Edward Davis

Staff Sergeant Edward Davis III- December 2009 Shipment Honoree

Edward G.Davis
Sgt. Edward G.Davis

Davis III, Edward G., 31 Sergeant Hometown:Antioch, Ill
In a family full of men named Eddie, Marine Sgt. Edward Davis III was still one of a kind, his sister said. “He was a funny, funny guy,” Rachael Rodriguez of Winthrop Harbor said Wednesday about her brother, a former Antioch resident who attended Warren Township High School in Gurnee in the early 1990s and is one of six family members named Edward. “Eddie could always make people laugh. He had a great sense of humor and the biggest dimples,” she said. “And he just loved his family and his kids so much.”

Sgt. Edward Davis III

Illinois Marine killed while serving in Iraq

Associated Press (reprinted from MercuryNews.com, May 5, 2006)
Edward Davis Memorial
Edward Davis Memorial

ANTIOCH, Ill. – A 31-year-old U.S. Marine from northern Illinois was killed in Iraq when the Humvee he was riding in was struck by a bomb.  Sgt. Edward G. Davis III of Antioch was one of three soldiers killed in the attack on Friday in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, according to the Defense Department. Davis was assigned to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, which is stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

“He was a funny, funny guy,” said his sister, Rachael Rodriguez of Winthrop Harbor. “Eddie could always make people laugh.”

Edward Davis Memorial
Edward Davis Memorial

He joined the Marines in 1999 and relatives say he volunteered for duty in Iraq earlier this year.  About a week before he died, he ran into a 24-year-old cousin in Iraq who is also a Marine, Rodriguez said.  “They got a chance to talk for about an hour and a half,” she said. “I think myself, personally, I had a false sense of security (about Davis) because my cousin was on his second trip to Iraq.  “I guess I thought because he had been safe there, it probably wasn’t as bad as they were saying. I thought they were helping more than fighting,” she said.  Rodriguez said her family is trying to come to terms with Davis’ death.  “The next couple days are going to be really hard,” she said Wednesday. “But I brought copies of all my pictures of Eddie, and we’re all telling stories. We’re trying to remember the good times and not focus on the tragedy.”

Edward Davis Memorial
Edward Davis Memorial

Davis attended Warren Township High School in Gurnee. He is the third alum of the school to die in Iraq since the war began.  Other survivors include a wife and three children.


Steven Drees

PFC Steven T. Drees- November 2009 Shipment Honoree

Peshtigo soldier Steven Drees remembered

By Paul Srubas
Green Bay (Wis.) Press-Gazette
Steven Drees
Steven Drees

PESHTIGO — Friends and well-wishers carrying candles and waving flags lined the streets of Peshtigo Monday night to honor a 19-year-old soldier who died Sunday as a result of injuries he sustained in Afghanistan.

Army Pvt. Steven Drees’ family found out Wednesday morning that he had been shot in the head when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire and a grenade launcher in Konar Province, Afghanistan, said Barb Bayer of Peshtigo, Drees’ cousin.

His parents, Dawn Bayer and Paul Drees, and his twin brother, Charlie, were present when Drees died Sunday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, Barb Bayer said. He had been kept alive until his organs could be harvested for donation, and family members learned this weekend that Drees’ organs may have saved the lives of three people, Bayer said.

Drees’ parents and brother arrived in Peshtigo about 9:30 p.m. Monday. Hundreds of people gathered in front of the home at 281 S. Peck Ave. and along the street to welcome them. Candles on the street and a police escort guided the family to their flag-covered yard.

High school friends of Drees said they spent the past four days preparing for the memorial. “We wanted it to be happy,” said James Meeks, 17, a high school friend. “Before Steve left, he told everyone that if anything happened to him he wanted them to be proud, not sad.”

The mourners seemed to express their reactions in different tones. Some joked about past memories, others expressed anger toward the insurgency, and some just wept.

One friend, Josiah Schafer, said the loss has motivated him even more to join the Army.

“I know he would be proud and supportive of me,” Schafer said. “If I die, I hope I have the same support as Steve did.”

Funeral plans won’t be made until the family learns when the Army plans to release the body and transport it home, Bayer said. She said the family is very close-knit, and that Drees had never been away from home for long before he enlisted in the Army on July 25, 2008.

“When he went to basic training, he wrote home every day,” Bayer said. “He always wrote poems. It kept him going through the training.

Steven Drees
PFC Steven T. Drees

Bayer is Drees’ mother’s cousin, but she was always “Auntie Barb” to Drees, she said. She described Steven as a playful young man — “a child at heart” — who loved children. As a boy, he played baseball, and he lettered in both football and basketball in high school, she said.

Drees’ high school friends all solicited area businesses for donations for the candles and flags used in Monday night’s event, Bayer said.

“The kids have been wonderful,” she said. “Some of the family members wouldn’t have made it through without the kids here supporting them.”

The kids were planning to have T-shirts and rubber bracelets made in Drees’ honor, for the funeral, and plans are under way for a parade for when his body is returned to Peshtigo, she said.

John Bayer, Drees’ uncle, said Drees was very dedicated to the Army.

“He did what he wanted to do, and he was proud of what he was doing,” Bayer said of his nephew.

Drees was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

He joined the Army July 25, 2008, and was deployed May 26, on his 19th birthday.

Drees and his girlfriend from Silver Spring, Colo., were expecting their first child, John Bayer said.

Since Drees’ enlistment, he has received the Army Service Ribbon, the Combat Infantry Badge, and the following medals: National Defense Service, Global War on Terrorism Service, Army Good Conduct, Purple Heart and Bronze Star, according to the Public Affairs office at Fort Carson.

Flags fly at half-staff for Drees

The Associated Press

PESHTIGO, Wis. — Flags at Wisconsin National Guard armories, air bases and other facilities throughout the state will fly at half-staff in honor of a Peshtigo soldier killed in Afghanistan.

The state Department of Military Affairs announced the order honoring 19-year-old Army Pvt. Steven Drees. He was injured June 24 in an attack that involved small-arms fire and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. He died four days later.

His funeral is scheduled Tuesday at Peshtigo High School where he graduated last year.

Story, photos, video: Peshtigo gives fallen soldier Pvt. Steven Drees a final farewell

By Malavika Jagannathan, Green Bay Press Gazette
Final Farewell
Final Farewell

PESHTIGO — More than a thousand people crammed into the gym at Peshtigo Middle/High School on Tuesday evening for a funeral service for fallen Peshtigo soldier Pvt. Steven Drees. It followed a daylong visitation that brought most of the community to the doors of the school that Drees graduated from.

Tears flowed from family and friends in attendance as Drees’ casket was closed before

But they couldn’t help but smile as speakers recalled the 19-year-old’s fondness for making people laugh, something he continued to do on the day of his final mission when he placed blue bunny ears over his Army-issued helmet.

Drees died June 28 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries sustained June 24 in Konar Province, Afghanistan. Insurgents attacked his Army unit using small arms fire and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Liz Peterson, 19, said her favorite part of Tuesday’s service was the mention of the bond Steven had with twin brother Charlie.

“I thought it was beautiful,” said Peterson, who was good friends with Drees. “He wanted to serve our country so bad. He went out fighting.”

A basketball player in high school, Drees was remembered by his coach during the service as a devoted team player who wasn’t embarrassed to give his mom a hug or kiss before a game.

“A special kid,” the coach added.

Drees joined the Army on July 25, 2008, and was deployed to Afghanistan May 26, which was his 19th birthday. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

A representative from the U.S. Army presented the family with Drees’ medals — a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a medal for good conduct. He also posthumously earned a promotion. The funeral service was webcast to his unit in Afghanistan.

Early Tuesday morning, Patriot Guard Riders escorted Drees’ casket from Berth & Rosenthal Funeral Home to the high school. The riders are a volunteer group, including veterans, who act as escorts at military funerals.

Throughout the day, visitors stopped by the school, where Drees’ car — a yellow coupe now emblazoned with the flag and “In Memory of Steven Drees” — and another car he’d wanted to drive were displayed out front.

Three poems written by Drees lined the hallway leading up to the gymnasium, where his casket was surrounded by bouquets of flowers donated by well-wishers. Many visitors walked out with a decal showing Drees’ face, the American flag and the words “Death before Dishonor.”

Some of those who visited the high school, like 20-year-old Breanna Kaster of Peshtigo, knew Drees and tearfully recalled his “wide-eyed, ear-to-ear smile.”

Veterans like Allen R. Urbaniak, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8813, came to show support for the family and Drees’ service.

“Showing the respect that the veterans deserve is one of the few things we can do,” Urbaniak said. Members of the VFW Post, American Legion posts and other veterans were present at the visitation and the funeral service.

Drees’ immediate family declined to talk to the media but invited attendees to a local park after the service for food and drinks.

“This is so far the worst day,” said a woman who chose not to be identified, wearing a T-shirt saying, “Proud Army Aunt.”

