeyer lived in Granite City from about age 8 until he enlisted in the service, Junior Mennemeyer said. The Indiana man said he last saw his grandson about three weeks ago when he was on a four-day leave.

The grandfather and grandson had a tradition of fishing at the lake near Junior Mennemeyer's home.

"When he was four or five years old, we used to go to the lake all by ourselves," he said. "When he was last here, we spent our last day together at the lake."

Mennemeyer joined the Army in August 2002. This was his second deployment to Iraq; his first was with the 1st Armored Division.

The Department of Defense said in a statement that the helicopter crash was not the result of hostile fire.

Four other service members, two from the Army and two from the Navy, were injured in the crash, which military officials say occurred during a routine flight in Anbar province.

Neither of Mennemeyer's parents could be reached, but Junior Mennemeyer said his son was planning to leave Saturday for Delaware.

A date for the funeral is pending. It will be held at Irwin Chapel, 3960 Maryville Road in Granite City. An Irwin Chapel spokeswoman said Saturday she was not sure which of Irwin's three locations, two in Granite City and one in Glen Carbon, would be the site of the funeral.

Mennemeyer will be buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in South St. Louis County.

Army Sgt. Steven P. Mennemeyer was killed in action on 08/08/06.

Army Sgt. Jeffery S. Brown

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Jeffery S. Brown, 25, of Trinity Center, Calif.

Sgt Brown was declared Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown on Aug. 8, 2006 when his UH-60 Black Hawk crashed into a lake in the vicinity of Korean Village in Rutbah, Iraq; his remains were recovered Aug. 10. Also killed was Sgt. Steven P. Mennemeyer; his remains were recovered Aug. 9.

Record Searchlight -- TRINITY CENTER -- Ed and Diane Brown were at their home in Trinity Center on Sunday, waiting for the return of their son Jeffery. The last they heard, he had been transported to Dover, Del.
Army Sgt. Jeffery S. Brown, 25, of Trinity Center had served his six years with the Army but officials extended his commitment. He was killed last week after his UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crashed into a lake in Rubtbah, Iraq.

With him was Sgt. Steven P. Mennemeyer, 26, of Granite City, Ill. Both men, assigned to the 82nd Medical Company Air Ambulance out of Fort Riley, Kan., had been declared Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown on Tuesday, according to the Department of Defense. Their remains were recovered Wednesday and Thursday.

Army officials told Jeff's family last week that the young soldier would receive a Bronze Star and an Air Medal for his work aboard the aircraft. They told his mother that an investigation into the circumstances of the crash led them to believe that Jeffery had made a heroic effort.

But Ed Brown, 58, doesn't believe it was right for the Army to have asked Jeff for more than he'd already given.

"He hated the Army," Ed Brown said Sunday. "He was home here not too long ago and he called us about four days before he died."

A retired fire captain with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and a Vietnam vet who came home from his tour of duty with wounds both physical and psychological, Ed Brown said he was having to work at controlling his anger. There was no way to stop the waves of sadness.

"I know these things happen, but dads are not supposed to bury their sons," he said.

He had been looking forward to the time when Jeff would be done with the Army and back in Trinity County with friends and family.

"He was one of the most trustworthy guys and he loved trucks," Brown said. "We were going to buy a Chevy when he got home."

Brown said he'd moved many times before having a family but his son Jeff never wanted to leave his friends. "That's just the kind of person he was."

All four of the Brown's children, Michael, 27, Jeffery, Timothy, 22, and Kathryn, 19, attended Trinity High School.

Jeff's father thinks he may be the first child from Trinity High School to die in Iraq.

"They've lived their whole lives here," he said.

Worry is now doubled for son Tim, who is in the Army and assigned to helicopters. Ed Brown said the two boys were as close as twins.

"He is stationed in Germany," said mother Diane Brown, 48, a nurse at Mercy Medical Center in Redding.

Members of the extended family are en route from places near and far to meet in Trinity Center and remember their loved one.

