Kevin Kryst

Kevin Kryst –December 2010 Shipment Honoree

19 December 2006:

Kevin and his Super Cobra
Kevin and his Super Cobra

West Bend, Wisconsin – The children of Elizabeth and Glenn Kryst gathered unexpectedly at the family home here, the week before Christmas, to grieve with their parents the death of their eldest brother in Iraq.

Captain Kevin M. Kryst, 27, a Marine helicopter pilot with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., had returned to Iraq for a second time at the beginning of the month, his mother said.

He was killed Monday at the Marine Corps’ Camp Korean Village, in the desert of Anbar province west of Baghdad, she said.

A Sunni-led insurgency has made Anbar, on the border of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, one of the deadliest battlefronts in the Iraq war. The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit has its headquarters at the camp in Anbar, and its mission is to secure major highways in the province.

“We were only told he sustained abdominal injuries from shrapnel in a mortar attack while he was on the base,” his mother said. “He was not in a helicopter.”

“He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Elizabeth Kryst said that she and her husband and their five other children were proud of Kevin’s service to his country.

“He was committed to the effort in Iraq, and so were we,” she said. Two symbols of their commitment flutter in the breeze outside her home: a Marine Corps flag hangs over the front porch while an American flag is displayed nearby.

“He loved his country. His job in Iraq was to fly his helicopter and protect his Marines on the ground.”

“The Marines have lost a highly-skilled pilot,” she said.

“We’re numb,” his mother added.

Kevin Kryst’s younger brother, Dan, 23, a member of the Marine Reserves, has also served a tour of duty in Iraq, having been deployed there in 2004.

Kevin Kryst spent a few days at home in August while on leave prior to a six-month deployment, she said.

The home visit was long enough for him to become engaged to his West Bend sweetheart. Elizabeth Kryst identified his fiancée as Sara but declined to provide her last name, saying she wanted to protect the young woman’s privacy.

 Family Memorial

Kevin Kryst
Capt. Kevin M. Kryst

A memorial to Kevin Kryst was created Tuesday on a tree in the family’s lawn. Red, blue and yellow ribbons wrap the trunk. A balloon with the phrase Proud to be American was tied to the tree and floated in a light breeze. A bouquet of flowers leaned against the base of the tree.

‘An excellent student’

Kevin Kryst graduated from West Bend West High School in 1997. He played French horn in a school ensemble and was a member of the Spartans’ swim team, said Principal Pat Gardon.

“He was an excellent student” and graduated with a grade point average in excess of 3.9, Gardon said. “Kevin was a sincere, dedicated young man.”

Students at the school learned of Kryst’s death in an announcement near the end of the day Tuesday.

He is the second West Bend West graduate to die in Iraq.

Marine Lance Cpl. Travis Wichlacz was killed in February 2005 while on patrol in Babil province. Wichlacz graduated in 2002. He had joined the Marine Reserves in April of that year.

Kevin Kryst enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison after his graduation.

His younger brother Brad doesn’t remember Kevin talking about a military career while in high school.

But the Marine Corps attracted his attention while he was at Madison, and Kevin Kryst attended Marine Officer Candidates School during summers at college, his brother said. Kevin Kryst was commissioned an officer when he graduated from UW-Madison in 2001.

“He wanted to fly, and he thought his experience would be an adventure,” said Brad Kryst, 25, a Tempe, Ariz. resident.

“He flew Cobra helicopters in Iraq.”

At Camp Pendleton, Kryst was assigned to Marine Light-Attack Helicopter Squadron 267, Marine Aircraft Group 39 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

Brad Kryst said he had discussed with Kevin the danger of serving in Iraq, and even the possible loss of his brother’s life.

“It’s always on your mind,” he said.

Kevin Kryst is the 65th service member from Wisconsin to die in Iraq.

In addition to his parents and his brothers Brad and Dan, a student at UW-Stevens Point, Kevin Kryst is survived by a sister, Jenny, 21, a student at UW-Oshkosh, and two other brothers, Justin, 21, a UW-Stevens Point student; and Tim, 18, a student at UW-La Crosse.

Kryst, Captain Kevin Michael

Captain Kevin Michael Kryst, age 27, of West Bend, Wisconsin, died Monday, December 18, 2006, in the Al Anbar province in Iraq, while serving his country as a United States Marine.

He was born September 17, 1979, in Maywood, Illinois, to Glenn and Elizabeth (nee Dziak) Kryst.

Kevin was a pilot of a Cobra helicopter in the Marine Light-Attack Helicopter Squadron 267, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

He is survived by his parents, Glenn and Elizabeth of West Bend; his fiancee, Sara of West Bend; and five siblings, Bradley of Mesa, Arizona, Daniel of Stevens Point and Jennifer, Justin and Timothy, all of West Bend. He is further survived by his maternal grandparents, Sy and Betty Dziak of Illinois; his paternal grandparents, Clifford and Rita Kryst of Michigan; and other relatives and friends.

A Mass of Christian burial will be held Friday, December 29, 2006, at 6 p.m. at ST. FRANCES CABRINI CATHOLIC CHURCH in West Bend, with the Rev. Jeffrey Haines presiding. Inurnment will take place in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Visitation will be Friday, at the church only from 3 p.m. until 5:45 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials to the Fisher House, which provides housing for the families of wounded military personnel are appreciated.

A 27-year-old Marine helicopter pilot from West Bend was killed in Iraq, only weeks after beginning his second deployment there, his mother said Tuesday.

Captain Kevin M. Kryst died Monday from injuries sustained in fighting in al-Anbar province, the Department of Defense said in a statement.

“He died from injuries due to being hit by a fragment of a mortar,” said his mother, Elizabeth Kryst.

“We’re proud of him,” she said. “But we’re at a loss without him.”

Kryst was the oldest of six children. He had four younger brothers and a younger sister.

He graduated from West Bend West High School in 1997 and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001. He enlisted upon graduation.

Kryst’s great-grandfather had been a Marine.

“It was something he always wanted to do,” Elizabeth Kryst said.

Kryst was first deployed in Iraq during 2004.

“He was always very active, very busy. He had a need for speed, and that’s what he got flying helicopters,” Elizabeth Kryst said.

Her son was part of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, she said.

Patrick Gardon, West Bend West principal, issued a statement Tuesday saying that Kryst had been on the school’s swimming team and part of its wind ensemble.

“He was very proud to serve his country and was a quality individual of high character, dedication and commitment, as well as an excellent student,” Gardon said.

As of Tuesday, 64 military personnel from Wisconsin have died in the war in Iraq.

NOTE: Captain Kryst was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on 5 July 2007.

