Friday, April 28, 2006

Army Staff Sgt. Bryant A. Herlem

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Bryant A. Herlem, 37, of Copperas Cove, Texas.

SSgt. Herlem died in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations. He was assigned to the 10th Cavalry, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Died on April 28, 2006.

By Matt Curry

Staff Sgt. Bryant A. Herlem was raised a Californian, but he hoped to spend his post-Army days in Texas, his adopted home.

Herlem, 37, who was raised in Whittier, Calif, and lived in Killeen, Texas, died Friday when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Baghdad.

“I couldn't have asked for a better husband,” said LaNita Herlem, who was looking forward to the two purchasing land in Marble Falls or Tyler when her husband retired. They were married more than 16 years.

The blast also killed Sgt. Jose Gomez, 23, of Corona, N.Y. Both were assigned to the 10th Cavalry, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood.

Herlem left for Iraq with the 4th Infantry in December.

“He was the type of person, it was all Army,” LaNita Herlem, 38, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “Whatever they told him to do, he did it. He didn't care about the politics, he thought he was doing good over there.”

The soldier loved to play childish practical jokes on his buddies, like throwing stink bombs into the bathroom. He liked video games and collected GI Joes. He loved passing out soccer balls and stuffed animals to Iraqi children.

“My nieces are going to send some stuffed animals over there in his name for the rest of them to pass out,” LaNita Herlem said.

Herlem was a carpenter and kept up with repairs around the house and his neighborhood.

He was raised by his grandparents in Whittier. He and his wife, who is from Bassett, Va., met when both were stationed at Fort Ord, Calif. She is no longer in the Army.

Herlem had been on active and reserve duty since 1986. He had been at Fort Hood since 1998, except for one stint at Fort Riley, Kan., and two trips to Korea.

From Iraq, he communicated with his wife twice a day through the Internet.

“He was very proud of the fact that he could provide for me,” she said. “He just bought me a house and he would brag about that and say, 'How are you doing with that house?”

Army Staff Sgt. Bryant A. Herlem was killed in action on 04/28/06.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Army Pfc. Raymond L. Henry

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Raymond L. Henry, 21, of Anaheim, California

Pfc Henry was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; killed April 25 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Mosul, Iraq.

The Orange County Register

STANTON – Army Pfc. Raymond L. Henry had a way of putting his mother at ease when they chatted on the phone or exchanged e-mails from Iraq, where he was stationed.

So, Willieetta Robinson-Henry didn't fret much.

"I knew the dangers. He was that type of person. He could persuade you that it would be OK," she said.

An Army official knocked on the door of Willieetta Robinson-Henry's Stanton home Tuesday with the news that her only son had died in Iraq.

Henry, 21, of Anaheim was killed Tuesday when a roadside bomb exploded near the Stryker armored vehicle he was in during a patrol in Mosul. Three other soldiers were injured.

The 3,800 members of the Alaska-based 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team were deployed to Iraq in August 2005. The Army started using the 19-ton Strykers in 2002.

Henry joined the Army last year when he learned that it could help his chances of becoming a firefighter.

"I think he needed to have some direction," said John Perrot, the father of Henry's friend. "I think it gave him something he needed. It made him feel life was worthwhile."

Henry told his father first, his mother last. She wanted him to wait.

"It was a war going on," she said. "We were hoping by then, that President Bush would have changed his mind or brought the troops home."

But Henry ended up enjoying the camaraderie and teamwork with fellow soldiers. He raved about playing in a basketball tournament.

He loved basketball and competed in high school.

He helped coach a summer league - something he hoped to continue.

He'd square off on basketball video games for hours.

His mother's favorite team is the Lakers, so Henry naturally picked another team: LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Once he got to Iraq, Henry found himself defending the California team, and picked up Kobe Bryant as one of his favorite players. He wanted Nike Kobe 1 shoes and a Cadillac Escalade.

"He really wanted to show all of us he could make it through it," said friend John Perrot, who has the same name as his father.

Henry's family and friends came above all else. At least 15 friends have stopped by and even more have called the house since his death, Robinson-Henry said.

When he came home for 15 days of leave in February, Henry traveled to Las Vegas to belatedly celebrate his 21st birthday with friends.

He gave flowers to his friend's mother for Mother's Day. During his leave, Henry sent his mother a bouquet of yellow roses with a card stating "Mom, just because I love you."

In their final conversation last week, Robinson-Henry and her son talked for 2 -1/2 hours about his basketball tournaments and his Vegas trip. He wanted to take a trip to Caesars Palace during his next leave, when he planned to take Perrot for his 21st birthday.

"It was a short life, but it was a full life," Robinson-Henry said.

Army Pfc. Raymond L. Henry was killed in action on 04/25/06.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Army Cpl. Jason B. Daniel

Remember Our Heroes

Army Cpl. Jason B. Daniel, 21, of Fort Worth, Texas.

Cpl. Daniel died of injuries sustained in Taji, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations. He was assigned to the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Died on April 23, 2006.

By JOE SIMNACHER / The Dallas Morning News

Cpl. Jason Brent Daniel of Crowley was adventurous.

Growing up, he loved whitewater rafting, which he did with his church group one summer in Colorado.

He also liked it when the group got to glide down a mountainside hanging from a guy wire.

He excelled in the advanced science classes he took in the Crowley schools and graduated from Crowley High in January 2004.

Two months after graduating, he joined the Army and became a medic, but he was bored by hospital work and requested assignment as a combat medic.

"He liked helping; he didn't like just taking information down and drawing blood," said his mother, Linda Daniel of Fulton, Texas.

Cpl. Daniel, 21, was going to help when he died April 23 in Taji, Iraq.

He was one of three Fort Hood soldiers killed by a roadside bomb as they rode in a Humvee during combat operations, according to the Department of Defense.

Services for Cpl. Daniel will be at 10 a.m. Friday at the Army Medical Department Chapel on Garden Avenue at Fort Sam Houston. Civilians who want to attend the funeral should use the Binz Engleman gate at the San Antonio base, his family said.

Visitation will be from 6 to 9 tonight at the Sunset Funeral Home Chapel in San Antonio.

A rosary will be recited at 7 tonight at the funeral home.

Cpl. Daniel will be buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

"When he got involved in something, he was dedicated to it," his mother said. "He was very responsible growing up."

Born in San Antonio, Cpl. Daniel grew up in Crowley.

"He had a very imaginative mind," his mother said.

Raised by his mother, Cpl. Daniel had participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters since he was 8. One of his big brothers was a geneticist who helped fuel his passion for science.

When he was 14, Cpl. Daniel took part in a crosstown program for students with dyslexia. The summer classes helped.

One day, he needed a ride because his mother was involved in a car accident. When no one showed up, he set out on foot to the class.

"He thought he was going to be late, so he walked seven miles to school," his mother said.

Two years ago, Cpl. Daniel married Monika Villafranca, who also attended Crowley schools. The romance developed after they graduated.

"They didn't like each other in high school," Mrs. Daniel said.

Monika Daniel is now a specialist with the Army Reserves. She was taking a class at Fort Sam Houston when Cpl. Daniel was killed.

Cpl. Daniel was deployed to Iraq on Dec. 10. He'd been promoted to specialist after taking desert training in September and October.

He'd just been promoted to corporal but didn't know it at the time of his death.

Killed with Cpl. Daniel were Sgt. Robert W. Ehney, 26, of Lexington, Ky., and Cpl. Shawn T. Lasswell Jr., 21, of Reno, Nev.

The soldiers were assigned to Fort Hood's 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

In addition to his mother and wife, Cpl. Daniel is survived by his father, Henry H. Gil of Jourdanton, Texas, and a sister, Teagan Gil of Jourdanton.

Algebra teacher Aretha Hall said Jason Daniel was always willing to help others in her class."He would always encourage others to just keep trying and it would eventually get easier," Hall said. "I would always smile because I knew that one day, he would be an asset to the world with his helping spirit."

