On Memorial Day, we gather to remember the brave men and women who selflessly gave all so that we can enjoy the freedom that is part and parcel of life in America.
The following is only a small snapshot of the brave men and women who gave all. Remember their sacrifice. Raise a toast to them. Have a wonderful, and happy Memorial Day, but please do NOT forget those who made it possible.
I cannot and will not take credit for this piece, except that I took the time to put it together (about 10 hours total, I think). Some of the following, I wrote. Some I took from obituaries or articles I found online. Some of it was written by a family member. All of it acknowledges and remembers those who gave all. Unless otherwise specified, my source is various sites from the world wide web.
Sgt Derek Tra McConnell was born on October 8, 1989. The second of five children, Derek graduated from West Essex High School in North Caldwell in 2008, and moved to Parsippany in August 2009. He enlisted in the US Army in January 2010, and was stationed at Fort Drum, NY. He deployed to Afghanistan in March 2011. After stepping on an IED on July 23, 2011 in the Zahari District of Afghanistan, Derek suffered amputations of both legs, the left leg from the hip, traumatic injury to his right arm leaving him with limited function, as well as other injuries. Derek did not let his injuries get him down. His sense of humor, never quit attitude, and passion for life were infectious. Derek was an aspiring writer and ghost hunter, and he was looking forward to being medically retired from the Army this summer, as well as picking up his service dog, Gabriel, and getting married to his high school sweetheart in January 2014, after winning a dream wedding contest. He was 23 years old when he was called to eternal rest on March 18, 2013. (Written by Siobhan Fuller McConnell)
PFC Brian M. Wolverton, 7 Nov 87 – 20 Aug 09 was KIA Kunar Province, Afghanistan. 1-32 Infantry Battalion, 10th Mountain Division. Brian grew up in Oak Park, CA. A track athlete in high school, he earned an Associate’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology before enlisting in the Army. He was planning on completing his education after his enlistment using the GI Bill. Very interested in history and other cultures, he also helped coach his high school track team while in college. (Written by Wayne Wolverton)
John Wesley Spraul of the US Navy passed away on February 28, 2013. Born in Barstow, California to John Michael and Darla Jane (nee Crisp) Spraul, now of Hendersonville, North Carolina. John was the beloved husband of Angela Rodriguez Spraul. He leaves behind to cherish his memory, his two loving children, Alana Tirzah, and Ava Nayeli. He was the loving brother of Jeddiah, Caleb, Morgan, Tyler, Cady and Elijah.
Airman David Maxwell Walker II, age 20, and a resident of Spring Hill, Tennessee passed away July 31, 2012 at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. David was born November 11, 1991 in Greenville, MS to David Maxwell Walker and Sarah Lyles Walker. He was a 2010 graduate of Spring Hill High School, and a member of the Spring Hill First Baptist Church. “It is well known that Max was a ‘momma’s baby,'” his mother recalls. “He would always tell me he was never too big to sit in my lap.” He was always kind-hearted and loving toward others. His respect for those around him was evident in his life. In his free time, Max enjoyed riding motorcycles and getting as muddy as he could, off-road. If there was something to tear up, Max would. He played paintball and computer games as well. In school, he was a member of the Spring Hill JROTC program. His JROTC Commanding Officer recounted his time with Walker when they began working together in 2008. “Cadet Walker was part of the program from its inception. During those years, I had the opportunity to observe numerous aspects of his leadership, teamwork, and missio accomplishments,” recounted CSM Stephen Williams. “He soon rose through the ranks to Staff Sergeant in the program and was recognized for his outstanding performance by receiving numerous awards and ribbons.”
Sergeant Mickel D. Garrigus, 24, of Elma, Washington, died January 27, 2007, in Taji, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat patrol. Garrigus was assigned to the 543rd Military Police Company, 91st Police Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, New York. Mickel enlisted in the Army a month after
graduating, following his step-father into the armed forces. Mickel married Natasha on January 23, 2004, and they had one son, Ethan.
Spc Justin Hebert U.S. Army 13F 173rd Airborne, Caserma Ederle, Italy. KIA 8.1.2003 OIF I Silvana, WA 20 yrs old. Of Arlington, Washington. Hebert was on patrol when his vehicle was struck by a rocket propelled grenade in Kirkuk, Iraq. Hebert was assigned to the 319th Field Artillery, 173rd Airborne Brigade, Camp Ederle, Italy. Died on August 1, 2003.
