Saturday, September 30, 2006

Army Cpl. Robert F. Weber

Remember Our Heroes

Army Cpl. Robert F. Weber, 22, of Cincinnati, Ohio

Cpl. Weber was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.; died Sept. 30 as a result of a vehicle roll-over near the Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, (about 30 miles south of Mosul, Iraq)

Army honors fallen comrade
PRICE HILL - Six Army pallbearers adjusted the flag draping Cpl. Robert Weber's casket.

As the Stars and Stripes were smoothed, mourners inside Holy Family Church sang "America, the Beautiful." Three hundred voices put these lyrics to music Monday: "O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife.

"Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!"

The words paid a fitting tribute to the man whom family and friends called Bobby.

Weber, a 22-year-old Delhi Township native, died Sept. 30 during his second tour of duty in Iraq.

"Bobby loved the military," the Rev. Mark Burger told mourners during Weber's funeral Mass. "He found a way to serve . . . this nation."

On his last mission, Weber served as the gunner aboard a Humvee. After the vehicle's driver swerved unexpectedly, the Humvee hit an embankment and flipped, killing Weber.

Weber's final homecoming spurred an outpouring of salutes throughout the West Side.

The marquee outside his alma mater, Dater High School, honors the member of the class of 2003 with this message: "Out of our lives. But not our hearts."

From the church to Weber's final resting place in St. Joseph (New) Cemetery, the funeral procession saw street-side salutes from students and pedestrians,

Dan Boller, a Cincinnati firefighter, brought his two young sons in a flag-festooned red wagon. "We just wanted to pay our respects,'' he said. "These guys over in Iraq make it possible for us to raise children and be free in America."

At the graveside service, Weber received a 21-round salute from part of a 10-man funeral detail from Fort Knox. At high noon, a soldier played taps.

Across the street from the cemetery, car-repair work at the Delhi Import Service ceased. Air wrenches and mallets fell silent.

At the gravesite, Weber's parents, Kathy and Martin Weber, received his Bronze Star, his Army Commendation Medal and a tenderly folded American flag.

Both parents sobbed, clutching the flag that graced the casket of their only child.

After the funeral, a lone red rose rested upon the casket. The rose came with a request.

Weber's parents asked the grave diggers to pluck the rose's petals and sprinkle them into the grave.

"We'd be honored to answer that request," said Joe Windt, the cemetery superintendent heading the three-man burial crew.

"After what those guys go through in Iraq, it's the least we can do."

Army Cpl. Robert F. Weber was killed in action on 09/30/06.

Army Staff Sgt. Scott E. Nisely

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Scott E. Nisely, 48, of Marshalltown, Iowa

SSgt. Nisely was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, Army National Guard, Iowa Falls, Iowa; died Sept. 30 of injuries sustained when his vehicle received small arms fire during security operations in Asad, Iraq. Also killed was Spc. Kampha B. Sourivong.

Staff Sergeant Scott Nisely of Marshalltown and Kampha Sourivong of Iowa City died over the weekend in an insurgent attack. Both soldiers were members of the 1-33rd infantry based in Iowa Falls. Over the weekend, the infantry was trying to provide safe passage to a convoy traveling through Al-Asad west of Baghdad. That's when they came upon an insurgent vehicle.

"When the vehicle was disabled, three got out, one surrendered, two ran. At that point the two that ran opened fire and firefight ensued" said Lieutenant Colonel Gregory Hapgood with the Iowa National Guard.

Nisely and Sourivong were the only two injured and killed in the attack. "Truly we are a 9,700 member family and this hurts all of us" Hapgood said.

And whether it's a family of thousands or just a couple of dozen postal workers, the loss hits homes. Staff Sergeant Nisely was also a postal worker in Marshalltown. Today coworkers of Scott Nisely paused for a half hour to share stories about their coworker. One of those workers, Kim Wright, told us Nisely was a devoted father and husband.. But above all, she says he was a patriotic man. This was actually his second tour of duty.

"The last time he served and came back. Now it's gonna be tough" said Wright.

Army Staff Sgt. Scott E. Nisely was killed in action on 09/30/06.

Army Specialist Kampha B. Sourivong

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Kampha B. Sourivong, 20, of Iowa City, Iowa

Specialist Sourivong was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, Army National Guard, Iowa Falls, Iowa; died Sept. 30 of injuries sustained when his vehicle received small arms fire during security operations in Asad, Iraq. Also killed was Staff Sgt. Scott E. Nisely.

By Kathryn Fiegen
Iowa City Press-Citizen

The body of Spc. Kampha B. Sourivong returned home Friday --almost exactly one year after he left family and friends in Iowa to train for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 20-year-old Iowa National Guard soldier from Iowa City was killed Sept. 30 in an insurgent attack west of Baghdad, Iraq. Staff Sgt. Scott E. Nisely, 48 of Marshalltown, also was killed.

On Oct. 7, 2005, Sourivong was one of hundreds of Iowa soldiers who were headed to training but were first recognized in sendoff ceremonies across the state.

On Friday, a long, somber motorcade accompanied Sourivong's flag-draped casket in a white hearse from the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids to Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service, 2720 Muscatine Ave. A few people at the airport saluted the casket as it passed by.

A funeral service with military honors is set for 2 p.m. Sunday at the City High auditorium.

Lt. Col. Greg Hapgood, Iowa National Guard public affairs officer, said National Guard members from all over the state will attend.

"There will be a huge presence from the Iowa National Guard," he said.

A military honor guard with the 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry will carry the casket from the service to the hearse and then to the gravesite.

Hapgood said that at the burial, the honor guard will fold the flag draped over the casket and the assistant division commander of the 34th Infantry Division, Brig. Gen. Michael Beaman, will present it to Sourivong's mother, Patty Sourivong.

Other survivors include his father, Maliphone; his sister, Elizabeth Marie; and his brother, Neal Andrew Vasey.

Tony Daniels, 22, is a friend of the family and was best friends with Neal Vasey for about 13 years. He said he visited the family often to play video games with Sourivong and his brother.

"I know this weekend is going to be pretty hard," Daniels said. "It's just hard to know he's gone."

Daniels also said he and his friends were thinking of getting tattoos in Sourivong's honor.

At City High, Sourivong will receive a three-volley salute from seven members of the honor guard as a part of the service. "Taps" also will be played at the funeral.

Hapgood said no state government officials will be present for the service.

"Governor Vilsack has made it a point not to attend these funerals," he said. "It is about the family."

Sourivong graduated from West High in 2004. In February 2004, he enlisted with Iowa National Guard Company B, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry of Iowa City. In September 2005, he was mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom with Company C, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry out of Waterloo. He arrived in Iraq in early May 2006.

Sourivong is the 16th Iowa National Guard soldier to die since Sept. 11, 2001, and the first Iowa City soldier to die since combat began.

