Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Please Remember Pvt. Jalfred Vaquerano, 20-years-old

Please remember Pvt. Jalfred D. Vaquerano, 20-years-old, from Apopka, Fla., who died on Tuesday, Dec. 13, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

He was severely wounded from enemy small-arms fire in Logar province, Afghanistan—a mountainous region known for Taliban resistance.

His last days were spent at the military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.

Vaquerano was to be married in August to his fiancé, Katie Madden, who rushed overseas to be with him in his final days.

"He needed to rest. They took him off ventilator. We were there for him for his last breath and when his heart stopped beating," Madden said.

After his death, she shared a thought for all to hear:

"I hope this reminds everyone to reach out to the ones they love in LIFE because it's too late to tell him all the things we're telling him now," she wrote. "Actively love the people here with you now with all your heart. Everyone is so busy with their own lives, but the most important thing is each other."

Vaquerano was assigned to 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.

Jalfred gave his life for this country, and for that we say thank you, Hero. Rest In Peace, Pvt. Jalfred Vaquerano.

Please Remember Marine Sgt. Christopher Diaz

Today Please Remember Marine Sgt. Christopher Diaz, 27-years-old, killed on Sept. 28th in Helmand province, Afghanistan. (Pictured here with his Military Working Dog, Dino, who was with him when he died).

Sgt. Diaz was killed while attempting to rescue a fellow Marine.

Diaz, from, El Paso, Texas, was a third-generation Marine, assigned to Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

He spent eight years serving in the Marines and was an elite K-9 handler, one of only a handful in the Marine Corps to have the qualifications he possessed.

His skill and professionalism lead to him being chosen to support reconnaissance and special forces in some of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan.

Before departing on his current deployment, he faced a choice.

He had been selected to support reconnaissance and special forces units on raids to “kill or capture” Taliban leaders. He was briefed on the missions he could expect to support and was told he could expect to be in the thick of some of the most determined insurgent resistance in Helmand province.

However, with his enlistment set to expire, Diaz did not have to be part of any of it. But for Diaz, the decision was an easy one: Re-enlist to do what he did best - lead Marines and serve his country.

Once deployed to Afghanistan, He was on one of those missions when he died -- mortally wounded while rushing to help a wounded fellow Marine.

Dino, his military working dog, was with him when he died, but Dino survived the explosion that killed Sgt. Diaz.

Over the course of a tour of duty, military dog handlers and their working dogs build a very special and close bond, becoming the closest of companions.

On the first weekend of October, many Marines who respected Diaz gathered at Camp Leatherneck, the Marines' headquarters in Helmand province, to honor his memory and mourn his loss.

And in the front row, in a place of Honor, was Dino, Diaz's working dog, maintaining a disciplined posture but seemingly unable to look at the large picture of Diaz at the front of the makeshift chapel.

Near 1,000 supporters gathered at his funeral in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

His brother, Jeromie Diaz, says, "He was an amazing person, just an all-around great guy. He could get along with anybody. He walked in the door and he would make you smile."

We Will Never Forget!

Please Remember Petty Officer Christopher Campbell

Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Campbell, 36, was part of the Navy SEAL Team 6, and one of the incredible men who tragically lost his life in the August 6th helicopter crash that took the lives of so many American service members, all American Heroes.

Within a couple days of Chris’ death, his family learned that he had hand-written in his will that should he die in combat, rather than to focus on him, he wanted attention to be directed to Wounded Warrior Project. His hope was that 100,000 people donate to this worthy organization.

This was his final wish, which sought to continue to serve his country, even after laying down his own life for his fellow Americans.

He is a true American Hero, along with all of the American service members who are our heroes everyday. We Will Never Forget!

Chris’ family has taken up his mission, and are rallying the country to help make his dream come true as a testament to his memory. Please help them achieve his goal by donating today in Chris’ name, even if it’s just $1.

Today Remember 19-year-old Army Pfc. Tyler Springmann

Today we remember 19-year-old, Army Pfc. Tyler M. Springmann, who died on July 17th in Kandahar, Afghanistan in a roadside blast when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Tyler was from Hartland, Maine; He served in the 25th Stryker Brigade, out of Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

Although family members hold different memories of the young man, they are "completely unified" about his love of singing. In the shower. Around the house. During church.