Sig Christenson
Express-News Military Writer

Cpl. Jason Brent Daniel was described in a brief Army biography as a young man for whom "everything in life was an adventure."

That adventure came full circle Friday, as four Percheron mix draft horses pulled his flag-draped casket on a wooden caisson around a bend at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

A toddler cried, but not a word was spoken as Daniel's family, friends and fellow troops stood under a shelter. Then six members of the Fort Sam Houston Honors Platoon placed the casket over his final resting place just a mile from where he trained in the summer of 2004.

Three rifle volleys rang out. Taps sounded.

"He joined the Army for the education and sense of patriotism," Fort Sam's commander, Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, said following the burial. "He wanted to be a medic so he could learn how to take care of people."

A San Antonio native, Daniel, 21, was killed April 23 with two other soldiers when a roadside bomb detonated in Taji, a town in the Sunni Triangle, long a hotbed of the Iraqi insurgency.

He was the 36th medic killed in Gulf War II, Fort Sam spokesman Phil Reidinger said, and the 46th soldier from Fort Hood's 4th Infantry Division to die in Iraq since it began its second tour there late last year.

As a stormy night gave way to a sunny, muggy morning, 65 members of the Patriot Guard Riders stood outside Fort Sam's 1910 Gift Chapel in honor of Daniel, the 16th San Antonian to die in Iraq. They'd driven their motorcycles from across the state to stand outside the chapel, all clasping American flags.

"We came here to pay respect to our fallen heroes, pay respect to the family and our community," said Bill Papa, 66, of San Antonio and an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War.

Inside, family, friends and a mix of troops from various service branches listened as Chaplain (Capt.) Francisco Stodola conducted a Catholic service.

There was no eulogy and no family members or friends spoke at the service. Family members also declined to comment.

Stodola conceded it isn't normal for parents to bury a child, but stressed the importance of keeping faith.

"Why would a God who is all good and all loving and all merciful allow bad things to exist in our world?" Stodola said. "And, of course, the answer is that God does not wish these things, he does not desire these things, he does not desire for all of you here now to be suffering at this moment as you are. But he uses evil to bring about good."

When he came to Iraq, Daniel quickly became known as "Little Noah." It was a term of endearment with a history. The unit's former physician's assistant had been given that name, but it was passed on because Daniel looked so much like him, Weightman said, adding that they called him "doc" as well.

Daniel was known as a quick study and hungry to improve his skills, but learning wasn't his only strong suit. Folks also discovered that if he had $5, he'd send $4 of it to his wife, Monika Villafranca Daniel, an Army Reservist in training as a medic.

"They said he was small in stature," Weightman said, "but had a big, huge heart."

Army Cpl. Jason B. Daniel was killed in action on 04/23/06.

Army Sgt. Robert W. Ehney

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Robert W. Ehney, 26, of Lexington, Kentucky.

Sgt. Ehney died of injuries sustained in Taji, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations. He was assigned to the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Died on April 23, 2006.

Courier Journal -- Sgt. Robert W. Ehney of Lexington was one of three soldiers killed after a homemade bomb hit an Army Humvee on Sunday near Taji, Iraq, northwest of Baghdad.

"He was proud to be a soldier and proud to serve his country," his father, William Ehney of Lexington, said last night. "But he was very concerned about the younger kids in the unit" and how they would handle combat.

Robert Ehney was 26.

The other two soldiers killed were Cpls. Jason B. Daniel of Fort Worth, Texas, and Shawn T. Lasswell Jr. of Reno, Nev., according to the Department of Defense. Both were 21.

When Ehney joined the Army at 23, several soldiers in basic training -- most of them 18 or 19 -- affectionately gave him the nickname "Pops," his father recalled.

Robert Ehney was the gunner in the Humvee filled with soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas.

This was Ehney's second tour in Iraq. His first began about three months after the war started, and he returned in December.

He took up target shooting as a boy and he continued as an adult, though he was not a hunter, his father said. He also enjoyed riding motorcycles, using computers and playing with his 4-year-old son, William Ehney said.

Robert Ehney attended Eagle Crest High School in Centennial, Colo. He left school but eventually earned his GED.

The family moved from Aurora, Colo., to Casper, Wyo., where Robert married at age 20. About nine months later, the Ehney family moved to Lexington.

Robert Ehney's first marriage ended in divorce, and he was engaged to be married again, his father said.

Ehney's father, mother and son were notified at their home Sunday night. He is also survived by his grandmother and sister.

"There were two soldiers (who came to the home), and you knew what they were there for," William Ehney said.

By Jillian Ogawa

A Kentucky soldier was among three from the Army's 4th Infantry Division killed in a roadside bombing in Iraq, the Army said yesterday.

Sgt. Robert W. Ehney, 26, of Lexington, was killed Sunday when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee near Taji, Iraq.

Ehney was serving his second tour of duty, which started in December, his father, Harry Ehney, said last night.

"I am very proud of the man he became," Mary Beth Ehney said of her son last night. "He was proud of being a good soldier, he was a good father, he was a good son, a good brother."

Mary Beth Ehney said family members were told about their son Sunday evening.

Robert Ehney moved to Lexington six years ago with his parents, who relocated from Casper, Wyo. He had been in the Army for three years.

When he was in Lexington, Robert liked to ride motorcycles and golf, his mother said.

His parents described Ehney as a caring person, especially for the soldiers he led.

"He told my wife and I that he was concerned about the young guys," said Harry Ehney, who works for Federal Express.

"He wanted to be all macho on the outside but a marshmallow on the inside," Mary Beth Ehney said. "He was just a kind person."

Robert proposed to his fiancee, Amanda Applegate of Maysville, while home in October and planned to be married after he finished his deployment.

Family members were able to speak with Ehney over the phone once or twice a week in the past few months, Harry Ehney said.

"He always had a dry sense of humor," Harry Ehney said. "That's the thing we try to remember the most about him."

Killed in the same attack were Cpl. Jason B. Daniel, 21, of Fort Worth, Texas; and Cpl. Shawn T. Lasswell Jr., 21, of Reno, Nev.

All three soldiers were assigned to the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team based at Fort Hood, Texas.

Funeral arrangements for Ehney are being made at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home on Harrodsburg Road.

Ehney is survived by a son, William Jacob Ehney, 4, who lives with his mother, Caroline Ehney Purnell, in Lexington; and sister Casey Ehney of Lexington.

Army Sgt. Robert W. Ehney was killed in action on 04/23/06.

Army Cpl. Shawn T. Lasswell Jr.

Remember Our Heroes

Army Cpl. Shawn T. Lasswell Jr., 21, of Reno, Nevada

Cpl Lasswell was assigned to the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died of injuries sustained April 23 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Taji, Iraq. Also killed were: Cpl. Jason B. Daniel and Sgt. Robert W. Ehney


U.S. Army Cpl. Shawn Thomas Lasswell, Jr., 21, was killed by an improvised explosive device, near Taji, northwest of Baghdad on Sunday. He and two other soldiers died when the Humvee they were in was attacked by terrorists using an IED with a remote detonation device.

Lasswell graduated from Valley High School in Las Vegas in 2001. He was even a member of the JROTC program. After graduation he moved to Reno, were he eventually joined the U.S. Army. After completing basic he was assigned to the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, TX.

Gov. Kenny Guinn issued a statement regarding the death of Lasswell. He stated that the death of the 21-year-old was a tragedy because of his youthfulness.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to Corporal Lasswell’s mother, family and friends," Guinn wrote. "Every brave soldier who gives his life in defense of our nation is missed so deeply. When a young man who is barely beginning life is tragically killed in action, it is especially painful for those left to reminisce about a life cut so short."

Lasswell originally grew-up in Cottage Hills, Ill., according to his step-mother Kim Lasswell. His stepmother stated that she remembered the young soldier as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy that she first met when he was five.

