Friday, January 27, 2006

Marine Lance Cpl. Hugo R. Lopezlopez

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Hugo R. Lopezlopez, 20, of La Habra, California

Lance Cpl. Lopezlopez died Jan. 27 at Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, from wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Rawah, Iraq on Nov. 20, 2005. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, his unit was attached to 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, (Forward).

By Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell Staff Writer LA HABRA -

Before he left for Iraq in September, Marine Lance Cpl. Hugo Lopezlopez told his mother he would buy her a new house when he returned.

The former La Habra High School football player never got the chance to fulfill the promise.

He died Friday at a Texas military hospital, where his mother, Maria, had maintained a vigil at his bedside ever since the 20-year-old Marine was critically wounded by a homemade bomb in November.

"We were all devastated to hear the news," said City Councilman James Gomez of La Habra, where officials ordered flags flown at half-staff at City Hall and the local community center through Friday.

"We had been hoping and praying for a miracle because he is one of our own," Gomez added.

Lopezlopez attended Washington Middle School in La Habra, then La Habra High, where he played football on the school's 2003 CIF championship team. He enlisted in the Marines after graduating in 2004.

He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1 Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Pendleton, Marine officials said.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, his unit was attached to 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force.

On Nov. 20, while covering combat operations against enemy forces in Rawah, Iraq, the decorated Marine was critically injured by an improvised explosive device, military officials said.

On Tuesday, his family said the young Marine suffered burns over most of his body. He underwent burn surgery but died Friday at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Throughout his hospital stay, his mother was at his side, family members said.

Before he left for Iraq, Lopezlopez had celebrated his 20th birthday at his family's La Habra home with his mother, his father Fidencio, his 12-year-old brother Oscar, his 6-year-old sister Valerie and several friends, his relatives said.

Today, students and faculty at La Habra High will hold a moment of silence in his honor, said John Diaz, the school's guidance technician.

A memorial service will be held from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday at the La Habra Community Center, followed by a rosary service at 7:30 p.m.

A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Angela Merici Church in Brea. He will be buried at Memory Garden Memorial Park in Brea, his family said.

During his military career, had earned the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal, military officials said.

Marine Lance Cpl. Hugo R. Lopezlopez was killed in action on 01/27/06.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Army Staff Sgt. Jerry M. Durbin, Jr.

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Army Staff Sgt. Jerry M. Durbin, Jr., 26, of Spring, Texas.

SSgt Durbin died in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device exploded near his dismounted patrol during combat operations. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Died on January 25, 2006.

www.chron.com -- Staff Sgt. Jerry "Micheal" M. Durbin Jr. enlisted in the Army because he thought it would take him on the quickest route toward his goal of one day working for the Central Intelligence Agency.

By 26, he had become a staff sergeant in an air assault unit and had his eyes on becoming a member of the elite Delta Force. To prove his mettle, he served two tours in the Middle East and was deployed for a third in September. Family members said he lived to serve his country.

"He was the leader of everybody, no doubt about it," said his father, Jerry M. Durbin Sr.

The Nimitz High School graduate died Wednesday in Baghdad when a homemade bomb exploded near his patrol during combat operations. He was the 194th Texan to die since the start of the war in March 2003, according to the Department of Defense.

Durbin was born July 6, 1979, in far northeast Houston. At Nimitz, he was the quarterback on the football team, ran track and played baseball.

He attended Kingwood College before enlisting in the Army at 21.

He and his wife, Janelle, married in 2001. His mother-in-law, Juliene Pickens, said her son-in-law was a devoted husband and father of three.

The elder Durbin said that when his son, the oldest of five children, entered a room, he drew everyone's attention.

"He was proud of what he had done. He re-enlisted," his father said. "He's definitely a hero, no doubt about it."

He said he learned about his son's death without a word being said. He said his father met him as he was getting off work late Wednesday night.

"He just started hugging me and I knew what had happened," he said.

The next morning, at 6:30, the Army arrived at his Humble home to officially notify him of his son's death.

Durbin's parents flew to Clarksville, Tenn., to visit him before he left for his third tour of duty in the Middle East and second in Iraq. The elder Durbin said the two-day visit stretched into 19 because Hurricane Katrina prevented them from returning to Texas. He said the two spent time together talking in his son's basement.

"He did mention this time that he was scared because he knew where he was going this time. But he didn't back down," he said.

Durbin was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

Durbin is also survived by his children, Alyssa and Austin Durbin, and a stepdaughter, Hayley Kaufman, of Clarksville, Tenn.; and his mother, Teresa Durbin, of Houston.

Army Staff Sgt. Jerry M. Durbin, Jr. was killed in action on 01/25/06.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Army Specialist Clifton J. Yazzie

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Army Specialist Clifton J. Yazzie, 23, of Fruitland, N.M.

Spc Yazzie was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky. killed Jan. 20 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during patrol operations in Huwijah, Iraq. Also killed were: Staff Sgt. Rickey Scott, Sgt. Dennis J. Flanagan and Spc. Matthew C. Frantz.

Farmington Daily Times -- ENAHNEZAD -- More than 250 family members and friends of Sgt. Clifton "Tigger" Yazzie, 23, of Fruitland, gathered Tuesday night at the Nenahnezad Chapter House to remember the fallen soldier and offer their support to his family.

Outside of the meeting, a United States flag flew at half-staff in honor of the soldier.