Army Specialist Kampha B. Sourivong was killed in action on 09/30/06.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Navy Master-at Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor

Remember Our Heroes

Navy Master-at Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor, 25, of Garden Grove, Calif.

Petty Officer Monsoor died Sept. 29 while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Ramadi, Iraq. Monsoor was a SEAL assigned to a West-Coast based command.

Garden Grove resident and SEAL dies in combat
Garden Grove resident Michael Monsoor was proud of his service and accomplishments, friends say.

The Orange County Register

GARDEN GROVE – Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor was supposed to come back home from Iraq in about two weeks, in time for Halloween, his favorite holiday.

Friends were planning a Halloween and "welcome home" bash for the 25-year-old Navy SEAL, said Patrick Barnes, one of Monsoor's best friends.

Monsoor died Friday while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Ramadi, Iraq, the Department of Defense announced Tuesday. He was assigned to a West Coast-based command.

Barnes said his friend was an adventurer who enjoyed traveling in Europe while he was deployed in Italy and loved snowboarding, fast cars and motorcycles.

He was also "honest, straightforward and a great friend."

"He was selective about the friends he made," Barnes said, fighting back tears. "But when you became his friend, you became his brother."

A family member who answered the door at Monsoor's home in Garden Grove said the family was too distraught to comment.

Monsoor enlisted in the U.S. Navy in March 2001 and became a SEAL in January 2002, said Lt. Taylor Clark, a spokesman for the Naval Special Warfare Command.

Rear Admiral Joseph A. Maguire said in a statement that Monsoor "died conducting some of our military's most important missions."

"This sailor along with our two wounded teammates chose a life of significant meaning – to defend freedom and protect America and its allies from terrorism," he said.

"We hope that in time Michael's family is comforted in knowing that he died fighting for what he believed in and we will not forget his sacrifice."

Debbie Nelson, a neighbor and mother of one of Monsoor's friends, said Monsoor's was a "great boy, handsome and very polite."

"He was very proud of what he had achieved in the Navy," she said.

He grew up in Garden Grove, attended Dr. Walter C. Ralston Intermediate School and graduated from Garden Grove High School in 1999.

Monsoor was a strong, determined person who never gave up, his friend Danny Wright said.

"The first time he tried to become a SEAL, he didn't make it," he said.

Monsoor was crushed by his failure, Wright said.

"But he tried again and made it the second time," he said. "He was very proud of what he had accomplished."

Monsoor could be profound and serious at times and yet be funny around his friends, Barnes said.

"Last Halloween, he was one of the Super Mario Brothers," he said. "This year, we were supposed to dress up as sumo wrestlers."

Wright said Monsoor had sent him an e-mail two days before he died.

"He'd said he was proud of me," he recalled. "And he told me to continue pursuing my dreams. It was as if he was saying goodbye and wishing me luck with my life."

Monsoor is survived by his parents, two brothers, a sister, nieces and nephews. Services are pending.

Navy Master-at Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor was killed in action on 09/29/06.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Army Cpl. Casey L. Mellen

Remember Our Heroes

Army Cpl. Casey L. Mellen, 21, of Huachuca City, Ariz.,

Died on Sept. 25 in Balad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when his mounted patrol came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations in Mosul, Iraq. Mellen was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Wash.

Coming home: Fallen soldier Mellen greeted by mourners
Sierra Vista Herald, Sierra Vista Arizona ^ | Bill Hess

TUCSON — Case is home.

The body of Army Cpl. Casey Lee “Case” Mellen came back to Arizona around 2 p.m. Monday as a Navy cargo aircraft landed at Tucson International Airport and taxied to the executive terminal. Although it was a sad day, the soldier’s father, Casey Edward Mellen, said, “I’m happy my son’s home.”

The war is claiming many American men and women, he said.

Case is just one of the dead and is part “of all the future dead soldiers,” Mellen said.

It was not a political statement against the war, just a reality as GIs remain in harm’s way.

Case was killed Sept. 25, when his patrol came in contact with enemy forces using small arms near Mosul, Iraq. The elder Mellen said his son died in defense of freedom, and he and the family are proud of Case as a soldier, son, brother and uncle.

Monday was a long day for Mellen; Case’s mother, Regine McClammy; and his sister, Michelle Hall, and her son, the soldier’s nephew, Jason.

Waiting for a convoy to leave the senior Mellen’s Huachuca City home for the drive to Tucson, the mother was comforted by Pastor Tommy Simpson, who will officiate at Wednesday’s funeral on Fort Huachuca and at the burial at the Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Sierra Vista.

Michelle held her 30-month-old son, whose middle name, Lee, is the same as his uncle’s.

The boy was oblivious to what was happening around him.

He did not know the small T-shirt he wore, which had his uncle’s photo on with an American flag in the background, was meant as a memorial for Case, as the family called the 21-year-old soldier.

As the living room filled with 35 members of American Legion Riders from Sierra Post 52, Michelle had to leave the area as tears flowed down her cheeks in heavy torrents.

It was a somber ride to Tucson, with Huachuca City Police Lt. J. Glowacki leading the convoy that included a hearse, a van carrying members of the Fort Huachuca honor guard, the casualty assistance officer, a chaplain and family members, a vehicle in which Huachuca City Mayor George Nerhan was a passenger, another vehicle with a Sierra Vista Herald/Bisbee Daily Review reporter and photography team and the American Legion motorcyclists.

The Navy C-9 was 45 minutes out from landing when the group arrived at airport’s executive terminal.

Soon the two-engined jet landed and made its way to the parking area near the terminal.

People stood under the terminal’s canopy to get away from the heat rising off the concrete tarmac.

A black and gold butterfly flitted around some bushes.

The color of the insect was the same as two stripes that graced the length of the Navy aircraft’s fuselage.

Far in the background, dust could be seen rising as a backhoe operator did some work.

A Southwest Airlines plane taxied behind the Navy C-9, its bright blue, red, orange and yellow paint scheme more brilliant than the Navy aircraft’s.

Two Fort Huachuca soldiers marched to the airborne hearse.

One carried the American flag, folded in its traditional triangle.

The flag was for Case’s casket.

Soon, a soldier from the Case’s unit got off the plane, he was the escort for the corporal’s remains.

Case was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), from Fort Lewis, Wash. Traditionally, the escorting soldier is from the same unit. Today, there will be a memorial service in his honor at the Washington state Army post.

The preparations over, a large cargo door on the plane opened and an automatic conveyor device, similar to ones used to remove baggage from commercial airplanes, was elevated to receive just one package — the one carrying Case’s earthly remains.

Soon, the red and white stripes of the U.S flag and the blue and white union, representing each state, became visible as the casket was placed on the conveyor.

