Sunday, May 06, 2012

Marine Sgt. John P. Huling

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Sgt. John P. Huling, 25, of West Chester, Ohio

Sgt. Huling was assigned to 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died May 6, 2012 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, of gunshots fired by someone wearing an Afghan National Army uniform.

J.P. as he was known, joined the Marine Corps in 2006. He deployed to Iraq in 2007. He was serving his second tour of duty. He re-enlisted after serving in Iraq.

DoD identifies Marine killed by Afghan soldier
The Associated Press

WEST CHESTER, Ohio — A Marine killed in Afghanistan on Sunday was from southwest Ohio, the Department of Defense said Monday.

Military officials said in a release that 25-year-old Sgt. John P. Huling of West Chester, who was trained to dismantle bombs, died in Helmand province. They said he was killed by gunshot wounds inflicted by a person wearing an Afghan National Army uniform. Officials are investigating his death.

Deborah Huling of West Chester told the Cincinnati Enquirer her son was killed while on foot patrol and was ambushed by a man who appeared to be an Afghan military policeman. She said Huling suffered a gunshot wound to the chest. He was flown to a hospital, where he later died, she said.

John P. Huling enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2006. He deployed to Iraq in 2007, and was on his second combat deployment. He was an explosive ordinance disposal technician, assigned to the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group at Camp Pendleton in California.

Deborah Huling said her son, who had recently graduated from ordnance disposal school, wasn’t supposed to deploy to Afghanistan until October, but went early because of losses in his unit. His mother said he had reservations about going overseas this time.

“He was worried because he hadn’t finished his training, and he didn’t feel like he would be prepared to be over there,” she told the Enquirer.

Huling was still undergoing additional training when he was called to deploy, his mother said.

“He was brave and selfless and gave his life for his country so everybody could enjoy the freedom that we live now,” she said.

John P. Huling grew up in West Chester before attending Moeller High School in Cincinnati. He also attended culinary school at Cincinnati State and Technical Community College, but left to join the Marines.

He is survived by his wife of two years, Priscilla; a brother who also is a Marine, a sister, and a 12-year-old niece, his mother said.

“I am so proud of what he became, what he stood for, what he endured,” his mother said.

His awards include:
Purple Heart
Sea Service Deployment Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal.

JP leaves behind his loving wife Priscilla Huling and his parents John and Debbie Huling.

Marine Sgt. John P. Huling was killed in action on 5/6/12.

Army Staff Sgt. Thomas K. Fogarty

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Thomas K. Fogarty, 30, of Alameda, Calif.

SSgt Fogarty was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; died May 6, 2012 in Puli Alam, Afghanistan, from injuries caused by an improvised explosive device.

"Tommy," as many people knew him, leaves behind his parents, his wife, and two young children, one 2-years-old and one 5-years-old according to family friends. The Defense Department says the paratrooper was killed in Ahmad Kheyl, Afghanistan when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device or IED.

He was a graduate of Alameda High School, Class of 2000. Margie Sherratt was his counselor at Alameda High when he was a freshman and sophomore. She's now president of the Alameda Board of Education. "I would want his family to know that as the education community, we are very proud of him and he did for us for our country," she said.

Sherratt says she found out about Fogarty's death at the nearby Safeway where his mother worked for 22 years. Many employees there watched him grow up. "This is a tragedy and from the bottom of all of our Safeway employees hearts, our hearts go out to them, and we just send our love and our prayers. And anything we can do, feel free to let us know," Trina Carr said.

"My sons were young and I also lost my wife young, but he would always ask me how my family was doing and how my boys were doing. Every time I saw him, he was always concerned about me and my kids," Philip Davis recalled.

Fogarty is described as non-selfish and independent. Friends say he was on his third or fourth tour in Afghanistan and that if he had made it home, he would have soon been leaving the military.

The Alameda High School graduate was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal, which recognizes heroic service or meritorious achievement. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Army Staff Sgt. Thomas K. Fogarty was killed in action on 5/6/12.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Army Master Sgt. Gregory L. Childs

Remember Our Heroes

Army Master Sgt. Gregory L. Childs, 38, Warren, Ark.

MSgt Childs was assigned to the Defense Logistics Agency, Fort Belvoir, Va.; died May 4, 2012 in Bagram, Afghanistan, of a noncombat illness.

Sergeant Childs was born April 12, 1974, the son of the late Nathaniel Jones and Eula Mae Childs. He was a student at Hampton Elementary School and graduated from Warren High School in 1992. He attended the Zion Baptist Church, North Warren during his youth.

Sergeant Childs served with honor for twenty years. He made significant contributions during his deployments to Bosnia, Germany, Columbia and two tours to Afghanistan. He was a vital member of the International Securities Assistance Force Command and excelled through the ranks.

Army Master Sgt. Gregory L. Childs died May 4, 2012 of a noncombat illness.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Army Sgt. Nicholas M. Dickhut

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Nicholas M. Dickhut, 23, of Rochester, Minn.

Sgt Dickhut was assigned to 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; died April 30, 2012 in Zharay, Afghanistan, from wounds caused by small-arms fire.

Sergeant Dickhut was born to military parents on December 31, 1988. He graduated from Stewartville High School in 2007 and had expressed an interest in the military from an early age.

He was an award-winning chess player and helped found his high school chess club. He spent the last two years of high school earning Associate’s degree credits from Rochester Community College and was only one credit shy of his degree when he left high school.

Prior to joining the Army in 2008, he was a supervisor at Office Max. In the Army, he was a forward observer, a job that requires soldiers to call for indirect fire and air support into enemy positions.

He was described as a “beacon of duty, loyalty and selfless service”.

Despite a severe knee injury during a previous tour in Iraq, he fought tirelessly to remain fit for duty and dedicated his life to the profession he loved. He unfailingly gave 120% to everything he did. He was always smiling.

He and Aliesha Glidden were married October 28, 2011. They had been close friends since age 14.

Sergeant Dickhut was killed hours after phoning home. He had called his younger brother, David, to wish him a happy 9th birthday. Sergeant Dickhut told his family that he could not talk long as he was scheduled to go out on a mission - the mission that would be his last one. In his phone call, he talked to his family about his plans for the future. He was hoping to be assigned to an airborne unit jump school and was considering helicopter pilot training.

He loved serving his country and always looked forward to new experiences.

Army Sgt. Nicholas M. Dickhut was killed in action on 4/30/12.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Marine Master Sgt. Scott E. Pruitt

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Master Sgt. Scott E. Pruitt, 38, of Gautier, Miss.

MSgt Pruitt was assigned to I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died April 28, 2012 in Nimroz province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.

Sergeant Pruitt graduated from Pascagoula High School. He joined the Marine Corps in 1993. He was promoted to Master Sergeant in 2010.

He graduated from the American Military University with a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He was a financial resource management analyst and comptroller chief for the I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group.

This was his second deployment to Afghanistan.

He was a true hero who was admired by everyone.

His awards and decorations include the following:

Purple Heart
Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal

Scott Pruitt is survived by two daughters, ages 9 and 4, who live in California.

Marine Master Sgt. Scott E. Pruitt was killed in action on 4/28/12.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Army Spc. Jason K. Edens

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Jason K. Edens, 22, of Franklin, Tenn.

Spc. Edens was assigned to 1st Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas; died April 26, 2012 in Bethesda, Md., of wounds sustained April 15 in Laghman province, Afghanistan, caused by small-arms fire.


Tennessee soldier dies after injury in Afghanistan
The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A 22-year-old soldier from Tennessee has died from wounds suffered in Afghanistan earlier this month, the Department of Defense said Friday.

Spc. Jason K. Edens, of Franklin, Tenn., died on Thursday in Bethesda, Md. He was injured April 15 in Laghman province, Afghanistan, when his unit was attacked with small arms fire.

Edens was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Edens was an infantryman who joined the Arm in January 2009 in Nashville and was previously stationed at Fort Benning, Ga.

His awards and decorations include Purple Heart, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with a Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Marksmanship Qualification Badge-Expert with Rifle.

Edens graduated from Franklin High School in 2007, according to the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs

Edens is survived by his wife Ashley Edens of Elizabethton, his mother Janet Crane of Phoenix City, Alabama and his father James Edens of Franklin.

"He was a hero," Ashley Edens said in a statement.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder expressed their condolences.

