Monday, October 30, 2006

Army Sgt. Kraig D. Foyteck

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Kraig D. Foyteck, 26, of Skokie, Ill.

Sgt. Foyteck was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; died Oct. 30 from injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations in Baghdad.

LaPorte family mourns son's death in Iraq

IRAQ WAR: Kraig Foyteck killed while on extended tour


LAPORTE | Seconds after she watched herself as a grieving military mom sobbing on a midday television newscast, Connie Foyteck's cell phone rang.

It was the call this LaPorte mom had been waiting for -- word from the wife of a soldier who had been with her son when he was killed in Iraq early Monday morning.

Until Wednesday afternoon, Foyteck didn't know whether her oldest son, Sgt. Kraig Foyteck, had been killed by a bullet or a bomb.

She still doesn't know if she'll ever see his body.

"He was shot three times?" Foyteck said into her cell.

"The first two went into his vest, but the third one went into his neck," she repeated calmly. "He said Kraig didn't feel a thing?"

But, Jen Parsons, whose husband, Sgt. Kirt Parsons, saw Connie Foyteck's son die as he searched houses in an Iraqi town called Mahala, couldn't tell the heartbroken mother what she yearned to know the most.

Were the remains of her son so mutilated she would never be able to see his body? Two days after he died, the Army hadn't told her, either.

"That's the most devastating part is that I may not even be able to see his body," Foyteck said, breaking into tears. "I have to see him. I have to hold him one more time."

Extended tours

In the Iraq conflict's fourth deadliest month, Kraig Foyteck was among the one-third of American casualties already scheduled to be home. According to a recent report, 105 American soldiers were killed in Iraq during October. About 30 percent were on their second or third tours, according to a Chicago Tribune poll.

Foyteck, 26, with the 2-1 Infantry 172nd Brigade, had bought his airline ticket to come home last August. He was told the day before his flight he would have to stay up to another year. But he had heard he would be heading back to the States by Thanksgiving, his mother said.

In his last e-mail, sent Sunday evening, Kraig told his mom he was shopping for an airline ticket home at Christmastime.

"They already killed us once when they didn't let him come home when he was supposed to," Connie Foyteck said.

The worst news possible came knocking on her door in the form of an Army messenger about 8 p.m. Monday.

"I never, ever expected that man to come to my door," she said. "We were in the home stretch. It was the last thing on my mind."

Daredevil, practical joker

Kraig Foyteck enlisted in the Army in 2003, before the Iraq war erupted. He and his mother never talked about the possibility that Kraig, known as an adventure-seeking practical joker, would ever see combat. After a year of college and some time working as a computer salesman, the 1998 Niles West High School graduate enlisted.

"I think it was the daredevil in him," Connie Foyteck said.

Kraig Foyteck was an accomplished diver. He loved to ski, boat, ride snowmobiles and parachute.

"He had a way of bringing people together," said Eric Chan, a Winnetka teacher who was a close friend of Foyteck for a decade since the two worked together at the Skokie pool.

Barbara Giannelli, who works in the office at Niles West, remembers the pranks he pulled at school. He taped her phone receiver button down, then called her. He linked her paper clips together.

"He enjoyed himself," Giannelli said. "He didn't take himself too seriously."

Honoring their friend

Foyteck's fellow soldiers held a funeral ceremony for him in Iraq on Wednesday, his mother said.

Jen Parsons told Connie Foyteck a group of soldiers at Fort Wainwright Army Base near Fairbanks Ala., where her son was based, is holding a memorial for him today.

Connie Foyteck, whose parents Virginia and Henry (Jack) Foyteck are from LaPorte, recently moved back to her hometown after years in Skokie, where Kraig grew up and she still works for the village of Skokie. She has another son, Christopher Mastas, 20.

The Foytecks plan to hold a military funeral in Skokie. They'll schedule it as soon as the Army tells them when Kraig's body will be coming home, Connie Foyteck said.

Army Sgt. Kraig D. Foyteck was killed in action on 10/30/06.



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Friday, October 27, 2006

Conrad Hollis

Remember Our Heroes

Fellow soldier, former principal remember Conrad Hollis

By Michael McCollum
Tuesday, October 31, 2006 11:26 AM CST

Danny Browning woke early Saturday morning to a call from one of his men in the Mississippi National Guard with the news that Conrad Hollis, a soldier under his command, had been shot and killed.

“I was his first sergeant and that's a call you never want to get,” said Browning who also coached Hollis on the New Hope High School football team. “Especially after all that boy has gone through for his country in Iraq and he's cut down by a low-life thug on the streets of America that he fought to defend.”

Hollis, 21, was shot to death shortly before 12:45 a.m. Saturday after leaving a concert on The University of Alabama campus, where he was enrolled as a freshman.

Hollis had attended a homecoming concert at the university with friends and was leaving the campus when the vehicle he was riding in rear-ended another vehicle, according to police.

The drivers did not file a report on the accident, and the vehicles left the scene. When the driver of the car Hollis was riding in got home, he noticed the other vehicle was following him.

Hollis got out of the car and was shot, police said.

“I was devastated when I got the news,” Browning said. “He was a real good kid and a first class soldier. I was with him in Iraq and he was one of the best soldiers I had. I was real proud of him.”

Hollis joined the armed forces in his junior year of high school and finished basic training right after graduating from New Hope High School in 2004. Browning added that Hollis had said his dream was to go to The University of Alabama.

“Conrad was doing what every soldier seems to do these days - put his time in, then get an education,” Browning said. “When he was in high school he came to me and asked about the military. I never pushed him, but I told him it better lead to an education.”

Lowndes County Schools Superintendent Mike Halford, who was Hollis' principal at New Hope High School, described Hollis as quiet and thoughtful.

“I knew Conrad not only as a student, but also as the child of a very close friend,” said Halford who stressed the past few days have been miserable. “He was always amicable and didn't say a whole lot, but he had a lot of ability.”

He noted that Hollis had become interested in serving his country while in high school and saw Browning as a role model.

“It's just a shame and it's hard to understand how he fulfilled his dream of serving his country and then was killed just one semester into fulfilling another dream of attending the University of Alabama.”

Hollis was the son of Eric and Sara Hollis of New Hope.

Conrad Hollis was killed on 10/27/06.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Marine Pfc. Daniel B. Chaires

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Pfc. Daniel B. Chaires, 20, of Tallahassee, Fla.

Pfc. Chaires was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; died Oct. 25 from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

By Gerald Ensley

Harry Chaires remained stoic through most of his son's funeral. But when a U.S. Marine captain knelt and handed him the folded American flag from the casket, Chaires began to tremble and weep.

He was not alone. More than 1,000 people thronged to Chaires, a small community east of Tallahassee, on Thursday for the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Chaires, 20, who was killed in combat in Iraq. Almost all left with tear-stained faces. It is impossible not to grieve the loss of the young who serve their country.

Chaires was killed Oct. 25 in a gun battle with Iraqi insurgents. He is at least the sixth resident of Leon and surrounding counties to die in Afghanistan or Iraq since this war began.

Chaires had deep roots in Tallahassee. He was descended from one of Leon County's pioneer families. His father, Harry Chaires, is a retired Leon County Sheriff's Office captain; his mother, Nanna Cuchens, is a former hospital emergency-room director who now teaches at Florida State University.

Those ties and Daniel Chaires' military service drew an inordinately large crowd for a funeral that was an evocative blend of military custom and Old South tradition.

The funeral service was held in the Chaires United Methodist Church, which Chaires attended from childhood through his enlistment in the Marines a year ago. Only 150 people could be shoehorned into the church; the remainder stood outside listening to the service through speakers. The crowd included Chaires' relatives, neighbors, colleagues and students, cadres of law enforcement, military, university and government officials, plus numerous local residents who didn't know the family but were moved by their loss.

Three pastors, one of Daniel's older brothers and a retired U.S. Navy officer delivered eulogies. Six Marines flanked his casket throughout the 55-minute service; his Marine hat, saber and gloves sat on a table to the side.

A bagpiper played "Amazing Grace." A brass quintet played the Marine Corps hymn. A singer and guitarist performed "God Bless the U.S.A."

After the service, the Marines carried the casket to a horse-drawn wagon, which carried Chaires to a grave behind his parents' home. The procession of mourners walking behind the wagon stretched the entire quarter mile on Chaires Cross Road between the church and home. Students and teachers from Chaires Elementary School stood along the road, holding small U.S. flags. The bagpiper played "Danny Boy."

Chaires' casket was laid over a grave his father prepared in a clearing behind the family home, flanked by dogwood trees, azalea bushes and a newly planted flagpole. Marines fired a 21-gun salute. The flag was presented to Harry Chaires.