Active duty soldiers at the airplane slowly raised their right hands in salute, leading one of the riders to order “present arms,” as his compatriots complied.

Except for a slight breeze rustling leaves on bushes under the executive terminal’s canopy, it was silent.

Even the noise of aircraft landing and taking off seemed muted.

As the casket was placed inside the Hatfield hearse, Maria Mena, Mellen’s future bride reached in and touched it.

The father did the same thing, seemingly holding on to the flag draping the coffin for a long time.

Pastor Simpson said the soldier’s mother and sister were asked if they too wanted to touch the coffin but they declined.

It was much too emotional at that time, he said.

The soldiers at the side of the plane lowered their salutes and the motorcycle rider directed “order arms.”

The fort soldiers, slowly led the hearse from the plane.

Following the vehicle holding Case’s body was Mellen and Capt. Kendrick De Vera, a Signal Corps soldier from Fort Huachuca who is the family’s casualty assistance officer. Mellen is a civilian employee at the Network Enterprise Technology Command. The rest of the family were driven in a golf-cart like vehicle.

As the small procession left the area, an American Airline plane passed behind the military aircraft, its red, white and blue fuselage stripes adding a touch of additional patriotism.

While the trip to Tucson was a convoy, the return was a cortege.

As the vehicles passed the entrance to Kartchner Caverns, a lone woman stood by the side of the road, holding an American flag.

Further down Highway 90, a man had his right hand over his heart.

As the vehicles entered Huachuca City proper, a number of people stood outside the town’s administrative complex. Some had flags and others stood at attention, with hats and hands over their hearts.

As the traffic continued down the highway a pair of Air Force F-16s passed over the hearse. While unplanned — they were in a training mode using the fort’s Libby Army Airfield for touch-and-go’s at that fleeting moment — it appeared as a salute to Case.

The cortege entered Sierra Vista, where people stood along Fry Boulevard, paying respect to a young man most had never met.

Monday was the first day of honors for Case.

Today, people may pay their respects to him at Hatfield Funeral Home from 6 to 8 p.m.

Wednesday, there will be a noon service in the Main Post Chapel on the fort, followed by burial with military honors at the Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

When the burial is over, it will really mean Case is home — forever.

Army Cpl. Casey L. Mellen was killed in action on 09/25/06.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Army Sgt. Velton Locklear III

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Velton Locklear III, 29, of Lacey, Wash.

Sgt. Locklear was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; died Sept. 23, 2006 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Riyadh, Iraq. Also killed was Pfc. Kenneth E. Kincaid IV.

El Paso soldier killed while on patrol in Iraq
By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times

A 1995 Eastwood High School graduate who followed his father's footsteps into the U.S. Army was killed Saturday when a bomb exploded while he was on patrol in Iraq, his family said Monday.

Sgt. Velton Locklear III was a husband, the father of two boys and a dedicated soldier who last month started his second tour of duty in Iraq, relatives said.

Locklear, 29, of the 25th Infantry, 3rd Brigade 2-27th Infantry Battalion, was killed when an improvised explosive device destroyed the vehicle in which he was riding while on patrol near the city of Kirkuk, his family said.

"He wanted to be an infantry soldier. He was interested in being up front where all the action is," his father, retired Sgt. Maj. Velton Locklear Jr., said via telephone from Laredo.

Locklear was born in El Paso while his dad was stationed at Fort Bliss. He was the only son of three children. In high school, he was a standout wide receiver, wearing No. 4 for the Eastwood Troopers.

"I've had so many kids, but a few stick out that you really remember. He was one of those. Everybody liked him," said Wade Ardoin, Eastwood's head football coach who was the school's offensive coordinator in 1995.

After a semester in college, Locklear joined the Army, his father said.

"I was extremely proud he joined the military. I encouraged him to do that and sometimes I feel guilty for doing that. (But) he definitely enjoyed the military life," the elder Locklear, a Junior ROTC instructor in Laredo, said.

The senior Locklear recalled his son's passion for the Army displayed in a telephone call one night.

"He called me from the range and he said, 'Dad, I want you to hear something.' He put the phone up in the air. They were firing semi-automatic weapons in the range. He loved the Army. He ate it up. The camaraderie. All that Hoo-ah stuff."

His father said Locklear didn't talk much about his first tour in Iraq from April 2004 to February 2005 but did say that even though Iraq was a dangerous place he felt it was making progress when the elections took place.

Williams of El Paso described his cousin Velton as an athlete with "a heart of gold. He was a very kind person, very humble. He was a brave soldier who loved what he did."

The funeral will take place in El Paso, where much of the family resides.

Service arrangements are pending.

Locklear's wife, Denise, and sons, 5-year-old Nathan and 7-year-old Velton IV, are coming into town from Hawaii, where Locklear was stationed.

"Velton, he is a living legacy," his father said. "He served his country courageously and we are extremely proud of him, and his family can be proud of him. He paid the ultimate price for his family and his country, and we will always love him for that."

Army Sgt. Velton Locklear III was killed in action on 9/23/06.

Army Pfc. Kenneth E. Kincaid IV

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Kenneth E. Kincaid IV, 25, of Lilburn, Ga.

Pfc Kincaid was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; died Sept. 23 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Riyadh, Iraq. Also killed was Sgt. Velton Locklear III.

Kincaid, Aaron
Aaron Kincaid 1981 - 2006

His legacy is one of Faith, Love for all, Patriotism for the country he served and Honor in Duty. YOU ARE MY SUNSET Forever Our Son NO FEAR, Aaron, NO FEAR PFC Kenneth E. “Aaron” Kincaid, IV 1 April 1981 - 23 September 2006

Aaron was born in Wheeling, WV and raised in West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois and Georgia. Attending schools in all these states, he graduated from Faith Academy of Loganville, Georgia in 1999.

As a child, his love of life and nature surfaced early - he was the first human I ever noticed a savvy barn cat actually “Hugging” - around his neck, claws retracted and purring! Full of energy, sometimes to his own dismay, he learned many things from facing frustration - he became the most persistent worker and yet patient Father I ever was blessed to know.

Aaron loved motorcycles and had a dream of his own “Road King” upon completion of his Army mission. I know he is riding with our riders today, trying out the feel of any Road Kings first, but then eagerly every other bike equally.

His passion for nature took him fishing so many times and so many places I often felt he was inventing these small lakes where he'd say he fished - until I saw fish! Fishing became the best hobby I ever saw him love - and he has passed that love to his darling girls, Keni & Abi who both have enjoyed wetting a line with their Daddio both in Georgia and Hawaii.

Being a West Virginian, he also loved the mountains and visits to WV to see family and friends. He is also unique in that he had a love for a certain 4WD Chevy truck in Pickens, WV but then soon became an avid Ford truck owner. Aaron could do just that - try everything, and master anything he tried.

