2017 Healing Heroes

The 6th Annual Healing Heroes Benefits at Grace Chapel was held this past September 10th. Raven Cliff sing our National Anthem,a cappella, that alone was worth the $10 ticket. Songwriters Leslie Satcher Dan Demay, and Craig Morgan filled the night with tears, laughter and love.

Brian and I are so blessed to call Leslie Satcher, David Allen, Even and Korene Stevens our friends. To do this show year after year, when it takes months of planning, is truly a loyal friend and shows true dedication in supporting our USAF, Marines, Navy and Army. Thank you all!

PS. Jeannie and mama we know you are the glue behind the scenes.

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John T. Stone

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Army Sgt. 1st Class John T. Stone.


Army Sgt. 1st Class John T. Stone

Died March 28, 2006 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

52, of Norwich, Vt.; assigned to the 15th Civil Support Team, Vermont Army National Guard, South Burlington, Vt.; killed March 28 as a result of enemy mortar and small arms attacks during combat operations in Lashkagar, Afghanistan.


Finding lost brother motivated soldier to enlist

John T. Stone
John T. Stone

MONTPELIER, Vt. — John Thomas Stone was a junior in high school when his older brother Dana, a freelance photographer, disappeared in Cambodia along with Sean Flynn, the son of the actor Errol Flynn.

Tom Stone joined the Army in 1971 shortly after he graduated from Woodstock High School, motivated at least in part by a desire to learn what had happened to his brother. On Wednesday, Stone, still a soldier 35 years later but now in the Vermont National Guard, was killed in combat in Afghanistan. “He had it in his mind he might go and try to find his brother,” when he enlisted, said Elisha Morgan, now of Norwich, who played football with Stone in high school. Dana Stone was listed as missing in action for years and was eventually listed as dead. But Tom Stone never lost the sense of adventure the military imbued in him or his desire to help those around him.

Sgt. 1st Class Stone, 52, was killed by small arms fire in Afghanistan Tuesday afternoon, Vermont time, while he was helping Afghan soldiers repel an attack on their forward operating base in the southern part of the country. “He was the best friend anyone could have, anybody,” Morgan said. “I know when he was shot he was helping others. That’s all he did. He never cared about financial gain. He did it out of love for humanity.” Over the years Stone served in the regular Army, the reserves and the Vermont National Guard. Between 1992 and 2000 he walked around the world, literally, 22,000 miles through 29 countries.

Stone was on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Vermont National Guard when he was killed. Guard officials and Stone’s friends remember a man who dedicated himself to others. During his earlier Afghan tours, Stone, a trained medic, set up a clinic for Afghan civilians in a shipping container. It served thousands of people.

It was in a similarly foreign land that Stone lost his brother. On April 6, 1970, Dana Stone was on assignment for CBS News and Flynn for Time Magazine. They had ridden into the Cambodian countryside on motorbikes when they were captured by communist guerrillas. They were never heard from again.

Morgan said Stone’s favorite poem was “The Men that don’t Fit In,” a 1916 work by Robert Service. The poem talks about men who can’t stay in one place and who break the hearts of their family members. “He was a man’s man,” Morgan said. “If he could have written he would have been an Ernest Hemingway.” Stone never married but he left a life partner, Rose Loving of Tunbridge, and a sister in Florida.

 “He was an individual, even though he was military. His motivation was always to help people in need, particularly kids,” said Smith. “I used to sit back and say he had it right. He had that sense of the world that ‘I need to help.’ He was an adventurer and he sought people out and tried to help them.”


Vermont guardsman killed in Taliban attack

COLCHESTER, Vt. — A Vermont National Guard soldier serving on a base with Afghan soldiers in the southern part of the country was killed Wednesday during an attack by Taliban militants, Guard officials announced.  Sgt. 1st Class John Thomas Stone, 52, of Tunbridge, who was known as Thomas, was killed by small arms fire, said Gen. Martha Rainville, commander of the Vermont Guard. Stone was on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, she said, and was attached to Task Force Catamount. “He felt he was making a difference,” Rainville said. “He cared very much about others in the world.” Also killed in the attack was a Canadian soldier, identified as Pvt. Robert Costall of the 1st Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, Alberta.

Stone was unmarried but left a longtime partner, Rose Loving of Tunbridge, Rainville said. He had no children but a sister lives in Florida. Stone joined the Army after his graduation from Woodstock Union High School in 1971 and has served in the active duty Army, the Reserves or the National Guard since, officials said. He has worked full-time for the Vermont Guard since 2000.

Army Sgt. 1st Class John T. Stone's marker
Army Sgt. 1st Class John T. Stone’s marker

The attack took place early in the morning Wednesday in Afghanistan, which was still Tuesday afternoon in Vermont. He was assigned to train Afghan troops and was directing the soldiers when he was shot, Rainville said. He was wearing full body armor at the time. Officials in Afghanistan said at least five coalition troops were wounded in the same attack, including three Canadians and an American. A small contingent of Canadian and American forces serve alongside Afghan troops at the base in the Sangin

Vermont National Guard Capt. Jeff Roosevelt served in Afghanistan two years ago during Stone’s previous deployment. “He always had a positive attitude, always looked at the bright sides of things,” Roosevelt said after Rainville’s news conference at Vermont National Guard headquarters in Colchester.

Stone, who was trained as a medic and known as “Doc,” set up medical clinics for the Afghans that Roosevelt said probably saved hundreds of civilian lives.

Sources:

Anthony M. Carbullido

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Anthony M. Carbullido.


Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Anthony M. Carbullido

Died August 8, 2008, Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

25, of Agat, Guam; assigned to the Naval Hospital Corps School in Great Lakes, Ill.; died Aug. 8, in Sangatesh, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when his convoy vehicle hit an improvised explosive device.


Family, friends mourn sailor: Acting governor orders flags to half-staff

Family and friends of Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Anthony M. “Tony” Carbullido gathered at the family’s home in Agat yesterday to mark his passing. Throughout intermittent showers, family members in chairs under an awning recited the rosary.

Anthony Carbullido, 25, is the 17th serviceman from Guam to die since the outset of the War on Terror in 2001 and the fifth this year. The total number of regional casualties is 29.

Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Anthony M. Carbullido
Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Anthony M. Carbullido

Anthony Carbullido, the sailor’s father, said that the family was notified of his son’s death early Saturday morning.  The sailor is survived by his wife, Summer, and his daughter, Lexie, both of whom live in Chicago. According to a statement issued yesterday from the Navy’s Public Affairs office, the corpsman died from “injuries he suffered when his convoy vehicle hit an improvised explosive device while serving in Sangatesh, Afghanistan.” Lt. Donnell Evans, public affairs director for Naval Forces Marianas, said the sailor died Aug. 8.

Island leaders shared their condolences over the loss of another of Guam’s sons.