Kevin M. Kryst liked everything fast – and the sky seemed the limit. “He was always very active, very busy. He had a need for speed, and that’s why he got flying helicopters,” said his mother, Elizabeth. Kryst, 27, of West Bend, Wis., died Dec. 18 during a mortar attack in Anbar province. He was assigned to Camp Pendleton and was on his second tour. Kryst graduated from high school in 1997. He played French horn in a school ensemble and was a member of the swim team, said Principal Pat Gardon. “He was an excellent student” and graduated with a grade point average in excess of 3.9, Gardon said. “Kevin was a sincere, dedicated young man.” Kryst was commissioned an officer when he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001. Kryst’s great-grandfather had been a Marine. “He wanted to fly, and he thought his experience would be an adventure,” said his brother, Brad. “He flew Cobra helicopters in Iraq.” When Kryst was last home in August, he got engaged to his school sweetheart, Sara. He also is survived by his father, Glenn. “We’re proud of him,” his mother said. “But

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine: Capt. Kevin M. Kryst

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Capt. Kevin M. Kryst of West Bend, WI:

Kryst gravesite
Kevin M. Kryst gravesite

 “Capt. Kryst’s bravery is a shining example of the determination and courage that makes our nation’s armed forces strong. Kevin’s loved ones have lost a devoted family member and our country has lost a courageous Marine. Maria and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to his family, friends and fellow Marines who mourn his loss.”

Kryst, 27, died Dec. 18 as a result of wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Light-Attack Helicopter Squadron 267, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Capt. Kryst, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Nicholas Cook

Nicholas S. Cook –November 2010 Shipment Honoree

Montana soldier killed in Afghanistan

The Associated Press

Nicholas Cook funeral
Nicholas Cook funeral

HUNGRY HORSE, Mont. — The Department of Defense said March 10 a Montana soldier was killed in Afghanistan over the weekend when insurgents opened fire on his unit.

Defense officials said 19-year-old Pvt. Nicholas S. Cook of Hungry Horse was killed in Konar province on Sunday. His body arrived at Dover Air Force Base, Del., on March 9.

Kathy Taylor said her grandson joined the Army in April and had been in Afghanistan for just over two months when he was killed. He was set to come home on leave in about two weeks.

She said the Army had not given her any more details about her grandson’s death, including whether any of Cook’s fellow soldiers were killed or injured in the attack.

“All I know is they were out on patrol,” said Taylor, who with her husband raised Cook since he was just 3 years old. “They had finished whatever they were doing and were coming back out of the area when they were ambushed.”

Cook, a 2008 graduate of Columbia Falls High School, loved excitement, whether it came from jumping out of airplanes, off of bridges or cliffs, or snowboarding in the Alps.

“He was quite a daredevil,” Taylor said. “He liked to hunt, skateboard, bike, ride dirt bikes and four-wheelers. And he lived and breathed snowboarding.”

In a posting on his MySpace page, Cook jokingly listed his hometown as “Afghanistan, Montana,” and wrote that “not many people can say they are as stoked about life in general and what they are doing right now.”

“I sure as hell can,” he continued. “I’m doing more now and have seen more already than I ever thought I would.”

Cook was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, out of Camp Ederle, Italy.

Soldier’s death brings war’s impact home to rural Mont. town

By Matt Volz
The Associated Press

 COLUMBIA FALLS, Mont. — Residents from the small communities just outside the mountains of Glacier National Park buried one of their own March 20, a young soldier from Hungry Horse killed by Afghan insurgents earlier this month.

Nicholas Cook is the eighth soldier from Montana to be killed in Afghanistan, and the Army private’s death has received a huge deal of attention across the state. About 300 people gathered for the funeral in Columbia Falls — a nearby town big enough to have a church to fit all those who turned out — including Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Sen. John Tester, D-Mont.

“Motivated, excited, strong, quick, fast — everything that you’d expect in a good soldier, he had,” Sgt. Salvatore Giunta said after the burial.

Giunta, a soldier with Cook’s company, escorted Cook’s body back to Montana. “It means a lot to see the amount of respect and outpouring from the community,” Giunta said.

Cook’s death comes at a hard time for this close-knit, private community. Unemployment is in the double digits across Flathead County. Columbia Falls’ biggest private employer, the Plum Creek lumber mill, has had to lay off dozens of workers due to the tough economy.

There aren’t a lot of opportunities for kids like Cook once they graduate. That’s partly why he joined the Army, said Kathy Taylor, his grandmother. Inspired by a favorite aunt, he became an Airborne soldier, she said.

“There were no jobs around here, but he loved to travel and he was an adventurer, Taylor said. “He liked jumping out of airplanes and he liked those long hikes and he liked what the Army meant.”

To the 900 residents of Hungry Horse, Cook is an example for other “Canyon Kids,” the nickname for the rough-around-the-edges children who live in the towns just outside of Glacier park.

“It’s been hard on them. But he died a hero, and that is one thing that lets them hold their heads up,” said Beverly Kahn, a teacher at the Columbia Falls Learning Center, where Cook finished his high school education in 2008. “To hear what Nick has done I hope will give them all that ability to see they can be better than what they appear to be labeled as.”

Nicholas S. Cook
Nicholas S. Cook

Cook was raised by grandparents Chuck and Kathy Taylor from a young age. He wrestled, played baseball and football, and raised goats that he’d show at the Flathead County Fair. He was a risk-taker who loved snowboarding, above everything else.

“He was a manic snowboarder. He lived to shred, that’s what he would tell you,” said Gary Menning, Cook’s 10th-grade English teacher, who kept a close relationship with Cook through high school.

His teachers said he was very friendly, honest, worked hard and was mature beyond his years. At times, though, he was a headstrong student.

“He was a tough kid. He had to learn things in life the hard way,” Kahn said. “You can get that attitude in life of, ‘Nobody’s going to tell me what to do.’ But the military tells you what to do. I think he figured that out. He had to learn that he didn’t know it all.”

Cook was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Camp Ederle, Italy. He found that Army life suited him, Taylor said, and he even found time to do some snowboarding in the Alps while on leave.

His squadron was sent to Afghanistan in December for a yearlong tour. He was based in Kunar province, in the northern part of the country, where the mountains reminded him of home, he told his grandmother.

Cook was on patrol March 7 when his unit came under attack, and he died from wounds received in the fight, according to the Department of Defense. Army National Guard spokesman Maj. Tim Crowe said the attack was still under investigation and no other details could be released.

At the graveside, a little girl wore large artificial flowers in her hair with the words written in the center, “My uncle is a United States Army soldier.” Veterans and firefighters ringed the site holding American flags. Cook’s family looked on as soldiers fired a 21-gun salute. Behind them, smoke from the lumber mill billowed.