“Before, you could think it’s just a mistake. Now it’s a reality. He was too young.”

A memorial fund for Drees has been set up at Peshtigo National Bank. The private family burial is scheduled for today at Riverside Cemetery

Max Galeai

Lt. Col Max A. Galeai- October 2009 Shipment Honoree

Suicide bomber kills 3 Hawaii Marines

By Mary Vorsino
Honolulu Advertiser

The commanding officer of a Hawaii-based battalion of more than 1,000 Marines and sailors died Thursday in Iraq in an attack that also killed two other Kaneohe Marines, the military said yesterday.

Lt. Col. Max A. Galeai
Lt. Col. Max A. Galeai

Lt. Col. Max A. Galeai, 42, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines at Kaneohe’s Marine Corps Base Hawaii, is believed to have been killed in the town of Karmah in Anbar province, about 30 miles west of Baghdad, in a suicide bomb attack.

Also killed in the attack were Capt. Phil Dykeman, 38, of New York, the leader of the battalion’s Fox Company, and 23-year-old Cpl. Marcus W. Preudhomme, of North Miami Beach, Fla.

A member of an extremist cell believed to be behind the suicide attack has been arrested, the U.S. military said yesterday. U.S. spokesmen said it was unclear if the suspect, who was not identified, was directly involved in planning Thursday’s attack, according to a report by The Associated Press.

A suicide bomber reportedly dressed in a police uniform detonated an explosive belt during a meeting of tribal sheiks opposed to al-Qaida in Iraq. In addition to the three Marines, two Iraqi interpreters, the local mayor and several key tribal figures were killed.

Kaneohe Marine Corps Base officials would only confirm that the three were killed in Anbar.

The bombing occurred just two days before U.S. officials planned to formally hand over security responsibility for Anbar to the Iraqis, marking a major milestone in the transformation of a province that had been the most violent in Iraq.

The handover was postponed yesterday — but due to weather, not the attack, officials said. Weather forecasts called for high winds and sandstorms, which would ground aircraft and make it impossible for dignitaries to attend, officials said.

Anbar, which extends from the western outskirts of Baghdad to the borders of Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia, will be the 10th of Iraq’s 18 provinces to return to Iraqi security control. The other nine provinces are dominated by Shiites or Kurds.

Galeai and the other two Marines are the first fatalities of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines in this deployment, which started in February. The battalion is set to return in August.

Since the war started, 84 Hawaii-based Marines and sailors have died in Iraq.

Max Galeai
Max Galeai

Friends yesterday remembered Galeai, of Pago Pago, American Samoa, as a dedicated family man, a natural leader and a caring buddy who would never burden others with his problems. Just last week, in the midst of his deployment in Iraq, he sent e-mails to friends with jokes about the hot weather and friendly queries about how they were doing.

“I’m trying to cope with the fact that he’s no longer with us,” said Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. Taumaoe Gaoteote, of California, a longtime friend.

“I didn’t know how to react when I heard. I never thought it would actually happen to him.”

In a newsletter for families of Kaneohe-based Marines, Galeai wrote in February that during the deployment, battalion members would be “working with Iraqi police, Iraqi army and other(s) … as we help the Iraqi people establish the conditions necessary for them to assume responsibility for their own security and local governance.”

One of Galeai’s friends, Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. Paul Moniz, of New York, said he heard from Galeai about a week ago in an e-mail. Galeai didn’t talk much about what he was doing in Iraq, but made sure to ask Moniz about how he was holding up.

“He was a friend, mentor, bigger than life, extremely bright, just one of those guys,” Moniz said.

Moniz, who used to work under Galeai, said the officer always “sunk his teeth into his work” and expected a lot from people, but also praised them when they delivered. “He was definitely an inspirational guy. He was caring, compassionate.”

Master Sgt. Brett W. Beard, of California, also used to work under Galeai and quickly befriended him.

“He just made it super easy to go out there to work day after day,” Galeai said. “His first love was always leading Marines.”

This was Galeai’s second deployment to Iraq.

Galeai graduated from Oregon State University in 1988, and joined the Marines out of college.

Before coming to the Islands in 2007, he served in Virginia, California, Okinawa and elsewhere. His service awards include two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart and five Meritorious Service Medals.

Gaoteote said Galeai is survived by his wife, Evelyn, and four children.

Dykeman, the leader of Fox Company, joined the Marines in June 1991 and came to Hawaii in May 2007. He has been awarded a host of medals, including the Purple Heart.

Preudhomme joined the Marines in 2005, and was sent to Hawaii the same year.

His awards include the Purple Heart and the Combat Action Ribbon, the Marines said.

 Lt. Gov. Faoa A. Sunia Offers Condolences on Death of Lt. Col. Max A. Galea’i in Iraq

By Tapuitea Thursday July 3, 2008
Lt Col Max Galeai
Lt Col Max Galeai

(UTULEI) – Lt. Governor Faoa Aitofele Sunia offered the following statement on Sunday, June 29th, on the death of Lt. Col. Max A. Galea’i in the province of Anbar, Iraq.  “On behalf of Governor Togiola Tulafono and the people and government of

American Samoa, I offer my deepest sympathies to the family of Lt. Colonel Max A. Galea’i, who gave his life in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His death is a great loss to American Samoa and the Kaneohe Marine Base in Hawai’i.” Lt. Col. Galea’i, 42 years old, was the commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines at Kaneohe’s Marine Corps Base in Hawai’i. He and two other Marines and other Iraqis were killed on Wednesday, June 26th, when a suicide bomber, reportedly dressed in a police uniform, detonated an explosive belt during a meeting of tribal sheiks opposed to Al-Quaida in Iraq.

Lt. Col. Max A. Galea’i is the son of the late Tafaoa Pati and Kalala Galea’i of Leone, American Samoa. He is married to Evelyn Ho Ching Galea’i and they have four children. He has four sisters and three brothers. Lt. Col. Galea’i grew up in the village of Leone,  and spent much time along side his uncle, the late Senator Faiivae A. Galea’i. He graduated from Marist High School in 1983 and Oregon State University in 1988.  He is remembered by his family and fellow Marines as a caring and exceptional leader. Lt. Col.

Galea’i’s bravery and sacrifice will always be remembered as he willingly served America to protect the freedom of the world.  The 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines were deployed in February and were scheduled to return in September.  I ask all of American Samoa to unite in prayer for the comfort of his family during this time of great sorrow and grief. I offer our sincerest condolences to his wife, Evelyn Ho Ching Galea’i, their

four children, his mother Kalala  Galea’i, his siblings and the  entire Taeleifi and aumuina

families who have suffered a great loss.  Let us also remember the more than 1,000 Marines who were under Lt. Col. Max Galea’i’s command. May God’s grace give them strength to complete their tour without their leader.”

Lt. Col. Max A. Galeai –a great man!

By Wesley R. Gray, Ph.D.

Lt. Col. Max Galeai died these past few days in Iraq. I worked with him extensively during my time in Okinawa. During the Yama Sakura 48 3 week exercise he was the command operation center head watch officer and was consistently yelling for “Lt. Gray to get his ass over here and explain what the enemy was doing.” The exercise was my ‘welcome to the Marine Corps moment’ and was made all the more hectic and exciting alongside Lt. Col. Galeai. He was a great man to work for and a great man to be around.

Upon my return from Iraq, I saw Lt. Col. Galeai once again in Okinawa. This time he was working in the 3rd Division’s G-3 operations section. I saw him daily and he was always happy and doing well–always stopping to say, “Hello, Wes, good afternoon.”

Because he was such a great officer and leader, Max was chosen to be a battalion commander for 2/3–his last duty assignment.

2/3 has a special place in my heart, as this was the battalion that saved our ass on numerous occasions when I was in the Haditha Triad training Iraqis on a MiTT–my feelings go out to the battalion for losing their great leader, Lt. Col. Max Galeai. He was a great Marine and a legend in my mind. Semper Fi, Wes

Hard-hit military charities

Army Times

Hard-hit military charities pin hopes on CFC donations

By Karen Jowers


Military-related charities are feeling the pinch of the economic recession as donors cut back on their giving.

“We’re hurting. We’ve never had to ask for money before, and now we’re out there asking.” said Karen Guenther, co-founder and executive director of Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

Even as the number of injured troops seeking help has been on the rise, Guenther said her group has seen a drop in donations of about 34 percent this year compared with the first eight months of 2008.

That’s had an impact on assistance. Although the fund is giving more grants, the average amount of the grants has decreased, and the organization also has had to dip into its reserve funds, Guenther said.

The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund helps injured Marines and sailors and their families, as well as soldiers and other service members injured in direct support of Marines.

The Fisher House Foundation has seen a 30 percent drop in donations this year, said David Coker, foundation president.