"The state of Tennessee joins the Edens family in mourning the loss of Jason," Haslam said. "We also offer our condolences to all who knew Jason, grew up with him in Franklin and served with him in the United States Army."

"Our sympathy goes out to the family of Specialist Jason Edens as they mourn during this difficult time of loss," Grinder said. "I join Tennesseans in remembering the ultimate sacrifice of Specialist Edens and we are committed to honor our fallen Tennessee heroes."

"Team Bliss and the 1st Armored Division deeply mourns the loss of an outstanding soldier; we are keeping Spc. Jason Eden's wife, family, friends, and fellow Soldiers in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time," stated Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard, who is the commanding general of the 1st Armored Division, in a news release. "He was a fighter and gave his life on behalf of our nation."

Army Spc. Jason K. Edens was killed in action on 4/26/12.

Navy Lt. Christopher E. Mosko

Remember Our Heroes

Navy Lt. Christopher E. Mosko, 28, of Pittsford, N.Y.

Lt. Mosko was assigned to Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, Afghanistan, out of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 3 in San Diego; died April 26, 2012 while conducting combat operations in Nawa district, Ghazni province, Afghanistan. Also killed were Army Staff Sgt. Brandon Eggleston and Army Sgt. Dick Lee Jr.


Christopher Mosko, 28, was one of three U.S. troops killed Thursday by a bomb in Afghanistan's Ghazni province. While the Defense Department listed him as being from the Rochester, N.Y., suburb of Pittsford, his family says they lived there for several years but that he was born in Philadelphia and was living in San Diego.

Mosko was a 2002 graduate of Eau Claire Memorial High School who participated in soccer, swimming and show choir. His family moved away not long after he graduated, the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reported Sunday.

"He was a fine young man," said Ken De Meuse, whose son Nick played soccer with Mosko from youth league through high school.

"He took himself and the game of soccer pretty seriously," he said. "He was always one of the first on the field to practice and one of the last to leave. He was very dedicated."

De Meuse told the newspaper one of his favorite sports memories was of the young men's last soccer season at Memorial, in 2001. The team advanced to the state tournament but lost in the semifinal to Marquette University High School, which went on to win the state championship.

Retired Memorial High School choir director George Utphall also had positive memories of Mosko.

"He was a hard worker. Very self-directed. Very likable," Utphall recalled. "He had a strong sense of community and stick-to-itiveness, of doing his best."

Marty Hendricks, who coached Mosko in youth soccer from age 12 to 15 and whose son Chad played on the same Memorial team, said Mosko was an excellent student and was good at several sports but really loved soccer.

"He was fearless," Hendricks said. "He was a team captain for both us and Eau Claire Memorial. ... Chris could have done anything he wanted, but he had a passion for the military and followed that dream."

The Defense Department says Mosko commanded an explosives disposal platoon with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force. He was based in San Diego.

He is survived by his wife, Amanda. Mosko and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star medal with V for valor in combat and a Purple Heart.

He is also survived by his parents John and Gayle Mosko and a sister Meredith.

Navy Lt. Christopher E. Mosko was killed in action on 4/26/12.

Army Staff Sgt. Brandon F. Eggleston

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Brandon F. Eggleston, 29, of Candler, N.C.

SSgt Eggleston was assigned to 4th Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died April 26, 2012 in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, from injuries caused by an improvised explosive device. Also killed were Navy Lt. Christopher Mosko and Army Sgt. Dick Lee Jr.


Staff Sgt. Eggleston attended Western Carolina University and graduated in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

He enlisted in the Army in July 2006. Upon completion of basic training and advanced individual training, he attended the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course. He completed the Special Forces Qualification Course in March 2009 and was assigned to 4th Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg as a Special Forces communications sergeant.

His military education also includes the U.S. Army Airborne School, Advanced Leaders Course, Warrior Leaders Course, Combatives Course Level 1, Survival, Evasion and Resistance Course, the Special Forces Qualification Course and the Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat course.

Eggleston's awards and decorations include:

Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Afghan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Humanitarian Service Medal
Non-commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with numeral 2 device
Army Service Ribbon
NATO Medal
Parachutist Badge
Special Forces tab.

He will be posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Purple Heart, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with a third campaign star and the Combat Infantry Badge.

Surviving Staff Sgt. Eggleston are his wife, Karen Reames Eggleston of Raeford; two daughters, Molly Eggleston and Avery Eggleston of Raeford; his mother, Alisa Moody and her husband Paul of Pearisburg, Va; a sister, Erica Eggleston of Pearisburg; and his grandparents, Roy and Vicky Eggleston of Eden.

Army Staff Sgt. Brandon F. Eggleston was killed in action on 4/26/12.

Army Staff Sgt. Dick A. Lee Jr.

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Dick A. Lee Jr., 31, of Orange Park, Fla.

SSgt Lee was assigned to 95th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, Sembach, Germany; died April 26, 2012 in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, from injuries caused by an improvised explosive device. Also killed were Army Staff Sgt. Brandon Eggleston and Navy Lt. Christopher Mosko.


The Florida Times-Union
Jacksonville.com

Family, friends remember Clay County soldier killed in Afghanistan
The 12-year veteran had a passion for working with dogs.
By Dana Treen

Family, friends remember Clay County soldier killed in Afghanistan
KEYSTONE HEIGHTS - Minutes after the memorial service for Staff Sgt. Dick Alson Lee Jr. began, a setting sun dipped beneath gunmetal clouds to warm the football field where he played as a high school linebacker.

Lee, 31, a 2000 graduate of Keystone Heights High School, died April 26 from injuries caused by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan's Ghanzi province.

Monday, about 500 sat in the bleachers and on the field for the memorial to honor his service and pay respects to his family, including wife Katherine and young sons Joshua and David. The family had been living in Germany.

Also killed in the explosion was Staff Sgt. Brandon F. Eggleson, 29, of Fort Bragg, Ga., and Lee's bomb-detecting German shepherd, Fibi.

They died when their Humvee ran over the device.

Lee, who friends called "Opie," had been in Afghanistan 23 days and was on his deployment's first mission, an Army kennel master told the military newspaper Stars and Stripes. He had turned down promotions so he could continue to be a dog handler, according to the paper.

It was his fourth deployment in a 12-year military career.

Commitment had long been a part of who he was.

Chuck Dickinson, who coached Lee at Keystone High, said the winner of the outstanding linebacker award his senior year was reliable and determined.

"If you asked him to do something, you didn't have to worry about it getting done," he said. "Sometimes you had to slow him down. He'd go wide open all the time."

Dickinson said Lee's "4" jersey won't be retired but will be put to special use. Though details have not been worked out, the coach said the number may be selected each year to be worn by a player who exemplifies Lee's character.

"That way it is an ongoing, every year thing," he said.

Dickinson presented a jersey to Lee's family.


When he was a senior, Lee signed up for the Army. He was passionate about working with the dogs, his family told the Times-Union in late April. He was planning to make the Army a career then get a job in police work, his sister, Vanessa Compton, said then.

He was returned to Florida on Saturday.

Before the service, Lee Vincent, 68, and Betty Sue Vincent, 64, waited in the crowd. The couple, who traveled from Gainesville, lost their 26-year-old son Donald Wayne Vincent, a Marine, in Afghanistan in 2009.

The Vincents said they will likely try to reach out to the Lee family at a later date to offer consolation.

"They've joined an organization that nobody wants to belong to," Lee Vincent said.

Lee was assigned to 95th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, Sembach, Germany.

The memorial followed a motorcycle procession from Orange Park.

Monday, Gov. Rick Scott ordered the flags at the courthouse in Clay County and city offices in Orange Park as well as at the Capitol in Tallahassee be flown at half-staff today in honor of the fallen staff sergeant.

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2012-05-15/story/family-friends-remember-clay-county-soldier-killed-afghanistan#ixzz1voGtpIn9

Army Staff Sgt. Dick A. Lee Jr. was killed in action on 4/26/12.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Army Cpl. Benjamin H. Neal

Remember Our Heroes

Army Cpl. Benjamin H. Neal, 21, of Orfordville, Wis.

Cpl. Neal was assigned to 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died April 25, 2012 in Zharay, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, from injuries caused by an improvised explosive device.


Neal was the son of Don and Trish Neal, who run a dairy farm in Spring ValleyTownship in western Rock County. Neal was on his second tour in Afghanistan, Knudson said.