“We extend our sympathies and prayers to his family, friends and loved ones,” said Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo in a statement issued yesterday.  “Anthony will rest in the hearts and minds of a grateful people who are humbled by his ultimate sacrifice,” said acting Gov. Mike Cruz in a statement yesterday. “I have ordered all government … agencies to fly all flags at half-staff in honor of Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony Carbullido.”

Those gathered at the Carbullido family home yesterday remembered Anthony M. Carbullido fondly. “He was a real doer,” said Austin Carbullido, the sailor’s brother. Austin Carbullido said his brother always approached challenges head-on and that he enlisted in the military because he wanted to be a doctor. Jermaine Alerta, who had been friends with the sailor since they were in kindergarten together, remembered his friend’s sense of humor. “He was a very funny guy, … always talking. He was fun to be around,” said Alerta. “He was a great guy, just a great guy.”

Anthony M. Carbullido
Anthony M. Carbullido

Alerta remembered the corpsman’s last visit to Guam in March. He was here for two weeks with his wife, Summer whom he had recently married.  “We took him and his wife around and had a good time,” said Alerta. Alerta said the couple talked about how they planned to move back to Guam to raise their family once his tour of duty in Afghanistan was completed.

According to the fallen sailor’s father, the corpsman was scheduled to leave Afghanistan in July for the 3rd Marine Reconnaissance Battalion in Okinawa, Japan.  But Anthony M. Carbullido’s tour was extended until Aug. 7. His tour was extended yet again, until the end of August.

“He was over there so we can have the way of life we always believed in,” his father said. “He was the kind of kid that always made the ultimate challenge, and he made this ultimate challenge so we can have freedom anywhere in the world.”

While he doesn’t know the exact date yet, the sailor’s father said he plans to meet his son’s remains when they arrive in Dover, Del.

Aurora Carbullido, the sailor’s mother, said that her son’s death was the realization of her fears as the mother of a sailor involved in active duty. “I’ve seen past pictures and articles (of troops who have died in combat) and it scared me because my son is over there,” said Aurora Carbullido. “This is a hard situation to be in,” his father said. “It’s hard to believe that this is happening to us.”

Aurora Carbullido asked the community to pray for them during their hardship and pray for other servicemen and women serving overseas in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sources:

Carlos Wilcox IV

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Army Spc. Carlos E. Wilcox IV.


Army Spc. Carlos E. Wilcox IV

Died July 16, 2009 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

27, of Cottage Grove, Minn., assigned to the 34th Military Police Company, 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota Army National Guard, Stillwater, Minn.; died July 16 in Basra, Iraq, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using indirect fire. Also killed were Spc. James D. Wertish and Spc. Daniel P. Drevnick.


Minnesota mourns guardsmen killed in Iraq

STILLWATER, Minn. — Condolences poured in from across the state Saturday after three soldiers with the Minnesota National Guard were killed in Iraq.

Carlos E. Wilcox IV
Carlos E. Wilcox IV

The Pentagon on Saturday confirmed the slain soldiers were 22-year-old Spc. Daniel P. Drevnick, of Woodbury; 20-year-old Spc. James D. Wertish, of Olivia; and 27-year-old Spc. Carlos E. Wilcox IV, of Cottage Grove.  All three were assigned to Stillwater-based 34th Military Police Company, 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division.  “We mourn the loss of these three soldiers,” said Maj. Gen. Larry Shellito, the Minnesota National Guard’s adjutant general, in a statement. “They were truly part of our National Guard family.”  The soldiers were killed Thursday evening when insurgents attacked their Basra position with mortars, rockets and artillery.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said in a statement Saturday that she was “deeply saddened” by the soldiers’ deaths.  “They made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, and for that we are forever grateful,” she said.

Funeral details were not immediately provided. But an organization that supports military families and troops returning from duty planned a silent vigil to honor the three soldiers and their families. The Yellow Ribbon Network of Washington County said the vigil, to be held Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Stillwater Veterans Memorial, would also honor all deployed service members and their families.

Iraqi authorities said Saturday that they arrested a member of an Iranian-backed militia suspected in an attack that killed three U.S. soldiers in southern Iraq. It wasn’t immediately clear whether those three soldiers were the Minnesota guardsmen.  Maj. Gen. Adil Daham, chief of the Basra provincial police, said the militiaman confessed early Saturday to the attack on a U.S. base near the airport. The rocket attack was a rare assault on troops in the comparatively quiet south, the U.S. military said.

The last time three Minnesota soldiers were killed on the same day in Iraq was Feb. 21, 2005, when three National Guard troops were killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.

Wilcox, who wanted to become a doctor, had been on his first deployment to Iraq since May, his mother told The Associated Press on Friday.  “He was a very proud young man, just very proud to serve his country,” said Charlene Wilcox.

Carlos Wilcox grew up in Minnesota and graduated from Tartan High School in Oakdale, his mother said. He studied at Arizona State University and in Granada, Spain. He then returned to Minnesota and graduated from Metropolitan State University with a biology degree.


Medical school was in his future

Carlos Wilcox had his sights on medicine. He earned a biology degree from Metro State University, returning to Minnesota after spending time studying at Arizona State University and in Granada, Spain.  Even when deployed to Iraq, he found time to study while helping his comrades as a health care specialist.

Army Spc. Carlos E. Wilcox IV
Army Spc. Carlos E. Wilcox IV

“He wanted to become a doctor,” said his mother, Charlene Wilcox. “I had just sent him books to study for the MCAT [entrance exam] so he could apply for medical school.”

Wilcox, 27, of Collage Grove, Minn., died July 16 alongside two other Minnesota Army National Guard soldiers during an insurgent attack in Iraq. His mother said Wilcox was on his first deployment and had been in Iraq since May. His unit was based in Stillwater, Minn.

Comrades said they had fun joking around with Wilcox but were always a bit amazed by how professional and astute he was while deployed.  “Wilcox always took care of us,” one of his fellow soldiers said. “If anyone was hurting or had a medical issue, he took care of it.”

Wilcox grew up in Minnesota and graduated from Tartan High School in Oakdale. He enlisted in the National Guard in 2006, after a short break from service with the Army Reserve.  He is survived by his mother.  “He was a very proud young man, just very proud to serve his country,” she said.

Sources:

John Dawson

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Army CPL. John M. Dawson.


Army CPL. John M. Dawson

Died April 8, 2015 Serving During Operation Freedom’s Sentinel

22, of Whitinsville, Mass., died April 8 in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by small-arms fire while on an escort mission. He was a combat medic assigned to the First Squadron, 33d Cavalry Regiment, Third Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.


An outpouring of emotion, memories at soldier’s funeral

Army CPL. John M. Dawson
John M. Dawson

UPTON — Bagpipes wailed in the background as dozens of soldiers and veterans with the Patriot Guard Riders stood in the rain outside St. Gabriel the Archangel Church Monday morning, clutching towering poles topped with drenched American flags.