Cook’s death has brought the war home to them, making it personal and bringing it closer than they ever wanted, Kahn said.

“He died a hero. People are alive because of him,” Kahn said. But, “I think Nick would get a kick out of people thinking that what he did was so incredible, when he just did what he needed to get done.”

Timothy Bowles

Timothy L. Bowles – October 2010 Shipment Honoree

Tucson Citizen

Staff Sgt. Timothy L. Bowles
Staff Sgt. Timothy L. Bowles

Bowles, an Air Force staff sergeant, was sent to Afghanistan in November, his father said.  It was his first tour in a war zone.  He was a fire engine mechanic, the senior Bowles said.  “He volunteered to go on that mission that day to take the place of a comrade who was sick. I just learned that today (Monday),” Bowles and four other airmen were killed by a roadside bomb in Eastern Afghanistan, according to an Air Force release and an article Monday in The New York Times.

Bowles was assigned to the 755th Air Expeditionary Group’s Nangarhar  Provincial Reconstruction Team in Jalalabad, his father said.  His home base was Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage, Alaska.

The senior Bowles said his son worked at the Tucson Medical Center cafeteria while taking classes at Pima Community College for a year after his 2002 graduation from Tucson High.  “He never said what he was studying.”

When Timothy enlisted in the Air Force, Bowles said he was “stunned” but “I was all for it.”  He said Louis confided in his mother, Lisa that he was unhappy at times growing up, as his father left for one deployment after another.   He didn’t understand his father’s military career was what took him away from home.  “He didn’t comprehend why I had to leave. He thought, ‘Dad was mad at us,’” he said.  The elder Bowles served in the first Gulf War in 1990 and 1991, he said.

In addition to his parents, who now live in Glorietta, N.M., he is survived by his older sister, Heather Ketchmark, who lives at Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia.

The Associated Press

As a youngster growing up on base, Staff Sgt. Timothy L. Bowles took a special interest in elderly veterans who attended chapel services on Sundays.  He made a point of paying attention to them and assisting them if they needed help, said his father, Air Force retiree Louis Bowles. “  He was loving and  loyal, a son you could trust.”

“That was Tim,” Air Force retiree Louis Bowles said of his son’s offer to fill in for someone. “He was always unselfish, wanting to help people any way he could.”

Bowles graduated from Tucson High School in 2002 and attended Pima Community College before joining the Air Force.

“Raised in a military family, he knew the cost of freedom.  He did not falter and he did not fail,” said Col. Richard Walberg.

ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFNS) — Elmendorf Air Force Base officials will hold a memorial service this week to honor an NCO killed at 12:30 a.m. March 15 supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Eastern Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Timothy L. Bowles
Staff Sgt. Timothy L. Bowles

Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Lee said Bowles was in an armored Humvee with three Army soldiers when the vehicle rolled over a pressure-sensitive bomb. The two servicemen in front, including Bowles, died instantly, and the two in the back died later, he said.

He deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 1, 2008, and was scheduled to be deployed for nine months. He was assigned to the 755th Air Expeditionary Group’s Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

Sergeant Bowles was a fire truck mechanic assigned to the 3rd Logistics Readiness Squadron. He arrived to Elmendorf AFB in July 2007 and was assigned to the Vehicle Management Flight.

Sergeant Bowles was born in Anchorage, Alaska, and grew up on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., where his father was stationed. He graduated from Tucson High School in 2002.

“The 3rd Wing and all of Team Elmendorf feel the pain of losing Sergeant Bowles,” said Col. Richard Walberg, the 3rd Wing vice commander. “He was always ready to go beyond what was merely expected of him. In fact, on Sunday he filled in for a comrade who was not feeling well in Afghanistan. He was a living embodiment of our Air Force core values of integrity, service before self and excellence. Raised in a military family, he knew the cost of freedom. He did not falter and he did not fail. Our prayers are with Tim’s family, friends and professional colleagues.”

The War at Home

The War at Home – Parents of OH Marine beg folks to remember injured

By Jerry Anderson WTOL 11


Justin A. Reynolds
Justin A. Reynolds

(WTOL) – As the U.S. continues fighting wars on two fronts, many folks do not always think about the men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. But an Ohio couple, whose son was injured in Iraq, wants to make sure folks remember.

From the time Justin Reynolds was a young boy, he knew what he wanted to do when he grew up – and his family knew he would wear a military uniform someday.

In fact, he loved playing with GI Joes and reading books about war.

Ann Reynolds, Justin’s mother, remembers when a librarian said her son’s school would need more military books because Justin had read them all.

Reynolds’ grew into a big young man. In fact, after deciding to join the Marines he was told he had to lose 100 pounds before they would accept him – and he did.

“I was proud, very proud,” said Ann Reynolds. “I’ve always been proud of him, but that was a proud moment for his father and I.”

When Reynolds was shipped to fight in Anbar province, Iraq, in late 2004, the fighting was intense.

When a second tour followed, Marine Lance Corporal Reynolds was driving a Humvee when it was hit by an improvised explosive device or IED.

Ann Reynolds says when her son called, he told her he had been in a car accident. “I said ‘a car accident?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I hit an IED.’ And I said, ‘that’s a car accident alright.'” Reynolds also told her mother he was sure his leg was destroyed.

However, his leg was still intact, but he did have a broken ankle, dislocated toe and knee ripped open by shrapnel.


While Reynolds was recuperating in North Carolina, doctors told his family a virus had attacked his brain.

After a harsh course of antibiotics and steroids, the virus finally disappeared. However, after a year and a-half, Reynolds relapsed and the virus waged war on the young Marine’s brain.

Ann Reynolds said her son’s doctors called and said the virus had come back — her son was dying.

Instead, the virus robbed Reynolds of his speech and motor skills. Now he responds with a smile and laugh. And, for example, the blink of an eye means yes.

His parents – and others know that he hears and feels.

Reynolds’ mother says the last words she heard him speak were to apologize. “‘I’m sorry Mom, I’m so sorry.’ And I said ‘Justin, you don’t have to be sorry for anything.'”

U.S. Marine Justin Reynolds fought bravely for his country, earning the Purple Heart.

Doctors are still uncertain about where the mystery virus came from, even after MRIs, spinal taps and cat scans.

But, Ann and Robert Reynolds believe the virus came from chemicals in the improvised explosive device.

Justin A. Reynolds
Justin A. Reynolds

It took a while, but Reynolds’ parents finally learned how to navigate their way through the V. A. or Veterans Administration. However, that was only after Reynolds paid for a year of his own acute care in a nursing home.

Now, Reynolds says she thinks the government officials understand she and her husband do not give up.