Yazzie was killed Friday in Iraq when an improvised explosive device exploded near his HMMWV, according to a Department of Defense release. It was the second tour of duty for Yazzie who was serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

According to Capt. Doug Walton of the United States Army, Yazzie's body is currently at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del. No timetable has been set for the return of the body to Fruitland. No funeral arrangements will be made until a return date is set, according to Clifford "C.Y." Yazzie, Clifton's father.

He added that a motorcycle escort has been requested for Clifton's journey from Albuquerque to the funeral home and details will be released to Four Corners riders once they are known.

Though services have not been set, friends and family took time Tuesday to remember Yazzie as a soldier and a friend.

"He was an outstanding soldier, he was always trying to do his best to accomplish the mission," said Marco Sanchez, 29, of Acoma, who served with Yazzie during the soldier's first tour in Iraq. "He was a great, caring guy. He was my best friend, the closest thing to family you got over there."

Sanchez said he and his wife learned of Yazzie's death from a television newscast and traveled to Nenahnezad to offer their support to the family.

"We just started crying, It's something that's hard to bear," Sanchez said.

Keith Tso, 31, and his brother Kee Tso, 33, are uncles of Yazzie's wife, Michelle Yazzie, 21. They said they remember Clifton as being the type of person who could brighten up a room with his smile and jokes, and would be disappointed if he didn't make people happy.

"He brings the room to life. He's a happy person, he was always cheerful," Keith said.

Kee noted Yazzie bounced around like Tigger and searched for a way to brighten anyone's mood if they were upset.

"Once he found that mood, he'd bring everyone up," Kee said.

In addition to always smiling and trying to make others do the same, the Tsos said Yazzie always put his family first.

"He was always there for his kids, no matter what," Keith said. Yazzie is survived by two children, Chaynitta, 3, and 18-month-old Cayden.

"When he got out of the military, he wanted to get into construction, learn to build a house and build a house for his wife, build his family a home," Kee added.

Once Michelle and the children arrived, along with Clifton's parents, Jeanette and Clifford, the informational meeting began. Lambert Yazzie, no relation, a Blue Star Father with a son in Iraq, served as master of ceremonies.

"The hardest thing for us is to share in the passing of one of our warriors," Lambert said, standing underneath the flags of all the military branches and in front of a table draped with a black-and-gold United States Army blanket. Several photos of Clifton Yazzie sat in frames on the blanket.

"This is one thing we don't want any family to experience," he added.

Lambert also mentioned the planned motorcycle escort and urged any area resident to join in, much like they did in 2001 when the Kirtland Central High School boys basketball team won the state championship. Clifton was a senior member of that quad.

"Come and gather again and welcome him back," Lambert urged. "Our warrior Clifton's coming home."

Following remarks by family friends, Clifford said he was surprised by all the support and wanted to thank the community for their donations and kind thoughts.

"It's special," he said, looking at the packed chapter house meeting room. "That's what makes us strong, this is what keep us up. I love them all for doing all this."

Michelle Yazzie, who declined interviews, said through a family spokesman that she was grateful for all the support, prayers and donations that have poured in.

Throughout the meeting, Michelle sat with her two children and clutched a large Tigger stuffed animal.

Army Specialist Clifton J. Yazzie was killed in action on 01/20/06.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Marine Lance Cpl. Jonathan "Kyle" Price

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Marine Lance Cpl. Jonathan Kyle Price, 19, of Woodlawn, Illinois.

Lance Cpl Price was killed as a result of enemy small arms fire while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. Price was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force based in Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Southern Illinoisan -- WOODLAWN - The hallways of Woodlawn High School will be empty on Friday.

The school is closing so that students, faculty and staff may attend the funeral of Lance Cpl. Jonathan Kyle Price, a member of the WHS graduating class of 2004.

In the small community of Woodlawn, in rural Jefferson County, Price is being remembered for who he was and who he would have become.

"He was just a great man," said Kelly Owens, a Woodlawn native and technology coordinator at the high school. "He was a really important part of our community - of who Woodlawn was and who Woodlawn was becoming. I could envision him becoming a great father and being here, helping out, coaching Little League. He would have been that kind of person," she said.

Price was killed Friday as a result of enemy small arms fire while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. Price was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force based in Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Woodlawn High School Superintendent Alan Estes remembers Price as "a cooperative young man who had a goal and a purpose each day" as he walked through the school's hallways.

"You can't have enough Kyle Prices in your school. He was always smiling and always ready to do anything that you asked of him," Estes said.

Price's baseball coach Shane Witzel, who is also the school's athletic director, said that attitude carried over onto the baseball field, where Price was the consummate team player.

"He worked hard and came ready to play with a good attitude," Witzwel said. "As a coach, you appreciate kids like that. He was always willing to do whatever it took to make the team better. He wanted to be a part of something bigger than himself."

And it was that desire that brought Price to the U.S. Marine Corps, Owens said. "That has been his plan for a long time and he had no hesitation and no fear. He was serving his country and that leaves us with a good feeling, knowing he was where he wanted to be," she said.

"For all the feelings we are feeling, there is no anger or bitterness or anti-war feeling here. We all loved Kyle and we know he loved what he was doing. Everyone is very supportive and very respectful toward Kyle, his family and the military in general."

Black and yellow ribbons tied on signs and posts around the town attest to that support. The yellow shows support for the war effort, while the black represents a fallen hero.

Owens said community members have rallied to support Price's family by tying ribbons, displaying flags and preparing meals. The community effort "doesn't surprise me at all. There is a sense of togetherness here, a feeling of trust and caring for each other that you may not find in bigger towns or cities," Owens said.