He is survived by his Mother, Marcia, of Lilburn, GA; his Father, Kenneth (III), of Acworth, GA; his brother, Marc, of Miami, FL; and his wife, Rachel, and daughters, Kennedy Nicole (Keni) and Abigail McLain (Abi) who will relocate to Georgia. His extended family also includes many loving grandparents, uncles, an aunt and cousins who will miss him dearly.

A funeral mass will be held Thursday, October 5, 2006 at 10 am, at St. Marguerite D'Youville Catholic Church, Lawrenceville, GA. Interment with Military Honors will follow at 3 pm at Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, GA. The family will receive friends Wednesday from 6-8 pm at the funeral home.

Army Pfc. Kenneth E. Kincaid IV was killed in action on 09/23/06.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Army Specialist Jared J. Raymond

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Jared J. Raymond, 20, of Swampscott, Mass.

Specialist Raymond was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Sept. 19 in Balad, Iraq, of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his M1A2 Abrams Tank during combat operations in Taji, Iraq.

Swampscott mourns fallen son
By Peter Gelzinis
Boston Herald Columnist

War came home to Swampscott today, and for several hours this North Shore community held its breath in tribute to Jared John Raymond, the quintessential boy next door who made one last hero’s journey through the broken heart of a town he called home.

Ten days ago, and half a world away in Taji, Iraq, an improvised explosive device went off underneath the tank Army Specialist Raymond was driving. It ended the dream this gregarious 20-year-old kid had so carefully nurtured. Jared Raymond wanted to become a police officer.

Legions of police officers and firefighters guided his flag-draped coffin on a procession to the cemetery early this afternoon, amid the sounds of muffled drums and stifled sobs.

Life in Swampscott stopped as thousands of Jared Raymond’s neighbors raised their hands in salute, placed them over their hearts, or tried in vain to stop the flow of tears.

Swampscott names traffic square after fallen soldier
By Debra Glidden
Thursday, October 5, 2006

SWAMPSCOTT -- The corner of Essex and Burrill Streets is officially named after Army Specialist Jared Raymond, who is the first soldier in town killed in the Iraq War.

Raymond, who grew up not far from the intersection now named in his honor, was killed Sept. 19 when he was responding to an attack on a convoy. According to the Army, an improvised explosive device blew up the tank he was riding in. He joined the Army in July of 2004, less than a month after his graduation from Swampscott High School.His classmates, family and friends described the only child as a kid with a heart of gold and a real hero who wanted to serve his country.

At its meeting Wednesday evening the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to name the intersection "Jared Raymond Square."

The petition to name the intersection was submitted by Veterans Agent James Schultz, who said Raymond should never be forgotten.

Several of Raymond's relatives were present at the meeting when the vote was taken to honor the memory of a native son, who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

Jaclyn Raymond, who is the mother of the fallen soldier, said she is grateful for the outpouring of support she received from the community when she lost her only child.She said the students in town who lined the route with signs and flags between the church and cemetery touched her.

"It was beautiful," she said.

Agnes Raymond was also present to witness the vote that named the intersection of Essex and Burrill Streets after her grandson. She said Jared would have been a little embarrassed by all the attention.

"He never wanted any fuss," she said.

Airman Michael Dunnigan, who graduated from SHS with Jared in 2004, was home on leave for the funeral was also in attendance. He said he was pleased the town chose to honor his classmate in this manner.

"He was a real hero," he said.

Schultz said he would order a bronze plaque and he hopes to have a dedication service on Nov. 11, which is Veterans Day.

Army Specialist Jared J. Raymond was killed in action on 09/19/06.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Army Sgt. James R. Worster

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. James R. Worster, 24, of Broadview Heights, Ohio

Sgt. Worster was assigned to the 10th Combat Support Hospital, 43rd Area Support Group, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Sept. 18 from a non-combat related incident in Baghdad.

By Hector Gutierrez, Rocky Mountain News
September 20, 2006

Sgt. James Worster never reached his goal of becoming a doctor, but he fulfilled his dream of touching the lives of the sick, the injured and the needy as an Army medic.
The 24-year-old Fort Carson soldier died Monday in Iraq of natural causes, three weeks shy of his scheduled return to the United States, his mother, Donna Thornton, said from her home in North Pole, Alaska.

He was assigned to the 10th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad.

The loss six years ago of his father and hero, Richard Malcom, who died from hepatitis C, made him want to become a doctor, Thornton said.

The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were a factor in Worster's decision to enlist.

"He didn't want to see us attacked again," Thornton said.

His unit eventually deployed to Baghdad where it operated a trauma center.

"He did tell us he had a lot of times that he had to work on little kids who had been shot and injured," Thornton said. "He was glad he was there for them and comforted them, and he was glad he was there for his soldiers."

Army Sgt. James R. Worster died of cardiac arrest on 09/18/06.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan A. Miller

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan A. Miller, 19, of Pearland, Texas

Lance Cpl Miller was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; died Sept. 14 while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Anbar province, Iraq.

The Houston native had intended to join the police department as his parents had

Associated Press HOUSTON

After his military career was over, Lance Cpl. Ryan Adam Miller planned to add to the combined 60 years of service his parents gave to the Houston Police Department.

But the third-generation Marine didn't make it to his 20th birthday.

Miller, a 19-year-old based out of Hawaii, was killed Thursday in action in Iraq, just a few weeks from the end of a tour that started in March. He died in combat against enemy forces in Anbar province, the U.S. Department of Defense said yesterday.

"He followed his dad into the Marines, and planned to wear his mother's badge when he joined the police department," said Katie King, a childhood friend of Miller's.

His parents, Jeannine Maughmer-Miller and Frank Miller, both retired after long careers with Houston police. Frank Miller worked in narcotics for more than 34 years, and Maughmer-Miller was a juvenile investigator for 25 years.

"Ryan would have made a fine police officer," said Assistant Police Chief Vicki King, acting as a spokeswoman for the family.

Miller attended Pearland High School but finished his secondary education as a home-schooled student so he could enlist when he turned 18. He was barely a year removed from his Marine Corps graduation when he died.

"Ryan may have seemed to be a regular kid when he played baseball and attended school in Pearland. But he was no ordinary kid, and this is no ordinary family," said Vicki King, Katie's mother. "These two dedicated parents pledged their lives to fight the crime that threatens our city. Their son pledged his life to our country."

Katie King said Miller hadn't decided whether to re-enlist, but he was planning to attend her November wedding. Miller's 22-year-old sister, Meghan, is a bridesmaid. Miller is also survived by his brother, Brandon.

"He really was a great guy," said Katie King. "He really would do anything to help someone."

Miller was known for his love of junk food -- especially Skittles -- and the Houston Astros. In fact, Katie King knew what her final salute would be.