A casket bearing the body of Army Corporal John M. Dawson, who was killed in Afghanistan on April 8, was carried into the church by a six-member honor guard.

Dawson, 22, died in Jalalabad after an Afghan National Army soldier “turned traitor” fired at the group of US soldiers at the provincial governor’s compound in eastern Afghanistan. Dawson was hit by small-arms fire. Other soldiers were also wounded that day. His fellow servicemen gave Dawson’s family his personal belongings, which included a dog tag that read, “Greater love has no other than this, than to lay down your life for your friends.” The back of the dog tag read, “In memory of an American hero.” “You will always be our hero, John,” said the slain soldier’s father, Michael Dawson, after reciting the phrase from his dog tag.

Several people wiped away tears as Dawson spoke. “Thank you for the 22 years you provided us.” Eulogizing his son, Dawson said, “If you knew John, you knew a respectable, kind, caring, thoughtful, smart, witty, and fun kid.”
John Dawson, who grew up in Northbridge, was as an “old soul . . . old school,” Major General Steve Townsend of the 18th Airborne Corps said during the service, adding that he loved the Patriots, Bruins, flip cellphones, cigar magazines, the stock market, and conspiracy theories. Townsend said that anytime something happened to the platoon Dawson would “scream about a conspiracy theory,” adding that one soldier joked that “only Dawson can actually make it sound real.”

Townsend shared stories he heard from soldiers who knew Dawson, including the time he entered a soldier’s room spraying silly string. The soldier was angry until he realized it was Dawson.

Then there was the time Dawson just got a new pair of sunglasses. He told everyone the glasses could see through the water and to the fish below, Townsend said. Dawson tried to demonstrate that and the glasses fell from his face into the water. His team got a good laugh.

Army CPL. John M. Dawson
Army CPL. John M. Dawson

Another soldier, who had experienced a death in his family, struggled with the omnipresent death that came from being in the Army and on the streets of Afghanistan. Dawson helped him work through it. “‘I am now and forever will be a better man because of Dawson,’ ” Townsend recalled the soldier tell him.

“Some people say sports stars are heroes, some say movie stars are heroes. . . . My heroes are the 20-something year-old Americans who wear the uniform of American law enforcement,” Townsend said. “He was doing what he loved.”

The young soldier had a favorite quote, Townsend said: “It’s the journey not the destination that matters.”

Dawson was a combat medic assigned to the First Squadron, 33d Cavalry Regiment, Third Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, according to the Department of Defense. He trained for service at Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio; and Fort Campbell, Ky.

The Rev. Michael Broderick, formerly of St. Patrick’s Parish in Whitinsville, said Dawson was an active member of the Young Neighbors in Action. He was also cycling enthusiast who rode with the 10th Gear Christian Bicycle Group. Broderick said that Dawson had “a mischievous sense of fun,” adding that he would often jump into pictures being taken and was “photobombing before photobombing was trending.”

He went on to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay and Quinsigamond Community College before enlisting in the Army in 2012.

Sources:

Levi Nuncio

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Army Spc. Levi E. Nuncio.


Army Spc. Levi E. Nuncio

Died June 22, 2011 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

24, of Harrisonburg, Va., a combat medic assigned to 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; died June 22 of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire in Narang district, Kunar province, Afghanistan.


Spc. Levi E. Nuncio – In memory of our fallen brother

Spc. Levi E. Nuncio
Spc. Levi E. Nuncio

The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, SP4 Levi E. Nuncio, who died in the service of his country on June 22nd, 2011 in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. The cause of death was listed as Small Arms Fire. At the time of his death Levi was 24 years of age. He was from Harrisonburg, Virginia.

The decorations earned by SP4 Levi E. Nuncio include: the Combat Medical Badge, the Soldiers Medal, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart,

SPC Nuncio was born in Laredo, Texas on September 10, 1986. He grew up in Harrisonburg, Virginia and enlisted in the United States Army on September 23, 2009. He received his Basic Combat Training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma and his Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas where he became a Health Care Specialist. He arrived to Headquarter and Headquarters Company, 2-35th Infantry on May 26, 2010. During his tenure in Cacti he held the position of Line Medic for 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company.

Army Spc. Levi E. Nuncio
Army Spc. Levi E. Nuncio

SPC Nuncio’s awards and decorations include: Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, and Combat Medical Badge.

SPC Nuncio died in action in support of Operation Enduring Freedom XII, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

He is survived by both his parents Raul and Berta Nuncio, as well as his older brother Dan I. Nuncio.


Levi Nuncio, who was living in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley when he enlisted in the Army, “loved helping people”, his girlfriend said Sunday night. So when he had the opportunity to pick a specialty in the service, said Donnie Widdowfield, he became a medic.

Specialist 4 Levi E Nuncio, who listed Harrisonburg, VA as his hometown, was serving in Afghanistan on June 22 when he died in Kunar province of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by small arms fire.

“He loved doing it,” Widdowfield said, “He was always excited when I talked to him”. Widdowfield, a resident of Elkton, VA, described Nuncio as real quiet and laid back.  In addition, she said, no matter what the circumstance, he could always put a smile on your face somehow.

Army Spc. Levi E. Nuncio
Army Spc. Levi E. Nuncio marker

Nuncio, 24, was energetic and determined. After dropping out of high school, Widdowfield said, he earned his GED. One reason he enlisted, she said, was to obtain the money needed for further schooling. When his service was over, Widdowfield said, he hoped to study to become a dentist.

Patriotism was also a motivation, said Mary Widdowfield, Donnie’s grandmother. Before Nuncio went to Afghanistan she said, he flew back to Virginia from Hawaii where he had been stationed. Then Donnie Widdowfield took him to the airport for the first leg of the trip that would eventually take him to Afghanistan.

“He was going toward the plane,” said the grandmother, and he looked back and said, “I love you, but I have got to go, this is my job.” According to the older Widdowfield, “He was a wonderful person.”

Sources:

Lucas Pyeatt

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Sgt. Lucas T. Pyeatt.


Sgt. Lucas T. Pyeatt

Died February 5, 2011 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

24, of West Chester, Ohio; assigned to 2nd Radio Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died Feb. 5 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.


Story of a Cryptologic Hero Sgt. Lucas T. Pyeatt

Sgt. Lucas T. Pyeatt
Sgt. Lucas T. Pyeatt

Sergeant Lucas T. Pyeatt was the epitome of a United States Marine. Raised in Newport News, Virginia, Lucas expressed from his earliest moments a keen interest in a wide range of topics and disciplines. Some might call him a Renaissance man. Growing up, whether he was pursuing the rank of Eagle Scout or expertly playing the stand-up bass, Lucas showed a unique passion and enthusiasm for life. In addition to using his many talents to accomplish many things, he lived his life in a way that would lead even a casual acquaintance to conclude that he was a person whose every action was characterized by kindness and consideration for others. For him, standing up for the little guy was a way of life. Among his many acts of benevolence toward his friends and family was taking the time to learn sign language in order to better communicate with a close friend who was deaf.