I’m Justin’s sister, Jessica Hebert. I just want to say thank you to you all. I appreciate the support and I don’t know how I will ever thank any of you. It’s been extremely hard to get back to day to day things. I find myself just caught off guard every time I start to think about my brother. He meant the world to me and I am so very proud to be his sister. I’ll never forget him or any of you…..this will be a memory of a lifetime. As tragic as this has been, I have never felt so much strength from more people in my entire life. It’s sad that it takes something so devastating to bring total strangers together. I know that from this day on that I won’t look at anyone as a stranger. I’ll look at them like they are an open book with much to offer.
Life is just too short. I feel like I am going to take what I can out of this and do my best in caring on my life with Justin right beside me. He’s there, I can feel it. I just can’t see that he is there and that is what will bother me for the rest of my life. He knows that I love him and I’m glad that I had 20 short years to tell him that. I am glad that I was able to hear it from him. I have no regrets….just wishes, wishing he were still here to come home and earn his gratitude while stepping on United States soil with everyone else that arrives home safely.
May Justin guide all of you men and women serving our country at this time. I know that he won’t turn his back on you. He never turned it on anyone else…..
May he have the sweetest dreams…….
PROUD sister of SPC Justin Hebert
I will forever love you…………
SFC Daniel T. Metcalfe, 29, of Liverpool, N.Y.; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy; died Sep. 29 in Sayyid Abad, Afghanistan, of injuries caused by small-arms fire. He first arrived in Vicenza in January 2002. He served with the brigade on its rotation in Iraq, then deployed for two rotations in Afghanistan with Company A. He then became a drill instructor at Fort Benning, Ga., before returning to Vicenza in 2011, where he was promoted and became a Company D platoon sergeant. In addition to his wife, Vesna, Metcalfe is survived by four children: Kalyn, 12; Alexis, 6; Edward, 3; and Nathaniel, 1. He is also survived by his parents, Tom and Sherri ; a brother, James; and a sister, Debi.
Christopher M. Wainwright, Age 26, resident of Copperas Cove, TX for 1½ years, formerly of Temecula for 15 years, passed away 01/23/2009. Christopher was born 07/04/1982 in Long Beach, CA. He was in the US Army for 2 years. Christopher was a 2000 graduate of Temecula Valley High and was a member of the ROTC. Christopher is survived by his wife, Tallia; son, Christopher Julian; parents, Timothy Wainright and Christina Nichols of Temecula; brothers, Lance Cpl. David Wainright, Christopher Tiecero, Justin Gilbert; sisters, Stevie Wainright, Angelina Gilbert, Evelyn Gilbert, Tareena Gilbert; grandparents, Archie and Carole Wainright; godparents, Margaret Porter and Peter Horvath.
Army PVT Isaac T. Cortes / KIA November 27, 2007 / Operation Iraqi Freedom
Assigned to 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, New York.
Army PVT Isaac Cortes died November 27, 2007 of wounds sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device in Amerli, Iraq. Also killed in the blast was SPC Benjamin J. Garrison.
Isaac grew up in Parkchester, the Bronx, in one of the sprawling apartment developments built by Metropolitan Life in the 1930s and ‘40s He attended Christopher Columbus High School and upon graduation, Isaac got work as a ride operator at Playland Amusement Park in Rye, one in a series of jobs. Of his enlistment, “He said it was the best decision he ever made,” his Aunt Wanda said. “He spoke to his mother on Thanksgiving Day. He said it was really crazy, that he was very tired.” Five days later, PVT Cortes and SPC Garrison were driving through the village of Amerli, 100 miles north of Baghdad when the roadside bomb detonated that took their lives. Earlier that year in July, one of the deadliest bombings of the war had killed between over 150 people there. PVT Cortes had been deployed for three and a half months. PVT Isaac Cortes was 26 years old from the Bronx, New York.
Pfc Michael Robert DeMarsico II, also known as Demar to his military brothers overseas, Mikey to his family and Sunshine to his mother, deployed to Heaven after being killed in action on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012, while serving his country in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Attached to 1-23 IN 3-2 SBCT Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Michael deployed to Afghanistan at the end of March 2012 and took a job that placed him in front of his brothers, always wanting to protect them no matter the cost. He protected and saved his brothers and many others over and over again.
