Sunday, October 30, 2011

Army Staff Sgt. Ari R. Cullers

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Ari R. Cullers, 28, of New London, Conn.

SSgt Cullers was assigned to 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; died Oct. 30, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries caused by an enemy rocket-propelled grenade.


SSgt Cullers was born in New London. At some point, he moved to Waterford, where he graduated from Waterford High School in 2001. He is the third Waterford High alumni to die in combat in the Middle East.

SSgt Cullers joined the Army in 2005. He had been stationed at Fort Sill, OK, before being assigned to Fort Drum in 2008. He had previously served a tour in Korea and had deployed to Afghanistan in December 2008. He deployed to Afghanistan for the second time in March.

SSgt Cullers' awards and decorations include:

Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Army Commendation Medal (2)
Army Achievement Medal (4)
Army Good Conduct Medal (4)
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Overseas Service Ribbon (3)
NATO Medal
Korean Defense Service Medal
Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon
Combat Action Badge
Combat and Special Skill Badge Basic Marksmanship Qualification Badge Bar, Weapon, Rifle
Driver and Mechanic Badge, Driver W

November 13, 2011
I have been in The same Platoon as SSG Cullers since 2008. I am extremely proud that I had the opportunity to serve side by side with him. He taught all of us so much and he will surely be missed. My heart and prayers are with your family through this hard time in life. Gone but never forgotten, the greatest leader I know, SSG Ari R. Cullers.~ SGT Robert I., Ft Drum, New York

November 09, 2011
I am a Goverment Contractor assigned to Ari's unit here at FOB Pasab, Afghanistan. I have worked closely with Ari. I have nothing but respect for him, He truley is a great man, a great leader and a man I am proud to call my friend. Rest in Peace Ari R, Cullers. My prayers and Thoughs go out to you and your Family. The Nation has truely lost a real Hero.~Rick P., Cullman, Alabama

November 07, 2011
SSG Ari Cullers It was my pleasure to serve with you in Afghanistan (10 MTN DIV). You will always remain a part of our lives and your ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten. We love you. To the family my deepest condolence and you all will remain in our prayers. Know that your Soldier was the very best at what he did….. He is deeply missed! Very respectfully, WO1 Marilyn T P.


Army Staff Sgt. Ari R. Cullers was killed in action on 10/30/11.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Army Sgt. Carlo F. Eugenio

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Carlo F. Eugenio, 29, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Sgt Eugenio was assigned to 756th Transportation Company, 224th Sustainment Brigade, California Army National Guard, Van Nuys, Calif.; died Oct. 29, 2011 in Kabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by an IED. Also killed were Army Lt. Col. David E. Cabrera, Army Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Newman and Army Sgt. James M. Darrough.



Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, Adjutant General for the California National Guard, said in a press statement: "We extend our heartfelt condolences to Sgt. Eugenio's family and commit to them our unwavering support. Sgt. Eugenio's death, the first of a California Guardsman in Afghanistan, is a painfully wrenching testimony to the bravery, service and sacrifice of our state's National Guardsmen."

Sgt Eugenio is the first California National Guardsman to be killed in combat in Afghanistan.

Sgt Eugenio is the youngest of five children. He graduated from Etiwanda High School.

Sgt Eugenio joined the service five years ago and had received several commendations and medal. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart posthumously.

This was Eugenio’s second deployment as an Army soldier. His first was to Kuwait, said Eugenio’s sister Cynthia Valdez.

Valdez remembers her brother as upbeat and surrounded by friends.

“He was always happy. It took a lot for him not to be sunny,” she said. “He didn’t just know people, he had relationships with everyone.”

Eugenio was the youngest of five children. The family resided in Fontana before moving to Rancho Cucamonga about 10 years ago.

He was a guy’s guy who loved the excitement of the outdoors.

“Motorcycle, dirt bike, snow boarding, any kind of extreme sport, he was into,” Valdez said.


Eugenio’s military banner was hung in front of the family home on Tuesday. The city gave the banner to the family after Eugenio’s first deployment.

Army Sgt. Carlo F. Eugenio was killed in action on 10/29/11.

Army Sgt. James M. Darrough

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Army Sgt. James M. Darrough, 38, of Austin, Texas

Sgt Darrough was assigned to 101st Finance Company, 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Oct. 29, 2011 in Kabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by an IED. Also killed were Army Lt. Col. David E. Cabrera, Army Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Newman and Army Sgt. Carlo F. Eugenio.


Darrough was a Financial Management Technician assigned to Charlie Detachment, 101st Finance Company, 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

He joined the Army in February 2005 and arrived at Fort Campbell in July 2009. His awards and decorations include: Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal; Meritorious Unit Commendation; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal with service star; Southwest Asia Service Medal with service star; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Armed Forces Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; United Nations Medal; North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal; Kuwait Liberation Medal; Expert Field Medical Badge and Combat Action Badge.

Darrough is survived by his father, Robert Darrough of Charlotte, N.C. and mother, Janelle Darrough of Livingston, Texas. He is also survived by his wife, Isaura Darrough; sons, Justin and Jared Darrough and daughters, Julianna and Jenna Darrough, all of Clarksville, Tenn.

Army Sgt. James M. Darrough was killed in action on 10/29/11.

Army Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Newman

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Newman, 26, of Shelby, N.C.

SSgt Newman was assigned to Medical Company A, Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii; died Oct. 29, 2011 in Kabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by an IED. Also killed were Army Lt. Col. David E. Cabrera, Army Sgt. James M. Darrough and Army Sgt. Carlo F. Eugenio.


by Audrina Bigos
SHELBY, NC-A local family mourns the loss of U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Newman. The soldier from Shelby was one of 13 Americans and four others killed Saturday in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Newman was Shelby born and raised.

Newman graduated from Crest High School in 2004, leaving behind his younger brother, Brent Newman.

Brent thought his brother's 6’-6’’, 280 pound build made him invincible.


"I'm thinking, just that right there, he ain't getting killed," said Newman.

Brent's grandparents knocked on his door early Sunday morning to tell him his brother was dead.

Sgt. Newman was one of 13 Americans and four others killed on an armored Nato bus in Kabul, Afghanistan. A Taliban suicide bomber rammed the bus with a car filled with explosives.

"I really admire him because he know'd when he went over there that there's that possibility," said Teresa Gregory, Sgt. Newman’s aunt.

Newman was scheduled to come home for a two-week leave on December 31.

It would have been his first time home for the holidays since joining the military in 2004.

"It's going to be hard this year. It's really, really going to be hard,” said Gregory.

Newman’s grandparents, Don and Earlene Newman, flew to Dover, Delaware with Newman's wife to claim his body.

The soldier leaves behind his wife and a 5-year-old daughter.

The Newton family plans to hold Sgt. Newman's funeral this weekend or early next week. The funeral service will take place at Cleveland Funeral Home and Newman will be buried at Cleveland Memorial Park with full military honors.

Crest graduate killed in Afghan suicide attack

SHELBY — A suicide bomber smashed a vehicle piled with explosives into an armored NATO bus Saturday in Kabul, Afghanistan. At least 17 people were killed. Thirteen were Americans including a 2004 Crest High School graduate.

U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Rod Newman, 25, was on the bus. The bus was en route to a hospital, said Newman’s aunt, Teresa Gregory. Military personnel confirmed his death Sunday morning to Newman’s family. The attack was labeled as a deadly strike against the U.S.-led coalition in Kabul since the war began, according to the Associated Press. The explosion tilted the bus on its side and a fired ensued. The bus was surrounded by military vehicles.

Newman was raised in Shelby by his grandparents. Gregory said he joined the Army just after he graduated high school. He was a counselor in the Army.

Newman was supposed to come home Dec. 31 for two weeks. He left behind a wife and five-year-old daughter from a previous marriage.

“It doesn’t seem real,” Gregory said. “We were really shocked.”

Brent Newman said his older brother had a big heart and enjoyed making people laugh. It is hard for him to say his brother was gone.

“I felt angry when I found out, but now it’s just sorrow,” Brent Newman said. “I loved him. That’s it.”

The family used Facebook Chat to stay in touch with Newman while he was deployed. Gregory said a week never went by when Newman didn’t talk to a family member.

Newman bought a car in Shelby while in Afghanistan. He looked to buy a home in Shelby after he retired from the military, Gregory said.

“He’ll never get to see that car, and he was such a hard worker,” she said. “He would’ve given the shirt off his back.”

Randy Birch said Newman, his cousin, was also his best friend. Birch was one of the last people from home to talk to Newman before he died. Birch said they spoke Friday morning.

“He was concerned about what to get people for Christmas,” Birch said. “I told him not to worry about gifts and just come home safe.”

Birch described Newman as a big guy, standing around 6 feet 6 inches tall. Birch said his cousin was good with computers and loved the Army.