However, Reynolds admits on some days she feels like she cannot go on, but says when she thinks of her son, the Marine – that keeps her going. After all, she says, he never gives up and neither will she.

In the past year and a-half, Robert Reynolds has had three heart attacks and battled lung cancer.

“Sometimes you sit and think about yourself and then you think about Justin,” said Robert Reynolds. “…what I have is nothing. Justin inspires me to live.”

The Reynolds’ wanted their son’s story told because they never want folks to forget about those who serve their country.

“You just don’t realize what these men and women do, how much they go through, how much they do sacrifice,” said Ann Reynolds.

The Marines motto, “Semper Fi,” meaning always faithful, was — and certainly is true of Marine Lance Corporal Retired Justin Reynolds.

To send Justin Reynolds a card or a note:

Justin Reynolds
c/o The Ridge at Shawnee
2535 Ft. Amanda Rd.
Lima, OH 45804


For more on Justin read A Winning Hand for Soldiers.


Erin McLyman

Erin McLyman—September 2010 Shipment Honoree

Staff and wire reports
Spc. Erin L. McLyman
Spc. Erin L. McLyman

TACOMA, Wash. — An Army specialist with ties to Washington and Oregon has died in Iraq.

The body of Spc. Erin L. McLyman, 26, arrived March 15 at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Her identification was released by the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center at Dover.

She died March 13 of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked her base with mortar fire.

She lived most recently in Federal Way. She graduated from Sheldon High School in Eugene, Ore.

Memorial honors Ore. soldier killed in Iraq

The Associated Press

EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski joined about 300 relatives, friends and community members on Thursday at a Eugene memorial service for a 26-year-old soldier killed in Iraq.

Pfc. Erin McLyman died March 13 in Balad, Iraq, from injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked her base with mortar fire. She was a 2001 graduate of Eugene’s Sheldon High School.

The governor had ordered flags at all public institutions to be flown at half-staff Thursday in her memory.

McLyman’s husband, Brian Williams, tucked a folded U.S. flag under his arm and followed the soldiers who carried his wife’s casket out of the Eugene Faith Center.

Williams stopped to watch an ivory-colored hearse led by police officers and Patriot Guard Riders transport the casket down Polk Street. He watched until every motorcycle was out of sight, then murmured, “That’s so awesome.”

Based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash., McLyman was part of the 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Her deployment to Iraq in August was her first.

Fallen soldier had turned life around

The Associated Press

Erin McLyman emerged from high school a confident, good student who before graduating had overcome a severe, years-long drug addiction.

“My grades were dropping, I wasn’t going to class, weird people would come over to the house and drop by in the middle of the night. I’d leave and not come back,” a 17-year-old McLyman said nine years ago in an interview with KVAL-TV in Eugene, Ore.

She was sharing her success story of kicking a habit she said had involved using marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine. After graduating from Sheldon High School in Eugene, where she was a member of a dance team, she enlisted in the Air Force.

She later re-enlisted with the Oregon National Guard and returned to active duty with the Army.

“She lived every moment like she didn’t have a second to spare,” her family wrote.

McLyman, 26, of Federal Way, Wash., was killed March 13 in Balad, Iraq, in a mortar attack. She was assigned to Joint Base Lews-McChord.

“We will miss her — our state and nation will never be quite as good without her,” Gov. Ted Kulongoski said at a memorial service in Eugene.

She is survived by her husband, Brian Williams; her parents, Robert and Flora McLyman; two sisters; and a grandmother.

Mike Francis and Helen Jung

The Oregonian

 After a “bumpy” freshman year at Eugene’s Sheldon High School, Erin McLyman didn’t return to class the next fall.  But instead of giving up, McLyman worked twice as hard when she came back a year later, a former teacher said. Each day, after a full class schedule, she would come back in the evenings to make up courses she had missed.

As a result, not only did she graduate on time in2001, said Fran Christie, director of Sheldon’s alternative learning program, but she was named the school’s “Turnaround Achievement Award” student, an honor that recognizes select middle and high school students who work to overcome barriers to their personal success.

That kind of perseverance and constant energy were trademark qualities for McLyman, who died Saturday of wounds sustained during a mortar attack on her base while she was serving with the Army in Balad, Iraq.

Her father, Robert McLyman, of Coburg, said it was those kind of qualities that led his daughter to pursue a career in the military.

“If the guys were doing it, she’d do it,” he said. “She’d do it twice as good just to prove a point.”

Robert McLyman spoke just hours after he and McLyman’s mother, Flora Neustel of Eugene, returned Tuesday from Dover Air Force Base, where their daughter’s body was flown.

McLyman, 26, was a private first-class assigned to the 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division out of the Lewis-McChord joint base in Washington.

Raised in Eugene, she is the 112th person with ties to Oregon or Southwest Washington to die in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is also the third woman from the area to die in those wars.

“She wanted to go fight for her country,” said her husband, Brian Williams, of Roy, Wash. “She did whatever they asked her to do,” he said, adding that she worked primarily as a mechanic. “She gave it 110 percent.”

The two had met in Washington and married in 2007.

“She was by far the most outgoing woman I ever met in my life,” Williams recalled, adding that she was working three or four jobs when they met.

Williams at the time was enlisted in the U.S. Army and McLyman joined his brigade in January 2009. They last saw each other a month ago, he said, when she returned home on leave.

McLyman was “not the sit-down-and-watch-TV kind of person,” her father said. She made a statement just by her presence, he said.

“You see her walk into the room with that bright red hair and big blue eyes,” he said. “She was loud and fun. You knew it when she came in the room.”

In addition to her husband, mother and father, she leaves sisters Mischa of Seattle and Nancy of Portland. Services have not yet been set.

Gregory Owens

Gregory Owens—August 2010 Shipment Honoree

My name is Gregory Owens Sr. Yesterday I found the 2  stories on your website LHCP about our son and was overwhelmed. First, to see that someone was still thinking of him after a year of his death. Second, that you honored him in August.

Gregory was born on 22 Aug xx while I was station in Baumholder, West Germany. Now what makes this so remarkable he was born in Landsthul Hospital. So we want to thank you all for this special 26th Birthday present. We watch and look at all the stories of the soldiers, airman, marines and sailors that make it back to Landstuhl and wish Gregory could have made it back there. But now thanks to you all he did. 

I’ll send you some photos of him and the 3 soldiers that were killed with him. Killed in Afghanistan on 2o July 2009.

The Owens Family
Greg Sr.,LaDonna, Shelena, (Greg Jr.). Lamar and Jonathan

Thank you all so much

Following dad’s footsteps by joining military

The Associated Press
Sgt. Gregory Owens Jr.
Sgt. Gregory Owens Jr.