Visitors to the school's Web site, www.woodlawnhs.org, will also find evidence of that community support. A color photo of a uniformed Price rests against a black backdrop while other photos show Price as a WHS student. A look at the guestbook reveals comments from those who wanted to honor Price's memory.

Price's Spanish teacher, Debbie Wilson, left a message mentioning Price's "fierceness of conviction."

"If I were in any battle, I would have wanted Kyle by my side, and somewhere a mother is whispering a prayer of thanks that Kyle was there," she wrote.

Price is survived by his fiancee Brea Tate who is expecting the couple's baby in March, his mother and stepfather, Cheryl Price Hunsell and John Hunsell of Woodlawn, father David Price of Indianapolis, Ind., one brother and two sisters.

Marine Lance Cpl. Jonathan Kyle Price was killed in action on 01/13/06.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Marine Cpl. Brett L. Lundstrom

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Marine Cpl. Brett L. Lundstrom, 22, of Stafford, Va.

Cpl Lundstrom was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed Jan. 7 by enemy small-arms fire while conducting combat operations near Fallujah, Iraq.

Friends and family remember Marine Cpl. Brett Lee Lundstrom as cheerful, generous, dedicated.

By PAMELA GOULD

Brooke Point High School graduate Brett Lee Lundstrom was remembered yesterday as an outgoing and kind young man excited to be following in his father's footsteps as a Marine.

Lundstrom visited the Stafford County school in uniform shortly after completing boot camp and was pleased with the path he'd chosen, said U.S. history teacher and senior class co-sponsor Tom Coen.

"I do remember he made a point of coming by my room and saying how proud he was to be in the Corps and how much it meant to him," Coen said yesterday afternoon. "He was very proud to keep going on the tradition."

Lundstrom, a 22-year-old corporal, was one of three Marines killed Saturday by small-arms fire near Fallujah, Iraq, the Defense Department announced yesterday. Lance Cpl. Kyle W. Brown, 22 of Newport News, and Lance Cpl. Jeriad P. Jacobs, 19, of Clayton, N.C., also died in the attacks.

In all, five Marines deployed out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., died in enemy assaults in Iraq that day, bringing to 633 the number of Marines killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to Capt. Jay Delarosa of Marine Corps headquarters.

Lundstrom graduated from Brooke Point in 2001. He continued to consider North Stafford home and returned often to visit his parents, according to a paternal aunt, Mary Munoz of Denver.

Maj. Ed Lundstrom retired from the Marine Corps last year and currently lives in Detroit. Doyla Carol Underbaggage Lundstrom returned to the family's roots in Black Hawk, S.D., after she and Brett's father divorced last year.

The Lundstroms' younger son, Eddy Lundstrom, graduated from Brooke Point in 2003 and is serving in Iraq with the Army. The private first class returned home for his brother's funeral, Munoz said.

Brett Lundstrom, like his mother, was a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. His father is a member of the Rosebud Sioux, Munoz said.

Ed Lundstrom told the Rapid City Journal in South Dakota he felt his own career and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks affected his son's decision to become a Marine.

"After 9/11, he saw a need and felt that he could make a difference," Lundstrom told the paper.

Lundstrom described his son as generous and cheerful. Doyla Lundstrom added that he was "an avid sports fan who loved hanging out with friends."

"Brett loved people, and people loved Brett," she told the Journal. "He was always joking and smiling. He lit up a room when he walked in."

The family plans a two-day wake for Lundstrom this weekend on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Kyle, S.D. Visitation will be held in Denver Tuesday with services and burial with military honors Wednesday, Munoz said.

Lundstrom had planned to move to Denver once he left the Marines because he had family and friends there, Munoz said.

He was a rifleman who enlisted in the Marine Corps in January 2003 and joined his unit six months later, according to Cpl. Mike Escobar, a spokesman at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Lundstrom deployed to Iraq in September, his family said. He served with E Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, as part of Regimental Combat Team-8, 2nd Marine Division.

Lundstrom also served in Afghanistan during the nation's war on terror. He was awarded two Navy Achievement Medals, an Iraqi Campaign Medal, an Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Medal, Escobar said.

Lundstrom was the second Brooke Point graduate to die in Iraq. Army 2nd Lt. Jeff Graham, 24, a 1998 graduate, was killed by a bomb Feb. 19, 2004, about 50 miles west of Baghdad as he led his platoon on foot patrol.

At Brooke Point, Lundstrom took part in Future Business Leaders of America his first three years. In his senior year, he ran on the cross-country team.

Coen described Lundstrom as kind-hearted, extremely bright and always pleasant--"one of those students you really enjoy teaching because they're just such a quality person."

Coen paused several times yesterday to regain his composure as he spoke of Lundstrom. He said his former student, like several others who have served in Afghanistan, told him they understood they were risking their lives but felt their service was important because of what they saw at stake.

"A lot of people aren't willing to make the tough choices in life," Coen finally said, "and obviously these young people are."

Marine Cpl. Brett L. Lundstrom was killed in action 01/07/06.

Lundstrom


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Army Major Michael R. Martinez

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Army Major Michael R. Martinez, 43, Columbia, Missouri.

Major Martinez, who was assigned to the Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Ft. Carson, Colorado, died near Tal Afar, Iraq when his UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crashed.

By BILL GRAHAM
The Kansas City Star

An Army major from Missouri who died in Iraq on Saturday in a helicopter crash is being mourned by friends and family in the Kansas City area.