"You read about it in the paper all the time,” Knudson told The Gazette late Thursday. “I guess until reality sets in and, for a family that you like and respect so much, something terrible like this happens … ” Knudson, a Rock County supervisor, read a statement during the invocation before the county board meeting Thursday night. Neal was a hardworking man who loved the land, his country and his family, Knudson said.

“I wish I had even an ounce of the courage and backbone of my neighbor Ben Neal,” Knudson said.

Neal was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. He graduated in 2009 from Parkview High School, where he was an honors student, according to Gazette records. He was a member of the Plymouth 4-H Club.

Neal wrestled for four years in high school and was a natural leader, said Parkview High School wrestling coach Joel Steinman.

“He’s always been a leader and dedicated in what he was doing,” Steinman said. “He was one heck of a wrestler, a four-time sectional qualifier.

“When he talked, kids listened. They respected him.”

Steinman said he was Neal’s coach in high school and his friend after Neal graduated. Steinman is a Gulf War veteran, and the two had a lot in common, he said.

Parkview Superintendent Steve Lutzke said Neal “just felt a need to serve” and went into the military after graduating.

Lutzke remembers Neal for his “wonderful personality” and his strong faith.

Neal knew the commitment he was making to serve overseas, Steinman said.

“He was a great young man, a smart young man,” Steinman said. “If you truly want to name a hero, that’s Ben. He did die for what he believed in, for us.”

His awards include:
NATO Medal
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Army Commendation Medal
Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Stars
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon
Combat Infantryman's Badge
Parachutist Badge

Army Cpl. Benjamin H. Neal was killed in action on 4/25/12.

Army Sgt. Moises J. Gonzalez

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Moises J. Gonzalez, 29, Huntington, Calif.

Sgt. Gonzalez was assigned to 509th Combat Service Support Company, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas; died April 25, 2012 in Takhteh Pol, Balkh province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his vehicle rolled over.


Gonzalez joined the military in December 2006 as a water treatment specialist, and was assignment to the 509th Combat Service Support Company, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, Fort Hood, since June 2011. Gonzalez deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from December 2008 to October 2009 and from June 2011 to April 2012.

Gonzalez's awards and decorations include the NATO Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, two Afghanistan Campaign Medals with campaign stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and two Overseas Service Ribbon

Army Sgt. Moises J. Gonzalez was killed in action on 4/25/12.

Army Staff Sgt. Andrew T. Britton-Mihalo

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Andrew T. Britton-Mihalo, 25, of Simi Valley, Calif.

SSgt Britton-Mihalo was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; died April 25, 2012 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries caused by small-arms fire.


JUSTIN HEINZE / Daily News
EGLIN AFB — A 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) soldier killed in action last Wednesday in Afghanistan was the victim of an Afghan soldier with the coalition force, according to media reports.

Staff Sgt. Andrew T. Britton-Mihalo, 25, had been stationed at Eglin Air Force Base. He was deployed in Company B with the 2nd Battalion when both he and his translator were killed by machine gun fire from a renegade elite soldier with the Afghanistan military. The attacker was killed immediately.

“He was an outstanding human being,” Lt. Col. James Brownlee, public affairs officer for the 7th Special Forces, said of Britton-Mihalo. “A great American has died for the cause.”

A Facebook group entitled “Andrew Mihalo’s Eternal Family” had more than 600 members as of Monday evening. Many remembered him as kind and selfless.

“The first thing anyone says about him is that ‘he is the toughest guy I have ever met’ and ‘he is the nicest guy I have ever met,’ ” wrote his brother, Tj Mathias, on the group page. “Only Andrew could earn both of these compliments at the same time!”

Britton-Mihalo was born in San Jose, Costa Rica, and graduated from high school in Simi Valley, Calif. In high school, he was an Eagle Scout and a champion wrestler, winning the match that won his high school a California state championship. He joined the Army in 2005 and went on to earn a Bronze Star, among numerous other accolades.

Britton-Mihalo married his wife, fellow 7th Special Forces soldier, Sgt. Jesse Britton, in December 2011. Brownlee said he proposed to her at the 7th Special Forces’ last winter formal while the group was still headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Army Staff Sgt. Andrew T. Britton-Mihalo was killed in action on 4/25/12.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Army Spc. Manuel J. Vasquez

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Manuel J. Vasquez, 22, of West Sacramento, Calif.

Spc. Vasquez was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade, Grafenwoehr, Germany; died April 24, 2012 in Margah, Paktika province, Afghanistan, of unspecified causes.


Soldier with Placer County, Newcastle ties killed in Afghanistan
Manuel Vasquez, 22, killed Tuesday in Paktika province
By Gus Thomson, Auburn Journal Staff Writer

AUBURN CA - The Department of Defense reported Thursday the death on Tuesday of a soldier who has ties to Placer County.

Spc. Manuel J. Vasquez, 22, West Sacramento, was killed in Paktika province, a statement from the Defense Department said.

Vasquez is the grandson of Newcastle residents Joyce and Bill Costa The Costas have lived in Newcastle for 22 years and often had Vasquez over to their acreage during holidays and vacations while he was growing up.

Joyce Costa said she learned of her grandson’s death by phone Wednesday and shock soon turned to tears as the reality of the situation began to take hold.

Over the phone, she said she learned that Vasquez had been shot and killed while serving with his unit. He had reportedly been found in a lookout tower and an investigation is to determine events surrounding his death, she said.

Less than six months ago, Vasquez was the center of attention as the family gathered for Thanksgiving and he stationed himself at his favorite location – at the barbecue preparing food for others, his grandmother remembered.

By that time, Vasquez had already served 1½ years in the Army and had been in Afghanistan since early July.

Vasquez grew up in West Sacramento but spent most of the past 10 years with his father – Costa’s son – in Citrus Heights.

Joyce and Bill Costa look at photos of their grandson and see a young man who was quick with a joke or a smile, gravitated toward electronic games like many his age, enjoyed eating and barbecuing, and went too soon.

Vasquez could have joined another branch of the service.

“But he wanted to be where the action is,” Joyce Costa said. “At Thanksgiving, he was very happy. He loved being up there and the friends he made.”

Bill Costa, himself an Army veteran, recalled a grandson who was the tallest – at 6 feet 3 inches – in the family and someone who loved to visit and ride on the tractor lawn mower. During his time in Afghanistan, Vasquez had been serving with a mortar artillery team, Bill Costa said.

Joyce Costa said that Vasquez, one of 24 grandchildren, had been on the front line in Paktika province, which is located in the southeast of Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border.

Vasquez was with the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade in an isolated area.

“He had to walk three miles to get to a computer,” Joyce Costa said.

The Newcastle couple said that Vasquez was especially close with two of his brothers – Marcus and Raymond. All had matching tattoos inked on their arms with their names and hearts.

The Defense Department did not provide information on the details of Vasquez’s death. Joyce Costa said that details of Vasquez’s funeral arrangements have yet to be worked out but members of his family had traveled to Dover, Del. on Thursday for a ceremony marking his return to American soil.

Costa said she had anticipated that her grandson would be ending his tour in Afghanistan in July and returning home.

“He was a wild and crazy kid and made people laugh,” Costa said. “Everybody loved that boy.”

Army Spc. Manuel J. Vasquez died 4/24/12 serving in Afghanistan.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Marine Staff Sgt. Joseph H. Fankhauser

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Staff Sgt. Joseph H. Fankhauser, 30, of Mason, Texas

SSgt. Fankhauser was assigned to 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died April 22, 2012 at Camp Bastion, Helmand province, Afghanistan of injuries received while conducting combat operations.


SAN ANGELO, Texas — Paul Smith, dean of students for Mason ISD, remembers Joseph Fankhauser because of the FBI visit.

Fankhauser, born in Edinburg, transferred to Mason High School in 1998 for his junior year and graduated in 2000.

"He was never a discipline problem," Smith said. "He was always just a real serious, studious kid."

But then there was the day two FBI agents from the San Antonio office came looking for Fankhauser. They had received a report that one of the felons on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list was posing as a student named Joseph Fankhauser.

"I told the guys I know the kid, he's not on the Most Wanted list, trust me on this," Smith said. "I thought it was a pretty funny prank. They didn't think it was so funny.

"That was the only time he was ever inside the office. He was just a model student."

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Joseph H. Fankhauser, of McAllen, died Sunday in support of combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, according to a news release from the U.S. Marines.