After high school, he would attend Old Dominion University for a short while, but Lucas was a young man in a hurry. He wanted something more out of life. In time, he would decide to follow in the footsteps of his father, a 30-year veteran of the United States military, and offer his service to his nation by enlisting in the United States Marine Corps.

Lucas put the same drive and devotion into being a Marine that he had exhibited in his formative

years. He excelled in his studies at the Defense Language Institute, becoming fluent in Russian. After training, he was assigned to the II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, at Camp Lejeune. 2011 would find him on the harsh unforgiving battlefields in southern Afghanistan.

While deployed, Pyeatt’s job was to translate, monitor and transcribe critical information in real time, with the aim of gaining intelligence on enemy insurgent operations and activities. During his brief but significant time in Afghanistan, Sergeant Pyeatt’s leadership and technical skills “were instrumental in the conduct of direction finding and enemy communications

in a contested region.” Sergeant Pyeatt had only been “in country” for two weeks when he volunteered to participate in an important mission. While on his first foot patrol in February 2011, he lost his life due to an improvised explosive device.

Marine Cpl. Lucas T. Pyeatt
Sgt. Lucas T. Pyeatt

During his life, Lucas T. Pyeatt was many things to many people. To his family, he was a devoted son. To his friends, he was someone they could always look to for help and support. To his nation, Sergeant Pyeatt was a loyal and dedicated member of the United States Marine Corps. His father said it best, noting his son had “accomplished more in his 24 years of life than most people accomplish in a lifetime.” In his service and sacrifice, Sergeant Pyeatt more than lived up to the motto of the Corps by being always faithful to his loved ones, his fellow Marines, and most of all to those principles and virtues that for over two centuries, have allowed our nation to remain free.

Sources:

Jordan Haerter

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Marine Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter.


Marine Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter

Died April 22, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

19, of Sag Harbor, N.Y.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died April 22 of wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq. Also killed was Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale.


Marine Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter remembered

Jordan Haeter
Jordan C. Haerter

In his senior year yearbook, Jordan C. Haerter’s favorite movie was “Black Hawk Down” and his ambitions included “become a good Marine and successful in life.”

“I know everyone says it when this happens, but he was a nice kid,” said Ronn Pirrelli, who coached Haerter in Little League. “Some kids come and go. He was one of those kids you don’t forget.”

Haerter, 19, of Sag Harbor, N.Y., was killed April 22 by a suicide car bomb in Ramadi. He was a 2006 high school graduate and was assigned to Camp Lejeune.

Haerter enjoyed waging paintball battles and driving his beloved Dodge pickup truck on the beach. “He was a great, great kid,” said Principal Jeff Nichols. “He was really well-liked. It’s just very sad.”

His father, Christian Haerter, said his son was always a hands-on type of guy who preferred to be out in the real world working, “getting your hands dirty,” rather than in a classroom. “It’s not that he was disillusioned with school, he was very good in school,” said his dad. “But he liked the whole concept of apprenticeship.”

He also is survived by his mother, JoAnn Lyles.


Six Seconds Of Iraq Valor Saved Dozens

Six seconds. That’s all it took to turn a quiet Iraqi street into a moment both horrific and heroic.
Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter and Cpl. Jonathan Yale died so others would live. “You’re talking about two guys who gave up everything for their brothers,” Staff Sgt. Kenneth Grooms said.

Haerter and Yale

They were Marine brothers from very different worlds. Yale’s was hard-scrabble Virginia. From a troubled home, he hungered to belong. “He touched your heart as soon as you met him,” said Rev. Leon Burchett, who took Yale in. “He never had a whole lot, but he was thankful for what he did have.”

On Long Island, New York, Jordan Haerter grew from middle-class toy soldier into mature Marine.  “He had your back, without a shadow of a doubt,” said Grooms.

Last April, Yale and Haerter were guarding the entry to their platoon’s camp in Ramadi. Standing here, out of sight. It was 7:30 in the morning. They had just met.   Suddenly a suicide truck appeared. It contained 2,000 pounds of explosives, heading toward them – and dozens of sleeping Marines.  “That’s like staring at the biggest, ugliest thing you could … and standing there,” said Lance Cpl. Nicholas Xiarhos, a fellow Marine.

The Marines shot at the driver, killing him. But then the truck erupted – its force ending a videotape of the event. It was so powerful, the blast leveled a city block. Yale was dead. Haerter was dying.  But everyone else nearby – Marines and Iraqis – survived. “And they made a heroic choice,” Grooms said. “And it ended up saving, you know, 50 people.”

Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter
Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter

Even by Marine standards, the heroism was extraordinary. The top Marine general in Iraq personally interviewed Iraqi witnesses, then nominated the two Marines for the Navy Cross. “They made a lot of decisions in those six seconds,” Maj. Gen John Kelly said. “And one of them was to die.”  The tape showed an Iraqi policeman ran. He lived.

Kelly said: “They wouldn’t have stood there and done that unless they were Marines, all the way to their DNA.”  Haerter had a hometown hero’s return on Long Island – like Yale in Virginia.  Friday at the Marine museum in Virginia, the families of Hoerter and Yale got their Navy crosses.  “None of us will ever be able to know or experience that split-second brotherhood,” Grooms said.

They started the day strangers. Their shared valor made them brothers forever.

Sources:

Jonathan T. Yale

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Marine Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale.


Marine Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale

Died April 22, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

21, of Burkeville, Va.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died April 22 of wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Balad, Iraq. Also killed was Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter.


Marine Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale remembered

Marine Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale
Marine Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale

Jonathan T. Yale’s mother said he was the kind of guy who liked to make people happy.

“He was the class clown, even when he wasn’t at school,” Rebecca Yale said. “But he also didn’t mind sitting home with his momma to watch a chick flick with a box of Kleenex between us. He was the best boy you could ask for.”

Yale, 21, of Burkeville, Va., was killed April 22 during the explosion of a suicide vehicle in Ramadi. He was a 2006 high school graduate and was assigned to Camp Lejeune.

When he was little, Yale loved to hang out with his granddad “in the bush and the thicket,” his grandfather, William Sydnor Sr., said. “I used to call him ‘Wild Man.’ No matter how much he would get scratched up in the woods, he always wanted to go again next time.”

Mother and son were so close that when he got stationed at Camp Lejeune almost two years ago, she and his sister moved to North Carolina from Virginia to be closer to him.

Yale became an “awesome skateboarder” and “one of the top paintball players” in the area, according to his mother. She said he was setting up a Web site for a paintball team he had founded.


