Sunday, December 28, 2008

Army Spc. Tony J. Gonzales

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Tony J. Gonzales, 20, of Newman, Calif.

Spc. Gonzales was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany, died Dec. 28, 2008 in Sadr City, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

Spc. slain in Iraq was ‘perfect gentleman’
The Associated Press

The youngest of four children, Tony J. Gonzales went along with almost anything his older sisters wanted him to do. When he was about 8 years old, he would play dress-up with them or would let them tie him to his dad’s desk chair and spin him around.

“Until he got bigger than us, he couldn’t do anything about it,” said Tammy Runzel, one of his three sisters.

Gonzales, 20, of Newman, Calif., died Dec. 28 in Sadr City when a bomb detonated near his vehicle. He was a 2006 high school graduate and was assigned to Baumholder, Germany.

“He wanted to go there to help out his country,” Runzel said. “He had such a great attitude while he was over there. He was proud of what he was doing.”

He grew up to become a perfect gentleman. His sisters said he always reached to open a door for a lady and always grabbed the dinner check.

He wanted to be just like his dad, who retired after working 26 years for the Los Gatos police. The Gonzales’ plan was to finish his service with the Army and come back to join the Los Gatos Police Department.

He also is survived by his mother, Marylynn.

Army Spc. Tony J. Gonzales was killed in action on 12/28/08.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Army Spc. Stephen M. Okray

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Stephen M. Okray, 21, of St. Clair Shores, Mich.

Spc. Okray was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Dec. 24, 2008 in Southern Iraq of injuries sustained during a vehicle rollover. Also killed were Staff Sgt. Christopher G. Smith and Spc. Stephen G. Zapasnik.

2 soldiers from Michigan remembered for devotion
The Associated Press

Two soldiers from Michigan who were among three who died when their vehicle crashed on Christmas Eve in Baghdad are being remembered by relatives for their devotion to their families.

The Department of Defense on Friday identified the soldiers as Staff Sgt. Christopher G. Smith, 28, of Grand Rapids; Spc. Stephen M. Okray, 21, of St. Clair Shores; and Spc. Stephen G. Zapasnik, 19, of Broken Arrow, Okla.

Bobbi Jo Smith told The Detroit News that her husband was an entertainer who loved to hold parties and grill briskets and ribs.

“He really lived for his family. He was that kind of guy,” Bobbi Jo said of her husband, who leaves behind a 15-month-old son.

Smith’s parents are Pastor Virgil Glenn and Donna Smith of the Evangelife Assembly of God Church near Bad Axe, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

Okray’s aunt, Denise Okray, said her nephew loved to hunt and fish.

“When someone was worried or felt like there was a problem, he was like, ‘Shrug it off; it’s OK,”’ Denise Okray told The News. “He was always family-oriented.”

Zapasnik’s mother, Chris Zapasnik, said her son’s company commander told her that he and the two Michigan soldiers were riding in a Humvee when part of a road collapsed, sending the vehicle into a canal. All three were dead when they were pulled from the water several minutes after the crash, Chris Zapasnik told the Tulsa World.

The soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

Spc. remembered for big heart, risky stunts
The Associated Press

Jeff Okray remembers his brother, Stephen, as a kid building a 15-foot ramp so he could jump over a bush with his BMX bike in their backyard.

The jump failed, but as usual when Stephen Okray tried one of his risky stunts, he didn’t get hurt.

“He never got hurt, he always just bounced,” Jeff Okray said with a chuckle.

Okray, 21, of St. Clair Shores, Mich., died Dec. 24 in Baghdad of injuries from a vehicle roll-over. He was assigned to Fort Carson.

“He was a good kid. Growing up, he had a big heart,” said Okray’s uncle, Dan Okray. “He walked in the room, and it glowed.”

He joined the Army in 2005 and went on to serve in South Korea before deploying to Iraq in September. He loved hunting, fishing, cars and motorcycles.

“It was just a tragic ending to a good kid. Be it here or there. It was tragic either way,” his uncle said.

Jeff Okray said he didn’t know the root of his brother’s devotion to the military.

“We’re not a big military family, and no one was pushing him to do it,” he said. “He had something in him that he wanted to do it.”

He also is survived by his parents, Harry and Mary Beth.

Army Spc. Stephen M. Okray was killed in action on 12/24/08.

Army Spc. Stephen G. Zapasnik

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Stephen G. Zapasnik, 19, of Broken Arrow, Okla.

Spc. Zapasnik was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Dec. 24, 2008 in Southern Iraq, of injuries sustained during a vehicle rollover. Also killed were Spc. Stephen. M. Okray and Staff Sgt. Christopher G. Smith.

Okla. soldier killed in accident in Iraq
The Associated Press

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — A soldier from Broken Arrow has died after his military vehicle rolled off a collapsed road in Iraq and into a canal.

Cpl. Stephen Zapasnik was one of three soldiers killed in the accident Wednesday in southern Iraq, according to his mother, Chris Zapasnik. The Defense Department has confirmed the three deaths, but has not released the soldiers’ names.

“He said, ‘Mom, if I ever don’t come back, you know I will always be with you, and I will be with Jesus, and I will be fine,’” Chris Zapasnik told the Tulsa World. “I know that he’s perfectly safe and spending Christmas up there with Jesus.”

Zapasnik said her 19-year-old son was due to return home for his mid-tour leave on Jan. 15. He last spoke with the family on Dec. 17 to check on his ailing father, Gary, who has been hospitalized.

His condition would have allowed Zapasnik to take an early leave.

“I was afraid if I did (have him come home) that I would wreck his rhythm over there and cause him to get hurt,” Chris Zapasnik told the newspaper.

Funeral services are not yet finalized, but Chris Zapasnik said her son will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Zapasnik was assigned to Bravo Battery, 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment stationed at Fort Carson, Colo. He and two other men were riding in a Humvee when part of a road collapsed, sending the vehicle into a canal, his mother said, relaying the details provided by her son’s company commander. All three men were dead when they were pulled from the water several minutes after the crash.

Army representatives wearing dress greens arrived at the family’s home in Broken Arrow later Wednesday to deliver the news.

Zapasnik said her son enlisted at age 17 and did his basic training at Fort Sill, intending to fight in Iraq.

“He just said, ‘Mom, I need to go over there and take care of things, because if I don’t, who else will?’” she said.

Town mourns soldier killed in Humvee crash
The Associated Press

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — Friends and family members remembered a Broken Arrow soldier who died in an accident in Iraq on Christmas Eve as a chubby kid who lost weight to get into the Army.

Stephen Zapasnik, 19, and two fellow soldiers were killed after their Humvee crashed into a canal after a road collapse.

Friends and loved ones gathered Friday at Centennial Middle School in Broken Arrow to say goodbye to Zapasnik. A picture on his casket showed him in uniform, striking a funny pose. It was an image reflected by those who spoke of the teenager who attended Broken Arrow schools.

His brother, Chris Zapasnik, said he regrets he didn’t get the chance to tell his brother just how much he loved and admired him. He said his brother volunteered to man the machine gun on top of his Humvee, a dangerous job because the gunner is an exposed target in a firefight.

“Stephen didn’t have to be a turret gunner,” Chris Zapasnik said. “He is a true American hero.”

Chaplain Greg Bilbruck read e-mails Zapasnik’s family got after his death, including many from soldiers who served with him and their loved ones.

A woman who was married to Zapasnik’s sergeant wrote that she and her husband took him in like a younger brother.

One Thanksgiving, Zapasnik came to their home to eat, and the woman listened as he talked about losing 100 pounds to get into the Army. She then watched him eat several plates of food and pieces of pie, and joked with him that he would be 300 pounds again if he stayed at her house much longer.

“He was an outstanding soldier and a wonderful man,” the woman wrote. “I hope Zap knew how much he was loved.”

Bilbruck told the crowd that Zapasnik was following The Soldier’s Creed, an oath that Army soldiers live by. The creed states that a soldier places the mission first, never accepting defeat and never leaving a fallen comrade.

“That’s what he was doing ,” Bilbruck said. “He gave up his life for our freedom.”

Zapasnik will be buried next week at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.

Spc. remembered for honesty, faith, kindness
The Associated Press

Stephen G. Zapasnik’s brother, Christopher, called Zapasnik a true American hero because he lived to serve his country.

“He always made me laugh,” the brother said, but also noted that what made his brother great was his “honesty, his faith and his kindness.”

“He always had my back,” the brother said.

Zapasnik, 19, of Broken Arrow, Okla., died Dec. 24 in Baghdad of injuries from a vehicle roll-over. He was assigned to Fort Carson.

He joined the Army when he was 17 and did his basic training at Fort Sill, Chris Zapasnik said. More than anything, he wanted to fight in Iraq.

“He just said, ‘Mom, I need to go over there and take care of things, because if I don’t, who else will?’” said his mother, Chris.

He also is survived by his father, Gary.

The family always knew there was a good chance that he would lose his life in Iraq.

“He said, ‘Mom, if I ever don’t come back, you know I will always be with you, and I will be with Jesus, and I will be fine,’” Chris Zapasnik said. “I know that he’s perfectly safe and spending Christmas up there with Jesus.”

Army Spc. Stephen G. Zapasnik was killed in action on 12/24/08.

Army Staff Sgt. Christopher G. Smith

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Christopher G. Smith, 28, of Grand Rapids, Mich.

SSgt Smith was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Dec. 24, 2008 in Southern Iraq, of injuries sustained during a vehicle rollover. Also killed were Spc. Stephen. M. Okray and Spc. Stephen G. Zapasnik.

2 soldiers from Michigan remembered for devotion
The Associated Press

Two soldiers from Michigan who were among three who died when their vehicle crashed on Christmas Eve in Baghdad are being remembered by relatives for their devotion to their families.

