Friday, July 30, 2010

Army Spc. Michael L. Stansbery

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Michael L. Stansbery, 21, of Mount Juliet, Tenn.

Spc. Stansbery was assigned to 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died July 30, 2010 near Kandahar, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Sgt. Kyle B. Stout.

The U.S. Army honored Spc. Michael L. Stansbery of Mt. Juliet for giving his life while living out his childhood dream of being an American soldier.

Stansbery's parents, Michael and Tammy Stansbery, accepted the Bronze Star and Purple Heart on his behalf during their son's funeral Sunday in the dimly lit gymnasium of his alma mater, Wilson Central High School. The Army presented his younger sister, Michelle, with his dog tags.

The 21-year-old Mt. Juliet soldier was killed July 30 when his patrol hit an improvised explosive device in the Kandahar province in Afghanistan.

Stansbery was a cannon crew member with the 101st Airborne. This was his second overseas deployment since joining the U.S. Army in August 2007.

Hundreds of mourners filed into the school's gymnasium where friends, family members, former teachers, coaches and fellow military personnel, retired and active duty, shared stories about Stansbery's life and bid him a final farewell.

"This is the journey he chose to set out on," said Kay Gray, who officiated the service with the Rev. Lee Stevenson.

Stansbery wanted to be a soldier as early as the first grade, when he wrote about it as part of a school project that his mother saved. In it he wrote that he wanted to fight for people who couldn't fight for themselves.

Stansbery followed in the bootsteps of his father, Michael Stansbery Sr., a combat veteran and former Marine, and his grandfather, a World War II veteran.

"The most important thing to Michael was his relationship with his family; loved his mom and dad dearly, loved his little sister more than anything in the world," family friend John Jankowich said a few days before the funeral.

On a recent visit back home, Stansbery returned to see the veterans wall near his high school. The wall is a large rock painted with an American flag and the names of all of the high school's alumni serving in the military.

"Before he went to Afghanistan, he really wanted his name painted on that rock," Jankowich said.

Stansbery enlisted in the Army immediately after graduation. During 2008-09 he was deployed to Iraq. He returned to the United States for about a year until his most recent assignment to Afghanistan in June.

Before his June deployment Stansbery sat with his father and told him how he wanted his possessions to be shared in the event of his death. He also told his father what type of funeral he wanted.

"Michael wasn't afraid of dying," Gray said.

One week before his death, Stansbery sent a letter to his mother asking her not to worry about him.

"I wish for you a peaceful sleep," he said in the letter.

Selflessness was commonplace for Stansbery, who once asked his family to send him a coffee pot, coffee and a bean grinder. Stansbery never drank coffee, but he wanted it for his fellow soldiers who missed that comfort of home.

Some of the soldier's former teachers and coaches fought back tears when they talked about Stansbery, while others cried openly as they recalled their memories of the young man. Michelle Stansbery, a junior at Mt. Juliet High, told mourners she was proud to be his sister and that he was her hero.

Family friend Jankowich said Michael Stansbery "knew all the risks inherent with what he did for a living. That was his dream. That is what he wanted to do. He never wavered from that."

His remains will be cremated and interred will full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

Army Spc. Michael L. Stansbery was killed in action on 7/30/10.

Army Sgt. Kyle B. Stout

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Kyle B. Stout, 25, of Texarkana, Texas

Sgt. Stout was assigned to 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died July 30, 2010 near Kandahar, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Spc. Michael L. Stansbery.

Sgt. Kyle Brandon Stout, 25, of Wake Village, Texas died courageously July 30, 2010 while serving his country in Operation Enduring Freedom in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He is being escorted from Dover, DE by long time friend and neighbor SR. Airman Brandon Thompson of the United States Air Force based at Langley AFB.

"I enjoy every aspect of the outdoors. Hunting, fishing, camping, and being in the water make me happy," Kyle wrote on his MySpace page. "Working out and keeping my body in good shape is also very important to me. I love hanging out with friends and sipping whiskey. Being from the Lone Star State I naturally like country music. Television--if its not sports, I probably don't watch it."

Kyle was a Sergeant E5 in the United States Army, having served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He was born in Texarkana, Texas on November 2, 1984 to parents Mike and Robin Stout and was the youngest of 3 children.

Kyle graduated from Texas High School in Texarkana, Texas in 2003. He later joined the United States Army in 2006 as an Artillery Specialist. He was a Sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, KY and was a dedicated soldier.

Kyle’s loyalty, dedication and selfless service were honored on many occasions with service awards and decorations. These include: the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal with Campaign star, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon and graduation from the Army Air Assault Course.

Kyle helped in the continued fight for the war on terrorism, deploying to Iraq in Oct 2007 and returning in Nov 2008. Kyle then deployed to Afghanistan in June 2010.

SGT Kyle Stout will be remembered as a HERO and a man that gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country. Kyle loved serving his country as a soldier in the Army. He also had many hobbies, but his favorites were fishing, hunting and hanging out with his friends.

"Kyle died courageously while serving his country," said Stout’s family in a prepared statement

Army Sgt. Kyle B. Stout was killed in action on 7/30/10.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Marine Lance Cpl. Shane R. Martin

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Shane R. Martin, 23, of Spring, Texas

LCpl Martin was assigned to 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died July 29, 2010 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

He called from Afghanistan last week and asked his parents to send him some of his old art supplies. He said the stark beauty of the central Asian country had inspired him to draw again.

"The irony is, here you have a kid who was as tough as anything, who was a Reconnaissance Marine, but he could stop for a moment and see the beauty of the people and the land around him, and there's something so poignant about that," said his aunt, Amanda Brock. "You know, he lost his life in that beauty."

The 23-year-old Marine lance corporal from Spring died during combat operations in Afghanistan's Helmand province on Thursday. He was assigned to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Marine officials said Martin was driving a light armored vehicle on patrol when a roadside bomb exploded and the vehicle flipped. Martin died of head trauma.

"I know he went there with the idea of helping the Afghani people — I know that in my heart - but also to be a good and loyal and helpful Marine to his own team members," said his uncle, Robert Brock.

Martin was born in Durban, South Africa, and moved to the Houston area when he was 12. He attended Spring's Klein Collins High School, where he was in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps.

"He was known at Klein Collins as the one who would stand up for people who were being bullied," said his mother, Debora Wallace. She remembered one of the school administrators pulling her aside during her son's senior year. "He said, 'When Shane graduates from high school, what are we going to do?' He protected so many people at school, the small kids, and the underdogs."

Martin was fiercely protective by nature, but even-tempered and mature beyond his years, said his father, Kevin Wallace.

"He had a demeanor where he would never get angry at another person, no matter what they did to him," Wallace said. "He would just move on and keep it inside."

Martin met his future wife at an architectural graphics class at Klein Collins. The pair became best friends, and she invited him to senior prom because she had an extra ticket. Ten days later, they were officially dating.

"We would finish each other's sentences, literally," Lauren Martin said by telephone from California, where she lived with her husband. "We always knew what each other was thinking, and we had the same values. My grandmother told me true soulmates would complement each other, and we did."

After graduation from Klein Collins in 2005, Martin attended The Art Institute of Houston before deciding to follow his heart to the Marines. His father, grandfather and uncle had all served, and Martin had always been a military history buff.

"Shane only ever watched the History Channel, or the Military Channel," his mother recalled. "When we were in South Africa, it was black-and-white war movies."

She said her son had a knack for remembering birthdays and anniversaries by connecting them to dates of World War II battles. "He really and truly would have liked to be a military history professor once his days of serving were done," she said.

Boot camp and a bride

On Leap Day in February 2008, Martin celebrated his graduation from Marine boot camp. A few months later, he proposed to Lauren when she came to visit at Pendleton.

"It was nothing fancy," Lauren said. "We had no money. We were in a hotel room, watching a Dane Cook DVD, and he said, 'I'll be right back,' and tripped over some clothes." Then he gave her the ring.

"He told me that I was the moment, and that's why he did it right then," Lauren said. "That we were just sitting there together and that being there with me was all that he cared about, that I was the moment, and it couldn't be any better."

Last visit home in April

The couple married on July 4, 2008, in Lauren's backyard in Spring. In December of the same year, Martin deployed to Iraq for his first combat tour.

He earned his citizenship during that deployment. The naturalization ceremony was held at one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces. "He was very, very proud of that," Martin's uncle said.

Before he deployed to Afghanistan in May, Martin visited Houston for two weeks in April to say goodbye to friends and family, including his brother, Kyle, 21, and sister, Diane, 14. They ate Chinese food and went shopping at the Galleria.

Diane said she was in the process of writing her big brother a three-page letter when her family learned of his death. "I never finished it," she said. "It was telling him to be safe and everything, so everybody could sleep. And I never got to send the letter."

marinesissy wrote:
this is Shane's sister. i miss him alot, so much, today when i was being interviewed with my family it was really hard because reality sunk in. after these pictures i just broke down, i cant imagine life without Shane even though im living it. thank you so much for all your support. just know my brother was a GREAT man he was so loving to me. i love him so much, i miss him so much. this is hard, real hard. but its your support that gets us through this, thank you much. much love.. 7/31/2010 1:37:34 AM

Marine Lance Cpl. Shane R. Martin was killed in action on 7/29/10.

Army Staff Sgt. Kyle R. Warren

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Kyle R. Warren, 28, of Manchester, N.H.

SSgt. Warren was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.; died July 29, 2010 at Tsagay, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his military vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Capt. Jason E. Holbrook.

MANCHESTER – Kyle Warren was a mountain of man known for being as nice off the field as he was intimidating on it.

That's how several of his teammates and good friends from the Amoskeag Rugby Football Club of Manchester remember the 28-year-old who died Thursday in Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Kyle R. Warren was one of two U.S. Special Forces soldiers who, according to the Defense Department, died after insurgents attacked their military vehicle with an improvised explosive device in Tsagay, Afghanistan.

He was one of a handful of members of the local rugby club who enlisted in the armed services around 2004.