UNSUNG HEROES: The Heroic Last Stand Of 2 Marines In Ramadi

Marine Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale
Haerter and Yale

Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter and Cpl. Jonathan Yale bravely sacrificed themselves to stop a suicide bomber, saving the lives of 150 comrades. On April 22, 2008, in Ramadi, Iraq, two Marine infantrymen, Cpl. Jonathan Yale and Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter, stood their ground and opened fire on a truck carrying 2,000 pounds of explosives as it barreled toward their post and the 150 Marines and Iraqi police inside the perimeter.

The truck stopped just shy of Cpl. Jonathan Yale and Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter, its windshield and the driver behind the wheel both blown away in a hail of gunfire. Then it detonated, killing the two Marines and leveling a city a block. The attack, the Marines’ final stand, and their sacrifice all took place in a matter of seconds.

Haerter and Yale, were posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for their actions, which were later recounted by Iraqi police present that day and captured on a security camera, according to Business Insider.

Before that day, Yale and Haerter had never met. They came from different backgrounds and deployed with different units, with Yale preparing to head home with the rest of 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, and Haerter just beginning his seven-month tour with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. But their final act of courage, defiance, and selfless sacrifice bound the two together forever.

According to a 2009 CBS News report, 21-year-old Yale had a rough upbringing in Virginia, and Haerter, who was 19 when he was killed, came from a middle-class family in Long Island, New York. If it wasn’t for the Marines, it’s likely that the two never would have met. But, they did meet and that same day they made a split-second decision to stand, fight, and ultimately die together.

Marine Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale
Marine Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale

“I was on post the morning of the attack,” said Lance Cpl. Benjamin Tupaj, a rifleman with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, in a May 2008 article released by the Department of Defense. “I heard the [squad automatic weapon] go off at a cyclic rate and then the detonation along with a flash. It blew me at least three meters from where I was standing onto the ground. Then I heard a Marine start yelling ‘we got hit, we got hit.’”

Shortly after the attack, Gen. John Kelly, the commander of all American and Iraqi forces at the time, met with those present that day, which he later described in a speech at the Semper Fi Society of St. Louis, Missouri, published by Business Insider. “By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside,” Kelly said in the speech. “They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. … Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty … into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight — for you.”

Sources:

Phyllis Pelky

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Air Force Maj. Phyllis J. Pelky.


Air Force Maj. Phyllis J. Pelky

Died October 11, 2015 Serving During Operation Freedom’s Sentinel

45, of Rio Rancho, N.M.; died Oct. 11 at Camp Resolute Support, Kabul, Afghanistan, in the non-hostile crash of a British Puma Mk2 helicopter. She was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.


Air Force Academy Major Who Died in Afghanistan Remembered for Service

The Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colo.|Oct 27, 2015|by Tom Roeder

Phyllis Pelky
Maj. Phyllis J. Pelky

Hundreds of people packed a funeral service Monday for an Air Force Academy major killed in an Afghanistan helicopter crash.

Eulogists said Maj. Phyllis J. Pelky was a patriot who left a teaching job in New Mexico to enlist in the Air Force after 9/11. She also was described as a loving mother of two and a devoted wife who balanced a life of service with family. “She gave the ultimate sacrifice, her life, for all those she loved,” said chaplain Capt. Don Romero, who led the service. “One thing is certain: She saw life that way, with every moment a precious opportunity to serve others.”

Pelky died in Kabul on Oct. 11 in the crash of a British chopper. Born in Evergreen Park, Ill., Pelky attended the University of New Mexico and taught in Rio Rancho, N.M. She was commissioned in the Air Force in 2004. She was posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for her work in Afghanistan, which included advising on personnel operations and organizing monthly Afghan air force women’s forums, according to the citation.

Phyllis Pelky
Maj. Phyllis J. Pelky

The 45-year-old taught German at the academy and served as an aide-de-camp to Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, academy superintendent, before her deployment.

Johnson and two other generals spoke during Pelky’s service. “My days were long, but hers were longer, and no matter how good or bad her day had been, Phyllis gave 100 percent of herself,” Johnson said. Johnson said the major won’t be forgotten. “She will always remain part of our story,” Johnson said. “It will be our duty to keep her story alive.”

Pelky was buried at the Air Force Academy service after the funeral. Along with her husband, Dave, and two sons, Pelky is survived by six siblings.

Academy dean Brig. Gen. Andy Armacost said Pelky was a strong teacher and mentor for cadets.  “She made a lasting impact on those with whom she worked, the faculty and cadets alike,” Armacost said. “The stories of Phyllis and her amazing contributions to our faculty and our academy will endure.”

The third eulogist was Brig. Gen. Steven Basham, who was Pelky’s boss at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. He said as a new lieutenant in 2004, Pelky showed maturity and wisdom that took superiors by surprise.  “Phyllis Pelky was the mentor — she was the one who provided the best guidance,” Basham said. “She took care of us on a daily basis.”

Pelky was one of five people killed in the crash, which has been deemed an accident by British authorities. The five represented three nations of the NATO coalition working to help the struggling Afghan government battle Taliban insurgents. Two Royal Air Force airmen, two American airmen and a French contractor died.

The other American in the incident was Master Sgt. Gregory T. Kuhse, 38, of Kalamazoo, Mich., who went to Afghanistan from Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

At the academy, Pelky will be remembered for giving her all to her family, her students and her nation, Romero said. “That’s what love looks like and that’s the best of the Air Force spirit,” Romero said.

Sources:

Military Times – HONOR THE FALLEN

Military.com

Christopher Drake

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Army Spc. Christopher R. Drake.


Army Spc. Christopher R. Drake

Died May 26, 2013 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

20, of Tickfaw, La., assigned to 1084th Transportation Company, 165th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, 139th Regional Support Group, Louisiana National Guard, Reserve, La.; died May 26 of injuries caused by a rocket-propelled grenade in Bagram, Afghanistan.


Louisiana National Guardsman from Tangipahoa killed in Afghanistan

Army Spc. Christopher R. Drake
Army Spc. Christopher R. Drake

A Louisiana National Guardsman from Tangipahoa Parish was killed in Afghanistan during the weekend. Spc. Christopher R. Drake, 20, of Tickfaw, died Sunday from injuries he suffered when the vehicle he was in was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, the Defense Department announced Tuesday.

The statement does not say whether the attack happened Sunday, or earlier. His fiancé has told reporters that he manned a gun atop an armored vehicle. Relatives of the fallen soldier announced word of his death before the Defense Department confirmed it.

Drake was assigned to the 1084th Transportation Company, an Army National Guard unit based in Reserve that specializes in transportation and in convoy escorts.

According to the Louisiana National Guard, Drake enlisted in September 2011 as a truck driver and completed basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. In Afghanistan, Drake served as a gunner on a Mine Resistant-Ambush Protected vehicle, according to National Guard.

He was one of about 115 soldiers based in the River Parishes who are in the early stages of a yearlong deployment. The National Guard gave the 1084th a send-off ceremony in February, in LaPlace.