"And when Tyler sang, he did so quite badly," said Chaplain Andrew Gibson of the Maine Army National Guard. But through his singing and his commitment to his family and country, "he also showed of his soul and his heart."

Tyler was more mature than his 19 years, and had an uplifting personality.

More than 200 people attended his funeral where, because music was indeed a very important part of Tyler's life, his grandmother, Linda Snay, sang "Amazing Grace".

"Tyler loved this song with all of his heart," Snay said. "So I hope it blesses you just as much as it did him."

At the start of the second verse, Tyler’s stepfather, Ben Martin, rose from his seat and began singing along, and the rest of those in the gym soon stood and sang as well.

We will never forget!

Today Remember Army Sgt. Michael J. Garcia, 27-years-old

Today Remember Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Garcia, 27, of Bossier City, LA, who was killed July 4, 2011.

He was killed on Independence Day serving during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Assigned to the 63rd Ordnance Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), 20th Support Command, Fort Polk, La.; He died in Logar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.

Staff Sgt. Michael J. Garcia died doing what he loved, friends say.

He joined the Army after graduating from high school in 2001.

“He loved what he did, he absolutely loved what he did,” said his girlfriend, Shelby Martinez, who said he was “the happiest he ever was in his whole life deployed in Afghanistan.”

Precise and methodical, he always arranged to have birthday and holiday presents sent to family and friends even while deployed, and even left instructions with one of his sisters as to what would need to be done if he died.

His best friend, who was also in Afghanistan, was killed in February. He was sad and angry but had decided to live with the happy memory of what they had.

Christine Geisler Thomas who knew Garcia since high school said, “He was amazing. There’s no other way to describe Michael.”

In everyday life, Garcia was “an all-around nice guy,” she said. “He was handsome, he made you laugh. He knew how to make somebody’s day. I keep thinking, ‘Of all the people, why him?’ ” Thomas said.

This week, his buddies in Afghanistan recalled his impact on the unit.
"When something went wrong or didn't seem to work out he never got rattled or lost his temper, he simply fixed it and moved on," said Sgt. 1st Class Willis Fontenot, a 705th EOD noncommissioned officer from Mamou.

Capt. Aaron Teller, commander of 705th, said its soldiers looked up to Garcia because of his tenure and his extensive EOD knowledge base.
"You could always count on his rock-solid judgment and his common-sense approach to all challenges," Teller said. "Staff Sergeant Garcia simply drove on to get the mission done."

Michael was less than a month away from his 28th birthday.

Never Forget!

Today Remember Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy A. Katzenberger, 26-years-old

Today remember Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy A. Katzenberger, 26-years-old, who was killed June 14th serving Operation Enduring Freedom. He died of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire in Paktika province, Afghanistan.

Jeremy was from Weatherby Lake, Mo., assigned to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

“Staff Sgt. Katzenberger was a phenomenal Ranger who died while leading his men in an assault against our enemies,” said Col. Michael Foster, a commander in Katzenberger’s 75th Ranger Regiment. “He died while protecting our nation and we will not forget his sacrifice.”

He leaves behind a wife, Colleen, and a 7-month-old son, Everett James, of Richmond Hill, Ga.; parents Robert and Peggy Katzenberger of Weatherby Lake; and three brothers, two of whom are also serving in the armed forces.

Katzenberger was on his eighth combat deployment since enlisting in 2004, the Pentagon said. He had served four in Iraq and was on his fourth in Afghanistan.

“I wish the American people could truly understand the dedication and sacrifice that Staff Sgt. Jeremy Katzenberger made for his country,” said Col. Michael E. Kurilla, another commander in his regiment. “Since early 2005, Jeremy has either been in combat or training for combat.”

Never Forget!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Please Remember Army Pfc. Brian J. Backus

Today we remember Army Pfc. Brian J. Backus, 21-years-old, killed June 18th in Afghanistan of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire.

Backus, from Saginaw Township, Michigan, was a combat medic assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

He joined the army in 2010 and deployed to Afghanistan in March, earning the Combat Medical Badge while he was there.

“Brian was a beautiful young man, and this is really hitting us hard,” said Rev. Paula M. Timm, pastor of Harbor Beach United Methodist Church, where Backus went to church.