Warren, a California native who moved to the area to be near his mother, was sharing a Central Street home in Manchester with brothers Justin and Josh Veverka when they all decided to enlist. Warren and Justin Veverka joined the Army; Josh Veverka signed up for the Navy. Their friend Ben Lacroix was already in the process of joining the Army.

All four ended up doing tours in Iraq.

While the others left the service after their commitments were met, Warren recently re-enlisted.

He had got married a year ago and, according to Josh Veverka, he and his wife agreed he would do one more tour.

Justin Veverka remembers hitting it off with Warren immediately after meeting him for the first time at rugby practice. Warren, nearly 6-foot-3 and close to 240 pounds at the time, join the club in 2002 and quickly established himself in the team's second row as a punishing force when the ball went in the air.

"He would slam whoever was unlucky enough to catch it," said Josh Veverka, now an engineering student at Louisiana State University.

Bob Bishop of Bedford, a former Amoskeag Rugby Club president, used to drive with Warren to practice when Warren was living at his mother's home in that town after first moving to the area.

"He was a great guy," Bishop said. "He fit in great. He was really well-liked and made a lot of good friends."

Bishop said Warren was an experienced player who grew up playing the game in California and, later, in college in Arizona.

"He was a big, strong guy," Bishop said. "And a really nice guy."

Warren met his future wife Sandy here. Sandy was going to school at Southern New Hampshire with Josh Veverka when she was first introduced to Warren in 2003.

"He was just a goofy, fun guy," Josh Veverka said. "He loved to yap."

Justin Veverka said he was not all that surprised when Warren decided to re-enlist. He said members of the Special Forces are an elite outfit treated well by the Army.

"They're the cream of the crop," Justin Veverka said.

Justin Veverka said he saw members of his unit die in Iraq, but the news of Warren's death hit hard.

"This was different," he said. "I couldn't believe it."

Army Staff Sgt. Kyle R. Warren was killed in action on 7/29/10.

Army Capt. Jason E. Holbrook

Remember Our Heroes

Army Capt. Jason E. Holbrook, 28, of Burnet, Texas

Capt. Holbrook was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.; died July 29, 2010 at Tsagay, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his military vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Staff Sgt. Kyle R. Warren.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers from Central Texas and New Hampshire were killed when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device while on reconnaissance patrol in Afghanistan, the Defense Department said on Saturday.

Capt. Jason E. Holbrook, of Burnet, and Staff Sgt. Kyle R. Warren, of Manchester, N.H., died from injuries sustained in the blast on Thursday in Tsagay, Afghanistan, the Defense Department said.

Holbrook was an alpha team leader and Warren was a medical sergeant, both assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, N.C. Both were 28 and both were on their second deployment in Afghanistan, the Defense Department said.

Their deaths came during the deadliest month for U.S. forces in the nearly nine-year war in Afghanistan.

Highland Lakes Newspapers .... Burnet Soldier Killed In Afghanistan

A 28-year-old Army Officer from Burnet was killed Thursday when his unit was ambushed by insurgents in Afghanistan.

Capt. Jason Holbrook, a Green Beret, Ranger and member of the Army Special Forces, was killed Thursday morning when an IED hit his convoy around 6 a.m. Thursday, his family said.

An official press release from the Department of Defense containing details surrounding his death has not yet been released, but James P. Holbrook, the bereaved father of the fallen soldier, said Friday he and his family will be traveling with the soldier’s casket from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

“We’re in Delaware now,” said the father. “We’re going to Dover right now to pick him up.”

Holbrook graduated from the prestigious United States Military Academy at West Point in 2004. As a member of the G4 company his final two years at the academy, Holbrook was an Environmental Science major. His first assignment was Fort Wainwright, Alaska, according to the Howitzer — his class yearbook.

Comment from a friend:

"Jason was roommates with my son Capt. Andrew Fleming while the two of them attended West Point. Jason and 3 or 4 of the other cadets would stay at our house on long weekends. He was a real gentleman. I recently had the opportunity to spend time with Jason and his wife at my son’s wedding. He and his with, Heather, were great to be with. Jason is a real American Hero. I will miss him. Our prayers in the Fleming family are for his wife and family. God bless all American service members and their families." Tom Fleming

“He was a member of our church,” said Mary Allen of the First Baptist Church of Bertram. “His parents were so proud…we were all very proud.”

Allen said Jason Holbrook would return to his hometown to visit family and friends at times during his active duty service, donning his West Point Army uniform.

“He came back several times after being overseas,” she said. “He was very striking.”

Randy Chasin, one of Holbrook’s high school teachers, said in his 20 years at Burnet High School, he’s always remembered Jason.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him,” he said. “But I remember how soft spoken and respectful he was…yes sir…no sir…the kind of boy every dad would want to claim. It didn’t surprise me when I heard he was going to West Point.”

Other family friends, such as Kenny Baker, said despite Holbrook’s accomplishments in the military and abroad, he was still the same kid from Burnet everyone loved and remembered.

Capt. Jason E. Holbrook, 28, of Burnet, left behind one sister in Victoria, who asked Sunday not to be identified. She was the only family from Victoria, his sister said.

“He was everywhere,” Baker said. “But he was the just the same…soft-spoken, common ‘ol country boy.”

Pastor Gordon Bergstrom with the First Baptist Church in Bertram, which Holbrook’s family attends, said that Holbrook’s relatives have flown to Dover, Delaware to bring the soldier’s remains back to Texas. He said funeral arrangements are pending.

Army Capt. Jason E. Holbrook was killed in action on 7/29/10.

Army Master Sgt. Jared N. Van Aalst

Remember Our Heroes

Army Master Sgt. Jared N. Van Aalst, 34, of Laconia, N.H.

MSgt. Van Aalst was assigned to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died July 29, 2010 at Kunduz province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained while his unit was conducting combat operations.

Master Sgt. Jared Van Aalst was born in Laconia, N.H., on Sept. 1, 1975. He enlisted in the U.S. Army as a signal support systems specialist on Aug. 17, 1995. He graduated in 1993 from Plymouth Regional High School in Plymouth, N.H.

He is the third Plymouth Regional High School graduate to die in combat in the past four years. Army Capt. Doug DiCenzo was killed in Iraq in 2006, and Army Spc. Marc Decoteau was killed in January in Afghanistan.

"Like any tiny community, there's a sense of sadness and shock," said Patti Biederman, whose family runs the Main Street eatery Biederman's Deli. "But there's also a sense of pride that they are from this community."

All three were popular students and athletes. Van Aalst and DiCenzo were teammates under wrestling coach Cam Sinclair. "I don't think this one has hit yet," Sinclair said. "I think when it does, the community is going to be wondering 'Why us?' How many memorials are you going to go to?"

Jim Kemmerer was principal of Plymouth Middle School when Van Aalst was a student there. Leafing through the 1989 yearbook, Kemmerer said Van Aalst was voted most popular, best looking and best dressed and had the best decorated locker among the boys. He said Van Aalst wrote that his goal was to be a member of a SWAT team.

"Even though Plymouth is somewhat of a transient community, there are a lot of people who stay here, and people keep tabs of each other," Kemmerer said.

Van Aalst is the second soldier with ties to New Hampshire to die in Afghanistan in the past two weeks. Staff Sgt. Kyle R. Warren of the U.S. Special Forces, who lived in Manchester, died Thursday, July 29, during an attack in Tsagay, Afghanistan.

According to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, he was a highly decorated solider serving his sixth tour of combat, having previously been deployed to Iraq three times and Afghanistan twice.

After completing Basic Training, the Signal Support Systems Specialist Course, and Basic Airborne School, Van Aalst was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga., for the Ranger Indoctrination Program.

After completion, he was assigned to HHC, 3rd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment, also at Fort Benning, where he served as a signal systems specialist. In the summer of 1997, Van Aalst graduated from Ranger School and returned to 3rd Bn., where he continued his duties for another year before reclassifying into the infantryman military occupational specialty.

In August 1998, Van Aalst attended Sniper School then returned to HHC, 3rd Bn., as a sniper team leader later transitioning to squad leader in August 1999. After serving for two years as a squad leader, he was selected as an instructor and a shooter in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning. He served in that position for two years before returning in September 2003 to HHC, 3rd Bn., as a sniper platoon sergeant.

Shortly thereafter, he deployed on his first combat rotation to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, then to Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq before moving in 2005 to Co. A, 3rd Bn., to serve as a platoon sergeant. As a platoon sergeant, he deployed twice to Iraq in 2005 and again to Afghanistan in 2006. Van Aalst returned to HHC, 3rd Bn., as the noncommissioned officer in-charge of the Reconnaissance, Sniper and Technical Surveillance Detachment. He deployed to Afghanistan again in 2006, for his fifth combat deployment. In July 2007, Van Aalst was assigned as the chief instructor and writer to 'C' Co, 2nd Bn., 29th Infantry, at Fort Benning, where he served for one year before being selected in 2008 as a special operations team member, U. S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N. C.

His military education includes the Basic Airborne Course, Ranger School, Sniper School, Warrior Leader Course, Static Line Jumpmaster, the Combat Lifesaver Course, Special Operations Target Interdiction Course, Infantry Advanced Leader’s Course, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course, Infantry Senior Leader’s Course, Pathfinder Course, the Advanced Land Navigation Course, and the Military Free-Fall Course.

He was posthumously recognized with a second Bronze Star Medal, a third Purple Heart Medal, and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. His other awards include two Meritorious Service Medals, two Joint Service Commendation Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, seven Army Achievement Medals, five Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, the Iraq Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral 3, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Pathfinder Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Distinguished Pistol Shooting Badge, Distinguished Rifleman Badge, Excellence in Competition (Pistol) Badge, and the Ranger Tab. He also earned five Overseas Service Bars.

Army Master Sgt. Jared N. Van Aalst was killed in action on 7/29/10.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Airforce Maj Michael Freyholtz

Remember Our Heroes

Maj. Michael Freyholtz, 34, from Hines, Minn.,assigned to the Alaska Air National Guard's 249th Airlift Squadron; killed in the C-17 crash on July 28, 2010.

