Beyond The Headlines – Honoring Those Who Made The Ultimate Sacrifice
A look beyond the desensitizing corporate media headlines and into the human side of the tragedy and suffering of those who made the ultimate sacrifice
We live in a world where we have all been desensitized to the pain and suffering being experienced by the friends and families of those who make the ultimate sacrifice.
The corporate media disgraces their honor by providing nothing than the name and rank of those who sacrificed and even worse just a simple headcount of the casualties in most cases.
Keeping the personal details out of the news is a lesson learned from Vietnam.
Such details enables the public to sympathize with those who sacrifice and fuels the public’s animosity against the war.
This of course is a the ultimate dishonoring to those who have sacrificed their lives for our nation and a disgrace to the friends and family of those suffering in grief.
Today, Gregory Patin from the Examiner takes us beyond the headlines and gives us a detailed look at August’s casualties in Afghanistan so they can be remembered and honored as they should be.
Contributed by Gregory Patin of The Examiner
September 2, 2012
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
The words of Dr. McCrae, written in 1915 after witnessing the death of his friend, have as much relevance today as they did then. With 53 soldiers killed, August 2012 was one of the deadliest months for the NATO coalition in Afghanistan since the war began almost 11 years ago. U.S. troop deaths in Afghanistan surpassed the 2000 mark with at least 38 killed last month. And there is no end in sight until at least 2014.
Those who have made the ultimate sacrifice seem to be getting less and less attention from the corporate media. NBC called it a “forgotten war” that “no one really cares” about, but there are hundreds of families who care and will never forget. It is a safe assumption that most Americans who have been paying attention to the news put forth by the corporate media in print and on national TV do not know how many service members died in August, and even fewer know their names. Whatever views one may have on the recent wars, military personnel deserve more recognition than that.
This article may be lengthy, but that is because the list of young Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country last month is long. The lists will continue to be lengthy until Americans demand an end to this war and the military presence in the Middle East. If you cannot take the time to read about and recognize the sacrifice of each individual, then ask yourself if it was worth it for any one of these young people to give up their lives.
To whom it may concern, here are their names and some information about each one of them:
Lance Cpl. Curtis Joseph Duarte, age 22, Covina, California. 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. Curtis died August 1, 2012 in Helmand province, Afghanistan following an improvised explosive device (IED) attack during combat operations. Duarte, a 2008 graduate of Covina High School who went on to study at San Diego State University, was on his first combat deployment. Among numerous decorations, he had earned a bronze star. Curtis is survived by his parents, Joe and Gina Duarte, his wife Sarah and their two year-old daughter, Gracie.
Pfc. Jesus Jonathan Lopez, age 22, San Bernardino, California. Company D, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. Jesus died on August 1, 2012 in Paktika province, Afghanistan. He was one of two soldiers killed by a roadside IED on their first combat deployment. A video posted on YouTube entitled “In loving Memory of Pfc. Jesus Lopez” can be viewed here. It says more about Jesus’ life than I can.
1st Lt. Todd William Lambka, age 25, Fraser, Michigan. Company D, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. Todd died along with Pfc. Lopez on August 1, 2012 when their vehicle stuck a roadside bomb in the Bermel district of Paktika province, Afghanistan. Todd was a 2010 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Todd’s twin brother, Jordan, also serving in Afghanistan, accompanied his body home. Todd was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart posthumously, and flags in the state of Michigan were lowered to half-mast on August 15th in his honor. He is survived by his father, Brian, his brother and his fiancée, Cassie, whom he had planned to marry next June.
“I think every parent is surprised when their son or daughter makes that decision, but their love of country is the reason why they’re willing to go over there,” Brian Lambka said. “He thought defending the country was very noble. This is what my kids were called to do.”