"I am going to Sam's to buy a 3-pound bag of Skittles to bury with him," she said.

Miller was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, in Kaneohe.

Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan A. Miller was killed in action on 09/14/06.

Army Sgt. Aaron A. Smith

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Aaron A. Smith, 31, Killeen, Texas

Sgt. Smith was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany.

Sgt. Aaron A. Smith, 31, of Killeen, Texas, died in Baghdad Sept. 14 when a dump truck loaded with explosives and covered by sand exploded near a West Baghdad power substation he was guarding. Smith was a member of the 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment

Capt. Eduardo D. Rodriguez, rear detachment commander of the 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, said at the ceremony that Smith was the soldier that every unit has: “Everyone’s favorite.”

Rodriguez said Smith, who was born in Ghana, “was also one of the best tower guards in the power plant.”

“Although Sgt. Smith loved his job and his friends, he loved his family most. While deployed, he would always take the time to call and talk to his wife, Fran, as often as possible,” Rodriguez said. “Sgt. Smith would constantly brag to everyone about AJ, his 14-month-old son.”

Army Sgt. Aaron A. Smith was killed in action on 09/14/06.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Army Pfc. Jeffrey P. Shaffer

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Jeffrey P. Shaffer, 21, of Harrison, Ark.

Pfc. Shaffer was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Bamberg, Germany; died Sept. 13 of injuries sustained in Ramadi, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle during combat operations.

By Tim Woods
Tribune-Herald staff writer

Lisa Adams cried as she talked about the death of her son, Army Pfc. Jeffrey Shaffer, killed in action in Iraq on Wednesday when a Hummer he was riding in passed over a roadside bomb.

She laughed heartily as she recalled her son’s fun-loving, prankster ways. Then she flashed a sheepish smile as she pondered what he would think of her reaction.

“He just loved life,” Lisa said. “I know he’d be mad at me for being so upset, but he’s my baby and I can’t help but be upset. But, above all, he’d be upset if he thought that people thought he died in vain. He didn’t.”

Lisa and her husband, Mark Adams, were told of their son’s death Wednesday afternoon. On Friday, the Waco couple spent the day doing what no parent should be burdened with.

“We had to plan our son’s funeral today,” Lisa said, “and you just shouldn’t have to do that for your child.”

Despite their grief, the couple willingly spoke of Jeff’s life, his goals, his good times and bad. Most of all, they spoke about the characteristics that made their son so special to his family and everybody he came in contact with.

“He was humble and shy,” Lisa said. “He didn’t want attention on him, unless he was goofing off.”

“He was pulling pranks and goofing all the time,” Mark recalled with a pained smile. “He had a really sweet, warm face and smile. He tried to act tough, but he had a really sweet heart.”

Jeff Shaffer, 21, who attended West High School, surprised his mother with a phone call in February 2005, when he asked her to dig up his birth certificate and fax it to him.

“What number should I fax it to?” Lisa remembered asking her son. “Then he said, ‘Staff Sergeant. . . . ’ and I said, ‘What have you done? Have you signed any papers yet?’ and he said, ‘Yes.’ I asked him if it was anything he could take back and he said, ‘No.’ He wouldn’t have done it anyway.”

That was the day Jeff enlisted in the Army. Mark said that Jeff had been looking forward to that day since Sept. 11, 2001, when Jeff decided he was going to do everything he could to help prevent another attack on the United States. He went to Iraq about a year ago as an infantryman, part of the famed 1st Armored Division.

Lisa said her son told her he planned to stay in the Army for about 20 years “and then he’d still be young enough to open his own business.” A talented artist, Jeff had his eye on starting up his own computer games graphics company.

But while serving in the Army, Jeff made the most of his time, dedicating himself to his duties while maintaining his concern for others.

“He had a sergeant who lost his leg and he said, ‘Momma, he’ll never run with his kids again,’ ” Lisa said. “I said, ‘But at least he’ll be able to see them graduate,’ and he said, ‘Yeah, but he’ll never get to run with his kids again.’ That’s just how he was, always thinking of other people.”

Although Jeff knew the pain that war can bring — Mark and Lisa say his best friend, Brett Tribble, of Lake Jackson, Texas, was killed in action just four days before his own death — he still enjoyed joking with fellow servicemen and sharing his Big Red soda, a prized possession, with other Texans longing for a taste of home.

He also stayed true to those he loved back in Texas, making a surprise visit home in January for Lisa’s birthday. The secret visit was leaked before his arrival, Mark said, but it didn’t diminish its impact.

It was during that visit that Jeff’s playful spirit emerged again. Mark said that he and Jeff were playing a round of golf at James Connally Municipal Golf Course “and we were playing so bad, he just stripped down to his shorts and jumped in the water and started grabbing golf balls. . . . When we were done, he said, ‘I’ve never had more fun playing golf.’ ”

Jeff Shaffer also grasped the realities of war. Lisa said that in one of the last e-mails she received from her son, he wrote: “Momma, don’t be upset if anything happens to me because it’ll be God’s will.”

But even that grim mental preparedness didn’t stop Jeff from putting his family’s well-being first.

“He had it in his papers that if anything were to happen to him, to make sure that his dad was there and, ‘Do not tell my momma by herself.’ He was looking out for his momma,” Lisa said.

The grief-stricken parents struggled to find words to sum up their son’s legacy.

“By his example, he showed everybody that if you’re going to really live life, at least have fun, regardless of your situation,” Lisa said.

“And then take care of business,” Mark added.

They said that Jeff, who leaves behind two younger brothers, ages 14 and 6, and a 2-year-old daughter in Arkansas, was pained by protesters at home, including peace activist Cindy Sheehan and her questioning of what “noble cause” U.S. military personnel are fighting for in Iraq.

Mark said Jeff told him “when people protest a war, they’re disgracing the memory of those who have fallen for them.”

Jeff’s parents say they’re convinced that their son died for a noble cause.

“As bad as it hurts and as much pain as we’re going through and even knowing that I’ll never hold my baby again, he didn’t die in vain,” Lisa said tearfully.

Army Pfc. Jeffrey P. Shaffer was killed in action on 09/13/06.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Army 2nd Lt. Emily J.T. Perez

Remember Our Heroes

Army 2nd Lt. Emily J.T. Perez, 23, of Texas

2nd Lt. Perez was assigned to the 204th Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Sept. 12 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near her Humvee during combat operations in Kifl, Iraq.

Army officer, 23, leapt high in life cut short by war
Lt. Emily Perez, a star student, killed in Iraq

By Rona Marech
Sun reporter
Originally published September 22, 2006

Quick and intense. That's how Emily J.T. Perez performed on the track, one coach said - and the same could be said for the rest of her short life. She was a star student and talented athlete. She was a captain of her high school track team and a leader at her alma mater, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She helped start an AIDS ministry at her church.