Major Freyholtz flew 608 combat hours supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He recently accompanied the precision U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds throughout the Pacific, flying a C-17. The 249th Airlift Squadron of the Alaska Air National Guard mourns the passing of one the Air Force's premier C-17 Pilots, Major Michael H. Freyholtz.

Michael Freyholtz's ex-wife and their two children were driving to Anchorage, Alaska, on Wednesday evening when they saw black smoke rising from a fire miles away. The sight was a somber one for the children, who had to move this spring after the fourplex where they lived with their mom caught fire. "Hope it's not our house," they said. "We don't need any more bad news."

The reality was much worse.Maj. Freyholtz, who grew up in Hines Township, in Minnesota's Beltrami County, was one of four airmen killed when their cargo plane crashed shortly after takeoff at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage. They were practicing for an air show.

As soon as Kim Freyholtz realized the smoke was from a crash on the base, she tried calling her ex-husband's cell phone. "It didn't ring," she said. "There was nothing. I kind of knew right then and there."

Freyholtz, 34, was a devoted father, his ex-wife said. The couple divorced amicably about a year ago, but they talked every day and got together regularly for activities with their 9-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter, she said.

This summer, Freyholtz coached his son's Little League team with his best friend, fellow pilot Aaron Malone. On Wednesday, Malone, of Anchorage, died with Freyholtz, along with Capt. Jeffrey Hill of York, Pa., and Master Sgt. Thomas Cicardo of Anchorage, according to the military. Freyholtz and Malone were pilots assigned to the Alaska Air National Guard's 249th Airlift Squadron. Hill was a pilot assigned to Elmendorf's 517th Airlift Squadron, and Cicardo was the 249th Airlift Squadron loadmaster.

Freyholtz attended Blackduck High School and the University of Minnesota Duluth before joining the Air Force in May 1998, his family said. "He wanted to be a pilot from the time he was knee-high," said his mother, Mary Freyholtz, of Hines Township.

During pilot training, when the time came for him to express a preference between flying cargo planes and fighter jets, his wife urged him to take what they saw as "the safer way, ironically enough," Kim Freyholtz said.

Major Freyholtz joined the United States Air Force in May of 1998 and received his officer commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corp program. He attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force, where he received his Air Force pilot wings in May of 2000.

Major Freyholtz was selected to fly the C-17 "Globemaster III" out of pilot training and attended initial C-17 qualification training at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. While on active duty, he was stationed at Charleston Air Force Base and McChord Air Force Base as a C-17 Aircraft Commander, Instructor Pilot and Flight Examiner.

Major Freyholtz left active duty to move to Alaska and join the Alaska Air National Guard in May of 2007. He was the first outside pilot hired for the new 249th Airlift Squadron and was highly instrumental in its stand up. Initially, he served in a Drill Status Guardsmen capacity and worked for Boeing as a full-time C-17 simulator instructor. Later, he became a full-time Technician in the 249th Airlift Squadron and led its standardization/evaluation section. He was a very highly regarded C-17 Pilot and the unit's first C-17 Flight Examiner Pilot and Air Show Demonstration Pilot. Most recently, he accompanied the United States Air Force Thunderbirds throughout the Pacific and demonstrated the capabilities of the C-17 to thousands of air show spectators.

Major Freyholtz accumulated more than 3500 military flying hours in the T-37, T-1 and C-17 aircraft. He flew 608 combat hours in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM for which he received the Air Medal. Major Freyholtz home town of record is Hines, Minnesota.

In addition to his children, son Trevor, and daughter Fiona, former wife Kim, and mother Mary, Freyholtz is survived by his father, Harvey Freyholtz, a brother and two sisters. The family hopes to hold a memorial service in Minnesota at a later date, his mother said.

Airforce Maj. Aaron Malone

Remember Our Heroes

Maj. Aaron Malone, 36, from Anchorage, Alaska, assigned to the Alaska Air National Guard's 249th Airlift Squadron; killed in the C-17 crash on July 28, 2010.

Major Aaron Wallace Malone was born Feb. 3, 1974, in Iowa City, Iowa. He was killed in a tragic airplane crash at Elmendorf AFB Anchorage, Alaska, on July 28, 2010, while doing a practice flight in a C-17 Globemaster for the Arctic Thunder Air Show.
Aaron lived with his family in Iowa until graduating from North-Linn High School in 1992. After graduation, Aaron moved to Anchorage, Alaska.

He worked for Era Aviation in Anchorage, while attending college he met his wife, Melanie Smith of Anchorage. They were married in Bellevue, Wash., in August 1996. They have three sons, Jacob, 11, Jeffrey, 8 and Alexander, 3.

Aaron graduated from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautical Science. Most recently, Aaron was working toward a Master’s Degree in Family Financial planning from Iowa State University. He had only two classes left to complete his degree.

In 1997, Major Malone was hired by the South Dakota Air Guard to fly F-16. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant by his older brother, LCDR William Malone in 1998. He attended pilot training at Vance AFB in Oklahoma, where he graduated with an award in Academic Excellence.

Major Malone was hired as a 1st Officer for Alaska Airlines in July 2001. He relocated to Great Falls, Mont., to continue flying the F-16 for the Montana Air National Guard. Immediately following September 11, Major Malone was activated to duty with the Air National Guard leading to a deployment to the Middle East patrolling the southern no-fly zone.

Major Aaron W. Malone : Having served more than 12 years in the Air National Guard, Major Aaron W. Malone had flown over 2,100 military flying hours. He routinely flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 249th Airlift Squadron of the Alaska Air National Guard mourns the loss of one of the Air Force's premier C-17 Pilots, Major Aaron "Zippy" Malone.

In 2005, the family relocated Eagle River. Major Malone was hired by the Alaska Air National Guard in 2007 to join the newly formed 249th Airlift Squadron flying the C-17.

As a young boy, Aaron was avid baseball player, an interest he held throughout his life. Aaron, loved practical jokes, 4 wheeling, snow machining, camping and spending time with family and friends. Aaron considered himself a cigar aficionado. Aaron was an avid Seahawks and Iowa Hawkeyes fan. He also had a purple belt in Karate, a family activity which he shared with his wife and sons. In addition he co-coached Little League with Major Michael Freyholtz, who was also killed in the crash. Aaron was a mentor in the Alaska Military Youth Academy.

He was a dedicated soldier and aviator who loved flying and the talented people he worked beside. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and co-workers at Alaska Airlines and the Alaska Air Guard.

Aaron is survived by his wife, Melanie; three sons, Jacob, Jeffrey and Alex; his parents, Dennis and Karol Malone; a brother, William; two sisters, Katherine and Karrie; and a large extended family.

Airforce Capt. Jeffrey Hill

Remember Our Heroes

Capt. Jeffrey Hill, 31, from York, Pa., a pilot assigned to Elmendorf's 517th Airlift Squadron; and Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Cicardo, 47, from Anchorage; 249th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, were killed in the C-17 crash on July 28, 2010.

As Hill's wife, Rachael, stood at the lectern, another airman read from the script she had written. "Jeff loved Alaska and wanted to take advantage of everything it had to offer," Rachael Hill wrote.

Her husband started out as an enlisted man at Elmendorf, then earned his commission in 2002 and worked as an instructor pilot. He was cheerful and a mentor for younger airmen, urging them to get and stay fit, the memorial program said.

The couple has two little boys, Rachael Hill wrote. Most in the crowd held it together until near the end when a vocalist sang "Amazing Grace." One little boy, crying, got in his mother's lap.

Captain Jeffery A. Hill: Captain Hill began his military career as an enlisted aircraft maintainer in 1998 and later earned his commission in 2002. In 2007 he was assigned to start up the new C-17A squadron in Alaska. He was a C-17A instructor pilot and operations flight commander for the 517th Airlift Squadron.

The 517th Airlift Squadron mourns the passing of an outstanding professional Airman, Captain Jeffrey A. Hill. Captain Jeffrey Hill was a C-17A Instructor Pilot and Operations Flight Commander, 517th Airlift Squadron, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. Jeff began his military career in 1998 as an enlisted aircraft maintainer in the 12th Fighter Squadron, Elmendorf AFB. He was a phenomenal Airman and he loved being an Airman in Alaska's 3rd Wing.

After earning his commission in December 2002, he attended pilot training at Columbus AFB, MS. A gifted aviator, he remained in Mississippi as a T-1 instructor pilot to train the next generation of Air Force pilots.

In 2007, Jeff's dream became reality and he was assigned to stand up the new C-17A squadron in Alaska. Jeff was custom made for the challenging environment. He absolutely loved the outdoors. He was always traveling off-road, hunting and fishing, camping and hiking. His assignment to the 517th was the kind of challenge he thrived on.

As a new C-17A pilot, with T-1 instructor experience, he accelerated through challenging training programs and leadership roles to ultimately become the Operations Flight Commander and instructor in the tactical airlift mission. He was an amazing flight commander who took on additional squadron leadership roles.

He reinvigorated the booster club and motivated young airmen to get and stay fit. He spent countless time, mentoring younger Airman to give back what the 12th leadership had given him. Jeff's trademark was a positive attitude. His happiness and smile were infectious. Each problem was fun, each discussion was full of humor and walking away without gut laugh was rare.

His perfectly cheerful demeanor was essential to his new squadron. His laugh and sense of humor is missed at home and work. Those in our small, yet global Air Force are lost with words for the void created at his loss. We loved Jeff and his character and happy example will be remembered forever.

Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Cicardo

Remember Our Heroes

Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Cicardo, 47, from Anchorage; 249th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, were killed in the C-17 crash on July 28, 2010.

Serving more than 28 years in the military, Senior Master Sergeant Thomas E. Cicardo only needed service in the U.S. Coast Guard to round out his resume. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He joined the Alaska Air National Guard in 1997. A highly decorated combat veteran, SMSgt. Cicardo had 5400 flying hours and is credited with saving some 66 lives on the 58 search and rescue missions he was on. The 249th Airlift Squadron of the Alaska Air National Guard mourns the passing of one the Air Force's premier Loadmasters, Senior Master Sergeant Thomas E. Cicardo.