Maj. Michael R. Martinez, 43, lived in Platte County during a roughly two-year posting at Fort Leavenworth as a lawyer and member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

In addition to relatives in Kansas City, Martinez had family in Columbia, said Martha Rudd, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon. They could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Martinez was one of 12 Americans who died in the crash of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter near Tal Afar, a northern city near the Syrian border. The Army has not determined the cause of the crash.

“For the folks who knew Mike, this comes as a huge shock,” said Jeffrey J. Mullins, a judge advocate at Fort Leavenworth. “Certainly a lot of people will miss him as a friend. The JAG corps will miss him as an attorney. But the Army will also miss him as a leader.”

Martinez was promoted to Major post humously from the rank of Captain, Rudd said.

Friends said he lived with strong values.

“He had a positive impact with everyone he came in contact with, officers, enlisted men and civilians,” Mullins said.

Martinez had served with the 24th Infantry Division at Fort Riley and the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth. He was assigned to Fort Carson, Colo., as chief of legal assistance. He went to Iraq with the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment.

His wife, Kelly Martinez, told the Colorado Springs Gazette on Tuesday that she awoke Saturday morning and knew something had happened to her husband.

“I’d had a terrible dream, and I just knew,” Martinez said. “You hear this all the time — but I had a terrible gut feeling.”

Martinez, a 16-year veteran, deployed to Iraq in November and was due to return along with the regiment in February.

According to Maj. Gen. Scott C. Black, the Army’s judge advocate general, Martinez had served as an enlisted soldier as a paralegal specialist and court reporter. He was a 1998 law school graduate from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Martinez had three sons, Alexander, Colby and Benjamin, Black said, and two stepdaughters, Kathryn and Samantha.

He was devoted to his wife and children, said Jana Torok, a lawyer from Lenexa who worked with Martinez during his stint at Fort Leavenworth from 2002 to 2004.

“He was a really neat guy and an interesting person to work for,” Torok said. “This personalizes the war more. You wish you could be there to do something to help.”

In Iraq, Martinez provided legal advice to troops, said Vince Gunter of Kansas City. Gunter met him while also serving in Iraq as a judge advocate.

Martinez “was traveling quite a bit, helping out soldiers with legal guidance, writing wills and power of attorney,” Gunter said. “It’s so good for a soldier’s morale to be able to talk to someone, especially if they have legal problems back home.”

Martinez volunteered for the deployment.

“All I’ve known about him,” Gunter said, “is that he was a terrific guy and an incredible soldier.”

Major Michael R. Martinez was killed in action on 01/07/06.

Army Specialist Clinton R. Upchurch

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Army Specialist Clinton R. Upchurch, 31, of Garden City, Kansas.

Spc Upchurch was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Jan. 7 during patrol operations when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee and enemy forces attacked using small-arms fire in Samarra, Iraq.

www.kansas.com -- GARDEN CITY, Kan. - Cindy Upchurch had just put the care package full of cookies and candy in the mail when she heard the terrible news - her soldier son would never be able to open it.

The Army announced Tuesday that Spc. Clinton R. Upchurch, 31, of Garden City, was killed Saturday near the predominantly Sunni Arab town of Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. He was the gunner on one of three Humvees that were escorting higher-ranked officials.

"(The Army representatives) said he died a hero, that he saved his guys," Cindy Upchurch said. "Knowing Clint, I'm not surprised he died defending them. He did his mission. That's just the kind of guy he was."

It was the end, Upchurch said, of her son's lifelong dream. She had tried to talk him out of the service but couldn't, maybe because it was in his blood. His father served in Vietnam; his grandfather and great-grandfather were veterans too.

"It's been something he and I have been fighting about since he was 17," she said. "But I knew he would enlist and I knew he was doing something he wanted to do. He loved the service and defending his country."

The soldier was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee and enemy forces fired on him. He had joined the Army in August 2004 and was assigned to Fort Campbell, Ky., in March 2005. Before that, he worked for the Finney County Sheriff's Office.

"As a mom, you know there's danger involved. But to me, he wasn't in any more danger over there than here," Upchurch said.

Now, Upchurch waits for the body to arrive home and for her youngest son - husband of Kari, stepfather and foster father, high school football player, Christian and fourth-generation Garden City resident - to be laid to rest.

He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., and there will be memorial services at Fort Campbell and in Garden City.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius urged the state to pray for Upchurch's family and friends.

"He has made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country and he will not be forgotten," she said.

U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., whose 1st District includes Garden City, praised Upchurch for his sacrifice for his country.

The slain soldier had sent his mother an e-mail at 12:36 p.m. Friday.

"Hi. I love you. Are you there?" he asked.

She wasn't. She had gone to lunch. And she would never hear from him again.

Army Specialist Clinton R. Upchurch was killed in action on 01/07/06.

Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle W. Brown

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle W. Brown, 22, of Newport News, Va.

LCpl Brown was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed Jan. 7, 2006 by enemy small-arms fire while conducting combat operations near Fallujah, Iraq.

POQUOSON - PFC Kyle W. Brown, 22, died during combat on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2006, while serving his second deployment in Al Anbar Province, Fallujah, Iraq.

He was a 2002 graduate of Heritage High School where he served 4 years as a ROTC Cadet. After graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Marines and became a Marine Combat Assault man.

In four years, while serving with the Marines, his deployment consisted of 3 tours; twice in Iraq and once in Afghanistan.

'Foremost, he was a Marine. That's what he wanted to do,' states his father, Rodney Bridges.

In grateful memory of Private First Class Kyle William Brown who died while in the service of our country as a member of the United States Marine Corps, reminds us 'Freedom is not free.'