It was a touching pageant.

"I've been to funerals for heads of state that weren't this nice," said former Florida Lt. Gov. Bobby Brantley, a Chaires family friend. "It really fit this community."

Chaires was emblematic of the Chaires community, which was settled in the 1820s by his ancestors. He was an avid hunter, fisherman and outdoorsman who was home-schooled and served as chief companion to his late grandfather - famously ferrying his grandfather over community fields and roads in a golf cart long before he was of driving age.

"He was proud to be part of this Chaires community," said his older brother, Todd Chaires. "He was the true definition of a Southern gentleman. He had the ability to melt you with his 'yes sirs' and 'no sirs' to everyone, no matter their age. I never saw that child without a smile on his face."

All three pastors, including Daniel Chaires' uncle, Anthony Cuchens, seconded Daniel's affection for his community - and his family.

"I don't know that I ever met a young man who loved his mother and father more than he did, y'all," said Cuchens, nodding at Daniel's parents. "Hang on to that. Daniel's love will always be there for you."

The most stirring eulogy came from retired Navy officer Jim Whyte, who teaches in the Florida State College of Nursing along with Daniel's mother. Whyte began his military career in the Marines and pronounced Marines "a cut above" other people. He said they are unabashedly trained to be "warriors" and said Daniel Chaires made the "same sacrifice for family and country" as all previous Marines killed in war.

"Daniel was not a victim of circumstances; this was no accident," Whyte said. "Instead of running for cover, Daniel chose to move as the point man through the kill zone. He willingly gave his most precious possession for his comrades.

"Thank God for Daniel Chaires. Let us never forget he did this for us."

Marine Pfc. Daniel B. Chaires was killed in action on 10/25/06.

Marine Pfc. Donald S. Brown

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Pfc. Donald S. Brown, 19, of Succasunna, N.J.

Pfc Brown was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; died Oct. 25, 2006 from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Hadithah, Iraq.

Hometown to honor Marine killed 5 years ago in Iraq
By Matt Manochio
(Morristown, N.J.) Daily Record

ROXBURY TOWNSHIP, N.J. — The township will honorarily name Eyland Avenue after a native son who grew up along that street and who was killed while serving in Iraq as a Marine in 2006.

Yellow signs with "L Cpl Don Brown Ave" in red lettering will be placed above approximately eight of the 20 Eyland Avenue street signs that line the road, said Connie Gouck, and administrative assistant for the township.

They officially will be unveiled July 18 at the Eyland and Hillside avenues intersection, near the home where Brown, a 2005 Roxbury High School graduate, grew up. Brown was 19 when he was killed.

"Every organization, every group that I have contacted has been nothing but generous and accommodating [asking] what can we do to help," Gouck said of the effort to honor Brown, who was killed along with three other Marines on Oct. 25, 2006, by an improvised explosive device in Anbar province.

Township councilman Martin Schmidt, himself a Vietnam veteran and former commander of the Morris County chapter of the Disabled American Veterans, said he's been working on renaming Eyland for Brown for three years.

"Any kid that gets hurt in combat, or killed like that, they're kind of our own," Schmidt said. "I didn't know him well, but I knew him before he went into the service. ... He was a nice young kid. When he got killed in action, there are no words to describe it."

Schmidt said he got the idea because of the way the Army names buildings in honor of its war dead.

"To me that is one of the ultimate honors that we can give to these kids who give their lives," he said, adding that Roxbury passed a resolution to make the sign official.

Gouck said Brown's family is expected to attend, as will a Marine Corps Color Guard and bagpipers.

She said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., is hoping to procure an American flag that flew over the Capitol Building so it can be presented to the family.

The Morris County Freeholders Board also is expected to present the Browns with a distinguished service award.

Marine Pfc. Donald S. Brown was killed in action on 10/25/06.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Army Specialist Matthew W. Creed

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Matthew W. Creed, 23, of Covina, California

Specialist Creed was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Oct. 22 of injuries sustained when their patrol came in contact with enemy forces in Baghdad. Also killed was Spc. Nathaniel A. Aguirre.

Covina man dreamed of becoming a police officer
By Phil Drake Staff Writer

Matthew Creed COVINA - Army Spc. Matthew Creed called his mother about 11:30 a.m. Saturday, excited that within 45 days he would be out of Iraq and stationed back in the United States.

He was making plans, one of which was to buy his first new vehicle.

"I am coming home," his mother, Kimberly, 45, recalled him saying. "He was real excited about that.

"One of the last things he said to me was `I love you mom.' I told him to be careful."

He promised he would.

The next day, the 2001 Charter Oak High School graduate was killed by a sniper's bullet in Baghdad while on foot patrol.

He was 23.

Creed was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

As of Wednesday, at least 2,804 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. Creed was the 19th person from the San Gabriel Valley to die in the war.

Matthew Creed had been in the military since 2003, his father, Richard, 47, said Wednesday in a telephone interview from the Rancho Cucamonga home they have lived in for two months.

He wanted to become a police officer, and interviewed with the Covina Police Department. He learned he was not qualified and someone suggested he go into the military to gain experience, Richard Creed said.

Matthew was friends with Scott Hanson, the Covina police sergeant who died in July from injuries he suffered during a 2003 vehicle crash.

Family members said the friendship had "a good effect on Matt."

Matthew Creed had a job making sandwiches at Blimpie's in San Dimas when he decided to join the Army.

He was was stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., for boot camp, followed by a year in Korea. After that, he was offered an assignment in Washington, D.C., but asked to be sent to a combat unit so that he could perform the duties that he had been trained for, Richard Creed said.

Richard Creed said one of Matthew's nephews may have pegged him best:

"He sometimes made bad decisions but whatever he did he went 100 mph and never looked back. But he always ended up doing a good job."

They remember when he was 4 or 5 and had been watching a television show about paramedics.

Later, they found him in the back yard. He was wearing his fire helmet and doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on his teddy bear.

Other than his parents, Matthew is survived by his wife, Ashley, and brother, James, 19.

Services are pending, his parents said, but added they would likely be at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Covina.

Matthew Creed signed his leave papers on Saturday and would have been out of Iraq by December. He was also getting a month's vacation.

He called his mom to tell her the good news.

After 40 minutes he had to hang up.

He had to go to work.

Army Specialist Matthew W. Creed was killed in action on 10/22/06.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Army Cpl. David M. Unger

Remember Our Heroes

Army Cpl. David M. Unger, 21, of Leavenworth, Kansas.

Cpl. Unger was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. He died Oct. 18 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Also killed were 2nd Lt. Christopher E. Loudon, 23, of Brockport, Pa., Cpl. Russell G. Culbertson III, 22, of Amity, Pa. and Spc. Joseph C. Dumas Jr., 25, of New Orleans.

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- A soldier from Leavenworth who reveled in making others laugh has died in Iraq, his mother said.

The Department of Defense has not released the official details of Army Cpl. David Unger's death.

His mother, Diana Pitts, told KMBC her son was killed Tuesday when an improvised explosive device struck his armored Humvee. At least two other soldiers also were killed, she said.

"The only way I can remember my son is he made everybody laugh," Pitts said. "For almost 22 years, he was the rock of our family."

Unger, who graduated from Leavenworth High School in 2003, would have celebrated his birthday on Halloween. He leaves behind a wife, Laura Unger, and a son and daughter.

Laura Unger said she met David in high school.

"I was best friends with him in high school, that's how we ended up married," she said.

They both went into the Army and were stationed at Fort Hood in Texas. She got out to raise their son.

Then, David got the call to head overseas.

"I didn't want him to go, he didn't want to go," Unger said.

'He Made Everybody Happy'

The family is cherishing a video he made spoofing "MTV Cribs," which gives viewers an inside look at the plush homes of television and film stars.

In Unger's version, viewers got an inside look of a shabby-looking grassy patch in Iraq. Unger called the ground "the future bowling alley, golf course, horseshoe arena. It's all gonna go down right here."

He also joked about the birds who liked to leave droppings on military beds.

"He was just always just trying to make everybody happy and laugh. That was my child. I just don't know what any of us are going to do without him," said Pitts, who works in the chaplain's office at Fort Leavenworth.

Pitts said Unger was expected to leave Iraq for Kuwait in mid-November. He would have returned to Texas with the 4th Infantry Division in December. Unger already had decided not to re-enlist and instead return to Leavenworth to spend more time with his family, Pitts said.

Army Cpl. David M. Unger was killed in action on 10/18/06.