The Department of Defense on Friday identified the soldiers as Staff Sgt. Christopher G. Smith, 28, of Grand Rapids; Spc. Stephen M. Okray, 21, of St. Clair Shores; and Spc. Stephen G. Zapasnik, 19, of Broken Arrow, Okla.

Bobbi Jo Smith told The Detroit News that her husband was an entertainer who loved to hold parties and grill briskets and ribs.

“He really lived for his family. He was that kind of guy,” Bobbi Jo said of her husband, who leaves behind a 15-month-old son.

Smith’s parents are Pastor Virgil Glenn and Donna Smith of the Evangelife Assembly of God Church near Bad Axe, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

Okray’s aunt, Denise Okray, said her nephew loved to hunt and fish.

“When someone was worried or felt like there was a problem, he was like, ‘Shrug it off; it’s OK,”’ Denise Okray told The News. “He was always family-oriented.”

Zapasnik’s mother, Chris Zapasnik, said her son’s company commander told her that he and the two Michigan soldiers were riding in a Humvee when part of a road collapsed, sending the vehicle into a canal. All three were dead when they were pulled from the water several minutes after the crash, Chris Zapasnik told the Tulsa World.

The soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

Staff sgt. remembered as outdoorsman, good cook
The Associated Press

Christopher G. Smith took two years of classes at Kellogg Community College, studying for a possible sports medicine career and playing soccer there, before enlisting in the Army in May 2001.

Virgil Smith knew his son was looking for “something big and exciting” to do with his life, but said he never anticipated him joining the Army.

“Chris was such his own man in that way,” Virgil Smith said. “He was very thoughtful in what he would do and once he made a decision, that was it.”

Smith, 28, of Grand Rapids, Mich., died Dec. 24 in Baghdad of injuries from a vehicle roll-over. He was a 1999 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Carson.

Smith, who was on his second tour in Iraq, was an outdoorsman who loved to hunt and fish and was an avid University of Michigan fan. He enjoyed socializing and cooking for large groups. He even thought about going to culinary school at one point.

“He cooked literally for 30 to 40 people at a time. He just enjoyed that,” his father said.

He also is survived by his wife, Bobbi Jo, and their 15-month-old son, Adler

Army Staff Sgt. Christopher G. Smith was killed in action on 12/24/08.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Army Pvt. Colman J. Meadows III

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Army Pvt. Colman J. Meadows III, 19, of Senoia, Ga.

Pvt Meadows was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Dec. 16, 2008 at Forward Operating Base Ramrod, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident.


PV2 Colman J. Meadows III, 19, of Senoia, Georgia, a 2007 graduate of Northgate High School. He was known to everyone as Joseph.

He joined the Army on January 22, 2008, and took his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Currently he was assigned to Military Intelligence as a special electronic devices repairer as part of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas.

Deployed to Afghanistan, he died at Forward Operating Base Ramrod, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident.

His awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.

He is survived by his mother, Kelley Hooper and her husband Michael of Sharpsburg; father, Coleman Meadows, Jr. of Jonesboro; half-brother, Montana Meadows of Jonesboro; grandparents, Mary Ann Gobelle and her husband Dave of Scotsdale, AZ; Ken Fore and his wife Cathi of Colorado Springs, CO; Pat Meadows of Jonesboro; George Hooper and his wife Rosemary of Andover, KS; Aunts, Heather Hooper of Edwardsville IL, Theresa Hooper of Andover, KS; Uncles, John Fore and his wife Kim of Sharpsburg, Bud Fore and his wife Nicall of Luthersville, Warren Meadows of Jonesboro, and numerous cousins.


Colman with his "Grammy" (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=32258132)

Army Pvt. Colman J. Meadows III was killed in a non-combat related incident on 12/16/08.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Army Master Sgt. Anthony Davis

Remember Our Heroes

Army Master Sgt. Anthony Davis, 43, of Deerfield Beach, Fla.

MSgt. Davis was assigned to the Military Transition Team, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.; died Nov. 25, 2008 in Baaj, Iraq, after being shot by an Iraqi Security Force soldier while he was conducting a dismounted humanitarian food drop.

Master sergeant worked to help poor Iraqis

The Associated Press

Anthony Davis trained and mentored Iraqi army members and delivered food and relief supplies to poor villages. He was part of a team that assessed schools and then planned renovations and organized supplies.

His daughter Diana, 18, also collected soccer balls to ship to her father, who distributed them to children on his missions.

“Anthony volunteered for humanitarian assistance duty so he could devote himself to the soccer ball plan and really reach out to the surrounding Iraqi communities in need of assistance,” said Joe Albuquerque of the Kerril Woods Homeowner’s Association.

“That’s the Anthony we knew and loved.”

Davis, 43, reared in Baltimore and lately of Triangle, Va., died Nov. 24 in Baaj after being shot by an Iraqi soldier while on a relief mission. He was assigned to Fort Riley.

“We must remain vigilant and pray that we a getting through to the younger generation, who will one day inherit this nation, so that they remember us as peaceful and encouraging not intruders and invaders,” Davis wrote in an e-mail.

He is survived by his wife, Anna, and five children between the ages of 9 and 26 and a 4-year-old grandson.

Army Master Sgt. Anthony Davis was killed in action on 11/25/08.

Marine Capt. Warren A. Frank

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Capt. Warren A. Frank, 26, of Cincinnati, Ohio

Capt. Frank was assigned to the 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liasion Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan; died Nov. 25, 2008 while supporting combat operations in Ninewa province, Iraq.

Marine slain on mercy mission

By Eileen Kelley
Cincinnati Enquirer

An Anderson Township Marine who died in Iraq this week was killed during a humanitarian mission, his family said.

Capt. Warren A. Frank, 26, died Tuesday while participating in a food distribution mission north of Baghdad.

His team came under small arms fire by an attacker in an Iraqi soldier’s uniform.

It was not known if the outfit was a disguise or if the Marine was slain by an Iraqi soldier. Many members of the Iraqi military have been trained by U.S. troops.

Also killed in the attack was a U.S. soldier. Several service members were injured.

“Our son wanted nothing more than to make a difference in our world,” said Frank’s father, Warren R. Frank, in a statement sent to the media. “He was not a movie version soldier, but a man who looked forward to loving his children.”

If Frank was killed by an Iraqi soldier, it would be at least the second time since the 2002 U.S. invasion that a Greater Cincinnati Marine has been killed by a member of Iraq’s military.

Cpl. Bryan Taylor was killed in April 2006, just weeks after arriving in Iraq. His unit had been living with the then-fledgling Iraqi Army.

Taylor was refueling his Humvee when he was shot.

All told, more than 4,200 U.S. service members have lost their lives in the war.

Frank grew up in Anderson Township.

He is survived by his wife, Allison, and daughters Sophia Lynn and Isabella Grace. They live in Okinawa, Japan, with their mother, where Frank’s unit was based. Locally he leaves behind his father, his mother, Rebecca, and his sister Sara. Frank is a 2000 graduate of Turpin High School and a 2004 graduate of the Citadel.

The written statement from the family suggested that Frank had done at least three tours in Iraq. It also said that he looked forward to retiring from the service and planned to teach high school history and coach track.

“Our deep sorrow is not in the life we had with him, but in the loss of life we always thought we would share,” wrote Frank’s father.

“He was our son, our brother, devoted husband and an enthusiastic father. He is our reminder that all generations have those who comprise ‘The Greatest Generation.’”

Funeral arrangements are pending, though the elder Frank said it is likely his son will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Marine Capt. Warren A. Frank was killed in action on 11/25/08

Monday, November 24, 2008

Army 1st Lt. William K. Jernigan

Remember Our Heroes

Army 1st Lt. William K. Jernigan, 35, of Doraville, Ga.

1st Lt. Jernigan was assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; died Nov. 24, 2008 in Baqubah, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat-related incident.

Third Stryker Brigade soldier dies

The Associated Press
FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A Fort Wainwright soldier has died in Iraq.

Lt. William K. Jernigan, a 35-year-old Doralville, Ga., native, died of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident.

The Defense Department says the incident is under investigation.

Jernigan was assigned to the Headquarters Company, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry.

Gov. Sarah Palin on Wednesday said she will send an Alaska state flag and a letter of condolence to his family.

9/11 inspired 1st lt. to join Army at age 28
The Associated Press

William K. Jernigan joined the Army relatively late — at 28. It was soon after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

He was living in a commune in British Columbia, Canada, but the attacks on the homeland strongly affected him, so he returned to the U.S. to join the Army.

“He saw the attacks and decided he needed to do something to serve like thousands of other people decided,” said Maj. Glenn Gambrell.

Jernigan, 35, of Doraville, Ga., died Nov. 24 in Baqouba of injuries suffered from a non-combat incident. He was assigned to Fort Wainwright.

Jernigan enlisted as a private and was quickly promoted to sergeant. After obtaining his associate degree, he enrolled in Officer Candidate School and made lieutenant, serving as a military intelligence officer.

The lieutenant sometimes came across as a rough-and-tumble character. Gambrell recounted one incident in which several soldiers were surprised to see Jernigan eating yogurt with a knife.

“He immediately struck me as the type who would much rather live in the woods than sit behind a desk all day,” Gambrell said of first meeting Jernigan.

Army 1st Lt. William K. Jernigan, was killed in a non-combat related incident on 11/24/08

Friday, November 21, 2008

Army Sgt. 1st Class Miguel A. Wilson

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. 1st Class Miguel A. Wilson, 36, of Bonham, Texas

SFC Wilson was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas; died Nov. 21, 2008 in Abu Sayf, Iraq, of injuries sustained during a rescue attempt of another soldier while their unit was conducting a dismounted reconnaissance mission.

Soldier died saving comrade from drowning

The Associated Press

When Miguel Anthony Wilson saw a fellow soldier drowning, he didn’t hesitate. He jumped into the water even though he was wearing heavy gear.

“Later on we found out he did save him,” said his mother, Wanda Wilson. “He just dived in and saved his fellow soldier and the weight of that backpack kept him under and then the current, they said, was strong and he drowned.”