Lasswell moved to Las Vegas with his mother, Cathy Zehren when he was about 10. According to Kim, Shawn Jr. and Shawn Sr. kept in touch by telephone most of the next decade.

She said her stepson visited the area in June 2005 before leaving for Iraq shortly before Christmas that same year. She said he had grown into a handsome, broad-shouldered young man, standing taller than 6 feet.

"It was great seeing him again," Lasswell said. "He was all grown and completely different. He knew his job. He knew what he was doing."

Nevada Army National Guard spokeswoman Capt. April Conway said that there was some confusion over Lasswell's home of record.

"This happens sometimes where soldiers will enlist in one place and record another place as their home town," Conway said. "More than likely Cpl. Lasswell may have had a residence in Reno at one time and then chose to move back home with mom for a while before deploying."

Conway stated that the National Guard cannot even gain access to Lasswell's record to find where he took his oath of enlistment.

"That's because Lasswell was regular U.S. Army and not a member of the National Guard," said Conway. "This confusion has caused the media to claim he went to school at this place or the other in either Las Vegas or Reno. The fact still remains he listed Reno as his home of record and that is how the Department of Defense will officially keep it for now."

According to the Associated Press, Lasswell also visited Las Vegas prior to April 14 just before being deployed to Iraq. That visit was believed to have been to visit friends and his mother Cathy and his step-father.

Army Cpl. Shawn T. Lasswell Jr. died in action on 04/23/06.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Army Pvt. Travis C. Zimmerman

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pvt. Travis C. Zimmerman, 19, of New Berlinville, Pennsylvania.

Pvt. Zimmerman died in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his observation post during dismounted combat reconnaissance operations. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Died on April 22, 2006. -- A 19-year-old soldier from the Boyertown area was killed Saturday in Iraq when he set off a hidden bomb while on foot patrol, according to the Department of Defense.

Pvt. Travis C. Zimmerman of N. Reading Road, Colebrookdale Township, was serving with the 101st Airborne Division less than a year after graduating from Boyertown Area High School.

An Army spokesman, Maj. Nathan Banks, said Monday that Zimmerman had left a reconnaissance post in Baghdad to investigate something ''dismounted combat reconnaissance operations'' and was on his way back when he stepped on or otherwise set off the bomb, or ''improvised explosive device.''

He could have tripped a wire, Banks said, adding Zimmerman died from massive trauma. He was alone at the time, no one else was injured, Banks said.

Zimmerman lived with his father, Lloyd C. Zimmerman Jr., and stepmother in a home in the New Berlinville section of Colebrookdale, just north of Boyertown.

Army officials said his mother, Gail Camperson, lives in Red Hill.

Along with a yellow ribbon looped around a front-yard tree, two signs were posted at the Zimmerman home Monday: ''Family and friends welcome. Media and others
trespassing. Please be respectful of the family in this time of sorrow.''

Zimmerman joined the Army on July 22, soon after his June graduation from Boyertown High, and went to Iraq early this year, said George Heath, garrison public affairs officer at Fort Campbell, Ky., where Zimmerman was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

Word of the tragedy was just making its way through the student body at Boyertown High on Monday morning, said Principal Daniel Goffredo. No formal announcement was made, but Goffredo said a statement probably would be issued today, in part so students who may be upset by the news could get counseling.

Goffredo said he didn't know Zimmerman well, but remembered him as ''a nice kid, personable.''

Goffredo and Superintendent Harry W. Morgan said the sympathies of everyone in the district go out to Zimmerman's family.

A school community feels the loss of any student or former student, ''and certainly when they're in service to our country, it's something we respect,'' Morgan said.

Several students leaving school Monday afternoon said they knew Zimmerman, but were not close friends.

''He was just on my bus,'' said Maria Wier, a senior. ''It's so sad.''

''He was a good kid,'' recalled senior Amanda Fichter.

But two English teachers remembered Zimmerman very well and fondly. Teacher Beth Williams' face couldn't help but light up when a reporter asked about Zimmerman.

''Travis was one of these kids who would have a smirk on his face,'' she said ”not a cynical expression, but rather the kind of wry, knowing smile that comes with a dry sense of humor.

Though basically a quiet person, ''He had a great sense of humor,'' Williams said. ''He always made me laugh. He was a pleasure to have in class because of that sense of humor.''

Williams said she was shocked not only to learn of Zimmerman's death, but also that he had joined the Army. Though she didn't have Zimmerman in class as a senior, ''I never pegged him as a military kind of kid,'' she said.

Nevertheless, in the 2005 high school yearbook, Zimmerman listed only one word under the heading ''future plans'' Army.

English teacher Kimberly Willing, who had Zimmerman as a senior, also said she hadn't realized he was interested in the military. Willing taught Zimmerman in a literature course, ''Themes in Writing,'' otherwise known as ''the dreaded research-paper class,'' she said.

Zimmerman always had his papers done on time and was pleasant to work with, she said, also recalling his sense of humor. ''I remember his laugh,'' she said. ''He chuckled a lot, and talked with his buddies a lot.''

After hearing of Zimmerman's death, Willing dug out one of his papers, from last May, and read it as a way to help remember the young man.

With graduation and all that it portends looming before him, Zimmerman had chosen to study a John Steinbeck classic. The paper's title: ''The American Dream in 'Of Mice and Men.'''

Army Pvt. Travis C. Zimmerman was killed in action on 04/22/06.

Army Pvt. Michael E. Bouthot

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pvt. Michael E. Bouthot, 19, of Fall River, Mass.

Pvt Bouthot was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 67th Armored Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died of injuries sustained April 22 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee causing a fire during combat operations in Baghdad. Also killed were: Pfc. Jacob H. Allcott, Sgt. Kyle A. Colnot and Spc. Eric D. King. -- FALL RIVER — When Army Pvt. Michael E. Bouthot was a senior at Diman Regional Vocational-Technical High School, he had two wishes, school officials said.

He was determined to earn his diploma to make his mother proud, and he wanted to serve his country.

On Saturday — two years after his graduation from Diman Voc-Tech — the 19-year-old, along with three other soldiers, died when an improvised explosive device detonated near their armored vehicle. The explosion caused a fire as they were on combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq, the Department of Defense reported yesterday.

Killed in addition to Pvt. Bouthot were Sgt. Kyle A. Colnot, 23, of Arcadia, Calif.; Spc. Eric D. King, 29, of Vancouver, Wash.; and Pfc. Jacob H. Allcott, 21, of Caldwell, Idaho. All four soldiers were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 67th Armored Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Pvt. Bouthot is the eighth soldier from Southeastern Massachusetts to die in the Iraq war and the second this month. Marine Lance Corporal Patrick J. Gallagher of Fairhaven died April 2.

While at Diman, Mr. Bouthot was a student in the culinary arts program and his teachers felt he had a future in the business.

"He had all the tools, all the training for it," said Brian S. Bentley, assistant superintendent and director/principal at Diman.

But instead of working in the food industry, Pvt. Bouthot "wanted to go into the military to make his country proud," Mr. Bentley said.

Paul Bertoncini, a baking instructor at Diman, said that, prior to enlisting, Mr. Bouthot had been working as a short-order cook at different restaurants in Fall River.

During a post-graduation visit to Diman, "I remember he shook my hand and said he was going into the military," said Edward A. Kerr, a teacher and the department chairman of the culinary arts program. "Little did we know then."

In an e-mail, a friend, Kyle Stankiewicz, told The Standard-Times that Mr. Bouthot joined the Army right after he joined the Navy.

"I'm not sure what else to say right now, except that Mike was proud to serve. I'm proud to say that he's my friend," said Mr. Stankiewicz. "He died like a soldier ... with his boots on.

"And in the end, it wasn't the Army, or oil, or the president he died for ... when ya break it down to the nitty gritty ... he died for us ... and for the future of both our country and Iraq," Mr. Stankiewicz said.