Donations to the Military, Veterans & Patriotic Service Organizations of America group of charities within the Combined Federal Campaign declined in 2008 compared with the year before, even though overall CFC donation were up:


Fall 2008 $276 million–
Fall 2007 $273 million
Percent of change +1%


Fall 2008 $12.4 million
Fall 2007 $12.9
Percent of change-3.9%

Guenther and other charity officials are pinning their hopes more than ever on the annual Combined Federal Campaign, which is just getting under way.

“When we joined CFC, we knew it would be a good way to sustain us in our lean years,” Guenther said. “That’s what we’re seeing now, so I’m hoping our CFC donations go up this year.”

But the outlook is uncertain. IMSFF and Fischer House are part of a military-related CFC federation of 69 charities called the Military, Veterans & Patriotic Service Organization of America).

CFC campaign donations to MVPSOA charities in 2008 decreased from 2007 by about 3.9 percent–even though overall donations to CFC increased by 1 percent.

Patrick Maguire, business manager for MVPSOA, called last year “a minor hiccup,” noting that since 2005, CFC donations to military-related charities have increased by 36 percent.

Still, he said he’s predicting a “flat” year for the 2009 campaign.

One reason military-related charities are feeling a pinch is that funding from the California Community Foundation is ending. Over the past three years, that foundation has funneled nearly $250 million to charities that help troops and families.

“Everyone had a tremendous plus-up and could increase services” through that initiative, said Coker of the Fisher House Foundation.

CFC donations play a big role in Fisher House’s ability to help troops and their families, Coker said. Among other things, those donation pay for families to stay free at Fisher House comfort homes near military treatment facilities. In 2008, the foundation received donations of $40 million, with about $2.6 million coming from the CFC.

The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, a charity with a much smaller budget, has seen an increase in cash donation of about $3,000 or 4 percent, through July 31, compared with the first seven months of 2008.

“But if we didn’t have the [CFC] we would actually be down in donations,” said Karen Grimord, president and founder of the organization. “I’ve received three e-mails from donors in the last two months saying they could no longer support LHCP because they were losing their jobs.”

The foundation, working with 72 contacts in military and VA medical facilities, sends items, including blood warmers, special disposable wash cloths, thermal blankets, DVD players, and clothing ranging from disposable surgical underwear to socks, sweats and winter coats.

This will be LHCP’s first year in the MVPSOA federation, and Grimord said she hopes greater visibility will boost donations.

Some charities are close to the brink. “In the last three weeks, three military-related charities have told us they can no longer help clients – they have no money,” said USA Cares president Bill Nelson.

Many military-related charities work together, referring troops and families to sister charities that focus on a particular need, he noted. “Those of us who survive have to do more,” he said.

USA Cares focuses on emergency financial needs, including housing. The group has seen a drop of about 2 percent in donations this year, Nelson said.

Year-to-date donations for some military-related charities compared with same period last year:

Fisher House Foundation
Percent of change -30%
Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund
Percent of change -34%
USA Cares
Percent of change -.2%
Landstuhl Hospital Care Project
Percent of change +4%

Sources: CFC, military charities


Volunteer activity provides comfort to ailing soldiers

By Susan Griggs
Keesler News editor


Staff Sgt. Iya Foster turned her experiences while stationed in Germany into a base-wide project to benefit wounded warriors.

Sergeant Foster, an aviation resource management instructor in the 334th Training Squadron, mentioned the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, to her fellow instructors when it was her turn to propose a monthly volunteer activity.

“When I was stationed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany before coming to Keesler, I deployed with flight nurses and medical technicians who cared for people who were injured in the desert,” Sergeant Foster recalled. “We have lots of wounded warriors and I didn’t want them to be forgotten. I thought it would be good to give back to our own.”

LHCP, a non-profit organization under the Combined Federal Campaign umbrella, provides comfort and relief items for military members who become sick, injured, or wounded from service in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.

Donated items are distributed to patients at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the largest American military hospital outside the United States. Other donations are forwarded to field hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq and to Veterans Affairs medical facilities throughout the United States.

Many specific things are needed, but many other items aren’t accepted, according to the LHCP Web site, LandstuhlHospitalCareProject.org. Sergeant Foster scanned the list and narrowed down donations to travel sizes of men’s and women’s shaving cream and deodorant.

As donations began coming in from the aviation resource management flight in August, the project expanded to the rest of the squadron and other units in the 81st Training Group. Each unit in the 81st TRG has a representative to collect and coordinate donations. The first shipment was mailed Sept. 3.

Sergeant Foster decided to extend the project through September and invited other units across the base to participate. There’s a collection box in the lobby of Cody Hall, and Sergeant Foster is willing to pick up items from donors who can’t drop them off. To donate or for more information, call Sergeant Foster, 377-474.


Jordan P. P. Thibeault

Private Jordan P. P. Thibeault—September 2009 Shipment Honoree

Posthumously promoted to SPC

Deseret Morning News

Young Jordan
Young Jordan

Jordan P. Thibeault 1986 ~ 2008 As a family, we would like to announce the loss of our son and brother Jordan P. Thibeault to the cause of liberty in Iraq. While we feel enormous grief and loss, we want to explain why our son’s passing should be heralded by each and every one of us. Mankind today is faced with terrible calamities. Only a select few are willing to forgo comforts of home, indeed the very promise of a bright future, to place themselves between the forces of hate and oppression and the human spirit yearning for peace and safety. Jordan did not go to Iraq to protect America but to protect mankind. Young and eager to answer the cause of Liberty, Jordan followed his inner core of beliefs, taught by loving parents and family members, to ensure the peoples of Iraq were assured a chance of achieving peace and prosperity. His passing should give hope to all that there are still those among us who are willing to give the ultimate sacrifice to keep mankind safe and free. We honor all men and women in uniform and will continue to pray for each and every one of them as well as their families. Jordan is survived by his parents, John and Celeste Poulin Thibeault and sister, Denise. Proceeded in death by all of his grandparents, Theodore N. and Denise Paquet Thibeault and Lawrence G. and Virginia Bolduc Poulin.

Army Spc. Jordan P. P. Thibeault remembered

Sources: The Associated Press, Military Times
Army Spc. Jordan P. P. Thibeault
Army Spc. Jordan P. P. Thibeault

As a boy, Jordan P. Thibeault loved to ride bikes, build with Legos and be with friends . He was quiet, a hard worker and always helpful.

Christian Carnley described his friend as always saying, “Let’s go do something,” when they were children.  Thibeault, 22, of South Jordan, Utah, died Sept. 5 at Forward Operating Base Hammer of injuries doing his job. He was on his second combat tour in Iraq and was assigned to Baumholder, Germany.

Thibeault was born in Maine, loved airplanes, mathematics, computers and military history. During his first tour he received a commendation for his efforts as an M-88 tank recovery vehicle driver and Bradley tank mechanic.

He is survived by his parents, John and Celeste Thibeault and his sister Denise Holbrook.

The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember Jordan during the month of September 2009 with our shipments to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and U.S. military hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our thoughts and prayers remain with Jordan’s family and friends today and in the years to come.

LHCP 2009 Scout Project of the Year

Jarom Jones of Ogden, Utah

Jarom Jones
Jarom Jones

I must say this is a great honor, thank you so much. I look forward to see you this coming month. The following is the small article you requested:

Since my early teenage years I have been involved in the Boy Scouts of America. To receive the final rank of Eagle in the organization, scouts are required to complete a service project showing their leadership skills.

Many of my friends who had received and completed their projects had chosen such service as cleaning trails, painting curbs, and food drives. Although all of these projects did great good for the local community I simply felt that none of them were right for me. I wanted a project that would not only complete the requirement for my rank, but one that I truly cared about.

When one of my mother’s friends told us about the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project I immediately knew this was the service I was looking for. I have a great love for my country and the freedoms and prosperity it provides; and I have great respect for those men and women who sacrifice so much to protect these freedoms. I quickly learned of the great work LHCP was doing for our men and women overseas, and how easy they made it for a scout like me to get involved.

With the help of family, friends, and the community I was able to put together a drive where we gathered everything from clothing to DVD’s for those troops in need. I believe that the project brought out the best in our community.

I was gratefully surprised to find how many still remembered our troops and were so willing to help. I know the chance to do my small part brought out the best in me as I was able to give back to those who have given so much to me.

Thanks again,
– Jarom Jones

Darrell Lewis

Capt. Darrell Lewis- August 2009 Shipment Honoree

Email from Liz Lewis-

Thank you for honoring my husband as the August 2009 honoree.  I will be posting a blog on my  Myspace as well as a link on my Facebook to your site for remember my wonderful & loving husband.

Thank  you for your kind actions.

God bless

D.C. soldier killed in Afghanistan

The Associated Press  
Army Capt. Darrell C. Lewis
Army Capt. Darrell C. Lewis

Army Capt. Darrell C. Lewis was raised in an area known for drugs and violence. But his family described him as a natural leader who used an inquisitive mind to chase his dreams.