“My mother came crying to me and told me what happened. I was in shock,” Birch said.

Birch said the family often sent care packages to Newman. The family would always send Livermush, Newman’s favorite. Birch said his grandmother sent his cousin desserts in the packages. A red velvet cake and pecan pie sit in her freezer. She was going to send them to Newman in a few days.

Newman’s grandparents planned to join his wife in Dover, Del. Sunday to claim his body.

Newman will be buried in Shelby with funeral arrangements announced this week. The family wants to bring him home, Gregory said.

Army Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Newman was killed in action on 10/29/11.

Army Lt. Col. David E. Cabrera

Remember Our Heroes

Army Lt. Col. David E. Cabrera, 41, of Abilene, Texas

Lt Col Cabrera was assigned to Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md.; died Oct. 29, 2011 in Kabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by an improvised explosive device. Also killed were Army Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Newman, Army Sgt. James M. Darrough and Army Sgt. Carlo F. Eugenio.


Lt Col Cabrera was killed along with 12 others when a suicide car bomber rammed the NATO convoy in which he was riding in. He had just deployed to Afghanistan on September 30.

Lt Col Cabrera graduated from Sam Houston High School in 1988 and attended Texas A&M University. He joined the Army in 1996 and served as a Medical Service Corps Officer.

Lt Col Cabrera was Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the Uniformed Serivce University of Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD, where he saw patients, taught third- and fourth-year military medical students, conducted research in the fields of resilience, PTSD and post-traumatic growth, and avidly participated in a number of university field training exercises and activities.

He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on September 1, 2011, in a small ceremony at USU, surrounded by his family, friends, and close colleagues.

Lt Col Cabrera had a great sense of humor, was easy going and had an infectious smile. He loved to travel the world with his family and friends. He climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Rainier in addition to other mountain peaks. He loved the ocean.

Wife, August said she received her last letter from her husband four days after she learned that he had been killed. He had written the letter in honor of their wedding anniversary, October 19th. He had mailed it from Afghanistan weeks before.

"I figured it had been lost because it had been so long," said August. "It sort of felt like a gift from God, you know, like, 'Here's the last thing David said to you.' It was very, sweet, very sweet, just filled with love."

Lt Col Cabrera's 7 year old son, Max said, "He never said tomorrow. You want to ride a bike, let's do it today. You want to climb a mountain, let's do it today."

August said, "He never postponed anything. He lived in the moment. Almost like he knew he wasn't going to have all the time in the world."

August last spoke with her husband the day before he was killed. She told him to be safe and he promised to come home. She woke up during the night and felt something was wrong. It wasn't long before she found out why.

Lt Col Cabrera is survived by father and step-mother, Robert and Anita; wife, August, and their sons Maxwell and Roanin; son Corbin and daughter Gillian; siblings Darcy, David, Daniel, Paul, Renae, Diane, Angelina, Robert, Samuel, Julie, Kevin, Michael

Army Lt. Col. David E. Cabrera was killed in action on 10/29/11.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Marine Staff Sgt. Stephen J. Dunning

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Marine Staff Sgt. Stephen J. Dunning, 31, of Milpitas, Calif.

SSgt Dunning was assigned to 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan; died Oct. 27, 2011 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.


SSgt Dunning served as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician. He was killed while disarming a bomb that had been buried by insurgents in the Helmond province. This was his second deployment to Afghanistan.

SSgt Dunning graduated from Milpitas High School in 1998. Following in his father's and uncle's footsteps into the service, joining the Marines in 1999.

In 2010, SSgt Dunning was featured in a photo in Vanity Fair magazine showing him holding an Xbox controller that guids a remote control bomb disposal robot.

SSgt Dunning's awards and decorations include:
Purple Heart
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Combat Action Ribbon
Navy Unit Commendation
Good Conduct Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
National Defense Service Medal
NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan
2 Letters of Appreciation
Certificate of Commendation

SSgt Dunning was laid to rest on November 4, in Pleasant Hill Cemetery.

SSgt Dunning is survived by his parents, Tomoe and Robert; siblings, David and Joy; maternal grandparents, Yoshiko and Gary Watson of Japan; paternal grandparents, Jim and Olga Dunning; Marie and Carl.

Marine Staff Sgt. Stephen J. Dunning was killed in action on 10/27/11.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Army Sgt. John A. Lyons

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Army Sgt. John A. Lyons, 26, of Seaside Park, N.J.

Sgt. Lyons was assigned to 8th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas; died Oct. 26, 2011 in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by enemy small-arms fire.


Sgt Lyons graduated from Central Regional High School in 2003. He graduated from Rutgers University in 2008 with degrees in Political Science and Latin.

Sgt Lyons joined the Army in 2009. He served as a combat engineer. He deployed to Afghanistan last December and was due to be home this month in time to celebrate Christmas and his birthday with family.

Former teacher, Joseph Winkelried, said, "He was very, very intelligent. He would have succeeded in anything."

Sgt Lyons' awards and decorations include:
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Good Conduct Medal
NATO Medal
Army Achievement Medal (3)
National Defense Service Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon
Combat Action Badge

It was an honor and pleasure to serve with you. You will never be forgotten. you will forever be in my heart and in my soul. It's my pleasure to call you my brother, my battle and my friend. Rest easy Sgt Lyons.~Cpl Thomas C.

Funeral for Sgt Lyons was held on November 12 in Toms River, NJ.

Sgt Lyons is survived by his mother, Susan; father, Ron; siblings, Adan and Lena; aunt and uncle Beth and Tony; fiancee, Kristiani.

Army Sgt. John A. Lyons was killed in action on 10/26/11.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Army Sgt. 1st Class David G. Robinson

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. 1st Class David G. Robinson, 28, of Winthrop Harbor, Ill.

SFC Robinson was assigned to the U.S. Army Support Activity, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; died Oct. 25, 2011 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


SFC Robinson's family released the following statement:
“Our family appreciates the wonderful outpouring of support we have received from our family, friends and neighbors.David will always remain a hero in our eyes, because he chose to stand up for his country at a time when we all needed him the most. He will forever be held in our family’s honor as a true patriot, and in our hearts as a loving son, a humbled and caring husband and an awesome father. Thank you for this opportunity to share David’s memory with our community. Although we are very grateful for the outpouring of support, we prefer to keep our family’s observances for David private. We appreciate your consideration during this time of our deepest sorrow.”

SFC Robinson attended St Joseph Catholic Academy in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He joined the Army in 2003. This was his second deployment to the Middle East. He was based in El Paso, Texas.

SFC Robinson was an avid Chicago Bears and Cubs fan. He met his wife Emily when they both worked at Six Flags in Gurnee. They married in 2003.

SFC Robinson was laid to rest on November 8, in Ascension Cemetery, Libertyville, Ill.

SFC Robinson is survived by parents, Marijo and Dennis; wife, Emily, and their children, Matthew and Jackson; brothers, Gregory and Michael. He was preceded in death by brother, Joseph.

Army Sgt. 1st Class David G. Robinson was killed in action on 10/25/11.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Marine Lance Cpl. Jason N. Barfield

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Marine Lance Cpl. Jason N. Barfield, 22, of Ashford, Ala.

LCpl Barfield was assigned to 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.; died Oct. 24, 2011 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.


Lcpl Barfield graduated Ashford High School in 2008. He joined the Marines in Januray 2010. This was his first deployment.

Friends and family remembered Barfield as a man who loved God, loved his family, had a positive attitude and infectious smile.

Father, Ray, said, “He was one of the most well-loved guys you’d ever meet, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my son. He never met a stranger. Everywhere he went, everybody just took to him. He was always smiling and so outgoing.”

“We knew what he was facing,” Ray said. “You just don’t think about it happening this close to home.”

“He’s like that all the time. He had one of those smiles that I don’t think it ever left his face,” said Kelli Barfield. “He was one of those people who, when you met him, you never forgot him. He had an impact on everyone. I just can’t say enough. I think he slept with a smile on his face, and he never gave in to idle gossip.”

“One thing about him is he loved family,” Ray said. “He even had a tattoo with family put on his arm. He loved the Lord. He loved going to church. He sang ‘Amazing Grace’ at my (mother’s) funeral about three years ago.”

The Barfields had just spoken to their son the day before. “He just called us Sunday morning at about 1:30 in the morning, woke us up and talked to us,” Ray said. “He sounded so good. They’d been on a mission and everything was fine. He was looking forward to getting home and getting some of my cooking. He loved my cooking.”


Aunt, Shirley Cobb, recalled a conversation she had with her nephew, “He said, ‘This is my job, I’ve got to go do my job. I hate that it’s in Afghanistan, but that’s my job."

“You know these boys go over there and fight, and he knew it was taking a chance. He said that the last time he was here. It’s just a terrible feeling for (us).”