Sgt. Kyle Brenton McClain, age 25, Rochester Hills, Michigan. 1433rd Engineer Company, 507th Engineer Battalion, 177th Military Police Brigade, Michigan Army National Guard. Kyle died on August 1, 2012 while clearing IEDs from roadways in Salim Aka, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. At his funeral on August 16th, Lisa McClain shared a letter from her husband’s best friend in college that was mailed after her husband’s death. “He never expected anything in return for any thoughtful act he provided,” she read. Father Stanley Ulman told mourners that the names of soldiers who are killed are read “never thinking, never even considering that one day we’d be reading the name of a young man close to our hearts.”
Staff Sgt. Matthew Steven Sitton, age 26, Largo, Florida. Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. Matthew was one of two soldiers killed on August 2nd when a roadside bomb detonated during dismounted operations in the Zharay district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan. He was supposed to return home in September and had planned to move to North Carolina with his wife, Sarah and their 9-month-old son, Brodey. Instead Sarah had this to say to NBC channel 8 news in Tampa Bay: “Everything I had in life, every future plan that I ever had was based around him. So when I heard that news, everything stopped on August second.” Matt is also survived by his parents, Steve and Cheryl and his brother Jonny.
1st Sgt. Russell Ryan Bell, age 37, Spring Lake, NC. Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. Russell died with Matthew Sitton when an IED detonated while they were conducting a dismounted patrol in the Zharay district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, on August 2nd. Surviving First Sgt. Bell are his wife, Latoya Bell of Spring Lake, N.C.; his son, Gage Bell of Spring Lake; his mother, Cynthia Holcomb and her husband Steve of Ohio; his father, Jim Bell and his wife Elizabeth of Texas; two brothers, Mathew Bell of Utah and Michael Bell of Texas; and a sister, Andrea Baird of Texas. He will be posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Cpl. Daniel Lee Linnabary II, age 23, Hubert, NC. 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force. Daniel died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on August 6, 2012. Along with his father and grandfather, he was the subject of a September 2009 profile by public affairs personnel at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, recognizing the family for producing successive generations of Marines. “My dad had this plastic model of the flag raising at Iwo Jima and the figures were pretty big,” he said. “I remember sitting there playing with that, thinking this is what I’m going to be when I grow up.”
Spc. Ethan Jacob Martin, age 22, Lewiston, Idaho. C Troop, 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. Ethan died on August 7th when two individuals wearing Afghan National Army uniforms turned their weapons on him in Koragay, Afghanistan. Dyan Hitch, who grew up in Bonners Ferry with the Martin family, came to show her respect to the family at his funeral procession. She said she remembers Ethan Martin as a young boy, proudly riding his bicycle around the neighborhood and that “it’s just a horrible loss.” Ethan’s family released the following statement to theirlocal TV news station:
Ethan was a very loving young man with a tender heart. He loved Idaho, and he loved to hunt and fish. He planned to go to nursing school after leaving the Army. Ethan leaves behind a loving family and many friends in Bonners Ferry and northern Idaho. His family includes his mother and father, his sister, four stepsisters and three stepbrother….He will be greatly missed by his family and his friends.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Clayton Ross Beauchamp, age 21, Weatherford, TX. Navy corpsman assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. Clayton died after his unit set off an IED planted by insurgents during a dismounted patrol in Shaban, Helmand province, Afghanistan, on August 7th. His high school English teacher, Christine Goss, described him as a “kind and courteous young man with a lightning-fast grin. He typically was pretty quiet during class discussions, but when that grin flashed, everyone knew he had something interesting and fun to say.” Clayton had planned to buy an engagement ring for his girlfriend once he returned from Afghanistan.
Maj. Thomas Elliott Kennedy, age 35, West Point, New York. Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. Thomas died on August 8th, one of two soldiers killed along with an airman when an insurgent detonated a suicide vest bomb in Sarkowi, Kunar province, Afghanistan. Kennedy, a graduate of West Point, leaves behind a wife and twins. A scholarship fund has been set up for the young children. Thus far, more than $363,000 has been raised for the children of this fallen soldier.
Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin James Griffin, age 45, Laramie, Wyoming. Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. Kevin died on August 8th along with Maj. Kennedy when an insurgent detonated a suicide vest bomb in the Sarkowi, Kunar province, Afghanistan. Kevin was on his sixth overseas deployment, having served one tour each in Kuwait and the Balkans, along with three deployments to Iraq. A father of two, Griffin grew up in Riverton, WY., with three brothers and two sisters. “He loved his wife and his kids, and that was his life – that and the military,” his brother, Shawn said.
Master Sgt. Gregory R. Trent, age 38, Norton, Massachusetts. Company B, 4th Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group. Gregory died on August 8th at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, from wounds sustained from small-arms fire in Bahktabad, Herat province, Afghanistan, on July 31, 2012. Trent was a graduate of Norton High School and then Fisher College in North Attleboro. He is survived by his wife, daughter, parents and a brother. Tears formed in Debbie Langevin’s eyes as she recalled Gregory and his family. A longtime neighbor of Gregory, as well as his mother, Barbara, father, and brother, she described the news of his death as “very sad,” and recalled memories of him working with his dad and fixing up the house. “They were a very close family.”
Maj. Walter David Gray, age 38, Conyers, Georgia. 13th Air Support Operations Squadron, 3rd Air Support Operations Group. Walter died on August 8th along with two soldiers when an insurgent detonated a suicide vest bomb in Sarkowi, Kunar province, Afghanistan. The blast robbed his wife and three young children of a lifetime of precious memories. “You could depend on him for anything,” said Brandi Allgood, Gray’s high school friend. “There was not a person on earth that didn’t like David. He was just unbelievable. He and I were just friends forever. He is actually the first boy I kissed. Words can’t even describe what we have lost.”
Staff Sgt. Sky Russell Mote, age 27, El Dorado, California. 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Special Operations Regiment. Russel died on August 10th.
He was one of three Marines killed when an Afghan police officer opened fire after sharing a pre-dawn meal with them at a police compound in the Garmsir district of Helmand province, Afghanistan. You can view his tribute video here.
Capt. Matthew Patrick Manoukian, age 29, Los Altos Hills, California. 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Special Operations Regiment. Another one of three Marines killed when an Afghan police officer opened fire after sharing a pre-dawn Ramadan meal and security meeting with them at a police compound in the Garmsir district of Helmand province, Afghanistan on August 10th.
Capt. Manoukian is survived by his father, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Socrates “Pete” Manoukian; his mother, Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian, Associate Justice of the Sixth District California Court of Appeal; brothers Michael and Martin; and the extended Manoukian and Bamattre families. Patricia said, “My heart is completely broken and my life has changed forever.”
Cpl. Richard Anthony Rivera Jr., age 20, Ventura, California. Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. One of three Marines “killed while supporting combat operations” in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on August 10, 2012.
A Washington Post article, however, may shed some light on Anthony’s death because the shooter may have been a 15-year-old Afghan boy who walked into a gym with an AK-47 where four unarmed Marines were exercising and held down the trigger until no bullets were left, leaving three dead and one badly wounded. Nonetheless, when the casket came off the plane, Rivera’s mother, Linda, held her son Isaiah Rivera close as she approached it. Separately, Rivera’s father, Richard, also walked slowly toward his dead son.
Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Jeschke, age 31, Herndon, Virginia. 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Special Operations Regiment. One of three Marines killed when an Afghan police officer opened fire after sharing a pre-dawn meal with them at a police compound in the Garmsir district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, on August 10th.
His first cousin offered a recollection of him from their youth:
[Ryan] grew up in a rough side of town, so he learned to defend himself and his two younger sisters through martial arts training. From his mother, a collegiate swimmer, he was gifted with Aquaman-like skills. In other words, like it or not, Ryan was born and bred a Marine.
In memorial, Governor Brown of CA ordered that flags be flown at half-staff over the State Capitol on August 17th and Gunnery Sgt. Jeschke’s family will receive a letter of condolence.