Michael was born on Dec. 22, 1991, son of Lisa (Babcock) DeMarsico and Michael Robert DeMarsico. Besides his parents, Michael is survived by his four siblings, Aubrey Raye DeMarsico and her fiance T.J. Harmon of Pittsfield, Kailey Rose DeMarsico, Leigha Renae DeMarsico and Adam Reed DeMarsico, all of North Adams; maternal great-grandmothers, Belva Babcock and Barbara Cahoon; maternal grandmother, Ronnalee (Cahoon) Porey of Florida, Mass., and maternal grandfather, Frank A. Babcock of Bennington, Vt.; paternal grandmother, Rena (Tatro) DeMarsico of North Adams, as well as many aunts, uncles and cousins.
SFC David J. Todd Jr., age thirty-six of Marrero, Louisiana, died August 20, 2008 in Bala Morghab, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked while on patrol by enemy forces using small arms fire. He was assigned to the Afghan Regional Security Integration Command-West, Herat, Afghanistan. It was his first Afghanistan deployment.
SFC Todd was a former Army ROTC instructor at Tulane University who volunteered for duty in Afghanistan. A cavalry scout who joined the Army in 1991, SFC Todd was assigned to the Orleans Battalion as an instructor at Tulane from 2003 until he volunteered to join a “military transition team,” a small unit trained to help Afghani and Iraqi troops assume control of their countries. Such teams embed with Afghan army units. SFC Todd was a husband and father and provided training and care to many others in their quest for improvement and attainment of their personal best.
Army PFC Michael Metcalfe, age 22, died April 22, 2012 of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device in Ghazni province, Afghanistan. Also killed in the blast was 1LT Jonathan P. Walsh. PFC Metcalf had only been in Afghanistan for about two weeks when he died. He joined the Army just after graduating from a Wisconsin military academy. Michael was born May 15, 1989 in Coral Springs, Florida; the son of Ceejay Metcalf and Kimberly Metcalf. After high school he discovered bull riding and tattoos, which he loved the most. He also enjoyed truck mudding, playing pool, and just going out with friends. Michael was a free-spirited person who left you feeling like you had been a lifelong friend after just meeting him. Childhood friend, Mandy Eichorst, remembered Michael as the “class clown,” she recalled, “Always making people laugh. I wish his homecoming was a little bit different, but I’ll see him again.”
PFC Metcalf was a Quick Response Team member and was coming to the aid of his injured comrades when he was killed. He was a paratrooper assigned to the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. PFC Metcalf was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his actions.
Michael is survived by his father, Ceejay; mother, Kimberly; grandparents, Clarence Metcalf and Ann Faustine; uncles, Anthony Metcalf, Joseph Faustine, and Richard Faustine; aunts Sandra Bennett and Patti Metcalf; niece, Rylee O’Keefe; and several cousins.
PFC Michael Metcalf was 22 years old from Boynton Beach, Florida.
CPT Jay Brainard, 26, of Newport and Atkinson, Maine; assigned to 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, Ansbach-Katterbach, Germany; died May 28, 2012 in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when his AH-64 Apache helicopter was shot down from enemy fire. Also killed was Army Chief Warrant Officer Five John C. Pratt.
Sergeant Jeffrey C. S. Sherer, 29, of Four Oaks, North Carolina, died June 2, 2011, in Zabul province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
LTC Arthur D. “Nick” Nicholson, Jr – Fort Huachuca, AZ. – When Major “Nick” Nicholson and his driver, Staff Sergeant Jessie Schatz headed out to patrol an area in Ludwigslust, East Germany on the morning of March 24, 1985, there was nothing unusual about their mission. They were in uniform, driving a vehicle marked with the distinctive plates of the U.S. Military Liaison Mission (USMLM) and they were unarmed. As members of this unique organization, the two men were basically licensed spies, authorized by a 1947 treaty with the Soviet Union which allowed all parties of the occupation to maintain communications and exchange intelligence in the occupied zones of East and West Germany. Originally, the agreement was designed to coordinate efforts and keep tabs on German disarmament and demilitarization. As the Cold War progressed, however, the liaison teams remained in place, keeping tabs on each other rather than the Germans. The Soviets had their own liaison mission which operated on the same principles inside the American, British, and French zones of occupation.
He was shot by a Soviet sentry, a young sergeant named Aleksandr Ryabtsev.
He was posthumously awarded the Legion of Merit and the Purple Heart, and in an unprecedented move, promoted to Lieutenant Colonel upon approval of the President. Three years later, the Soviet Union expressed “regret” over Nicholson’s death. Ironically, by the time LTC Nicholson was inducted into the MI Hall of Fame in June 1991, the two divided sides of Germany had been reunited (Oct 3, 1990), and six months after his induction, the Soviet Union would officially be dissolved (Dec 26, 1991). The veterans of the Cold War, America’s longest war, deserve to be recognized, honored, and remembered. LTC Arthur D. “Nick” Nicholson, Jr: we thank you for your service.