He was an explosive ordnance disposal technician assigned to 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps just weeks after graduating from Mason High.

Smith's son, Cade, tennis coach at Central High School in San Angelo, graduated with Fankhauser.

"We played football together our senior year," Cade Smith said. "Growing up in a small town everybody knows everybody. I remember him talking about going into the military. I remember him giving everything he had at everything he did. He was a good kid."

The Marines said this was Fankhauser's fifth combat deployment. He was deployed to Iraq in 2004, 2006, and 2007, and to Afghanistan in 2011.

His wife, Heather, in a statement from their home in San Diego, said they would have celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary in October.

She said "the love of my life" was killed when a roadside bomb detonated.

"He was 30 years old, known as either Fank or Bob to his friends and family, had the most unique sense of humor, and would have given the shirt off his back to anyone he considered a friend," she said.


His service awards included the two Purple Hearts, Combat Action Ribbon (second award), Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (seventh award), Afghanistan Campaign Medal (second award), Iraq Campaign Medal (third award), Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (third award), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation (second award), Presidential Unit Citation-Navy, NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan.

"During the past seven years, we've endured four combat deployments," Heather Fankhauser said. "As hard as they were and as unbearable as this is now, we would not have changed any of it. He loved his country, and he did what he did so that fellow service members could safely return to their families."

She said that most of her husband's 12-year career had been spent in Southern California and they had planned to retire there after he served 20 years.

"I've been trying to figure out how to explain to our dogs that they can stop pacing the door, waiting for Joseph to return again," she said. "They jump every time they hear his car alarm.

"I miss him every day, and he will never be forgotten."

Cade Smith, who said he had not talked with Fankhauser since high school, said his heart goes out to the family.

"And we thank him and his family for his sacrifice," Smith said. "It's felt by not only me, but the community of Mason and the country."

Sergeant Fankhauser is survived by his loving family; Wife, Heather, parents, Henry and Betty Fankhauser and Mother, Mary Wyscarver.

Marine Staff Sgt. Joseph H. Fankhauser was killed in action on 4/22/12.

Army Pfc. Michael J. Metcalf

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Michael J. Metcalf, 22, of Boynton Beach, Fla.

Pfc. Metcalf was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 504th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died April 22, 2012 in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.


WEST PALM BEACH — Seven-month-old Rylee O'Keefe was quiet but alert as she rested in her mother's arms Wednesday morning.

The infant niece who U.S. Army Pfc. Michael Metcalf called "Rye Rye" was on the tarmac with other family and friends who gathered to welcome him home for the last time. Nothing disturbed her. Not the roar of jets taking off and landing, nor the buzz of the growing crowd.

Then, as the coffin carrying the body of Metcalf, her dad's best friend, was removed from the white Kalitta Charters plane and onto the tarmac, Rylee cried.

It was as if she suddenly channeled the swell of emotion overcoming the crowd of about 60-plus waiting to honor the Boynton Beach soldier who died after a roadside bomb exploded on April 22 in Paktia, Afghanistan.

Rylee grew silent again as the six Army soldiers acting as pallbearers carefully placed the coffin down in front of the group.

Metcalf's mother, Kim, and her boyfriend, Matt DiGennaro, stepped forward. Kim Metcalf placed her hands on her son's coffin, which was draped with an American flag. She collapsed over it, and DiGennaro over her.

Those gathered on the warm, windy morning for Michael Metcalf's homecoming service stood silent, observing and respectful.

"I can't believe all the people. My son would He's in his glory," Kim Metcalf said while tears streamed from her eyes. "He really sees how many people loved him. How many people really adored both of us."

Before the plane carrying Metcalf arrived around 10 a.m., everyone gathered in the parking lot just outside the tarmac near Galaxy Aviation.

Dixie Thiery, whose daughter once dated Metcalf, handed out dozens of hand-held American flags. "She did barrel racing and he did bull riding," she said. "He used to call me Mama Dukes."

Good friends of Michael Metcalf - Jaclyn Murray, Brooke Lintner and Mandy Eichorst - created "Welcome Home" signs and laid them along a fence. They decorated the signs with hearts, and placed three American flags in between each.

Eichorst wore a cowboy hat and tan cowboy boots to honor Metcalf, who was also a skim boarder and whom she had known since elementary school, she said.

"He was a class clown. Always making people laugh," she said. "I wish his homecoming was a little bit different, but I'll see him again."

While the group waited for the gate to slide open, allowing them to greet their hero on the tarmac, members of the Pompano Beach-based American Legion Post 142 Riders gathered together.

"It's a sign of respect. When we came home we had no welcome, nothing." said Ronald Bowlay, a Vietnam War veteran . "It's a solemn occasion because the lad is only 22 years old."

Just before the plane arrived, Metcalf's family and friends were escorted onto the tarmac. Palm Beach County Fire Rescue did a water cannon salute as the plane taxied through. After Kim Metcalf and DiGennaro had their moment with the body of the slain soldier, Kim Metcalf invited some of the other onlookers to pay respects.

His comrades saluted him.

The pallbearers gently placed Metcalf's body in a Vietnam-era Huey helicopter restored by a Loxahatchee-area veteran, which would later take Metcalf's body to the Glick Family Funeral Home in Boca Raton.

While watching, Kim Metcalf quietly said to herself, "Beautiful."

Some of Metcalf's closest friends, including Brandon O'Keefe and T.J. Fitzgerald, strode up to the helicopter and peered through one of its windows.

With their arms around one another, they said a prayer. They all quietly kissed their hands and gently placed them on the window.

"Mike was our best friend," O'Keefe said. "He'll always be with us."

Before he was taken away, Army Spc. Trenton Blanchard walked over to Kim Metcalf to pay respects.

Blanchard was in the same company as Metcalf and hadn't left his side since he died.

He said Metcalf always had a smile on his face and was always cheerful.

After Blanchard told Metcalf this, she turned around to her loved ones and said, "He hasn't left Michael since the hospital."

Blanchard then told Metcalf of a time when her son came back to Afghanistan after taking a short leave recently. He told the grieving mother that her son showed up in civilian clothes, wearing cut-off blue jeans.

She smiled, let out a contained laugh and said, "That was him."

Army Pfc. Michael J. Metcalf was killed in action on 4/22/12.

Army 1st Lt. Jonathan P. Walsh

Remember Our Heroes

Army 1st Lt. Jonathan P. Walsh, 28, of Cobb, Ga.

1st Lt Walsh was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 504th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died April 22, 2012 in Mirhasan, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Lieutenant Walsh earned an Associate’s Degree from Georgia Highland College in 2005. He went on to graduate from Kennesaw State University in 2008 with a degree in Business Administration.

He excelled in the financial services industry and worked for well-known companies such as Wells Fargo Financial.

He was a true patriot and answered the call to join the Army in 2010. He was recognized as an outstanding Infantry Platoon Leader.

Friends describe Lieutenant Walsh as a hard worker who always had a smile on his face and loved to laugh. He was known to everyone as a good man who will be deeply missed.

Sidewalks in north Cobb and Fulton counties were lined Wednesday morning with people paying respects to a Kennesaw soldier killed last month in Afghanistan.

The motorcade, which included dozens of motorcycles and other vehicles, passed North Cobb High School, where hundreds of students lined up and JROTC members saluted, and Kennesaw State University, from which the 28-year-old soldier graduated in 2008.

After winding its way through north Cobb County, the nearly two-hour motorcade continued through north Fulton County to Roswell Funeral Home on Mansell Road.

All along the route, motorists stopped and got out of their cars to honor the soldier. Many held American flags.

Walsh was killed April 22 when a truck in which he was riding struck an improvised explosive device.

He was one of two paratroopers, stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., who died in the blast.

Walsh, a platoon leader, had worked in financial services before joining the Army in 2010.

He is survived by his wife, Debra, and son, Austin, of Raeford, N.C., and by his parents, Paul and Carolyn Walsh of Kennesaw.

Army 1st Lt. Jonathan P. Walsh was killed in action on 4/22/12.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas S. Johnson

Remember Our Heroes

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas S. Johnson, 27, of San Diego, Calif.

CWO Johnson was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii; died April 19, 2012 in Divalak, Helmand province, Afghanistan, when his Black Hawk (UH-60) crashed. Also killed were Chief Warrant Officer 2 Don C. Viray, Spc. Dean R. Shaffer and Spc. Chris J. Workman.