A 23-year-old soldier from Fort Washington in Prince George's County, 2nd Lt. Emily J.T. Perez was killed while on duty in Al Kifl, Iraq, on Sept. 12. A Medical Service Corps officer, she died during combat after an improvised explosive device detonated near her Humvee, according to the Department of Defense.

"She was just the kind of kid you want your own children to be like," said Joe Rogers, the assistant track coach at West Point.

"Emily, as far as I'm concerned, was one of the most brilliant people I ever met. She was the consummate intellectual," said the Rev. Michael Bell, executive pastor at Peace Baptist Church in Washington. "But she was not the kind of person who was only book-oriented. ... She always wanted to help someone, to help the community."

When she was in high school, Lieutenant Perez was instrumental in starting the HIV/AIDS ministry at her church. She was also an HIV/AIDS educator with the Red Cross.

Her desire to help led to personal sacrifices: Shortly before shipping out to Iraq, Lieutenant Perez flew from Texas to Maryland to be a bone marrow donor to a stranger who was a match, Pastor Bell said.

Lieutenant Perez, who came from a military family, spent much of her youth in Germany. She returned to the United States in 1998 and graduated from Oxon Hill High School in 2001. She excelled at West Point, where she was a medal-winning athlete and a top-ranked cadet, said Jerry Quiller, the head track coach. She also had one of the highest grade-point averages of all the students on the track team, he said.

"You know the old advertisement - 'Be all you can be,'" Mr. Quiller said. "You probably couldn't do better than that."

In her junior year, when the track team was sorely in need of a triple-jump competitor, Emily Perez - who had never attempted the event - volunteered to give it a try, Mr. Rogers said. She practiced the way she did everything, with intensity, and competed within a few weeks.

After a particularly good jump in an Army-Navy meet, she threw her arms around Mr. Rogers' neck. "It was one of those spontaneous moments of joy for both of us," he said.

That was Lieutenant Perez, friends said - bubbly, dedicated, talented, opinionated, confident.

Another West Point classmate, Tanesha Love, who sometimes sought tutoring help from Lieutenant Perez, said, "You could hear her laugh from probably miles away. There was no doubt in your mind who that was as soon as you heard it."

Lieutenant Perez's family is establishing a scholarship fund for African-American and Hispanic women who share the soldier's passion for medical services and sociology.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Fort Washington. Lieutenant Perez will be buried Tuesday at the West Point cemetery in New York.

Survivors include her parents, Daniel and Vicki Perez of Fort Washington; and a brother, Kevyn, of Fayetteville, N.C.

Army 2nd Lt. Emily J.T. Perez was killed in action on 09/12/06.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Marine Cpl. Johnathan L. Benson

Remember Our Heroes

Greater love has no man than this, that he lays down his life for his friends... -- Tattoo on Cpl. Benson's back.

Marine Cpl. Johnathan L. Benson, 21, of North Branch, Minn.

Cpl. Benson died Sept. 9 from wounds suffered on June 17 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Marine, hurt in June in Iraq, dies
The Minneapolis-St. Paul Pioneer Press

September 10, 2006

Sir! Yes, sir! I will always be a Marine! Cpl. Johnathan Benson, of North Branch, lay in his Texas Army hospital bed, his left leg gone, most of his left arm, too, from midway between his elbow and shoulder.

The 21-year-old Marine had been wounded by a roadside bomb June 17 during his second tour of duty in Iraq. He was in rough shape and feeling down one day, uncharacteristic for the usually upbeat young man, his family said.

One of his superiors visiting him that day asked him, 'John, are you still a Marine?'

'Sir! Yes, sir! I will always be a Marine!' he responded. 'I will live as a Marine, and I will die as a Marine!'

His mother, Marjorie Benson, recalled that scene Sunday as she and her husband, Steve, reminisced about their son. Johnathan Benson, the youngest of their six children, died from his wounds Saturday at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

His family is making arrangements to bring his body home later this week for burial in his hometown, where friends and family remember an enthusiastic young man with an infectious smile, a prankster's heart and a love for adventure.

'We're extremely proud of him,' Marjorie Benson said from the Army hospital residence Sunday night. 'He's our hero, he's North Branch's hero, he's Minnesota's hero, and he's the world's hero.'

Benson, who served with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Division, was injured nearly three months ago when a bomb exploded under his vehicle near Habbaniyah. He lost his left leg and part of his left arm and was paralyzed from the waist down, according to the CaringBridge Web site created for him. After he was hospitalized, Benson had a stroke on both sides of his brain.

He was awarded a Purple Heart, which was pinned on him by a Marine commandant while he was at the hospital.

While hospitalized, many relatives and friends, including his Marine comrades, visited him. His birth mother, Dawn Schubert, whom he sought out after high school, had visited him as well, his family said.

When Benson was injured, he was two months away from completing his second tour of duty in Iraq. He joined the Marines in 2003 after graduating from North Branch Area High School.

'He was a good guy, a good friend. He always wanted to help people out,' said Brian Meskimen, a high school classmate of Benson's.

Meskimen described Benson as someone who liked to have fun but was 'very excited' about joining the Marines as a young man.

He played sports and acted in high school plays, strummed a guitar well and knew how to make people laugh, his parents said. He joined the Marines, his father, Steve, said, 'because he saw them as the best.'

'Johnathan liked adventure,' his mother said. 'He was what you call a 'point man' - it was a very dangerous job, but it was a very adventurous job.'

Family members were planning a funeral service for next weekend in North Branch, with burial in Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

Marine Cpl. Johnathan L. Benson, wounded in action, died on 09/09/06.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Army Sgt. 1st Class Merideth L. Howard

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. 1st Class Merideth L. Howard, 52, of Alameda, Calif.

Sgt. Howard was assigned to the 405th Civil Affairs Battalion, Army Reserve, Fort Bragg, N.C.; killed Sept. 8 when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near her Humvee in Kabul, Afghanistan. Also killed was Staff Sgt. Robert J. Paul.

At 52, Slain Soldier Never Slowed Down

MILWAUKEE (Sept. 28) - At 52, Sgt. 1st Class Merideth Howard worked hard to keep up with comrades half her age.

While at home on leave from Afghanistan in February, she told her husband she wasn't satisfied with her ability to take apart and reassemble her M-16 rifle as per Army regulations. So the couple bought a civilian version for her to use for practice. Within four days she could do it flawlessly - blindfolded.

Howard, a turret gunner in the Army Reserve's 405th Civil Affairs Battalion, became on Sept. 8 the oldest female U.S. soldier killed in action since military operations began in Afghanistan. A car bomber slammed into her vehicle, killing her and Staff Sgt. Robert Paul, 43, of The Dalles, Ore.

For Howard, age was never an issue, said her husband, Hugh Hvolboll, who moved with her to the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha in 2004.