Frank B. Walkup IV – was born in Memphis, TN on June 19, 1983 and died in Kirkuk, Iraq, Saturday, June 16 from injuries sustained in Rashaad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Div., Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. He is survived by his wife, Sabita Maharaj Walkup; parents, Frank and Mitzi Walkup of Woodbury and Melissa Oaks of Memphis; nine siblings, Franz, Mitch, Kevin, Nina, Andy, Emily, Jake, Josh and Taylor; grandparents, Frank and Joyce Walkup, Faye Burdine, Claude and Audrey Barron, Glenda Knight and Bobby White; great-grandparents, Frank B. and Kathleen Mitchell and Ruth Walkup. He was a 1st Lt. in United States Army Infantry where he was trained as an Airborne Air Assault and was Ranger qualified. He was commissioned as 2ndLt. on May 5, 2005, the day he graudated from UT Knoxville, ROTC. He was also a member of the Woodbury United Methodist Church.
SSGT Jorge Oliveira – 33, New Jersey National Guard on his third tour of duty was KIA in October 2011. He was also an 11-year veteran at the Essex County Sheriff’s office, working the dangerous Fugitive Squad. Oliveira was deployed in March 2011 with 58 other guardsmen. He had also served in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. Oliveira lived in the Ironbound section of Newark with his parents and his brother.
SSgt. Edward Karolasz, 25 – Killed near Baiji, north of Baghdad by a roadside bomb
When Kristine Karolasz came home last Wednesday, she found a voice mail from her younger brother, Edward, a soldier in Iraq, thanking her for having sent him a birthday card. “He said, ‘I got your package and thank you and I love everybody, and I’ll talk to you in two or three days,'” his sister said yesterday, her voice breaking. He never got the chance.
At 10:30 Saturday night, two Army officers came to her parents’ home in Kearny to notify them that their son was dead.
Army Staff Sgt. Edward Karolasz, 25, the son of Edward and Krystyna Karolasz, was one of five soldiers killed Saturday near Baiji, north of Baghdad, in two separate roadside bomb attacks, one of whom was Dennis Zilinski, also of New Jersey. Five other soldiers were wounded. All were with the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, according to his family.
Adapted From The Star-Ledger Archive, By MARY JO PATTERSON
COPYRIGHT (c) The Star-Ledger 2005
Leroy DeRonde III of Jersey City, NJ, age 22, was one of two soldiers killed on May 27 when their unit was attacked in Afghanistan. DeRonde, assigned to the 125th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st
Armored Division, Fort Bliss Texas, died in the Wardak District in central Afghanistan.
Army Sgt. Humberto F. Timoteo Died June 5, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom, age 25, of Newark, N.J.; assigned to Battery A, 3rd Battalion, 112th Field Artillery, Army National Guard, Morristown, N.J.; killed June 5 when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Baghdad.
Sgt. Humberto Timoteo and Spc. Ryan Doltz were killed Saturday when a roadside bomb hit their armored vehicle. The two men, members of a field artillery unit, were providing security for a convoy when they were killed. “The loss of a single soldier is difficult to the National Guard family and community,” said Lt. Col. Roberta Niedt, a spokeswoman. “It is inconceivable that we have had to face this many deaths in such a short period of time.”
Timoteo, 25, was from Newark. He belonged to the 3rd Battalion of the 112th Field Artillery, headquartered in Morristown. Two other members of the unit, Sgt. Frank Carvill, 51, of Carlstadt, and Spc. Christopher Duffy, 26, of Brick, were killed Friday in an ambush. Three other soldiers from the unit were injured in Friday’s attack.
Adapted from an article by Evan Berland, Associated Press
Spc Ryan Doltz – Died June 5, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom, age 25, of Newark, N.J.; assigned to Battery A, 3rd Battalion, 112th Field Artillery, Army National Guard, Morristown, N.J.; killed June 5 when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Baghdad. Spc. Ryan Doltz was killed Saturday when a roadside bomb hit their armored vehicle. The two men, members of a field artillery unit, were providing security for a convoy when they were killed. “The loss of a single soldier is difficult to the National Guard family and community,” said Lt. Col. Roberta Niedt, a spokeswoman. “It is inconceivable that we have had to face this many deaths in such a short period of time.”