Johnson joined the Army in September 2003 and became a pilot in December 2008. He is survived by a wife and one child.

Joni Johnson, Nicholas’ mother, declined to comment after being reached by phone Tuesday at the family’s home in Ontario.

Johnson, who was on his first deployment, has been posthumously awarded a Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, NATO Medal and Combat Action Badge. He had previously been awarded the Navy Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service and Expeditionary Medals, Army Service Medal and Aviator Badge.

Johnson was a 2002 graduate of Chino High School in San Bernardino County, said Chino Valley Unified School District Spokeswoman Julie Gobin. Public records show he lived in San Diego County between March 2003 and September 2008.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas S. Johnson was killed in action on 4/19/12.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Don C. Viray

Remember Our Heroes

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Don C. Viray, 25, of Waipahu, Hawaii

CWO Viray was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii; died April 19, 2012 in Divalak, Helmand province, Afghanistan, when his Black Hawk (UH-60) crashed. Also killed were Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas S. Johnson, Spc. Dean R. Shaffer and Spc. Chris J. Workman.


Fallen helo pilot buried in Hawaii
The Associated Press

HONOLULU — Friends and family of a 25-year-old Hawaii military helicopter pilot killed in Afghanistan remembered the fallen service member as laid-back, humble and caring.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Don C. Viray was buried May 10 at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, according to The Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The ceremony included a flyover by three Hawaii Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopters, rifle volleys and taps.

Viray's sister Sherry Viray says her brother was a hero who never bragged about his achievements.

Viray was killed when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan on April 19. Pentagon officials say the helicopter was flying in bad weather at night. Three others were killed in the crash.

Viray's awards and decorations include:
Air Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal with campaign star
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Air Assault Badge
Aviator Badge

Posthumous awards include Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, NATO Medal and the Combat Action Badge.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Don C. Viray was killed in action on 4/19/12.

Army Spc. Chris J. Workman

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Chris J. Workman, 33, of Boise, Idaho

Spc Workman was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii; died April 19, 2012 in Divalak, Helmand province, Afghanistan, when his Black Hawk (UH-60) crashed. Also killed were Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas S. Johnson, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Don C. Viray and Spc. Dean R. Shaffer.


Chris attended St. Nicholas Catholic grade school, West Minico Junior High and graduated from Minico High School in 1997. Chris and his older brother, Harry, were the best of friends growing up, being only 18 months apart. They loved doing everything together from hunting, fishing and hanging out together. Every moment they had was truly special, especially being with their Dad while hunting and fishing.

When Harry married his wife, Sharlie, Chris was blessed with two nieces, Aubree and Sophie, whom Chris adored. Chris graduated from Idaho State University in 2003 with a business degree. After graduation, Chris worked for Alliance Title Company and Title One Company. Chris fell in love with Camille Rudeen in Boise, Idaho, and was determined to make her his bride.

On November, 2009, they were married in Maui, Hawaii. With their union, Chris gained a step-son Cole, whom he loved very much. Chris and Cole had a great relationship, learning so much from each other. Cole loved having Chris as a step-father, and he learned so much about life and the military from him. As a little boy Chris dreamed of becoming a soldier, but his official military career began in 2008 when he joined the Army Reserves at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho.

The Reserves solidified his desires to become an active duty soldier. The following year he enlisted into active duty service and was assigned to Schofield Barracks, Oahu, Hawaii. He was initially assigned to the 8th Military Police Brigade, 71st Chemical Company, and later transferred to the 25th ID Combat Aviation Brigade.

Chris was deployed to Afghanistan in January 2012. Family and friends have said they were blessed to be together this past Christmas when Chris, Camille, and Cole came home to Idaho to spend the holidays. We all have such great memories of humorous moments, and quirky happenings. Chris had the pleasure of hunting and fishing with his dad, his brother Harry and Cole over the holiday break. They also loved to play their video games being quite competitive with one another. Spending this time together was such a joy and a gift of opportunity for Chris.

Army Spc. Chris J. Workmanwas killed in action on 4/19/12.

Army Sgt. Dean R. Shaffer

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Dean R. Shaffer, 23, of Pekin, Ill.

Sgt. Shaffer was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii; died April 19, 2012 in Divalak, Helmand province, Afghanistan, when his Black Hawk (UH-60) crashed. Also killed were Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas S. Johnson, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Don C. Viray and Spc. Chris J. Workman.


Sgt. Dean R. Shaffer was born March 21, 1989, in Fort Myers, Fla., to Dean Randolph and Susan Marie Rasbeck Shaffer.

Dean was a 2007 graduate of Pekin Community High School, where he participated in the JROTC program and graduated with the rank of Cadet Sergeant Major. He was a member of the JROTC Honor Guard, Color Guard, Drill Team, Physical Fitness Team, Academic Team and Orienteering Team. He was the recipient of the first PCHS JROTC Career & Technical Education Award.

During his high school years, Dean worked at Steak-n-Shake in Pekin for several years. He enjoyed playing video games and paintballing.

Sgt. Shaffer was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Combat Aviation Badge.

Surviving are his mother, Susan Shaffer of Peoria; father and stepmother, Dean “Randy” and Jolyn Shaffer of Fallon, Nev.; one sister, Jennifer Davis of Pekin; one niece, Emily Davis; one nephew, Mason Davis; his grandparents, Mary Rasbeck of North Fort Myers, Fla., Denton Shaffer in Florida, and Sherry and Mark Taylor of Fallen, Nev.

Army Sgt. Dean R. Shaffer was killed in action on 4/19/12.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Army Capt. Michael C. Braden

Remember Our Heroes

Army Capt. Michael C. Braden, 31, of Lock Haven, Pa.

Capt. Braden was assigned to the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.; died April 18, 2012 in Bagram, Afghanistan.


Captain Braden graduated from Lock Haven High School in 1999. He attended Slippery Rock University where he earned a Bachelors’ degree in Information Systems Management. He also met his wife, Jessica, when they were both students at Slippery Rock.

Captain Braden previously deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served admirably as Platoon Leader, Company Commander and Information Assurance Officer.

Captain Braden’s awards and decorations include:
Bronze Star
Army Commendation Medal
Army Achievement Medal
Parachutist Badge.

He was also bestowed the Gold Order of Mercury which honors signal-corps soldiers who die during deployment.

Everyone described Captain Braden as a great leader who made sure his soldiers were taken care of at all times. He was known as a wonderful family man and a true American hero. He joined the Army in 2004 and was assigned to Fort Riley in 2008.

He is survived by his wife, Jessica, 2 yr old son, James, parents, Harold and Diane Braden, brothers, Nick and Chris, both active duty military and grandmother, Theresa Dawson.

Army Capt. Michael C. Braden was killed in action on 4/18/12.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Army Staff Sgt. David P. Nowaczyk

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. David P. Nowaczyk, 32, of Dyer, Ind.

SSgt Nowaczyk was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died April 15, 2012 in Chingai, Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by an improvised explosive device.


Fort Carson honors fallen soldier from Indiana
The Associated Press

FORT CARSON, Colo. - A Fort Carson soldier who was killed on his third deployment to Afghanistan is being remembered as a hero.

The Army post held a memorial service Wednesday for 32-year-old Staff Sgt. David P. Nowaczyk of Dyer, Ind. He died April 15 of wounds from an improvised explosive device attack.

Nowaczyk was an infantryman assigned to Fort Carson's 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

The Gazette reports Capt. Shayne Heap said Wednesday that Nowaczyk accepted any challenge willingly and is the true definition of a hero. Spc. Nathaniel Murry said Nowaczyk put everyone around him before himself.

Nowaczyk joined the Army in September 2005 and earned several medals, including two Bronze Star Medals that are awarded for bravery or merit.

Army Staff Sgt. David P. Nowaczyk was killed in action on 4/15/12.

Marine Cpl. Aaron M. Faust

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Aaron M. Faust, 22, of Louisville, Ky.

Cpl. Faust was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died April 15, 2012 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while supporting combat operations.


by Thomas McAdam
Louisville.com's The Arena section

Ken Faust and his wife Tess were at home Monday evening, at their house on Bradley Avenue—just south of Eastern Parkway—when they heard a knock on their door and received the news every military family dreads. Their 22-year-old son, Aaron, had been killed in Afghanistan.