He showed no fear when walking down dangerous streets, and from an early age he rode buses across town to schools outside the neighborhood.

“He knew there was more to life,” said Trina Lewis, a cousin.

Lewis, 31, of Washington, D.C., died June 23 in Vashir City, Afghanistan, after his unit came under attack. He was assigned to Fort Riley, Kan.

“You can’t express it in words it was in his face,” said his mother, Hannah Lewis. “Being in the military was the happiest I’ve ever seen my child.”

At Wittenberg University, Lewis learned Japanese and Chinese.

After joining the Army, he served in Georgia and Washington state, then completed a two-year tour in South Korea.

Hannah Lewis recalled embracing her son for what would be the last time at his wedding reception in San Antonio in December. “I knew he was going away, and I just remembered the hug,” she said.

He also is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and infant son, Rashawn. Lewis also had a 7-year-old daughter, Taylor.

D.C. Army Captain Dies In Attack

By Clarence Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Darrell C. Lewis
Darrell C. Lewis

Darrell C. Lewis had long astounded his family. He navigated one of Southeast Washington’s toughest neighborhoods before earning a scholarship to a private high school and another for college.

After graduating from Wittenberg University, he joined the Army as an officer, rising to Captain. From the start, his mother knew he had made the right choice.

“You can’t express it in words; it was in his face,” Hannah Lewis said last night. “Being in the military was the happiest I’ve ever seen my child.”

Lewis, 31, was killed Saturday in Vashir City, Afghanistan, when his unit was attacked by insurgents using rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and small arms, the Department of Defense said yesterday. He had been in Afghanistan since February.

Lewis was raised in the Linda Pollin housing complex in Southeast, in an area known for drugs and violence. But his family described a natural leader who used an inquisitive mind to chase his dreams.

He showed no fear when walking down dangerous streets, and from an early age he rode buses across town to schools outside the neighborhood, his family said.

Darrel Lewis
Darrel Lewis

“He knew there was more to life,” said Trina Lewis, a cousin.

Lewis was awarded a scholarship to Washington Ethical High School, where he excelled in track. He moved in with Trina Lewis to be closer to school and to enlist her help in preparing for college.

She recalled a teenager who attracted people from all walks of life, especially the young girls who called the house and forced her to install a second phone line.

“Everybody is just sad and shocked,” Trina Lewis said. “This was not his destiny, to die in a desert in Afghanistan. . . . He just accomplished so much, and he had more to accomplish.”

At college, Lewis learned Japanese and Chinese. After joining the Army, he served in Georgia and Washington state, then completed a two-year tour in South Korea.

In Afghanistan, Lewis called home Sundays, often connecting his D.C. relatives with his new wife, Elizabeth, and infant son, Rashawn, who live in San Antonio. Lewis also had a 7-year-old daughter, Taylor.

Last night, Hannah Lewis recalled her son’s wedding reception in San Antonio in December. Shortly before midnight, she embraced her son for what would be the last time.

“I knew he was going away, and I just remembered the hug,” she said. “He loved being in the military. He was doing a lot with his life.”

Lewis, who was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kansas, is also survived by his father, Stanley Isiah Lewis, and his older brother, Stanley Jr.

Lewis will be buried next to his grandfather and great-uncle at Arlington National Cemetery on July 11, his family said.

Promising Journey Ends for D.C. Soldier

Relatives and Friends Remember Army Captain From SE as Natural Leader
By Mark Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 12, 2007

The journey of Darrell C. Lewis took him from Southeast Washington across the United States and around the world to South Korea and Afghanistan. The journey ended yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from where he was raised.

Captain Lewis, 31, was killed June 23 in Vashir City, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and small-arms fire, according to the Department of Defense. He had been in Afghanistan since February.

Yesterday, more than 90 mourners braved the stifling heat to follow the horse-drawn caisson that carried Lewis’s flag-draped coffin to his final resting place. He was buried near a grandfather and a great-uncle. He was the 54th service member killed in Operation Enduring Freedom to be laid to rest at Arlington.

Lewis was a member of the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan. Services for Lewis were held Tuesday at the John T. Rhines Funeral Home in the District.

“Everybody is just sad and shocked,” his cousin Trina Lewis told The Washington Post in June. “This was not his destiny, to die in a desert in Afghanistan. . . . He just accomplished so much, and he had more to accomplish.”

Family and friends described Lewis, who was raised in a tough neighborhood in Southeast, as a natural leader with an inquisitive mind. He was awarded a scholarship to Washington Ethical High School, where he excelled in track.

He went on to win a scholarship to Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, where he learned Japanese and Chinese. After graduating from Wittenberg, he joined the Army and was commissioned as an officer.

His military service took him across the country, from Georgia to Washington state, and included a two-year tour in South Korea.

“You can’t express it in words; it was in his face,” his mother, Hannah Lewis, told The Post shortly after his death. “Being in the military was the happiest I’ve ever seen my child.”

At the funeral, folded American flags were presented to Lewis’s mother; his father, Stanley Lewis; and his widow, Elizabeth, whom he wed in December in San Antonio. He is also survived by an infant son, Rashawn; a 7-year-old daughter, Taylor; and an older brother, Stanley Lewis Jr.

“He loved being in the military,” Hannah Lewis said. “He was doing a lot with his life.”

On her MySpace page, Elizabeth Lewis posted a tribute to her husband titled, “Darrell Your Love Shines Down.” “DARRELL YOU ARE MY HERO,” she wrote.

After the military service, friends and relatives remained at the grave site, where there was a poster-size picture of Lewis, for another ceremony. When it was over, three white birds were released into the sky.

Source: Arlington National Cemetery Website

The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember Darrell during the month of August 2009 with our shipments to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and U.S. military hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our thoughts and prayers remain with Darrell’s family and friends today and in the years to come.

Sergio Abad

Specialist Sergio S. Abad – July 2009 Shipment Honoree

21, of Morganfield, Ky.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy; died July 13 of wounds sustained when his outpost was attacked by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades from enemy forces in Wanat, Afghanistan. Also killed were 1st Lt. Jonathan P. Brostrom, Sgt. Israel Garcia, Cpl. Jonathan R. Ayers, Cpl. Jason D. Hovater, Cpl. Jason M. Bogar, Cpl. Matthew B. Phillips, Cpl. Pruitt A. Rainey and Cpl. Gunnar W. Zwilling.

Hard-hit C Company suffers another agonizing blow

By Michelle Tan
Staff writer
Military Times

Sergio S. Abad
Sergio S. Abad

It was the single deadliest attack since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan.

More than 200 enemy fighters swarmed a small, remote combat outpost near the village of Wanat, near the country’s porous border with Pakistan.

They brought with them machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. The U.S. and coalition soldiers were outnumbered by at least 2 to 1.

The battle was fierce. Enemy fighters fought their way onto the newly established base known as Combat Outpost Kahler. The Americans and Afghans, numbering fewer than 100, fought back, defending their post and calling in airstrikes.

When the fighting stopped, the enemy had suffered heavy casualties, with reports of more than 100 killed or wounded.

But the Americans had suffered, too.

Nine U.S. soldiers were killed and 15 others were wounded. Apart from helicopter crashes, the bloody July 13 battle inflicted the deepest wound on a single U.S. battalion of any attack since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan almost seven years ago.

The soldiers, from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, of Vicenza, Italy, were supposed to be coming home soon. The brigade deployed to Afghanistan in June 2007 and about 680 soldiers are already home in Vicenza, with the last of the soldiers expected home by the first week of August.

But this final attack on the battalion’s C Company soldiers would make it the hardest-hit company to have served in Operation Enduring Freedom. The company has lost 15 men since deploying to Afghanistan, the most for one Army company in both operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. In total, 24 men from the battalion have been killed during this deployment.

After the fierce combat that 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry endured in the past 15 months, several of its soldiers earned valor awards including the Silver Star, the third highest award for valor, and the Bronze Star with V device, said Maj. Nicholas Sternberg, spokesman for the 173rd.

Specific information on the awards was not available at press time.

The nine soldiers killed July 13 brought to 42 the number of soldiers from the 173rd killed during this deployment. Since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through July 16, nine soldiers from the 173rd have been killed in Iraq, 58 in Afghanistan.

The men killed July 13, all of them from C Company, are:

• 1st Lt. Jonathan P. Brostrom, 24, of Hawaii.  Brostrom, who led the company’s 2nd Platoon, was a ROTC graduate from the University of Hawaii. He received his commission in June 2006 and arrived at the 173rd in June 2007.

• Sgt. Israel Garcia, 24, of Long Beach, Calif.  Garcia had been in the Army since October 2002. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment at Fort Bragg, N.C., before reporting to the 173rd in July 2006.

• Cpl. Jonathan R. Ayers, 24, of Snellville, Ga.  Ayers joined the Army in April 2006 and went straight from basic and advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Ga., to the 173rd, where he had been assigned since September 2006.