“He was just in church a few months ago looking all handsome, and we sort of prayed over him and blessed him,” Timm said. “I call him a beautiful young man because he had a tender spirit, he was good-hearted and giving.”

“He had that twinkle in his eye and he was just a sweetheart. This is just breaking our hearts.”

Backus is survived by his 2-year-old son, Jack, his brother Paul, and his parents, Alan and Anne Backus.

Please Remember Lt. Demetrius Frison

Today please remember Lt. Demetrius Frison, 26-years-old, who died Tuesday, May 10th, 2011, while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Knox, KY.

He was killed when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device. He was serving his first combat tour in Afghanistan, where he had arrived on January 9th of this year. 

Frison was just promoted to 1st Lieutenant on April 10th, his birthday. He enlisted only two years ago.

He is survived by his wife of two years, MIkki, and their 6-month-old son, Christopher-Kenneth. Frison had been able to see his son before he was deployed to Afghanistan at the beginning of the year.

He was happy to hear the news the U.S. Force had killed Osama bin Laden, but he told his wife that he "still had a job to do."

Friends described Frison as a young man with a promising future. "He had so much love for what he did, and so much love for his family." "When I think of him, I think, 'This is an outstanding man'", friend Leslie Danielson said. 

"He loved what he did," his wife said. "He was very determined." He also was a man who loved God with all of his Heart.

"He knew exactly what was going on. Some of his last Facebook messages and some of his last emails showed great dignity, great pride, in what he was doing for his country," Demetrius' brother, Paul Frison, said.

Sgt. Roberto Brabham, who had been friends with Frison since high school days, said "He died loving serving his country. He died a very honorable and noble death and his family is very proud of him, I know I'm proud of him, and we encouraged his step into the military."

On his MySpace page, he listed his mother and his grandmothers as his heroes. He also posed a question about whom he'd like to meet,

His response: "Me in 25 years, to see where I am at and change what I don't like about myself before it's too late."

Thank you Lt. Frison. You have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country and for our freedom. God Bless you and your family. You will Never be forgotten!

Please Remember Air Force Master Sgt. Tara R. Brown

Please Remember Air Force Master Sgt. Tara R. Brown, 33-years-old, who died April 27th, 2011, serving during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland - Tara had deployed to Afghanistan in January of this year to train members of the Afghan Air Force in a computer course and networking skills at the Afghan Air Force Base.

On April 27th, a distressed Afghani pilot, Ahmad Gul, opened fire at the airport killing Sgt. Tara Brown and 7 other American Troops.

Tara was killed at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from gunfire from the Afghan military trainee.

She leaves behind her husband, 4 siblings, and her mother and father.

Her father says that Tara was never afraid. "She was very happy in what she was doing. She was trying to liberate somebody. She was always trying to help somebody and that's why she went over there. She was so excited about helping people."

When Tara was in high school, she sang in the church choir and aspired to become a pediatric nurse. But three weeks before graduation from Deltona High School in 1995, Brown told her father she was going into the Air Force.

Since then, Brown has worked her way up the ranks, becoming a master sergeant. Her latest deployment was on what her father called a "history-making mission."

Late last year, Brown and her longtime friend, Army Sgt. Ernest Brown, married at a New England courthouse. They celebrated with a party at their Maryland home. The couple did not have children.

We Will Never Forget you and your service, Sgt. Tara Brown!

Please Remember Marine Corp Sgt. David Day

Today remember Marine Corp Sgt. David Day, 26-years-old, of Gaylord, Mich. was killed by a roadside bomb on April 24, Easter Sunday, in Badghis province, Afghanistan.

Day was assigned to 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Special Operations Regiment, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

vid, who completed bomb disposal training in 2009, graduated from Gaylord High School in 2003 and joined the Marine Corps soon after. He served two tours of duty in Iraq, before being deployed to Afghanistan in November.

"He would have been coming home in late June," Don Day, David’s father, said. "But now ... you can't help but wonder when you have a son overseas if he's going to make it home all right. He was happy with the group he was with (in Afghanistan). He was happy in the military serving his country. Whether or not he would have made it his career? I think he would," his father said.