According to news reports, Drake was the father of a 3-year-old and was engaged to be married. He was a 2011 graduate of Independence High School, in Independence, La. Family members on Tuesday were traveling to Delaware, where the bodies of U.S. troops killed oversees arrive in the United States.


Soldier Killed By Rocket Propelled Grenade In Afghanistan

Army Spc. Christopher R. Drake
Army Spc. Christopher R. Drake

Louisiana National Guardsman Spc. Christopher R. Drake, 20, was killed May 26 in Bagram, Afghanistan when a rocket propelled grenade hit his vehicle. The Department of Defense reports Drake was assigned to the 1084th Transportation Company, 165th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, 139th Regional Support Group, Reserve, Louisiana.

According to Drake’s Facebook page, he lived in Tickfaw, Louisiana and was recently engaged to be married. On May 14, he posted the lyrics to the song “Drink One For Me” by Jason Aldean:

You don’t know how bad,
I wish I was home
Can’t wait to get back,
But while I’m gone
Y’all carry on.
Drink one for me, for all the old times
We tore up that town, raised hell alright
Tell the boys, thanks for having my back
Some of the best memories I’ve ever had
So go on and get crazy
And drink one for me

Sources:

Travis Griffin

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Air Force Staff Sgt. Travis L. Griffin .


Air Force Staff Sgt. Travis L. Griffin

Died April 3, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

28, of Dover, Del.; assigned to the 377th Security Forces Squadron, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.; died April 3 near Baghdad of wounds sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.


Airman remembered as confident leader

Air Force Staff Sgt. Travis L. Griffin
Staff Sgt. Travis L. Griffin

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Air Force Staff Sgt. Travis Griffin knew the dangers of serving in Iraq, but the 28-year-old volunteered anyway as part of a yearlong deployment to help train Iraqi police officers. Griffin was on patrol in central Baghdad on Thursday when his vehicle encountered a roadside bomb and he was killed, officials at Kirtland Air Force Base confirmed late Friday. Griffin, who had served in the Air Force for nearly nine years, was a member of the 377th Security Forces Squadron at Kirtland. He had been stationed at the Albuquerque base since July 2004.

Griffin’s mother, Christine Herwick of western Ohio, was at the Clearcreek Christian Assembly in Springboro, Ohio, on Thursday when she learned of her son’s death. Griffin’s picture is on a prayer wall at the church. “He died doing what he loved,” she said. Herwick and Griffin’s stepfather, Donald Herwick III, said he was born in Okinawa, where the Herwicks were both on active duty, and traveled with them from base to base. “We knew there was risk every day,” Donald Herwick said. “He wanted to be there.”

Col. Robert Suminsby, installation commander at Kirtland, said Griffin’s mission in Iraq was much more dangerous than what most airmen are confronted with. “Most deploy for four to six months. He actually volunteered to go on a 365-day tour,” Suminsby said. “He was one of the folks that really stepped up to do not just a very dangerous and demanding mission, but one that was going to last a lot longer.” Griffin, of Dover, Del., had been in Iraq since October and was working with the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. As part of the squadron’s Detachment 3, Griffin and his fellow airmen were focused on helping build Iraq’s police force.

Capt. Kevin Eberhart, operations officer of Kirtland’s security forces, had regular talks with Griffin before he deployed last fall. The two talked about Griffin being safe and taking care of his troops as well as the importance of the mission. “The biggest thing that comes to mind when I think about him is he was definitely the right person if you had to pick one individual from our unit to go over and do this training. He was that one,” Eberhart said.

In a November interview with the American military newspaper Stars and Stripes, Griffin said: “I want to leave knowing that we’ve done something.” Eberhart described Griffin as competent and confident but not arrogant. “He had a capability and a charisma about him,” he said.


Kirtland to rename street for fallen warrior

Kirtland Air Force Base Public Affairs — Kirtland Air Force Base officials will rename a base street April 3 in honor of a fallen warrior.

The ceremony changing the name of M Street to Griffin Avenue in honor of a fallen security forces defender, Staff Sgt. Travis L. Griffin, will be at 10 a.m. at Building 20412, the security forces logistics building. The ceremony’s date commemorates the fourth anniversary of his death, when he was killed in action by a roadside bomb while deployed with the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron in Baghdad, Iraq.

Travis L. Griffin
Travis L. Griffin

A former colleague recalled her experience with Griffin. “I was stationed here with Travis when I was on active duty,” said Mirella Bidgood, 377th Security Forces Squadron security specialist. “My husband, at the time, knew him and our kids were the same age, so we hung out together sometimes after work. He was awesome. He was a helper; he would do anything for anybody. He would put people first.” Bidgood said she remembers a time when Griffin helped her while her husband was deployed.  “I was about six or seven months pregnant and had to move on base,” said Bidgood. “So I had a bunch of people trying to help me move. After everyone had left, he stayed and put pictures on the wall, set up my bed and arranged my furniture. I remember him always being upbeat and having a smile on his face.”

Griffin supervised Staff Sgt. Niles Bartram, 377th Weapons Systems Security Squadron, when Bartram arrived at Kirtland AFB as an airman first class. “He was a firm leader who set the standard,” said Bartram. “He was an incredible leader. Anything he had us do, he was willing to do with us. We knew if we ever needed anything we could go to him. He got me well prepared for my job. He was the best NCO in our unit. There is no other person I would rather have been mentored by as a young Airman than Sergeant Griffin.” While stationed here, Griffin was a security forces instructor. His duties included instructing the 550 security forces Airmen on security requirements. He was a key member of the base’s deployment training center, where he instructed more than 300 Airmen in combat operations.

“It was obvious he had a strong personal connection with a number of people in the squadron,” said Chapapas. “Young people came to him for advice, while his peers and colleagues had great confidence in him. A good testament to that when his Humvee was hit, the Army medic who tried to save his life also attended his funeral in Ohio. It was very obvious that he made some of those same connections with the people he deployed with.” “The entire base was soaked in sadness,” said Bartram. “I remember the Freedom Riders lined the entire church. We lined up our whole squadron outside. You could not pack one more person into the church. Everyone was there to honor him.”

Sources:

Christopher Raible

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Marine Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible.


Marine Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible

Died September 15, 2012 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

40, of North Huntingdon, Pa.; assigned to Marine Attack Squadron 211, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward); died Sept. 15 at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, when insurgents breached the base using small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire. Also killed was Marine Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell.


Bastion attack kills squadron CO, sergeant

Marine Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible
Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible

U.S. forces in Afghanistan were moving forward Monday following a bold attack on Camp Bastion that killed two Marines, including the commanding officer of a Harrier squadron, wounded nine other U.S. personnel and destroyed six Harrier jump jets. Lt. Col. Christopher Raible, 40, and Sgt. Bradley Atwell, 27, were killed after 15 insurgents armed with automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and suicide vests breached the perimeter of Bastion about 10 p.m. Friday. Raible served as the commanding officer of Marine Attack Squadron 211, and Atwell was assigned to Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13. Both units are out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.