Diman officials notified staff about Mr. Bouthot's death and lowered flags at the school to half-staff yesterday morning.

School officials and friends described the young soldier as a likeable, easy-going person, prone to typical teenage excesses.

"He was always laughing and making us laugh," said Nathan Champigny of Fall River, a 17-year-old Diman student.

"There was never a dull moment with Michael," said Ashley Page of Fall River, also a 17-year-old student at Diman.

"You could depend on him to make you laugh. He was a goofball and a damn good one," Jon Durette said in an e-mail to The Standard-Times.

The students interviewed yesterday, who are younger than Pvt. Bouthot, didn't know he had joined the Army and were shocked to learn of his death.

"I still can't believe it," said Emmanuel DelValle, an 18-year-old Diman student from Fall River.

Pvt. Bouthot, the son of Larry and Susan Bouthot, graduated one year after his sister, Amy, who was in the painting and decorating program at Diman, school officials said.

He struggled with his studies but was never troublesome with his teachers, they said.

"That diploma didn't come easily," said Rogerio Ramos, superintendent-director. "It was well-earned."

Pvt. Bouthot was dedicated to the culinary program at Diman, loved hard rock or what his friends called "head-banging music," and also sang and played the drums in local bands.

His teachers said his outgoing personality made him "a born leader" with his peers.

Mr. Bertoncini and Mr. Kerr described him as "free spirit and a character.

"He was well-liked. Even if he screwed up, you couldn't stay mad at him," Mr. Bertoncini said, a sad smile coming to his face as he recalled his former student.

"He had his ways. He had his opinions and he wasn't afraid to express them," Mr. Bentley said. "But he was just a good kid. I can't express it enough. He was just a good kid. "It's very tragic," he said.

Mr. Kerr said Pvt. Bouthot, who was two months shy of his 20th birthday, is the third student of his to die before they got out of their teens; the other two died of natural causes.

"Now Michael," he said. "It's been very difficult. How many teachers have (lost) three students in this program?"

Mr. Ramos said school officials expect more students to speak with guidance counselors as they learn the news.

"We send our condolences to his family and friends," Mr. Ramos said. "We're saddened at the news of his death.

"We're also proud to say he graduated from Diman and served his country well."

Pvt. Bouthot's family has asked for privacy and declined a request for an interview.

Major Winfield S. Danielson III, public affairs officer for the Massachusetts National Guard, said Pvt. Bouthot's wake and funeral will be closed to all but family and friends.

Army Pvt. Michael E. Bouthot was killed in action on 04/22/06.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Army Capt. Clayton L. Adamkavicius

Remember Our Heroes

Army Capt. Clayton L. Adamkavicius, 43, of Fairdale, Ky.

Capt. Adamkavicius was assigned to the 149th Brigade, 35th Infantry Division, Kentucky Army National Guard, Louisville, Ky.; died April 21 of injuries sustained from enemy small-arms fire during combat operations in Abu Ghurayb, Afghanistan.

Capt. Clayton Lee Adamkavicius, a California native, was fatally wounded Thursday by small arms fire while he was investigating a weapons cache soldiers found in the Uruzghan Province in the central part of the country. He was assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry, which is based in Barbourville, Ky.

Adamkavicius had served with the Kentucky Guard since 1986. It was his third deployment, Guard officials said.

"He was a fine young officer and will be missed by his family, his fellow soldiers and everyone who knew him," Maj. Gen. Donald Storm, Kentucky's Adjutant General said. "It's a heartbreak for the National Guard and the citizens of the Commonwealth."

Storm discussed Adamkavicius' death Saturday at the Kentucky National Guard Armory in Louisville. He said the loss of life should inspire U.S. troops, and stressed the importance of continuing to fight the war on terror.

"We're heartbroken, but we're so determined," Storm said.

Storm said Adamkavicius had been training Afghan soldiers when he was killed. He received the Bronze Star medal, a Purple Heart and the Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal for his time in Afghanistan.

Adamkavicius is survived by his wife, Bonnie, of Louisville. His father, Edmond Adamkavicius, lives in Pasadena, Calif., and he has a daughter who lives in Nevada. National Guard officials said Saturday that Adamkavicius' family did not wish to speak with reporters.

Adamkavicius is the 11th and highest-ranking Kentucky Army National Guard soldier killed in the war on terrorism, which includes U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the first Kentucky National Guard member to die in Operating Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, which began in October 2001.

Adamkavicius' first two deployments with the National Guard were to Bosnia in 2003 and 2004.

A former Nevada Army National Guard soldier was killed Friday by small arms fire in Afghanistan.

Capt. Clayton L. Adamkavicius, 43, was serving with the Kentucky National Guard, mentoring Afghan army commanders, U.S. military officials said Monday.

Adamkavicius was mortally wounded while investigating a weapons cache discovered near Dihrawud in Afghanistan's Uruzghan Province, officials said. Adamkavicius has a daughter who lives in Nevada, according to a statement from the Kentucky National Guard.

A Nevada military spokeswoman said Adamkavicius had been a soldier in the Nevada Army National Guard from April 1993 to March 1999, when he was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 221st Cavalry.

Records show he was commissioned through the Nevada Guard's Officer Candidate School in 1995 and transferred to the Individual Ready Reserve in March 1999. He had served in the Air Force as an active duty enlisted man from May 1983 through March 1990.

Most recently, he had been a resident of Fairdale, Ky. A Pentagon statement late Monday said Adamkavicius was assigned to the Army National Guard's 149th Brigade, 35th Infantry Division out of Louisville, Ky.

Col. Phil Miller, a spokesman for the Kentucky National Guard said Adamkavicius was helping train Afghan army personnel along with 95 soldiers from the Kentucky Guard assigned to Task Force Phoenix.

The Kentucky Guard's statement quoted the state's adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Donald C. Storm, saying Adamkavicius was "a fine young officer and will be missed by his family, his fellow soldiers and everyone who knew him.

"Clayton Adamkavicius made the ultimate sacrifice for his nation," Storm said.

This was third deployment for Adamkavicius with the Kentucky Guard.

He served in Eastern Europe in 2003 as a headquarters company commander at Eagle Base, Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and in 2004 he served in Bosnia.

His medals include the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife, Bonnie, of Louisville, and his father, Edmond Adamkavicius of Pasadena, Calif.

Army Capt. Clayton L. Adamkavicius was killed in action on 04/21/06.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Army Capt. Ian P. Weikel

Remember Our Heroes

Army Capt. Ian P. Weikel, 31, of Colorado

Cpt Weikel was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died April 18, 2006 in Balad, Iraq, from injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Baghdad.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A former class president, star football and basketball player at Fountain-Fort Carson High School who attended West Point died after his vehicle was struck by a roadside explosive in Baghdad.

Capt. Ian P. Weikel, 31, was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas. He died Tuesday in Balad, which is about 42 miles north of Baghdad, the military said.

Weikel, of Colorado Springs was profiled in 1993 after being picked by The (Colorado Springs) Gazette as one of the “Best and Brightest” teenagers, the newspaper reported. While in high school — where he organized food drives and worked to get students to take a drug free pledge before they could buy prom tickets — Weikel dreamed of being an Air Force pilot.

He graduated with a 3.94 grade-point-average and went on to attend the Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

“My life is regimented, and the challenges are hard. Anything worth having is, though,” he told the newspaper shortly after graduating. -- Sorrow spread through the Fountain-Fort Carson community Wednesday as friends and family learned of the death in Iraq of Capt. Ian P. Weikel, whose friends described him as a natural leader and problem-solver who led by example.

Weikel, 31, died in Balad, Iraq, on Sunday when an improvised explosive device detonated near the U.S. Army Humvee he was riding in during combat operations, the Department of Defense said.