The Marine delivering this devastating news could provide the family with only a few details. According to the Department of Defense, Cpl. Aaron M. Faust, of Louisville, Kentucky, died April 15 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Like his dad, Aaron was a member of the Okolona Veterans of Foreign Wars. Ken serves as the post’s Quartermaster; and also as VFW 6th District Jr. Vice Commander. Aaron’s mother, Tess, is the secretary with the Okolona VFW Ladies Auxiliary, Legislative Department Program Chairman, and an officer in the Ladies 6th District.

The Faust family knows the meaning of the words: duty, honor, and country.

Aaron graduated from Louisville’s DeSales High School in 2007, and joined the Marine Corps the following November. After serving an overseas tour in Japan, he was promoted to the rank of corporal in August of 2010, and was initially a food service specialist. He had just reenlisted for another four year tour of duty in March, and was being reassigned as a clerical specialist.

Cpl. Faust was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C. His awards include the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan.

Although the Defense Department press office indicates that Cpl. Faust “…died during combat operations on Sunday,” the cause of his death has not been released as of today, and the military says that the incident is “under investigation.”

Today, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear recognized Cpl. Faust’s sacrifice; and will order that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset on the day of Cpl. Faust’s interment, for which arrangements are still pending.

Aaron recently posted this, on his Facebook page:

What matters is not the idea a man holds, but the depth at which he holds it. Death before dishonor. Family above all.


Marine Cpl. Aaron M. Faust was killed in action 4/15/12.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Army Sgt. Tanner S. Higgins

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Tanner S. Higgins, 23, of Yantis, Texas

Sgt Higgins was assigned to 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.; died Apr. 14, 2012 in Logar province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by enemy small-arms fire.


Sgt. Higgins was born in Irving on Jan. 31, 1989, to Danny R. Higgins and Patti Stone Sells.

He grew up in the Yantis and Sulphur Springs area and graduated from Sulphur Springs High School in 2007.

Upon graduation he enlisted in the United States Army where he served as a rifleman, grenadier, automatic rifleman, gun team leader and a Ranger team leader.

Sgt. Higgins was currently serving in the Hunter Army Airfields First Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. He had completed four deployments to the Middle East, one to Iraq and three to Afghanistan; he was serving his fourth tour in Afghanistan.

He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and the Purple Heart.

Army Sgt. Tanner S. Higgins was killed in action on 4/14/12.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Marine Lance Cpl. Abraham Tarwoe

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Abraham Tarwoe, 25, Providence, R.I.

LCpl Tarwoe was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died April 12, 2012 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.


Lance Corporal Tarwoe joined the Marines in 2009. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in 2010. He had recently deployed to Afghanistan. He was a highly skilled mortarman and dog handler.

All who knew him described his a a “great man with a wonderful sense of humor”. Lance Corporal Tarwoe was born in Liberia. His citizenship was still being processed when he gave his life for his adopted country and brothers in arms. Fellow Marines said that his work ethic, loyalty and devotion were something larger than himself and transcended national lines.

Lance Corporal Tarwoe’s awards and decorations include the following:

Combat Action Ribbon
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal
NATO Medal - ISAF Afghanistan


A memorial service was held in Afghanistan on April 22nd. Lance Corporal Tarwoe touched many lives, including Yeager, an IED detection dog. At the memorial service, Yeager was photographed lying down in front of Tarwoe’s cross.

Other services for Lance Corporal Tarwoe are planned on April 28th in Rhode Island and on May 5th in Liberia, where his body will be flown to for burial.

Lance Corporatl Abraham Tarwoe is survived by his wife Juah Kelly and his 18 month old son. His parents, Abraham and Famatta Tarwoe.

Marine Lance Cpl. Abraham Tarwoe was killed in action on 4/12/12.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Army Spc. Philip C.S. Schiller

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Philip C.S. Schiller, 21, of The Colony, Texas

Spc. Schiller was assigned to 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; died April 11, 2012 in Panjwa, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by small-arms fire.


SPC Schiller once lived in West Hartford, Connecticut and many friends there are mourning his loss.

SPC Schiller had relocated to Texas where he graduated from The Colony High School in 2010 and was active in the ROTC program.

He enlisted in the Army in 2009 and successfully completed both Basic and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Benning, Georgia He went on to complete Military Occupational Speciality 11B, Infantryman, in 2010 and Combat Lifesavers Course in 2011. This was his first deployment to Afghanistan.

Neighbors described SPC Schiller as a very kind hearted person who always tried to live by a high moral code.

His sister, Courtney, said he was her best friend and wanted to help everyone in every way he could.

The descriptions of this tremendous hero certainly depict this young man who died while defending his unit. Witnesses say SPC Schiller continued to provide machine gun cover for his brothers in arms despite a mortal chest wound during his last battle with the enemy.

SPC Schiller had visited home last month and Courtney had been able to speak to him by phone just 6 days before his death.

SPC Schiller’s awards and decorations include the following:

Purple Heart
Bronze Star
Army Achievement Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Combat Infantry Badge

Army Spc. Philip C.S. Schiller was killed in action on 4/11/12.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Army Staff Sgt. Christopher L. Brown

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Christopher L. Brown, 26, of Columbus, Ohio

SSgt Brown was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died April 3, 2012 in Khas Kunar district, Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by an improvised explosive device.

Dozens of Patriot Guard riders took part in a procession from Rickenbacker to a funeral home.

Brown’s family friend, Katherine Brinston, said that Brown had just married his high school sweetheart in January. He was the father of two and was awaiting the birth of the couple’s third child.

“He will be missed,” Brinston said. “I think he did a wonderful job. So, I’ll be proud of him.”

Jeff Cline of the Patriot Guard Riders said that they would be back on Saturday for a funeral possession from the funeral home to the Aladdin Shrine Center.

“We are all brothers and sisters in the military and police officers and everybody here,” Cline said. “This is why we do what we do. It’s out of honor and respect for them and their families.”

BROWN U.S. Army SSG Christopher L. Brown was born on September 10, 1985 in Toledo, Ohio. He enlisted as an infantryman in the United States Army in 2003 following his high school graduation from Hamilton Township High School, where he met his devoted wife Ariell March 19, 2003.

He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado. He deployed to Afghanistan in support of "Operation Enduring Freedom", this was Christopher's 4th deployment.

He completed his mission on April 3, 2012 when he was called to be a warrior for God in Heaven. Christopher had a wonderful spirit and an infectious personality that captivated the hearts of every one who met him. He was a God-fearing, prayerful person who kept a smile on his face and if you were around him, you couldn't help but smile too.

He is preceded in death by his uncle Lamont Emery in 2002. He is survived by his wife, Ariell Taylor-Brown; daughters, Charlie Brown and Dilyn Taylor-Brown; and his unborn son, Carter Christopher Brown; mother, Priscilla Hill; father, Dwight Brown; sisters, Khrysti Hill, Marcella Brown, and Mary-Alice Brown; grandparents, Leon Chapman, Dale Chapman, Willie Hill, and Anna Bell Hill; nephew, Ziyonn Christopher Brown; and a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, friends who were just like family, including many brothers-in-arms.

Awards earned while serving his country include: the Bronze Star Ribbon (Posthumous), Purple Heart Ribbon (Posthumous), Army Commendation Ribbon, Army Good Conduct Ribbon 2, National Defense Service Ribbon, Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon with Bronze Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Ribbon, Korean Defense Service Ribbon, Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Oversea Ribbon 2, NATO Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Weapon Badge, Drivers Badge with W device), and Meritorious Unit Commendation.

Army Staff Sgt. Christopher L. Brown was killed in action on 4/3/12.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Army Spc. David W. Taylor

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. David W. Taylor, 20, of Dixon, Ky.

Spc. Taylor was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Mar. 29, 2012 in Zharif Khel, Kandahar province, Afghanistan of wounds caused by an accident at an ammunition supply point.


Spc. David W. Taylor worked hard to be a good soldier. His former platoon leader said the young man, a native of Dixon, "was probably one of the most outstanding paratroopers in the whole platoon, just striving to be the best."

Striving to be the best in Army fitness tests, Spc. Taylor did the Crossfit physical fitness program five to six days a week, his platoon leader said.

The 20-year-old from Dixon died March 29 in Kandahar province in Afghanistan as the ammunition he was helping move exploded.