Senior Master Sergeant Cicardo served his country with high distinction for more than 28 years in the Armed Forces of the United States. Prior to joining the Alaska Air National Guard, Senior Master Sergeant served in the US Marine Corp, US Army, and the Air Force Reserve. He joined the Alaska Air National Guard in September of 1997, where his wide ranging military background made him an invaluable asset.

He spent his first eleven years in the Alaska Air National Guard in the 210th and 211th Rescue Squadrons, where he flew in an HC-130 aircraft. During his tenure in rescue, he partcipated in 58 Search and Rescue missions in the State of Alaska, in which he was credited with saving 66 lives and assisting 13 others to safety. He deployed multiple times in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, flying combat search and rescue missions in Afghanistan and personnel recovery missions in the Horn of Africa.

In 2008, Senior Master Sergeant Cicardo was handpicked to be part of the C-17 initial cadre to stand-up the 249th Airlift Squadron. Senior Master Sergeant Cicardo checked out in the C-17 "Globemaster III" aircraft and quickly upgraded to Instructor and Flight Examiner Loadmaster. He helped build the training and standardization/evaluation functions in the squadron. His efforts were instrumental in the squadron receiving an "Outstanding" rating during a recent Pacific Air Force's Standardization and Evaluation inspection, where was recognized as an "Outstanding Performer."

Over the course of his military career, Senior Master Sergeant Cicardo accumulated 5400 flying hours in the C-141, C-130, HC-130 and C-17 aircraft and visited countless countries. He was a highly decorated combat veteran receiving more than 30 awards and decorations, to include the Afghanistan Campaign medal, the Air Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Sergeant Cicardo home town of record is Anchorage, Alaska.

He was remembered Thursday by his Roseburg father-in-law as an adventurer who loved flying. “He literally flew all over the world,” said Fred Dayton, the father of Cicardo's wife, Theresa Dayton.

The four-engine jet crashed Wednesday evening after about a minute in the air above Elmendorf Air Force Base, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Witnesses told the newspaper the plane struck the ground in a huge ball of flame. “He just flat-out ran out of luck,” Fred Dayton said.

Cicardo met Theresa Dayton when she visited her sister, Eva Dayton King, in Anchorage. King and Cicardo lived on the same cul-de-sac. He had seen Theresa Dayton's photo and asked to meet her. “They met each other and fell in love,” said Bertie Dayton, Fred's wife and Theresa's step-mother. The couple celebrated their eighth anniversary eight days before the crash.

Cicardo wasn't scheduled to be aboard the flight, Fred Dayton said. He volunteered to go because one of the crew members was absent.

Cicardo had spent 25 years in the military, including stints with the Marines, with the Army's Airborne Rangers and most recently with the Air Force. He was a native of Wasilla, Alaska.

Cicardo was a very nice guy who relished his work, Fred Dayton said. “He would be gone for a few days at a time or a week. We didn't know what he did on those missions, but he enjoyed his experiences,” Dayton said.

More recently, Cicardo moved into more of an administrative position. “He had become kind of a desk jockey, but still went flying from time to time,” Dayton said. “It's very sad.”

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Marine Lance Cpl. Abram L. Howard

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Abram L. Howard, 21, of Williamsport, Pa.

LCpl Howard was assigned to Headquarters and Service Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve, based out of North Versailles, Pa.; died July 27, 2010 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province.

Lance Cpl. Abram L. Howard, 21, of Old Lycoming Township was killed Tuesday in Afghanistan.

Gov. Ed Rendell has ordered that all U.S. and Pennsylvania flags in the Capitol Complex in Harrisburg and all state facilities in Lycoming County be flown at half-staff in honor of a Marine, based in North Versailles, who was killed in Afghanistan.

Lance Cpl. Abram L. Howard, 21, of Old Lycoming Township near Williamsport, was killed Tuesday while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, the Department of Defense announced Thursday.

The family of Howard, a 2007 graduate of Williamsport Area High School, told the Williamsport Sun-Gazette that he was killed by a roadside bomb. The newspaper reports that Howard was one of Williamsport's Hometown Heroes and that a banner with his picture flies on a street in that community.

Howard was a member of Military Police Company B, also known as Bravo Co., Headquarters and Service Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve, based in North Versailles.

Officers at the reserve unit could not be reached for comment.

Rendell ordered the flags to remain at half-staff until sunset Monday.

Williamsport Marine killed in Afghanistan

A Marine lance corporal from Williamsport, scheduled to come home from Afghanistan in late August, was killed Tuesday while on patrol.

Abram L. Howard, 21, died from shrapnel wounds, his mother, Constance Howard, said Wednesday. The family has not been provided any details about his death, but she said she believes it occurred in the Mazar area in the northeast part of the country.

Howard was a reservist with Military Police Bravo Company out of North Versailles in the Pittsburgh area. He had enlisted in the Marines in May 2007 about a month before graduating from Williamsport Area High School, where he played football, wrestled and was in the orchestra.

The third-generation Marine went on active duty before Thanksgiving and had been in Afghanistan since Feb. 5. His active duty tour was scheduled to end Aug. 28. His mother said she and her husband, Bart, planned to pick him up in Pittsburgh in early September.

Howard called regularly by satellite phone and said he liked what he was doing, but could not wait to get out of there, his mother said.

His plans when he got home were to leave the reserves for active duty and receive training to detonate explosives, she said. He was cleared for presidential guard duty and had talked about a career with the FBI or the CIA, she said.

Constance Howard described her son as well-liked with a lot of friends, free-spirited, charming and respectful. He liked to play the guitar, she said.

Lance Col. Howard is survived by his parents Bart and Constance Howard, a brother Alex Howard, and a sister, Olivia Howard all of Williamsport.

Marine Lance Cpl. Abram L. Howard was killed in action on 7/27/10.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Army Staff Sgt. Conrad A. Mora

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Conrad A. Mora, 24, of San Diego

SSgt. Mora was assigned to 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; died July 24, 2010 in Qalat, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his military vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Also killed were Sgt. Daniel Lim, Spc. Joseph A. Bauer and Pfc. Andrew L. Hand.

Four U.S. soldiers including Army Staff Sergeant Conrad Mora, 24, of San Diego were killed Saturday in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb. Mora was leading a group of solders when the attack on their vehicle occurred. He was a graduate of Morse High School, where he played football.

The squad leader wrote under the employer section in his Facebook page that he was "blowing things up ... but currently in Afghanistan clearing the roads of things that blows us up."

Army Staff Sgt. Conrad Mora’s job in Afghanistan was to clear roads of explosives. That duty killed him Saturday.

Mora, a 24-year-old from San Diego, was on his second deployment to Afghanistan. He was leading a group of soldiers when their military vehicle ran across a roadside bomb in the town of Qalat. Three other soldiers also died in the attack.

Military life “was his passion,” said his brother-in-law, Christian Lleva. “His passion was serving.”

Mora’s body was returned to Dover Air Force Base, Del., on Monday. His mother, Carmelita, of National City, traveled to Philadelphia to identify his remains, Lleva said.

Mora’s family moved to San Diego from the Philippines when Mora was a child, around age 9 or 10, Lleva said.

Mora attended Morse High School and played football there, Lleva said. He also practiced mixed-martial arts such as jujitsu.

His family, particularly his young son, was especially important to him, Lleva said. His mother sent an e-mail to Conrad wishing him a happy Father’s Day last month. And though he was far away from his family and his home, he wrote back one simple sentence. “You really know how to make me smile,” the return e-mail said.

The last time Mora’s family saw him was in May, when they shared a meal at Goldilocks, a bakery and Filipino cuisine restaurant in National City. “After dinner we came back here, and we all talked for hours and hours,” Lleva said.

He said the family was disappointed he had to deploy to Afghanistan for the second time after having served a year in combat. “We don’t really have anything to say about it,” said Lleva, a Marine. “If they want us to go somewhere, we don’t have a choice.”

During his six-year career, Mora received six Army Achievement Medals and an Army Commendation Medal, said a public affairs officer with Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

Besides serving his country, he was also passionate about music. “He would rap about anything,” Lleva said. “He could make anything rhyme.”

The battalion deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in October.

Memorial service arrangements have not been announced.

Mora enlisted in the Army on June 22, 2004. He was on his second deployment to Afghanistan at the time of his death. His miliray honors include an Army Commendation Medal, six Army Achievement medals, a good conduct medal, the National Defense Service medal, a Korean Defense Service medal, two Afghanistan Campaign medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service medal, an NCO Professional Development ribbon, an Army Service ribbon, two Overseas Service ribbons, a pair of NATO medals, a Combat Action badge, a Drivers and Mechanics badge, and a Marksmanship Qualification Badge -- Expert with Missile.

Army Staff Sgt. Conrad A. Mora was killed in action on 7/24/10.

Army Spc. Joseph A. Bauer

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Joseph A. Bauer, 27, of Cincinnati

Spc. Bauer was assigned to 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; died July 24, 2010 in Qalat, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his military vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Also killed were Staff Sgt. Conrad A. Mora, Sgt. Daniel Lim and Pfc. Andrew L. Hand.

An Owensville native was killed late Saturday while on a combat mission in Afghanistan. Army Spc. Joseph Bauer, 27, was killed while on duty as a mine sweeper, according to family members who learned of his death Saturday morning. It is not known where in Afghanistan he was killed.

Bauer married Misty, 25, formerly of Goshen, in March 2008. The couple had no children.

This marks the second casualty from the parish of St. Louis Church in Owensville in recent years since the war began in 2001.

Bauer enlisted in the Army in October 2007, family members said, and was stationed at a base in Washington state. He left for Afghanistan in October 2009 and was scheduled to return home in October.

He recently enlisted for another six-year term, choosing to make the Army his career, said an uncle, Fred Bauer of Owensville.

Joseph Bauer was the son of Roger Bauer of Owensville and Lynn Bauer of Goshen Township. Other survivors include five brothers and two sisters; four half-sisters; a half-brother; a stepsister and a stepbrother.

One brother, Jason Bauer, 34, is serving with the Navy in Japan.