Kyle was preceded in death by his great-grandparents, Nora Lee and Elmer T. Bridges, Elizabeth Dumond and William Lowe; a great-grandfather, Lester Pennington; and a great-grandmother, Opal Smith.

He is survived by his father, Rodney Lee Taylor Bridges and stepmother, Carolyn M. Byrd; his mother, Teresa Aleen St. Pierre; a sister, Rachel Nicole Peterson and husband, Shane; a brother, Daine Taylor Brown; two stepbrothers, Michael Therrien and Scott E. Cox and wife, Kimberly; a stepsister, Kimberly J. Shook and husband, Rick; a great-grandmother, Bernice Pennington; two grandmothers, Katheryn H. Brown and Dr. Anita Sherrill; a grandfather, Gary Brazle; grandparents, Judy and Robert Glenn Bridges; step-grandparents, Aleta and Theodore O. Brown; step-grandmother, Sarah Miller; and many special uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends

Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle W. Brown was killed in action on 1/7/06.

Army Maj. Stuart M. Anderson

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Army Maj. Stuart M. Anderson, 44, of Peosta, Iowa

Maj. Anderson was assigned to the 3rd Corps Support Command, Army Reserve, Des Moines, Iowa; killed Jan. 7, 2006 when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed near Tal Afar, Iraq. Also killed were: Maj. Douglas A. La Bouff, Capt. Michael R. Martinez, 1st Lt. Jaime L. Campbell, 1st Lt. Joseph D. deMoors, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Chester W. Troxel, Spc. Michael I. Edwards and Spc. Jacob E. Melson.

Slain soldier remembered as a family man

DUBUQUE, Iowa — An Iowa soldier who died in a helicopter crash in Iraq earlier this month was remembered at funeral services Thursday.

Maj. Stuart Anderson, 44, of Peosta, was on his second tour of duty in the Gulf region when the Army Black Hawk helicopter crashed on Jan. 7 in northern Iraq. Seven other soldiers and four civilians were also killed in the crash.

Anderson was a member of the Army Reserve’s 3rd Corps Support Command in Des Moines. A welder, he would have been home this fall, his family has said.

Anderson’s funeral was held at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Dubuque. His family requested that no media attend the services.

Anderson is survived by his wife, Tori, and daughters, Kirsten and Keely.

After his death, friends remembered Anderson as a family man who enjoyed his time as a soldier.

“He was very proud of being in the military,” His father, Claremont Anderson, of Hoffman, Minn., said earlier this month.

Tim Showalter, principal of Drexler Middle School in Farley, knew Anderson as a parent active in his daughter’s activities.

“He was one of those dads who always attended parent-teacher conferences,” Showalter has said.

Showalter added: “He was an involved dad. You couldn’t ask for a whole lot more.”

Army Maj. Stuart M. Anderson was killed in action on 1/7/06.

Army Maj. Douglas A. La Bouff

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Army Maj. Douglas A. La Bouff, 36, of California

Maj La Bouff was assigned to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Carson, Colo.; killed Jan. 7, 2006 when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed near Tal Afar, Iraq. Also killed were: Maj. Stuart M. Anderson, Capt. Michael R. Martinez, 1st Lt. Jaime L. Campbell, 1st Lt. Joseph D. deMoors, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Chester W. Troxel, Spc. Michael I. Edwards and Spc. Jacob E. Melson.

Mourners recall three soldiers killed in Iraq as family men
Associated Press

FORT CARSON, Colo. — Three soldiers killed in Iraq who left behind 10 children among them were memorialized Wednesday at ceremony attended by hundreds.

“All three of these men were, above all else, deeply devoted to their families,” said Maj. Horatio Taveau.

Maj. Douglas A. La Bouff, Maj. Michael Martinez and 1st Lt. David de Moors died Jan. 7 when their helicopter crashed on a flight from Mosul to Tal Afar, Iraq.

The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment officers from Fort Carson were praised at the ceremony as brave and courageous soldiers, but it was their commitment to their families that was given the most attention.

Every night before La Bouff went to bed he played a tape recording of his two children, Cassidy, 7, and Douglas, 3, saying: “Goodnight Daddy.”

“That was the sound I went to bed with as well,” Maj. Robert Short, La Bouff’s Iraq roommate, told the mourners.

First Lt. Kevin Evans, who befriended de Moors in Iraq, said unlike many soldiers who put the Army first in their lives, de Moors lived first for family, then faith and then Army.

“He would talk about coming home to watch his boys play basketball,” Evans said of de Moors’ children, Moroni, Demetrius and Chastity.

Martinez, a military lawyer who had three sons and two stepdaughters, was proud of his merged family. He never used the term stepdaughter, his wife of seven years, Kelly, said.

“It was like ‘The Brady Bunch,”’ she joked after the service.

Army Maj. Douglas A. La Bouff was killed in action on 1/7/06.

Army 1st Lt. Joseph D. deMoors

Remember Our Heroes

Army 1st Lt. Joseph D. deMoors, 36, of Birmingham, Ala.

1st Lt deMoors was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Carson, Colo.; killed Jan. 7, 2006 when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed near Tal Afar, Iraq. Also killed were: Maj. Stuart M. Anderson, Maj. Douglas A. La Bouff, Capt. Michael R. Martinez, 1st Lt. Jaime L. Campbell, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Chester W. Troxel, Spc. Michael I. Edwards and Spc. Jacob E. Melson.