A graduate of West Point, Weikel was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, the 1st Brigade Combat Team in the 4th Infantry Division based out of Fort Hood, Texas.

To his teachers and coaches at Fountain-Fort Carson High School, he was a bright and energetic young man who stood out from the moment they met him.

"Ian was a very special young man," said Mitch Johnson, who coached Weikel and his brother, Chad, on the varsity football team.

"You could tell that from the moment he walked through the door as a bright-eyed freshman," Johnson said.

Ian Weikel was the team quarterback and president of the student government in his senior year.

Michael Maiurro, a teacher at the high school, said Weikel "was the kind of kid who was always part of the solution."

Weikel married a fellow West Point graduate. He and his wife, Wendy, served overseas together in Europe. She was discharged back to Colorado Springs when they learned she was pregnant with their first child, Jonathan Troy, a boy born in August. Their son's middle name reflected the father's profession. Troy means "foot soldier", Maiurro said.

Maiurro last saw his former student when Weikel returned to Colorado Springs for a visit with his family and a chance to be with his wife and newborn son.

"He was no longer a student but a peer," Maiurro said. "He and I could talk politics and debate government."

"He was the kind of young man that we all could share," he added. "He was part of all of us."

Army Capt. Ian P. Weikel was killed in action on 04/18/06.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Army Master Sgt. Clinton W. Cubert

Remember Our Heroes

Army Master Sgt. Clinton W. Cubert, 38, of Lawrenceburg, Ky.

Master Sgt Cubert was assigned to the 2113th Transportation Company, Kentucky Army National Guard, Paducah, Ky.; died April 16 in the Lexington Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Lexington, Ky., of injuries sustained Sept. 11, 2005, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Samarra, Iraq.

Cubert was ‘outside the mold’, a ‘trendsetter’

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Army National Guard’s 2113th Transportation Company was already on tour in Iraq last year when it received word that a fourth platoon needed to be added to the unit to work as a convoy escort.

The unit didn’t have any experience in protecting large convoys against insurgent attacks in the war-torn country, but Capt. William Serie didn’t hesitate when he named then-Sgt. Clinton Cubert as the new platoon’s leader.

“He was the most dedicated in making sure his soldiers were trained, equipped and ready,” Serie said Monday in a telephone interview from Paducah. “People use the word dedicated and outstanding and things of that nature, but I think those words don’t really express what he did for us. He was truly a person that was outside the mold.”

Cubert was on patrol last Sept. 11 when a roadside bomb went off near the Humvee he was riding in near Samarra. Cubert died Sunday morning at Lexington Veterans Affairs Hospital of the injuries he suffered in the attack. He was 38.

Cubert, who lived in Lawrenceburg, was a 19-year veteran of the National Guard and worked in the combined support maintenance shop at the Guard’s headquarters in Frankfort.

In Iraq, he trained the 30 members of his platoon to develop new tactics in making sure the units they protected in transit arrived at their destination safely.

“When you talk about his platoon, they were the people that came up with a lot of the ideas and the tactics we used in transport,” Serie said. “He was truly a trendsetter.”

Cubert is the 10th Kentucky Army National Guard soldier to die as the result of combat action in Iraq. He is survived by his wife, Amy, and their daughters, Alisha and Sarah.

“Clinton was a great father, husband and soldier,” Amy Cubert said in a statement from the Guard. “He loved his community and his country and will be terribly missed by everyone who knew him.”

Cubert received the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart during his service. He was promoted to master sergeant upon returning to Kentucky and was recognized by the Kentucky General Assembly last month. On Monday, Gov. Ernie Fletcher ordered flags at all state office buildings to be lowered to half-staff in Cubert’s honor.

— Associated Press

Army Master Sgt. Clinton W. Cubert died on 04/16/06 due to injuries sustained in the line of duty.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Marine Pfc. Ryan G. Winslow

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Pfc. Ryan G. Winslow, 19, of Jefferson, Alabama.

Pfc. Winslow died when his vehicle was attacked during combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Died on April 15, 2006.

Marine wanted to be at center of action

HOOVER, Ala. — Ryan George Winslow wanted a law enforcement job where he could be at the center of the action, on a SWAT team or narcotics.

He sought a similar duty when he joined the Marine Corps, partly to help further that goal.

“He didn’t want to be on patrol writing tickets all day long,” his mother, Marynell Winslow, said. “He wanted to be where the action was and that’s where he ended up with the Marine Corps.”

The 19-year-old Hoover resident was only three weeks into a seven-month tour in Iraq when he and three other Marines were killed Saturday by a roadside bomb in Anbar province.

Pfc. Winslow, part of the 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, was driving the Humvee while looking for roadside bombs when he was killed.

His mother said two Marines were on an overpass looking for any irregularities on the road that might be caused by bombs.

“The Marines above on the overpass didn’t see any irregularities,” Marynell Winslow said Tuesday in a phone interview. “The commander and Ryan didn’t see any irregularities on the road either and just went right on.”

Winslow’s parents and younger sister visited him at Camp Lejuene, N.C., before he left for Iraq. His mother said he seemed at peace with what he was about to do.

“He wasn’t afraid,” she told The Birmingham News in a story Tuesday. “If that was what he was called on to do, he was ready to do it. He felt prepared. He felt his platoon was prepared.”

In front of his family’s home Monday, a Marine helmet covered in desert camouflage and two military canteens hung on a stake. A pair of Winslow’s military boots stood at the base of the stake, alongside a small U.S. flag, and three plastic wraps of roses lay before the display. A card on one of the wraps bore the words, “Semper Fi.”

Winslow attended Hoover High School before passing his high school equivalency exam. He took some criminal justice courses at Jefferson State Community College, then joined the Marines in January 2005 with ambitions of a future career in law enforcement.

He dropped 50 pounds by dieting and running to get in shape for the Marines before basic training, his mother said.

“That was his goal and he attained his goal,” she said. There are not many people that have that drive.

“That’s the way he was, and that’s the way we’re going to remember him.”

— Associated Press

Marine Pfc. Ryan G. Winslow was killed in action on 04/15/06.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Army Specialist Dustin J. Harris

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Dustin J. Harris, 21, of Patten, Maine

Spc. Harris was assigned to the 172nd Brigade Support Battalion, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; killed April 6 when an improvised device detonated while he was conducting dismounted patrol operations in Bayji, Iraq. -- A 21-year-old soldier from Patten became the 17th Mainer to die in the three-year-old Iraq war this week when he was killed by a roadside bomb.

Spc. Dustin J. Harris died Thursday while on patrol with the 172 Brigade Support Battalion out of Fort Wainwright, Alaska. Harris was on foot patrol with elements of the 101st Airborne Division in Beiji, 150 miles north of Baghdad, when the improvised explosive device detonated nearby, the Army said.

Word of his death saddened many residents in his hometown of about 1,100 just outside the northern entrance of Baxter State Park. His mother, a school secretary, and father, a trucker, and other family members were in seclusion and too devastated to talk, according to a man who answered the phone at the family's home and identified himself as Harris' grandfather.

Rae Bates, principal at Katahdin Middle and High School, from which Harris graduated in 2002, said Harris was "one of those outstandingly good people." "He was a talented young man, kind and considerate, who got along well with adults," Bates said.

His only sibling, a brother, is a senior at the school. On Friday the school marked Harris' death with a moment of silence.

Harris' family goes back several generations in Patten. His parents both graduated from Katahdin High and his grandparents on both sides are from the community, Bates said. She said she tried to talk Harris out the military and into going to college instead. But he was eager to join after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"He was very intent and committed," Bates said.

While in Iraq, Harris corresponded with students in his aunt's fourth-grade class, Bates said. They sent him care packages and cards. He would write back.

"So indeed he has touched us," Bates said of the community.

In high school, Harris was an outstanding soccer player who traveled to England to play soccer one spring, she said. He was active in the Stetson United Methodist Church. But most of all, she said, he was known for his big smile and gentle ways.