Staff Sgt. Scott Edward Dickinson, age 29, San Diego, California. Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. One of three Marines killed while “supporting combat operations” in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on August 10th. Jesse Fournier, who graduated from Horizon Christian Academy along with Dickenson, said he embraced him as a friend when he was still new to the school. “I definitely remember him as the nicest guy,” Fournier said, “[He was] always happy and really had no worries in a sense. Things didn’t really get to him.” Pauline Dickinson said her son hoped to be assigned to an embassy after his current deployment so he could spend more time with his wife.
Lance Cpl. Gregory Thomas Buckley, age 21, Oceanside, New York. Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. One of three Marines killed while “supporting combat operations” in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on August 10th. In other words, another Marine who was shot and killed by an Afghani “policeman” that U.S. troops are ordered to train to handle “security.” Buckley’s father says his son had recently expressed concerned for his safety on the base. “My son said, ‘In my heart, dad, I feel like something is going to happen to me. I’m not going to be home in November.’ He’s a funny kid,” Buckley, Sr., said. “He was a beautiful boy, and this world has no idea what they’re going to miss.”
Staff Sgt. Eric Scott Holman, age 39, Evans City, Pennsylvania. 767th Ordnance Company, 192nd Ordnance Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group, 20th Support Command. Eric was killed by an IED in Godali, Ghazni province, Afghanistan, on August 15, 2012. Sgt. Holman was working with a U.S. Special Forces team in a remote are of the Afghan mountains when he was killed. His death came just weeks before he was supposed to return to the United States. A large contingent of family members, including his mother, Carol, his father David and his stepmother, were at Dover Air Force Base, in Delaware, when his body was brought back to the United States. “He had planned to make the Army a career,” Jan Holman said, “He liked everything about it.”
Pfc. Andrew James Keller, age 22, Tigard, Oregon. Company B, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. Andrew was killed when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire in Charkh, Logar province, Afghanistan, on August 15th. He died from a gunshot wound to his head. Andrew was a son, a brother, a best friend and soon to be married to Marissa Jones, his fianceé and girlfriend since eighth grade. Marissa, choking back tears as she spoke in a well-prepared speech during the memorial service said, “Andrew and I had a love that’s enough to last for an entire life…I know he is going to guide me through the rest of my life until we are able to be together again. I am beyond blessed to call him my better half, my soul and the love of my life.”
This brings us to the mid-August, where seven Americans along with three Afghan soldiers and an Afghani civilian interpreter died in a helicopter crash. The crash is under “investigation” as Taliban leaders claim the UH-60 Blackhawk was shot down, while the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), NATO and the pentagon claim they do not know what really happened.
Sgt. Richard Allen Essex, age 23, Kelseyville, California. Company A, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. Richard was one of four soldiers killed along with three sailors when their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed in the Chinartu area of the Shah Wali Kot district in northeastern Kandahar province, Afghanistan, on August 16th. At his funeral, military officials presented his family with 15 medals and badges, including a posthumous purple heart and a bronze star. A military guard then fired three volleys followed by a rendition of Taps.
Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick Delaney Feeks, age 28, Edgewater, Maryland. SEAL Team Three, Naval Special Warfare Group One. Feeks died in the aforementioned UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash. Feeks is survived by his parents, Thomas and Virginia, and his wife, Emily.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Suresh Niranjan Aba Krause, age 29, Cathedral City, California. Company A, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. Suresh died on August 16th in the UH-60 crash. “Ba” (Suresh’s nickname which is short for baby as he was the youngest) was a graduate of Cathedral City High School and went on to earn a degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in May 2005. A friend of his, Dianna Geck from Hawaii wrote, “Suresh, you are such a beautiful person, inside and out. We will miss you terribly, for you are one of a kind. We will fly in to see you and your family…and pay our most humble respects to a true American hero.