• Cpl. Jason M. Bogar, 25, of Seattle.  Bogar deployed twice with the National Guard before coming into the active Army in October 2007, and he had been with the 173rd since November 2007.

• Cpl. Jason D. Hovater, 24, of Clinton, Tenn.  Hovater joined the Army in February 2006. His first assignment after initial entry training at Fort Benning was the 173rd. He had been with the unit since July 2006.

• Cpl. Matthew B. Phillips, 27, of Jasper, Ga.  Phillips joined the Army in November 2005. The 173rd was his first assignment; he arrived at the unit in May 2006.

• Cpl. Pruitt A. Rainey, 22, of Haw River, N.C.  Rainey joined the Army in August 2005. He arrived at the 173rd, his first assignment, in February 2006.

• Cpl. Gunnar W. Zwilling, 20, of Florissant, Mo.  Zwilling had been in the Army since February 2006. After basic training, AIT and airborne training at Fort Benning, he reported to the 173rd in July 2006.

• Spc. Sergio S. Abad, 21, of Morganfield, Ky.  Abad joined the Army in January 2006. His first unit of assignment was the 173rd, where he had been since August 2006.

Previously, the single deadliest incident to claim multiple U.S. lives in Afghanistan, excluding helicopter crashes, was Jan. 29, 2004, when a weapons cache explosion in Ghazni killed eight soldiers.

A memorial service for the nine C Company soldiers on July 18 in Vicenza drew an overflow crowd that included many of the 680 soldiers who had just returned from Afghanistan, said Sgt. Maj. Kimberly Williams, a spokeswoman for Southern European Task Force. Officials estimate about 900 people participated, including about 500 who crowded into the theater on post because the chapel was full.

“This was an especially emotional ceremony,” she said, “because [in attendance were soldiers who had just returned.”

Ky. soldier among 9 killed in Afghan base attack

The Associated Press
Sergio Abad on right Camp Blessing
Sergio Abad on right Camp Blessing

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky soldier was among nine who were killed when their remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan was attacked, the military said Wednesday.

The Defense Department said Pfc. Sergio S. Abad, 21, of Morganfield, died Sunday in the deadliest incident for U.S. forces in Afghanistan since June 2005, when 16 American soldiers were killed as a rocket-propelled grenade shot down their helicopter.

The soldiers died from wounds suffered when their newly built outpost in Wanat was attacked before dawn by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Vicenza, Italy.

A former provincial governor in the region said scores of attackers included a mix of Afghan- and Pakistan-based militants, some with al-Qaida links.

A NATO official said they used houses, shops and a mosque for cover during the hours-long battle before American soldiers managed to drive out the attackers and call in air support from attack helicopters. The official said dozens were killed and about 40 were wounded.

 Miami Herald  19 July 2008:

Sergio Abad gravesite
Sergio Abad gravesite

Private First Class Sergio S. Abad planned to be married on August 24, 2008, at the South Miami Elks Club — an Oriental-themed affair certain to feature music by the 21-year-old soldier’s favorite singer: Frank Sinatra.

Instead, he’ll be buried next week at Arlington National Cemetery, as an Army bugler plays taps.

Abad died July 13, 2008, in a firefight that killed nine soldiers at Wanat, a remote base in eastern Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

He had been scheduled to head home the next day.

waiting his return: His fiancée, Christina Parra, and a huge extended family — a family not bound by blood but by the love of a young man who had adopted them.

Abad was a bright, funny, hyperactive 7-year-old when the Florida Department of Children & Families removed him from an abusive home and placed him with a relative.

By middle school, he had been absorbed into two unrelated households: the Popkos of Coral Gables and the Pittses of Riviera Estates, each with children his age.

Through him, the families became what Marilyn Popko calls “a kinship group.”

Abad called Marilyn Popko and Lori Pitts ”Mommy,” their husbands ”Dad,” and his high school ROTC mentor, CSM Oliver R. Hoggard, “Pops.”

He’d stay awhile with one family, then with the other, though sometimes he would withdraw and camp out in Tropical Park.

”He was one of the kids,” said Lori Pitts, whose daughter, Krystine Pitts Flagg, befriended Abad at Homestead Middle School.

Pitts’ husband, Coral Gables police Lieutenant Paul Pitts, “would throw him $20 to go to the movies. He had chores around the house. He had to help out with laundry and feed the dog.”

Abad ”absorbed love like a sponge,” Pitts said. “He never wanted to disappoint us.”

Clinical psychologist Stephen Popko said he and Paul Pitts ”set down the rules firmly,” giving Abad the structure he craved.

He attended South Miami High School with the class of 2003, then earned a GED at the Job Corps center in Morganfield, Kentucky.

The Army mistakenly listed Morganfield as his hometown in the news release announcing his death.

Toward the end of high school, Abad moved in with Marilyn Popko’s sister’s family on a five-acre horse farm in the Redland — ideal for a youngster who loved animals and hard work.

Marybeth Klock-Perez, her sister, and husband Diego Perez, run Better Families Though Tae Kwan Do, a Bird Road martial-arts studio. Abad excelled at karate. He had a lot of energy and a knack for teaching children.

”He was really athletic and could knock out hundreds of push-ups with no problem,” Marybeth said. “He always had something positive or funny or naughty to contribute.”

For a youngster who had ”been dealt really unfair cards in life, he was absolutely never bitter,” Klock-Perez said. “He never used excuses or acted like the world owed him.”

At school, Abad developed a passion for acting, directing and Junior ROTC, where he found another father figure: Hoggard, who ran the program.

Retired from the Army, Hoggard is now working for a defense contractor in Iraq.

Colonel Eddie Santana took over the ROTC program shortly before Abad left but remembers him as “an outstanding young leader — very disciplined and committed. He always knew what he wanted to do: join the Army.”

A 2003 Miami Herald story described Abad climbing a 45-foot fire tower during a summer ROTC boot camp:

“Abad practically flew up the 50 steps to get to the top of the tower. . . . About 10 seconds later, Sergio was back on the ground. He took a swig of water and got in line for the next rappel.”

He told the reporter: “You gotta die some day, right? You cannot compare this experience to anything else in the world.”

After completing the Job Corps program, Abad entered basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was then stationed in Vicenza, Italy, for a year.

”It was one of the best times he ever had,” Marilyn Popko said. ”He went to Germany, Switzerland, France. And he loved jumping out of airplanes. He came home after a year for a month, then went to the Agham Korengal Valley,” a Taliban stronghold in northeastern Afghanistan on the Pakistani border.

He was apprehensive about combat, Stephen Popko said. “He knew from the beginning that he might not come home, but this was his thing. It was high energy, and he was going to make it. . . . He was sent on classified missions.”

After a month’s leave in March, Abad deployed to Camp Blessing, an eastern Afghan base. By July 13, he and his comrades had gone to Wanat, a new forward-operating base in Kunar province that Stars & Stripes, the Army newspaper, says is the size of a football field.

At 4:30 a.m., a rocket-propelled grenade landed in the base’s mortar pit, the opening salvo of a two-hour battle that proved the deadliest for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since 2005.

Abad’s loved ones say he was hit in the femoral artery.

”This was not a haphazard attack,” Stars & Stripes opined. Some 200 insurgents “fought from several positions. They aimed to overrun the new base. The U.S. soldiers knew it and fought like hell.”

A wounded survivor told the newspaper: “It was some of the bravest stuff I’ve ever seen in my life, and I will never see it again because … normal humans wouldn’t do that. You’re not supposed to do that — getting up and firing back when everything around you is popping and whizzing and trees, branches coming down and sandbags exploding and RPGs coming in over your head — It was a fistfight then, and those guys held ’em off.”

Abad would have become a father in December. He died not knowing his child is a girl.

Fiancée Christina Parra plans to give her the name that Abad chose: Lorelai Rocio Abad — after Lori Pitts and Christina’s mother.

He wanted a daughter, said Krystine Flagg.

“He wanted to give her the life he never had. A mother and father who stayed together.”

Other survivors include ”siblings” Katheryn, Zachery and Leo Pitts, and Catherine Popko.

26 July 2008:
Courtesy of NBC-6 (South Florida)

A South Florida soldier, and father-to-be, was killed in a firefight with Taliban forces in Afghanistan — one day before he was to return home.

Now, family members are mourning and remembering 22-year-old Sergio Abad.

“I saw two Army guys and as soon as I saw them, I was like they are here for Sergio, I know it. They came to our door and told us the news,” his adoptive sister, Catherine Popko said.

It’s the message that every military family dreads most, the news that their loved one has been killed in the line of duty.

When he was a boy, Abad was removed from an abusive home and raised by two foster families in South Florida, the Pitts and the Popkos.

“He was a really kind, strong boy,” Catherine Popko said.

After attending South Miami High and getting a GED, Abad joined the Army.