Gregory Owens Jr. had an attitude of thinking of others first. When his sister had her appendix removed one summer, he kept her company for an entire week.

And instead of taking his scheduled leave from duty in Afghanistan in July, he swapped shifts with another soldier so that he’d be home in mid-October as a surprise for his father’s 50th birthday.

Owens, 24, of Garland, Texas, died July 20 in Wardak province, Afghanistan when his vehicle was hit with a roadside bomb and enemy fire. He was based in Fort Drum, N.Y.

“He always put others before himself,” said his mother, LaDonna.  “He made time to spend with other people and to listen to them.”

He was born in Germany during his father’s military service and had followed in those footsteps by joining the Army in 2007. He had graduated with honors in 2002 from Hillcrest High School, where he kept a full schedule but still managed to find time to roughhouse with his younger brothers and play sports with them.

“He did everything to keep my mom busy 24/7: band, Boy Scouts, church,” said his sister, Shelena.

Owens is survived by his parents, sister and younger brothers, Lamar and Jonathan.

Awards and Decorations

Sgt Owens’ awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal., National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and the Army Service Ribbon

U.S. Sergeant Gregory Owens (L) and Private Dennis Pratt are seen during a patrol in a village of Hajian in mountains of Wardak Province in Afghanistan in this July 15, 2009 file photo. Owens and Pratt died July 20, 2009 in Wardak when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle followed by an attack from enemy forces using small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fires, a U.S. Defense Department statement says. Reuters

Rafael Peralta

Sgt. Rafael Peralta—July 2010 Shipment Honoree

Rafael Peralta was born on April 7, 1979 in Mexico City. Son of Rafael and Rosa Peralta, the oldest of four siblings Icelda, Karen and Ricardo. He immigrated to the United States, graduated from Morse High School in 1997, and joined the United States Marine Corps as soon as he had a green card in 2000. He later became an American citizen while serving in the Marine Corps.

According to accounts, Peralta served the United States with enthusiasm and patriotism: “In his parent’s home, on his bedroom walls hung only three items – a copy of the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and his boot camp graduation certificate. Before he set out for Fallujah, he wrote to his 14-year old brother, ‘be proud of me, bro…and be proud of being an American.'”

Killed in action

On November 15, 2004, 25 year old Sgt. Peralta, deployed to Iraq as a scout team leader assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, along with his team was ordered to clear houses in the Operation Phantom Fury. Peralta was not assigned to enter the buildings, but chose to do so anyway.

Sergeant Peralta led his team through a series of house clearings before charging into the fourth house. He found two rooms empty on the ground floor. Peralta opened a third door and was hit multiple times with AK-47 fire, leaving him severely wounded. He dropped to the floor and moved aside in order to allow the Marines behind him to return fire.

The insurgents responded by throwing a grenade at the Marines. The two Marines with Sgt. Peralta tried to get out of the room but could not. Sgt. Peralta was still conscious on the floor and reports indicate that despite his wounds, he was able to reach for the grenade and pull it under his body absorbing the majority of the lethal blast and shrapnel which killed him instantly, but saved the lives of his fellow Marines.

Sgt. Peralta is buried in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California.

Posthumous award

In December 2004, U.S. Congressman Bob Filner of California introduced legislation to award Sgt. Peralta the Medal of Honor. As of January 22, 2008, a Medal of Honor award for Sgt. Peralta was awaiting presidential approval.

On September 17, 2008, Rafael Peralta’s family was notified by LtGen. Richard Natonski that he would not receive the Medal of Honor, but the Navy Cross instead, the service’s second highest award for valor. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates rejected the Marine Corps’ recommendation, concluding that his appointed panel unanimously confirmed that his actions did not meet the standard of “without any possibility of error or doubt”. The central argument posed relates to whether the already mortally-wounded Peralta could have intentionally reached for the grenade, shielding his fellow Marines from the blast. In a Marine Corps investigation of the attack, Natonski said, “I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt” that the gravely wounded Peralta covered the grenade.

Since the announcement that Peralta would receive the Navy Cross instead of the Medal of Honor, numerous groups and individuals have spoken out in support of the Medal of Honor for Peralta. The Congressional delegations from California and Hawaii, as well as the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, have requested a Presidential review of Gates’ decision against a Medal of Honor award. Although rebuked, efforts continue for elevation of the award. Of the seven servicemembers nominations for the Medal of Honor that have reached the Secretary of Defense, Peralta’s is the only nomination that has not been approved.

Awards and honors

Peralta’s awards include: Navy Cross, Purple Heart Combat Action Ribbon, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with 1 service star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Navy Cross Citation

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the NAVY CROSS posthumously to


for service as set forth in the following


For extraordinary heroism while serving as Platoon Guide with 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, Regimental Combat Team 7, 1st Marine Division, in action against Anti-Coalition Forces in support of Operation AL FAJR, in Fallujah, Iraq on 15 November 2004. Clearing scores of houses in the previous three days, Sergeant Peralta’ asked to join an under strength squad and volunteered to stand post the night of 14 November, allowing fellow Marines more time to rest. The following morning, during search and attack operations, while clearing the seventh house of the day, the point man opened a door to a back room and immediately came under intense, close-range automatic weapons fire from multiple insurgents. The squad returned fire, wounding one insurgent. While attempting to maneuver out of the line of fire, Sergeant Peralta was shot and fell mortally wounded. After the initial exchange of gunfire, the insurgents broke contact, throwing a fragmentation grenade as they fled the building. The grenade came to rest near Sergeant Peralta’s head. Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, Sergeant Peralta reached out and pulled the grenade to his body, absorbing the brunt of the blast and shielding fellow Marines only feet away. Sergeant Peralta succumbed to his wounds. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Sergeant Peralta reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.


On April 24, 2006, William Lansdowne, chief of police for the San Diego Police Department awarded Sgt. Peralta the honorary title of San Diego police officer for his heroism in Iraq. Peralta had long wanted to be a San Diego police officer. The badge was presented to Rafael’s mother, Rosa Peralta.

On September 21, 2007, the 31 MEU, Command Post, building 2533 Camp Hansen, Okinawa, was christened Peralta Hall in his honor.

The History Channel created a one-hour documentary on Sgt Peralta, “Act of Honor”, shown on the THC Classroom. The video is available in both Spanish and English.

Posted by Black Five

When Taps is played at dusk, it has a completely different meaning than when Taps is played during the day. No soldier really wants to hear it played during daylight. For when the bugle plays Taps in the daylight…that means a soldier has fallen…There is a belief among some that Taps is the clarion call to open the gates of heaven for the fallen warrior and letting them know to “Safely Rest”…

Marine Sergeant Rafael Peralta earned his rest the hard way. His name should be discussed more often than the celebrities of the day…

Sergeant Peralta was from Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment – his job was that of leading the scout section. In November of 2004, Peralta was 25 years old and not an American citizen. He joined the Marines on the very day that he received his green card. He later earned his citizenship as a Marine.