Ed and Diane Brown had been planning a trip before their lives were irrevocably changed.

"We got a trailer and we were going to go down to Mexico. It doesn't seem like traveling would be much fun now," Ed Brown said, his voiced strangled by tears. "It just hurts so bad."

Army Sgt. Jeffery S. Brown was killed in action on 8/8/06.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Army Staff Sgt. Clint J. Storey

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Clint J. Storey, 30, of Enid, Okla.

SSgt Storey was assigned to the 1st Calvary Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Friedberg, Germany; killed August 4 when an improvised explosive device detonated near their Humvee while conducting combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq. Also killed was Sgt. Bradley H. Beste.

Enid News -- Army Staff Sgt. Clint Storey’s mother will remember everything about him, and the “cowardly” way in which he was killed Friday in Iraq.

Storey, 30, of Enid, was killed in Ramadi when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded near his Humvee. He was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, which is headquartered in Friedberg, Germany. He was killed along with Sgt. Bradley H. Beste, 22, of Naperville, Ill.

In addition to his mother, Carol Storey Inherst, and stepfather, Bill Inherst, both of Enid, Storey is survived by his wife, Melissa, and 4-year-old daughter, Adela. The Storeys are expecting another child, his mother said.

In a posted response to a story that ran in the News & Eagle in April, Storey, who grew up in Enid and attended Enid schools, said he knew what it was like to be a soldier in Iraq.

“To paint an accurate portrait of the daily lives of soldiers in combat you must speak to the soldier that is kicking down the doors of mudhuts to find that insurgent who just fired those mortar round, or to the soldier that is treating the casualties caused by those mortar round,” Storey said in that posted response.

Funeral arrangements for Storey are pending with Henninger-Allen Funeral Home in Enid. His mother said she wants to have a military funeral in Enid, but Storey may be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

“He deserves everything he gets,” said a tearful Storey Inherst.

She clutched a photograph of Storey that recently was sent after he was injured just two weeks ago when his Humvee was hit by another IED.

He was on crutches for a short period and then went back out on patrol. Storey Inherst said her son was very proud of his military service.

“Our only comfort is this is what he really wanted to do,” she said.

Storey Inherst last saw her son two years ago when he was home on leave. She last talked with him by e-mail shortly after his injury two weeks ago.

Storey was a recruiter for three years in Los Angeles before moving to Germany with the Army and eventually being stationed in Iraq.

“I was proud of him when he was a recruiter, but he hated it. He wanted to fight for his country,” his mother said.

Storey had been in the military since 1997 and was determined to make it his career. After he was wounded he talked with his mother, saying “Someone up there likes me,” she said.

“There aren’t enough words to express how proud I am of him.”

In an interview with the Tulsa World, Melissa Storey said she last heard from her husband in an e-mail several days ago.

“I am grateful that I had the eight years I had with him. My only regret is that we didn’t have more time,” she said in a telephone conversation from Palmer, Mass., where she is staying with her parents.

“I lost my soulmate ... but he will never not be my husband.”

There second child is due in February.

“I’m devastated that my child won’t have any memories of his or her father,” she said. “And my daughter will only have four years of them.”

As a child Storey was mischievous, his mother said, but he was a leader, and he always had many friends. He was popular with the girls, his mother remembered, and pestered his older sister.

“When he was a teenager he spent more time in the bathroom than his sister,” she said.

She said the death of his father when he was 17 caused him to drop out of high school. He later earned his GED and joined the Army.

He was raised by Storey Inherst and her current husband of 20 years, Bill.

She confesses he was a “mama’s boy,” but she said the day his daughter was born was the proudest day of his life, and he was a doting father.

“Clint was my baby, my only boy. He was my whole life,” she said.

He also is survived by a sister, Charlene Phillips of Newcastle, and two half-sisters, Tammy Divine, of Waynoka, and Tonja Whitehead, of Bartlesville.