Doltz, 26, was from Mine Hill. He belonged to the 3rd Battalion of the 112th Field Artillery, headquartered in Morristown. Two other members of the unit, Sgt. Frank Carvill, 51, of Carlstadt, and Spc. Christopher Duffy, 26, of Brick, were killed Friday in an ambush. Three other soldiers from the unit were injured in Friday’s attack.
Adapted from an article by Evan Berland, Associated Press
Lance Cpl. Osbrany Montes De Oca died Friday in Helmand Province. He was 20. He was an identical twin, whose twin as well as his older brother were also Marines. The twins’ passion for the Corps persuaded their older brother, 22-year-old Sandro Moreta, to enlist a few months after them, relatives said. Based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., he was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force. On his Facebook page, Montes De Oca poses in uniform with his girlfriend, whom he calls “the love of my life,” and writes, “I do have a future. I am a United States Marine.”
Army Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, November 19, 2005, Age: 23, Hometown: Howell, NJ – Killed by a roadside bomb near Bayji
Zilinski, 23, of Howell in Monmouth County was one of four American soldiers killed by a roadside bomb during combat operations as they traveled in a Humvee near Bayji, 155 miles north of Baghdad. The attack was the same one that claimed the life of Staff Sgt. Edward Karolasz of Kearny. “Dennis stood behind the nation’s mission 100 percent, ready to serve and protect the freedoms so many citizens cherish,” his parents, Dennis and Marion Zilinski, said in a statement released through the public affairs office at Fort Monmouth. “He lived the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless sacrifi
ce, honor, integrity, personal courage.” Zilinski, a 2004 graduate of West Point, was a first lieutenant with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division.
Zilinski is survived by his parents, two brothers, two sisters, a grandmother and a large extended family.
Adapted from an article in The Star-Ledger by TOM FEENEY
Marine Lance Cpl. Phillip E. Frank – age 20, died April 8, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; killed by hostile fire in Anbar province, Iraq. He joined the Marines after watching the second of two planes hit the World Trade Center towers. “He was devastated by that experience, and it never left him,” Frank said at his son’s memorial service at St. John’s United Methodist Church.
Army Staff Sgt. Gary L. Woods Jr.- Died April 10, 2009 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom – age 24, of Lebanon Junction, Ky.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died when his vehicle was struck by a suicide bomber. Also killed were Sgt. 1st Class Bryan E. Hall, Sgt. Edward W. Forrest Jr., Cpl. Jason G. Pautsch and Pfc. Bryce E. Gautier. Patrick Keller, who served with Gary L. Woods Jr. in Iraq, remembered him as a fine soldier who cracked jokes to break up the most tense situations and also for Woods’ love of music. “I remember on more than one occasion he’d be busting out his acoustic guitar in Iraq and entertaining the rest of us. We used to joke around and tell him that he should release an album entitled ‘Talifar Unplugged,’ ” referring to an Iraqi town.
David Alex Knapp, an Army police officer stationed in Iraq, died of a heart attack after surviving life changes injuries in Iraq. He had his legs amputated above his knees from injuries suffered in March 2008 when an improvised explosive device blew up the vehicle in which he rode near Baghdad. His attempt to apply the vehicle’s emergency brake following the explosion, which injured four soldiers, was described as nearly super human by fellow soldier Austin Bewley, who was in the truck with him.
The Eisenhower High School graduate underwent at least 16 surgeries, endured numerous complications and recuperated at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. Knapp in September returned to his hometown, Shelby Township, and last December moved into a barrier-free home specially designed for him in Macomb Township, thanks to the charitable organization, Home for Our Troops. He was admired by his friends and family for retaining an upbeat attitude and generous spirit.
At the time he suffered the heart attack, he was playing the Michigan Sled Dogs sled hockey team and had made the U.S. junior sled hockey team and was to be a first or second alternative for the national team that would compete in the next Olympics, Kevin Knapp said. “He wasn’t the type to let anything like that bother him or slow him down,” Knapp said. He is survived by his parents, Eric and Jeannette, and two brothers, Ryan and Michael Shane.
Marine Cpl. Barton R. Humlhanz, age 23, Died August 26, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom, assigned to Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 24, 24th MEU, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed Aug. 26 by enemy action in Babil province, Iraq. Humlhanz enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2000, before he graduated, and wore his military uniform to commencement. He was voted “most unique” by his graduating class, Dietrich said, and is pictured in the yearbook wearing an Army baseball cap.