“He had grown up to be the best, sweetest, kindest, most loving young man that you have ever wanted to meet,” she said. “He was just such a good person. He was loved by everybody that met him, and we loved him dearly. He’s going to be missed terribly.”

Kelli said her son surprised them with a visit home last Christmas. He had told her he wasn't going to make it home cause he had been assigned to cold weather training over the holidays. First he surprised his little sister, Savannah, by going to her school, then surprised his family at home.

“That was my last Christmas with him, and I will always cherish it,” Kelli said. “I knew he wouldn’t be home this year, but I never dreamed last year would be my final one. I will cherish it forever. I was very blessed to have him as a son."

Lcpl Barfield's awards and decorations include:
Purple Heart
Combat Action Ribbon
National Defense Service Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
NATO-ISAF Medal

Lcpl Barfield was laid to rest on November 5 in Center Baptist Church Cemetery in Webb.

Lcpl Barfield is survived by his parents, Kelli and Ray; brothers, Chris, Phillip, Zack, Airman 1st Class Travis Barfield, Lance Corporal Lucas Barfield; sisters, Jennifer and Savannah; and fiancee, Joyanna.

Marine Lance Cpl. Jason N. Barfield was killed in action on 10/24/11.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Army Sgt. Edward S. Grace

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Army Sgt. Edward S. Grace, 39, of South Dartmouth, Mass.

Sgt Grace was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 182nd Infantry Regiment, 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Massachusetts National Guard; died Oct. 23, 2011 in Silver Spring, Md., from a non-combat illness.


"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Grace family during this very difficult time. We hope the Grace family will find some consolation knowing that Sergeant Grace gave his life while defending our commonwealth and nation,” said Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter, The Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard.

Sgt Grace died from an unknown medical condition at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He had been flown to Walter Reed from Afghanistan, where he was serving with the 182nd Infantry Battalion, providing security for a provincial reconstruction team.

Sgt Grace joined the National Guard in 2006. He deployed to Afghanistan in March this year. He was due to return early next year.

Army Capt. Shawn P.T. Charles

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Army Capt. Shawn P.T. Charles, 40, of Hickory, N.C.

Capt. Charles was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Oct. 23, 2011 in San Antonio from a non-combat illness.


Capt Charles, born in Los Angeles, Calif., died of a terminal illness at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX. He was diagnosed while deployed in Iraq. He had deployed there in August.

A 22 year decorated veteran of the Army and Army Reserves. He re-entered active duty servedservice in Januray 2009 and served as the S-1 and Battalion Adjutant.

Capt Charles received a bachelor's degree from Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, as well as a master's degree in public administration from Appalachian State University in Boone.

"I'm proud to say I served with Capt. Shawn Charles in (2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment), where he was highly respected. We all loved Capt. Charles," said Maj. Charles Cowan. "We loved Capt. Charles for who he was, how he treated people and what he stood for. (He) illustrates the idea of living life as a positive example for others."

Capt Charles' awards and decorations include:
Bronze Star
Meritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Army Achievement Medal (2)
Army Good Conduct Medal (2)
National Defense Service Medal (2)
Global War on Terorism Service Medal
Armed Forced Reserve Medal with Mobilization Device
Army Service Ribbon
Oversseas Service Ribbon

Capt Charles was laid to rest in Hopewell Baptist Church Cemetery in Morganton.

Capt Charles is survived by his wife of nine years, Melissa; and their children, Zoe and Max

Marine Lance Cpl. Jordan S. Bastean

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Jordan S. Bastean, 19, of Pekin, Ill.

LCpl Bastean was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.; died Oct. 23, 2011 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.


Lcpl Bastean graduated from Pekin Community High School in 2010, where he was a four-year cadet of the JROTC and had been the captain of the Air Rifle Team. He also had participated in track and cross country.

Lcpl Bastean enlisted in the Marines in July 2010. The battalion deployed last month to Sangin, where forces have recently suffered the heaviest casualties. This was his first deployment.

Lcpl Bastean loved big trucks, loved to hunt and was a fan of the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Cubs. He was an only child.

Bastean “excelled in everything,” not just as a four-year cadet and captain of the program’s champion-caliber Air Rifle Team, said Master Sgt. Joseph Fabish. “He was a very well-rounded person. I’d trust him completely in anything. I’m just devastated. This is hitting the cadets pretty hard...”

Father, Steve, remembered how his son, Jordan returned his Jeep after a day of four-wheeling. "He brought it back with 4 inches of mud inside. He told me, 'Dad, it's a Jeep; it's supposed to get dirty.' It had a broken transmission and a broken engine. I laughed and then fixed it."

Further remembering his son, Steve said, there's the goofy smile, the cowboy hat, the love of monster trucks, and of course, the Marines. It's what his son wanted to do, be a Marine because "they were the toughest."

Steve, who is 40, enlisted in the Army and completed boot camp a few months ago. He is a private, serving with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. He left civilian life and a good job because of his son's example.

"He inspired me. Fathers are supposed to inspire their kids to look up to them. Well, my son is my hero and what I look up to," said Steve.

"My son and I had a father-son relationship, but we were also friends. This was something that kept us together. We could go for a run in the park and I could keep up with him and he could keep up with me."

The two were able to time their leaves to come back over Labor Day weekend for some time together. It was just before Jordan was to ship out for Afghanistan. As for any interservice rivalry, he noted his son outranked him as long as they were in uniform.

His father says his son was the type of person who didn't get angry and always managed to look at the positives in life, no matter what.

"He'd be going down the road in his truck, a wheel would fall off and he'd stop, look at it, laugh, fix the wheel and then go on again. Nothing bothered him," Steve Bastean said. "No matter what, Jordan was a happy kid and a happy man."

Lcpl Bastean’s girlfriend, Courtney Anglin, wrote this message on Bastean's Facebook page:

i love you so much i will never forget you, you will always be in my heart no matter what babe i love you ♥ you made me feel like a different person when i was around you, you made me the happiest person:) and you will be missed I LOVE YOU

Friend, Vanessa Kowalczyk wrote: "I remember every bit of advice you have given me, and I love you with all my heart. ... You were the best brother I could have ever asked for. You are my hero and I will never forget you." She also posted lyrics from a Tim McGraw song, "so lay me down in that open field out on the edge of town. And know my soul is where my momma always prayed that it would go. And if you're reading this, I'm already home."

Lcpl Bastean's awards and decorations include:
Purple Heart
Combat Action Ribbon
National Defense Service Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
NATO Medal ISAF-Afghanistan.

Lcpl Bastean was laid to rest on November 2 in Prairie Haven Cemetery, Pekin, IL.

Lcpl Bastean is survived by his parents, Kathy and Steven; grandparents, Bob, Judy, and Thomas; and Jackie and Phil; girlfriend, Courtney Anglin.

Marine Lance Cpl. Jordan S. Bastean was killed in action on 10/23/11.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Army Sgt. Paul A. Rivera

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Paul A. Rivera, 26, of Round Rock, Texas

Sgt Rivera was assigned to the 709th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, Hohenfels, Germany; died Oct. 22, 2011 in Logar province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered in a vehicle rollover during an attack by enemy forces.


Sgt Rivera deployed to Afghanistan in April. This was his second deployment. He was due to come home in January.

Sgt Rivera was a 2003 graduate of Stony Point High School. He served as manager of the school's basketball team, where he kept statistics and filmed games. He was also a member of the school's NJROTC.

Stony Point basketball coach Brian Route said, "Paul was the ultimate team player. Whatever we needed him to do he did it. By the time he was a senior, I felt like he was an assistant coach to us because of all the work he did. He was very mature for his age and he was willing to do anything you would ask of him. He was a great friend to people and you could really count on him."

Rivera continued to keep in contact with Route, sending him text messages to learn when Stony Point's basketball team was playing.

"Whatever he decided to do in life he was successful at it," Route said.

Family and friends described Rivera as deeply spiritual, sincere and serene. He was an alter server with his church. He loved playing video games and football.

Best friend, Nick Carmona, said he and Rivera grew up playing Micro Machines and video games.

The attacks of September 11 inspired the two to join the military as soon as they were old enough. Rivera joined the Army, Carmona the Air Force.

“The games we used to play had just become reality," said Carmona, who is a senior airman.

“He was funny, he was charismatic, he was a genuine person, he was kind-hearted,” said Carmona. “He was constantly praying and did everything by the book. He left everything in God’s hands."

The last time Carmona spoke to his best friend was on Facebook, 11 days before Rivera was killed.

“I could tell he wanted to come back home, but the soldier that he was, he didn’t let other people see that,” Carmona said. “It hurts me a lot because I didn’t get to say, ‘I love you,’ to him; I just said, ‘I’ll talk to you later, man.’”
Father, Fred, remembered the day his son announced his intentions.