On July 13, 2008, the young soldier was just one day away from heading back to the states when a firefight broke out between Army soldiers and Taliban insurgents.

He was going out to rescue another unit that was under fire,” said Marilyn Popko, his adoptive mother. “We are told there was like 200 of the other guys and not that many of us. He went down fighting.”

Nine soldiers were killed in the battle.

Abad had plans to marry his girlfriend, Christina Parra, when he returned. And the two were expecting their first baby.

His family said that he always wanted to have a little girl. He didn’t know it when he died, but his fiancé is expecting a daughter.

For Abad’s family, the loss is painful but his legacy lives on.

“He was just an amazing, amazing man. And I am really going to miss him,” Catherine Popko said.

Abad will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington next week.

Private Sergio S. Abad is to be laid to rest in the Columbarium on the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery on 6 August, 2008.  The interment services will follow a memorial service to be held on 5 August at Murphy’s Funeral Home, 4510 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, Virginia.

Note: Private Abad was posthumously promoted to Specialist.

Source: Arlington National Cemetery Website

The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember Sergio during the month of July 2009 with our shipments to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and U.S. military hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our thoughts and prayers remain with Sergio’s family and friends today and in the years to come.

Christopher Wilson

Spc. Christopher Wilson – June 2009 Shipment Honoree

Soldier killed in Afghanistan feared never seeing daughter again

The Associated Press

BANGOR, Maine — A soldier who left behind a young daughter in Maine said his greatest fear was “not coming home to his little girl.”

Army Spc. Christopher Wilson, 24, made the remark on the social networking Web site MySpace.com before being killed last week by a rocket-propelled grenade while deployed with the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan.

On the Web, Wilson expressed his love for his 4-year-old daughter, Boston sports teams and his “buddies back home.” He said his goal for 2007 was to “stay alive.”

Army Spc. Christopher Wilson
Army Spc. Christopher Wilson

Army records identified Wilson as being from Bangor, but most of his family ties are in Chicopee, Mass. His daughter, Jayden, is believed to be his only family member living in Maine, said Maj. Michael Backus, director of public affairs of the Maine National Guard.

While it appears Wilson spent most of his youth in Massachusetts, he identified Bangor as his hometown at the time of his Army enlistment in September 2002.

He completed the preliminary Army requirements at the military entrance processing station in Portland, said Ben Abel, media relations officer at Fort Drum, N.Y.

Three other soldiers were wounded in the attack that claimed Wilson’s life on March 29 in Korengal Outpost, Afghanistan, officials said.

Gov. John Baldacci will order flags flown at half staff on the day of Wilson’s funeral. Funeral services were undetermined as of April 4.

Soldier with Massachusetts ties killed in Afghanistan

The Associated Press

FORT DRUM, N.Y. — Another soldier with New England ties has died in Afghanistan, the Army said.

Army Spc. Christopher Wilson, 24, died Thursday in Korengal Outpost in Afghanistan after he was injured in a rocket-propelled grenade explosion, the Defense Department said April 2. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum.

The Defense Department identified Wilson as being from Bangor, Maine, where his young daughter, Jayden, lives. The Republican of Springfield, Mass., reported that Wilson formerly lived in Chicopee and that his mother and stepfather, Ilka and Scott Halliday, still live there. His sister, Christina Evans, lives in Texas.

A family friend told The Republican she last saw Wilson in November, when he was home on leave.

“He was his usual outgoing self, but you could tell he had probably seen a lot of things … he’d experienced people firing on him,” Monique E. LaRiviere of South Hadley, Mass., said. “But he wasn’t cowering away from it. He kind of wanted to get back there with his buddies.”

Wilson had been in the Army since 2002 and was deployed to Afghanistan with his unit in March 2006, the Army said. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals.

10th Mountain News Releases and Advisories
Bottom of Form
April 3, 2007
Release Number : 0704-04

NEWS RELEASE: 3rd BCT Soldier killed in Afghanistan March 29

FORT DRUM – A 3rd Brigade Combat Team Soldier was killed during a firefight with enemy forces near Korengal, Afghanistan March 29.

Christopher Wilson Gravesite
Christopher Wilson Gravesite

Spc. Christopher M. Wilson, 24, was an infantryman assigned to the 10th Mountain Division’s Company A, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment.

Wilson was killed when a rocket propelled grenade exploded near his position. Three other Soldiers were wounded in the incident.

Originally from Bangor, Maine, Wilson enlisted in the Army in September 2002 and completed basic and advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Ga.

In January 2003, he was assigned to 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery Regiment, a unit that conducts initial entry training. In September 2004, Wilson was reassigned to 1-32 Inf. at Fort Drum where he served as a rifleman.

Wilson deployed with his unit to Afghanistan in March 2006.

His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

He is survived by his daughter Jayden; mother, Ilka Halliday; step-father Scott Halliday; and sister Christina Evans.

Sgt. Christopher M. Wilson 1982-2007 CHICOPEE – Sgt. Christopher M. Wilson, 24, of the U.S. Army died a hero from injuries he received in Afghanistan on March 29, 2007. He was born in Dickinson, N.D. on April 20, 1982. Our son Christopher was an outstanding and wonderful young man and soldier with a great sense of humor. He loved his country. He was loved by all and when he loved he loved Deep. He was always the mediator in every situation. He had a great love of family where as everyone he met he embraced them all family. His love for country and being a soldier did no just start. It started when he was a very young boy. It actually started when he was 18 months old and he would always run around in his diaper and combat boots. He knew he was going to be a soldier and dreamed of becoming a soldier in the United States Army. He lived his dream when he joined the Army a year after 9/11 which devastated and grieved him. He always wanted to do his part for his country. Christopher was a true American citizen, when he was growing up I (his mom) would speak German to him, he would always break out in a chorus of “Born in the USA.” He always cried at Disney Movies and one of his favorites was “Lion King.” Christopher had a deep spiritual conviction and spoke with God often. In one conversation his father had with him, he made it clear that one of the things that kept him going while in Afghanistan was the fact that he was helping the children and other innocent people of Afghanistan. He thought the country of Afghanistan was absolutely beautiful. We loved our son and we are very proud of him and know that he did a great job. We know that he was well trained to do his job and loved what he was doing even under the circumstances. He also loved serving his country with his whole heart and truly believed in what he was doing. Christopher is survived by his parents Scott and Ilka (Flohr) Halliday; his daughter Jayden Danielle Wilson; one brother Breckon J.; one sister Katrina Evens; and his grandparents Harry and Marilyn Halliday. He was predeceased by his brother Jesse in 1984; by his grandfather Vernon F. Flohr in 1985; and by his grandmother Jutta Flohr in 1989. The Funeral for Christopher will be held on Monday morning at 11 AM at the Second Baptist Church, Granby Road, South Hadley. Burial with military honors will be held in Arlington National Cemetery. There are no calling hours. Ryder Funeral Home of South Hadley is handling arrangements. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to the Sgt. Christopher M. Wilson Trust Fund at Bank North. RYDER FUNERAL HOME 533-1735

  • Sources:
    • MassLive
    • Military Times:
    • Military City
    • Drum Army
    • Additional Websites:
    • Arlington National Cemetery Website

The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember Christopher during the month of June 2009 with our shipments to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and U.S. military hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our thoughts and prayers remain with Andrew’s family and friends today and in the years to come.

In Pain He Still Said Good-Bye

My last day in Germany has arrived and, as always, it is going to be difficult to leave.  I have met some wonderful military members.  They serve our country and protect our way of living.  They have shown they are the few and the proud, they have done more before 9 am than most of us do in a day.  The military is not a perfect bunch, but they are a breed to themselves.

Monday was a busy day with not much of it being spent in the WWMC.  I said bye to many of the liaisons and spoke to one of them about Justin.  Many of you know him from my past blogs and posts to the LHCP yahoo group.  I dropped some excess food off at the USO and they have been very well stocked with LRMC WWMC items since I have been here.  I showed another volunteer where they were located so she can help clear excess food supplies.

I did my last pillow run to the wards.  Judy and Callie W., I am very proud to tell you that all the pillows Judy made and Callie stuffed and sewed shut are gone.  They have been for weeks.  I take the pillows to the wards in great big clear plastic bags.  The patients can see the pillows inside and yours were a great hit with the wounded.  One of your pillows was perfect for a patient to prop up his arm so his shoulder was comfortable.  He said the hospital pillows were a little too flat and big.