Wilson, 36, of Bonham, Texas, died Nov. 21 in Abu Sayf. He was a 1990 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Hood.

In high school, he played corner back and running back, stood out in soccer, played a little basketball and also ran track.

He’d been to Hawaii, Spain and Kuwait, to name a few of his stops. And this was his second tour in Iraq. “He said ‘If anything happens to me, know that I died for my country that I love,”’ said his mother.

“If you ever met him, you would never forget him,” said his aunt, Edna Wilson. “He was such a remarkable young man that he didn’t meet strangers.”

He also is survived by his wife, Carolyn, and three children from a previous relationship: Brice, 16, Jenae, 14, and Lexis, 12.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Miguel A. Wilson was killed in action on 11/21/08.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Army Pvt. Charles Y. Barnett

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pvt. Charles Y. Barnett, 19, of Bel Air, Md.

Pvt. Barnett was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died on Nov. 20, 2008 of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident in Tallil, Iraq.

Soldier ‘always had a smile on his face’

The Associated Press

One day, Charles Yi Barnett was sitting in a truck when his commanding officer walked up and asked him how he was doing.

“It seemed like he was waiting for me to ask that,” Lt. Col. Scott Kendrick recalled. “He said, ‘I’m on top of the world.”’

Barnett, 19, of Bel Air, Md., died Nov. 20 in a non-combat related incident in Tallil. He was assigned to Fort Hood.

In his free time, he sketched fantasy characters and portraits.

“He was just smarter than any of us,” said a brother, Jason. “And he always had a smile on his face.”

His mother, Ipun “Yvonne” Dashiell, didn’t want her baby boy joining the Army during war. “I said, ‘No, you’re not going anywhere. I want you to stay here so I can care for you and protectyou,”’ Dashiell said. “He told me, ‘Mom, I’m not a baby anymore.”’

He also is survived by his father, Kenneth, and stepfather, Walter “Mike” Dashiell Sr.

Barnett enlisted in the Army right out of high school to fulfill his adventurous dreams of becoming a SWAT team member.

“When he was 14, that’s all he talked about,” said Jason. “He just wanted to get his foot in the door and do something different with his life.”

Army Pvt. Charles Y. Barnett was killed in a non-combat related incident on 11/20/08.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Donald V. Clark

Remember Our Heroes

Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Donald V. Clark, 37, of Memphis, Tenn.

CWO3 Clark was assigned to the 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force 49, U.S. Army Alaska, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; died Nov. 15, 2008 in Mosul, Iraq, when his OH-58 Kiowa helicopter crashed while on a mission over Mosul. Also killed was Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christian P. Humphreys.

Memphis soldier killed in Iraq helicopter crash
The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Two soldiers, including one from Tennessee, were killed when a U.S. military helicopter made a “hard landing” after hitting wires in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

The U.S. military said the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter went down at about 6:10 p.m. Saturday in the eastern part of the city. The military also said that “the incident appears to be combat-unrelated and there was no enemy contact in the area.”

Killed were Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Donald V. Clark, 37, of Memphis, Tenn., and Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christian P. Humphreys, 28, Fallon, Nev.

Both were assigned to the 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force 49, U.S. Army Alaska, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Allen told the Anchorage Daily News that Clark and Humphreys were the only two on board the helicopter and no one else was killed or injured. The Army did not say which of the two pilots was flying when the crash occurred.

Clark joined the Army in February 1992 and was assigned to Fort Wainwright in November 2006. Humphreys joined the Army in June 1998 and was assigned to Fort Wainwright in April. Both deployed to Iraq in July, Allen said.

Including Clark, 89 service members from Tennessee have been killed in Iraq, according to an Associated Press count. Nine service members from Tennessee have been killed in Afghanistan.

Funeral held for soldier killed in Iraq
The Associated Press

DOTHAN, Ala. — Chief Warrant Officer 3 Donald Clark was described Monday as a world class soldier and his wife’s hero during a funeral service for the Newton man who was killed when his helicopter crashed Nov. 15 in Iraq.

Clark, 37, was buried with full military honors after his body was flown to Sunset Memorial Park cemetery in Dothan by helicopter. A military detachment loaded the casket, draped with the American flag, onto a horsedrawn caisson. The caisson carried the body to the funeral site as the family walked behind, according to a report on The Dothan Eagle Web site.

During the ceremony folded American flags were presented to Clark’s 8-year-old son, Bailey, to his wife, Jamie, and to his parents.

CW3 Mike Eckhart’s hand trembled when he presented the flag to Jamie Clark. Eckhart was Clark’s wingman.

“He was absolutely fearless in support of his brothers in combat,” said Eckhart, who delivered the eulogy and told stories of a gregarious, talented, driven soldier who felt truly free in the sky and in the Alaskan wilderness.

His fellow soldiers called him “Genghis Don.” Eckhart referred to Clark as a real man and a world class soldier. He said Clark referred to himself as the “self-proclaimed emperor of Newton.”

Rev. David Willis read a letter Jamie Clark wrote for the service in which she said, “Don and I were the sweetest love story ever told. He was my hero. The sorrow I feel is immeasurable. Don loved his family, his friends, his comrades and his country.”

Willis described Clark as a smart man who could have done anything with his life.

“But he chose to stand together shoulder to shoulder with brave men and women to fight tyranny,” Willis said.

2 Fort Wainwright servicemen remembered
The Associated Press

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — They came from different backgrounds, but shared one passion: flying.

That’s how hundreds from the Fort Wainwright Community remembered two fallen airmen killed Nov. 15 in Mosul, Iraq.

Chief Warrant Officers Donald V. Clark and Christian P. Humphreys were killed instantly when their OH-58 Kiowa helicopter crashed.

Clark, 37, of Tennessee, was remembered for his rough-and-tumble demeanor. He had served as a flight instructor in Korea and Alabama.

Humphreys, 28, of New Mexico, served as a crew chief in the Navy before joining the Army. He was remembered for his love for board games, particularly backgammon.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Donald V. Clark was killed in action on 11/15/08.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christian P. Humphreys

Remember Our Heroes

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christian P. Humphreys, 28, of Fallon, Nev.

CWO2 Humphreys was assigned to the 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force 49, U.S. Army Alaska, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; died Nov. 15, 2008 in Mosul, Iraq, when his OH-58 Kiowa helicopter crashed while on a mission over Mosul. Also killed was Chief Warrant Officer 3 Donald V. Clark.

Pilot killed in Iraq remembered at NAS Fallon
The Associated Press

FALLON, Nev. — An Army pilot killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq spent about two years at the Fallon Naval Air Station where he was remembered Tuesday as a “funny, nice guy” who loved to fly.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christian P. Humphreys, 28, who listed his hometown as Fallon, died Saturday when his OH-58 Kiowa helicopter crashed while on a mission over Mosul in Iraq.

Humphreys flew with the Fallon Naval Air Station Search and Rescue Longhorns from June 6, 2004, to May 5, 2006. He left the Navy and joined the Army as part of the “Blue to Green” program to become a helicopter pilot.

At the time of his death, he was assigned to the 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force 49, U.S. Army Alaska, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

“He was a great guy, always happy and had a joke,” said Sean Whitney, a flight medic, told the Lahontan Valley News on Tuesday. He said Humphreys lived in a rented house on the northwest side of Fallon.

“We used to play with our paintball guns in the cornfields behind his house,” Whitney said.

Whitney remembered when Humphreys married Christina Williams in the fall of 2004. He recollected how they were trying to make a better life for themselves while stationed in Fallon.

Humphreys wife and his parents currently live in Alamogordo, N.M. Funeral arrangements are pending there.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Schmidt knew Humphreys during the entire time he was assigned to the Longhorns.

“He was a funny guy, a nice guy, a lot of character,” Schmidt said. “Some of the guys here still remember him.” The guy was always entertaining, always had something to say, but like everyone here, he displayed the professionalism in saving lives.”

“This is one guy who loved to fly. He wanted to fly in the front seat,” Schmidt said.”

As a rescue crew chief, Humphreys was in charge of the operation behind the pilots. Schmidt said Humphreys made the decisions when to deploy rescue crews out of the helicopter to assist injured people, and he also took care of the equipment.

Schmidt said the last time the local NAS Fallon Search and Rescue team saw Humphreys was earlier this year when he passed through the valley on his way to Ft. Wainwright.

“We told him to go have fun in Alaska,” Schmidt said. “We all told him he was a lucky son of a gun to be stationed there during a time of war.”

2 Fort Wainwright servicemen remembered
The Associated Press

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — They came from different backgrounds, but shared one passion: flying.

That’s how hundreds from the Fort Wainwright Community remembered two fallen airmen killed Nov. 15 in Mosul, Iraq.

Chief Warrant Officers Donald V. Clark and Christian P. Humphreys were killed instantly when their OH-58 Kiowa helicopter crashed.

Clark, 37, of Tennessee, was remembered for his rough-and-tumble demeanor. He had served as a flight instructor in Korea and Alabama.

Humphreys, 28, of New Mexico, served as a crew chief in the Navy before joining the Army. He was remembered for his love for board games, particularly backgammon.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christian P. Humphreys was killed in action on 11/15/08.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Marine Cpl. Aaron M. Allen

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Aaron M. Allen, 24, of Buellton, Calif.

Cpl. Allen was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died Nov. 14, 2008 in Anbar, Iraq, after being struck by an improvised explosive device while supporting combat operations.

Marine killed by bomb in Iraq

The Associated Press

BUELLTON, Calif. — Cpl. Aaron Allen and his childhood buddies had a special tattoo on their biceps: the Chinese symbol for “warrior.”

And despite his mother’s wishes, Allen, 24, had decided by 16 that he would join the Marines.

“I wanted nothing to do with it. There was no way I could talk him out of it,” Cathy Allen said. “At one point when he was going overseas, I told him I had the right — since he was my only son — to stop this. He begged me not to. He said he had trained for this, he wanted to do it.”