“I will remember everything,” Storey Inherst said as she spoke of her son. “The way he walked and talked, the smell of his cologne. Waiting on him hand and foot when he was home ... the way he slept.

“It was cowardly, the way my son had to die. They plant a bomb, then go hide in the bushes.”

Army Staff Sgt. Clint J. Storey was killed in action on 08/04/06.


Storey back

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Navy Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marc A. Lee

Remember Our Heroes

Navy Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marc A. Lee, 28, of Hood River, Ore.

Petty Officer Lee was a member of a West Coast-based SEAL Team; killed Aug. 2, 2006 during combat operations while on patrol in Ramadi, Iraq.

SEAL earns posthumous Silver Star
By Gidget Fuentes
Staff writer

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — In his final act as a Navy SEAL, Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marc A. Lee rained down machine gun fire to help protect several of his teammates before he was felled by enemy fire in Iraq last week.

On Tuesday, Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter honored that heroism with approval of the Silver Star, Cmdr. Greg Geisen, a spokesman for the Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif., said Wednesday afternoon.

The Aug. 2 death of Lee, 28, was the first suffered in Iraq by the Navy’s elite commando force.

Lee and other teammates were supporting an Iraqi Army unit during military operations with Army forces in Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar province in western Iraq that has seen regular attacks by insurgents.

According to the award citation, provided to Navy Times by Geisen, Lee was conducting clearance operations in south-central Ramadi with members of a Naval Special Warfare Combat Advisory element.

“During the operation, one element member was wounded by enemy fire. The element completed the casualty evacuation, regrouped and returned onto the battlefield to continue the fight,” the citation reads. “Petty Officer Lee and his SEAL element maneuvered to assault an unidentified enemy position. He, his teammates, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Abrams tanks engaged enemy positions with suppressive fire from an adjacent building to the north.

“To protect the lives of his teammates, he fearlessly exposed himself to direct enemy fire by engaging the enemy with his machine gun and was mortally wounded in the engagement. His brave actions in the line of fire saved the lives of many of his teammates,” it states.

According to Stars and Stripes newspaper, which had a reporter embedded with Army units in the city during the operation, an insurgent sniper shot and wounded a Navy SEAL in the face at the start of a battle that lasted at least an hour over a five-block area. A second SEAL was wounded in the battle.

Lee completed the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL course in 2004 and joined the Coronado, Calif.-based SEAL Team 5 a year ago. He deployed to Iraq with his team earlier this year.

A native of Hood River, Ore., he enlisted in 2001 and completed naval air technical training in Pensacola, Fla. After an initial attempt to complete the grueling BUD/S program in Coronado and a temporary reassignment to the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lee rejoined the program and completed the course to become a SEAL.

Lee also has been posthumously awarded a Bronze Star with combat “V” for his actions in Iraq during his team’s combat tour and the Purple Heart medal, Geisen said. His awards and decorations include the Combat Action Ribbon, Meritorious Unit Commendation and the National Defense Service Medal.

First SEAL killed in Iraq

SAN DIEGO — The death of a Navy SEAL killed last week in Iraq’s Anbar Province marked a first for the close-knit commando community.

Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marc Alan Lee, 28, died during a firefight Aug. 2 in Ramadi, Iraq, military officials announced Aug. 4.

Lee’s death — the first of a Navy SEAL killed in combat in Iraq since U.S. military operations began there in 2003 — came during a renewed U.S-Iraqi offensive in Ramadi, the provincial capital that has seen regular attacks by insurgents.

According to Stars and Stripes newspaper, which had a reporter embedded with Army units in the city during the operation, an insurgent sniper shot and wounded a SEAL in the face at the start of a battle that lasted at least an hour across a five-block area.

“Before the battle ended, a second SEAL was wounded in the shoulder and another killed by machine-gun fire as he and soldiers from the 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division attacked bunkered insurgents,” the paper reported in its Aug. 3 Mideast edition.

Later, “the SEALs prepared to enter another building where insurgents had holed up. The insurgents opened fire, fatally wounding one SEAL, who was hit with a blast of gunfire through a window,” the paper reported. “The rest of the team returned fire, killing the insurgents. One more SEAL was wounded in the shoulder when insurgents began firing at them from another bunkered house.”

Lee, who completed the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL course in 2004, joined the Coronado, Calif.-based SEAL Team 5 in July 2005 and deployed with his team earlier this year, according to Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado.

A native of Hood River, Ore., Lee enlisted in the Navy in May 2001, and became an AO after completing Naval Air Technical Training in Pensacola, Fla. In October 2001, in his first attempt to complete the grueling BUD/S program, he caught pneumonia and had to drop from the course, and was reassigned to the carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower. Lee rejoined the BUD/S program in 2004, and he completed the course.

He was awarded a Bronze Star with combat “V” for heroism and also received a Purple Heart medal and the Combat Action Ribbon, officials said. His other awards and decorations include the Meritorious Unit Commendation and the National Defense Service Medal.

“Marc was amazing. He was my best friend, my love,” his widow, Maya, told the Los Angeles Times.

An avid soccer player, he is also survived by his mother, brother and sister, Naval Special Warfare Command officials said.

“It was so like Marc to give up his life to save his friends,” his mother, Debbie Lee, told the Hood River News. “I am so proud of him. He is my hero.”

While Lee is the first SEAL to be killed in Iraq, combat operations in Afghanistanhave cost the lives of 16 SEALs — including eight SEALs who were killed during a rescue mission June 28, 2005.

— By Gidget Fuentes, Staff writer

SEAL’s letter read at memorial service

HOOD RIVER, Ore. — In one of the last letters he sent before his death, a Navy SEAL wrote that his duty in Iraq made him appreciate America even more.

“I have felt fear at some of the things I have seen here,” wrote Navy Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Marc A. Lee. “I have seen amazing things and sad things.”

But being in Iraq, he added, “makes me realize what a great country we have.”

Lee’s brother, Kris, read the letter at a memorial service this weekend at the Hood River Expo Center. More than 600 people heard Lee eulogized as son, husband, brother, uncle, warrior, American and Christian.

Lee, 28, was killed Aug. 2 in a firefight while on patrol against insurgents in Ramadi, Iraq. A member of a Coronado, Calif.-based SEAL team, Lee was one of the first members of the elite group to be killed in Iraq.

Navy officers told Debbie Lee that her son died after single-handedly holding off enemy fighters as his team rescued a wounded soldier from a rooftop.

SEALs rely on each other like brothers, so it is no surprise that Lee gave his life saving his brothers, said Rep. Greg Walden, who represents Hood River, where Lee grew up, and was one of about a dozen speakers.

Boyhood best friend Chris Wells, who later joined Marc Lee’s family when he married Lee’s sister, Cheryl, said, “Marc was my best friend, my brother-in-law, my children’s uncle, and now my hero.”

Officiating pastor Doug Iverson said: “He left as a boy, and he become a true warrior. He was not a perfect man. Not perfect but perfected in God.”

Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees of the Oregon National Guard, representing Gov. Ted Kulongoski, gave Debbie Lee a Gold Star banner. Kulongoski, who has vowed to attend the funeral of all active duty military personnel from Oregon, attended Lee’s funeral and burial two weeks ago at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma, Calif.

Lee is survived by his wife, Maya Elbaum; mother, Debra Lee; sister, Cheryl Wells; and brother, Kris.

Information from The Oregonian
— Associated Press

Navy Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marc A. Lee was killed in action on 8/2/06.

Marine Cpl. Joseph A. Tomci

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Joseph A. Tomci, 21, of Stow, Ohio

Cpl. Tomci was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed Aug. 2 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

Family says Cpl. Joseph Tomci, 21, was proud to serve country. Pen pal of elementary pupils remembered as hero who touched many lives

By Julie Wallace
Beacon Journal staff writer

STOW - Tracy Piatt sat down Wednesday to compose ane-mail through a steady stream of tears.

Addressed to the parents of her former second-graders at Fishcreek Elementary School in Stow, she informed them that Marine Cpl. Joseph Tomci had been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq earlier that day.

Tomci, 21, of Stow, had been the pen pal of her class for two years -- a local link to a faraway land for Piatt's young charges.

They made him birthday cards and staged parties in his honor, singing Happy Birthday to the picture of Tomci on a classroom wall. They sent care packages, and they tracked his location on a map.

The young Marine had become their Marine. Now, he was gone.

``I talked to one mother today -- she said she read the e-mail to her daughter, who was in my class two years ago,'' Piatt said through tears. ``And she said her daughter, who is 8, said: `I'm so proud of Joe. He was such a hero.' ''

Tomci, a 2003 graduate of Stow-Munroe Falls High School, was about two months from finishing his second tour in Iraq. He spent seven months there in 2005 -- taking the time to visit Piatt and her class on his brief trip back home.

``He was so proud of what he was doing -- you could tell he cared about making Iraq a better place for the people there,'' Piatt said.

Tomci's father, John Tomci of Stow, said his son, who played football in high school, was known for his ability to do spot-on impersonations and for memorizing every line of his favorite movies and reciting them to the dismay of others watching with him.

That boy, he said, blossomed into a leader after becoming a Marine.

He was in charge of a unit for the 3rd Battalion, 8th Regiment, Lima Company, which is based at Camp Lejeune, N.C. His duties involved leading patrols in Ramadi for seven days, then spending the next seven days at the base.

Details of his death aren't available yet; the family only knows that it was from a roadside bomb while on one of those patrols.

His death is not the first to hit the battalion; there have been several this tour, and some on the previous tour. A buddy was killed on the last tour while standing beside Joe, his father said.

According to the most recent numbers, 2,584 U.S. soldiers have been killed during the war in Iraq.

The news of Tomci's death was delivered Wednesday morning by two Marines in full dress uniform, who showed up at his home and at the home of Joe's mother and stepfather, Gayle and Philip Okonek.

``He loved what he was doing,'' said John Tomci, who is battling cancer. ``As a father, that's the highest thing that you can want for your children.''

At his home, where a steady stream of visitors dropped off food and arrived to comfort the family, a portable sign rests in the grass. It reads: ``God Bless You Cpl. Joseph Tomci, U.S.M.C.''

No service arrangements have been made. It's not yet known when Tomci's body will be returned to the United States.

John Tomci said his son was nearing the end of his enlistment, but they hadn't discussed in depth whether he'd re-enlist. But he had talked about possibly becoming a drill instructor -- he felt his combat experience could help him make better Marines of new recruits.

``In a sense, he'd be helping others,'' John Tomci said. ``That was kind of his life's mission.''

Joe's mother, Gayle Okonek, who also lives in Stow, said her youngest son made her proud. Joe has an older brother, Jason Tomci, also of Stow.

``I know this sounds trite because we've heard it over and over, but he always dreamed of being a Marine,'' she said. ``He believed in what he was doing, he believed his service was a benefit to the world.''

His stepfather, Philip Okonek, said Joe took his duties as a leader seriously -- he truly was worried about the Marines serving under him. His mother echoed that sentiment.

``He didn't call home very often this last tour,'' she said. ``He said it was because there were so many men under his care that were on(their) first tour of duty, he wanted to make sure they'd have the opportunity to call home. That's just how he was.''

Piatt said Joe always sent messages through his father to her class in addition to writing whenever he could.

``He was a good kid, a good young man. He just wanted to do good for people,'' she said. ``I wish he knew how many people cared about him. He touched so many lives that he didn't even know about.''

Marine Cpl. Joseph A. Tomci was killed in action on 08/02/06.