Petty Officer 2nd Class David John Warsen, age 27, Kentwood, Michigan. SEAL Team Three, Naval Special Warfare Group One. David also died in the UH-60 crash in northeastern Kandahar province, Afghanistan, on August 16th. Warsen was a graduate of East Kentwood High School. He joined the Navy in March 2009, and his tour in Afghanistan was set to end Oct. 1. Warsen and his fiancée were planning a Dec. 8 wedding. Flags throughout Michigan were lowered at half-staff in his honor on August 30th.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian Daniel Hornsby, age 37, Melbourne, Florida. Company A, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. Brian also died in the UH-60 crash in Chinartu, Afghanistan on the 16th. His parents, Glenn and Donna Hornsby of Lehigh Acres said, “Brian…was a loving and compassionate husband, father, son, brother and friend who never chose the easy path in life…We’ve got a lot to do yet….We’ve been talking with our daughter-in-law.”
Petty Officer 1st Class Sean Patrick Carson, age 32, Des Moines, Washington. Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Three. Sean also died in the Black Hawk crash on August 16th in Chinartu, Afghanistan. His mother Fran Carson, said to KATU in Seattle, “He knew probably his entire life that he wanted to be in the military…He was a wonderful son, he was a wonderful father to his daughter.”
Sgt. Luis Antonio Oliver Galbreath, age 41, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Company B, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. Luis also died on August 16th in the UH-60 crash. Luis was married and had three children.
Pfc. Michael Robert DeMarsico II, age 20, North Adams, Massachusetts. Company C, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Michael died on August 16th of wounds suffered when an IED exploded near him in Panjwayi, Afghanistan. At his funeral, Rev. David Anderson said, “We will never forget this day. We will never forget the day the war in Afghanistan came home to us all.” Jessica Storie, 18, a girlfriend who in church sang a song entitled “A True Hero” that she wrote for the “lovable, good-hearted” DeMarsico, said “He loved his job.” She based the song on a line that DeMarsico embraced on Facebook: “A true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
Staff Sgt. Gregory Todd Copes, age 36, Lynch Station, Virginia. 3rd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Special Operations Regiment. Gregory died on August 17th in Kanesk, Afghanistan. He was killed along with a Navy corpsman when a member of the Afghan Local Police opened fire on them with an automatic rifle. Among many others in his family, he is survived by his wife, Tia Moody Copes; his children, Connor, age 6, Emily, age 4, Peighton, age 1, and Logan, age 6 months.
Spc. James Austin Justice, age 21, Grover, North Carolina. Company C, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. James died on August 17, 2012, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, from injuries suffered from enemy small-arms fire in the Wardak province, Afghanistan, on August 14. Spc. Justice joined the army when he was 18 and was the 2000th U.S. soldier to die from the war in Afghanistan. He leaves behind a wife and three step children in Italy.
Petty Officer 1st Class Darrel Lynn Enos, age 36, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Navy corpsman assigned to 3rd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Special Operations Regiment. Darrel died on August 17th in Kanesk, Afghanistan along with a Marine when a member of the Afghan Local Police opened fire on them with an AK-47 issued to him by American forces. Darrel was on his third deployment. When not deployed, he nurtured a growing family with his wife, Andrea, in their North Carolina house. They each had two children from previous marriages and had two more together. “He was a good doc,” Dale Enos said of his brother. “He saved a lot of lives when he was over there. … I’m going to miss him. I already do.”
Sgt. David Vincent Williams, age 24, Frederick, Maryland. Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. David died as the result of a non-battle related injury in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on August 18, 2012. Retired Col. David W. Williams asked that the public “please remember David Vincent in your prayers…a caring, giving soul, who loved his family, the Army, and his country,” his father wrote. “He was serving his first deployment and looking forward to marrying a wonderful young woman upon his return. Words cannot express the grief that David’s sister, fiancée and I are feeling.”