A friend left this memorial for Dave yesterday:
“To those who've never met Dave, he is one of the most skilled young men I've ever had the joy of working with. He was one of the kindest friends I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. We had a lot of deep conversations over Chu-Hi's and taco rice, we had even more interesting times in our days together. Dave I'm going to miss your goofy smile and ripping on you for being from Gaylord. First Slope now you, we'll be drinking Chu-Hi's together again! Keep the rest of us safe! I love you buddy."

David leaves behind his wife, Nicole, to whom he was married in 2009.

*We would also like to recognize Army Sgt. 1st Class Bradley S. Hughes, and Marine Lance Cpl. Joe M. Jackson. Both were also killed on Easter Sunday.

These American Heroes will never be forgotten!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Please Remember Army Staff Sgt. James A. Justice

Today we remember Army Staff Sgt. James A. Justice, 32-years-old, assigned to the 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry Regiment.

Justice died on Saturday, April 23, just one day shy of Easter Sunday in combat in the Kapisa province of Afghanistan.

His life ended while trying to rescue the crew of a downed helicopter in Afghanistan.

His unit returned from a patrol Saturday morning and found out two people aboard a reconnaissance and light attack helicopter had made a hard landing and needed help.

His Iowans' rescue team came under fire shortly after landing, and Justice was hit by small-arms fire about 10 a.m. Afghan time. Justice died at the scene.

Justice also had a passion for the Guard. Despite having served his fair share overseas, Justice always felt as though he was being left behind when he was in the states. So, when the 113th Cavalry was in need of an experienced NCO, Justice jumped at the opportunity. He volunteered for a deployment to Afghanistan even though he was given an opportunity to stay behind.

Sgt. Kevin Schaefer described him as a charismatic, natural leader and an integral part of his unit’s community. Justice was always quick to make a joke.

“He had such a quick wit that he would insert a joke and it would take you two minutes before you realized he was making fun of you,” Schaefer said. “He was a rare breed.”

A close family friend said Sunday that Justice loved helping others and making them happy. Justice had a jovial spirit and often found it difficult to be serious because he loved making others laugh. He would have never thought for a moment about helping someone out, he would always just jump in.

“He was honorable — you know that from the way he died,” said Judy Erb, a friend of the Justice family. “He’s a hero, just like all those other boys over there.”

Justice, who was married with a 3-year-old daughter, is the third member of the Iowa Guard in Afghanistan to be killed this month.

Justice’s family issued this statement through the Guard:
“James Alan Justice meant many things to every person he encountered. He was the funny best friend named “Juice” that could be counted on when needing to be cheered up; the uncle who always knew just what to say and when to hand out hugs; the son who was his parents’ pride and joy; the father who loved his little girl more than anything in the world and couldn’t wait to have more children; and the husband who loved to put a smile on his wife’s face. One thing James was to everyone was the ultimate soldier. He loved the military and he looked forward to every deployment. While we were stunned and extremely saddened to learn of his tragic death, we all take solace knowing that James died doing what he loved best: serving his country beside the men and women he revered and trusted.

We thank you for your thoughts, prayers and kindness at this extremely difficult time. We are deeply saddened by our loss, but extremely proud of the honorable way he served America as a leader in the U.S. Army. We will remember him, his strength, his infectious sense of humor, his faith in God, and his love for his family, friends and country with great pride.”

Monday, May 23, 2011

Please Remember PFC Arturo E. Rodriguez

Please Remember PFC Arturo E. Rodriguez, 19-years-old, of Bellflower, CA who was killed March 12, 2011, in Paktika province of Afghanistan when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.

He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell KY.

Arturo was a very sweet and soft spoken person. He accomplished much in his short life by taking the initiative to serve America.

We salute this young man for his courage which he showed while fighting to insure the freedom of Americans. He will forever be remembered as a true American Hero.

Never Forget!

Please Remember Army Spc. Christopher G. Stark

Please Remember Army Spc. Christopher G. Stark, 22-years-old, of Monett, Missouri who was killed February 28, 2011, in the Wardak province of Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 63rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, 20th Support Command, Fort Polk, La.

Christopher was an explosives ordnance disposal tech, also known as a bomb specialist.

He was en route to a site where an improvised explosive device had been spotted when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Christopher had spent one week in November at home in Monett, Missouri with friends and family for the last time before deployment.

God Bless his Soul. He will never be forgotten!

Please Remember 1st Lt. Daren M. Hidalgo

Please Remember 1st Lt. Daren M. Hidalgo, 24-years-old.