Gage Unger

Gage Unger Back

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Army Sgt. Norman R. Taylor III

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Norman R. Taylor III, 21, of Blythe, Calif.

Sgt. Taylor was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo; died Oct. 17, 2006 in Baqubah, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Also killed were Pfc. Nathan J. Frigo and Staff Sgt. Ryan E. Haupt.

Taylor III, 21, of Blythe, Calif.; and Pfc. Nathan J. Frigo, 23, of Kokomo, Ind. The three, all assigned as snipers in the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, were riding together to protect a convoy traveling between Baqouba and Balad when the bomb went off.

The deaths came days before the brigade was scheduled to begin coming home from Iraq. The first soldiers to return to Fort Carson after the brigade’s yearlong tour are due back Sunday.

Frigo and Taylor were honored at Friday night football games in their hometowns.

Frigo lettered in cross country and track at his high school in Indiana. His father, Fred Frigo, said the determination shown by the 6-foot-3-inch runner as he raced down the track at Northwestern High School was an early indication of what led him to the Army.

"He knew the risks, but he wanted to go where he was needed," he said. "He wanted to help, and he wanted to make a difference with his life."

Taylor appeared set on a path to become a leader in the Army even when he was in high school, said 1st Sgt. Gerald Edwards, a military instructor for a junior ROTC program in Blythe.

"He was an excellent cadet," Edwards said, explaining how he watched Taylor rise from captain in the battalion to become its commander.

Taylor played football and wrestled at Palo Verde Valley High School before graduating in 2003. He enlisted in the Army afterward, Edwards said.

Edwards said he was stunned to hear Taylor had been killed.

"I still don’t believe it," Edwards said. "He was more than a student to me. He was a friend."

Army Sgt. Norman R. Taylor III was killed in action on 10/17/07.

Marine 2nd Lt. Joshua L. Booth

Remember Our Heroes

Marine 2nd Lt. Joshua L. Booth, 23, of Fiskdale, Mass.

2nd Lt. Booth was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; killed Oct. 17 while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Anbar province, Iraq.

Slain Sturbridge Marine was ‘a natural'

STURBRIDGE— A 23-year-old Sturbridge man who was destined from his youth to be a Marine died a Marine Tuesday in Haditha, Iraq.

Marine 2nd Lt. Joshua L. Booth was killed at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, Iraqi time, by a single sniper shot, his parents said yesterday. He was a platoon leader in the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Echo Company, deployed to the AnBar Province last month. Before his deployment, he was stationed at the Marine Corps base in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Marine Capt. Mathew W. Tracy called 2nd Lt. Booth's parents, John E. “Jack” and Debra L. Booth, within 12 hours of their son's death. Reading off notes that he jotted down from the conversation, Mr. Booth repeated what Capt. Tracy said: “The enemy is terrified of Josh. The people of Iraq love him. He was a natural. Everything he touched turned to gold. Nobody follows ferociously as Josh or worked as lovingly with the people.”

Mr. Booth said his son's mission was to build trust between the Marines and the Iraqi people. Because 2nd Lt. Booth was having great success finding weapons caches, his parents said, he became a target for snipers.

“What the captain told me is that they have a very advanced intelligence unit that speaks Iraqi, all of them, and they said Josh got more out of the neighbors in Haditha in his two weeks there than they have in six months,” Mr. Booth said.

When it comes to his son's love for the Marines, Mr. Booth said Joshua's was “hard core.”

“Josh wanted to be in the military since he was a little boy,” Mr. Booth said. “He was in the Sea Cadets in Worcester when he was going to St. John's (High School in Shrewsbury) and he just fell in love with the Marines. And from that point forward, he was not going to be denied.”

When he was 7 years old, Joshua hopped on the bus and went to Burgess Elementary School dressed as Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

“When we first moved up here (from Virginia), they had a class on American history and the teacher encouraged him to present the other side,” Mr. Booth recalled. “So Josh dressed up and went in school as Robert E. Lee.”

“Josh was too little and did not realize that the bus would be a vicious place for someone dressed as Robert E. Lee,” Mrs. Booth said with a laugh.

Their son chose the Marines because it was the hardest of all the U.S. armed services, his parents said.

“Josh loves his country and he believes that we are only here because of people that did what he did,” Mr. Booth said. “He was committed. He wasn't changing anything.”

A 2001 graduate of St. John's High School in Shrewsbury, and a 2005 graduate of The Citadel Military College in Charleston, S.C., the young Marine earned a degree in criminal justice.

“Josh was offered a full ROTC scholarship from the Army (to go to Norwich University) and he turned it down because he wanted to be a Marine,” Mr. Booth said. “He said, ‘Dad, you can do this to me. I got to be a Marine.' So we paid a full ride at Citadel.”

“To the world, he was a soldier. To his family, he was the world,” state Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, said after meeting with the Booths yesterday.

Besides his parents, Joshua Booth leaves his wife, Erica, 21, their 1-1/2-year-old daughter, Grace M. Booth, and a son on the way, Tristen Joshua Booth, all of Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

“She is an amazing Marine wife,” Joshua's mother said of her daughter-in-law. “She's the most wonderful mother I've ever seen. And my son loves her dearly. She told me the worst part of this is that she lost her best friend.”

Born in Virginia Beach, Va., and a longtime resident of Sturbridge, 2nd Lt. Booth also leaves a sister, Melissa L. DeVera of Fredericksburg, Va.

The last time the Booths talked to their son was 10 days before he died. His father said his son told him his tour was “very dangerous.” When he talked to his mother, the two joked about whether NetFlix would send DVDs to Iraq. She said they were very alike and shared a weird sense of humor.

“We would laugh at the most inane, insane things and people would just look at us,” she recalled. “Jack (her husband) always said that we were more like brother and sister than mother and son. We shared in every activity in every school. Every interest he had, we had. We just hope that we can share with his children what a wonderful person he was.”

The Booths wanted their son to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but he didn't think he was worthy of that, his mother said, and instead wished to be buried in the family plot in Longwood Cemetery in Virginia.

As she clenched her son's dog tags dangling around her neck, Mrs. Booth praised her son as being one of those rare kids who was always focused. She had not planned to take off the dog tags until her son returned safely. She said she doesn't know what to do with them now.

“Joshua had a strong sense that he was going to be giving his life for his country,” Mrs. Booth said. “A Marine believes that their name is written in a book on a certain day. … Unfortunately, that was his day. We love him. We're proud of him. He supported what he did, so we supported what he did.”

Mrs. Booth is spearheading a collection drive for care packages to be sent to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment in Iraq. Packages can be sent to GZA GeoEnivronmental Inc., 1 Edgewater Drive, Norwood, MA 02062. For more information, send an e-mail to her at

Marine 2nd Lt. Joshua L. Booth was killed in action on 10/17/06.

Grace Booth

Tristan Booth

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Army Specialist Nathan J. Frigo

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Nathan J. Frigo, 23, of Kokomo, Indiana

Spc. Frigo was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado. Died Oct. 17 in Baqubah, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Also killed were Staff Sgt. Ryan E. Haupt, 24, of Phoenix, Ariz. and Sgt. Norman R. Taylor III, 21, of Blythe, California.

Family says Nathan Frigo was proud to serve

Tribune staff writer

Pfc. Nathan Joseph Frigo died doing what he wanted to do: serving in Iraq as a member of the U.S. Army.

The 23-year-old son of Maureen Frigo, of Kokomo, and Fred Frigo, of Indianapolis, was one of three soldiers based at Fort Carson, Colo., who were killed when a bomb exploded near their vehicle in Baqubah, a city northeast of Baghdad.

Frigo, Staff Sgt. Ryan E. Haupt, 24, of Phoenix, and Sgt. Norman R. Taylor III, 21, of Blythe, Calif., were assigned to 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment in the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, which is part of 4th Infantry Division.

His family issued a statement Friday regarding his life.

“Our only son and brother, Nathan, was deeply loved by family and friends and esteemed by strangers. He knew the risks of service, faced the dangers of combat and honorably fought for what he valued and believed in.

“He served his family. He served his country, but most importantly, he served his Lord. There are no words to express how greatly he will be missed. Our hearts grieve with the families of those who died serving with Nate. God be with us all.”

Speaking for her family, his sister Sarah spoke of Nate in more intimate detail.

The 2001 Northwestern High School graduate trained his entire life to be in the military, she explained.

“He wanted to join the military as a child,” Sarah said Friday night from the living room of her mother’s house near the Cass County line. “We tried to dissuade him, but he wouldn’t turn from this. When we asked him why he wanted to do it, he said he wanted to make a difference with his life. He wanted to do something that mattered.