Mourners recall three soldiers killed in Iraq as family men
Associated Press

FORT CARSON, Colo. — Three soldiers killed in Iraq who left behind 10 children among them were memorialized Wednesday at ceremony attended by hundreds.

“All three of these men were, above all else, deeply devoted to their families,” said Maj. Horatio Taveau.

Maj. Douglas A. La Bouff, Maj. Michael Martinez and 1st Lt. David de Moors died Jan. 7 when their helicopter crashed on a flight from Mosul to Tal Afar, Iraq.

The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment officers from Fort Carson were praised at the ceremony as brave and courageous soldiers, but it was their commitment to their families that was given the most attention.

Every night before La Bouff went to bed he played a tape recording of his two children, Cassidy, 7, and Douglas, 3, saying: “Goodnight Daddy.”

“That was the sound I went to bed with as well,” Maj. Robert Short, La Bouff’s Iraq roommate, told the mourners.

First Lt. Kevin Evans, who befriended de Moors in Iraq, said unlike many soldiers who put the Army first in their lives, de Moors lived first for family, then faith and then Army.

“He would talk about coming home to watch his boys play basketball,” Evans said of de Moors’ children, Moroni, Demetrius and Chastity.

Martinez, a military lawyer who had three sons and two stepdaughters, was proud of his merged family. He never used the term stepdaughter, his wife of seven years, Kelly, said.

“It was like ‘The Brady Bunch,”’ she joked after the service.

Army 1st Lt. Joseph D. deMoors was killed in action on 1/7/06.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Chester W. Troxel

Remember Our Heroes

Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Chester W. Troxel, 45, of Anchorage, Alaska

CWO4 Troxel was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, Alaska Army National Guard, Anchorage, Alaska; killed Jan. 7, 2006 when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed near Tal Afar, Iraq. Also killed were: Maj. Stuart M. Anderson, Maj. Douglas A. La Bouff, Capt. Michael R. Martinez, 1st Lt. Jaime L. Campbell, 1st Lt. Joseph D. deMoors, Spc. Michael I. Edwards and Spc. Jacob E. Melson.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Chester W. Troxel was killed in action on 1/7/06.

Army Spc. Michael I. Edwards

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Michael I. Edwards, 26, of Fairbanks, Alaska

Spc. Edwards was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, Alaska Army National Guard, Anchorage, Alaska; killed Jan. 7, 2006 when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed near Tal Afar, Iraq. Also killed were: Maj. Stuart M. Anderson, Maj. Douglas A. La Bouff, Capt. Michael R. Martinez, 1st Lt. Jaime L. Campbell, 1st Lt. Joseph D. deMoors, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Chester W. Troxel and Spc. Jacob E. Melson.

Army Spc. Michael I. Edwards was killed in action on 1/7/06.

Army Spc. Jacob E. Melson

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Jacob E. Melson, 22, of Wasilla, Alaska

Spc. Melson was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, Alaska Army National Guard, Anchorage, Alaska; killed Jan. 7, 2006 when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed near Tal Afar, Iraq. Also killed were: Maj. Stuart M. Anderson, Maj. Douglas A. La Bouff, Capt. Michael R. Martinez, 1st Lt. Jaime L. Campbell, 1st Lt. Joseph D. deMoors, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Chester W. Troxel and Spc. Michael I. Edwards.

www.adn.com -- WASILLA -- Six months before he died in Iraq, Army National Guard Spc. Jacob E. Melson put on his uniform, stood at the foot of Hatcher Pass and married a girl he met at a local church.

Before that, his mother and sister said Tuesday, Melson was a goofy, funny Valley kid who snowboarded, made his family laugh and was prone to juggle when bored.

A crew chief, Melson didn't tell his mother, Teresa Melson, much about his job because he didn't want her to worry. She did anyway, Teresa Melson said.

She's felt numb ever since she learned he was one of four Alaskans killed when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed Jan. 7 in Iraq. "Since the day he left, I just never thought he would be coming home this way."

The Melsons are an Alaska family. Jacob, 22, was born at Providence hospital but grew up in the Mat-Su, mainly Wasilla. He was the third of four children and the son of Mark Melson, an Alaska Army National Guard captain.

Described by his family as a smart young man with a knack for technology, Melson attended Colony High School but dropped out and earned his GED in 2001 at the Alaska Military Youth Academy at Camp Carroll.

The family attended the Gospel Outreach Christian Center along the Palmer-Wasilla Highway, where Melson met his future wife, Sarah, who is now in the Navy.

The two wed on a sunny day in July.

"She left for boot camp a week or two after they got married, and then he left for Iraq," Teresa Melson said.

Capt. Robert Seymour, a helicopter pilot for the Guard, flew with Melson about 18 months ago on an emergency mission near Kotzebue.

"He was extremely dedicated," Seymour said.

Seymour said he and his crew had just dropped off some medical personnel at the airport in Kotzebue when a call came in about a man who had accidentally shot himself and was stuck at a remote cabin outside the hub village.

Local officials asked the Guardsmen to help. "We made two phone calls, jumped in the plane and went back up," Seymour said.

A short time later they loaded the man into the helicopter to fly him to Kotzebue for treatment. As crew chief, Melson was in charge of the cargo and passengers in the aircraft, and he did an excellent job on the run, Seymour said.

"I had absolute confidence in him," Seymour said. "He was very professional. ... Just his enthusiasm and dedication and work ethic, from the way he maintained the helicopter to how he performed while flying. ... He was an outstanding individual."