Spc. Taylor was on his first deployment when he died. He had joined the Army two years ago and attended training at Fort Benning and had graduated from the Warrior Leaders Course. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.


He was deployed to Afghanistan March 12, according to a family friend.

"It was evident since the day I met him that David had all the qualities desirable in a paratrooper: smart, aggressive, committed and reliable. He displayed them readily in everything he did," Capt. Brian W. Bifulco, his company commander, told a reporter after his death.

He is survived by his mother, Sarah Whitledge Taylor of Poseyville, Ind.

Army Spc. David W. Taylor was killed in an accident in Afghanistan on 3/29/12.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Army Spc. Keith D. Benson

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Keith D. Benson, 27, of Brockton, Mass.

Spc. Benson was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade, Grafenwoehr, Germany; died Jan. 18, 2012 in Paktika province, Afghanistan, of unspecified causes.


The Norwood Transcript and Bulletin
NORWOOD —Army Spc. Keith D. Benson “was one of the ones you could always count on,” Cathy Connor-Moen said after learning the news of Benson’s death.

The 27-year-old was killed Wednesday, Jan. 18, in Paktika province, Afghanistan. He was serving as a medic and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade, Grafenwoehr, Germany. The circumstances surrounding his death are under investigation.

Benson graduated from Norwood High in 2002.

Norwood High School principal George Usevich said Benson was “solid student and a real gentleman in school... he was a true son of this School on the Hill.”

Usevich said Benson found his niche at Norwood High as a member of the school’s music program.

“He was a member of our concert chorale for four years, and it was something he loved,” he said. “He really enjoyed being a part of that group.”

The Norwood High School Director of Fine Arts Connor-Moen said Benson was as a sweet kid with a great sense of humor who was always willing to help out.

“He was definitely a team player. He, within the group, was one of the ones you could always count on. He was always around and was very reliable,” Connor-Moen said. “I could see him as a medic, as the type of person you could rely on when you were nervous or scared.”

Benson’s neighbor Alan Bouffard was shocked to hear of the soldier’s death.

“My heart goes out to the family,” Bouffard said. “He was a good kid. He didn’t get himself in trouble, he was friendly, and he had close relationships with all the members of his family.”

Bouffard said Benson took his work seriously, and had plans for when he returned from serving in Afghanistan.

“He was very interested in the work he was doing in the service (as a medic), and he was interested in becoming an EMT when he got out,” Bouffard said.

Benson was the son of David Benson of Mansfield and Kathleen Benson of Norwood, and brother of Kyle Benson of Norwood. Bouffard described Kathleen as “a good neighbor and good friend” and David as “devoted to the two boys.”

Benson’s friends and former classmates at Norwood High are also in shock over the news.

“When I got home, I burst into tears. So upsetting that such a nice person, a terrific person has passed away for serving our country,” Lisa Malinowski said. She graduated Norwood High in 2003 “He was one of the kindest people I will ever meet in my life. He was a true gentleman. We always got together to watch wrestling pay-per-views, go to concerts together and just hang out as good friends did.”

Army Spc. Keith D. Benson passed away on 01/18/12.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Marine Lance Cpl. Kenneth E. Cochran

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Kenneth E. Cochran, 20, of Wilder, Idaho

LCpl Cochran was assigned to 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan; died Jan. 15, 2012 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.


PARMA — Born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, Kenny Cochran spent his first days in a neonatal unit fighting to survive. For the next 20 years, he didn’t take a moment for granted.

“Live life every second, because every second counts,” Kenny wrote for an assignment at Parma High School on his life goals.

He also wrote that the country he’d most like to visit was Afghanistan. He wanted to be a Marine, and he thought Afghanistan was a place where he could test his body and soul, where he could learn to fight and bring honor to himself and his country.

About 450 people gathered in the Parma High School gymnasium Sunday to remember Kenny. The Marine from Wilder died in Afghanistan Jan. 15 at age 20.

In a written statement, Kenny’s mother, Julia, remembered her son as always on the move. As a child, he zoomed around on a red electric Jeep. Later, he graduated to a Model A pickup go-kart his father built, then a motor bike and finally a Camaro.

Motoring around, he always shone an ebullient smile, she said.

His uncle, Jim Howell, recalled Kenny as an energetic boy running wild with his brother and sisters. After the others grew tired, Kenny would keep playing, alone. He entertained himself with a game: he would knock on a door then jump out of the doorway and laugh out loud, pretending to surprise himself, Howell remembered.

As he grew, Kenny harnessed his energy.

At 13, he decided to become a Marine like his father, George. But he doubted the Marines would take him, so he endeavored to become stronger and smarter. He trained with weights and studied from a book of vocabulary words he kept in his pocket.

Kenny also developed a love for the written word. He had a hard time talking about his beliefs — honor, freedom and responsibility — so he spent endless hours creating stories, poems and essays, expressing himself through writing.

“His ideals came from an earlier era of chivalry,” his mother said. “He would have made an exceptional knight during the early Crusades.”

His pastor, Dale Larson, remembered sitting in his pickup truck one day when Kenny approached him and started a conversation. The Parma High graduate seemed so mature and spoke so eloquently about matters of faith that Larson was awestruck.

Kenny was concerned about people acting selfishly when there’s so much good work to be done in the world, Larson said. He believed that life is about helping others.

“I watched him walk away and thought, there is a good man. He is a good man,” Larson said.

Kenny also had a mischievous side.

His uncle recalled going over to the Cochrans’ home one day, and seeing a police cruiser outside. Kenny and his brother, Geo, had convinced a neighbor girl that a gorilla was rumbling around in their basement. The frightened girl believed their story and called her mother.

The girl convinced her mother, and the mother convinced the police, Kenny explained to his uncle with a satisfied grin.

Another time, Kenny visited his uncle’s house, which was under construction. After writing his favorite Bible verse, Psalm 23, on a beam, Kenny climbed up into the unfinished rafters and began walking around.

His uncle looked up and expressed concern for his nephew’s safety.

“He told me, ‘I’m going to be a Marine. If I fell off, I wouldn’t be a very good Marine.’ I had to let Kenny go. I had to let him be his own person,” Jim Howell said.

The Cochran family has a legacy of military service. Kenny’s mother, Julia, is an Army captain on active reserve, his father, George, is a retired Marine, and his older sister, Joyce, is an Army specialist.

Joyce Cochran was also serving in Afghanistan when Kenny was there. About a week before he died, they spent time together.

Kenny showed her around his base and introduced her to his fellow Marines. He was happy to be with his sister and proud to be in Afghanistan following his life’s dreams.

“He died wearing his Marine uniform. He was so proud of it. I can be happy knowing he will be in it until the end of time,” Joyce said.

Marine Lance Cpl. Kenneth E. Cochran was killed in action on 01/15/12.

Marine Cpl. Jon-Luke Bateman

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Jon-Luke Bateman, 22, of Tulsa, Okla.

Cpl. Bateman was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died Jan. 15, 2012 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.


Cpl. Jon-Luke Bateman, 22, passed away Jan. 15, 2012, in Afghanistan.

He was born May 26, 1989, in Hanford, Calif., and was a resident of Pahrump for four years, having come from Hanford.

He was a Marine Corps serviceman and deployed from Camp Pendleton.

He loved riding his motorcycle and having a good time with his friends and family. He liked to play X Box 360 Call of Duty and was ranked 30th.
He graduated from Pahrump Valley High School in 2007. While at PVHS, he was in the ROTC.

Surviving are his mother Laura Allen and step-father Tony Allen of Huntsville, Ark.; sister and brother-in-law Kristin and James Nunley of Fayetteville, Ark; brothers Paul D. Bateman III of Camp Lejeune, N.C. and Kyle Allen of Huntsville; grandmother and step-grandfather Sheryl and Edwin Lampe of Hanford; grandfather and step-grandmother John and Karen Parson of Hemet, Calif.; grandparents Betty and Paul D. Bateman Sr. of Lemoore, Calif; great-grandmother and great-grandfather Audrey and Bud Zerby of Pahrump; niece Deidre Nunley of Fayetteville; nephew Wyatt Whitney of Las Vegas; and several aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

He was preceded in death by his father Paul Donald Bateman Jr. and great-grandmother Dora Floyd.

Marine Cpl. Jon-Luke Bateman was killed in action on 01/15/12.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin B. Wise

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin B. Wise, 34, of Little Rock, Ark.