On Nov. 14 Allen was killed by an improvised bomb in Faris, about 10 miles south of Fallujah. It was his second tour of duty in Iraq. He had been scheduled to return to the United States in five weeks. After his enlistment ended next March he planned to attend a fire academy, his relatives said.

The Buellton native joined the Marines in March 2004 and served with the security forces of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines.

“He was the most caring, loving person,” said his sister Amy, 27. “He opened his house, his arms and his heart to everybody. He was my everything. He was my brother, he was my best friend, he was my dad. He was my little big brother.”

He also was “probably the best dancer you’ve ever seen,” she said.

She, her mother and Allen’s girlfriend saw him off when he left Camp Pendleton in San Diego County to go overseas on Oct. 5.

“I always told him, ‘Remember, you are not invincible,”’ she said.

Allen was a 2002 graduate of Santa Ynez Valley High School, where he was on the football, baseball and wrestling teams.

He sent orange tulips to his girlfriend, Kelly Zajac, and they arrived the day before he died. He called that night to talk to her.

Had she realized it was her last call, “there are millions of things I would have said,” Zajac said.

Allen had planned to propose on her birthday in January.

Marine Iraqi veteran Brian Bull said he had been confident his lifelong friend would return.

“I never had to worry much about him,” Bull said. “He knew how to do his job. And he was good at it.”

Allen also is also survived by his father, Michael Allen of Highland, and his grandmother, Linda Fenton of Indio.

His friends have established the Aaron Allen YFL Scholarship Fund to help pay youth football registration fees for local children.

Marine Cpl. Aaron M. Allen was killed in action on 11/14/08.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Army Spc. Jonnie L. Stiles

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Jonnie L. Stiles, 38, of Highlands Ranch, Colo.

Spc. Stiles was assigned to the 927th Engineer Company (Sapper), 769th Engineer Battalion, Louisiana Army National Guard, Baton Rouge, La.; died Nov. 13, 2008lalabad, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

Soldier from Highlands Ranch dies in Afghanistan

The Associated Press

DENVER — A Colorado soldier has died after being wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, military officials said Saturday.

The Defense Department said Spc. Jonnie Stiles, 38, of Highlands Ranch was wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He died Thursday in Jalalabad of his injuries.

He had been assigned to the Louisiana Army National Guard, serving in the 927th Engineer Company in the 769th Engineer Battalion.

Louisiana National Guard spokesman Maj. Michael Kazmierzak said Stiles had been serving as a gunner on a Humvee doing route clearance when the blast occurred. He said the job typically involves checking roads for bombs and insurgents.

Stiles’ wife, Launa, said that he was nearly killed last month when a suicide bomber blew up a military vehicle in front of his. She said he was still able to rescue three other soldiers and returned to duty before his 30-day recovery period was finished.

“He was strong and really cared for his men,” she said.

Stiles was born in Bartlesville, Okla., and graduated from Littleton High School in Colorado. He served in the military for 17 years, first joining the Marines and then switching to the Army in 1999.

Stiles served three years at Fort Carson, left the Army and then returned as a member of the Colorado Air National Guard last summer. Kazmierzak said Stiles had asked to be transferred to the Louisiana National Guard.

Army Spc. Jonnie L. Stiles was killed in action on 11/13/08.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Army Spc. Corey M. Shea

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Corey M. Shea, 21, of Mansfield, Mass.

Spc. Shea was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas; died Nov. 12, 2008 in Mosul, Iraq, when an Iraqi Army soldier wearing a uniform approached and opened fire. Also killed was Sgt. Jose Regaldo.

Soldier dies in Iraq, Iraqi Army soldier blamed
The Associated Press

MANSFIELD, Mass. — A Massachusetts soldier has died along with a comrade in a shooting blamed on an Iraqi Army soldier.

The Defense Department said Friday that 21-year-old Spc. Corey M. Shea of Mansfield and 23-year-old Sgt. Jose Regalado of Los Angeles died Wednesday in Mosul after an Iraqi Army soldier, in uniform, approached them and opened fire.

The Pentagon said the circumstances are under investigation. Both soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas.

Shea’s family told reporters at their home he had been in the Army for about a year and was to come home in January. He was a 2005 graduate of Mansfield High School, where he was on the hockey team.

His stepfather, Jeff Margolin, said Shea was well-liked and “was the gentlest kid.”

Funeral held for Mass. soldier killed in Iraq
The Associated Press

MANSFIELD, Mass. — A Massachusetts soldier killed in Iraq earlier this month has been laid to rest.

A horse-drawn carriage bearing the remains of Spc. Corey Shea slowly made its way through the streets of his hometown of Mansfield on Monday. Family members, fellow soldiers and elected officials, including Gov. Deval Patrick and Sen. John Kerry, were in attendance at the funeral Mass for the 21-year-old Shea at St. Mary’s Church.

Shea was one of two American soldiers killed on Nov. 12 in Mosul after a uniformed Iraqi Army soldier approached them and opened fire. Six other U.S. troops were injured.

The 2005 graduate of Mansfield High School had been in the Army for about a year and was to come home in January.

He was buried at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne.

Fallen soldier ‘would do anything’ for his brothers
The Associated Press

When Corey M. Shea came home from Iraq on leave in September, one of his priorities was to get a tattoo honoring a fellow soldier killed in combat.

Shea had the tattoo drawn on his right arm: “Fallen hero, Staff Sgt. Caldwell.”

“He got that,” said Shea’s mother, Denise Anderson, “and now he’s one of the fallen heroes.”

Shea, 21, of Mansfield, Mass, was killed Nov. 12 in Mosul by small-arms fire. He was a 2005 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Hood.

“Corey was very well liked,” said his stepfather, Jeff Margolin. “He was the gentlest kid. If he was in a confrontation, he would be the kind of guy to make peace and go on his way.”

An avid poker player, sports fanatic and video game lover, Shea had plans to study criminal justice at Texas A&M University.

“Those guys that he fought with over there, they were his brothers. He would do anything for them — and he did. He gave up his life for them and for everybody here,” said Shea’s mother.

“Anything they told him to do, he’d do in a heartbeat,” she said. “He looked out for people, he looked out for me, too.”

He also is survived by his father, William Shea.

Army Spc. Corey M. Shea was killed in action on 11/12/08.

Army Sgt. Jose Regalado

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Jose Regalado, 23, of Los Angeles

Sgt. Regalado was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas; died Nov. 12, 2008 in Mosul, Iraq, when an Iraqi Army soldier wearing a uniform approached and opened fire. Also killed was Spc. Corey M. Shea.

Sergeant remembered for devotion to daughter

The Associated Press

Sgt. Jose Regalado’s lucky charm was his daughter, even before she was born. He carried around ultrasounds of his baby girl in Iraq.

“I’m just glad to be home and finally go from this to an actual human being, someone that cries,” he said when he returned to the U.S. between tours.

Regalado, 23, of Los Angeles, died Nov. 12 in Mosul from small-arms fire. He was working toward an associate’s degree from Troy State University and was assigned to Fort Hood.

When he arrived at the airport to meet his 2-month-old daughter, Jaimie, and wife, Sharri, he confessed: “I tried to play it cool the whole time, even though I was really excited deep down. My wife gets mad at me for doing that because even though I’m excited I try to play it cool because I’m Mr. Tough Guy.”

He loved anything to do with cars and trucks. He always told his wife that if he was going to die, he wanted to go out in battle.

“I don’t want anyone to have to puree my food,” he would say. “If they do, you better believe I’m going to tell them to put a shot of vodka in it and to knock me out.”

Army Sgt. Jose Regalado was killed in action on 11/12/08.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Army Staff Sgt. Timothy H. Walker

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Timothy H. Walker, 38, of Franklin, Tenn.

SSgt. Walker was assigned to the 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Nov. 8, 2008 in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

Fort Carson soldier killed in Iraq trained medics
The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Fort Carson, Colo., soldier who had been helping train Iraqi medics on how to treat combat wounds has died in Baghdad.

The Department of Defense said 38-year-old Staff Sgt. Timothy H. Walker of Franklin, Tenn., died Saturday after a roadside bomb exploded near Walker’s vehicle.

Walker, a combat medic, was assigned to the 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

Walker was the medical material coordinator for the Iraqi Security Forces logistics coordination team, teaching Iraqi police officers and soldiers how to track and receive medical supplies.

Walker was also training Iraqi medics in mass casualty missions and combat lifesaver courses.

He joined the Army in 1990 and served tours in Bosnia and Kuwait. He earned the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, six Army Commendation medals and dozens of other medals and citations.

He is the 244th Fort Carson soldier to die in Iraq since the invasion.

Fallen soldier ‘would do anything for you’
The Associated Press

Staff Sgt. Timothy H. Walker provided medical training for the Iraqi army and Iraqi police officers, hoping each of his students could go back and teach their fellow countrymen.

“In the end, this will allow these medics to be more self-sufficient while gaining the respect of their peers in the Iraqi army,” wrote in September.

Walker, 38, of Franklin, Tenn., was killed Nov. 8 in Baghdad by a roadside bomb. He was assigned to Fort Carson and was his second tour of duty in Iraq.

His unit was assigned to secure Sadr City in Baghdad’s northeast region and he was providing training for the Iraqi army and Iraqi police officers at the time of his death. Walker, a 1988 high school graduate, had also done tours in Bosnia and Kuwait.

“He always had a smile on his face. He was one of those guys that would do anything for you. He just had a great disposition, always smiled whenever you talked to him,” said Ricky Jones, a school administrator. “I really appreciate what he’s done for the country.”

He is survived by his wife, Dawn, and two children, Gregory, 7, and Madison, 3.

Army Staff Sgt. Timothy H. Walker was killed in action on 11/08/08.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Army Pfc. Theron V. Hobbs

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Theron V. Hobbs, 22, of Albany, Ga.