On November 15, 2004, the Marines were busy clearing houses in the Battle for Fallujah. Peralta, as scout team leader, was responsible for locating the enemy and directly ground forces to destroy them. He was not supposed join in the assaults inside the homes.

However, Rafael Peralta was not the kind of guy to stand around watching things happen. He wanted to make things happen. He routinely requested to join the assault teams entering the insurgent filled houses.

During the fateful assault on the 15th, after clearing three houses, Peralta lead the charge into the fourth house, finding two rooms empty on the ground floor. Upon opening a third door, Peralta was hit multiple times with AK-47 fire – severely wounded, he dropped to the floor and moved away in order to give the Marines behind him an opportunity to fire on the insurgents.

As the battle continued, the insurgents lobbed a grenade at the Marines. Two Marines were trapped in the room with Peralta. When they saw the grenade, they tried to get out of the blast area but were trapped.

Peralta, bleeding out on the floor, reached for the grenade and pulled it to his midsection, cradling the grenade before it cooked off.

The grenaded exploded, killing Peralta and critically wounding another Marine, the others all survived because Peralta absorbed the majority of the lethal blast.

Marine sacrifices his life for others in grenade blast

By Gordon Trowbridge
The Army Times (Seattle Times story)

FALLUJAH, Iraq — Sgt. Rafael Peralta built a reputation as a man who always put his Marines’ interests ahead of his own.

He showed that again, when he made the ultimate sacrifice of his life Tuesday, by shielding his fellow Marines from a grenade blast. “It’s stuff you hear about in boot camp, about World War II and Tarawa Marines who won the Medal of Honor,” said Lance Cpl. Rob Rogers, 22, of Tallahassee, Fla., one of Peralta’s platoon mates in 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.

Peralta, 25, as platoon scout, wasn’t even assigned to the assault team that entered the insurgent safe house in northern Fallujah, Marines said. Despite an assignment that would have allowed him to avoid such dangerous duty, he regularly asked squad leaders if he could join their assault teams, they said.

One of the first Marines to enter the house, Peralta was wounded in the face by rifle fire from a room near the entry door, said Lance Cpl. Adam Morrison, 20, of Tacoma, who was in the house when Peralta was first wounded.

Moments later, an insurgent rolled a fragmentation grenade into the area where a wounded Peralta and the other Marines were seeking cover.

As Morrison and another Marine scrambled to escape the blast, pounding against a locked door, Peralta grabbed the grenade and cradled it into his body, Morrison said. While one Marine was badly wounded by shrapnel from the blast, the Marines said they believe more lives would have been lost if not for Peralta’s selfless act.

“He saved half my fire team,” said Cpl. Brannon Dyer, 27, of Blairsville, Ga. The Marines said such a sacrifice would be perfectly in character for Peralta, a Mexico native who lived in San Diego and gained U.S. citizenship after joining the Marines.

He’d stand up for his Marines to an insane point,” Rogers said.

Rogers and others remembered Peralta as a squared-away Marine, so meticulous about uniform standards that he sent his camouflage uniform to be pressed while training in Kuwait before entering Iraq.

But mostly they remembered acts of selflessness: offering career advice, giving a buddy a ride home from the bar, teaching salsa dance steps in the barracks.

While Alpha Company was still gathering information, and a formal finding on Peralta’s death is likely months away, not a single Marine in Alpha Company doubted the account of Peralta’s act of sacrifice.

“I believe it,” said Alpha’s commander, Capt. Lee Johnson. “He was that kind of Marine.”

Jeffery Hartley

Staff Sgt. Jeffery L. Hartley—June 2010 Shipment Honoree

The TF 1-10 FA Command Sergeant Major during OIF III provided this statement in regards to SSG Hartley, “There is no greater honor than to be called a Soldier and SSG Jeffery Hartley was a damn fine Soldier.”

Army Staff Sgt. Jeffery L. Hartley remembered

The Associated Press
Jeffery L. Hartley
Jeffery L. Hartley

Despite a sense of humor that bordered on goofball, there was little question that Jeffery L. Hartley meant business when it was time to work.

“He was a no-nonsense professional when the mission was on. You could always count on him,” said Brig. Gen. Francis Mahon.

Hartley, 25, of Hempstead, Texas, died April 8 in Kharguliah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle struck an explosive. He was assigned to Fort Benning.

“Everyone he befriended came to feel like a member of Jeff’s family,” said Mahon. “Jeff was a caring young man who always took the time to ensure that others were OK.”

Hartley grew up in Hempstead, played for the high school football team and was liked and respected. He went on active duty in June 2001.

He was the first local soldier to fall in combat in Iraq and was remembered above all for his warmth and concern toward fellow soldiers.

He is survived by his father and stepmother, David and Ann Hartley.

His father is a longtime Hempstead police officer, said Detective Jason Martinez. “He truly loved being in the military,” Martinez said.

Army Staff Sgt. Jeffery L. Hartley

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Jeffery L. Hartley, 25, of Hempstead, Texas

Jeffery Hartley
Jeffery Hartley

SSgt. Hartley was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.; died April 8, 2008 in Kharguliah, Iraq, of wounds sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.

Houston Chronicle — On Tuesday, Army Staff Sgt. Jeffery L. Hartley, 25, of Hempstead, was killed when an improvised bomb exploded near his vehicle in Iraq. He was on his fifth tour of duty.

Thursday in Hempstead, the Waller County seat about 50 miles northwest of Houston, flags flew at half-staff at City Hall and the Police Department, where Hartley’s father, Lt. David Hartley, has worked for 16 years.

Students at Hempstead High School, Hartley’s alma mater, spoke about the fallen soldier in hushed tones.

“He truly loved being in the military,” said Hempstead police Detective Jason Martinez, a family friend. “He was very passionate about it.”

Martinez said Hartley had been in the Army for six years and had made the Army his career.

He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga.

His brother, David Hartley, also served in Iraq and recently left the military, Martinez said.

Martinez said the elder Hartley often speaks about his two sons with admiration and respect.

“He’s always talking about how proud he is of both of them,” he said.

Jeffery Hartley graduated from Hempstead High School in 2001. He played on the football team and was a member of the power-lifting squad, said Gail Schroeder, his 12th-grade English teacher.

Schroeder said he was a good student who made A’s and B’s and was popular and respectful.

“He was one of those kids who was at home with the athletes and scholars,” she said.