The attack was launched on a British base that is home to several U.S. Marine aviation units and coalition forces from several other countries. It abuts Camp Leatherneck, the main hub of Marine operations in Afghanistan, forming a sprawling complex connected by bus routes and other services.

Sturdevant, commanding officer of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), told Marine Corps Times that the “more intense fighting was in the first hour or so” after the insurgents breached the wire. However, it took about five hours to ensure that the base was secure. Virtually all of the Marines working on the flight line at the time responded to the attack, as well as personnel with 3rd MAW (Fwd.) living on a nearby portion of Bastion, Sturdevant said.  “Had they not done what they did, it could have been a lot of worse,” Sturdevant said. “Obviously on the wing, we focus on fixing aircraft and flying those aircraft in support of ground forces. But, when forced to, we can quickly transition to offense on the ground, and that’s exactly what happened Friday night.”

U.S. military officials said Saturday that in addition to the two Marines killed, eight service members and one civilian contractor were wounded in the attack. None of their injuries are considered life-threatening, but Sturdevant said two of them have been medically evacuated to the U.S. for additional treatment.


Slain Marine commander’s actions in Afghanistan called heroic

Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible was heading home to video-chat with his wife after dinner when the first blasts rang out. The pops in the distance on Sept. 14 at Camp Bastion in southern Afghanistan were harbingers of the most audacious Taliban attack on a major NATO base in the decade-long war.

Like most folks in the sprawling remote desert camp, Raible, 40, a Marine fighter pilot, faced two choices: seek cover or run toward the sound of gunfire. “The difference between me and some people is that when they hear gunfire, they run. When I hear gunfire, I run to it,” the squadron commander had often told his Marines, half in jest, recalled Maj. Greer Chambless, who was with Raible on the night of the attack. That evening, Raible did just that. Armed only with a handgun, he embarked on a course that cost him his life and probably averted even more devastating losses, witnesses and comrades said.

At least 15 heavily armed insurgents dressed in U.S. Army uniforms snuck inside the British-run airfield and incinerated six U.S. fighter jets, each worth about $25 million. The attack offered a sobering glimpse of the capabilities of the Taliban in Helmand province, one of the key targets of the American troop surge that ended this past week. It resulted in a staggering loss of military materiel and served as a reminder of the challenges of winding down the war by the end of 2014.

Marine Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible
Marine Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible

By daybreak the next morning, as smoke stopped billowing from the airfield and weary commanders gave the all-clear to U.S. Marines and British Special Forces troops who spent the night defending the camp, it wasn’t the threats raised by the infiltration on the minds of many people on the base. Rather, they were primarily struck by the actions of a tough and widely admired commander who returned home in a coffin.

When it became clear Bastion was under attack, Raible threw on body armor and jumped in a vehicle with Chambless. Because his rifle was not nearby, the commander charged into the combat zone armed only with a handgun. The two men exchanged nary a word during the short drive as they scanned the landscape for insurgents. When they got to the flight line, Raible dashed into a maintenance room and began barking out orders to the Marines who would soon push the assailants back.

Backed by a handful of men, he ran toward another building to check whether the troops there were safe. Along the way, Raible and his men were attacked. He and Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell, 27, of Kokomo, Ind., died of wounds from an explosion, said Lt. Col. Stewart Upton, a military spokesman. Chambless was devastated but not particularly surprised. “It was very fitting that he was killed leading his men from the front,” the major said.

The men Raible led out of the maintenance building fought back, pushing one team of five assailants into a remote area of the airfield, where they were killed in an airstrike. A Taliban statement said the intended purpose of the raid was to catch the foreign troops by surprise and attack them in bed. Upton said Raible and his men helped prevent what could have been catastrophic losses. Nine of the remaining assailants were killed in the following hours, and one was wounded. “The feeling is that because of the aggressive counter we were able to contain them,” Upton said.

Sources:

Bruno Solenni

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Army Capt. Bruno G. de Solenni.


Army Capt. Bruno G. de Solenni

Died September 20, 2008 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

32, of Crescent City, Calif.; assigned to the Joint Forces Headquarters, Element Training Team, Oregon Army National Guard; died Sept. 20 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.


Capt. Bruno de Solenni

Bruno Solenni
Capt. Bruno de Solenni

Oregon National Guard Capt. Dominic Oto described Bruno de Solenni as smart, kind and with a steel core that made him the best officer on the team. “He loved the Afghans, and in combat never was there a better operator or leader,” Oto said. “The man was absolutely fearless.”

De Solenni, 32, of Crescent City, Calif., was killed by a roadside bomb Sept. 20 in Kandahar. He was a 1994 high school graduate and was assigned to the Joint Forces Headquarters. 

Before being stationed in Afghanistan for the past nine months, the Oregon National Guardsman had served in Egypt and Iraq, where he had a previous brush with death. “He was on patrol when he had a mortar — it turned out to be a dud — drop right between his legs,” said his father, Mario. “We always thought Bruno was invincible.”

He had labored as a crab fishermen and a logger and was working toward his bachelor’s degree from Southern Oregon University in Ashland. “He was always one to inspire people, no matter where he was, he was able to bring out the good qualities in people,” said his brother, Gino. He also is survived by his mother, Cali Martin.


Army National Guard Capt. Bruno de Solenni, 32, Crescent City; killed by roadside bomb in Afghanistan

As a timber faller, Bruno de Solenni labored through the spring and summer in groves of giant redwood, cedar and fir. As a soldier, he died in Afghanistan, and the tree trunks he sawed and milled became his coffin.

The Army National Guard captain was killed Sept. 20 when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle, on which he was a gunner, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, southwest of Kabul.

De Solenni, 32, was assigned to the Joint Forces Headquarters, Element Training Team in Salem, Ore. In Afghanistan, he was helping to train the national army.

Capt. Dominic Oto, who was driving the vehicle when it struck the 500-pound explosive, remembered De Solenni as a natural leader with a generous spirit — “one of the finest battle captains I’ve ever seen.”

Oto met De Solenni in January but said he had heard of him long before. “Everybody always had a Bruno story,” he said. “It was like hanging out with the Fonz. He was the coolest guy you ever met.”

De Solenni’s father, Mario, learned that his son won over Afghan troops when, upon meeting them, he jumped onto a table, raised a fist and yelled, “I am Capt. Bruno! I am here to lead you into battle!”

De Solenni’s mother, California Martin, said, “He was so moved by how terribly the Taliban treated people. He felt a great deal that [the Afghan people] needed someone to help them stand up.”

Bruno Solenni
Bruno de Solenni

A native of Crescent City, Calif., a coastal town of about 7,500 residents just south of the Oregon border, De Solenni had served in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in 2003 and in Iraq in 2005.

“He started getting deployed a lot when he didn’t have to,” said Todd Nickel, who lowered the casket that he and De Solenni’s family built into the grave they dug at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church cemetery in Crescent City. “He actually thought they were making a difference.”