Bauer was home-schooled for much of his childhood but attended Clermont Northeastern High School for a brief period. He took classes at the University of Cincinnati but did not complete a degree.

Before his enlistment, he ran a press at U.S. Playing Card in Norwood.

Family members called Bauer reserved and quiet, focused and determined, but with a big heart.

He'd go out on a limb for any of his family members, said his brother Eric Bauer, 36, of Owensville. And he'd make you laugh in a heartbeat.

The Army flew Bauer's parents and wife to Dover Air Force base in Delaware this week to retrieve his body.

Another former member of St. Louis Church, Marine Lance Cpl. Nick Erdy, was killed in Iraq in 2005 at age 21. Erdy, son of William and Jane Erdy of Lynchburg, Ohio, was a 2002 graduate of McNicholas High School.

It's a good and honorable thing to be a soldier and serve your country, said the Rev. Jerry Hiland, pastor at St. Louis. We've had a lot of people deployed from our parishes in Clermont County and we pray for them every day.

Army Spc. Joseph A. Bauer was killed in action on 7/24/10.

Army Pfc. Andrew L. Hand

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Andrew L. Hand, 25, of Enterprise, Ala.

Pfc. Hand was assigned to 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; died July 24, 2010 in Qalat, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his military vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Also killed were Staff Sgt. Conrad A. Mora, Sgt. Daniel Lim and Spc. Joseph A. Bauer.

Enterprise High football coach Kevin Collins remembers a conversation earlier this year with former Wildcat head coach Kenneth Hand about his son, Andrew.

Andrew Hand, a 2004 Enterprise High graduate and wide receiver on the football team, had already served one stint in the Army, including two terms in Iraq. Coach Hand told Collins that Andrew had put his job as an insurance salesman on hold and decided to re-enlist in the Army.

“He’s just good at being a soldier,” Hand told Collins.

There are two things about the high school football career of Andrew Hand that back his father’s assessment, according to those who coached him.

First, he volunteered for everything.

“You never had to ask him to do anything,” said Matt Rogers, an assistant coach at Enterprise. “He was always around the fieldhouse.”

Second, he was fearless.

“He was a little bit undersized, but he returned punts for us and I reckon he didn’t believe in fair-catching a punt,” Rogers said. “He had the heart of a lion.”

Pfc. Andrew Hand, 25, was on his first tour in Qalat, Afghanistan, Saturday when he was killed after an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee. Three other soldiers died in the explosion. Hand’s body was scheduled to be returned to Dover Air Force Base either late Sunday or early Monday. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Teachers, coaches and administrators described Hand as a quiet student who stayed out of trouble.

“He came by the school just to visit some people about a year ago,” assistant principal Steven Graves said. “He was a gutsy kid.”

“He was quiet and assuming, but you could see a character behind the quiet front,” said Dr. Jim Reese, superintendent of Enterprise City Schools. “He was the kind of a person you knew would represent our country well. Every time I saw him, he would speak to me and we would carry on a good conversation.”

Hand was assigned to 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. He grew up in the Brookwood area near Tuscaloosa but moved to Enterprise for high school when Kenneth Hand became head coach at Enterprise in 2001.

Hand is the second soldier from Enterprise killed in just more than a month. Spc. Brendan Neenan, 21, died June 7 from the detonation of an IED.

“Our city has lost a lot of young people,” Reese said, referring to the loss of the soldiers, eight students in a 2007 tornado that struck the high school, and others due to illness and accidents. “Any time you lose young people, it’s just devastating. It’s another example of just how fragile life is.”

Hand entered active service Nov. 15, 2005. Following his initial term of active service, he re-enlisted Oct. 17, 2008. He reported to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and was assigned to the 657th Fire Support Company, 17th Fires Brigade. The battalion deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in October of 2009.

Hand's civilian and military education includes a high school diploma, and the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) Crewmember Qualification Course.

His awards and decorations include the Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, and Combat Action Badge.

Survivors include his wife, Amanda Kay Hand, Enterprise, AL; two sons, Tristan Nicholas Laine Hand and Gavin Austin Lee Hand, both of Enterprise; his parents: Kenneth and Renee Hand, Birmingham, AL and Phyllis and Jerry Parris, Birmingham, AL; one sister, Laura Hand Davis and one brother, Robert Bagwell, two nieces and one nephew, all of Birmingham, AL.

Funeral services will be at 2 pm Saturday, July 31, 2010 at Sorrells Funeral Home in Enterprise with Chaplain Sonny Moore officiating. The family will receive friends at Sorrells Funeral Home Friday, July 30 from 6 until 8 pm. The family will also receive friends at Liberty Church in Birmingham, AL Monday, August 2, 2010 from 10 until 11 am with a funeral service at 11 am at the church. Burial with full military honors will be at 2 pm at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo, AL with Sorrells Funeral Home of Enterprise directing.

Army Pfc. Andrew L. Hand was killed in action on 7/24/10.

Army Sgt. Daniel Lim

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Daniel Lim, 23, of Cypress, Calif.

Sgt. Lim was assigned to 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; died July 24, 2010 in Qalat, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his military vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Also killed were Staff Sgt. Conrad A. Mora, Spc. Joseph A. Bauer and Pfc. Andrew L. Hand.

A Cypress soldier serving in Afghanistan was killed on Saturday, the Department of Defense said.

Army Sgt. Daniel Lim, 23, was killed along with three other soldiers, when their vehicle was attacked by insurgents with an improvised explosive device in Qalat, Afghanistan.

Lim graduated from Pacifica High School in Garden Grove in 2005. He also attended Bell Intermediate School and Patton Elementary School, both in Garden Grove. He took rigorous academic courses in high school and was a solid student, said Alan Trudell, spokesman for the Garden Grove Unified School District. He was a member of Korean Martyrs Catholic Center in Westminster.

Lim enlisted April 13, 2006, and reported to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., for initial entry training, then to Fort Sill, Okla. He reported to his first duty assignment Aug. 27, 2006, at Camp Coiner, Korea, and later to Camp Casey, Korea.

After serving 31 months in Korea, he reported to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., on May 1, 2009, and was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade. The battalion deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2009. This was his first combat deployment.

Several messages expressing condolences were posted on the 17th Fires Brigade page on Facebook. "All our thoughts and prayers are with the families during this hard hard time," one person wrote. "God Bless you all."

Lim is among at least 56 members of the military from Orange County who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002, according to Orange County Register records. Among them are two other men from Cypress. Spc. Edgar Potayre Daclan Jr., 24, Cypress, died Sept. 10, 2004 in Balad, Iraq. Pfc. Bryce Edmund Gautier, 22, Cypress, died April 10, 2009, in Mosul, Iraq.

His godfather, Han Oh, said that Lim was studious, close with his sister and a devout Catholic. "He had an abundance of love," Oh said. "He loved his country, his family, his sister and God."

When Lim was home on leave in June, Oh recalled a conversation they shared at lunch, the day before Lim had to return to Afghanistan. Lim told his godfather that he had to return to protect his soldiers. "Protect, that was his very word," Oh said. "He was a great man." He loved riding motorcycles and having fun. He loved being with family and friends.

Spc. Javintroy Lewis, 21, of Texas, remembered Lim as a good soldier who looked forward to starting his own family. The two had been friends for about two years, riding motorcycles together. The last time they rode, Lim was on a Kawasaki 600. Lewis said that Lim enlisted because he wanted to make it on his own. "He was very energetic and lively. He always wanted to have fun," said Lewis, who served in the same unit with Lim. "He wanted you to have fun with him. He never left anyone behind."

As U.S. flags flew Tuesday from several homes in the Lim family's Yorba Linda neighborhood, tributes also appeared on the web for the four soldiers. "Everyday that passes is another day closer to seeing our departed brothers again," wrote fellow soldier Christian Baeumler of Anaheim on Lim's Facebook page. "R.I.P you will never be forgotten.

Army Sgt. Daniel Lim was killed in action on 7/24/10.

Marine Lance Cpl. Frederik E. Vazquez

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Frederik E. Vazquez, 20, of Melrose Park, Ill.

LCpl. Vazquez was assigned to 1st Battalion 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died July 24, 2010 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while supporting combat operations.

Melrose Park Marine dies in Afghanistan

Frederik E. Vazquez had talked about becoming a U.S. Marine from the time he was 7, and a few months after reaching the age of 18, he enlisted.

"I was proud of him for being brave and for doing what he wanted, for serving his country," Rubelia Vazquez said of her son, "even though deep inside, I didn't want him to go."

Lance Cpl.Vazquez, 20, from Melrose Park, was killed Saturday in Helmand province, Afghanistan, "while supporting combat operations," the Marine Corps stated Tuesday in announcing Vazquez's death. Vazquez was a rifleman.

Inside the brown-brick home with the Marines flag displayed on a corner, his extended family on Tuesday remembered Erik Vazquez as a hard worker, a quiet kid with a playful side who returned from Marine Corps boot camp a more responsible, respectful adult. He talked about attending college after the Marines, relatives said.

"I guess you would say he came back a man," his father, Juan, said through Frederik's brother, Juan Carlos Vazquez. "He ended up helping out even more around the house. He would ask permission to do this or that. He was always respectful but gave out even more respect than he had in the past."

Erik Vazquez was born April 14, 1990, in Los Angeles, the younger of two sons. The family moved to Northlake five years later and resided there until 2006, when Juan and Rubelia Vazquez wanted what they perceived as a better education for their son. They moved to Melrose Park, and Frederik transferred from Proviso West High School to West Leyden High School his junior year. He graduated in 2008.

His family called him "Erik." Friends knew him as "Freddy." He loved paintball and basketball, and military combat video games. He'd hide in bushes across the street from his family's home on Armitage Avenue and jump out at his cousin, Kimberly Trujillo, when she'd pass, Trujillo recalled.

"He made people laugh and he loved hanging out with his family," Trujillo, 15, said. "He called me 7-Eleven because I never shut up."

But, when her spirits were down, "he'd give me advice and tell me everything would be fine," she said.

Lance Cpl. Vazquez was deployed to Afghanistan on March 5, his family said. He originally was expecting to return in October. But a short time ago, he told his parents and brother that he would be home in August.