“He went into the infantry because he wanted to fill the area of greatest need. Army infantry is a very small area of our military.”

With her mother, father and sister Beth present, she remembered how her only brother wanted to go to Iraq and serve on the front line. Even when he came home on leave for two weeks at the end of July, his mind was still on those with whom he served.

“He couldn’t stop thinking of how much his troops there needed him,” she said.

“Our uncle said he was the type of man you would want to go into battle with because you knew you could depend on him.”

That wouldn’t surprise Harold Seamon, who was Frigo’s principal at Northwestern. He noted that while Frigo had a mischievous grin, he would describe him as a “very respectful, pleasant school citizen.”

“He had a real sense of duty, one that made him memorable,” Seamon said.

“It saddens me that he had to make this sacrifice.”

Sarah remembered how much the family enjoyed having him home on his last leave.

“It was a little bit of heaven for him. He got to do everything he wanted on that leave. God gave him everything he wanted while he was home,” she said.

His father noted that he ran cross country and track while at Northwestern, that he studied karate, was a member of the Flying Squirrels, that he was a hunter and how he loved paintball.

“Nate had a lot of talents, and they defined his interests,” Sarah said, “but he was more than that.

“Nate was also a Christian, and he lived the life of a Christian. He was an honorable man. He had high values, and he lived them in life. We know he is living them still in heaven,” she continued.

“He was one of those guys who any parent would want to have as a son and would make them proud. He definitely shouldered his share of problems for us.”

One of the greatest gifts, his mother said, “was he could make you laugh without even trying.”

“Nate could take a serious story and turn it into something light,” Sarah said.

He proclaimed himself a “simple kinda guy” on his MySpace page, an Internet networking site, which he logged into the day before he was killed.

One of Frigo’s high school friends and classmates paints a picture of a quiet young man.

“He was really quiet until you go to know him,” Erica Knight said. “He was an all-around really nice guy.”

She said he was proud of being in the military.

“Once he kind of decided that this was the route he was going to take, he was so dedicated to it,” Knight said. “It was like ‘This is what I believe in and I want to help in any way I can.’”

For the last three or four months, Knight and Frigo spoke every few weeks on MySpace.

They talked about Iraq. They talked about high school. But mostly, they talked about his hometown, she said.

“He talked a little bit about — I can’t say ‘enjoying’ what he was doing — but it was a good experience,” she said.

Frigo was among nine soldiers and one Marine killed by roadside bombs and enemy fire Tuesday, the military said.

“Our hearts go out to the families of the other men who were killed with him and with the others who have lost family members there and elsewhere,” Sarah said. “We understand and we care about them. We want to pray for them, too.”

Frigo reported for active duty April 2005, and completed his training at Fort Benning, Ga. At that time, he chose the position of infantryman as his military occupation. He had volunteered to serve a four-year tour of duty.

He is the seventh Kokomo area man and 68th person from Indiana to have died after being sent to the Mideast since the buildup for the invasion of Iraq began in 2003.

The family has been notified that he will be elevated to specialist and awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

“The government has been more than generous helping military families get through these crises,” his sister said. “We are thankful for the United States.”

While many disagree with America being involved militarily in Iraq, Sarah said her brother believed U.S. involvement was not only right, but necessary.

“Nate would want people to support the troops there and their families. He believed in what he did over there and that we needed to be there,” she explained, “otherwise it would be on our own shores.

“He really made us proud.”

Army Specialist Nathan J. Frigo was killed in action on 10/17/06.

Army Staff Sgt. Ryan E. Haupt

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Ryan E. Haupt, 24, of Phoenix, Arizona.

Ssgt. Haupt was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo. He died Oct. 17 in Baqubah, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Also killed were Sgt. Norman R. Taylor III, 21, of Blythe, Calif.
and Pfc. Nathan J. Frigo, 23, of Kokomo, Ind.

Phoenix GI slain in Iraqi blast

Lindsey Collom
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 21, 2006 12:00 AM

A soldier from Phoenix died this week in Iraq of injuries suffered in the detonation of an improvised explosive device near his vehicle, the Department of Defense reported Friday.

Sgt. Ryan E. Haupt, 24, was a member of the Army's elite sniper section assigned to the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment in the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Fort Carson, Colo.

He was slain Tuesday alongside two other members of his battalion in Baqubah, about 30 miles northeast of Baghdad. They were among nine soldiers and one Marine killed by roadside bombs and enemy fire.

Haupt arrived at Fort Carson in April 2004 after serving in Korea. He was deployed to Iraq in December for his first tour, which was scheduled to end next month, said Dee McNutt, a Fort Carson spokeswoman.

The Army posthumously awarded Haupt the Combat Infantryman's Badge, Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

Army Staff Sgt. Ryan E. Haupt was killed in action on 10/17/06.

Army Spc. Joseph C. Dumas Jr.

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Joseph C. Dumas Jr., 25, of New Orleans

Spc. Dumas was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Oct. 17, 2006 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Baghdad, Iraq. Also killed were: 2nd Lt. Christopher E. Loudon, Cpl. David M. Unger and Cpl. Russell G. Culbertson III.

Times-Picayune -- A roadside bomb in Iraq killed Army Spc. Joseph Claude Dumas Jr., 25, of New Orleans earlier this week along with three other soldiers in his division, the Department of Defense said Friday.

Officials said Dumas was killed Tuesday in Baghdad when a makeshift explosive device detonated near the military vehicle the soldiers were traveling in.

Dumas was assigned to the Army's 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas.

The four soldiers were among 10 Americans killed on Tuesday -- nine soldiers and a Marine -- the highest single-day combat death toll for U.S. forces since Jan. 5, when 11 service members were killed across Iraq. There have been days with a higher number of U.S. deaths, but not solely from combat.

October is on track to be the deadliest month for American forces in Iraq since November 2004, when the military launched an invasion of the then-insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad. One hundred thirty-seven troops were killed that month.

Dumas joined the military in August 2003 and was assigned to Fort Hood in January 2004. He earned various military awards and decorations, including the Army Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism (service) Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal and the Basic Marksmanship Qualification Badge, Expert.

None of Dumas's family or friends could be reached for comment.

Dumas is the 64th soldier from Louisiana to be killed since Operation Iraqi Freedom began in 2003 and the 15th from the state killed this year. Two other soldiers, both Marines, from Louisiana have been killed so far this month; Lance Cpl. Jon Eric Bowman, 21, of Summerfield, was killed Oct. 9 and John Edward Hale, 20, of Shreveport, was killed Oct. 6.

Three other soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division were killed during Wednesday's explosion in Baghdad, including 2nd Lt. Christopher E. Loudon, 23, of Brockport, Pa.; Cpl. David M. Unger, 21, of Leavenworth, Kan.; and Cpl. Russell G. Culbertson III, 22, of Amity, Pa.

Army Spc. Joseph C. Dumas Jr. was killed in action on 10/17/06.

Army Cpl. Russell G. Culbertson III

Remember Our Heroes

Army Cpl. Russell G. Culbertson III, 22, of Amity, Pa.

Cpl. Culbertson was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Oct. 17, 2006 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Baghdad, Iraq. Also killed were: 2nd Lt. Christopher E. Loudon, Cpl. David M. Unger and Spc. Joseph C. Dumas Jr.

LONE PINE It’s small town rural America where they rally around the flag and support our troops in Iraq.

But the painful reality of the war has hit Lone Pine, Washington County with a devastating blow.

Army Specialist Russell Culbertson Jr., 22, was one of four soldiers killed by a roadside bomb near Abu Ghraib prison.

His friends and family tell KDKA’s Paul Martino they can’t believe he didn’t make it out alive.

“I don’t know what we’ll do without him,” said Charlene Adams.

Culbertson was a 2003 graduate of Trinity High School.

He loved cars and was saving the money he made in Iraq to buy a new Camero.

For the past few years, he worked at the Adams Pine Creek Restaurant where everyone said he was a great guy to be with.

“He just was such a kind, warm person and very hard worker, so it was hard not to care about him,” said Adams.

But with the death a young man from this small town, folks are getting mixed feelings about a war they once strongly supported.

“At times I think this is such a waste of young life,” said Sylvia Johnson. “But I guess it’s a job that we need to do, it needs finished.”

Culbertson’s sister Elizabeth, who did not want to speak on camera, told KDKA her brother was supposed to finish his tour of duty in six weeks.

The family was planning a huge Christmas celebration with Russ.

Instead tonight, they’re planning his funeral.

Army Cpl. Russell G. Culbertson III was killed in action on 10/17/06.

Army 2nd Lt. Christopher E. Loudon

Remember Our Heroes

Army 2nd Lt. Christopher E. Loudon, 23, of Brockport, Pa.