Rachel Melson, Jacob's sister, remembers her brother listening to country and Christian music, playing video games and skateboarding in the Valley. Three days after his death, she searched for the right words to describe him.

"It's kind of hard to talk about," she said. "I don't know. I love him. I'm going to miss him."

Army Spc. Jacob E. Melson was killed in action on 1/7/06.

Army 1st Lt. Jaime L. Campbell

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Army 1st Lt. Jaime L. Campbell, 25, of Ephrata, Wash.

1st Lt Campbell was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, Alaska Army National Guard, Anchorage, Alaska.; killed Jan. 7, 2006 when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed near Tal Afar, Iraq. Also killed were: Maj. Stuart M. Anderson, Maj. Douglas A. La Bouff, Capt. Michael R. Martinez, 1st Lt. Joseph D. deMoors, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Chester W. Troxel, Spc. Michael I. Edwards and Spc. Jacob E. Melson.

A former Washington state rodeo queen and three Anchorage-area men were the four Alaska Army National Guard crew members who died in a weekend helicopter crash in northern Iraq, relatives and friends say.

Family, friends and officials identified the victims as 1st Lt. Jaime Campbell of Fort Wainwright, Chief Warrant Officer Chester Troxel of Anchorage, and Specialists Michael Ignatius Edwards of Anchorage and Jacob Eugene Melson of Wasilla.

All four were members of the Guard's 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment. Four civilians and four other military personnel also were killed in the crash Saturday.

Campbell, 25, and Troxel, 44, were piloting the UH-60L Black Hawk when the aircraft went down, Brig. Gen. Craig Christensen, the state guard's commander, said Tuesday.

Campbell had been living at the Fairbanks post with her husband. Army Capt. Sam Campbell also is in Iraq and will fly back with his wife's body, said her mother, Miki Krausse of Ephrata, Wash.

Between sobs during a phone interview, Krausse described Jaime Campbell as selfless and talented, an artist and expert horsewoman, the eldest of three daughters. While still in high school in Ephrata, she mastered her horse-handling skills so well she represented the state as rodeo queen.

She enlisted in the Washington Army National Guard in 1999, joining the Alaska counterpart in March 2003.

"When she decided to do something, it had to be her best," Krausse said. "She was as beautiful inside as she was outside."

Campbell was the state rodeo queen in 1998, the same year she graduated from Ephrata High School as student body president.

She joined the Washington Army National Guard midway through her studies at Washington State University to help pay for school, and graduated with a degree in interior design in 2003, Campbell's father, Jeff Krausse, told The Wenatchee World.

She chose to stay with the National Guard to pursue an aviation career, he said.

Jaime and her mother e-mailed each other every day. She also was close with her father, an Army command sergeant major who just returned from his own tour in Iraq.

Jeff Krausse said he spent five days with his daughter two months ago during a short break. His last image is of her in the pilot's seat when she flew him back to his post. "I never got to give her a hug goodbye," he said, his voice breaking.

The last time Miki Krausse heard Jaime's voice was when she called to wish everyone a happy New Year. "She said she loved us and missed us and couldn't wait to come home," she said.

"She always told us she was safe, that she could take care of herself. She said not to worry about her."

Army 1st Lt. Jaime L. Campbell was killed in action on 1/7/06.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Army Lt. Col. Michael E. McLaughlin

Remember Our Heroes

Army Lt. Col. Michael E. McLaughlin 44, of Mercer, Pa.

Lt Col. McLaughlin was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania Army National Guard, Washington, Pa.; killed Jan. 5 when he was conducting a dismounted patrol at an Iraqi police recruiting station and an individual-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his position in Ramadi, Iraq.

RAMADI, Iraq - They called him “Colonel Mac” and “The Sheikh of Sheikhs,” and he died believing that there was nothing wrong with this troubled city that a good dose of capitalism and Pittsburgh-style democracy couldn’t cure.

The day before Lt. Col. Michael E. McLaughlin died from wounds he suffered in a suicide bomb blast Thursday, the Mercer, Pa., resident said he was fully confident that Ramadi had finally turned a corner in the insurgency. As hundreds of local men streamed into the Ramadi Glass Factory on Wednesday to join the city’s long-defunct police force, a wide grin spread over a pinch of tobacco stuffed into the 44-year-old’s lower lip.

“This may not look like much, but it’s history,” McLaughlin told a reporter. “We’re making history right here.”

Instead of blaming the Americans for their lack of security, political representation and economic opportunity, the people of Ramadi were now blaming the insurgents and buying into the democratic process, he said.

“They either got hope, or they realized we weren’t going to go,” he said.

McLaughlin perished along with Marine Sgt. Adam L. Cann, 23, of Davie, Fla.; and 27 Iraqi police volunteers and two Iraqi army soldiers.

All of those who died were standing outside the main wall that surrounds the glass factory when a suicide bomber detonated a vest packed with explosives and ball bearings. The killer had stood amid a crowd of men who were waiting to be searched before entering the factory compound.

A long-time artillery officer in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, McLaughlin was assigned to Task Force 2-222 Field Artillery and was the primary liaison between the 2-28 Brigade Combat Team and local tribal and government leaders in Ramadi. His efforts were instrumental in getting local sheikhs to support the recruitment drive and encourage more than 1,000 area men to volunteer for the force, commanders said.

Previous recruitment drives had attracted far fewer men as corruption and intimidation from insurgents had scared away many volunteers.

“Mike is a true hero in every sense of the word, and he died while doing his job the only way he knew how — out front and with great enthusiasm and courage,” said Col. John L. Gronski, commander of the 2-28 BCT. “This loss only strengthens our resolve to carry on and complete the mission in order to honor his memory.”