Pamela Dowling joined the Marine Corps right out of high school in Oregon in 2005 to get money for college. She deployed three times, including to Iraq and Afghanistan, over the course of five years in uniform. She worked with big trucks, including providing gun support. When Dowling left the Marines, she was already suffering from PTSD and depression that occurred following her first deployment. According to her aunt, Lindsay Stevens, Dowling was in therapy for PTSD for nearly a decade, both in the Marines and later at the San Diego VA.
She had tried to reach out to the VA, but she was turned off by the experience. She called that last weekend. Her family questions whether the VA crisis worker should have acted —instead of endorsing her plan to wait over the weekend. “Why didn’t they go get her, when they knew that was how she was feeling?”
“She wasn’t in therapy because it wasn’t helping her,” Stevens said. “After 10 years of PTSD therapy, she shouldn’t have shot herself. That’s not usually how that would work. Ten years of therapy, you should be getting better.”
Army SFC Raymond J. Munden- Died February 16, 2009 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom – 35, of Mesquite, Texas; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Feb. 16 at Forward Operating Base Tillman in Orgun-E, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using indirect fire. Raymond J. Munden joined the Army in August 1991, only three months after graduating from high school. Growing up in a military family, he and his brother, Brad, both set their sights on serving their country at a young age. Raymond joined the Army, and Brad joined the Navy. “We both knew growing up that that’s what we wanted to do,” said Brad Munden. “He’s always had that passion.” Munden is survived by his wife, Kelly their daughters, Sydney, 6, and Kailey, 2 and two sons from a previous marriage, Gaven, 13, and Garrett, 12.
MacPherson was born July 20, 1986 in Long Beach, Calif. and graduated from Los Alamitos High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in May 2007 and completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Ga., as an infantryman. MacPherson is survived by his wife, Claudia MacPherson, and their son, Brayden of Tacoma, Wash., and his parents, Troy and Diona MacPherson of Long Beach, Calif.
Master Sgt. MacLean said Wyatt lived his life with honor, commitment and courage.
“He didn’t die. He changed jobs,” MacLean said. “He went from being a Marine here on earth to guarding the gates of Heaven. That’s what Marines do.”
Ann Gould was at work when she received a phone call from her husband, James, urging her to come home; she was needed immediately at home. While James waited with the military officers in his home in southern Bay County anxiously looking for his wife to come home, he had so much to grasp … his beloved son had lost his life doing a job his family knew he enjoyed. Kristopher was proud to do it, and he was good at it. Ann now at home confirms this was her son’s third tour of duty in the Middle East. Kristopher was very proud of his military service as was the rest of his family.
Kristopher joined the Army National Guard in 2003, served in Iraq from 2005 – 2006, was in the military full-time from 2006 to the present and he was on his 2nd tour in Afghanistan. Kristopher served in several Army combative tournaments. United States Sergeant Kristopher James Gould received several awards and decorations, including: the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal for Mobilization and the Army Service Ribbon. Sergeant Kristopher Gould was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
Mary Morgan, Denier’s mother, heard from her son only a few hours before his death, in the form of a Facebook message sent Saturday night, Dec. 1. It read: “All is well … I’ll call you in the morning.”
But Morgan did not hear from her son the next morning; instead, the Marines informed her of her son’s death.
“When he found out he was being deployed, he was excited. He said he was finally going to do what he was getting paid to do,” Morgan said. “I think the military made my son a man and I am extremely proud of him.”
“There is no doubt that Anthony’s actions that day saved the lives of many Marines to his left and his right,” Kevin Murphy, Denier’s platoon commander, said. “I witnessed young men in their prime sacrificing everything for each other and with each other. I witnessed courage like this time and time again throughout the firefight. I am very proud of Anthony and his actions, for I know it is because of his sacrifice that the rest of us came home.”
Keith was a Navajo and belonged to the Towering House clan and then to the Bitter Water clan. “He was willing to go to war to sacrifice his life for his country and his reservation,” said his younger brother, Chad.
He was scheduled to end his tour in Iraq in just a little more than three weeks and planned to serve the remainder of his time in California.
The Filipino immigrant had been in the United States for only three months in 2008 when he decided to join the Army. The 19-year-old, who was living in the Glassell Park area of Los Angeles, dreamed of becoming a pilot. Hizon had just started classes at Glendale Community College, where an Army recruiter sparked his interest. “First I didn’t want to let him sign up, because I wasn’t ready for that,” said his father, Rodolfo Hizon Jr. But two weeks later, he agreed. The grief of Hizon’s mother, Rachel Santiago, is especially acute; she had not seen her older son in three years. U.S. immigration rules had forced her to stay in the Philippines when Ryan, his younger brother and sister and their father moved to Los Angeles three years ago. It was only after he died that she was able to come to the U.S. She joined his brother, sister and father for a solemn military ceremony outside a Burbank airport hangar, where they embraced and wept over Hizon’s flag-draped casket.