Pfc. Hobbs was assigned to the 572nd Engineer Company, 20th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas; died Nov. 6, 2008 in a motor vehicle accident in Kirkuk, Iraq.

Soldier remembered for dedication to family

The Associated Press

Pfc. Theron V. Hobbs’ wife is expecting their first child in February, a son who will be given his father’s name. And she says she will do everything she can to make sure he knows his father in spirit.

“We have a lot videos and I will show them to him. And I know the people who knew Theron will tell him that his father was a good guy,” said Kimberly Hobbs.

Hobbs, 22, of Albany, Ga., died Nov. 6 in a motor vehicle accident in Kirkuk. He was a 2005 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Hood.

“For the most part we are trying to be strong because he was a cheerful person, and he wouldn’t want us to be all depressed. He would want us to celebrate the right way,” said his wife.

When a caravan of police and sheriff cruisers escorted Hobbs body to the funeral home, his wife said: “I know he is grinning from ear to ear if he could see it. I know he is smiling so hard, like is all this is for me.”

She added: “He loved everybody. He made friends with everybody. And he always did what he had to do to take care of his family.”

Army Pfc. Theron V. Hobbs died in a vehicle accident on 11/06/08.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Army Spc. Adam M. Wenger

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Adam M. Wenger, 27, of Waterford, Mich.

Spc. Wenger was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; died Nov. 5, 2008 in Tunnis, Iraq, of injuries sustained during a non-combat incident.

Dedicated soldier leaves behind loving family

The Associated Press

Adam M. Wenger had been deployed four times — Kosovo, Afghanistan and twice to Iraq.

“Sometimes, we would talk two or three times a day because he missed home so much,” said his wife, Brandy. “The night before he died, we talked about building a deck so we could have a party when he came home.”

Wenger, 27, of Waterford, Mich., died Nov. 5 in Tunnis in a noncombat incident. He was assigned to Fort Stewart.

“He was a good kid,” said David Wenger, his older brother. “He loved his country. He wanted to serve his country. He wanted to do his duty.”

He also is survived by his daughter, Aubrey stepdaughters Starla, and Erica stepsons, Austin, Landin and Jacob and son, Matthew.

The day he left for Iraq, the children put on blue shirts that said, “We support our daddy.” A picture was taken as they gathered around him. His daughter told him not to get killed. “He was very sad that day. He loved soccer, sports, fishing and football, but the kids were everything in the world to him. I have another picture where he’s crying holding our little girl,” his wife said.

Army Spc. Adam M. Wengerwas killed in a non-combat incident on 11/05/08.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Army Sgt. Daniel W. Wallace

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Daniel W. Wallace, 27, of Dry Ridge, Ky.

Sgt. Wallace was assigned to the 201st Engineer Battalion, Kentucky Army National Guard in Cynthiana, Ky.; died Oct. 31, 2008 in Badin Kheyl, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.


Ky. National Guard soldier killed in Afghanistan
By Joe Biesk
The Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A Kentucky National Guard soldier was killed in Afghanistan last week when his platoon was attacked by a group of Taliban fighters, military officials said Monday.

Sgt. Daniel Wallace, 27, was killed in action Friday in the West Paktika Province of Afghanistan, Kentucky Adjutant General Edward Tonini said.

Wallace, a gunner in a Mine-Resistant, Armor-Protected vehicle, was shot when he got out to handle a piece of equipment that had been knocked loose, Tonini said.

“Sgt. Daniel Wallace was a true patriot,” Tonini said at a news conference. “One who stood up and answered the call to serve his nation in a time of need.”

Wallace’s death marked the 17th member of the Kentucky National Guard to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001. Wallace, who was assigned to the Kentucky National Guard’s 201st Engineer Battalion, was the third to die in Afghanistan.

Wallace, of Dry Ridge, has been posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals, and has been promoted to the rank of sergeant. Wallace joined the National Guard in May 2006 and was on his first deployment.

Tonini said Wallace’s platoon was conducting a mission to find and remove improvised explosive devices when one of the vehicles got stuck. Wallace was shot and killed when he left the vehicle he was in to handle a piece of equipment that had been knocked loose, prompting a firefight that led to the deaths of up to 20 Taliban fighters, Tonini said.

“At the time, there were many villagers planting winter wheat in the fields, there were goat herders all around, children playing near the roadways,” Tonini said. “It was a typical example of what we expect to be a safe area — because typically we don’t see people when there are to be ambushes or any kind of instances like we had here at this point.”

Wallace’s brother, Spc. Alex Wallace, is a medic in the Kentucky Army National Guard’s 940th Military Police Company. Alex Wallace said he and his brother had decided to make the military their career.

“I am proud of my brother,” he said. “I’m going to keep carrying on. I know he wants me to serve my full time, which is what I’m going to do.”

His mother, Karen Wallace, said her son loved being in the military and was also very religious and helped his unit’s chaplain. A tearful Karen Wallace said her son had asked her to write to other soldiers who had not recently received letters of their own.

“Danny had a lot, a lot of sympathy for people,” she said. “Danny’s my fallen hero.”

Funeral services set for Kentucky soldier
The Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The funeral for a Kentucky National Guard soldier killed in Afghanistan has been set for Saturday.

Guard spokesman Col. Phil Miller says the funeral for 27-year-old Sgt. Daniel Wallace of Dry Ridge will be held at 2 p.m. at the Grant County High School auditorium.

Wallace was killed last week when his platoon was attacked by a group of Taliban fighters. He was assigned to the Kentucky National Guard’s 201st Engineer Battalion.

Miller said visitation for Wallace will be Friday at the Eckler-McDaniel Funeral Home in Dry Ridge and continue Saturday at Grant County High School before the funeral.

Miller said burial with full military honors will be conducted at the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North at Williamstown immediately after funeral services.

Army Sgt. Daniel W. Wallace was killed in action on 10/31/08.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Army Sgt. Scott J. Metcalf

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Scott J. Metcalf, 36, of Framingham, Mass.

Sgt. Metcalf was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Oct. 29, 2008 in Balad, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat-related incident.

Fort Campbell soldier killed in Iraq
The Associated Press

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — The Department of Defense says a Fort Campbell soldier from Massachusetts has died from noncombat injuries in Iraq.

The military announced Friday that 36-year-old Sgt. Scott J. Metcalf, of Framingham, Mass., died Wednesday from injuries suffered in a noncombat related incident. The incident is under investigation.

Metcalf was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 32nd Calvary Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. He was a unit supply specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop.

He joined the Army in July 1990 and arrived at Fort Campbell in January 2001.

He is survived by his wife, Betty, and daughter, Korrine, of Clarksville, Tenn., and mother, Paulette, of Northbridge, Mass.

Army Sgt. Scott J. Metcalf died from a non-combat related incident on 10/29/08.

Army Pfc. Bradley S. Coleman

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Bradley S. Coleman, 24, of Martinsville, Va.

Pfc. Coleman was assigned to the 51st Transportation Company, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, Mannheim, Germany; died Oct. 29, 2008 at Qayyarah Airfield, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident.

Martinsville Bulletin -- The family of Pfc. Bradley Shane Coleman, a local soldier who was killed last week in Iraq, tentatively plans to hold his funeral Friday, according to the funeral home handling arrangements.

Coleman, who was 24, died Wednesday of a gunshot wound, his stepmother has said. The Army has told family members Coleman’s death is under investigation, Yolanda Coleman has said.

On Sunday, Kelly Ratcliff, director of Community Funeral Services, said the Coleman family tentatively plans to hold a visitation Thursday and the funeral Friday. Locations had not been chosen as of Sunday afternoon, Ratcliff said.

Shane Coleman and his wife of two years, Heather Coleman, have two children, Edward Shane, age 2 and a half, and Shyanna, 1. He and his wife had known each other since they were children and were married in May 2006, his stepmother said.

“His biggest thing was he liked spending time with his children and his wife,” Yolanda Coleman said.

“He loved his children. They were the whole world to him,” she added.

His father called him “a great son. ... He was a sweet, loving, kind person who was always a gentleman,” his stepmother said.

Coleman, a transportation specialist, enlisted in the Army in April 2007 and was sent to Iraq on his first tour in June. He was supposed to be home on leave in January 2009, his stepmother said.

“From the time he was a small child, that’s all he talked about: going in the Army,” Yolanda Coleman said.

He was in JROTC at Magna Vista High School but after graduating in 2003, he did not enlist immediately. Instead, he worked with his father, a brickmason, for a few years.

Coleman was first stationed in Germany before being sent to a base in Iraq that the Army called “Q-West,” his stepmother said. In Iraq, he was able to call his wife and talk “just about every day,” Yolanda Coleman said, and the family also communicated through e-mail.

“He really liked the Army itself, but once he got to Iraq ... it was hard on him,” she said. “He told his daddy that what you see on the news and what he saw over there were like two different worlds.”

A representative from the Army went to Coleman’s wife’s house to break the news around 10 p.m. Wednesday, but the family found out about his death about an hour before when a friend posted something on Coleman’s MySpace page, she said.

“Shane was the kind of person where everybody he met wanted to be his friend,” Yolanda Coleman said. “We probably had 50 to 60 of his friends come by the house in last 24 hours, talking about what a good person he was.”

“You think you’re prepared for something like this, knowing he’s in a hostile situation. But nothing prepares you,” she added.

His body has been returned to the United States for an autopsy, which Coleman said is standard procedure. It will be several days before it is released to the family, Coleman said.

Also surviving in addition to his stepmother are his father, Dale Bradley Coleman of Ridgeway; his mother, Dianne Vernon of Eden, N.C.; three sisters; two stepbrothers; and a stepsister.

Army Pfc. Bradley S. Coleman was killed in a non-combat incident on 10/29/08.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Army Sgt. Nicholas A. Casey

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Nicholas A. Casey, 22, of Canton, Ohio

Sgt. Casey was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Oct. 27, 2008 in Baghlan, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when a suicide bomber detonated explosives as he was preparing to enter a building. Also killed was Sgt. Kevin D. Grieco.