"He had a lovely smile," she said.

Members of Maine's congressional delegation confirmed the death.

"These are trying times and words cannot do justice to the honor with which Dustin served his country and the sadness and loss his family now feels," U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud said in a prepared statement. Michaud, a Democrat who represents Maine's 2nd congressional district, lives nearby in East Millinocket.

Gov. John Baldacci's office said flags will be ordered flown at half-staff on the day of Harris' funeral.

''Our thoughts and prayers are with Specialist Harris' family during this difficult time,'' said Baldacci. ''James served his state and his nation honorably and all of Maine mourns his loss.''

Army Specialist Dustin J. Harris was killed in action on 04/06/06.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick J. Gallagher

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick J. Gallagher, 27, of Jacksonville, Fla.

LCpl Gallagher was assigned to elements of the 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died April 2, 2006 when the seven-ton truck he was riding in rolled over in a flash flood near Asad, Iraq. Also killed were: Cpl. Andres Aguilar Jr., Cpl. David A. Bass, Lance Cpl. Felipe D. Sandoval-Flores, Cpl. Brian R. St. Germain and Staff Sgt. Abraham G. Twitchell.

Fairhaven native wanted nothing more than to be a Marine

FAIRHAVEN, Mass. — A Marine lance corporal who grew up in Fairhaven and lived in Florida was among six Marines who died when their truck rolled over in a flash flood near Asad, Iraq, the Pentagon confirmed on Wednesday.

Lance Cpl. Patrick J. Gallagher, 27, who died Sunday, wanted nothing more in life than to be a Marine, his friend, Daniel Martin, told the Standard-Times of New Bedford.

His mother, Barbara Gallagher of Acushnet, said her son was driven in part to enlist because he had a cousin who was killed in the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

That’s when her son became “really gung-ho” about joining the military, she said. He was accepted about two years ago, she said.

His brother Michael, 25, is serving in the Navy. Gallagher’s father, Walter Gallagher Jr., lives in Westport.

The Pentagon listed Gallagher’s home town as Jacksonville, Fla., where he lived with his wife, Elizabeth, and their 2-year-old son, Evan.

Gallagher was assigned to the 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Also killed in the flash flood accident was Cpl. Brian R. St. Germain, 22, of Warwick, R.I.

Another Massachusetts marine, Cpl. Scott J. Procopio, 20, of Saugus, was killed on Sunday during combat operations in Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

As of Wednesday, at least 2,346 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. At least 34 Massachusetts natives or residents have died in Iraq, according to an AP count.

Marine Cpl. Scott J. Procopio

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Scott J. Procopio, 20, of Saugus, Mass.

Cpl. Procopio was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed April 2 while conducting combat operations in Anbar Province, Iraq. Also killed were: Lance Cpl. Jacob W. Beisel, Lance Cpl. Kun Y. Kim and Staff Sgt. Eric A. McIntosh.

Saugus mourns for fallen son
Marine corporal, 20, is killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq
By Megan Tench, Globe Staff | April 4, 2006

SAUGUS -- Even as a young man, Scott Procopio wasn't much of a dreamer.

When he wanted something, he would usually just go and get it, his family and friends said yesterday. So on the day in 2003 when the broad-shouldered family man decided to join the war in Iraq, no one dared to stop him.

''He walked straight into the recruitment office and he said 'You don't have to give me any of your speeches,' " his older brother, Michael, recalled yesterday. ''He told them, he wanted to sign up, and he wanted to sign up for the infantry."

Today, the town of Saugus is in mourning. Flags are at half-staff, and residents are struggling to understand what happened.

Marine Corporal Scott Procopio was killed in enemy action Sunday.

He was a machine gunner on a team patrol in a Humvee in Ramadi, a group of Marines told the family Sunday night. The 20-year-old newlywed was killed by a roadside bomb. It was his second tour of duty, relatives said.

Just six months ago, Procopio was celebrating his marriage to his longtime sweetheart, Kristal Cerbone. Voted most eligible bachelor in high school and known for his easy spirit and love of cars, Procopio returned to the front lines on March 6.

''Kris is trying to hold it together," Michael Procopio said.

And the rest of the family is trying to remain strong, the way his brother would have liked them to, he said.

''Scott was committed to getting the job done over there," said Kevin Procopio, Scott's father. ''And he saw a change in the Iraqis."

While joining the Marines was not a lifelong dream, his family said, he wanted the challenge, he loved his country, and he wanted to make a difference in the world.

''He was always talking about the kids over there, coming up to him giving him water or flowers," said his brother. ''They would climb all over him. He was my best friend. We are very proud of him."

Kevin Procopio said he and Scott's mother, Mary, are comforted by Scott's faith in God.

''When he was 12, he came to know Jesus Christ as his own personal savior," his father said. ''He knew he was going to heaven. It just gave him confidence while he was over there."

It was a somber scene at Saugus High School yesterday. Teachers broke down in tears when they heard the news. Scott Procopio was a popular student with many, many friends, staff members said.

''Scott was a gentleman," said Gabriel Valeiro, who taught Italian during Procopio's sophomore year.

''He had straight A's, and I knew he was going to be very, very successful," Valeiro said. ''And he loved his country. That's why I cried when I heard this morning."

Counselors were made available to students and staff yesterday. Procopio's younger brother Mark, 15, is a student at the school. He also has another brother, Gregory, 17.

At his desk, principal Joseph Diorio kept open the yearbook from the class of 2003, the year that Procopio graduated.

He read Procopio's entry as a reflection of Scott's engaging personality: ''When all is said and done, the class of 2003 is like pasta. Some are long, short, hollow, and twisted, but with a little cheese sauce, we are all the same."

Marine Cpl. Scott J. Procopio was killed in action on 04/02/06.

Marine Cpl Andres Aguilar Jr

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl Andres Aguilar Jr, 21, Victoria, Texas

Cpl Aguilar was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Died April 2, when the seven-ton truck he was riding in rolled over in a flash flood near Al Asad, Iraq.

By Peter Boylan
Honolulu Advertiser Staff Writer

Andres Aguilar Jr. loved the game of soccer and was happiest when playing or watching it on TV, his sister recalled yesterday.

A former midfielder/defender for Memorial High School in Victoria, Texas, the 21-year-old U.S. Marine Corps corporal would spend hours with his younger brother and sister playing pickup games in the park near the family's home.

"He taught me how to love and play soccer; he just loved the game so much," said Amanda Aguilar by phone from the family's home in Victoria. "He would watch me play (in high school), I would watch him play. We used to call each other up whenever there was soccer on TV. Even if it was 10 o'clock at night, we'd go find a soccer ball and kick it around. He was a fun guy to be around."

Andres Aguilar Jr. was killed Sunday along with five other Marines when the 7-ton truck they were riding in rolled over during a flash flood near Al Asad, Iraq. Aguilar was a communications technician with Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawai'i.

He had arrived in Iraq just last month.

Aguilar joined the Marine Corps in June 2002, was stationed in Hawai'i in March 2003, and deployed to Iraq in March 2006, according to a news release from Marine Corps Base Hawai'i. He had been deployed to Afghanistan with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment from November 2004 to June 2005.

Since the March 2003 start of the Iraq war, 65 Marines and sailors with Hawai'i-based units or Hawai'i ties have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Aguilar's family described him as a man who was always smiling, joking and driven to accomplish whatever he put his mind to. His respect and care for others overshadowed any concern for himself, his sister said, a trait lauded by his superiors in boot camp after he threw himself on top of a fake grenade during a live-fire drill.

Aguilar scored a 1470 on his SAT and graduated in the top 15 percent of a Memorial High School class of more than 900 students, his sister said. In addition to playing soccer, he lettered in football, track and cross country.

At his family's home sit two boxes of letters and applications sent to him from Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Duke and other universities urging him to apply, but Aguilar had dreamed of serving his country since his junior year in high school.