A few weeks later, at a naturalization ceremony in Afghanistan for the U.S. military, U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry spoke of Hizon’s sacrifice. “Specialist Hizon gave his life for the honor of his country,” the ambassador said at the event in Kandahar. “In addition to receiving the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the National Defense Service Medal among many other awards and decorations, Specialist Hizon also became a citizen of the United States posthumously on March 14. “Although Specialist Hizon was not able to swear the oath of citizenship, we know from his actions that in his heart, he was a true American. He cherished the United States and upheld her values until the end. I am proud that his family, particularly his mother, who remained in the Philippines, will now be eligible to receive her son’s survivor benefits.”
Santiago, who recently got her green card, lives now with her other two children and their father in Glassell Park. From their home, they can see the cemetery bluff where Hizon is buried. Hizon’s father is thankful for his son’s citizenship but regrets that he never had the chance to enjoy being an American. “It came too late,” he said.
U.S. Army Spc. Dustin G. Allen, age 28, died May 18, 2012 in Croatia. He was a long time resident of Mobile, Al, but was stationed in Vicenza, Italy. He is survived by his mother Susan Allen, aunt Karen Dennis, sister Sherri Teat (Billy Teat), nephews Jordan, Liam and Logan Teat, brothers Joshua, Nicholas and the family dog “Liz” and many many more family and friends. He is preceded in death by his grandmother Mary Dennis.
Army Cpl. Keith E. Essay, 20, of Dyersburg, Tenn.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Jan. 8, 2009 in Maywand, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when his dismounted patrol was hit by an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Sgt. Joshua L. Rath.
They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Hood.
Sgt. Casey Byers, a member of the Iowa National Guard, died June 11, the first person from Schleswig to die in Iraq. Last week, two days before Casey, 22, was to be eulogized, his brother, Spc. Justin Paul Byers, 19, was struck and killed by a pickup on a local highway.
PFC Mikel Aaron Justus was born on July 1, 1982 in Grundy, Virginia. He lived in Richlands and Tazewell for most of his life before joining the United States Army in 2005. Mikel was an avid golfer. It was by far the sport of his choice. He was a self taught golfer spending many hours at the Tazewell County Country Club while a child and teenager playing. In 1999, he took first place in the Junior Golf Boys 14-18 playoff. For nine months, Mikel had been assigned to Walter Reed Medical Center for rehabilitation for injuries he received in November 2008. While at Walter Reed Medical Center, Mikel touched many lives, giving many soldiers hope from day to day to go on. He befriended everyone he met and he never met a stranger. He had a heart of love and would give or help people anyway he could. Mikel’s nickname at Walter Reed Medical Center was “Miracle Mike,” because they had witnessed actually seeing the miracles and changes in Mikel’s physical body.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Clayton R. Beauchamp, of Weatherford, Texas, died Aug. 7 when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device while conducting a dismounted patrol in the Shaban District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, 1st Marine Division (Forward), I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), Camp Pendleton, Calif.
SSgt Jeffery Reber, USMC, 2/19/85 – 8/12/14, Assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The 11th MEU is a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based Marine air-ground task force. Jeff served two tours in Iraq, one tour in Afghanistan and one tour in Yemen. While serving in Afghanistan Jeff received the Navy Commendation Medal with Valor for combat heroism. Jeff is survived by his wife, two sons, his mother, a brother, and a sister. Jeffery loved surfing and spending time with his family and his 2 boys. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA and served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. He was in 2 different companies 1/1 and 1/4. He served as a recruiter for 4 years. He loved USC football and the Los Angeles of Anaheim Angels.
Friday, April 19, 2013 – Tim’s unit was the B Co, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry, 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum New York, same as this author’s son, Derek McConnell. He was an infantry squad leader in a light infantry company with the mission to deploy worldwide and conduct combat missions upon arrival. Some of his medals were the Purple Heart, Army Commendation, Army Achievement medal, joint meritorious Unit Award, Army good conduct Medal National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal. He also served in Afghanistan and received the Afghanistan Campaign Medal W/2 Bronze Service Stars. Tim achieved the rank of SGT. He was honorably discharged in 2006.