Army Sgt. Nicholas A. Casey remembered
The Associated Press

By 10th grade, Nicholas A. Casey was starting to listen to service recruiters. Because of a lack of jobs in the area, Casey started to see the military as a way of life.

“That’s what he wanted to do,” said his father, Samuel. “He didn’t never give up on nothing that he started.”

Casey, 22, of Canton, Ohio, died Oct. 28 in Baghlan province, Afghanistan, of wounds from a suicide bomb attack. He was assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C.

In high school, he played baseball and football. His son was no more than an average athlete, Samuel Casey said, but he played the games the best he could.

“When he was young, he was always in his own little world,” his father said. “He was a happy kid. We had a broken marriage, but whether he was at his mother’s or father’s, he was happy.”

He also is survived by his wife, Rachelle, and two sons, Nicholas II, 3, and Curtis, 2.

His grandmother, Audrey Wendling, said the boys dressed up as soldiers for Halloween.

“It was the cutest thing, and we were so proud of the two boys,” she said. “Their father was their hero, and he died a hero.

“Nick will always be their hero. Nothing can ever change that.”

Army Sgt. Nicholas A. Casey was killed in action on 10/27/08.

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Army Sgt. Kevin D. Grieco

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Kevin D. Grieco, 35, of Bartlett, Ill.

Sgt. Grieco was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery, Illinois Army National Guard, Sycamore, Ill.; died Oct. 27, 2008 in in Baghlan, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when a suicide bomber detonated explosives as he was preparing to enter a building. Also killed was Sgt. Nicholas A. Casey.

Ill. soldier, a former sailor, dies in Afghanistan
The Associated Press

BARTLETT, Ill. — An Illinois Army National Guard soldier has been killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said Tuesday.

Sgt. Kevin D. Grieco, 35, of Bartlett died Monday of wounds sustained when a suicide bomber detonated explosives as Grieco prepared to enter a building in Baghlan, Afghanistan, the defense department said.

Sgt. Nicholas A. Casey, 22, of Canton, Ohio, was killed in the same incident. Casey was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), in Fort Bragg, N.C.

Grieco was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery with the Illinois Army National Guard in Sycamore. His unit deployed to Afghanistan about four months ago, according to the Illinois Army and Air National Guard.

“When we lose an Illinois National Guard Soldier, it’s like losing a brother or sister,” Maj. Gen. William Enyart, adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard, said in a statement. “On behalf of the men and women of the Illinois National Guard, we offer our deepest condolences to the Grieco family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.”

Grieco graduated from Waynesville High School in Missouri in 1992 and earned a bachelor’s degree at Aurora University in 2004. He enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard in December 2006 after 13 years in the Navy.

He was married with two children.

Grieco is the 19th casualty for the Illinois National Guard since operations in Afghanistan and Iraq began.

Army Sgt. Kevin D. Grieco remembered
The Associated Press

Kevin D. Grieco met his future wife in 2003 after returning from a deployment to Spain. They met while line dancing.

“As soon as he walked in, I said, ‘I’m going to dance with this man,’” said Rashmi Grieco. “I asked him to dance, and he said, ‘No, I don’t think so.’ And then he saw me dancing with his best friend, and he said, ‘OK, maybe I’ll try.’”

Grieco, 35, of Bartlett, Ill., died Oct. 28 in Baghlan, Afghanistan, of wounds from a suicide bomb attack. He was assigned to Sycamore, Ill.

“He was extremely dedicated to his military career,” his wife said. “He would keep telling me that even if he could die for his country, he would love to. And he would not hesitate to die twice, three times.”

He was a 13-year Navy veteran. Wanting to become an officer and see more action, he enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard in 2006.

Grieco was an avid outdoorsman and worked as a contractor for a lawn-mowing company. In 2004, he earned a degree in recreational park administration from Aurora University.

He also is survived by two children, Joshua, 4, and Angeli, 2.

Army Sgt. Kevin D. Grieco was killed in action on 10/27/08.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Army Pfc. Cody J. Eggleston

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Cody J. Eggleston, 21, of Eugene, Ore.

Pfc Eggleston was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; died Oct. 24, 2008 at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., of wounds sustained Oct. 16 in Baqubah, Iraq, when he received indirect fire.

War in Iraq claims Eugene soldier
The Associated Press

EUGENE, Ore. — A soldier from Eugene has died from wounds he suffered in Iraq this month.

Pfc. Cody J. Eggleston died Friday at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland. The 21-year-old had been injured by indirect fire on Oct. 16 in Baqubah, the Department of Defense said.

Eggleston joined the Army in July 2007, not long after his graduation from North Eugene Alternative High School, and was an infantryman assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

He is the second fatality from the attack on Oct. 16. Pfc. Heath Pickard of Texas died on the day of it.

Eggleston died with his wife, Karie, by his side, according to WSPA-TV in Spartanburg, S.C. He and Karie, who is from western North Carolina, were married in June in Alaska.

“They were very much looking forward to taking a honeymoon,” family spokeswoman Alyse Aiken said in a statement to the television station. “Cody was amazing with Karie’s 6-year-old daughter, Raegan. I remember spending the day with them the weekend after their reception, and I was blown away at how good he was with her.”

Eggleston’s body is to be flown to Redmond on Wednesday.

Pfc. chose infantry to ‘stand up for what I believe’
The Associated Press

Cody J. Eggleston had a knack for seeing the bright side and sharing his upbeat perspective, said friend Kaitlyn Kite.

“If I was stressing over school, he would be able to put it in a different light and I’d feel better,” she said.

Eggleston, 21, of Eugene, Ore., died Oct. 24 of wounds suffered Oct. 16 in Baqubah. He was a 2007 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Wainwright.

Though Eggleston scored highly in Army aptitude tests, he volunteered for the infantry. According to Chaplain Vern Arledge, “He said, ‘Dad, I want to be on the front lines. I want to be out there to protect my friends and stand up for what I believe.’” He was a film buff, enjoying movies from kid films to action adventures. “He loved old Westerns. He could say the lines of some of them, he’d watched them so many times,” said half-sister Trina Jackson.

He is survived by his wife, Karie, and stepdaughter Raegen.

Days before he was mortally wounded, he e-mailed his new wife.

“Baby, I miss you so much,” he wrote. “It sucks, not being able to fall asleep with you on the line, not being able to talk to you for several hours every day. It just destroys me inside.”

Army Pfc. Cody J. Eggleston was killed in action Oct. on 10/24/08

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Army Sgt. Clint A. Sikorski

Remember Our Heroes

Sgt. Clint Sikorski, a Wausau East grad, killed by vehicle at Fort Lewis Army base
East High graduate hit by vehicle while directing traffic
Wausau Daily Herald • October 22, 2008

FORT LEWIS, Wash. -- A 2005 Wausau East High School graduate and U.S. Army soldier was killed Friday when he was struck by a vehicle while stationed in the state of Washington.

Sgt. Clint Sikorski, 21, formerly of Wausau, was attempting to stop traffic at Fort Lewis when he was hit by a civilian vehicle driven by a soldier, according to a Fort Lewis public affairs statement. He was directing an Army truck to a nearby small-arms range when he was struck and killed.

He was stationed at the base since July 2007 as a member of the 1st Battalion, 377th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade. He was a howitzer gunner.

"It was a nightmare. We're still in shock," his mother, Walline Sikorski of Wausau, said Tuesday from Washington, where she was joined by her brother from California and a daughter, with a second daughter preparing to join her today.

The incident occurred before 6 a.m. Friday, and Sikorski was taken to Madigan Army Medical Center, where he died later that day of his injuries, according to the statement.

Walline said her son became "gung ho" about the Army in high school and turned himself from "a roly-poly kid" into a man "with eight-pack, not six-pack abs," who led others with passion.

A soldier Walline Sikorski met in Washington since her son's death told her about a time when he had approached the higher ranking Sikorski about a marital problem. A few minutes later, Sikorski returned and had arranged a 10-day leave for the soldier.

"He wanted (the soldier) to fix his problem so he could be at his best when he returned," Walline said.

Sikorski married his wife, Wausau-area native Mandy Sikorski, in July 2007 after the two met in an Internet chat room while he was stationed in Korea.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Army Spc. Stephen R. Fortunato

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Stephen R. Fortunato, 25, of Danvers, Mass.

Spc. Fortunato was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Oct. 14, 2008 of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device in Qazi Bandeh, Afghanistan. Also killed were Spc. Cory J. Bertrand and Sgt. Preston R. Medley.

Army Spc. Stephen R. Fortunato remembered
The Associated Press

Stephen R. Fortunato was the oldest of three children, and his younger siblings were at their mother’s side to offer memories of their brother.

“I don’t even want to believe this is true. He was my role model, my hero,” said Anthony, 20, the youngest. “I loved him so much that I really, really hope that wherever he is, he knows that.”

Fortunato, 25, of Danvers, Mass., died Oct. 14 in Qazi Bandeh, Afghanistan, when his vehicle struck an IED. He was a 2002 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.


“My son Stephen was very affectionate and a loving kid,” Betty Crawford said. “He was the jokester, all the time. But he was also a dedicated soldier. He went into the Army like anyone else, a kid. He came home as a man.”

He tried studying graphic arts at North Shore Community College, but decided he was not ready for college. He enlisted, choosing the Army because he wanted to be in combat.

He also is survived by his wife, Sherri.

“He had brown hair, green eyes, and the biggest smile in the world,” she said. “He was a loving person. He loved his family. He loved his mother. He stayed strong for them. He was a hero.”

Army Spc. Stephen R. Fortunato was killed in action on 10/14/08.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Army Spc. Geoffrey G. Johnson

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Geoffrey G. Johnson, 28, of Lubbock, Texas

Spc. Johnson was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Division Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Oct. 12, 2008 of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident in Baghdad.