Hartley’s classmates have graduated by now, she said, but his death was the talk of the campus Thursday. She said as far as she knew, he was the first soldier from the community to die in Iraq.

“Even though they didn’t know him,” she said, “the students were sad to lose one of their own.”

Source: Living Legend Team

Honoring Yesterday’s Heroes 2010

Honoring Yesterday's Heros 2010
Honoring Yesterday’s  Heros 2010

Landstuhl Hospital Care Project has long honored today’s war veterans by sending shipments of personal care items to wounded warriors recovering from their wounds at the Army medical center in Germany.

On May 22, members of the nonprofit, headquartered in Stafford County, honored yesterday’s heroes by participating in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

“It’s hard to put into words what an honor it is to pay tribute to the real heroes, the ones that have actually died and made the ultimate sacrifice for the country,” said Army Sgt. Joe Santolla. “I don’t feel worthy of doing it.”

Santolla was one of four participants who took part in the ceremony on behalf of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project. The soft-spoken Santolla was wounded by a roadside bomb in May of 2009 and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was talked into participating in the wreath laying ceremony by his wife and daughter.

“I really didn’t want to do it to begin with. I didn’t feel like I earned it,” he said.

Combat medic Michelle Gray, a veteran of both the Air Force and Army Reserves, took part in a motorcycle ride that benefited Landstuhl Hospital Care Project in early May, where she met the organization’s president, Karen Grimord. It was during that ride that Grimord asked Gray if she would like to take part in the wreath laying ceremony.

“I don’t think there’s any words,” she said before the wreath laying. “I can’t describe how it feels.”

Paul Russo, who served as project’s civic/corporate representative for the ceremony, is a veteran of the Air Force and National Guard who currently works as a local veterans employment representative for the Department of Labor.

“I think it’s unbelievable that I’m here today to do this,” he said. “It’s a privilege to be part of this.

For more information on the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, visit its website at

old dogs brotherhood *turned over no funds to LHCP*

* To date this event has turn over no funds to LHCP *


Armed Forces Freedom Ride 2010
Norwich, New York
May 15, 2010
Old Dogs Brotherhood-Tom Prosser 1st Annual Ride
100+riders showing their support to our military

Sign Up’s

8:30 am – 11:am


Ride Starts &

Leaves from:


This is a nation wide ride and proceeds go to helping wounded vets. 

-All out of town riders will have discounted room rates at: 

-Howard Johnsons

-Super 8

-The Norwich Inn 

-Camping will also be available in the city of Norwich. 

-Showers will be available for riders at the YMCA. 

There will be:

-2 bands 


-Door Prizes 

-Bike Contest 



-All money raised will go to the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project to help our military personnel who were injured in the Middle East conflict. 

-Come one come all to show support for our American service men & women in military past, present, MIAs, POWs

* To date this event has turn over no funds to LHCP *


Norwich 5th Annual Ride for Troops

Legion Riders saddle up in support of injured combat veterans

By: Melissa Stagnaro, Sun Staff Writer
Published: May 7th, 2010


American Legion Riders Post 189 Norwich NY
American Legion Riders Post 189 Norwich NY

NORWICH Over the last four years, the American Legion Riders of Norwich’s Warren Eaton Post 189 have raised more than $3,700 for the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, which supports American soldiers wounded in combat overseas.

Saturday, May 15 rain or shine the local veterans group will host their fifth annual Poker Run in support of this cause, to which they are so committed

This ride and event is for our combat veterans and the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, said ALR Post 189 President Paul Russo.

According 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 United States. There they receive treatment and rehabilitation for their injuries before returning home for further treatment. Often their injuries are severe and their stays at the hospital lengthy.

LHCP was founded in 2004 by Karen Grimord, a woman Russo describes as a living angel. The non-profit provides comfort and relief items which enhance the morale and welfare of the wounded soldiers while they are hospitalized, according to the organizations website.

Grimord, who lives in the DC area, has attended all but one of the poker runs hosted by the local American Legion Riders to date, Russo said. She and her husband Brian are planning to make the trip again this year.

Last year, some 140 riders participated in the run, and organizers are hoping to have as least as many this year for the “scenic and leisurely” 80-plus mile tour of the area’s paved country roads.

According to Public Affairs Officer Bill Fowler, 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. Bikes will leave the post between 11 am. and noon.

“You have the choice of riding solo or ‘running with the pack’ in our group ride,” he reported.

According to Fowler, the planned route includes stops at the New York State Veterans’ Home in Oxford, the Outpost in East McDonough, the Balsam Inn in East Pharsalia, the American Legion Post in South Otselic and a final stop at Seebers Tavern in Smithville Flats before returning to the Norwich American Legion Post.

“Once everyone has safely returned, we will have an awards ceremony, a dedication of the proceeds and remarks from the LHCP President, 50/50 drawings and door prize giveaways,” he said.

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

According to Russo, the American Legion Riders Post 189 event is not affiliated with the Freedom Ride which will be held on the same day. Both rides will benefit LHCP.

For more information on the poker run, contact Fowler at 656-5697 or via email at

For additional information about the cause, visit


John Pryor

Doctor John J. Pryor—May 2010 Shipment Honoree

Army surgeon killed in Iraq

By Samantha Henry, The Associated Press
Maj. John P. Pryor
Maj. John P. Pryor

TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey doctor — who was a well-known trauma surgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania — has been killed in Iraq, according to the Department of Defense.

In a statement issued Friday night, the DoD said 42-year-old Maj. John P. Pryor of Moorestown died Christmas Day when a mortar round hit near his living quarters. He was serving with a forward surgical team with the Army’s 1st Medical Detachment, based in Fort Totten, N.Y.

Pryor’s colleagues said they were devastated by the loss of the married father of three young children.

“John was a man who truly believed that service to others was his calling,” said Dr. C. William Schwab, chief of trauma surgery and critical care at the hospital, which is in Philadelphia. “Whether it was volunteering at Ground Zero on 9/11 or with the Army, or serving the people of the community, that was what he was about.”

Schwab said Pryor joined the hospital in 1999 after graduating medical school at the State University of New York in Buffalo. He described Pryor as a “star” who quickly rose through the hospital ranks to become director of its trauma program.

Pryor deployed Dec. 6 for his second tour of duty in Iraq as a combat medic with the Army Reserves, and was due to come home in April, Schwab said. He said Pryor had studied Arabic, knowing he could be dealing with wounded Iraqi civilians — especially children — and wanted to make them feel at ease.

Pryor wrote of his experiences as a surgeon confronting violence in Iraq and inner-city Philadelphia in articles published in The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Washington Post.

“As a trauma surgeon, every death I have is painful; every one takes a little out of me,” he wrote in a 2006 article in the Inquirer. “Losing these kids here in Iraq rips a hole through my soul so large that it’s hard for me to continue breathing.