"My son told my wife, 'You know I'm thinking of joining the Army,' smiling at her. And she said, 'Why don't you just let somebody else do that?'

"His reply was, 'But Mom, if all mothers felt that way, who would be there to defend our country?"

"That was his way of letting us know that he had his heart set," said his father.

Rivera also inspired his brother, Spc. Phillip Rivera, to join the Army.

"My heart goes out to the family because it's just tragedy you know something happened to him," said neighbor Debra Alvarez. "He fought for our country, he's our hero."

Another neighbor, Jesse Padilla, said, "I hope that people when they see the military uniform, I hope they at least acknowledge them, and whenever I see them I say thank you for serving."

Sgt Rivera was laid to rest on November 2, in Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen, TX.

Sgt Rivera is survived by parents, Evelyn and Fred; brother Phillip.

Army Sgt. Paul A. Rivera was killed in action on 10/22/11.

Army Pfc. Christopher A. Horns

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Christopher A. Horns, 20, of Colorado Springs, Colo.

Pfc Horns was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; died Oct. 22, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.


Lt Col David Hodne, commander of the 2nd Battalion, paid this tribute to Pfc Horns: "Courageous and disciplined, he lost his life while pressing the assault in an area known for insurgent activity. He earned the universal respect of seniors and peers alike. We will honor his service and remember his sacrifice."

Pfc Horns was an avid outdoorsman who loved to ride his dirt bike and hike. He had recently proposed to his girlfriend. He had yet to introduce his fiancée to his family. Following his father, Larry's, footsteps who served nearly 30 years in the Army and served a tour in Afghanistan near the beginning of the war, Christopher joined the Army in 2010. He served as an assistand machine gunner and automatic rifleman. This was his first deployment.

Uncle, Martin Horns, said his nephew had trained for boot camp months before he shipped out and lost about 40 pounds in the process. He qualified for Ranger school right out of boot camp, he said.

“There’s a high dropout rate but he made it through and he was so proud to be a Ranger,” Martin Horns said.

Pfc awards and decorations include:
Purple Heart
Army Commendation Medal for Combat Service
Army Commendation Medal for Peacetime Service
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Army Expert Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Badge
National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Combat Infantry Badge
Parachutist Badge

Funeral services were held on November 5 in Calmar, IA. Patriot Guars Riders from at least three different states accompanied Horns' body from Colorado to Iowa.

Pfc Horns is survived by his parents, Tamara and Larry; and sister, Tiffany.

Army Pfc. Christopher A. Horns was killed in action on 10/22/11.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer B. Domeij

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer B. Domeij, 29, of San Diego

SFC Domeij was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; died Oct. 22, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.


SFC Domeij grew up in San Diego, CA and Colorado Springs, CO. He lived in Lacey, WA with his wife and two children.

SFC Domeij graduated from Rancho Bernardo High School in 2001. He enlisted in the Army in July 2001.

He was on his 14th deployment (four to Iraq, nine to Afghanistan), making him the Army Ranger with the most deployments to date killed in action. Rangers serve three to four month tours of duty that are significantly shorter than the year-long deployments served by soldiers in conventional units. But during those short deployments they see a constant churn of intense combat missions. On average, a Ranger battalion will conduct between 400 to 500 missions during a combat deployment.

SFC Domeij had the distinction of being one of the first Rangers to be qualified as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC), a position usually reserved for Air Force airmen who serve with ground combat units and call in airstrikes from fighters or bombers

He was a part of the unit that was involved in the rescue of wounded US Pvt Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi hospital where she was being held captive.

Col. Mark W. Odom, commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment, called Domeij "the prototypical special operations NCO" whose abilities as a JTAC "made him a game changer on the battlefield, an operator who in real terms had the value of an entire strike force on the battlefield."

Battalion Commander, LT Col David Hodne, described SFC Domeij as "one of those men who was knonw by all as much for his humor, enthusiasm, and loyal friendship, as he was for his unparalleled skill and bravery under fire. This was a Ranger you wanted at your side when the chips were down. He is irreplaceable in our formation and in our hearts."

SFC Domeij's awards and decorations include:
Bronze Star Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Purple Heart
Meritorious Service Medal
Joint Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters
Army Achievement Medal
Army Good Conduct Medal with three loops
National Defense Service Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars
Iraq Campaign Medal with three campaign stars
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Noncommissioned Offficer Professional Development Ribbon with numeral three
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Ribbon with numeral four
Ranger Tab
Combat Action Badge
Expert Infantry Bade
Senior Parachutist Badge
Pathfinder Badge
Expert Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Badge

SFC Domeij is survived by his mother, Scoti; wife, Sarah and their daughters, Mikajsa and Aaliyah; brother Kyle.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer B. Domeij was killed in action on 10/22/11.

Army 1st Lt. Ashley I. White

Remember Our Heroes

Army 1st Lt. Ashley I. White, 24, of Alliance, Ohio

Lt. White was assigned to 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, North Carolina National Guard, Goldsboro, N.C.; died Oct. 22, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked her unit with an improvised explosive device.


White was born Sept. 3, 1987. She was commissioned in the U.S. Army as a Medical Service Corps Officer after graduating from Kent State in 2009. White completed the Medical Services Officer Basic Course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas and the U.S. Army Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Ga. White was then assigned to Co. C, 230
th Bde. Support Bn., N.C. National Guard where she served as an Evacuation Platoon Leader.

Her military education includes the Medical Service Corps Officer Basic Course and the U.S. Army Airborne Course. Her awards and decorations include the Parachutist Badge, the Ohio Faithful Service Ribbon, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Army Reserve Achievement Medal and the National Defense Service Medal. White will be posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and the Combat Action Badge.

As a Cultural Support Team Member attached to a Joint Special Operations Task Force, White selflessly served and her actions exemplify the highest commitment to duty, honor and country. In every instance she served with distinction in support of the Task Force and our great Nation.

A native of Alliance, Ohio, White was commissioned in the U.S. Army as a Medical Service Corps Officer after receiving a commission from Kent State in 2009.
White is survived by her husband Cpt. Jason Stumpf of Raeford, N.C., her parents Robert and Deborah White, twin sister Brittney and brother Josh, all of Alliance, Ohio.

"She believed in what she was doing, and she wanted to take part in something that was bigger than herself," said Laura Dodson, who served with White in the North Carolina National Guard. "I got an email from her, and she said she was enjoying the mission, and she missed her family. She was looking forward to coming home."

Sonjia Ferenac attended Kent State University with White, where they studied athletic training. They were in the same classes and often studied together. White, Ferenac said, graduated in December 2009. Feranac called White upbeat, down-to-earth and selfless. "She made you a better person just being around her," Ferenac said.

Army 1st Lt. Ashley I. White was killed in action on 10/22/11.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Army Pfc. Steven F. Shapiro

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Steven F. Shapiro, 29, of Hidden Valley Lake, Calif.

Pfc Shapiro was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Oct. 21, 2011 in Tallil, Iraq.


Pfc Shapiro grew up in foster home in Fremont. By his 18th birthday, his guardian had passed away. He traveled around for a bit, then attended San Francisco City College, majoring in Liberal Arts.

Inspired by his father-in-law, John Veguilla, who is a retired Command Sergeant Major, Shapiro joined the Army in March 2010, serving as an M1 Armor Crewman. He deployed to Iraq early this year.

Wife, Adela, along with her brother, Hannibal, and father, arrived at a designated location to be greeted by approximately 25 supporters who formed a flag line which included members of the Warriors Watch Riders, Patriot Guard Riders and Operation Tango Mike.

More than 500 students and citizens awaited their caravan, which included the student body and staff of Middletown High School and the middle school who had gathered at the edge of campus, lining the caravan’s route. Many holding flags and signs.

Ride Captain Rick Rice later commented, “There was not a dry eye on that ride.” He said it was personally overwhelming to see so many young people honoring the family.

Wife, Adela, said she and her husband met eight years ago, but that they didn't start dating until 2009, marrying the end of that year. She said her husband quickly embraced her family as his own and listed their home in Hidden Valley Lake as his hometown on military forms. Adela has been living there with her family during her husband's deployment.

“He was very intellectual. He could talk about anything,” she said.

She said her husband loved being a family man and a father. “He looks exactly like my husband,” wife, Adela said of their son, Micah, who was born Sept. 30. She said her husband been able to come home for the birth of their son in September and had just returned to Iraq eight days before he was killed.

Shapiro loved being in the Army and planned to make it his career, his wife said.

Pfc Shapiro's awards and decorations include:
Army Commendation Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon

Pfc Shapiro was laid to rest on November 2, in Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, CA.

Pfc Shapiro is survived by his wife, Adela and their infant son, Micah; father-in-law, John; brother-in-law, Sgt Hannibal Veguilla, who is stationed at Fort Bliss, TX.