Sgt. 1st Class Coater Bernard Debose, age 55, State Line, Mississippi. 18th Detachment, 2nd Battalion, 351st Infantry Regiment, 158th Infantry Brigade, 1st Army Division East, Army Reserve. Coater was killed on August 19th when an individual wearing an Afghan Police uniform opened fire on ISAF service members in Spin Boldak, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. He is survived by his wife, Juanita and several children: Latravis Debose of Moss Point, MS, Caronica Jackson, of Hattiesburg, MS, Christopher Debose, of Parris Island, SC, Nekeshia Raybon, of Wright Patterson Air Force Base Dayton OH, and Broderick Debose, of Petal, MS.
Sgt. Louis Ramon Torres, age 23, Oberlin, Ohio. Company B, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Louis died on August 22, 2012, in San Antonio, Texas, of wounds suffered when he encountered a roadside bomb in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on August 6, 2012. This was his second deployment and he had just over a month remaining on his tour.
Pfc. Patricia L. Horne, age 20, Greenwood, Mississippi. 96th Aviation Support Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. Patricia died of non-hostile cause at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on August 24, 2012. The military did not immediately release a cause of death. “She told me a few weeks ago that she was going to re-enlist,” her mother, Betty Horne, said on Monday. “The Army would pay for her schooling. She wanted to be a doctor.” Unfortunately, the 20-year-old didn’t get that chance. She is the 36th military woman to die in Afghanistan during the past 11 years. “You know the war is going on but until something like this happens, it hits home dramatically,” she said.
Sgt. Christopher J. Birdwell, age 25, Windsor, Colorado. 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. Christopher was one of two soldiers killed on August 27th when a member of the Afghan National Army turned his weapon against U.S. troops in Kalagush, Afghanistan and shot him in the chest. Chris’ mother, Pam Birdwell, said her son had a gift for brightening a person’s day. “He could make anyone smile,” she said. “There was just something about him that made him able to bring a smile to anyone’s face.”
Spc. Mabry J. Anders, age 21, Baker City, Oregon. 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. Mabry died along with Sgt. Birdwell when a member of the Afghan National Army turned his weapon against U.S. troops in Kalagush, Afghanistan, on August 27th. Both were awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart posthumously. In a Facebook post, Anders joked about the big homecoming events that he saw other soldiers greeted with, saying “you know when I get home I won’t have very many if anyone standing there waiting for me when I hop off the plane. Instead it will be me and a few homeboys, going to get a huge greasy nasty American burger… then a few beers, and then who knows. That’s enough for me though, it’s just funny to see these huge homecoming parties.”
Staff Sgt. Jessica M. Wing, age 42, Alexandria, Virginia. 1st Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, Maine Army National Guard. Jessica died in a non-combat related incident in Kuwait City, Kuwait, on August 27, 2012. Jessica loved her job and spent more than half of her life in military service, a longtime friend, Staff Sgt. Sean Miller, told Nok-Noi Ricker of The Bangor Daily News. She spent 23 years in uniform. “It’s just a real shock. She was very dedicated to the Army, her job and to her friends. My heart is filled with sorrow.” Wing had been mobilized three times during her 11 years fixing helicopters as an active-duty U.S. Army soldier, once to Haiti and twice to Bosnia, before moving to Maine and joining the 126th medevac unit known as the “Black Bears” eight years ago.
Most journalists are required to cover the who what when where and why. The why is my only question. Why are U.S. troops still dying in Afghanistan? Osama Bin Laden is dead. Is it because of the TAPI pipeline?
Everyone mentioned above did what the U.S. government asked them to do and their loss diminishes all Americans. Our leaders need to justify the loss of so many young men and women who died in a place so far away.
Author’s note: Most of this information was collected from local news sources. If any of it is incorrect, please leave a comment and I will edit and correct it ASAP.
Original version of this article appeared on the examiner at U.S. casualties in Afghanistan August 2012: A closer look
By Gregory Patin (modified version printed with permission).
About The Author
Gregory Patin earned a B.A. in political science from U.W. – Madison and a M.S. in management from Colorado Technical University. He is currently a free lance writer residing in Madison, WI who considers himself politically independent.