“If I could say something to this Marine’s parents, it would be this: I am so sorry that you have lost your son. We, more than almost everyone else, know he was a true American hero.”

Doctor killed in Iraq ‘elevated everyone’ to serve

By Joann Loviglio, The Associated Press
Doctor John J. Pryor
Doctor John J. Pryor

PHILADELPHIA — In every one of his many roles — husband, father, soldier, doctor, friend and colleague — Army Maj. John P. Pryor devoted his life to serve others at home, at work and in war.

“All we can do is what we think is the right thing to do,” the Rev. Damian J. McElroy told more than 1,000 mourners during Pryor’s funeral Mass on Monday at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. “He served humanity generously. He served God generously.”

Pryor, head of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania trauma team and a major in the Army Reserve, died Christmas Day when a mortar round struck near his living quarters in Mosul, Iraq.

The 42-year-old married father of three from Moorestown, N.J., arrived in Iraq on Dec. 6 to serve his second tour of duty with the Army reserves as a combat medic.

He received his medical school training at the State University of New York at Buffalo and arrived in 1999 at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received training in trauma surgery and critical care and became director of the Penn’s trauma program.

“Every one of his patients got the best care and his full commitment,” said Dr. Elizabeth Datner, medical director of Penn’s department of emergency medicine.

“You would expect that any medical provider would have a dedication to their patients, but it can be hard to sustain in a field where you see trauma over and over again and real heartache and misery,” she said. “People wanted to emulate John’s commitment to patients. He elevated everyone.”

Pryor was described by his colleagues, friends and relatives as a doting father and devoted husband.

“John loved his family, he loved his children. He lived and breathed for them,” McElroy, Pryor’s pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Moorestown, N.J., said in his homily.

McElroy read parts of a letter Pryor wrote and left with family in the event of his death in Iraq. Acknowledging that some people closest to him did not support his decision to go to Iraq, Pryor wrote that he “hopes and prays for forgiveness from his family and colleagues.”

Rushing to New York after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and refusing to sit idly in a room with hundreds of other doctors awaiting instruction, Pryor “went out to the street, flagged down an ambulance and went to ground zero,” McElroy said.

He enlisted in the Army reserves after 9/11, not only completing the required training but also taking it upon himself to learn Arabic, McElroy said.

Pryor was serving his second tour with a forward surgical team with the Army’s 1st Medical Detachment, based in Fort Totten, N.Y. His first four-month tour was at a combat support hospital in 2006 at Abu Ghraib.

As chief medical adviser to the Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Dr. Pryor conducted disaster-relief training for volunteers. In those lectures, he drew parallels between the injuries soldiers experience on the battlefield and the injuries to shooting victims brought to Philadelphia emergency rooms.

A talented writer, Dr. Pryor contributed opinion articles to The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Washington Post, and was interviewed repeatedly by NPR and ABC News.

In a June 2006 column in the Inquirer, Pryor wrote of the personal sense of loss and the intolerable grief that came with every soldier he couldn’t save.

He described the death of one young Marine on his operating room table and expressed his sorrow to the family of the soldier, whom he did not identify. Pryor’s words about the Marine echo those spoken about him in the days following his death.

“We, more than almost anyone else, know he was a true American hero,” Pryor wrote to the soldier’s family. “I also want you to know that I will never forget your son, and that I will pray for him and all of the children lost in this war.”

Pryor is survived by his wife, Carmela Calvo, a pediatrician at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children; a daughter, Danielle, 10; sons Francis, 8, and John Jr., 4; a brother, Richard; and his parents, Richard C. and Victoria.

Moorestown Renames Park After Fallen Surgeon

 By: TODD MCHALE, Burlington County Times
Maj. John P. Pryor
Maj. John P. Pryor

 MOORESTOWN – The township has dedicated one of its parks to Maj. John P. Pryor, the Army Reserves doctor who was killed while serving in Iraq.

“This guy was truly a hero,” Mayor Daniel Roccato said of the trauma surgeon who died in a mortar attack Christmas morning 2008 in Mosul, northern Iraq.

At the time of the attack, Pryor was serving his second tour of duty since 2006.

Ever since the death of the 42-year-old father of three children, the township has brainstormed about what would be the best way for the community to recognize the man who dedicated his life to serving others.

Officials decided to rename Salem Park at Borton Landing and Hartford roads after Pryor.

“The park is a way to honor John’s legacy,” Roccato said. “It is our hope this park becomes a lasting memorial to John’s legacy as well as place of peace and joy.”

Pryor’s wife, Carmela Calvo, said the family appreciates what the community has done.

“I’m very honored and very touched,” Calvo said. “This is wonderful for the children. This (park) embodies life.”

Calvo said her husband would be embarrassed by all the attention, but also would have gotten a kick out of a park named after him.

The new John P. Pryor Park gives her children a place to go to remember their father as well as run around and have fun with friends.

“It gives them a sense of hope + (because) we’re still grieving,” she said.

Pryor, who worked at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, was serving as a battlefield surgeon with the 1st Medical Detachment, Forward Surgical Team based out of Fort Totten, N.Y., when a mortar round exploded near his living quarters.

Just a few years earlier, he hitched a ride on an ambulance to help those injured at ground zero after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

That experience inspired him to serve his country.

Pryor joined the Army Reserves Medical Corps and in 2006 served his first three-month tour of duty. He returned for a second tour on Dec. 6, 2008.

Calvo said her husband believed that he had a duty to serve and to do whatever he could to help the soldiers.

The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember John during the month of May 2010 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 John’s family and friends today and in the years to come.

Little Non Profit

LRMC Trip Blog

Karen Grimord, President

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Blog #14

One more day of work and then I fly.  It has been a long and difficult trip from the beginning.  I so wish to stay and continue my support of the wounded troops here at LRMC, but we must continue our support stateside so those that arrive here will be comfortable and warm.

The update on Holly stands as she has a tear in a lower disk and will require surgery.  She has been diagnosed with Lyme disease.  There is no cure and she will be on medication to control the side effects.  She will be traveling to GA for her back surgery.

I have seen our blankets, quilts, and pillows come off the bus in the morning covering patients that arrive from the Middle East.  It is a wonderful feeling to know that, as such a small group, we are having such a wonderful impact in support of our wounded warriors.

I have several new requests and I will post them as soon as I get back to the states.

Please bear with me, as I will be starting my own physical therapy for my broken ankle.  I still have some bruising and swelling and they are hoping that once I get into physical therapy, the swelling will release some of the pressure I am having on the nerves.

Thank you to all those that supported this trip, monetarily, and with your thoughts and prayers!