"We were expecting him," Juan Carlos Vazquez said.

Visitation for Lance Cpl. Vasquez will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 30, at Cuneo Columbian Funeral Home, 10300 Grand Ave., in Franklin Park.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, July 31, at St. Charles Borromeo Church, 1637 N. 37th Ave., in Melrose Park.

Interment will follow in Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery and Mausoleums, 1400 S. Wolf Road, Hillside.

Lance Cpl. Vazquez is survived by his parents Juan and Rubelia Vazquez and brother Juan Carlos.

Marine Lance Cpl. Frederik E. Vazquez was killed in action on 7/24/10.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Navy Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Jarod Newlove

Remember Our Heroes

Navy Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, 25, of Renton, Wash.

Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Newlove was assigned to Commander, Navy Reserve Force Command, Norfolk, Va.; died July 23, 2010 in Logar province, Afghanistan, when he was captured and believed to have been killed by the Taliban. Coalition forces recovered his body July 28 after an extensive search. Also kidnapped and believed to have been killed by the Taliban was Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Justin McNeley.

The body of the second of two U.S. sailors who went missing after driving into an ambush has been found, Pentagon officials said Thursday, but the circumstances that led the men to drive into one of Afghanistan's most dangerous regions remained unclear.

Gen. Mustafa Mohseni, police chief for Logar, said that villagers in Baraki Barak, the district next to where the sailors were ambushed, told authorities where to find Newlove's body in the village of Yousef Khil, about six miles southwest of the provincial capital of Puli Alam.

It is unclear how or when Newlove was killed. Mohseni said it appeared that Newlove had been shot, but it remains unclear whether he died during the ambush or survived and was held afterward, as the Taliban claimed.

Mohseni said it was possible that Newlove was killed because the search for the sailor closed off Taliban escape routes.

"The security forces had blocked all the ways to take him out," Mohseni said. "They were searching very intensively, so the Taliban might have killed him because they did not have any other options."

U.S. Navy service members drove away from Camp Julien on the outskirts of Kabul and ended up in an apparent Taliban ambush in Logar province.

The two men, Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin McNeley, 30, of Wheat Ridge, Colo., and Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, 25, from the Seattle area, worked at NATO's counterinsurgency academy, where troops learn best practices in how to fight the Afghan war, NATO officials said.

U.S. troops had recovered McNeley's body Sunday morning, but they hoped that Newlove might be alive and could be found in the Charkh district of Logar, where he was believed to have been captured. But Wednesday evening, Newlove's body was found in Charkh in a village called Yousef, said Din Mohammad Darwish, a spokesman for the Logar governor.

Darwish said Newlove had been shot three times and might have been wounded in an initial attack Friday evening as the sailors drove their armored SUV through the area. NATO officials said that Newlove's body was found in the water and that he appeared to have been beaten to death.

Darwish said that early in the search the Taliban had been demanding the release of four insurgent commanders in return for Newlove but that no prisoner exchange was made.

It remains unclear how the two U.S. sailors drove into Logar province, a dangerous area south of Kabul where the Taliban controls swaths of territory. Some NATO officials said the men might have taken a wrong turn intending to head back to Kabul and found themselves on the road to Logar.

Questions from father of dead WA Sailor ---

SEATTLE -- Joseph Newlove is living a nightmare.

"The three officers were there. I walked through that door, and I couldn't even get anything to come out of my mouth," he said.

There's a reason the sight of the officers chilled Newlove to the bone. His son, Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, is on active duty for the U.S. military in Afghanistan

The officers had come to inform Joseph Newlove that his 25-year-old son is one of two sailors who went missing last week. The Taliban has already claimed responsibility for killing the other missing sailor, who has been confirmed dead by military officials.

The uncertainty filled Joseph Newlove with fear.

"I wanted to know where he was and if he was alive," he said.

Not knowing where is son is or whether he's alive, every day is now a struggle for Joseph Newlove. His mind races with questions.

"Is he hurt? Is he somewhere, hiding? If they have him, what are they doing to him?" he said.

The Department of Defense says Jarod Newlove and another sailor, Justin McNeley of Colorado, went missing last Friday in the eastern province of Logar. The agency says the Taliban killed McNeley and held Newlove captive.

Joseph Newlove says he understands his son chose to fight for his country, but knowing that hasn't been much comfort in the last few days, which have seemed like eternity.

The struggling father has tried to keep his days simple to keep sane. He watches the news, searches for answers and tries to make sense of what has happened so far.

"I just want him home," he said. "Keep him safe and let him come home."

The Taliban have said the captured sailor is in a "safe place" where he will not be found.

In a statement, the NATO-led command said the body was recovered Sunday after an extensive search and that the coalition "holds the captors accountable for the safety and proper treatment of our missing service member."

Jarod Newlove is originally from Renton, but has also lived in West Seattle with his wife and children. Navy officials have asked the media not to elaborate on his personal life.

"The Newlove family and the Navy request that the media and public please, please not reveal any additional personal information related to this matter or the family itself," said Navy spokesman Sean Hughes.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Newlove’s military records show that he’s been an active-duty seaman for five years; the records list him as a “culinary specialist.”

Newlove did spend time at sea, based out of San Diego aboard the USS New Orleans. He was one of the original crew members, along with friend and former ship mate Nick Nault. They met while on shore as their new ship was being finished."We were actually in the barracks together. He wasn't my roommate, but we were in the same barracks, and all started hanging out," said Nault.

His remains arrived Tuesday morning at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Navy Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Jarod Newlove was killed in action on 7/23/10.

Army Pfc. James J. O'quin

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. James J. O'quin, 20, of El Paso, Texas

Pfc. O'quin was assigned to 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Fort Campbell, Ky.; died July 23, 2010 in Orgun-E, Afghanistan, from drowning when he was swept away by the current when a levee broke near his military vehicle in Paktika, Afghanistan.

An Army soldier from El Paso who was less than two weeks from leaving his post in Afghanistan to be reunited with his pregnant wife died Friday.

Pfc. James O'Quin, 20, died when a levee broke near his military vehicle in Paktika, Afghanistan and currents strong enough to overturn cars swept him away, the Department of Defense and officials at Fort Campbell, Ky., said.

O'Quin joined the Army in October 2008 and was assigned to Fort Campbell in February 2009. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team and 101st Airborne Division.

Patricia O'Quin, his wife of one year from Fabens, said her husband was supposed to be home on Aug. 5. "We just wanted to spend a lot of time together," said Patricia O'Quin, who is more than eight months pregnant. "We were looking forward to having our baby."

She said she met her husband in high school while attending the Center for Career and Technology Education her senior year. She said her school, Fabens High School, and his school, Andress High School, took students to the technical school for their senior year.

She said they were in different classes, but immediately hit it off once they met. "I just saw him and thought he was so cute," Patricia O'Quin said between tears. "We just celebrated our first anniversary."

Patricia O'Quin said both graduated high school in 2008, and were married about a year later. She said both were very excited about having their first child. She said she had been telling her unborn son to wait until his father made it home before being born. She said they had even decided on a name for their son. "He picked it, it's Denzel," she said. "We decided the baby is going to be named after his favorite actor, Denzel Washington. His baby is lucky to have a dad like him."

She said her husband's family will always be a part of her and her unborn son's life. "He's going to be a very loved baby," she said.

Patricia O'Quin said she always knew the Army was something her husband wanted to be a part of. She said he was in Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps all four years at Andress.

"He always loved the military," she said. "He said he wanted to do good for other people and if he got the chance to make things better in the world, he was going to do it."

She said one time he told her about some experiences he had overseas that made being deployed and away from his family worth it. "He told me the best times were when people (in Afghanistan) walked up to him and thanked him," she said. "He said they told him they would feel safer walking on the streets while they were there."

She said while he was deployed, she talked to him periodically. She said last Sunday was the last time they talked. She said it was comforting to know he was doing something he loved and she respected him for following his dreams. "I was worried, but I knew it made him happy," she said. "He told me that was life."

Patricia O'Quin struggled to find words to express the way she felt about the man she loved. "He loved making me laugh, and if he could do anything to help someone, he would," she said. "He was a great man, my family and his family are very proud of him."

Patricia O'Quin posted on her Facebook: "Never take freedom for granted (because) it's not free, it has a really high price."

His awards and decorations included the Army Good Conduct Medal; NATO Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; and Weapons Qualification: M4 (expert).

Army Pfc. James J. O'quin was killed in action on 7/23/10.

Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Justin McNeley

Remember Our Heroes

Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Justin McNeley, 30, of Wheatridge, Colo.

Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Justin McNeley was assigned to Assault Craft Unit One (ACU-1), San Diego; died July 23, 2010 in Logar province, Afghanistan, when he was captured and believed to have been killed by the Taliban. Coalition Forces recovered his body July 25 after an extensive search. Also kidnapped and believed to have been killed by the Taliban was Navy Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Jarod Newlove.

The family of Justin McNeley has confirmed that the 30-year-old sailor died in a shootout with the Taliban during a confrontation that resulted in the capture of another sailor.

McNeley's identity was confirmed by his uncle Jim Kerr, a Colorado state legislator who told the Denver Post that McNeley was a noncommissioned officer slated to return to the U.S. in August.

"He was young, full of energy, a good kid and a patriot defending his country," said Kerr, a Republican lawmaker from Littleton, a Denver suburb.

"To me it's like a flashback to when my cousin was killed in Vietnam. It brings back all those memories," Kerr told the paper. "My wife is very distraught as is Justin's mother. The family is very close."

McNeley's father, a deputy fire marshal with the city of Encinitas, Calif., sent an e-mail to colleagues Monday confirming his son's death.

"I regret to pass this information on, but I was informed by the U.S. NAVY this morning that my son was the one that was killed in the conflict," George McNeley wrote, according to the North County Times, which obtained the email.
Calls seeking comment from the senior McNeley or the Encinitas Fire Department were referred to the Navy. A Fire Department spokeswoman confirmed the authenticity of the email and said George McNeley had taken an indefinite leave of absence.