"She did anything she wanted to," he said.

"That's the way Merideth approached everything," said Loren Parkhurst, a family friend of 15 years from Concord, Calif. "She wanted to be perfect at everything she did."

Howard held undergraduate and master's degrees in marine biology. When she discovered she was prone to seasickness, she switched careers and became a firefighter in Bryan, Texas, becoming the city's first female firefighter in 1978.

She was about 5-foot-4 but she made up for her size with determination and a strength that matched her burly co-workers, recalled Bryan Fire Department Chief Mike Donoho.

Even so, some question why a woman her age would be called up to active duty. Her 78-year-old uncle, Herbert Kurtz, said he felt Howard was too old to dodge bullets.

"I was drafted in the Korean War. Heck, at this rate, maybe they'll draft me again," he said.

Of the 66 women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, 51 are 30 or younger, according to Judy Bellafaire, chief historian for the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C. Four women, aged 41 to 44, were the oldest casualties before Howard.

Howard's friends and family say she knew the risks when she joined the Army Reserves in 1988. She planned to retire in two years at the 20-year mark, they say.

"She knew that was her responsibility," said Lorraine Stevenson, a cousin from Corpus Christi. "She called me and said, 'I'll go and do the very best I can and I'll see you in a year.' She was never a person to complain."

After she worked as a firefighter in Bryan for 3 1/2 years, she opened a fire-safety consulting business in California where she met her future husband in 1991.

"She had beautiful blue eyes," Hvolboll said. "We hit it off right away, like we'd known each other for years."

The couple dated for 14 years, marrying in December 2005 only when Howard found out she was being called up.

Howard's lasting legacy, her husband said, is the love she had for friends, family and life.

"Life with her was an adventure," he said.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Merideth L. Howard was killed in action on 09/08/06.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Army Pfc. Hannah L. Gunterman

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Hannah L. Gunterman, 20, of Redlands, Calif.

Pfc. Gunterman was assigned to the 542nd Maintenance Company, 44th Corps Support Battalion, Fort Lewis, Wash.; died Sept. 4 from a non-combat related cause in Taji, Iraq. This incident is under investigation.

Loss in Iraq grieved

by Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell, Staff Writer
San Bernardino County Sun

In pitch darkness early Monday, Army Pfc. Hannah Leah McKinney of Redlands climbed down from a guard tower at Fort Taji, Iraq, and headed across a dusty road to a latrine.

She never made it.

As she walked across the road, a Humvee drove out of the darkness, ran over the young soldier, then sped away, leaving her small crumpled body lying in the dirt, according to family members.

More than an hour later, a tank driver found her and rushed her to the base medical center, where she died of internal injuries.

Death came two months before McKinney, 20, was due to return to the Redlands family the young mother had pined for during her deployment.

"The war had been taking a toll. She had been depressed and calling home a lot," said her mother, Barbie Heavrin. "All she wanted was to come home and start a new life."

Since her deployment to Iraq in November 2005 with the 542nd Maintenance Company, 44th Corps Support Battalion, McKinney served as a quartermaster at Fort Taji.

Her duties included order processing and manning a machine gun on a guard tower at the base, the job she was doing when she was killed.

Sgt. Jeremy Pitcher, a spokesman for Multi-National Force-Iraq in Baghdad, refused to comment further on her death, saying it was still under investigation.

McKinney was born to Matt and Barbie Heavrin in 1985 at Western Medical Center in Tustin.

Growing up in Colton and Redlands as one of the couple's four children, she was a cheerful child nicknamed Happy Hannah.

"She was always making us laugh. One time at Huntington Beach, she was sitting by a campfire eating potato chips when she said, `Dad, these chips don't want me to eat them anymore,' " recalled Matt Heavrin.

At Paul J. Rogers Elementary School in Colton, she read every book she could get her hands on.

Her favorite was "Gone With the Wind."

"She read it about 12 times," said Matt Heavrin. "I think she identified with Scarlett O'Hara because they were both very decisive and strong-headed."

But for chance, McKinney's life might have ended nine years before she died in Iraq.

While riding her bicycle in Redlands at age 11, she was struck by a car. The impact split her helmet in three places and sent her flying into the windshield.

"She was so excited about starting school at Arrowhead Christian Academy that she nearly left without her helmet that day," said her father. "Thank goodness she remembered because she only ended up with a concussion, scrapes and bruises."

At the academy, she joined the choir and drama department, where she would have loved to play Scarlett but never got the chance, said Barbie Heavrin.

She continued to belt out tunes as a student at Redlands High School and also pursued an interest in fashion design.

Against her father's wishes McKinney joined the Army right out of high school to earn the money to go to The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles.

"I tried to talk her out of it because she was more of a free spirit than a regimented person," he said. "The thought that she might get sent to Iraq was also in the back of my mind."

At Fort Lee in Virginia she dated a fellow soldier and became pregnant with his child. She was discharged from the Army in 2004.

She returned to active duty in 2005, and a long friendship she had with fellow Redlands High School graduate Christopher McKinney blossomed into romance when both were stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash. They were married just a month when the Army shipped her out to Iraq.

Now, her husband, 22-month-old son Todd Avery Gunterman, parents and siblings mourn her loss. Christopher McKinney, still stationed at Fort Lewis, was is in Redlands to make arrangements for the funeral.

"I will miss her beautiful dimples when she smiled, but at least we still have her son," said her mother.

At Fort Taji she will be remembered as the young soldier who started a library on the base.

"I'm sure it has a lot of copies of `Gone With the Wind,' " said Barbie Heavrin.

Army Pfc. Hannah L. Gunterman was killed supporting Iraqi Freedom on 09/04/06.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard J. Henkes II

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard J. Henkes II, 32, of Portland Ore.

Sgt. Henkes was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.; died Sept. 3 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sergeant’s love for family made him platoon father
NCO from 2-3 Inf. Bn. was on second Iraq tour

By Bob Reinert, Northwest Guardian
Published: September 14th, 2006 12:34 PM

According to his sister, Sgt. 1st Class Richard J. Henkes II was a man with two families — his own and the Army.
“And he loved them both,” said Army Capt. Linda Bass, who spoke at her brother’s memorial service Tuesday afternoon in the Fort Lewis Main Post Chapel, where friends, family and fellow Soldiers gathered to honor his memory.

“He was the best, the finest noncommissioned officer I’ve ever met in my life,” Bass said. “He was a tough but fair leader.”

Henkes, 32, was with C Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Bridgade, 2nd Infantry Division (SBCT) in Mosul, Iraq, Sept. 3 when he was killed by an improvised explosive device that detonated near his Stryker vehicle. His sister accompanied his body home to Oregon from Dover Air Force Base.