Spc. was ‘golden boy’ who could be relied on
The Associated Press

Spc. Geoffrey G. Johnson was a terrain data specialist who worked in geospatial intelligence. He helped commanders understand unknown areas into which they would lead troops.

But he wasn’t always behind a desk — he volunteered for special patrols, going out and helping to identify enemies.

“I think he thought he could do some good there,” said his father, Jim. “He saw some bad things happen to innocent people.”

Johnson, 28, of Lubbock, Texas, died Oct. 12 of a heart attack in Baghdad. He was a 1998 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Hood.

He was born in Provo, Utah, and moved to Lubbock in 1985. He graduated from South Plains College School of Vocational Nursing before joining the Army. He enjoyed playing games and reading with his children, and was an avid waterskier.

Sgt. Darren Tindall, Johnson’s supervisor, said he excelled in his job and was among the brightest he has led. When he needed the best job done quickly, he knew he could count on “the Golden Boy.”

He also is survived by his wife, Amy and children, Kelsi, 8, Parker, 5, Joel, 3, and Brayden, 1.

Army Spc. Geoffrey G. Johnson was killed in a non-combat related incident on 10/12/08.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Army Sgt. William P. Rudd

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. William P. Rudd, 27, of Madisonville, Ky.

Sgt. Rudd was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga.; died Oct. 5, 2008 of wounds sustained from enemy small arms fire while on a combat patrol in Mosul, Iraq.

Ky. Army Ranger dies in Iraq
The Associated Press

MADISONVILLE, Ky. — The father of a western Kentucky soldier killed in Iraq says the Madisonville community is “filling me up with love and prayers” since learning of his 27-year-old son’s death.

Sgt. William P. Rudd died Sunday after being hit by enemy small-arms fire while on combat patrol in Mosul, according to the Defense Department.

Rudd was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga.

“The community is filling me up with love and prayers,” the soldier’s father, Bill Rudd of Madisonville, told The Messenger newspaper of Madisonville. “They support what Patrick did for our cause, so we wouldn’t have terrorists back over here.”

Patrick Rudd is believed to be the first Hopkins County native killed in Iraq.

He graduated from Madisonville-North Hopkins High School in 1999, then went to work on the assembly line at White Hydraulics in Hopkinsville.

Patrick Rudd had previously been deployed twice to Afghanistan and five times to Iraq. He joined the Army on Oct. 2, 2003.

“He had spent two years thinking about it, knowing that he needed a different direction in his life and wanting to defend our country.”

Patrick Rudd served with the Army Rangers, which are elite special operations troops.

“He didn’t join for himself,” Bill Rudd said. “You might say he joined for everyone else over here.”

Patrick Rudd was a decorated soldier, receiving the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and many awards.

He is expected to posthumously receive the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Bill Rudd last saw his son four months ago when he visited Fort Benning, Ga., where Patrick was stationed.

Other survivors include Patrick Rudd’s mother, Pamela Coakley of Nortonville; his stepmother, Barbara Rudd of Madisonville; and a sister and brother.

The family is waiting to hear when the body will be returned to the United States before making funeral arrangements.

Western Ky. soldier laid to rest, slain in Iraq
The Associated Press

MADISONVILLE, Ky. — The father of a western Ky. Army Ranger recently slain in Iraq said Wednesday that his son was slain during the attack that killed an alleged high-ranking leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

The Messenger of Madisonville reported thousands stood by the roadside as more than a hundred cars followed the hearse carrying Sgt. William Patrick Rudd’s body the six miles to the cemetery. The 27-year-old soldier is the first from Hopkins County to die in the Iraq war.

Rudd’s father, Bill Rudd, stood at his son’s casket at First Baptist Church at the beginning of his funeral and told the congregation his son died in the same raid in which U.S. soldiers killed Abu Qaswarah, the alleged No. 2 leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

The U.S. military announced Abu Qaswarah’s death Wednesday, saying he died Oct. 5 during a raid on a building in Mosul and that news of his death was withheld to allow for positive identification.

The military said Rudd died the same day of wounds suffered from enemy small-arms fire while on a combat patrol in Mosul. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga. Rudd served with the Army Rangers, which are elite special operations troops.

He graduated from Madisonville-North Hopkins High School in 1999, then went to work on the assembly line at White Hydraulics in Hopkinsville.

Rudd had previously been deployed twice to Afghanistan and five times to Iraq. He joined the Army on Oct. 2, 2003.

Members of Rudd’s unit shared memories of their friend during the funeral. A Bible verse was repeated often: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

“I didn’t understand the meaning of John 15:13 until Oct. 5,” Sgt. Mark Williams said. “The night he died, he was with his brothers, his friends.”

On Tuesday, three of Rudd’s comrades — Cpl. Kyle Lillard, Staff Sgt. Brett Krueger and Sgt. Dusty Harrell — shared memories of their friend, whom they called “Ricky.”

Lillard, 25, of Gallatin, Tenn., served with Rudd for three years.

“Outside of work, we’d hang out a lot,” he said. “He came from a place like mine, with the same kind of people.” The friends shared a love of country music and “outdoor stuff,” like fishing and hunting.

“We had pretty much everything in common,” said Krueger, 25, of Grand Junction, Colo. “He was a good-hearted person who loved life. You could never catch him on a bad day.”

Herrell, 29, of Monetta, Ark., recalled Rudd’s fear of snakes with a smile. He and Rudd did a lot of camping and canoeing together. On one occasion, they were on a fishing trip in Georgia when Harrell reeled in a water moccasin on his line.

“I turned around ... Ricky was already up the hill,” Harrell said, laughing. “I convinced him to take the pole. The snake was still on it. I dispatched the snake with a big rock to get it off the hook.”

Besides his father, Rudd is survived by his mother, Pamela Coakley of Nortonville; his stepmother, Barbara Rudd of Madisonville; and a sister and brother.

Hopkins County Sheriff Frankie Latham, whose department helped organize security detail for the funeral procession, told The Messenger that members of Rudd’s unit told him they had seen a negative reaction at another soldier’s funeral recently and asked him what to expect from the community.

“I said it would be just the opposite,” Latham said. “This community supports men and women in the military, but this surprised even me.”

Fallen Ranger known for ‘excellence’
The Associated Press

Sgt. Dusty Herrell recalled William P. Rudd’s fear of snakes with a smile. On one occasion, they were on a fishing trip in Georgia when Herrell reeled in a water moccasin on his line.

By the time Herrell turned around, “Ricky was already up the hill,” Herrell said, laughing. “I convinced him to take the pole.

The snake was still on it.”

Rudd, 27, of Madisonville, Ky., died Oct. 5 of wounds from small-arms fire in Mosul. He was a 1999 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Benning.

After school, he went to work on an assembly line at White Hydraulics and joined the Army in 2003. “He had spent two years thinking about it, knowing that he needed a different direction in his life and wanting to defend our country,” said his father, Bill Rudd.

He had done five deployments to Iraq and two to Afghanistan.

“Anything he did, he did with excellence,” said Sgt. Mark Williams, a fellow Ranger.

He also is survived by his mother, Pamela Coakley and his stepmother, Barbara Rudd.

“He was the best friend anyone could have asked for,” Herrell said. “And he didn’t have to be talking to you to cheer you up.”

Army Sgt. William P. Rudd was killed in action on 10/05/08.

Marine Col. Michael R. Stahlman

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Col. Michael R. Stahlman, 45, of Chevy Chase, Md.

Col. Stahlman assigned to Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.; died Oct. 5, 2008 from injuries sustained in a July 31 nonhostile incident in Anbar province, Iraq.

Col. dies from July nonhostile incident in Iraq
Staff report

OCEANSIDE, Calif. — The Pentagon on Tuesday announced the death of Marine Col. Michael R. Stahlman, who died Sunday from injuries stemming from a nonhostile incident July 31 in Iraq.

Stahlman, 45, of Chevy Chase, Md., served as the staff judge advocate at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif., where he also was director of legal services, according to a statement released Wednesday by Jenny Haskamp, a Combat Center spokeswoman. The desert base is also home to the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command.

No details were readily available about the incident, which officials said is under investigation.

Stahlman, a 1985 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, had completed naval flight officer training and training in the F-4 fighter program before he went to law school under the Corps’ Funded Law Program, according to the Combat Center. In 1993, he received his law degree from California Western School of Law. He later received a master’s degree from the Judge Advocate’s School in Charlottesville, Va., where he later served as an instructor and vice chair of the school’s Criminal Law Department.

His personal military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star.

Last year, Stahlman served as an Article 32 investigation hearing officer at Camp Pendleton in one of the cases arising from the Nov. 19, 2005, deaths of Iraqi civilians in Hadithah.

Fallen colonel ‘excelled at everything’
The Associated Press

A Naval Academy classmate of Col. Michael R. Stahlman said he set tremendously high standards for himself.

“He excelled at everything — academics, athletics — and he made it look easy. Whatever we did, he was number one, and he didn’t even break a sweat,” Joe Matza said.

Stahlman, 45, of Chevy Chase, Md., died Oct. 5 of injuries from a non-hostile incident July 31 in Anbar province. He was assigned to Twentynine Palms.

“He had an outstanding reputation,” said Lt. Col. Steve Stewart at the U.S. Army Legal Center at the Judge Advocate General’s School.

Stahlman grew up around the world — his father worked for the U.S. Foreign Service — and admired the Marines who guarded U.S. embassies.

He was a 1985 graduate of the Naval Academy who majored in political science. In 1993, he got a law degree from the California Western School of Law.

“He was a very motivated, great student — very smart and very patriotic. He was someone you knew was going to devote his life to the military,” said Rick Camacho, 46, another academy classmate.

He is survived by his wife, Kimberly, and two daughters: Piper, 7, and MacKenna, 11.