2nd Lt. Loudon was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Oct. 17, 2006 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Baghdad, Iraq. Also killed were: Cpl. David M. Unger, Cpl. Russell G. Culbertson III and Spc. Joseph C. Dumas Jr.

Williamsport Sun Gazette -- An Army soldier with ties to Sullivan County was killed Tuesday in Iraq, and his family is mourning his loss.

U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Christopher E. Loudon, 23, of Brockport, near DuBois, will be sorely missed for his dedication as a husband and father and as a soldier fighting terrorism, his wife and mother-in-law said from their Muncy Valley-area residence Wednesday night.

Loudon’s widow, the former Jacey Laidacker, 24, who lives with her mother and father, Suzanne and Larry Laidacker, described her husband as a "soul mate" and "best friend."

"Chris was the most caring, kind, strong person that I know," she said. "I’m going to miss him every day."

Loudon, who was attached to the 4th Infantry Division based in Fort Hood, Texas, was killed by a roadside bomb that exploded as he was riding by in a Humvee on patrol in Baghdad, Suzanne Laidacker said.

Three soldiers with Loudon also died in the blast, she said. She did not give their names.

Army personnel declined to comment when contacted by the Sun-Gazette. The Department of Defense Web site, which lists casualties, had not posted information on Loudon as of Wednesday night.

"He was looking for snipers, improvised explosive devices and knocking doors down," Suzanne Laidacker said. Loudon was scheduled to return in December having left in July, she said.

"I have two sons and a daughter and he was my third son. If I could trade places I would give up my life."

Loudon’s parents, Randy and Suzanne, live in Brockport. His brother, 1st Lt. Nicholas Loudon, 25, is a member of the 82nd Airborne and is also serving in Iraq, Suzanne Laidacker said.

The distraught mother-in-law spoke about how the couple met. "He fell in love with our daughter at college and we fell in love with him," she said.

Jacey graduated from the Sullivan County School District in 2001, where her father, now retired, worked as an elementary teacher and guidance counselor. She and Loudon attended Slippery Rock University, where they met. It was "love at first sight," Suzanne Laidacker said.

Loudon enrolled in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in high school and college. While in high school he always thought about a military career.

The two graduated from Slippery Rock University in 2005 and Loudon received his commission as a second lieutenant. He also took the rigorous Ranger training, passing the test on his initial try, Suzanne Laidacker said.

She described her son-in-law as a "warrior" who "wanted to do his duty for his country."

Loudon leaves behind a 5-year-old daughter, she said.

Burial is expected to include full military honors. "He will no doubt receive the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and several other medals," Laidacker said.

Friends, family and members of the Zion Lutheran Church in Turbotville, where Jacey and her mother and father worship, are providing an outpouring of community support, Laidacker said.

So have employees at Kay Jewelers in the Lycoming Mall, where the widow works as a seasonal sales associate.

""We’re all pretty upset," said Judy Coup, Kay Jewelers assistant manager. "We’re all very close here."

A special account for Loudon’s family has been set up at Sovereign Bank, and donations may be made at any branch, according to Kate Pacacha, Lycoming Mall’s director of marketing.

"It is a savings account for Jacey that people can donate to," she said.

Army 2nd Lt. Christopher E. Loudon was killed in action on 10/17/06.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Hines

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Hines, 26, of Olney, Ill.

Lance Cpl. Hines was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, Terre Haute, Ind.; killed Oct. 15 while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Anbar province, Iraq.

By Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

CASEY, Ill. — Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Hines was remembered Friday as a proud Marine and defender of freedom; a loving husband and father; and a loyal friend who always put others ahead of himself.

Friends, family, military veterans and fellow Marines paid tribute to the 26-year-old Westfield, Ill., resident who died much too young while serving his country.

Hines was killed in action Oct. 15 while conducting combat operations against enemy forces near Al-Anbar Province in Iraq. He was a member of Kilo Company 3rd Battalion 24th Marines Reservists based in Terre Haute.

About 40 Marines from his unit attended the funeral and participated in military graveside rites.

Hines had been in Iraq only about 2 1/2 weeks when the tragedy occurred.

“Joshua’s death troubles us very much. It hurts us deeply,” the Rev. Penelope H. Barber said during the funeral at the Casey United Methodist Church. “He was so young and he had so much to live for,” including his beloved wife, Caryn, and his 2-month-old son, Rylie Joshua.

Hines had plans and dreams that ended abruptly in Iraq when an improvised explosive device detonated underneath the Humvee in which he rode along with two other Marines, Sgt. Brock Babb, 40, of Evansville, who also was killed, and Lance Cpl. Joshua Bleill, 29, of Greenfield, who was seriously injured.

“We struggle for understanding. Why did this happen?” Barber said at Hines’ funeral. “How do we carry on without Josh?”

She referred to the Marine motto, Semper Fi, which means, “Always Faithful,” and she encouraged mourners to remain faithful.

“Don’t allow adversity to strip you of faith,” because if that happens, “Evil does win,” Barber said.

She urged those grieving not to blame anyone for Hines’ unfortunate death, but instead, to love and support one another.

“We know Josh’s sacrifice was not in vain,” Barber said. “He gave his life in defense of others.” There is no finer calling, and no greater witness to the nobility of the human spirit, she said.

“All of our lives are richer for having known him,” Barber said.

With difficulty and much emotion, Loren Holland shared his memories of his lifelong and best friend, Joshua Hines. In November 2003, Hines, who grew up in California, moved to Illinois with Holland.

“I have so many memories of Josh,” Holland said, describing Hines as “a brother, a friend, a hero.”

In their younger years, they used to throw water balloons at passing cars or knock on people’s doors and run away.

When Hines told Holland he wanted to be a Marine, “I was so proud of him. It was like having my little brother follow in my footsteps,” Holland said. “He was so proud to wear a uniform.”

Hines always had wanted a family and he always was good with children. Hines married Caryn on Feb. 25, and they celebrated the birth of Rylie on Aug. 28. “We thank Josh for leaving us a little piece of him,” Holland said.

As he concluded, Holland said, “Rest in peace brother … God I love you, brother.”

Later, 1st Sgt. Troy Euclide, family readiness officer with Company K, shared some memories that had been written by Cpl. Jason St. Jean, a friend of Hines.

St. Jean described Hines as a “genuinely good person” as well as a loyal and trustworthy friend.

“He would drop anything he was doing to come to the aid of a friend,” St. Jean had written. Hines put other wants and needs ahead of his own.

“He taught me to never stop trying and to always give all that you got,” St. Jean wrote. Hines strived for excellence in civilian life and in the Marine Corps.

While Hines’ death came way too early, he touched the hearts of many. “I’m proud to say I stood alongside a great American and a hero,” St. Jean wrote.

Barber, who provided pre-marriage counseling to Hines and his fiancee, described the fallen Marine as someone who had a zest and a love for life, whether he was horseback riding on a beach or messing around with his brothers.

He approached life with energy and intensity, and whatever task he took on, he did it with passion and a commitment to excellence.

Hines was an enthusiastic and happy man with a contagious sense of humor. “He always had a twinkle in his eye that made me wonder what he was up to,” Barber said, which drew laughter from the mourners. “He always had that beautiful smile.”

Barber also was impressed by the discipline and respect for authority showed by Hines.

“He was very proud to be a Marine and a defender of freedom,” Barber said, extending her sympathy to fellow Marines. “He considered it a high honor to serve alongside every one of you.”

Outside the church, several Patriot Guard Riders — carrying flags — paid tribute to Hines and also shielded mourners from any possible protesters. The Riders also were present during graveside services at Casey-Cumberland Cemetery.

As the funeral procession drove to the cemetery, several people stood along the street carrying flags in one hand and umbrellas in another. A steady rain fell throughout the morning.

At the cemetery, Hines received full military graveside rites conducted by the Marine Corps, which included a 21-gun salute, Taps and the folding of the flag. At the end, a bagpiper played the Marine’s Hymn.

“We never let a fallen brother go without honor. We do everything we can for the families,” said Staff Sgt. Tim Kosky, an active duty member with the Terre Haute-based Marine unit. “We’ll continue to be here for them in the weeks and months ahead.”

Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Hines was killed in action on 10/15/06.

Rylie Hines

Riley Hines back

Larger Images

Monday, October 09, 2006

Army Pfc. Phillip B. Williams

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Phillip B. Williams, 21, of Gardnerville, Nev.

Pfc. Williams was assigned to the 4th Brigade Troop Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Oct. 9 from injuries sustained from enemy contact during combat operations in Baghdad.