“It was a very long and arduous journey,” Bass recalled. “It’s the hardest duty I’ve ever had to perform in my life.”

In addition to Bass, Henkes’ family included his 6-year-old daughter, Isabel, his sister, Tammy Henkes, his father, Richard Henkes Sr., and his mother, Christine Stanton.

Henkes’ funeral had been held Monday at the National Guard Armory in Woodburn, Ore. He was a graduate of Clackamas, Ore. High School. Bass said Henkes struggled at times living up to his commitments to his family and the Army. She added, however, that Isabel always came first. “She was the No. 1,” Bass said.

Henkes was part of a military family whose members also served in World War I and World War II. He had entered the Army in June 1992, served for a time in the Army National Guard and then went back on active duty. He arrived at Fort Lewis in August 1997. He was recently promoted to sergeant first class. He led 2nd Platoon in Iraq.

“It takes a special leader, a platoon sergeant, to hold those guys together as a team,” said Maj. Robert J. Bennett, 3rd Bde., 2nd Div. rear detachment commander. Bennett called Henkes “one of the best platoon sergeants we have had.”

Bennett said Henkes was sought out by Soldiers for more than his teaching ability or expertise.

“He was the guy they (went) to to keep their spirits up,” Bennett said. “Overseas in Iraq, he truly became the father of the platoon.”

First Sgt. Robert C. Braddock read a number of e-mails sent from Iraq by Henke’s Soldiers. They related that Henke was a man with a good heart who gave candy, water and MREs to Iraqi children, a man who was good at his job.

“I would ask all of you just to remember him for who he was,” Bass said.

His awards and decorations included the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal (1 Oak-Leaf Cluster), Army Achievement Medal (4 Oak-Leaf Cluster), Army Good Conduct Medal (4th Award) , National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal (2nd Award), Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge and the Air Assault Badge.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard J. Henkes II was killed in action on 9/03/06.

Marine Lance Cpl. Philip A. Johnson

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Philip A. Johnson, 19, of Hartford, Conn.

Lance Cpl. Johnson was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died Sept. 3 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

ENFIELD -- Lance Cpl. Philip A. Johnson of Enfield, a member of the Young Marines from the age of 11, was killed Sept. 2, 2006 by a roadside bomb near Ramadi, Iraq. He was 19 years old.

A 19-year-old Marine from Enfield was killed Saturday morning in Iraq when a roadside bomb detonated as his unit traveled from Ramadi to Habina, a family friend said Monday.

Lance Cpl. Philip A. Johnson's parents, Louis and Kathy Johnson, learned of his death Sunday evening when a Marine Corps casualty assistance team visited their Few Street home.

Word of the young Marine's death spread quickly in Enfield, where Johnson, a 2005 Enfield High School graduate, was remembered Monday as a "focused and thoughtful" young man whose dream since childhood was to become a Marine.

"He was hell-bent on being a Marine," said Ron Jackman of Longmeadow, Mass., a family friend who was serving as the Johnson family spokesman. "When he found out he was going to Iraq, he was hell-bent on going. He had no fear whatsoever."

The Marines declined to comment about Johnson until the Department of Defense formally announces his death. There have been 33 servicemen and civilians with Connecticut ties who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002.

Johnson is the second serviceman from Enfield to die in Iraq. Marine Staff Sgt. Phillip A. Jordan, 42, of Enfield, was killed in battle March 23, 2003, in Nasiriyah, Iraq. Jordan was promoted to gunnery sergeant posthumously.

Johnson served with weapons company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, from Camp Lejeune, N.C. He arrived in Iraq in mid-July.

And while Johnson's family was supportive of his deep desire to be a Marine, they also had some reservations about his service in Iraq.

His mother was afraid of getting "that knock on the door," Jackman said. "That's what they got - the knock on the door."

The Rev. Michael J. Coons, pastor of Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer in Enfield, said he spent time with Johnson's family Sunday night. Many church members learned of Johnson's death during a prayer circle on Monday.

"Their faith in the Lord Jesus is strong," Coons said of Johnson's family. "They know he's in heaven with Jesus and they know they will see him again. The pain of separation, the pain and the grief of loss is very real."

Coons said he found Johnson to be an impressive young man who was active in church and committed to his faith.

"I had the privilege of baptizing him and confirming him in the Christian faith," Coons recalled. "Sometimes teenagers complain about going to confirmation class."

Johnson, however, never did. "We always enjoyed talking about our Lord and savior," Coons said.

Johnson's other passion was the Marines, and he prepared himself for his service by joining a Young Marines detachment at Westover Air Reserve Base in Massachusetts when he was 11.

The Young Marines, founded in 1958 in Waterbury, is a youth education and service program for boys and girls ages 8 through completion of high school that promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members.

"This is pretty sad," said Edward C. Mitrook, commanding officer of the Westover Young Marines detachment and a retired Marine Corps sergeant major. "He did touch a lot of people. He probably thought he didn't, but he did."

Johnson attained the rank of staff sergeant in the Young Marines and was a role model to younger members, Mitrook said. Johnson is the first alumnus of the Westover detachment to be lost in combat, he added.

But Johnson understood what he was getting involved in when he joined the Marines, Mitrook said. He knew he'd likely see combat. "He was living his dream," added Patrick Droney, an Enfield police lieutenant and friend of Johnson through church.

Mark Durfee, the head elder at Johnson's church and a retired Army lieutenant colonel, recalled Johnson as a kind and thoughtful young man.

"You'd love to have him as your own such - such a gentleman," said Durfee, who teaches in the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at New Britain High School. "Kids today think about themselves first and foremost. He was not like that. He's got to be in the top 1 percent of kids today. He was so focused and thoughtful."

Durfee said he spoke to Johnson's father Monday morning and he recalled for him a conversation father and son had had a few days ago.

"He said [Iraq] is where he belonged and he knew where he was supposed to be," Durfee recalled. "I believe it was deep in his faith, in his being. He knew this was something that was important."

Still, Johnson's death has been difficult, Durfee said.

"Our whole church is quite overwhelmed," he said. "We know he's in a better place. The sad part is not being around to see him grow up. The sadness is seeing his mom and dad in their situation."

Jackman said that he saw Johnson about 10 weeks ago, when he visited Enfield after completing boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., and his transformation into a Marine.

"You could see it come out in him - the haircut, the pushed-back shoulders, trim and tan," Jackman said. "And he was proud of it. You could tell."

Johnson's next goal was to become an elite Marine Corps scout-sniper, Mitrook said. He hoped to attend sniper school upon his unit's return from Iraq.

Durfee said it's important to remember the sacrifice so many young people make.

"I thank God that there are still young people out there willing to do what they do," Durfee said. "We would not be where we are today as a free country without many Phil Johnsons."

Marine Lance Cpl. Philip A. Johnson was killed in action on 09/03/06.