Army Pfc. Steven F. Shapiro was killed in action on 10/21/11.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Navy Chief Petty Officer Raymond J. Border

Remember Our Heroes

Navy Chief Petty Officer Raymond J. Border, 31, of West Lafayette, Ohio

CPO Border was assigned to Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 74 in Gulfport, Miss.; died Oct. 19, 2011 while assessing a route in Paktika province, Afghanistan.


CPO Border died inspecting a highway in Paktika province for a convoy to pass. He had stepped out of his vehicle when the mine went off. Killed with him was Jorge M. Oliveira, 33, of Newark, N.J.

CPO Border graduated from Ridgewood High school in 1999 where he was on the football and track teams and was a two-time state qualifier in wrestling.

He enlisted in the Navy in September 1999. He deployed to Afghanistan for the second time in August. He had also previously been deployed to Iraq.

Father, Craig, said his son took two flags with him from Annin Flagmakers in Coshocton, where his mother worked part time, and had proudly raised those flags above the military base in Yahya Khel District on Sept. 11, 2011.

"He loved serving his country, and we were proud of him," Craig said. "Every time he left we'd say be careful, and he'd say 'I will, Dad.'"

Friend, Ralph Young remembers Raymond stopped by his house the day he signed up to join the Navy.

"He told me 'I'm just going to tell Dad to take that money he's been saving for me to go to school and give it to Mom so she can buy a new car because she deserves it,'" Young said

Tom Lahna, Raymond's wrestling coach, in high school, said, "My son, Hollis, was a freshman when Raymond was a senior, and he instilled his work ethic in the younger kids. He recognized the team was like a family and a family needs leaders, and he was one of those."

Ridgewood Middle School teacher Terry Guilliams was his head football coach. "You knew he was going to be a good person when he grew up," Guilliams said. "He was always smiling, positive, just one of those people you wanted to be around. His work ethic was always full-out go, and he was a force on the football field."

Family remembers described Ray as loving and goofy. His fiancee, Terrence, describes him affectionately as a "redneck," saying he was never without a pair of blue jeans, work boots and a camouflage hat when home.

"He would always tell us how much he loved us, and he never treated us like we weren't his own kids. He loved us like his own kids, and he treated us like it," said step-daughter, Caitlin Boyd.

Terrence said she and Raymond had been together for seven years and had decided to get married. While video chatting, Raymond had told her to pick out a dress and a ring. He had planned to officially propose when he returned in November.

CPO Border's awards and decorations include:
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Navy and Marince Corps Achievement Medal (3)
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Service Medal
Humanitarian Service Medal
Expertice with a rifle/pistol
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation

CPO Border was laid to rest on November 3 in Plainfield Cemetery.

He is survived by his parents, Julie and Craig; children, Donovan and Shelva; siblings, Holden Border of West Lafayette and Shanna Weaver of Jacksonville, FL and fiancee, Terrence Boyd of Gulfport, MS and stepchildren, Amber, Caitlin and Aaron.

Navy Chief Petty Officer Raymond J. Border was killed in action on 10/19/11.

Army Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveira

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveira, 33, of Newark, N.J.

SSgt Oliveira was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 113th Infantry Regiment, 50th Brigade Combat Team, Riverdale, N.J.; died Oct. 19, 2011 in Paktika province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.


SSgt Oliveira, a native of Portugal, came to the U.S. when he was 7, the son of immigrants who spoke no English.

He graduated from Newark’s East Side High School in 1996 and went to Essex County College. He worked as a busboy at the Mediterranean Manor because he could walk there from his house.

He joined the National Guard in 2003. He joined the Army in 1997, serving three years, then joined the National Guard where he was involved in operations in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2004, and relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

He got a job with the Essex County Sheriff’s Office. He did so well on the civil service law enforcement exam that he got offers from five communities right away. Waiting for something with the Newark PD or the Essex sheriff, he passed up on those offers.

"The kid wanted to serve his community," said Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, himself a Portuguese-American. "That’s all he ever wanted, to be an American, and to be part this community. His mother said he learned the language in six months."

SSgt Oliveira joined the sheriff’s office in 2001 and served as a member of the S.W.A.T. team and warrants squad. Most recently, he was a detective with the fugitive squad.

"He had a perfect attendance record, every year since he’s been here. Never took a sick day,” Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura. "He was one of the very best. Very dedicated."

Whenever fellow officers in the sheriff’s department or soldiers in his guard unit wanted to spend the holidays with their wives and families, Oliveira was the first to volunteer to cover their shifts, Fontoura and family members said.

When his unit was deployed to Afghanistan earlier this year, Oliveira decided to go, even though he didn’t have to and even though his mother begged him not to.

I said ‘we don’t want to push our luck. You get back here quickly. And he said ‘boss please don’t worry, you know how much I love this job. I’ll be back here soon and I’ll get back to work as soon as I can,’” Fontoura said.

SSgt Oliveira had previously served a year in Iraq. He deployed to Afghanistan in June expecting to come home next March.

"He was such a great brother, just an awesome person," said his sister, Jessica Oliveria, fighting back tears outside the family’s home in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood. "Words can’t even describe how great he was. He always put everyone else before himself."

While on leave last month, he bought a new motorcycle and had closed on a new house in Elizabeth. Once his tour was up next year, he wanted to "travel the world" on the vacation of a lifetime, his sister said.

SSgt Oliveira's awards and decorations include:
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
National Defense Service Medl
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star
Expert Infantrymand Badge
Air Assault Badge

SSgt Oliveira was laid to rest on October 28 in a special section of the Holy Cross cemetery near a new 9/11 memorial of a brushed aluminum frame and a fiery cross, among World Trade Center victims and service members.

SSgt Oliveira is survived by parents, Amanda and Manuel, sister Jessica and brother Marco.

Army Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Oliveira was killed in action on 10/19/11.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Army Staff Sgt. James R. Leep Jr.

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. James R. Leep Jr., 44, of Richmond, Va.

SSgt Leep was assigned to 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team, Virginia National Guard, Portsmouth, Va.; died Oct. 17, 2011 in Babil province, Iraq in a noncombat incident.


SSgt Leep joined the National Guard in 1986 and served on active duty from December 1987 to August 1995 as a light-wheeled vehicle mechanic. He rejoined in January 2006 and worked as a combat engineer and construction equipment supervisor.

He worked full time as a surface maintenance repair technician at the Virginia National Guard field maintenance shop in Richlands, Va. He had previously been deployed to Bosnia from 2001-’02; Southwest border security in 2006; in Iraq with the 276th Engineer Battalion from 2003-’05; and in Afghanistan from 2008-’10, also with the 276th.

SSgt Leep was serving as a combat engineer and construction equipment supervisor and was reassigned to Troop A as a truck commander for the unit’s convoy security mission and was commander for a convoy escort team. He began active duty on June 1, to conduct convoy security and base defense operations. The unit arrived in Iraq in late July.

“It is very sad that this has happened and difficult to think of the appropriate words to say that would relieve the pain and suffering that this family feels,” Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. “Soldier and family care are very important and we intend to do everything we can to support his family and the men and women that deployed with him.

“We ask that his community and the rest of Virginia keep his family in their prayers during this time of Grief,” Long stated. “I have personally spoken with the unit’s commander in Iraq, and the unit is doing everything that can be done to support the members of the unit during this difficult time. Here in Virginia, we will make sure the family has all the resources we can provide to help them cope with their loss.”

Sgt. Timothy Bayless, who deployed with Leep to the southwest U.S. border in 2005 and to Afghanistan in 2008, described his longtime friend as a happy, conscientious team player. “He was always upbeat, always willing to do whatever it took to complete the mission at hand,” Bayless said

Leer was an avid motorcycle rider, hunter and fisher who was always talking about his two daughters, Bayless said.

“I remember him riding that big Harley-Davidson to work from the time it started getting warm in the spring until it got cold," said Staff Sgt. Greg Newberry. “That ride and hunt was what he liked to do when he wasn’t serving his country or working."

SSgt Leep is survived by his wife, Paula, two adult children, and sister, Sherry.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Army Spc. Michael D. Elm

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Michael D. Elm, 25, of Phoenix, Ariz

Spc Elm was assigned to 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Knox, Ky.; died Oct. 14, 2011 in Khowst, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by an improvised explosive device.


Spc Elm graduated from Greenway High School in 2004, where he was an avid participant in Youth in Government and loved to engage in debates and where he was voted best actor for playing the school's lead role in The Importance of Being Earnest. He attended the University of Maryland, where he was the school's mascot.

He joined the Army in 2009. He deployed to Afghanistan about 11 months ago. This was his first deployment.