A Gardnerville resident died of injuries he received in Baghdad while manning the gun on top of an armored vehicle in Iraq, the U.S. Department of Defense announced Wednesday.

Army Pfc. Phillip Williams, 21, was guarding soldiers who were searching for roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices. Further details were not immediately available, including the time of Williams' death.

His uncle, Brian Williams, a South Lake Tahoe police sergeant, said military officials notified the family on Monday night that Phillip Williams had been killed.

Williams was assigned to the 4th Brigade Troop Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division of Fort Campbell, Ky. He had attended Scarselli Elementary School, Pa Wa Lu Middle School, and Douglas High School, all in Gardnerville.

"He was a typical 21-year-old, loved to crack jokes," Brian Williams said. "You couldn't get a swear word out of him, and he never got into trouble."

Phillip Williams' body was scheduled to be flown to Dover Air Force Base in Maryland today. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Williams received his GED last year at age 20 and wanted to be a police officer but was too young, family said Wednesday. Instead, he enlisted in the Army in February, against the wishes and advice of his father, South Lake Tahoe police Sgt. Brad Williams, said Brian Williams.

"He said, 'Dad, I've grown up in your shoes, and I know what it's like to worry about someone who risks himself in the service of others.' He wanted to be a part of the family heritage. He couldn't wait," Brian Williams said.

The Williams family had a reunion in August when Phillip Williams came home to Northern Nevada from Iraq to help celebrate his sister Amy's 16th birthday.

Before he left, he described chaos in Iraq and how concerned he was about going back to Iraq, Brian Williams said. Phillip Williams' job was to provide security for military officers who received calls about possible bombs.

"He said it was a hard place, and it was scary but in the next breath he would say, 'This is my job, and these guys are counting on me,'" said Brian Williams.

'He loved Nevada'

Phillip Williams once told his father he wanted to be buried in Minden, where he spent much of his life. "He did not want to be buried in Arlington (National Cemetery)," Brian Williams said. "He loved Nevada. This was his home, he was proud of his state, high school and friends."

"Phillip wore the name Williams very well, he brought honor to the family life as he did in death," Brian Williams said.

Phillip Williams is the eldest son of Brad Williams, the South Lake Tahoe sergeant.

"Phillip's dad is dealing with a lot of hurt right now, it's not been easy for any of us," said Shelly Williams, Brian's wife and the soldier's aunt. "Phillip was a joy to be around. We were very proud of him."

He is among 26 U.S. military personnel from Nevada and at least 43 with ties to the state who have died in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"He has served our nation in the way that we should be grateful for on a day to day basis,' said Paul Boyce, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army. "As an infantryman, he was a combat soldier on the tip of the spear. He was on the front lines."

Army Pfc. Phillip B. Williams was killed in action on 10/09/06.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Marine Pfc. Shelby J. Feniello

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Pfc. Shelby J. Feniello, 25, of Connellsville, Pa.

Pfc. Feniello was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died Oct. 6 while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Anbar province, Iraq. Also killed were: Sgt. Julian M. Arechaga, Lance Cpl. Jon E. Bowman, Lance Cpl. John E. Hale, Lance Cpl. Stephen F. Johnson and Cpl. Bradford H. Payne.

By Judy Kroeger
Daily Courier
Thursday, October 12, 2006

A 1999 graduate of Connellsville Area Senior High School became Connellsville's first fatality in the war in Iraq.
Marine Pfc. Shelby Feniello, 25, was killed Monday at about 6 p.m. Iraqi time, when the Humvee he was driving hit several roadside bombs.

Feniello was the son of Richard Feniello and Kimberly McCune, both of Connellsville.

Don Burkholder, adjutant of American Legion Post 301, Connellsville, confirmed Feniello was the first fatality from Connellsville, although several local guardsmen have suffered injuries while serving in Iraq, he said.

"It's a shame. Our hearts go out to the family," Burkholder said.

Feniello served with the C Company, 1st Platoon, based at Camp Lejune, N.C. He joined the Marine Corps on May 10, 2004.

"He was an All-American boy," Richard Feniello said of his son. "Take orders and do your duty."

"He was trying to help others who were in trouble," Richard Feniello said. "He knew there was danger. We all knew there was danger. He was just doing his job. He thought he was (doing) right. He was a good guy."

Richard Feniello said he last spoke to his son on Saturday when he called. "He had only been there a month this time. He knew it was a bad situation. (Anbar) is where some of the fiercest fighting has taken place."

Feniello's aunt, Sheryl Nagy, of Connellsville, said this was the serviceman's second tour in Iraq.

"He was there for seven months, then back at Camp Lejune for seven months. He went back to Iraq on Sept. 10."

Feniello returned home from his first tour in the war zone on Oct. 11 of last year, almost a year to day of his death, said his father.

Feniello's unit went to Ramadi, in al-Anbar Province, in the north of the country near the Syrian border.

"He was driving a Humvee," Nagy said. "There was a call for reinforcements. They were en route to a battle and ran over roadside bombs. His was the first in line."

The two other people in the Humvee also died. Several other Marines in other vehicles were injured.

Nagy said before leaving for his second tour in Iraq, Feniello got to spend time with his family.

"My sister had a send-off for him," Nagy said.

His loss leaves a hole in the family, said his aunt.

"He was an only child. His loss is devastating," Nagy said.

"He had a great personality. He was always smiling. He had a wonderful girlfriend, Emily Saylor. She goes to IUP. He came up often to visit Emily. He was always so happy. His senior year, he was named class flirt. That's just how he was," Nagy said.

While attending Connellsville High School, Feniello was a member of the wrestling team. He had wrestled since he was young, and also played football in junior high school. He also loved hunting and fishing.

"He was a good kid, a good athlete," said Tom Dolde, who served as Feniello's head wrestling coach. "He was always smiling. He went to the states (tournament) when he was younger. He was pretty tough, a heavyweight. He was such a polite kid. He always said hello, always had a smile on his face."

"He was a great kid and a hard worker," said Tommy Dolde, who served as assistant wrestling coach at the time. "He never whined about injuries, and you enjoy coaching kids like that."

Robert McLuckey serves as secondary curriculum director for the district. He was principal at Junior High East when Feniello was a student.

"He was a very nice boy," McLuckey said. "You remember how people treat you. He was always very respectful. He was a kid who interacted well with others."

McLuckey added, "Every night we turn on the TV and hear of more and more American service people killed in Iraq. It's upsetting. But when it hits close to home, it's more upsetting. I feel bad for him, and I feel bad for his family."

Before joining the Marines, Feniello held several part-time jobs, his father said. One was with Allegheny Power, another with United Parcel Service. After high school, he attended Westmoreland County Community College. He graduated from WCCC with an associate degree in accounting.

Marine Pfc. Shelby J. Feniello was killed in action on 10/06/06.

Marine Cpl. Bradford H. Payne

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Bradford H. Payne, 24, of Montgomery, Alabama.

Cpl. Payne was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed Oct. 6 while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Anbar province, Iraq. Also killed were: Sgt. Julian M. Arechaga, Lance Cpl. Jon E. Bowman, Pfc. Shelby J. Feniello, Lance Cpl. John E. Hale and Lance Cpl. Stephen F. Johnson.

Family mourns Marine

By Lisa Horn
Montgomery Advertiser

PIKE ROAD -- Years after he first described it in pencil, Brad Payne's dream of becoming a Marine became a reality.

"I made my mind up this summer," he wrote in a sixth-grade paper. "When I get out of high school, I'm going into the Marines."

Knowing that their son died living his dream helps console W. Howard and Carol Payne of Pike Road, who learned Friday that their son was killed in Iraq.

"He pretty much shot for (the Marines) in the sixth grade," said his father, W. Howard Payne. "That's what he wanted to do."

The 24-year-old infantryman, who grew up in Montgomery, died after his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb Friday in Al Anbar Province in western Iraq.

Howard Payne had just arrived home from his job at BaptistHealth Systems on Friday afternoon when the doorbell rang.

"When I opened the door, there were three Marines and one Air Force chaplain. Their assignment was to tell both of us," Payne said of he and his wife, Carol.

Payne then sent his daughter, Katherine, 17, to Fitzpatrick Elementary School, where his wife teaches first grade.

The Marines who broke the news Friday have continued to coordinate plans with the Paynes and their son's wife of two years, Erin. He is the grandson of lifelong Montgomery residents Bill and Billie Jean Payne.

After Payne's body arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Monday, two sergeants visited the couple Monday afternoon to discuss funeral arrangements, which have not been finalized.

Payne's mother describes her son as "all boy."