The day before I left for Germany, Kathy, Brian, and I were getting the last of the supplies in Virginia sent out to our contacts.  We had a lot of boxes to go through.  Kathy was opening and pulling the letters from the boxes and I was doing database entries and printing address labels.  Brian was taping up boxes so they would be ready to use.  As a box was opened, Brian and Kathy would ask which contact needed blankets, pillows, scrub caps, and so forth.  We had items flying every direction.  Kathy opened a box with some sneakers in it.  She had not read the letter in the box and asked me where to send the supplies.  One item was some sneakers and I told her all sneakers go to LRMC.  So, in the box they went.  Later that night she called me to say she had made a big mistake.  The box she opened had come from Judy.  Judy has traveled from Michigan to Virginia to help pack shipments and learn the database we maintain for our annual report.  One trip, she had a pair of sneakers on like I used to have.  I told her that these were the only sneakers I had found that did not make my foot hurt since I had broken my 2nd metatarsal and I wished I could find another pair of them.  I told her I had been to all the shoe stores with no success.  Well, my dear LHCP sister had found them and sent them to me for my trip to LRMC.  Little did we know they were on their way to LRMC, but not on my feet or in my suitcase.  All was well; I was heading to LRMC and would just grab the sneakers once they arrived in Germany.  Each time the mail came, I unpacked all the boxes in hopes of finding my pain-free sneakers.  Judy and Kathy, you will both be glad to know they arrived today.  I had to laugh when I saw them, as I fly back to the states in two days and they traveled to Germany by USPS and will travel back on my feet.  Judy, they fit perfect, I thank you for your help in protecting my puppies.

I came to work at 9 and left at 1630 but I don’t feel I can say I worked 7.5 hours.  I am going to only put down 5 hours for today.  Thank you to Shelley Jansen!

I went to work on Tuesday and one of the volunteers helped get the last excess packed up to go to Iraq.  I got the address labels on at 4:30 and they are ready to be sent out on Wednesday.

I met Mike, another patient from one of the tours, in the hospital.  He asked what I was going to do my last night in Germany.  I told him pack a suitcase and go to bed early.  He talked about going to dinner and I said that was a nice idea.  He had to get a battle buddy and their pass, since the patients can’t go off LRMC without one.  At 6:15, Gabi yelled down the hall for me.  I opened my door and she told me I had a lot of guests.  It was Weston, Brian, and Mike, all there to have dinner with me.  We walked to the Chinese restaurant across the street since I had already turned in the rental car.  We had a nice time and decided that we needed a group picture.  My batteries for the camera were dead and since none of the guys had their camera, we walked back to LRMC.  Weston got his camera and we had a USO volunteer take the last picture that was to be taken for this trip.  Brian was still very sore from his surgery which meant even more to me.  He came to say bye even though he was still not feeling well.

I worked from 9:00 to 2:00 in the WWMC and from 2:00 to 4:00, one of the chaplain’s assistants and another chaplain’s office employee took me to turn in my car, then we picked up chicken for the patients chicken night at the Wounded Warrior Transition Building and they dropped me off at the hotel.

I will be traveling home as life continues at LRMC.  We must continue to do what we do here so that we can make their job at LRMC and across the Middle East easier.

Thank you to Bob Tuscon and the Western States Big Q Shriners!

Weston and the Group

Elizabeth Loncki

Senior Airman Elizabeth A. Loncki-May 2009 Shipment Honoree

The Dialog  (Diocese of Wilmington )

NEW CASTLE, Del. (The Dialog) – Stephen Loncki was surprised when his daughter Elizabeth told him she was enlisting in the Air Force. “But all of a sudden she had a clarity about her life,” he recalled. “She even signed up for the bomb squad. … She picked the toughest work; only two females in her class [of 16] graduated. She told me, ‘If I could only save one life, it would be worth it.’”

Elizabeth A. Loncki
Senior Airman Elizabeth A. Loncki

Loncki has taken consolation from the memory of his daughter’s words since Sunday, when a chaplain and two other uniformed officers came to his New Castle home to tell him that Elizabeth – Senior Airman Elizabeth A. Loncki, 23 – had been killed earlier in the day in Iraq as her explosive-ordinance disposal team tried to dismantle a car bomb planted near Baghdad.

The members of the military delegation that broke the news to Stephen Loncki told him that they had been in Iraq themselves and knew firsthand how such disposal crews have saved thousands of lives while risking their own during daily missions.

Loncki was remembered as a faithful Catholic who grew up in St. Peter the Apostle Parish, attended the parish school (like her father and grandfather) and graduated from Padua Academy in 2001.

Before deploying to Iraq in August, she was stationed in Ogden, Utah, at Hill Air Force Base, where she served at Mass as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and a sacristan, her father said.

Her faith had been nourished at home and at St. Peter’s, and she liked to spend her spare time with family – which includes a 10-year-old sister – and friends from her parish and schools, her father said.

At St. Peter’s, Stephen Loncki coached his daughter in volleyball; he influenced her decision to attend Padua, where she continued to play the sport. Elizabeth’s stepmother, Christine, also attended Padua, and her father went to Salesianum.

At Padua, Elizabeth Loncki was remembered by former teachers as intelligent and hard-working. “She was committed to success,” recalled Martha Holladay, an English teacher and department chairwoman who recalled the teenager arriving at school early to get help revising her senior-year research paper. In the end, it was nearly perfect, Holladay said. “She earned a 98 percent. I still use it as a model when teaching my current students. Liz had a gentle spirit, and she was a pleasure to teach.”

Elizabeth Loncki
Elizabeth Loncki

The school has set up a memorial in its foyer, next to the Prayer of St. Francis (“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace …”). A school spokeswoman said students and faculty plan to attend the funeral, and the volleyball team will wear something to commemorate Loncki’s participation in the sport.

Padua volleyball gave root to the friendship between Loncki and classmate Valerie Budischak. “We were really close,” Budischak, who works at the Ronald McDonald House in Rockland, said. “She was so strong – that’s one thing I really admired about her.”

It took a lot to get to know her, Budischak said, but once you did, “she was smart and funny and loyal and caring, and when she wanted something, she worked for it, no matter if she was good at it or not so good. She was very driven, but she could be silly and fun.”

During their years at Padua, Budischak said, Loncki spoke about her desire to go into the Air Force. “I wasn’t surprised because that was her personality; she was really tough. She had this desire to do good for others. It was her life.”

Loncki’s funeral Mass was celebrated Jan. 13 at St. Peter’s Church. Burial with full military honors was in the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Bear.

She was eligible to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, said her father, “but that’s just too far.” Loncki was the first Delaware woman killed in the Iraqi war; 13 men from Delaware have died.

Air Force Senior Airman Elizabeth A. Loncki

Elizabeth Loncki
Elizabeth A. Loncki

Driven by a competitive spirit, Elizabeth A. Loncki wasn’t afraid to try something new or to set high standards for herself. She was a 5-foot-5 dynamo who would do 51 “real” push-ups to her father’s 50, draw a crowd at the gym and, after achieving a high score on the Air Force entry test, choose to become one of the few women working as bomb disposal technicians. “She said, ‘That’s what I want to do,’ and that’s what she did,” grandfather Walter “Pop” Loncki said. “There was no stopping Elizabeth.” Loncki, 23, of New Castle, Del., was killed Jan. 7 by a car bomb in Mahmudiyah. She was a 2001 high school graduate and was assigned to Hill Air Force Base. She played volleyball, basketball and softball and was honored as one of her class’s most valuable athletes. For Christmas, her dad got a pen that delivers an electric shock to users; Elizabeth used it on her commander. “She was probably the only one who could get away with it,” said an aunt, Tina Masiello. She is survived by her father and stepmother Stephen and Christine Loncki; her mother Ann Roberts and her husband, Joey.

Air Force Senior Airman Elizabeth A. Loncki, 23, of New Castle, Del.; assigned to the 775th Civil Engineer Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah; killed Jan. 7 by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device while performing duties in the Baghdad area. Also killed were Tech Sgt. Timothy R. Weiner and Senior Airman Daniel B. Miller Jr.

Source: Military Times

IED kills 3 airmen

The Associated Press

DOVER, Del. — A former New Castle resident was one of three airmen killed Sunday in a bomb blast near Baghdad, the Pentagon said Monday.

Senior Airman Elizabeth A. Loncki, 23, died after her explosive ordnance disposal team was targeted by a car bomber near Al-Mahmudiyah, her family said. She is the first woman from Delaware to die in combat in Iraq.

Also killed in the blast were Tech. Sgt. Timothy R. Weiner, 35, of Tamarac, Fla. and Senior Airman Daniel B. Miller Jr., 24, Galesburg, Ill. The three were assigned to the 775th Civil Engineer Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

Loncki, who was deployed to Iraq in August, was scheduled to return home in 20 days, her family said. Her boyfriend, Sgt. Jayson Johnson, also stationed at Hill, had planned to visit the family’s New Castle home on Thursday to ask her father’s permission to marry her, said Loncki’s aunt, Tina Masiello.

Instead, Johnson will serve as a military escort for Loncki’s body as it is transported to the mortuary at Dover Air Force Base and prepared for burial.

“She was a beautiful, beautiful child,” a tearful Stephen Loncki said of his eldest daughter. “She loved her family and her family loved her. We miss her so much.”