Justin McNeley, 30, was raised in Colorado but moved to Kingman, Ariz., in 2004. Calls to McNeley's uncle and parents for comment were not returned.

As a petty officer 2nd class, he was stationed in San Diego prior to his deployment but served with a different unit in Afghanistan. He was classified as an individual augmentee — a person who is chosen to fill critically needed jobs for other military branches in the war zone. Individual augmentees from the Navy have taken on duties such as guarding prisons, transporting equipment, constructing buildings, cooking meals for troops and providing medical care.

Before leaving for Afghanistan, McNeley was a hull technician. The tasks for that position include doing metal work needed to keep a ship’s structures and surfaces in good condition, plus repairing small boats and maintaining ballast control systems.

McNeley was a single father to two boys, ages 4 and 8.

“He was an outstanding young man,” said Encinitas Fire Marshall Robert Scott, a spokesman for the McNeley family. “You don’t see in today’s younger people some of the motivation and the dependability and the ethics that you used to see in generations removed. Justin was all about that.”

Scott said McNeley chose to go to Afghanistan when the Navy asked for volunteers to handle hazardous duty. He said the sailor will be buried in Colorado.

McNeley’s mother, who lives in Kingman, could not be reached Monday night.

Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Justin McNeley was killed in action on 7/23/10.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Marine Sgt Peter Kastner

Remember Our Heroes

Last Wednesday afternoon, a group of researchers working off trail in the park's backcountry came upon human remains. They hiked out and notified park rangers, who then hiked into the area Thursday to confirm the researcher's discovery. Rangers found the body of a young man near the top of Garnet Hill, a prominent summit northwest of Tower Junction. The site is well off established trails and east of the Hellroaring Trailhead, where a rental car belonging to Kastner was discovered abandoned in late May. The body was removed by helicopter, and then taken to Bozeman for a forensic autopsy, which confirmed the remains were those of the 25-year-old man. The autopsy revealed that Kastner died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Strong and athletically gifted, Peter Louis Kastner had turned to the military for challenge and structure after graduating from a suburban St. Paul high school.
He excelled during four years of service with the U.S. Marines in Iraq, helping with intelligence-gathering operations in Al Anbar Province and earning a promotion to sergeant and squad leader, according to family members. Kastner led his squadron through three roadside bomb attacks and received a Purple Heart after suffering head injuries.

Along with those injuries, family members said, Kastner’s war experiences left him with post-traumatic stress disorder. The psychological affliction caused him to unravel after being honorably discharged in August 2007 and eventually drove the 25-year-old to take his own life in a remote area of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, his father, Larry Kastner said Wednesday.

Researchers found the former Marine’s body July 14 while working on Garnet Hill, a summit northwest of Tower Junction. Kastner’s abandoned rental car had been discovered in late May along Hellroaring Trailhead, not far from the summit, prompting family members to report him missing.

Larry and Sara Kastner said they had not heard from their son since late April.

“He became more difficult to connect with and more difficult to have a logical conservation with,” said Larry Kastner, who watched his son sink deeper into the isolation of PTSD, which has symptoms that can include nightmares, flashbacks and feeling irritable, numb or anxious. He said his son’s life had deteriorated from one that held promise after his graduation from boot camp in San Diego in 2003.

After his first tour in Iraq, Peter Kastner returned to Minnesota in 2004, where he married the woman he met as a young teen in the youth group at North Heights Lutheran Church in Arden Hills, Minn. He served a second tour in Iraq before returning home for good in 2007.

In letters home, Kastner had told his parents about the horrors in Iraq. He was the person who had to pick up the remains of a fellow soldier who has struck by an explosive, his father said. The fall after he left the military, Kastner and his wife, Raquel, were involved in a serious car accident in the Twin Cities. They were broadsided by another vehicle, and Kastner suffered a concussion that would only exacerbate his postwar stress, according to his mother, Sara Kastner. “He couldn’t focus, couldn’t concentrate and couldn’t remember things,” she said. Larry Kastner said his healthy, young son gradually succumbed to “the monster that is PTSD.”

A study last year by the RAND Corp. think tank estimated nearly 20 percent of returning veterans, or 300,000, have symptoms of PTSD or major depression.

Larry and Sara Kastner, who live in Chippewa Falls, Wis., turned to a longtime friend, Minnesota National Guard Army Maj. John Morris, who is a chaplain, for help. The Iraq war veteran leads a Minnesota National Guard initiative called Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, which helps veterans reintegrate into their communities and supports their families. Morris said there is more help than ever before for veterans with PTSD, but it can be difficult for some to accept that help.

“It’s most mysterious to me because there was so much support for him,” Morris said of Peter Kastner. “This wasn’t an alienated individual. It’s so hard to understand. We connected him with a lot of help, but he kept running away from the help that was available.” Larry Kastner said that’s symptomatic of the disorder.

“They (PTSD victims) just want to run. They’re so uncomfortable with trying to cope with what’s happening and begin to cut themselves off from everyone,” Kastner said. “Their ability to trust is greatly diminished.”

After a divorce from his wife in 2008, Peter Kastner looked for direction and later enrolled at the University of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, his parents said. They would have their last phone conversations with their son while he was in Oklahoma.

Peter Louis Kastner, 25, formerly of White Bear Lake, died recently from complications of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Marine Lt. Col. Mario D. Carazo

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lt. Col. Mario D. Carazo, 41, of Springfield, Ohio

Lt. Col. Carazo was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died July 22, 2010 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while supporting combat operations. Also killed was Maj. James M. Weis.

SPRINGFIELD — A former Springfield resident who served two tours in Iraq and received the Bronze Star medal has died in Afghanistan.

Marine Lt. Col. Mario D. Carazo, 41, died Thursday, July 22, while supporting combat operations in Helmand Province, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a press release Monday, July 26.

It appears Carazo died in a helicopter crash, but a military spokeswoman couldn’t confirm that. The military didn’t release information describing how Carazo died and said the cause of the incident in which he died remains under investigation.

Carazo, a Cobra helicopter pilot based out of Camp Pendelton, Calif., was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

He enlisted in the Marines in 1987. He served in Iraq in 2006 and 2008, then deployed to Afghanistan this year.

He has received several commendations in his career, including a Bronze Star and a Meritorious Service medals. Information on what led to the medals wasn’t available.

He graduated from the United States Naval Academy and held master's degrees in national security and strategy and operational studies.

SPRINGFIELD — A Marine with local ties died while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan, the U.S. Department of Defense announced Monday, July 26.

Lt. Col. Mario D. Carazo, 41, was killed Thursday, July 22, in Helmand Province, the DOD reported.

Mario Carazo frequently visited the area in the early 1990s to spend time with his sister, who was reportedly married to a Springfield native. He served two tours in Iraq and was awarded the Bronze Star medal. He died in a helicopter crash, according to media reports, but the military has yet to confirm his cause of death. The incident remains under investigation.

Lt. Col. Mario Carazo’s former brother-in-law described the veteran Marine as intelligent, funny and a family man.

He also always wanted to serve in the military, said Carl Parrett, whose ex-wife is Carazo’s sister.

“He loved his country and he wanted to keep it safe,” said Parrett of Springfield. “That was his goal.”

A California native, he lived briefly with his sister and Parrett in Springfield in the late 1980s before Carazo entered the U.S. Naval Academy. Carazo’s parents also lived with Parrett for a while.

Carl Parrett recalled Carazo as bright and caring, with an interest in pursuing politics after he retired from the Marines. He is survived by his wife and two children.

The family also has a strong military tradition. Parrett served in the Navy and his two sons — Carazo’s nephews — are Marines. Cpl. Jacob Parrett was injured recently in Afghanistan and is home on medical leave. Lance Cpl. David Parrett will deploy this fall to Somalia.

Both of them are in California for Carazo’s funeral, their father said.

“They’re taking it kind of tough,” Carl Parrett said.

Mario Carazo’s desire to join the military was clear even in high school when he wanted to go to the Naval academy, Carl Parrett said.

“He just wanted to serve,” he said.

Lt. Col. Carazo was a Cobra helicopter pilot based out of Camp Pendelton, Calif., and was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

Beyond service to his country, Carazo had a strong impact on those under his command.

“If I had to rate all of my COs, he was No. 1, and I was in the Marines for 20 years,” said retired Staff Sgt. E. Michelle Paul. Lt. Col. Carazo was her commanding officer until January.

Carazo enlisted in the Marines in 1987. He served in Iraq in 2006 and 2008, then deployed to Afghanistan this year.

He graduated from the United States Naval Academy and held master’s degrees in national security and strategy and operational studies. He shared his love of learning with his troops.

“He would always ask me if I was in school and I’d always tell him, ‘No, because I’m afraid of math,’” Paul said. “He’d take me into his office and help me with algebra then ask me if I got it. ...Now I’m in school and I have a 4.0 GPA. I can’t wait to get a copy of my grades and send them to his wife.”

During one tour of duty in Iraq, the father of two flew an American flag over the U.S. Embassy and sent it home to his son, who then raised the flag at his school, Paul said.

He received several commendations in his career, including a Bronze Star, a Meritorious Service medal and the Navy-Marine Corps Commendation medal.

Paul’s experiences with Carazo allowed her to know a person who was always smiling, looking for the best in everyone — he took the time to mentor every Marine under his command, she said.

“You couldn’t have any more respect for the kind of man he was. ...If it were possible to get more than 100 percent from his people, he could have gotten it. ...You just couldn’t know a better man. He is going to be missed,” Paul said, crying.

Lt. Col. Carazo, who was commissioned in 1991, deployed to Iraq in 2006 and 2008, Delarosa said. His military awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation and Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation.

Marine Lt. Col. Mario D. Carazo was killed in action on 7/22/10.

Marine Maj. James M. Weis

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Maj. James M. Weis, 37, of Toms River, N.J.

Maj. Weis was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died July 22, 2010 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while supporting combat operations. Also killed was Lt. Col. Mario D. Carazo.