"He was always outside," Carol Payne said. "From the time he was able to walk, he was outside, getting into things."

The Paynes said their son, who was based at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., had prepared them for the possibility of not returning from the war, outlining his wishes both in letters and in person.

"He was not naive about the outcome," his father said. "He knew his purpose of going over there and that it was dangerous."

Since learning of their son's death, the couple has pulled photos of their middle child out of drawers and spread them over tables in their sunny living room. The room overlooks the lake and dock, where Brad spent countless hours with a fishing rod and tackle box.

The photos depict Brad Payne, a NASCAR, country music and Auburn University fan, in every stage of his life -- as smiling baby, baseball player, graduate, happy groom and as a Marine.

The sixth-grade report, declaring his desire to serve, now has been placed in a frame -- the last sentence a reminder to his parents and his sisters, Katherine and Sharon, of what their son and brother died doing:

"I can't wait until the day comes when I go in the Marines."

Marine Cpl. Bradford H. Payne was killed in action on 10/06/06.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Marine Cpl. Benjamin S. Rosales

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Benjamin S. Rosales, 20, of Houston, TX

Cpl. Rosales was assigned to the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed Oct. 4 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq. Also killed was Lance Cpl. Edward M. Garvin.

Fallen Houston-area Marine stood up for U.S.
Mother tried to keep him out, but son of immigrants 'wanted to give something back'

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

Maria Salgado never bought the gun.

Really, she never planned to. She just was desperate to keep her son from joining the U.S. Marine Corps and fighting in Iraq, and thought a pistol might be the only way to chase pesky recruiters from her door.

Benjamin Salgado Rosales, her son, was passionate about the Marines. He wanted to join right away, at age 17, fresh out of Katy's Mayde Creek High School. The son of immigrants, he loved the United States, what it stood for and the opportunities it offered.

Salgado wept two years ago when she signed the papers that let her son enlist.

She wept Sept. 1 when the ramrod straight Marine corporal — married just weeks before to his longtime sweetheart — shipped out for the Middle East.

Friday she wept again, more bitterly than ever, after learning that Benjamin had been killed.

Rosales, 20, died Wednesday when a roadside bomb detonated in Iraq's Al Anbar province. Assigned to the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., he is the 53rd Houston-area serviceman to die in combat in Iraq.

"I didn't want my son in the military," a tearful Salgado said Friday as she sat at her kitchen table, surrounded by family and friends. "I grew my kids in a lot of love. I taught them not to kill — not even bugs or plants. ... I didn't want the Marines to train my son to kill."

Ali Daher, Salgado's husband and Rosales' stepfather, said the family opposed the teen's enlistment on moral grounds. And Salgado, who came to the United States from Mexico 34 years ago, said she fervently would battle anyone who tried to invade the United States

"I told him if someone invaded our country, he could be the first to enlist," she said. "And I told him I would be right behind him."

Rosales was a sterling student and backyard basketball player who dreamed of becoming a plastic surgeon, said his brother, Abraham Daher, 15.

"He was quiet and polite," his stepfather added. "He seemed 10 years older than he was."

Family members were at a loss to explain Rosales' passion for the military.

"By the time he was in the 11th grade," his stepfather said, "he had made up his mind. It was a strong passion. ... He wanted to serve his country. The fact that he was the son of immigrants — he saw what the country offered his family, the opportunities in life, and wanted to give something back."

Daher, who immigrated from Lebanon in 1978, said he, too, opposed Rosales' entering the military "but not as strongly as his mother did."

Salgado pleaded with her son. She repelled recruiters, telling one to leave her son alone. At one point, she mused about arming herself to underscore her message.

"It wasn't a threat against the recruiter," her husband hastened to clarify.

"It was," Abraham Daher suggested, "a metaphor."

Rosales was determined to join two neighborhood friends in becoming Marines.

"Someone has to stand up for our country," he told his mother. "I'm sorry, Mom, but I'm joining."

Salgado asked what he would do if she refused to sign on his behalf. He responded he would wait until he was 18, then join anyway.

"I respected his feelings," Salgado said. "I knew that I could not change his feelings."

Rosales returned to Houston in August to marry his fiancee, Angela Chow, on Aug. 7. The Marine insisted on wearing his uniform during the ceremony.

"He was even more polite after he joined the Marines," his stepfather recalled. "It was no more 'Mom.' It was 'Yes, sir.' and 'No, ma'am.' "

Rosales turned 20 on Aug. 26.

He went to fight the war six days later.

Marine Cpl. Benjamin S. Rosales was killed in action on 10/04/06.

Marine Lance Cpl. Edward M. Garvin

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Edward M. Garvin, 19, of Malden, Mass.

Lance Cpl. Garvin was assigned to the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed Oct. 4 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq. Also killed was Cpl. Benjamin S. Rosales.

Widow says Marine didn't want her tears
By John R. Ellement, Globe Staff | October 7, 2006

MALDEN -- Before he went to Iraq, Marine Lance Corporal Edward M. Garvin, 19, told his family that if he did not return, they should laugh, not cry, in his memory.

``He didn't want people crying over him," his widow, Melissa Garvin, said yesterday at her family's home as she talked about ``the love of her life," who died in combat in Iraq. ``He wanted funny stories and everybody laughing. That's who he was."

Melissa Garvin, 20, who was married May 26 in a private ceremony, strained to hold back tears yesterday, trying to follow her husband's wishes that smiles mark his passing. He had been in Iraq for four weeks.

She recalled how she and her husband had a heated discussion when she learned he was going to war. But some of that tension abated when he explained that there were 150 Marines being deployed out of a pool of 200.

``He looked at me, and he told me that if he went over there, it kept one of those other guys here with their families," she said.

Garvin was a lanky man who loved being a Marine.

He studied culinary arts at the Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School in Wakefield, where he was a member of the class of 2005.

School superintendent Patricia Cronin easily recalled Garvin, who was among 10 members of the class of 2005 who joined the military after graduation, because he was always smiling. ``He liked people, he liked the other kids in school, and he was very popular," she said.

Cronin said Garvin is the first student to make the ultimate sacrifice since the school opened in 1970.

Relatives said Garvin was drawn to a military life because an older cousin with whom he was close, Stephen Edwards, is also in the Marines. The 25-year-old Edwards is currently assigned to Iraq, relatives said.

``He was a good kid, a real good kid," said Allan Edwards, the father of Stephen and uncle of Garvin. Stephen Edwards ``didn't tell him to join the military. He did it on his own. He wanted to follow in Stephen's footsteps."

Garvin's mother, Catherine Edwards, of Malden, was too distraught to be interviewed yesterday.

In a statement, the Department of Defense said Garvin and Corporal Benjamin S. Rosales, 20, of Houston were killed Oct. 4 while conducting combat operations in Anbar Province, Iraq. The two men were assigned to the Second Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, headquartered at Camp Lejeune.

Sitting on the couch in her living room, Melissa Garvey and Garvin's younger brother and older sister traded tales about Garvin.

Melissa Garvin recalled how the couple spent an hour arguing about the time zone in New Hampshire; Garvin insisted there was a one-minute difference once you crossed the border, she said, chuckling.

Garvin, according to his younger brother, 16-year-old Lawrence Price, ``was mad confident about himself."

``He would know absolutely nothing about something -- and think he knew it all," Price said.

That attitude played itself out when the two were younger and had a battery-powered toy car. Garvin would demand to drive, but only in a circle because he did not know how to steer straight, said Melissa Garvin, who had known him since second grade.

The couple planned a public celebration of their private marriage for which Melissa Garvin had purchased a wedding gown. She said she will now sell the dress and send the proceeds to the Boy Scout camp in Barnstead, N.H., where he spent many summers.

Melissa Garvin would not discuss the political controversy about the war in Iraq.

``All the politics doesn't matter," she said. ``It's not going to bring him back. What matters now is his memory."

Marine Lance Cpl. Edward M. Garvin was killed in action on 10/04/06.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan Rojas

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan Rojas, 27, of Hammond, Indiana

SSgt Rojas was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Fort Wainwright, Ala.; died Oct. 3 of injuries sustained from enemy small arms fire while performing security operations in Baghdad.

HAMMOND, IND. -- A Fort Wainwright soldier killed in Iraq was looking forward to civilian life and starting a family with his wife, his sister said.

Staff Sgt. Jonathan Rojas, 27, of Hammond, Ind., was killed Tuesday by small arms fire in Baghdad, Army Maj. Kirk Gohlke said. No other soldiers were injured. Rojas was assigned to the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

Rojas was at the top of a tank instructing other soldiers when a sniper's bullet hit him in the back of the head, Rojas' family said.