A gregarious wisecracker, McLaughlin said his hope was to one day return to a peaceful Iraq, where he planned to walk the streets of Ramadi in a traditional Arab “man dress,” or dishdasha, and sip coffee and chai with those sheikhs he had met during the war. McLaughlin said that one particular tribal leader he had developed a close relationship with dubbed him “The Sheikh of Sheikhs” — a nickname that was soon picked up by fellow officers in the brigade.

McLaughlin, a businessman in civilian life, said he considered Ramadi to be a Middle Eastern Pittsburgh of sorts, and viewed the tribal system similarly to the political ward system back home.

“When I look at a map of Ramadi, I see Pittsburgh,” McLaughlin said. “Pittsburgh reinvented itself and Ramadi can reinvent itself too. I’m a businessman back home and I know a lot of business can take place here. I told the sheikhs, ‘You don’t realize what a gold mine you’re sitting on. You’re the gatekeeper for the Euphrates Valley.’ ”

McLaughlin said he and other military leaders had pointedly challenged local sheikhs to help enforce the peace during the four-day recruiting drive. The attack shocked many of those volunteers who turned out on the day of the explosion — at least 50 of whom remained to continue the process after the explosion — because the sheikhs had told them it would be OK.

Gronski and other commanders here say they suspect the act was committed by a foreign insurgent from al-Qaida in Iraq, and not a local insurgent.

A self-described conservative, McLaughlin said a socialist-style economy had allowed Saddam Hussein to deprive the population of wealth and sap their enterprise.

“I honestly believe they were told so many things in the past that they didn’t know who to believe or who to trust,” he said.

Like many officers in the brigade, McLaughlin said his reception in Ramadi almost seven months ago was a hot one. Attacks occurred frequently in the city’s embattled government center and on one particular occasion, McLaughlin’s personal security detail engaged the enemy with such finesse he named them “The Ninjas.”

While he said that matters had improved since then, McLaughlin acknowledged that those local Iraqis who appeared for the recruiting drive were taking their lives in their own hands, despite any promises from the local sheikhs.

“When they walk out this gate,” McLaughlin said, “they don’t know whether there’s some idiot out there waiting to kill them.”

Army Lt. Col. Michael E. McLaughlin was killed in action on 01/05/06.

Army Specialist Ryan D. Walker

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Ryan D. Walker, 25, of Stayton, Oregon.

Spc Walker was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; killed Jan. 5 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during convoy operations in Baghdad.

Army Spc. Ryan Doran Walker of Pendleton dedicated his life to serving others as a combat medic and no doubt earned a special place in the heart of many soldiers he helped along the way, the adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard said Monday.
"Ryan chose a special path that made him a caregiver, a lifesaver," Maj. Gen. Raymond Rees said.

When a soldier goes down, he knows the medic will be there, Rees said. And for that reason, medics are heroes from the moment they enlist, he said.

Walker was killed Jan. 5, six days before his 25th birthday. He was in a convoy of eight Army vehicles and two armored buses approaching the scene of a roadside explosion that had hurt other soldiers near Karbala, Iraq. As they arrived, another roadside bomb exploded, killing him instantly.

Almost 1,000 people braved a cold, driving rain to attend a funeral for him at the Pendleton National Guard Armory.

In photographs, Walker was the one who was almost always smiling. He was an Eagle Scout and Pendleton high school wrestler who rode the school bus until he was old enough to have his own pickup truck. He went on to Chemeketa Community College, earning an associate degree in firefighting, then went to work as a paramedic for the Stayton Fire and Ambulance Service.

Mike Walker, a cousin, remembered him as an animal lover, always making pets of dogs, horses and birds, and even keeping a pet chicken he named Sad Sack. Ryan Walker had a quip for every situation and found humor in the most unexpected places.

When trouble reared its head, Ryan was philosophical, his cousin said: Ryan once told his mother, "It's all right, Mom. We're just in a wolf pack for a while."

While serving in Iraq, he was sometimes too busy to write, Mike Walker said. Ryan knew his family worried, and so he tried to reassure them by telling them he was Superman and nothing could happen to him, his cousin said.

His e-mails home were always considerate of the feelings of others, Mike Walker said. One read: "Sorry I haven't written in a while. How's everyone doing? Tell everyone I miss them."

Going off to war is a family tradition. Walker's father was a Vietnam veteran who served in the Navy; his grandfather fought in World War II; his great-grandfather in World War I and earlier warriors in the Walker clan had taken part in the Civil War. There is even a family legend that Walkers could be traced to England's William the Conqueror in 1027, Mike Walker said.

But Ryan Walker's wartime job was to heal, said Gov. Ted Kulongoski, referring to him at one point as a "foxhole surgeon."

What Walker did required quick thinking, specialized training and undaunted courage, the governor said. And he didn't just heal wounds, he healed spirits through his humor, generosity and love, Kulongoski said.

"He was devoted to keeping his fellow soldiers alive," the governor said.

Walker was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars for valor. The Purple Heart was his third; he had received two others before he was killed.

He was buried with full military honors at Skyview Memorial Park between Pendleton and Pilot Rock under lowering skies and bitter winds. A military flyover had to be canceled because of the overcast sky and rain.

Walker is survived by his parents, Randy Walker of Pendleton and Louise Walker of Hermiston, and a brother, Steven of Corvallis.

Army Specialist Ryan D. Walker was killed in action on 01/05/06.