Nickel hired De Solenni fresh out of high school at his logging company, Northwest Chopping, but not without hesitation.

“I didn’t think he was really for it,” said Nickel, 47. “It just struck me odd he’d work so hard when he didn’t have to.”

De Solenni persisted and eventually became Nickel’s business partner.

When it wasn’t logging season, the two fished for crab on Nickel’s boat. De Solenni eventually bought his own 36-foot vessel, the Sea Belle.

About twice a year, De Solenni and his identical twin, Ricardo, hunted for deer.

Last November, the brothers and a friend hunted through Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming in what Ricardo de Solenni said “was the best trip I remember” with his brother.

“We were always kind of pranksters, just having a good time,” he said. “Bruno was the guy you wanted to be doing that with. You felt a lot more secure, that he had your back and wouldn’t sell you short.”

“When an Afghan comes up to you thanking you for everything that you have done to help them and for making their [home] a better place now that the Taliban are gone . . . this is probably the biggest reason why I proudly enjoy being over here,” Bruno de Solenni wrote nine days before his death in an e-mail that was later published in his hometown paper, the Daily Triplicate.

De Solenni didn’t join the military in 1996 with the same convictions though. He enlisted the day after Christmas, feeling “like I was going nowhere with my life and needed to take a new direction,” he wrote to a Triplicate reporter. “I was always fascinated with history and the military, and was amazed at some of the hardships my grandfather endured in both WWI and WWII.”

That interest led him to enroll at Southern Oregon University, where in 2004 he earned a bachelor’s degree in history.

While trying to convince Nickel that he was an aspiring lumberjack De Solenni insisted that he had no intention of following in his parents’ footsteps by becoming a lawyer or teacher. In time, his goals changed.

De Solenni filled in as a substitute teacher at his alma mater, Del Norte High School, where his mother teaches Spanish. With his father, a lawyer, he spoke of a future in politics, where he would fight against big government and environmental restrictions on woodlands.

“He took this stuff personally and thought people should do something about it,” Nickel said. “That’s what I admired about him. . . . He believed in what he was doing.” 

In addition to his parents and twin, he is survived by another brother, Gino; and a sister, Pia Conway.

Sources:

Kenneth Cochran

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Marine Lance Cpl. Kenneth E. Cochran.


Marine Lance Cpl. Kenneth E. Cochran

Died January 15, 2012 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

20, of Wilder, Idaho; assigned to 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan; died Jan. 15 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.


Wilder Marine Kenneth Cochran found joy in helping others

Kenneth Cochran
Marine Lance Cpl. Kenneth E. Cochran

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.

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.

Kenneth Cochran
Kenneth E. Cochran

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.


Pendleton, Okinawa Marines die in Afghanistan

Two Marines were killed Sunday in Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department.

Cpl. Jon-Luke Bateman and Lance Cpl. Kenneth E. Cochran died in combat in Helmand province, Pentagon officials said in a news release issued Tuesday. It’s not immediately clear if their deaths are related. Bateman, 22, of Tulsa, Okla., was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif. An infantryman, he was on his first combat deployment. Cochran, 20, of Wilder, Idaho, was assigned to 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, out of Okinawa, Japan. He was a water support technician.

Marines with 2/4 have been operating in the southern part of Musa Qala, according Lt. Col. Bill Vivian, the battalion’s commander, who posted a message Saturday on the unit’s Facebook page. Earlier this month they launched Operation Double Check, aimed at booting Taliban fighters from the area, which he referred to as “contested terrain.” The enemy, he said in his message, “doesn’t want to let it go.”

Vivian said 2/4 is scheduled to be replaced in March by Camp Pendleton’s 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines. Ninth ESB has been in theater only since late-November.

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Brandon Maggart

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Army Sgt. Brandon E. Maggart .


Army Sgt. Brandon E. Maggart

Died August 22, 2010 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

24, of Kirksville, Mo.; assigned to the 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash; died Aug. 22 at Basrah, Iraq, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using indirect fire.


Sergeant survived by wife, son

The Associated Press

Brandon Maggart
Sgt. Brandon Maggart

When it came to sports, Sgt. Brandon Maggart was a fan with his mind made up. He loved the St. Louis Cardinals and University of Missouri teams, and there was no changing that, good season or bad. The military said the 24-year-old from Kirksville, Mo., died Aug. 22 at Basrah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with indirect fire.

Maggart graduated from Kirksville R-III High School in 2005 and enlisted in June 2006. He was assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and also had served in Iraq from March 2007 until May 2008.

His wife of four years, Teresa, said he was set to visit home on leave in September and had spoken with her through Skype the day before he died.  His family said in his obituary that they’d planned a slew of his favorite activities for him, including golfing, fishing, eating at a steakhouse and going to the ocean and to Seattle Seahawks and Mariners games. They also planned to go to the first soccer game for Maggart’s young son, Blake, whom he’d hoped to teach to hunt and fish.

Maggart’s survivors include his parents, Teddy and Beth Maggart; a brother, Joshua; and a sister, Ashley.


Fallen Soldier honored by unit, friends

By Sgt. Cody Harding, 1st Inf. Div., USD-S PAO September 11, 2010

Sgt. Brandon Maggart was sleeping when the sirens went off August 22. Seconds after the warning, a rocket struck the roof of his housing unit on Basra,. Fellow Soldiers of the 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment rushed to his side providing medical aid. He was removed from the room and rushed to the troop medical clinic emergency room. Brandon Edward Maggart, 24, a husband and a father from Liberty, Mo., serving his second deployment as an air defense artilleryman with the 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, was pronounced dead on arrival. Four days later, a memorial was held for Maggart at the post chapel. Hundreds of people came to say farewell. On the stage, his commander, fellow NCOs, and Soldiers stood side-by-side to talk about Maggart. From Capt. Lloyd Sporluck, commander of Battery A, 5-5 ADA, to Staff Sgt. Simon Cannon, Maggart’s platoon sergeant, the message remained the same: he was a man of character and a person to aspire to be like. “Brandon was a man whose life could be summed up in one word: excellence,” Sporluck said. “In my years of military experience, I’ve never met a man of greater character.” Spc. Kandise Phillips, one of Maggart’s Soldiers, remembered her NCO’s contributions. “As we all know, Sgt. Maggart was a great NCO, leader and friend,” Phillips said. “Spending the last eight months with him, I have learned he was just a kid. He loved to make everyone laugh and was always trying to make the most of every day.”  “Every time I had a question or needed something fixed, Maggart was usually the first person I asked,” said Staff Sgt. Richard Hauser, a platoon sergeant with Battery A. “In addition to being a great Soldier, Brandon was one of the rare people you meet that single-handedly raised the morale of the people around him.” Maggart is survived by his wife, Teresa, and his three year-old son, Blake.

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