The third of five children, he was ambitious, artistic and sensitive. He volunteered for years with Planned Parenthood where he was sent throughout the state providing training programs at high schools. He served as a counselor for the Boy Scouts at Camp Geronimo where he earned his NRA sharp shooter's designation the same day that he first fired a gun

His mother, Donna Lee Elm, last spoke with her son on Mother's Day.

"He didn't have to do this," said his mother, a federal public defender for the Middle District of Florida. "I'm the head of a federal agency. We have plenty of money. He excelled in school and everything else he undertook. This was a kid who was going somewhere. He was going to accomplish things. He had options. He joined the Army because he wanted to serve his country."

Spc Elm was offered a chance to enter the officer training program three times. He declined. "He wanted to be an infantryman," his mother said.

He wanted to be in a relationship, his mother said, but he had put that part of his life on hold for the military. "It was what he felt was right for him," she said.

Spc Elm's awards and decorations include:
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Army Achievement Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Army Good Conduct Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Navy Achievement Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge

Spc Elm was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

Spc Elm is survived by his parents, Donna and Dennis Elm; siblings, Matthew, Margaret, Christy and Katie.

Army Spc. Michael D. Elm was killed in action on 10/14/11.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Air Force Airman 1st Class Jerome D. Miller Jr.

Remember Our Heroes

Air Force Airman 1st Class Jerome D. Miller Jr., 23, of Washington, D.C.

A1C Miller was assigned to the 459th Security Forces Squadron, Andrews Air Force Base, Md.; died Oct. 13 due to a non-combat-related incident in Parwan province, Afghanistan.



Air Force Reserve Airman Jerome D. Miller Jr. graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills. Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

He is the son of Theresa Wilson of Kingsland Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.

No other information is available.

Air Force Airman 1st Class Jerome D. Miller Jr. was killed in a non-combat related incident on 10/13/11.

Army Staff Sgt. Houston M. Taylor

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Houston M. Taylor, 25, of Hurst, Texas

SSgt Taylor was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; died Oct. 13, 2011 in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of injuries caused by small-arms fire.


"He was a warrior, and he was fighting for a cause that he truly believed in," said Maj. Dave Eastburn, a spokesman for the brigade in which Sgt. Taylor served. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family right now as they go through this terrible time. He was a great leader and is on our minds every day as we continue to fight, just as he would have wanted. He'll truly be missed."

Born in Portsmouth, Virginia, Sgt Taylor grew up in Azle, TX (not sure when he moved to TX). He graduated from Azle High School. He married his high school sweetheart, Kelsey, in 2005. They have two children.

SSgt Taylor enlisted in the Army in May 2005. He was little more than half way through his 12 month deloyment when he was killed. This was his third deployment.

Wife, Kelsey, said her husband was "a very good dad" to their son, Rylan, 4, and daughter, Avery, 1. "He was very strong," she said. "He never complained about anything he had to do."

During her husband's last call home, Kelsey said that he told her he wouldn't be able to call her for 10 days or so, because he was about to start a mission.

"I asked him if I should be scared, because I always ask that when he says he can't call me for a while," she said. "He said, 'No, because I'm not.' Then we said, 'I love you' and got off the phone."

Mother, Renee Cremean said, "When other kids played soldier, they said, 'I'm going to get my gun.' He said, 'I'm going to get my weapon. He loved serving his country. He was very protective of the soldiers under him."

SSgt Taylor's awards and decorations include:
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Army Commendation Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Army Achievement Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Meritorius Unit Citation
Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Iraqi Campaign with 3 Bronze Stars
Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star
Global War on Terrorism Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon with numeral 3
NATO Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge

SSgt Taylor was laid to rest on October 26 at Ash Creek Cemetery, Azle, TX.

SSgt Taylor is survived by his mother and stepfather, Renee and Billy; father, Shawn; wife Kelsey Rae, their children Rylan and Avery; and brothers Austin and Dallas.

Army Staff Sgt. Houston M. Taylor was killed in action on 10/13/11.

Army Spc. Jeremiah T. Sancho

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Jeremiah T. Sancho, 23, of Palm Bay, Fla.

Spc. Sancho was assigned to 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; died Oct. 13, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries caused by an improvised explosive device.


Spc Sancho enjoyed playing video games and playing bass guitar. He was an avid comic-book fan and budding artist on paper and film.

Spc Sancho graduated from Palm Bay High in 2007. He joined the Army in 2010.

During his basic-training graduation ceremony, he surprised his longtime girlfriend, RaiAnne Bocco, by dropping to one knee and proposing behind the bleachers at Fort Benning, Ga. The couple married seven days later in RaiAnne’s parents' back yard. Sancho’s grandfather, Eddie, an ordained minister, performed the ceremony.

Spc Sancho deployed in April. He had planned to return home on leave in November.

“I have a hole in my chest. He wasn’t just my son-in-law. He was my son,” said Sharon Bocco, RaiAnne’s mother. “He’s been living here since he was 17 years old.”

On her FB page, wife, RaiAnne wrote, “Jerry I miss you. I love you so much baby. I don’t know what I’m gonna do without you, but I know you’re watching over me. love you and was proud to be your wife.”

Spc Sancho’s awards and decorations include:
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon
NATO Medal
Combat Action Badge

Spc Sancho is survived by his mother and stepfather, Jante and Bernardo;
wife, RaiAnne, siblings, Bernardo, Josiah, Jovon and Jaell.

Army Spc. Jeremiah T. Sancho was killed in action on 10/13/11.

Marine Lance Cpl. Scott D. Harper

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Scott D. Harper, 21, of Winston, Ga.

LCpl Harper was assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died Oct. 13, 2011 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.


Lcpl Harper, known as "Boots" in high school, graduated from Alexander High in 2008 where he was very active in the ROTC program and was on the golf team. He joined the Marines in 2008. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in 2009. This was his second deployment to Afghanistan. He had been there four months.

Lcpl Harper loved hunting, fishing and playing his guitar, which he had with him in Afghanistan.

Family released the following statement:

"Although we are heartbroken over Scott's death, we are so proud of his service. He will forever be our hero and his memory will live on in our hearts. Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers and kind words. Knowing that Scott touched so many lives brings us comfort."

High school friend, Chad Jenkins, said that Scott was "that guy." "You know, the guy who wanted to be friends with everybody and everybody wanted to be friends with him."

"His friends said he took up for the underdog," said Rebecca Murray, one of Harper's teachers at Alexander High. "He was very devoted to his friends, so it doesn't surprise me that he would devote his life to his country."

Father, Brian, last talked with his son the Saturday before his son died. Scott had called to see if the boots he had ordered had arrived. His family had mailed them out to him two days prior.

His father said that his son had wanted to be a Marine because he believed they were the best. "You know, the few, the chosen, and that’s what he wanted to be, one of the few and chosen."

Lcpl Harper's awards and decorations include:
Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
NATO Medal – ISAF – Afghanistan

Lcpl Harper was laid to rest on October 23 at Ephesus Baptist Church Cemetery in Winston, GA.

Lcpl Harper is survived by his mother, Deborah; father and stepmother, Brian and Angela; siblings, Amber, Mitchell, Joseph and Holly.

Marine Lance Cpl. Scott D. Harper was killed in action on 10/13/11.

Army Staff Sgt. Robert B. Cowdrey

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Robert B. Cowdrey, 39, of Atwater, Ohio

SSgt Cowdrey was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Oct. 13, 2011 in Kunar province, Afghanistan, from injuries suffered during combat operations.


SSgt Cowdrey, a flight medic, was killed during a rescue mission. This was his fourth deployment, having previously deployed once to Iraq and Afghanistan twice in 2007 and 2009.

SSgt Cowdrey graduated from La Junta High School in 1990. He was a firefighter for the Suffield and Ravenna township departments for a number of years. He does training for fire departments around the state.

SSgt Cowdrey joined the Army in 2003. He was currently serving his 4th deployment that began in August 2010. He had previously served in Iraq from July 2004 to July 2005 and in Afghanistan from January 2007 to February 2008 and April 2009 to March 2010.

SSgt Cowdrey was an avid outdoorsman. He loved visiting his relatives in Ohio and loved hunting with his brother, Quentin.

Quentin said his brother was a hero who “died doing what he loved to do. He loved his family and his job. To say that he impacted the lives of countless people is an understatement.”

Father-in-law, Jay Bollacker, said Cowdrey, who went by “Brian”, loved being a soldier and the military. “He felt like he was helping the war effort. He had a very dangerous job.”

SSgt Cowdrey and wife of 17 years, Kimberly, have three sons. Oldest son, Justin, serves in the Army and is currently stationed in Germany. Middle son, Nathan, dreams of going to West Point. Youngest son, Jacob “just wants to grow up to make a difference in the world, just like his dad and his brothers.”