TOMS RIVER — A 37-year-old Marine pilot from Toms River who trained at a "Top Gun" school for aviators and was on track to becoming a commanding officer was killed last week in Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon and a fellow serviceman.
Maj. James M. Weis, a decorated 16-year veteran, died Thursday along with Lt. Col. Mario D. Carazo, 41, of Springfield, Ohio. According to news reports, their Cobra helicopter crashed during combat operations in Helmand province. Both officers were assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 39 based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

A Marine Corps spokesman, Cpl. Michael Stevens, said he could not comment on the nature of the incident.

Joel Van Brunt, a Marine major who served with Weis in California in the same squadron from 2001 to about 2004, described the New Jersey native as "a step ahead of his peer group."

"He was one of those people who treated newcomers with the respect and dignity that really set him aside," said Brunt, who now is in the Marine Reserves and an advisor to Massachusetts congressional candidate Sean Bielat. "He always treated you as a Marine, as a man and as a professional, and made sure you were put in the right direction and gaining the support you needed from the unit."

Brunt said he last spoke to Weis last year when Weis was getting a refresher course in piloting before deploying to Afghanistan. His plan, as Brunt recalled, was to finish the deployment and prepare to become a commanding officer, which entailed a promotion to lieutenant colonel.

"I would've been shocked if he wasn't a commanding officer in the next two to three years," he said. "I certainly would have served under him if I had that opportunity."

Weis joined the Marines in 1994 and was commissioned on March 23, 1996, according to Stevens, the spokesman. He was part of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and served at least two more tours as an aviator in the Middle East, Brunt said. He was one of the youngest of his peers to take the Weapons and Tactics Instructor training — a "Top Gun"-like class for Marine aviators, according to Brunt.

Major Weis leaves behind a wife and two young sons, Brunt said. He is the 101st serviceman from New Jersey to die in combat during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, according to the Defense Department, and the third from Toms River.

Pfc. Vincent M. Frassetto and Cpl. Thomas E. Saba were the two other Toms River residents killed. Frassetto, 21, was killed while conducting combat operations in Anbar Province in Iraq on Sept. 7, 2006. Saba, 30, died on Feb. 7, 2007, after the helicopter he was piloting was shot down while flying in Anbar Province as well.

Two hundred sixty U.S. soldiers have been killed in combat this year in Afghanistan and 1,189 since the war began in October 2001, according to the Pentagon.

"Anytime something like this happens, it's a real tragedy," said Toms River Mayor Thomas F. Kelaher, a former Marine who did not know Weis. "It just proves what a dangerous situation our Marines, and all our service people, are in."

Maj. James M. Weis was the recipient of a Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, two Air Medals for Individual Action, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, an Air Medal-strike/flight, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, four Iraq Campaign Medals, four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, two Navy Meritorious Unit Commendations, a Presidential Unit Citation-Navy, and a letter of appreciation.
(Source: U.S. Marine Corps spokesman Cpl. Michael Stevens )

Mother of fallen Toms River Marine said son 'died a hero'

Anne Weis said her son, Maj. James Matthew Weis, knew the risks of flying a Marine Corps helicopter in combat. She, too, was aware of the danger.

So, the former Toms River resident said, she is at peace with her son’s death in Afghanistan last week because he died doing what he loved, for the country he loved.

"My son signed up for this. He knew the risk," Weis, 66, said today from her home in Homestead, Fla. "Everyone in the military knows the risk. Life is a risk, but we just have to keep the faith."

Maj. Weis, 37, a highly decorated pilot and 16-year Marine Corps veteran, was one of two Marine officers killed in combat last Thursday in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, a Taliban stronghold that has been the scene of some of the war’s fiercest fighting.

Matthew (often known by his middle name) Weis, a married father of two who grew up in Toms River and graduated from Rutgers University, is at least the 23rd service member with ties to New Jersey to die in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001. Nearly 100 others have died in Iraq since the invasion of 2003.

"When he was in college all he wanted to do was fly," Anne Weis said of her son, who joined the Marines in December 1994. "I’m purely comfortable with this because my son died a hero for his country. My husband and I couldn’t be prouder."

Weis comes from a military family. His father, Paul, a retired dentist, is an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War. His brother, Maj. William Scott Weis, is a Marine Corps artillery officer now serving as a recruiting commander in Florida.

Anne Weis, who moved to Florida from Toms River several years ago, said she was told by the military her son was responding to a call for air support by Marines who had been pinned down by Taliban fighters. When her son arrived at the scene, she said, his Cobra helicopter was hit by four surface-to-air-missiles fired simultaneously, a tactic of the Taliban, she said.

"They get the ground troops to call in for help, they hide somewhere, and hit their target," she said, adding that her son served two tours in Iraq before being deployed to Afghanistan. "This is a nasty war. This is worse than Iraq."

Anne Weis said her son had also taught at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., which is also home to Marine Corps University. He is survived by his wife, Mae, and two sons, ages 5 and 7, of Oceanside, Calif.

In Toms River, residents of the neighborhood where James Weis grew up were stunned by the news.

"Oh, how sad," said Mary Suchocki, a former neighbor on Bent Hook Road.

Suchocki said that when the family moved to Florida in 2001, she bought several military posters that had hung in the Weis boys’ rooms. Suchocki said they were gifts for her own son.

Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher, a former U.S. Marine, said he didn’t know the family but understands their pain.

"I always felt a bond with those guys (Marines). They’re all such a good bunch of guys. It proves that whatever rank you are, you’re not immune from casualties."

Maj. Weis was hoping to be promoted to lieutenant colonel and become a commanding officer after returning from his most recent deployment, according to a Marine who served with him.

His mother said Weis' older brother, William Scott Weis, also a Marine major, is in Dover, Del. preparing to escort the body to California, possibly by Wednesday. While James Weis, his wife, Mae, and his two young sons lived in Oceanside, Ca., his family is considering burying him near a San Diego harbor overlooking where the Navy ships come in, according to his mother. The funeral will likely be on Monday, she said.

Weis' wife and brother could not be reached.

Marine Maj. James M. Weis was killed in action on 7/22/10.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Army 1st Lt. Michael L. Runyan

Remember Our Heroes

Army 1st Lt. Michael L. Runyan, 24, of Newark, Ohio

1st Lt. Runyan was assigned to 52nd Infantry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; died July 21, 2010 in Balad, Iraq, of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his convoy vehicle with an improvised explosive device in Muqdadiyah, Iraq.

Hawaii-based 1st. Lt. killed in Iraq
The Associated Press

HONOLULU — The Department of Defense says a Hawaii-based soldier from Ohio has been killed in Iraq after insurgents attacked his convoy vehicle with a bomb.

The Department of Defense said Friday that 1st Lt. Michael Runyan of Newark, Ohio, died Wednesday in Balad of injuries received in Muqdadiyah.

The 24-year-old Runyan was assigned to the 52nd Infantry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks. The brigade deployed to Iraq this month.

A native of Ashland, Ohio, Runyan earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2008 from Xavier University in Cincinnati, where he was an ROTC cadet.

Runyan’s brother, Alex Runyan, says he graduated from Ashland High School, where competed in golf, tennis and swimming.

His parents, Jeffrey and Renee Runyan, have lived in Newark since 2003. His mother, Renee, teaches math at Granville High School.

Sister-in-law, Brittany Runyan says the soldier had visited Ohio before he deployed on July 1.

“Michael had this amazing energy,” she said. “He could make anyone laugh, and could always cheer you up. Everybody adored him.”

Runyan followed older brother into military
By Anna Sudar
The (Newark, Ohio) Advocate

NEWARK, Ohio — Those who knew Army 1st Lt. Michael Runyan remember the 2008 Xavier University graduate as a positive person and a soldier who was dedicated to his country.

“He always carried a wonderful smile,” said his brother, Marine Capt. Alex Runyan, stationed in California. “He always kept everyone in a good mood.”

Michael Runyan, 24, died July 21 in Balad, Iraq, from wounds from a roadside bomb, according to a news release from the Defense Department.

Runyan earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Xavier while serving as an ROTC cadet, the university said in a statement. He was a member of the Xavier ROTC’s intercollegiate competitive team and a member of the honors society.

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of 2008 Xavier University graduate First Lieutenant Michael Runyan in Iraq,” the statement said. “Every young man and woman who attends Xavier University contributes in no small measure to the community we create together at Xavier. The loss of any one of them wounds us all. Michael’s death also touches our hearts as he died courageously serving our country.”

Runyan arrived in Iraq for his first deployment in early July. He was serving as a platoon leader with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, when he was killed, according to the Defense Department.

Runyan; his brother, Alex, 26; and his sister, Lesley, 28, were raised in Ashland. His family moved to Newark shortly after Michael graduated from Ashland High School in 2004.

The Runyan family was well-known in Ashland. His father, Jeffrey, was a former Ashland County Common Pleas Court judge, and his mother was a teacher in Ashland for many years.

In high school, Michael Runyan swam on the swim team, played tennis and was captain of the golf team his senior year.

He qualified for the state golf tournament during his senior year, said his former coach, Pam Leonard.

“He was the sweetest kid and the toughest kid at the same time,” Leonard said. “He was so special.”

Runyan was inspired when his brother Alex joined the Marines, Leonard said.

“He really took on the attitude that he wanted to serve in the military,” she said. “He wanted to be an [Army] Ranger, and that¹s what he did.”

Runyan joined the Army after graduating from Xavier. As a platoon leader in Iraq, he was in charge of a unit of more than 30 soldiers. His unit was on a convoy mission in Muqdadiyah when they were attacked. The others in the unit were not hurt.

“He was a super guy,” Wilson said. “This is really saddening.”

“He is going to be missed by a lot of people,” said Rick Boyer, who was Runyan’s pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Ashland for 11 years. “He was a great guy.”

Boyer, who now is a pastor in Southampton, N.Y., said Runyan always was respectful and loved his family.

“He had a high degree of integrity,” he said. “He was the kind of guy you enjoyed being around.”

Runyan was very proud of being in the Army, Boyer said.

“I do know he was [in Iraq] because he wanted to be there,” he said. “He was serving his country, and he did that with honor.”

Army 1st Lt. Michael L. Runyan was killed in action on 7/21/10.