Marine Col. Michael R. Stahlman died from a nonhostile incident on 10/5/08.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Army Pfc. Tavarus D. Setzler

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Tavarus D. Setzler, 23, of Jacksonville, Fla.

Pfc. Setzler was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Oct. 2, 2008 of wounds sustained when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Majar al Kabir, Iraq.

Soldier’s remains to arrive at Naval Air Station
The Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Hundreds gathered at Jacksonville Naval Air Station to greet the flag-draped coffin of a Florida soldier killed in Iraq.

Pentagon officials say Pfc. Tavarus D. Setzler of Jacksonville died Oct. 2 when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb in Majar al-Kabir, Iraq.

Setzler was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood.

His family prayed over his coffin after it was taken out of a jet Friday. Police and veterans on motorcycles then escorted the family off the base, past hundreds of service members and civilian base employees.

Pfc. remembered as being motivated, dedicated
The Associated Press

Tavarus D. Setzler had been in the Army for less than a year and had been in Iraq for about six months. He proposed to his girlfriend after returning from boot camp in Texas.

“He was wearing a big old ring, and I said ‘Oh, that’s what happens now — you go to Texas and come back with a ring?’” his fiancee, Brittnie Jones, remembered saying. “‘Where’s my ring?”‘ Setzler gave it to her later that day, not long before heading off to Iraq.

Setzler, 23, of Jacksonville, Fla., was killed Oct. 2 when his vehicle struck an explosive in Majar al-Kabir. He was a 2005 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Hood.

“He was an outstanding student,” said Navy Lt. Dean Williams, a senior naval science instructor at his high school. “For ROTC, he was the kind of student you want. He was motivated and dedicated and very well disciplined.”

His brother Shawn Baker last heard from his brother on Sept. 29, three days before his death. It was the day before Baker’s birthday.

“It was an e-mail and it said he was coming home soon,” Baker said. “It said, ‘Happy birthday, old man. I’ll see you in November.’”

Army Pfc. Tavarus D. Setzler was killed in action on 10/2/08.

Army Spc. Jason E. von Zerneck

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Jason E. von Zerneck, 33, of Charlotte, N.C.

Spc. Von Zerneck was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry Regiment, New York Army National Guard, Jamestown, N.Y.; died Oct. 2,2008 of injuries sustained from a vehicle incident in Qara Bagh Karez, Afghanistan.

Army Spc. Jason E. von Zerneck remembered
The Associated Press

Before he left for Afghanistan in January, Jason E. von Zerneck told a newspaper that leaving his family behind was “definitely the hardest thing.”

“Some of the soldiers in this unit come from the poorest neighborhoods,” he said. “These are the people who are putting their lives on the line for the city and the country, and sometimes that is forgotten.”

Von Zerneck, 33, of New York City, died Oct. 2 after his vehicle overturned in Qara Bagh Karez, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Jamestown, N.Y.

Von Zerneck, a compliance officer with Bank of America, was a “die-hard Yankees fan” and loved watching New York Rangers games.

His mother, Barbara, said she hoped that her son would be remembered by Americans as a brave soldier. “I don’t think there’s enough attention paid to the sacrifices of our soldiers,” she said. “That’s something that angers me.”

He is survived by his wife, Stephanie, 30, and three children — daughter Raina, 9, and sons Joseph, 6, and Noah, 3.

His father, Richard, said his son recently e-mailed him to thank him for helping to plan Noah’s birthday party.

Army Spc. Jason E. von Zerneck was killed in action on 10/2/08.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Army Veteran Elijah Warren

Remember Our Heroes

Suicide of Army Veteran, Senior Shocks Family

By Zach Williams
Contributing Writer
Wednesday, October 8, 2008 | 8:49 pm

Elijah Warren, a UC Berkeley senior and a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head on Oct. 1 in his Oakland home. He was 26 years old.

Police found Warren at his residence on the 1900 block of 90th Street in Oakland at 3 p.m. on Oct. 1, said Oakland Police spokesperson Jeff Thomason. Warren did not leave a suicide note, Thomason said.

About 20 friends and family members came to Warren's wake in Oakland on Wednesday to bid farewell to a man who they said was intelligent, ambitious and articulate. His sudden passing shocked his loved ones, many of whom said there had been no indication that Warren would take his own life.

"No tell-tale signs," said Geoff Warren, his older brother. "A really cool, calm guy."

Elijah Warren, an Oakland native, leaves behind an ex-wife, Traci Lee-Warren, and a 10-year-old stepson, Jinho Warren. He would have graduated this spring from UC Berkeley with a degree in political science, family members said.

Before enrolling at UC Berkeley, Warren had dropped out of high school in ninth grade. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 17 and served in the Special Forces for eight years, during which time he learned Arabic and traveled through Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Family members said they did not notice any signs of depression in Warren when he returned from overseas in 2005.

"Elijah was a good soldier, obeyed commands given to him," said Rev. Earl Hooker, assistant minister at Sweet Home Baptist Church in East Oakland. "We got to learn from Elijah how to be caring and helpful to one another."

Starting in 2005, Warren also took community college classes in Alameda.

"I don't come across a student like Elijah often, one in a million ... he was the younger brother I never had. It's hard, a void in my life, the pain is there," said Maurice Jones, Warren's English instructor at the community college.

After he transferred to UC Berkeley in 2007, Warren continued to pursue his passions for study and debate in the classroom.

"I was particularly impressed by his passion in class discussions," said Peter Ryan, Warren's Political Science 104 GSI, in an e-mail.

UC Berkeley senior Antonio Herrera, one of Warren's best friends, said that Warren possessed a unique intelligence.

"He was so smart, it didn't make sense," he said.

Warren, along with his brothers, also taught for a self-defense mentoring program at Berkeley Technology Academy. He trained high school students in a physically rigorous regimen and spoke to them about the importance of attending college, often drawing on his own personal experiences.

"They saw him at Berkeley, forcing them to sign up for college. And what could they say?" Geoff Warren said.

Another brother, Jinho Warren, said it is difficult to justly define Elijah's character.

"He was an activist, socialist, every adjective that you can think of (for) an intelligent black man," he said.

Warren's funeral will be held this Thursday at 11 a.m. at East Oakland Deliverance Center in Oakland.

Marine Sgt. Jan Pietrzak

Remember Our Heroes

US Marines charged with murdering colleague and wife
Four Marines, including one nicknamed "Psycho", have been charged with the execution-style murder of a fellow Marine and his wife at their home in California.

Last Updated: 7:11PM GMT 07 Nov 2008

Two of the men worked for the murdered marine, Sgt Jan Pietrzak, 24, a helicopter mechanic based in San Diego who served in Iraq from 2005 to 2006.

He and his wife, Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, 26, were found gagged, tied up and shot in the head at their ransacked home in Riverside County, southeast of Los Angeles, last month.

According to court documents, the four men, aged 18 to 21, confessed to investigators that they robbed and murdered Sgt Peitrzak and sexually assaulted and killed his wife after breaking-in in search of valuables last month.

Jewellery and other items were taken and a fire was set before they left, investigators said.

Sgt Pietrzak, who was born in Poland and raised in Brooklyn, New York, joined the Marines in 2003.

Murder charges were filed against Lance Cpl Emrys John, 18, of Maryland, and Lance Cpl Tyrone Miller, 20, of North Carolina – who both worked for Sgt Pietrzak – Pte. Kevin Cox, 20, of Tennessee, and Lance Cpl Kesaun Sykes, 21, of California.

Miller said he forced his way into the home by pointing a shotgun at Sgt Pietrzak, according to an affidavit, before tying him and his wife up and discussing with John whether to kill them.

Cox and Sykes, known as "Psycho," acknowledged they went to the home to rob Sgt Pietrzak. All four said his wife was sexually assaulted.

The men are being held in jail and due in court on November 20. Prosecutors said they had not decided whether to seek the death penalty.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Army Pfc. Christopher A. Bartkiewicz

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Christopher A. Bartkiewicz, 25, of Dunfermline, Ill.


Pfc. Bartkiewicz was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany; died Sept. 30, 2008 in Baghdad of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his dismounted patrol using small-arms fire.

Pfc. ‘wanted the best for his family’
The Associated Press

Pfc. Christopher A. Bartkiewicz had grown up near military bases in North Carolina and was lured to service.

“Being a part of the Army was something he’d always wanted to do,” said his mother-in-law, Carol Hubbard. “He was just a hardworking kid who wanted the best for his family. He knew when he went in that chances were great he’d go to Iraq.”

Bartkiewicz, 25, of Dunfermline, Ill., was killed Sept. 30 in Baghdad by small-arms fire. He was assigned to Baumholder, Germany.

“Bart was a great man and a loving father and husband. He was one of our brothers and will be missed,” Pfc. Eric Williams, a medic who treated Bartkiewicz’s injuries, wrote on his blog about his friend.

Bartkiewicz worked at a Morton factory and then at Coca-Cola in Bartonville before joining the Army about 1 1/2 years ago because he thought it would be a good way to support his family.

He also is survived by his wife, Emily, and two daughters, McKayla, 6, and Morgan, 2.

“He was a hero,” said Hubbard. “He gave his life for his country. What more can you ask for?”

Army Pfc. Christopher A. Bartkiewicz was killed in action on 9/30/08.

Army Pvt Dustin Tucker

Remember Our Heroes

Fort Hood soldier, 22, dies in California

FORT HOOD – Post officials released on Wednesday the name of a 4th Infantry Division soldier who died Saturday in Santa Rosa, Calif., of unknown causes.

Pvt. Dustin Mark Tucker, 22, of Kenwood, Calif., on Aug. 28 was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital after complaining about not feeling well. Tucker's kidneys failed on Aug. 29, and he died the next day.

Tucker joined the military in August 2007 as an indirect fire infantryman and was assigned to the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, since January 2008. Tucker deployed to Iraq last March.

Tucker's military awards and decorations include the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.