SSgt Cowdrey's awards and decorations include:

Bronze Star
Air Medal (3)
Commendation Medal for Valor (2)
Commendation Medal (3)
Achievement Medal (2)
Good Conduct Medal (2)
National Defense Service Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Humanitarian Service Medal
Noncommisssioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon
NATO Medal
Combat Medic Badge
Combat Action Badge
Aviator Badge

SSgt Cowdrey is survived by his mother, Donna; wife, Kimberly, and sons, Justin, Nathan and Jacob; brother, Quentin.

Army Staff Sgt. Robert B. Cowdrey was killed in action on 10/13/11.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Remember Our Heroes

Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Michael R. Tatham, 33, of University Place, Wash., was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident, Oct. 12, 2011 while on rest and recuperation leave from supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Bali, Indonesia.


Tatham was assigned to a West Coast based Naval Special Warfare unit.

CPO Tatham was born December 12, 1977 in Fort Bragg, NC. He graduated from Curtis High School in 1996. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of San Diego in 2001. He was active on the rowing team and was instrumental in winning the Men’s 4 Man National Contest.

CPO Tatham enlisted in the Navy in 2002. He graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Class 248 in April 2004. He continued on with advanced training after reporting to his West Coast-based SEAL team.

CPO Tatham's awards and decorations include:

Bronze Star Medal with combat "V"
Joint Service Achievement Medal
Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medals (4), including one with "V"
Good Conduct Medals (2)
National Defense Service Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service medal
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (3)
NATO Service Medal
Expert Rifle Ribbon
Expert Pistol Ribbon

CPO Tatham was laid to rest on November 2 in Rosecrans National Cemeter in San Diego.

CPO Tatham is survived by his mother, Diane; father, Stephen; brother, Matthew.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Army Staff Sgt. Nathan L. Wyrick

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Nathan L. Wyrick, 34, of Enumclaw, Wash.

SSgt Wyrick was assigned to 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; died Oct. 10, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of combat-related injuries.

SSgt Wyrick graduated from Tacoma's Franklin Pierce High School in 1996 where he played for the school's varsity football team.

He joined the Army in March 2006 and served as a supply specialist. He deployed to Afghanistan in March 2011. He had previously deployed to Iraq in 2008.

SSgt Wyrick's awards and decorations include:
Army Commendation Medal
Army Achievement Medal
Meritorious Unit Commendations (2)
Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon
Certificates of Achievement (5)
Combat Action Badge
Driver Badge
Mechanic Badge

SSgt Wyrick is survived by his wife, Rachel Wyrick, and their four children, Stephan, Garrett, Ethan and Tanner.

Word of Sgt. Wyrick's death circulated Tuesday among Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers who knew him from a past assignment and among his fellow worshippers at Lakewood's New Hope Community Church.

Sgt. Wyrick graduated from Franklin Pierce High School with the class of 1996 and played for the school's varsity football team, a school spokesman said.

He left a lasting mark on his friends at New Hope church. They remembered him as a generous man who had served in Iraq and looked out for other Army families coping with deployments to the Middle East.

"He was a dad first and foremost, and a soldier second," said Andrea Wright, 28, of University Place.

Wright learned of Sgt. Wyrick's death Monday from the soldier's wife, Rachel Wyrick. They became close friends several years ago when Wright's husband was assigned to Lewis-McChord.

Another friend said Sgt. Wyrick loved his children so much he had tattoos of their names. He had an affection for other children, too, spending time with Wright's four sons when her husband served on a deployment overseas.

"He was uncle Nay-Nay," she said.

The Wyricks moved about a year and a half ago to Fort Drum, N.Y., when Sgt. Wyrick was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division. They've visited the South Sound several times since then, friends said.


Dan Livingston, a friend from New Hope Church, admired how Sgt. Wyrick supported his family while serving in the Army. Livingston said Sgt. Wyrick joined the service after first pursuing a career as a civilian electrician.

"He was a real passionate dad who joined the Army to support his family," Livingston said.

Another friend remembered Sgt. Wyrick as a "gung ho" soldier who never had a bad word to say about others.

"He was proud of the job he did," said Iona Parker, 60, of Steilacoom. "He did it very well. He wasn't a shirker and he didn't bad-mouth anyone."

The Wyricks stayed with the Parkers just before they moved to New York. Iona Parker said Nathan would spend time in the garage with her husband, talking about military life and "sharing what it means to leave your family and the risks involved."

"He desperately loved his family," Parker said.

Army Staff Sgt. Nathan L. Wyrick was killed in action on 10/10/11.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 James B. Wilke

Remember Our Heroes

Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 James B. Wilke, 38, of Ione, Calif.

CWO3 Wilke was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, Fort Bliss, Texas; died Oct. 10, 2011 in Doha, Qatar, in a noncombat incident.


CWO Wilke joined the Army in 1992. He served as a Patriot Weapons System Technician. He deployed to Qatar in January 2011. He was planning on retiring next year with 20 years of service.

CWO Wilke was selfless and committed to the troops. He signed up to do whatever he could to keep the morale of their team high during a deployment.

CWO Wilke met his wife, Monia, when he was stationed in Italy 15 years ago. She last saw him when he took leave in July for their 15th wedding anniversary.
"We don't know for sure what happened," said his wife, Monia.

She described her husband as a big NASCAR racing fan, and a fan of driver Jeff Gordon. "He loved his car; he had a red Corvette, which he adored."

"He was an animal lover," Monia said. "He was especially attached to our dog. Our dog was like our baby."

"He touched so many people and everybody loved him," Monia said. "He was professional in his job and was extremely smart. But he had a fun, playful side. He made me very happy."

"Everyone who knew him, adored him," Monia said. "He has been a really good soldier. He adored me. Everyone told me he loved me very much. There are no words to explain the love we had. It was way too good to be true."

"He was the love of my life and I was the love of his life, soul mates. We always thought we would be together. Now, nothing makes sense."

CWO Wilke's awards and decorations include:
Meritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Army Achievement Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal
Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terorism Service medal
Korean Defense Service Medal
Parachutist Badge

He is survived by his mother Patricia; wife of 15 years, Monia; and two brothers, Larry and Gary.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 James B. Wilke was killed in action on 10/10/11.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Army Spc. Ricardo Cerros Jr.

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Ricardo Cerros Jr., 24, of Salinas, Calif.

Spc. Cerros was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; died Oct. 8, 2011 in Logar province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by small-arms fire.


Lt. Col. David Hodne, Commander of 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, said about Spc. Cerros: “He was a warrior who lost his life while fighting courageously alongside his fellow Rangers. We will honor his service to our country and never forget his sacrifice. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cerros family.”

Spc Cerros graduated from Everett Alarez High School in 2005, where he participated in the NJ ROTC Program for four years, obtaining Commanding Officer of the program. He attended the University of California, Irvine where he obtained a bachelors of Chemistry degree in 2010.

Spc Cerros enlisted in the Army July 2010, joining the 75th Ranger Regiment in March this year after graduating from Ranger Assessment and Selection Program. The regiment has been continuously deployed to Afghanistan since the U.S. invasion in 2001. This was his first deployment.

Spc Cerros' awards and decorations include:
Purple Heart
National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Combat Infantryman Badge
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Parachutist Badge
Army Expert Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Badge

Spc Cerros was laid to rest on October 19 at Ridgelawn Cemetery in Gary, Indiana.

Spc Cerros is survived by his mother, Marguerite; father and stepmother, Ricardo Sr. and Deborah; siblings, MSgt Marco Cerros, who is stationed in England, Nicholas and Theresa.

Army Spc. Ricardo Cerros Jr. was killed in action on 10/08/11.

Army Capt. Drew E. Russell

Remember Our Heroes

Army Capt. Drew E. Russell, 25, of Scotts, Mich.

Capt Russell was assigned to 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Oct. 8, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by a rocket propelled grenade. Also killed was Capt. Joshua S. Lawrence.


Capt Russell graduated from Vicksburg High School in 2004 where he played football his freshman year and was an honor roll student all four years. He enrolled in Western Michigan University’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, graduating in 2008 with a double major in criminal justice and military science. He joined the Army in 2008 and joined the unit in June 2009.

Capt Russell received his captain's bars shortly after deploying in June. This was his first deployment.

Vicksburg High School Principal Keevin O’Neill said ,“He knew he wanted to go into the military and followed that dream,” O’Neill said. “I remember what a good kid he was ... a very hard worker.”

He was a won­derful son,” his mother, Patti, 52, said Monday. “He was very loving, and he had a great sense of humor. There’s just an empty hole in my heart that will never be filled again.”

Father, Jim, said he last talked to his son on a Skype about two weeks prior and that the family received an email from him on Friday. He recalled the great time the family had when they went to Colorado to spend time together before Drew’s deployment. The father and his two sons enjoyed one of Drew’s favorite hobbies.

“We were laughing and sending bullets down the (firing) range,” Jim Russell said. “The boys were close. They always took good care of their dad.”