Pfc. Brian Scott Ulbrich, 23, served as a lookout for bombs and insurgents ahead of his unit. He died Sunday after explosions rocked his Humvee, said his mother, Barbara Ulbrich. Ulbrich graduated in 1999 from Scott High School in Madison. He studied criminal justice at Marshall and had hoped to become an FBI agent but changed his mind, his mother said. He started training with the Army in April 2004 and joined a Fort Carson, Colo.-based unit that went overseas in March. He had spent his weekends home from Marshall doing part-time work at a Boone County coal mine that included running a bulldozer. On a recent mission, Ulbrich’s unit came upon a canal that looked to be uncrossable. He spotted a bulldozer nearby and hopped aboard. Before his commanding officers could react, he had the engine started and had a plan to cross the canal. Barbara Ulbrich said that when a doubting officer questioned her son, he replied, “Sir, I’m a West Virginia coal miner and I know what I’m doing.”
Spc. Eric J. Poelman, 21 married his “sweetheart of three years,” Renate Klema, on May 1, 2004, his father said. She is living with her parents in Racine. The Poelmans lived in Mount Pleasant, just outside Racine, before moving to Texas. Eric Poelman has two brothers, Andy, 23, and Greg, 17. Poelman joined the Army in January 2003 to get more experience operating big equipment like bulldozers and cranes after being home schooled in high school, his father said. The soldier spent five months in Iraq in 2003 and was redeployed for another tour of duty in March after being based at Fort Carson, Colo., Matt Poelman said. In Saturday’s call, the son reported he had a broken DVD player, and the parents already bought one to replace it by Monday, the father said. “He was planning to come home in two weeks, at the end of June. We still got the DVD player laying here,” he said.
Written by Kelli Culverhouse Barfield – My grandfather, SSG JASON FRANKLIN HILL– KIA 1945-Okinawa, Japan, beside his devoted wife, LOIS ETHEL SMITH-HILL…My grandfather was on his second enlistment when he was killed. It took my grandmother over 3 years to get him home so that he could finally be laid to rest where he belonged at home in his hometown…
Written by Kelli Culverhouse Barfield – My son, LCpl Jason Nicholas Barfield USMC – KIA 3/7/89-10/24/11 HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN Sangin District – OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. Jason was with 3rd CEB & was attached to 3/7 out of 29 Palms, CA … Jason will be forever 22 Our hometown affectionately gave him the name HOMETOWN HERO and his guys, his brothers from Cali nicknamed him MOMMA for his nurturing ways…
My Matthew was an Ozark Mountain boy raised in the rural southern Missouri area near the town of Gainesville by me (his mother) and his step-father. Matthew attended school at Lutie R-6 accelerated school in Theodosia, MO where he was in the Honors Society and graduated as salutatorian. He got his first job at the age of sixteen and had been gainfully employed since that date. In addition to serving in the US Army Matthew was working hard at earning his college degree.
Matthew England was a proud, dedicated soldier who was intelligent and witty and driven. He was a good friend to those deserving. He especially cherished the bond developed with those fellow soldiers with whom he served side by side. Those young fighting men—many of whom I feel I know personally—are true friends, evident by their genuine posts on Matthew’s Facebook page and their heartfelt correspondences with me.
According to a Department of Defense press release, the three soldiers died at Forward Operating Base Shank when “enemy forces” attacked their unit with small arms fire while the soldiers were conducting range training in Gardez.
— Staff Sgt. Liam J. Nevins, 32, of Denver, Colo., assigned to 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, Watkins, Colo. Nevins received a Purple Heart with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (2nd Award) and Army Commendation Medal with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters (3rd Award) among his numerous awards. Nevins is survived by his mother, his father, two sisters, and his fiance.
— Staff Sgt. Timothy R. McGill, 30, of Ramsey, N.J., assigned to 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, Middletown, R.I. McGill deployed with the 3rd Marine Division in 2005 and joined the R.I. National Guard in 2008. His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal and the National Defense Service Medal. He is survived by his parents and two sisters.
— Spc. Joshua J. Strickland, 23, of Woodstock, Ga., assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal. He is survived by his wife, his son and two daughters.
So-called insider attacks killed 62 personnel in 47 incidents last year compared with 35 killed in 21 attacks a year earlier, according to NATO.
So far in 2013, 11 foreign soldiers have been killed in seven such attacks, including Saturday’s, according to an Associated Press count.
Army Staff Sgt. Jamie D. Jarboe, 27, Died March 21, 2012 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom, of Frankfort, Ind.; assigned to 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.; died March 21 in Topeka, Kan., from wounds suffered on April 10, 2011, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire.