Monday, February 06, 2006

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John T. Fralish

Remember Our Heroes

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John T. Fralish, 30, of New Kingstown, Pennsylvania.

Petty Officer Fralish died when enemy forces opened fire on a U.S. patrol northwest of Methar Lam in Laghman Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 3rd Marine Division Detachment, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe, Hawaii. Died on February 6, 2006.

Of The Patriot-News

Petty Officer 3rd Class John T. Fralish was a Navy corpsman, an Iraq combat veteran, the grandson of a war hero and someone a relative described yesterday as possessing courage, determination and almost unlimited potential.

Fralish, 30, of New Kingstown, was killed Monday when a Marine patrol he was serving with was attacked by insurgents in Afghanistan.

He is the first midstate resident to die in fighting in that war-torn land. A U.S.-led coalition invaded Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to oust the Taliban regime that had sheltered Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization.

"He was an amazing man. He could have become anything, an admiral, a governor, even the president," said his uncle, John C. Fralish Jr. of Middlesex Twp. "This was someone who had real potential."

According to the Navy, John T. Fralish, the son of James and Jean Fralish of Silver Spring Twp. and a 1994 Cumberland Valley High School graduate, was killed in Lagham Province in northern Afghanistan.

The family was notified of the death by two military officers Monday evening, Fralish's uncle said.

He said the family was told that Fralish's patrol had stopped its vehicles and then come under fire.

"He was shot almost immediately," John C. Fralish Jr. said.

The military has pledged to provide the family more information on the attack, he said, adding that there were indications of more U.S. casualties from the ambush.

Nineteen central Pennsylvanians have died in the Iraq war since April 2003. A total of 117 state residents have died in Iraq and Afghanistan in the war on terrorism, Gov. Ed Rendell said yesterday in his budget address.

Since 2001, 210 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan.

John C. Fralish Jr. said his nephew, who was not married, had been in Afghanistan since Jan. 4. The avid surfer was assigned to the 3rd Marine Division, based in Kaneohe, Hawaii.

John C. Fralish Jr. said his nephew, who joined the Navy in 2002, had participated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and had served another tour of duty in Iraq in 2004. He had also served in a military hospital in Kuwait.

"It's just too much for us to bear," the uncle said. "He'd been through all that."

John T. Fralish was promoted to hospital corpsman third class in September, according to the Navy. It is a regular practice for Navy corpsmen -- medics -- to be assigned to Marine units in combat.

His uncle said Fralish qualified to be a Navy SEAL, a highly trained commando, last summer.

"He wanted to be where he could give his kind of help. He wanted to be on the front lines," his uncle said.

His nephew never told him precisely what motivated his enlistment in the Navy, he said. It might have been because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he said, or the fact that his father had been in the Navy Reserve during the Vietnam War.

He said his nephew also idolized his grandfather, John C. Fralish of Middlesex Twp., a retired Army colonel and decorated veteran of World War II and the Korean War who died in 1995. His grandfather's medals were among his nephew's prized possessions, he said.

John T. Fralish held the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal.

He was the bearer of a family tradition as well. For five generations, a member of the Fralish family has carried the name of John, his uncle said, lamenting that his nephew's death might end that line.

His nephew's last trip home was during the holidays, he said, when he gave his nephew a book on the history of the Navy.

"He surprised us with a visit at Christmas," John C. Fralish Jr. said. "He was at his sister's that evening."

The family is not likely to be alone in its mourning, he said.

"This is a loss to all of us, to everyone in the state, to everyone in the country," he said.

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John T. Fralish was killed in action on 02/06/06.

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