Loncki, a New Castle native, attended St. Peter the Apostle grade school and graduated from Padua Academy in Wilmington in 2001. She briefly attended the University of Arizona before enlisting in the Air Force.

“She wanted to contribute to the country,” Masiello said, adding that Loncki expressed no reservations about going to Iraq.

“She was ready to go, it was a cause she deeply believed in,” she said. “She told us not to worry.”

Loncki last spoke to her family on Christmas Eve, as she opened presents her father had sent.

“I sent her a DVD of a concert and some popcorn, and filled her stockings with a bunch of Christmas goodies,” said Loncki, adding that he also sent several news magazines after her daughter said she and her fellow soldiers didn’t get a lot of information.

“She sounded melancholy,” Loncki recalled. “She knew her family was together and you could tell she felt far away … She was happy to talk to us, but a little sad, too, because she was so far away.”

Masiello described her niece as a faithful Catholic who enjoyed rock music and swimming, and whose beauty belied an athletic toughness evidenced by her status as a walk-on starter on Padua’s volleyball team and her ability to match boys push-up for push-up.

“She was incredibly pretty and petite and not somebody you would think of being on the bomb squad,” Masiello said. “She had a smile that brightened up the room.”

Family members said Loncki, who trained at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida before being stationed at Fort Hill, was one of only two women in her explosive ordnance disposal class.

“That’s what she wanted to do,” her father said. “She was a damn smart kid and she was good at what she did. I was always scared every second of the day, but she thought she could do some good. I believe in my heart that’s what she was doing every day.”

“It’s a terrible thing these kids — the price they’re paying for our freedoms,” Loncki added. “It’s just a terrible price to pay.”

In addition to her parents, Loncki is survived by a 10-year-old sister. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Thirty-six Air Force troops are the among the more than 3,000 Americans who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003.

Source: Air Force Times

Memorials held for Hill airmen killed in Iraq

Staff Report
Posted : Tuesday Jan 16, 2007 5:55:22 EST

Balad Air Base, Iraq and Hill Air Force Base, Utah, bid their final farewells to three airmen from Hill’s 775th Civil Engineer Squadron who were killed in Iraq Jan. 7.

Hill held a memorial service for the trio on Jan. 12, and Balad followed with its own service on Jan. 15. Another service for the airmen was held Jan. 10 at Sather Air Base, Iraq.

The airmen are Tech. Sgt. Timothy R. Weiner, 35, of Tamarac, Fla.; Senior Airman Elizabeth A. Loncki, 23, of New Castle, Del.; and Senior Airman Daniel B. Miller Jr., 24, of Galesburg, Ill.

“Tim, Liz, and Dan were among an elite group of nearly 1,200 active duty EOD Airmen that the rest of the world looks too,” said Lt. Col. Craig Biondo, the 775th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, during the ceremony at Hill. “Simply put, they were the best in the world.”

The airmen were deployed to Sather with the 447th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron’s Explosive Ordnance Division.

“These were valiant combat warriors, and they gave their lives in the pursuit of the safety and security of the United States and the freedom and democracy of the Iraqi people,” Maj. Brian Hartless, 447th CES commander, said during the Sather service. “They were called to serve, and they did so with distinction, honor and courage. May we all be so fortunate to be remembered that way.”

The airmen were preparing to diffuse a bomb that was in a vehicle when it detonated, a Hill spokeswoman said. The deaths bring the number of airmen who have died during almost four years of fighting in Iraq to 31, according to U.S. Central Command Air Forces.

An airman from the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head, Md., was wounded in the incident.

Weiner was the noncommissioned officer in charge of EOD operations for the 447th, Loncki was an EOD journeyman and Miller was an EOD apprentice, according to a Hill spokeswoman. The incident is still under investigation.

Memorial funds for the airmen’s families have been set up in their names through Wells Fargo. Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo branch.

The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember Elizabeth during the month of May 2009 with our shipments to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and U.S. military hospitals in the Middle East. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Elizabeth’s family and friends today and in the years to come.

Norwich 4th Annual Ride for Troops

Local vets raise money for injured soldiers

By: Melissa Stagnaro, Sun Staff Writer
Published: May 1st, 2009


Poker Run 2009 Bill
Poker Run 2009

NORWICH – This weekend, motorcycle riders will have the chance to take a scenic, hundred-mile ride through Chenango County, and it’s all for a good cause.

Saturday, rain or shine, the American Legion Riders from the Lt. Warren Eaton Post in Norwich will host their fourth annual Poker Run. Proceeds from the charity event will be donated to the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, which supports American soldiers injured in combat overseas

According to local American Legion Riders President Paul Russo, combat veterans wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan are sent to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the largest American hospital located outside of the US. There they receive treatment and rehabilitation for their injuries before returning home. Often their injuries are severe and their stays at the hospital lengthy.

LHCP provides items which “enhance the morale and welfare” of the wounded soldiers while they are hospitalized, according to the organization’s website. This includes clothing items like sweat pants, sweatshirts and pajamas, Russo explained.

The non-profit was founded in 2004 by Karen Grimord, who will attend this weekend’s event with her husband. “She’s really a remarkable woman,” said Russo, who described Grimord as a “living angel.”

Each year the Poker Run is attended not by just vets, Russo explained, but many other riders and clubs. “It’s a touching moment when you see all these people come out for this,” he said. “They are so supportive.”

The newly-formed local chapter of the Red Knights, comprised of volunteer fire-fighters and emergency squad members from Chenango and Broome countries, will be among this year’s participants.

According to Russo, registration will open at 10:30 a.m. on the morning of the event at the Lt. Warren Eaton American Legion Post 189, 29 Sheldon St. in Norwich. The entry fee will be $10 per hand. Bikers will leave the post between 11 a.m. and noon.

The planned route includes stops at the new York State Veteran’s Home in Oxford, the Old Mill Restraurant in Greene, Seebers Tavern in Smithville Flats, the Georgetown Inn and the Honkey Tonk in Sherburne before returning to the Norwich American Legion Post. The last hand must be in by 4 p.m., and awards will be given out at 4:30 p.m.

To participate, all riders must be at least 18 years of age and possess a valid operator’s license. Bikes must be properly licensed, registered, inspected and insured.

For more information on the poker run, contact Bill at 656-5697 or via e-mail at ALRPost189@yahoo.com.

For additional information about the cause, visit LandstuhlHospitalCareProject.org. Those who wish to donate to the cause, but chose not to participate in the poker run, are encouraged to do so.

“Any donations are definitely welcome,” Russo said.

American Legion Riders Post 189 NY
Norwich 4th Annual Ride for Troops

Around the Circle 11 Times

Yesterday, Sunday some of the patients wanted to go to Ramstien to spend their $250 voucher from DOD to purchase clothing.  I was to meet them at 10 and off we went.  As you head into the Air Base, there is a traffic circle.   It was the joke of the day as we headed around the traffic circle 11 times that day – Look kids, Big Ben.

We got to the Air Base and one of the guys forgot his voucher, so I took him back to LRMC to pick it up.  This is now twice around the traffic circle.  On the way back from LRMC, I had to stop and get gas.  On the way back to the base, just as we passed the circle, I realized I could not find my military ID.  The only place it could be was at the gas station.  This was now four times around the traffic circle.  We then returned to the base through the circle making it 5 times around the circle.

Then one of the patients wanted to send some Eis Wein home to a friend for his wedding.  We went to several places on base and decided to go back to the first place.  Somehow, between the time we left the last place looking at the wine and heading back to the first place to pick up the wine, I forgot and headed off base.  I remembered just as I passed the circle and started laughing because here we went around the circle 2 more times to head back to the base for a total of 7.

Then it was actually time to leave Ramstein and the guys wanted to find a restaurant called Big Emma’s.  I had no clue where it was, so we traveled around for about 20 minutes asking directions before we finally found it.  I will post some pictures from the restaurant once I return home.  This made 8, 9 and 10 trips as we searched for the restaurant, then 11 to take everyone home.

I dropped everyone off at about 7:00.  It was a long day, but they all had a sense of humor and I think everyone enjoyed themselves.

This morning, Monday, I just did not get much accomplished.  I went to the storage room a few building away from our store rooms 1-4.  I walked in and realized it would take another 2 to 3 weeks to get that room organized.  Someone shipped 2000 pounds of candy here and it is in the room along with boxes upon boxes of flip flops, clothing, and I don’t know what else.

I do not have 3 more weeks here, so I guess another volunteer will have to attack that task.

Between running to the USO to drop off food items that we have so much excess of and then running to the store room for supplies, then going to the good bye luncheon and then returning to the hospital and visiting our young man from dinner who had his surgery today, and then getting my own shot, I don’t know where the day went.  Thank goodness for the two volunteers who put the last two boxes together for our contacts in the Middle East.  By the way the young man who had surgery this morning is doing just fine.

I went to work at 8:30 this morning left at 4:30, but I have no idea where the time went.

Thank you Michael and Debra Carter for making this possible!