Rojas, who was based at Fort Wainwright, was assigned to the brigade's 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment.

He was born in Mexico, joined family in Hammond in 1990 and graduated from Hammond High School in 1997. After serving seven years in the military, Rojas was looking forward to being a civilian and starting a family with his wife, Tasha Lynn, said his younger sister, Isaura Rojas.

"He was a great kid who never got in trouble," said his aunt, Sara Cruz. "He was very close to his family."

Rojas was playful, his family said. In August, he put himself on the waiting list for an Xbox 360 so he could play the newest football games.

"We're going to miss him being himself, doing stupid things, his company, having a brother, someone to talk to," said William Rojas, Jonathan's brother.

Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan Rojas was killed in action on 10/03/06.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Army Cpl. Fernando D. Robinson

Remember Our Heroes

Army Cpl. Fernando D. Robinson, 21, of Hawthorne, Calif.

Cpl Robinson was assigned to 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.; died Oct. 2, 2006 from injuries sustained when his patrol came under attack by enemy forces using small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in Korengal, Afghanistan.

By Carla Rivera
Times Staff Writer
October 22, 2006

Only 21, Fernando Robinson thought he already had experienced the best and worst that life had to offer.

In an entry about himself on the Internet site, the Hawthorne native and Army corporal evokes the wisdom of a man beyond his years:

"I have seen the face of terror. felt the stinging cold of fear, and enjoyed the sweet [taste] of a [moment's] love, i have cried, pained, and hoped ... but most of all, i have lived times others would say were best forgotten, at least someday i will be able to say that I am proud of what I was ... a SOLDIER."

By all accounts, Robinson's life as a soldier were good times. But they were not to last. He was killed Oct. 2 in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley when his unit was attacked with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, according to the Department of Defense.

He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) at Ft. Drum, N.Y., and deployed to Afghanistan in March.

"He always had been proud of what he was doing," said his brother Francisco Robinson, 24, of Inglewood. "He liked to think he was fighting for a cause."

Fernando Robinson was trained as an infantryman, and his Web page includes pictures of him proudly cradling his rifle.

On the same site, there is a short video of his unit operating in the stark, remote Afghan mountains, with Robinson posing beside a tank; he and others sleeping on the ground using their backpacks as pillows; jeeps and Humvees rolling across sweeping plains; men taking cover from an exploding bomb; and helicopter gunships patrolling white-roofed villages. It is set to a song, "Send the Pain Below," by the hard rock band Chevelle, one of his favorite groups.

The Korengal Valley is in mountainous eastern Afghanistan, along the 1,500-mile-long Pakistani border, a volatile area where Islamic militants move back and forth across the porous divide. The 3rd Brigade's mission is to engage those insurgents and to provide stability in the region, so Robinson's company would have seen a lot of action, a Ft. Drum spokesman said.

But Robinson told his family and friends in conversations and e-mails that he loved the Army despite the terror, loneliness and boredom that is the soldier's lot. There also was exhilaration, the sheer rush of adrenaline that he thrived on. It was pronounced in his love of fast cars.

"He liked to live days one at a time," his brother said.

Fernando Robinson wasn't sure that he would experience any of that rush when, in 2004, he was assigned to Ft. Drum fresh out of boot camp.

"They had told him his first year in training [that] there was a chance he was going to get shipped out to Afghanistan, but he wasn't too worried," said his mother, Elizabeth Estrada of Lubbock, Texas. "He said Iraq was more intense and that he'd be going to Afghanistan and be doing the last part, the cleanup part where it was safer."

Fernando Daniel Robinson was the first in his family to join the military. He joined the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps at Lawndale's Leuzinger High School, where he took pride in wearing the uniform. He graduated in 2003.

Estrada remembers her son as sensitive, kind and giving. Whenever family or friends needed anything, he was always there, she said, adding, "He was a good friend and great son. He was never in gangs, never into drugs or in any kind of trouble. He was a good boy and turned out to be a very good man."

He and his brother loved to go to car races. Fernando Robinson came home for a two-week visit in late September and helped his brother take apart a Toyota MR2. "It felt good to work with him," said his brother, a mechanic who works on highperformance vehicles. "We got right back into a groove with each other. He was dependable and very loyal. I felt like I could talk to him about anything."

Fernando Robinson also spent as much time as possible with his girlfriend, Maria Ornelas, 18, who was his high school sweetheart. The two had recently become engaged, Estrada said. Everyone in the family was uneasy when he prepared to return to his unit. "I told him his last day here that I didn't want him to go back," his brother said. "He said he had to go back, because it was his duty. There were so many things he put off doing, because he figured he could do it the next time he came home."

At the end of his leave, Fernando Robinson told his mother he was sad at returning to duty. Back in Afghanistan, he was apprehensive about his team's missions, Estrada said. "He had a feeling it would be his last mission," she said. "He called his girlfriend the Sunday before he died to tell her he loved her, that he didn't want to go on the mission and that he was fearful."

But his Web page writing reveals an acceptance of the dangers: "I asked nothing from those who gave nothing and reluctantly accepted the thought of eternal loneliness should I fall."

In addition to his mother and older brother, Robinson is survived by his father, Ricardo Acosta; a sister, Kristina Acosta, 9; and a brother, Jonathan Acosta, 5.

Army Cpl. Fernando D. Robinson was killed in action on 10/2/06.

Army Specialist Angelo J. Vaccaro

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Angelo J. Vaccaro, 23, of Deltona, Florida.

Specialist Vaccaro was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; died Oct. 2 from injuries sustained during combat operations in Korengal, Afghanistan.

10th Mountain Division medical specialist killed in Afghanistan
By PAO Oct 4, 2006, 16:11

Blackanthem Military News, FORT DRUM, New York – A 3rd Brigade Combat Team medical specialist was killed Oct. 2 near Korengal, Afghanistan when his unit encountered enemy forces as they were responding to recover casualties from a firefight earlier that day.

Spc. Angelo J. Vaccaro, 23, was a heath care specialist assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

Vaccaro deployed with his unit in early 2006 to participate in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

A native of Deltona, Florida, Vaccaro enlisted in the Army in March 2004 and completed basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Following advanced individual training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, he was assigned to Fort Drum in October 2004.

His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon and the Combat Medical Badge.

Vaccaro is survived by his wife and parents, all of Florida.

Army Specialist Angelo J. Vaccaro was killed in action on 10/02/06.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Marine Cpl. Aaron L. Seal

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Aaron L. Seal, 23, of Elkhart, Ind.

Died Oct. 1 while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve's 6th Engineer Support Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Sound Bend, Ind.

Aaron L. Seal, 23, of Elkhart, passed away on Sunday, October 1, 2006, in Iraq while serving his country in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Aaron was born on November 8, 1982, in Elkhart to David L. and Lori (Seal) Dunn.

Aaron is survived by his parents, David and Lori Dunn of Elkhart; his girlfriend, Krystal Snyder of Elkhart; two sisters, Valerie Seal and Natasha Seal of Elkhart; and four nieces, Breanna, Kayla, Madison, Leia. Also surviving, his paternal grandfather, Elwood Dunn of Elkhart and paternal grandparents, Glenn and Patricia Sharp of Osceola.

Aaron graduated from Elkhart Memorial High School, class of 2001. He was a Marine Reservist for 3½ years in Company B of South Bend. He enjoyed spending time outdoors and hunting and fishing with his father. Growing up, he enjoyed playing baseball at Cleveland Little League. He always made time for family and friends. He was a leader at everything he did and always gave 110%. Aaron always thought of the other person and what he could do for them. He was proud to serve his country. He will be remembered and loved by all who knew him.

Cpl. Aaron Seal, 23, of Elkhart, was killed Sunday while serving with a South Bend-based Marine Reserve engineering company.

Seal, a 2001 graduate of Elkhart Memorial High School, deployed for Iraq a month ago, said Maj. Celeste Ross, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Marine Reserves.

Relatives and friends were stunned by the news but recalled Seal's warm personality.

"He was a great guy. He would do anything for anybody," said Krystal Snyder, Seal's girlfriend, who was mourning Monday with family members at the home of Seal's parents. "He always put himself second."

Seal worked in production at LaGrange's Dutch Housing and enlisted about three years ago. He was the first death in the unit, which recently began a seven-month tour.

Snyder said Seal was eager to serve in Iraq.

"I think after being in for three years, he was a little upset he hadn't gone yet," she said. "He told me, 'I didn't sign up for one weekend a month and two weeks a year. I signed up there to get out there and do it.' "

Marine Cpl. Aaron L. Seal was killed in action on 10/01/06.