Aunt, Janean Monaham, would get a phone call from her nephew, Drew, every year on her birthday. “We had a special bond,” she said of the nephew, Drewbie, as family called him. Instead of a phone call this year, her nephew will be buried on her birthday.

”To have him buried on my birthday is truly an honor," Monaham said. "I’ll celebrate his life every year."

Katie Bennett who attended Western Michigan University with Russell, said they first met on a dark night in 2006 when he told her she shouldn’t walk home alone and offered her a ride. He drove her home until the semester ended. “It’s hard because I wasn’t as close to him as some of the others here, but the loss has shook me to my core. He was just such a nice guy, how couldn’t I be here for him?”

JP Lambrechts met Drew in middle school, saying Drew always had a joke to tell that would make his day go better. They would spend their days playing on the golf course near their homes and building forts in the woods.

“I knew he was going to be great at whatever he did. He had that mindset to do a great job,” Lambrechts said. “I’ll always remember Drew in my heart.”

Jonathan Stoner said Drew was a mentor when they were both attending WMU’s ROTC program. “The world doesn’t know how much it misses Drew Russell yet, that’s the sad part,” he said.

His best friends, Mark Bush and Ray Babushka, graduated from high school with Drew and attended classes at WMU at the same time, spending much of their free time together.

“I didn’t believe it when I heard the news....,” Babushka said. “I was just in shock. It was surreal.”

Bush remembered the pranks Drew would play, like the time when Drew was 12 and took the labels off all the soup cans in Bush family’s pantry. Bush said the family had to eat the food from inside the cans without first knowing what they contained. Drew pulled the same prank again just before his deployment, Bush said. “He always liked to have fun, always liked to poke you,” he said.

“His dedication to his country was something I’ve never seen before,” Bush said. “Drew had his mind set on it. He was very goal-oriented.”
“He was a real stand-up guy,” Bush said. “I could go on about Drew forever.”

Friend and neighbor, Dustin Lindsey, said, “Drew was an amazing kid. He always took the time out when he was at home on leave to play army guys with my (6-year-old) son.”

Capt Russell was laid to rest on October 20 in Vicksburg Cemetery.

He is survived by his parents, Patti and Jim; brother, James; and his sweetheart, Sarah and their dog, Peanut.

Army Capt. Drew E. Russell was killed in action on 10/08/11.

Army Capt. Joshua S. Lawrence

Remember Our Heroes

Army Capt. Joshua S. Lawrence, 29, of Nashville, Tenn.

Capt Lawrence was assigned to 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Oct. 8, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by a rocket propelled grenade. Also killed was Capt. Drew E. Russell.


“Captains Lawrence and Russell were part of a command node helping the Afghans secure Kandahar City for a province-wide peace summit, and were located inside an Afghan army base,” brigade spokesman Maj. Kevin Toner said. “The command node received RPG and small arms fire, killing Lawrence and Russell. We are investigating the incident.”

Capt Lawrence graduated from Hume-Fogg High School and Austin Peay University graduate. He joined the Army in 2005. He joined his current unit in May 2011.

Capt Lawrence met his wife, Brittney, in February. They married a week before he deployed in June. They postponed their honeymoon, but spent as much time together as possible.They decided on a honeymoon trip to Ireland upon his return. Brittany planned to surprise her husband with a castle tour. She had planned to move to Colorado Springs in April, to be there when her husband returned from deployment.

“Joshua had an idea every day or every other week. He wanted to be an astronaut, or something else,” wife, Brittany said.. “Him joining the military allowed him to be good at something, and he was a really good soldier.”

“He was so handsome in uniform,” Brittany said. “The first time I had to see him (in it), I almost passed out.”

“I thought the day [in June] I had to say goodbye to my soldier was the hardest day of my life,” she said. “I was wrong.”

Mother, Judy Lawrence, said, "He was amazing, he was an amazing young man. He had lots of dreams big dreams...I mean, he used to tell me that there was not enough time in life to do everything he wanted to accomplish. And one of those things was to serve in the military," said his mother.

"He never had any questions, once he made that decision that was what he wanted to do. He told me that even though he had been to Korea twice, he didn't feel like he had done what he was there to do. This was choice and his decision to go to Afghanistan," his mother said. There is peace in knowing that he was there by choice and that he was doing what he wanted to do and what he felt was right."

"What I have always tried to say to all my children is I support your decisions, they've never done anything but make me proud," said Judy.

“Josh was the heart of the plans shop; his positive disposition and sense of humor made the bad days better and his ability to plan complex operations with minimal guidance was essential to mission accomplishment,” said Maj. Jerome Barbour, brigade plans officer for 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div. “His dedication to the welfare of Soldiers was obvious as was his love for his family and friends.”

“Josh was a life-long learner with incredible intelligence and he was the epitome of selfless service,” said Capt. Matt Pratt, assistant brigade planner for 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.

"Josh and I were almost instantly life-long friends,” Pratt said. “I’ve never clicked with someone like Josh, but I did. At night, back in the room, we would develop business plans for when we got out of the Army. In his free time at the office he was learning the capitals to every country in the world, which is no small feat,” Pratt said.

Capt Lawrence's awards and decorations include:
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Army Commendation Medal
Army Achievement Medal
Joint Service Achievement Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Korea Defense Service Medal
NATO Medal
Combat Action Badge

Capt Lawrence is survived by his mother, Judy; wife, Brittany; siblings, Zachary and Major Kendra Lawrence. He is preceded in death by his father, Robert, who passed away in July.

Carson widow can't believe hero won't be home
By Ryan Maye Handy, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette via AP

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Brittany met her husband, Joshua Lawrence, in Las Vegas. It was a whirlwind February romance - like something out of novel, her friends tell her.

She was in town for business, busily ushering a VIP group out of a hotel and onto a golf course. He and some Army buddies were in town for a good time.

When Lawrence saw Brittany across the hotel lobby, he went straight to her and introduced himself.

“I'm Josh,” she remembers him saying.

She had noticed him, too.

“That's wonderful,” Brittany told him. “But I'm working.”

Still, Lawrence won her over with his broad smile and infectious laugh. They met later and danced the night away at a Blue Man Group concert. And they promised to stay in touch.

Four months later, on May 31, Brittany, 26, and Josh, 29, were married. On June 7, Lawrence, a Fort Carson soldier, left for Afghanistan.


Capt. Joshua Lawrence had been in the Army six years. He considered it the ideal profession.

“Joshua had an idea every day or every other week. He wanted to be an astronaut, or something else,” Brittany recalled. “Him joining the military allowed him to be good at something, and he was a really good soldier.”

Lawrence's insatiable thirst for knowledge fueled his enthusiasm for the military life, she said. He completed two tours in Korea, and traveled extensively around Asia, falling in love with Vietnam.

He was looking forward to his deployment to Afghanistan, his first with the 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team in the 4th Infantry Division.

“He was so handsome in uniform,” Brittany said. “The first time I had to see him (in it), I almost passed out.”

With Lawrence's deployment just days after their wedding, the couple postponed their honeymoon, but spent as much time together as possible.

They decided on a honeymoon trip to Ireland upon Lawrence's return, and Brittany planned to surprise her husband with a castle tour. She planned to move to Colorado Springs in April - to be here when Lawrence returned from deployment.

At 6 a.m. Monday, Brittany was called to the door of her Kernersville, N.C., home by service members in uniform.

“They were at my porch telling me that he [Josh] was gone,” she said Wednesday morning.

Drew Russell, 25, were killed when insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade at their unit, according to the Defense Department.

The brigade, in an email from Kandahar, said the captains were working with Afghan troops to plan a “peace summit” and were together on an Afghan military compound during the attack.

“Captains Lawrence and Russell were part of a command node helping the Afghans secure Kandahar City for a province-wide peace summit, and were located inside an Afghan army base,” brigade spokesman Maj. Kevin Toner said. “The command node received RPG and small arms fire, killing Lawrence and Russell. We are investigating the incident.”

The soldiers, both Bronze Star recipients, were serving in their first tour of Afghanistan. They were the 325th and 326th Fort Carson soldiers to be killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the days since she learned of his death, Brittany has been overwhelmed by Lawrence's legacy: the people who loved him.

“All the soldiers are really torn up about it,” she said, as are his mother and two siblings, who were very close to him.

“I'll trade places with him,” she said through tears. “So people can hear his laugh and see his smile.”

She has relied heavily this week on the military community that has become her family.

“I had every wife's nightmare happen to me,” she said.

She hasn't been able to sleep, and is haunted by the thought the man she calls her hero won't be coming home.

“I thought the day [in June] I had to say goodbye to my soldier was the hardest day of my life,” she said. “I was wrong.”

Army Capt. Joshua S. Lawrence was killed in action on 10/08/11.