"With his grades, we didn't know he was going into the service," she said. "He wanted to do his duty and help others. It's just like him."

Aguilar envisioned a career after the Corps and dreamed of being a pediatrician, telling his sister he would be so good that "she couldn't afford him," she said.

Without telling his parents, Aguilar filled out a form that asked Marine Corps recruiters to approach him on his 18th birthday, said his father, Andres Sr. While he never probed the reasons behind his son's desire to serve, Andres Sr. said his son had four uncles who served in the U.S. Army and a fifth retired from the U.S. Air Force.

Still, when the recruiters showed up at his door shortly after Andres Jr.'s 18th birthday, the family was surprised.

"He wanted to see the world and he did, but we didn't think this would happen to him," Aguilar's father said yesterday. "Even though it was a short 21 years, it was a good 21 years that he lived, the way I look at it. We'll miss the fact that he won't be coming home anymore and his brother and sisters won't have that older sibling to look up to. He won't be there for them."

Aguilar's awards include the Good Conduct Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and two Sea Service Deployment ribbons.

He is survived by his father, Andres Sr., his mother, Olivia, sisters Amanda, 19, and Andrea, 16, and brother Alejandro, 18.

Marine Cpl Andres Aguilar Jr was killed in action on 04/02/06.

Marine Lance Cpl. Felipe D. Sandoval-Flores

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Felipe D. Sandoval-Flores, 20, of Los Angeles, California.

Lance Cpl Sandoval-Flores was assigned to elements of the 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died April 2 when the seven-ton truck he was riding in rolled over in a flash flood near Asad, Iraq. Also killed were: Cpl. Andres Aguilar Jr., Cpl. David A. Bass, Lance Cpl. Patrick J. Gallagher, Cpl. Brian R. St. Germain and Staff Sgt. Abraham G. Twitchell.

By Greg Krikorian, Times Staff Writer
April 30, 2006

The calls always came early Saturday mornings, from wherever he was stationed in Iraq. Marine Lance Cpl. Felipe de Jesus Sandoval-Flores would phone home to tell his family that he was doing fine.

"He'd always say, 'I'm OK. Things are OK,' " recalled his older sister, Blanca.

On April 1, the call came earlier than usual, about 5:30 a.m., at the family's home on 91st Street in South Los Angeles.

As always, his sister said, her brother assured everyone that he was fine. But he also said he was tired.

The next night, about 10:30, there was a knock on the door. "Once we saw three Marines," his sister said, "we knew something was wrong."

Sandoval-Flores, the family learned, was among six Marines killed April 2 when their 7-ton truck overturned in a flash flood near Al Asad, west of Baghdad.

He had been in Iraq two months.

Sandoval-Flores had long imagined becoming a soldier.

"Even as a child, he dreamed of going into the military," his sister said.

Born in Michoacan, Mexico, Sandoval-Flores, 20, was the second of five children born to Toribio Sandoval and his Salvadoran wife, Carlota Flores.

Outgoing and athletic, Sandoval-Flores was always engaged with family and friends.

"He was a guy who cared for people, and if he really cared for you, he would guide you in any way he could," said longtime friend Cesar Flores, 19, who had known Felipe since the eighth grade.

At Locke High School, Flores played wide receiver and Sandoval-Flores was a wiry defensive end. Around campus, everyone knew Felipe as "Phill," the class clown who was always quick with a joke and drove a black 2001 Camaro convertible.

If he had a dream beyond the military, it was to become a police officer, a goal he was sure would be facilitated by a stint in the service.

"He said he was never the college kind of guy," Flores said. "He thought it would be an easier way for him to join the police" after serving in the military.

A few months before his high school graduation, Sandoval-Flores enlisted in the Marine Corps.

"Before he signed up, we all sat down as a family and discussed that the country was at war," his sister said. "We said there was a really big chance he would go to war and how much it would hurt for us to be apart from him. But he said, 'This is my dream [to join the service].' He was never afraid about going to war."

One month after earning his diploma, he was off to basic training at Camp Pendleton. Eventually he was assigned to the 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

"After graduating from boot camp and when he said he was going to Iraq, we sat down again as a family," his sister said. "My mom was literally begging him not to go, and he said, 'I want to go. Mom, don't worry. I will be OK.' "

As surely as he tried to calm his family and friends, Sandoval-Flores certainly knew the danger he was facing. But he always made it clear that he never feared dying.

"The single and most prevalent fear of most men is death," he wrote for his high school English class just months before he graduated.

His essay, somber and filled with references to Scripture, underscored Sandoval-Flores' recognition, even as a teenager, that, as he wrote, "Tomorrow is never promised." The essay ends with this: "Death scares me, but it is coming, ready or not…."

Looking back, his sister said she believes the serious conversations that she and her younger brother often had were meant to prepare her and the rest of the family for the worst.

A devout Catholic, Sandoval-Flores may have been prepared for death, but he also embraced life, family and friends said.

"Felipe was always a giving kind of person, a good heart," said another longtime friend, Raoul Gonzalez, 22.

Whether it was letting friends win at video games, counseling young parishioners on the Catholic rite of confirmation or helping out the homeless, Sandoval-Flores savored every day, Gonzalez said.

Once, Gonzalez remembered, the two were out distributing food, clothes and hot chocolate to the poor when Sandoval-Flores spotted a boy about 9 or 10 years old in line with the others.

"Felipe had this new sweater, not even 2 weeks old, and when he saw this young kid, he didn't hesitate, he took off his sweater and gave it to him," Gonzalez said.

At his funeral, more than 200 family members and friends watched Sandoval-Flores' body carried to his grave at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City by a white carriage drawn by two white horses.

"Words cannot explain how much we miss him," his parents wrote in a letter to The Times. "We are proud as [his] parents because, despite being poor, we were able to raise a good young man with a big heart who loved and respected his fellow human beings."

In a separate letter, his younger sister, Michelle, wrote: "April 2, 2006, I recognized true sorrow; my brother was not coming home."

But through the pain, she wrote, "I am glad Felipe is no longer living in that hell called war."

Marine Lance Cpl. Felipe D. Sandoval-Flores was killed in action on 04/02/06.

Marine Cpl. David A. Bass

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. David A. Bass, 20, of Nashville, Tenn.

Cpl. Bass was assigned to elements of the 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died April 2 when the seven-ton truck he was riding in rolled over in a flash flood near Asad, Iraq. Also killed were: Cpl. Andres Aguilar Jr., Lance Cpl. Patrick J. Gallagher, Lance Cpl. Felipe D. Sandoval-Flores, Cpl. Brian R. St. Germain and Staff Sgt. Abraham G. Twitchell.

Marine Corp News -- CAMP TAQADDUM (Apr. 8, 2006) -- “He could take the worst job in the world and make it ok,” said Sgt. Nicholas Cunningham with a somber look and grief in his eyes.

Cunningham is just one of the many Marines mourning the loss of Cpl. David A. Bass who was killed April 2, 2006, when the vehicle he was riding in rolled over during a flash flood in western Iraq near Al-Asad Air Base.

A memorial service for Bass, complete with a 21-gun salute, was held here April 8, 2006, in the main chapel of Camp Taqaddum.

Bass, a disbursing pay agent who paid military contracts and servicemembers in Iraq, is remembered as the guy with a big heart, even though he only stood around 5 feet, 3 inches.

“He was the guy who would bring a smile to your face and could turn anything into a joke. He also made sure no one was left out of the group,” said Cpl. Charles Lovern, who has served with Bass every step of his Marine Corps career, from boot camp to this deployment in Iraq.

A native of Nashville, Tenn., Bass used the Marine Corps to gain life experience, travel, and blend in with the natives of southern California.