SFC Wise was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash; died Jan. 15, 2012 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, of injuries sustained Jan. 9 in Balkh province, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire.


Ark. family loses second son in Afghanistan

By Tim Talley, Associated Press

The war in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of two sons of an Arkansas couple who also have a third son in the military.

Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Wise, 34, of Little Rock, was on his fourth deployment overseas when he was injured during an insurgent attack on his unit last week. He died from his wounds Sunday at hospital in Germany, the Department of Defense said in a statement Tuesday.

His brother, 35-year-old Jeremy Wise, was killed in a terrorist attack on a CIA outpost in Afghanistan in December 2009. He was a former Navy Seal working as a security contractor.

Their brother, Marine Corps Cpl. Matthew Wise, is based Hawaii but was in Germany to be with his brother, his wife Amber said. She said she was at Benjamin's home in Washington state watching his children, but she declined further comment.

The Army Ranger is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

The men's parents, Dr. Jean and Mary Wise of Hope, Ark., and their sister did not return telephone messages seeking comment from The Associated Press. But the family released a statement thanking friends and Benjamin's fellow soldiers "for their sincere expressions of sympathy during this very difficult time."

His family described him as a loving husband, devoted father, caring son and selfless soldier.

"The Wise family is sincerely touched by the concern and interest all have taken in Ben's life, his career and his sacrifice for our country," they said in the statement. "Ben was proud of the career he built in the Army."

He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

Benjamin Wise, who entered military service in 2000, discussed his work as a soldier in a September 2004 interview with the Hope Star newspaper.

"It's something I've wanted to do for a while now," he told the newspaper. "I was in college and I took a break from college and thought I'd do it now while I was relatively young. I wanted to serve my country, and do something that I found exciting."

Wise compared his work as a soldier to a job, noting that "there are a lot of frustrating things about being over there, about being with people from another culture and the special circumstances.

"But, at the end of the day, it's a job and we're specialists in the field. The troops are sent there to accomplish a mission," he said.

Members of Arkansas' congressional delegation released statements of condolence and described Benjamin Wise as a hero.

"His bravery, dedication and patriotism exemplified what it means to be an American soldier and I am eternally grateful for his selfless sacrifice," said Democratic Rep. Mike Ross. Republican Rep. Tim Griffin added: "He dedicated his life to serving in defense of our country and has earned the deepest respect of a grateful nation."

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said Wise served in Iraq as well as Afghanistan.

"While Arkansas has lost a great patriot, the Wise family has paid an extraordinary price in service to our country," Pryor said.


Family Loses Second Son in Afghanistan

Hope, Ark. —The family of a local doctor has lost a second son to the war in the Middle East.

The Department of Defense confirmed this morning that Sergeant 1st Class Benjamin B. Wise, 34, of Little Rock, died Sunday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, in Germany, of wounds sustained in combat on Jan. 9 in Balkh province, Afghanistan.

Wise was an Army Ranger assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. He was injured during an attack by insurgents against his unit in a small-arms fight, according to the DOD.
The assignment in Afghanistan was part of Wise's fourth deployment overseas, and was in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Upon completion of Basic Combat Training, Advanced Individual Training and the Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Ga., in 2001, he was assigned to the 520th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis- McChord where he deployed to Iraq as a member of the Battalion Scout Platoon from 2003-2004.

In 2005, Wise volunteered for the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course and was selected to continue training as medical sergeant in the Special Forces Qualification Course.

After graduating from the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2008, Wise was assigned to 3rd Bn, 1st SFG (A). During his time with the unit, he deployed once to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan.

Wise’s military education included the Warrior Leader’s Course, the Advanced Leader’s Course, the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) Course, the Recon and Surveillance Leadership Course and the Basic Airborne Course.

Wise’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the NATO Medal, the Army Commendation Medal (3rd Award), the Army Good Conduct Medal (3rd award), the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal with three campaign stars, the Afghan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, the Global War on Terror Service Medal, the Overseas Service Ribbon (2nd award), the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral 2, the Army Service Ribbon, the Special Forces Tab, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge and the Parachutist Badge.

He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal, according to the DOD.

A 1995 graduate of West Side Christian High School in El Dorado, Wise entered military service in 2000.

He was the son of Dr. Jean and Mary Wise, of Patmos, and is survived by his wife, Traci, and sons, Luke and Ryan, and daughter, Kailen.

The Wise family issued a statement through the DOD this morning.

“The Wise family is sincerely touched by the concern and interest all have taken in Ben's life, his career and his sacrifice for our country,” the statement said. “Ben was proud of the career he built in the Army.

“We would like to thank friends and his fellow Soldiers for their sincere expressions of sympathy during this very difficult time,” the family said. “Your support is appreciated as we mourn the loss of Ben who was a loving husband, a devoted father, a caring son and a selfless Soldier.”

The family has declined to respond to questions or requests for interviews, according to the statement.

Sgt. 1st Class Ben Wise was the second son from his family to make the ultimate sacrifice in service to his country, the first being his brother, Jeremy, a former Navy SEAL who was killed in a terrorist attack against a CIA outpost in Afghanistan in December, 2009.

Sgt. 1st Class Ben Wise, in a September, 2004, interview with the Hope Star, said he was proud to be a professional soldier.

“It's a job,” he quipped. “Yes, there are a lot of frustrating things about being over there, about being with people from another culture and the special circumstances. But, at the end of the day, it's a job; and, we're specialists in the field. The troops are sent there to accomplish a mission.

“It's something I've wanted to do for a while now,” he said at the time. “I was in college and I took a break from college and thought I'd do it now while I was relatively young. I wanted to serve my country, and do something that I found exciting.”

The U. S. Army Special Operations Command, to which Wise was attached, is the larges of the service components that make up the U. S. Special Operations Command, with capabilities ranging from raiding, airfield seizures to human-terrain mapping and cultural analysis, according to the Command's website.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin B. Wise was killed in action on 01/15/12.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Army Pfc. Neil I. Turner

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Neil I. Turner, 21, of Tacoma, Wash.

Pfc Turner was assigned to 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas; died Jan. 11, 2012 in Logar province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident.


Pfc. Neil Turner’s first letter to his mother from Army basic training in the fall of 2010 reads like the diary of a young man thrilled to see the world on his own.

He marveled at Cascade Mountain peaks during his first-ever flight out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. He “smashed” into a plate of airport Chinese food when he landed in Atlanta because he knew it would be the last meal he could choose for himself.

And when he saw a homesick recruit crying, Turner did what others avoided and made friends with the lonely soldier.

“Ha ha! You would be proud of your little boy,” he wrote to his mother, Charlotte Cox-Turner of Tacoma.

The 21-year-old soldier’s life and career were cut short Jan. 11 when he was killed in an Army training accident at an American base in Afghanistan’s Logar Province.

Friends and family Monday celebrated Turner’s life at Champions Center church in Tacoma and then laid him to rest at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent. They remembered him for the spirit he showed in befriending the homesick soldier at boot camp.

“He was such a lover of people,” said Champions Center pastor Samuel Deuth, a youth minister who knew Turner for years.

Turner “would go out of his way to make people feel loved,” Deuth said. “You didn’t see him much without a smile.”

Turner graduated from Lincoln High School in 2008 and was well-known as a music lover and affectionate big brother in his Eastside Tacoma neighborhood. Friends held a vigil for him the night of Jan. 12 when they learned of his death; his high school hosted a memorial, too.

He is survived by his parents, Leland and Charlotte, and by his three younger brothers, Maxwell, 19, Jordan, 15, and Tucker, 10.

Turner’s family displayed photos Monday showing him growing up in Tacoma ixed with recent images of him on patrol in the snowy, mountainous landscapes of Afghanistan.

He reveals a playful smile with a gap in his front teeth from some of his earliest childhood photos to the latest ones.

He was serving with 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss, Texas. A spokesman for Fort Bliss has said the Army is investigating the cause of Turner’s death and declined to release further information.

A friend from basic training joined the Turner family for this week’s services. Daniel Garcia of San Jose, Calif., said Turner helped other recruits bridge their differences and build friendships under the stress of new challenges and tough sergeants.

“It feels surreal,” said Garcia, 21. “We were with him not that long ago. Thanks to him, I met a lot of great people.

Army Pfc. Neil I. Turner was killed in a training accident on 01/11/12.