“When we first got to Camp Pendleton (Calif.), he wouldn’t stop talking about surfing so he bought a $500 surfboard. Only after he strutted down the beach and jumped in the water, did he think of buying a training board. The first time he surfed he couldn’t even get his knee onto the surfboard and kept wiping out. My wife never let him live that down,” said Lovern.

Bass’ character touched everyone, not just his friends. The commanders he worked for appreciated his demeanor and professionalism on the job.

He always wore a genuine smile and was known for having a positive attitude, along with a quick-witted sense of humor. He was a true professional and was quick to help anyone regardless of rank, said Bass’ commanding officer, Capt. Lisa Doring.

Not only was Bass good at his job, but handling large sums of money seemed to be the right job for the Marine.

“He always talked about how he wanted to be a millionaire and have a huge house just like Hugh Heffner. I guess disbursing was the perfect job for him” added Lovern, budding a smile on his face.

Just as the Marine Corps trusted him with thousands of dollars, his friends trusted him with their closest treasures.

“He never had any bad intentions, I’d trust him to watch after my 19-month-old daughter Alyssa,” said Lovern.

Bass is a graduate of John Overton Comprehensive High School in Nashville, Tenn. He joined the Marines in 2003 and graduated boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in November that year.

After attending the Marine Corps’ financial management school he was assigned to Camp Pendleton’s disbursing office, was promoted to the rank of corporal on January 1, 2006, and deployed less than two months later to Al Asad Air Base where he provided disbursing support to Marines in the Hadithah area.

He is survived by his mother, Tammy Delle, father, John Bass, and brother.

Marine Cpl. David A. Bass was killed in action on 04/02/06.

Marine Lance Cpl. Eric A. Palmisano

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Eric A. Palmisano, 27, of Florence, Wis.

Lance Cpl. Palmisano was assigned to 1st Transportation Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died April 2, 2006 after the truck he was riding in rolled over in a flash flood near Asad, Iraq. The incident also resulted in the death of six other Marines and a Navy petty officer. Palmisano was listed as Duty Status - Whereabouts Unknown until his body was recovered April 11.

May 2, 2006 − Introduced by Senator BRESKE, cosponsored by Representative
MURSAU. Referred to Committee on Senate Organization.

Relating to: the life and public service of Eric A. Palmisano.

Whereas, Lance Corporal Eric A. Palmisano, of Florence, Wisconsin, served the United States proudly as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps; and

Whereas, Lance Cpl. Palmisano’s body was recovered on April 11, 2006, following an overturned truck accident in a flash flood near Al Asad, in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq; and

Whereas, Lance Cpl. Palmisano followed a strong family tradition of ultimate sacrifice by following in the service footsteps of his grandfather, uncle, and cousin; and

Whereas, Lance Cpl. Palmisano joined the Marine Corps March 15, 2005, and was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal; and

Whereas, a born leader, Lance Cpl. Palmisano attended boot camp and served as scribe, was a Marine sharpshooter with an expert marksman qualification, and had attained the rank of Tan Belt in the Martial Arts; and

Whereas, Lance Cpl. Palmisano underwent advanced training in the Marine Corps at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where his military occupational specialty was as a motor transport operator, assigned to the 1st Transportation Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Pendleton, California; and

Whereas, Lance Cpl. Palmisano earned his associate degree from the Seminole Community College in Florida before entering the Marine Corps to make a better life for himself and his fiancé, Claire; and

Whereas, survivors of Lance Cpl. Palmisano are parents Herb and Bobbie Samme, his fiancé Claire, a brother Salvatore, paternal grandparents Sam and Marie Palmisano, and maternal grandparents Bob and Gloria McCauslin, as well as his faithful dog Hannah and many other family members; and

Whereas, Lance Cpl. Palmisano will always be remembered for his loyalty and duty to the Marine Corps and to the cause of freedom, and for his love for and devotion to his family and friends; and

Whereas, Lance Cpl. Palmisano’s final resting place will be next to his father in Chicago, where he will be buried with full military honors and he will never be forgotten; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the senate, the assembly concurring, That the members of the Wisconsin legislature commend the life of Lance Corporal Eric A. Palmisano of Florence, Wisconsin, express their sorrow at his death, and extend their condolences to his family and friends; and, be it further

Resolved, That the senate chief clerk shall provide copies of this joint resolution to Lance Cpl. Palmisano’s parents, fiancé, brother, and grandparents.

Marine Lance Cpl. Eric A. Palmisano was killed in action on 4/2/06.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael L. Hartwick

Remember Our Heroes

Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael L. Hartwick, 37, of Orrick, Mo.

Chief Warrant Officer Hartwick was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 4th Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died April 1 when his Apache helicopter crashed while conducting a combat air patrol in Baghdad. Also killed was Capt. Timothy J. Moshier.

ORRICK, Mo. (AP) — Chief Warrant Officer Michael L. Hartwick Jr., who died when his helicopter crashed in Iraq, was being remembered in his hometown as a born leader who always had a passion to fly.

Hartwick, 37, of Orrick, and Capt. Timothy Moshier, of Albany, N.Y., were killed Saturday when their AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter crashed. The military said the crash possibly was caused by hostile fire west of Youssifiyah, which is about 10 miles southwest of Baghdad.

"When I heard the news, I thought, 'That's one of America's best and brightest,'" said Sandra Pendleton, who taught Hartwick social studies at Orrick High School. "If you had a son, he was what you would have wanted him to be."

Both Hartwick and Moshier were assigned to the Army's 4th Battalion, 4th Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

A statement attributed to Hartwick's family said he died "while fulfilling his life dream of flying the AH-64 Apache helicopter while serving his country. He was a true Patriot."

An extremist group posted a video on the Internet on Wednesday claiming to show Iraqi insurgents dragging the body of a U.S. pilot on the ground. Parts of the video were blurry, and the face of the man being dragged was not shown. The U.S. military said the authenticity of the video could not be confirmed.

The death brought sadness — and confusion — to his hometown.

"People don't know what's really happening here," said Ken McAfee, a retired Orrick High School coach who had Hartwick in a physical education class. "Nobody really knows yet when Mike will be coming back."

Hartwick graduated from Orrick in 1986 and married his high school sweetheart, Kerri. She and their two young children still live in Orrick.

He had an all-American boy resume in high school: member of the National Honor Society and student council, senior class president, and football and basketball star. But he was remembered more for his kindness, his faith, his natural leadership ability and the desire he always had to fly.

Rick Wrisinger, current principal at the school, was Hartwick's coach in junior high school. He remembered Hartwick once telling a man who had been a tail gunner in Vietnam that he was going to fly a helicopter one day.

"You know, you hear kids say things like that all the time, and you think 'We'll see,'" Wrisinger said. "But he followed through and did it."

Pendleton said Hartwick did a tour of duty with the Air Force but when he couldn't get into flight school, he joined the Army so he could get into its flight school.

Pendleton said she wrote to Hartwick's wife in a sympathy card that Michael was "one of the reasons it's so good to be in education. Even as a teenager, he was a good person, intelligent, nice to everybody.

"I know this makes it sound like he walked on water, but I've dealt with hundreds of kids in 28 years, and he was just one of the best. He came from a very strong Christian family and he had a faith in God, and I think that's what made him how he was."

A few years ago, when Hartwick returned to Orrick after flying missions over Kosovo, the school held a surprise welcome home party for him in the school gymnasium.

"Nothing thrills me more than that we did that," Wrisinger said. "He told me that day that 'This makes it all worth it, to know people really do care.'"

Wrisinger said Hartwick had given him posters of the Apache helicopter he flew and the Viper helicopter, which he had qualified to fly.

"He was just always real proud of what he was doing," he said. "I would tell you the most impressive thing about Mike was his respect for people and for life."

Wrisinger had just sent Hartwick a care package last week, and Pendleton said the National Honor Society had been collecting things to send him. The society will instead send the package to Hartwick's unit in Iraq, she said.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael L. Hartwick was killed in action on 04/01/06.