Daren was killed Sunday, February 20, 2011, in Afghanistan while conducting combat operations.

My husband, Steven Peaslee, and Daren's father, Jorge Hidalgo, were in the same company while attending United States Military Academy at West Point together.

Like his father, Daren was also a graduate of West Point, as was his older brother, Miles Hidalgo. Daren graduated from the military academy in 2009, and after one year of training he headed off to Afghanistan.

Daren's father says he was kind-hearted, and the sparkle in everyone's eye; A happy-go-lucky kid who would do anything for anyone. Clearly, the same was true about his country.

Everyone was always joking around with Daren. He had a magnetic personality, and the best smile you could ever imagine- infectious and contagious.

Aside from his military career, Daren was a heck of an athlete- one wrestling match away from a state championship in high school.

When people speak about Daren, they first mention his smile. We can all see the smile they speak about in this picture - and yes, it is infectious.

Daren is an example of the unyielding bravery that all of our service men and women possess - willing to protect our country while laying their lives on the line.

Daren's young, beautiful life was taken far too soon, but not in vain. We will remember him forever as a true American Hero.

Never Forget!

Please Remember Tevan Nguyen

Please Remember Tevan Nguyen, 21-years-old, who died December 28, 2010 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.

Nguyen joined the Marine Corps in June 2007. He was a rifle team leader and his death came during his first combat deployment.

While we enjoy this holiday season, we must not forget Americans like Tevan who proudly serve our country at a great cost. Remember to always be grateful for their extreme sacrifice and proud to be an American!

Never Forget!

Please Remember 1st Lt. Scott F. Milley

Please Remember 1st Lt. Scott F. Milley, 23-years-old, of Sudbury, Mass.  He died November 30, 2010, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Logar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.

He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk, La.

Scott Milley was captain of his high school ice hockey team and a cum laude graduate from college, but since the age of 3, his ultimate goal was to join the US Army.

"He was the most lovable kid I ever coached." Peter Elenbaas, one of Milley's high school hockey coaches, said in an email.

"He combined the toughness of a prize-fighter with the effervescent joy and energy of a teenage boy. Truly, a treasure of this high school."

Milley's father, Steve, said yesterday that the family was devastated. "From the time he was 3 years old, that was his absolute dream, to be an Army mad," Steve Milley said.

"His dream has now become the family nightmare. The family's heart has been broken. Our baby son has gone."

Scott Milley was caught in a fire outside Baraki Barak, his father said. He had been in Afghanistan for only one month.

"He was the happiest, most joyful person without a care in the world," his father said. "His first email home was, 'Boy, this country is beautiful.'"

Dan Doyle, another one of Milley's hockey coaches at Lincoln-Sudbury, talked about Scott while fighting back tears. "Scott was a kid who knew who he was and who he wanted to be. He had great energy and commitment for everything that he chose to do or found important - whether it was school, sports, the military, or being a leader, a brother, or a son."

"His smile and his personal presence were very infectious, and he liked everybody. He was an all-in guy. He enjoyed the whole deal."

"I know he lived his dream. I don't think he would have done it any different."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Please Remember Lance Cpl. Dakota Huse

Please Remember Lance Cpl. Dakota Huse, 19-years-old, of Greenwood, Louisiana. He died on November 9, 2010 supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

He is a 2009 graduate of Huntington Highschool in Shreveport. He had been serving in Afghanistan for 2 months. He died while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Never Forget!

Please Remember Private First Class Andrew N. Meari

Please Remember Private First Class Andrew N. Meari, 21 years-old, of Plainfield, Ill., died Nov. 1, when his unit was attacked with a vehicle-borne explosive device in the Zhari district, Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Meari was an Infantryman assigned to Company A., 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). He joined the Army in October 2008 and arrived at Fort Campbell in February 2009.

His awards and decorations include: National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; and Combat Infantry Badge.

Meari is survived by his mother, Denise Meehan of Plainfield, Ill.; and father, Mahmoud Meari of Grafton, Wisc.

Please Remember Corporal Andrew L. Hutchins

Please Remember Corporal Andrew L. Hutchins, 20-years-old, killed on Monday, November 7, 2010.

Hutchins was a Military Policeman assigned to Headquarters Company, 3rd Special troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

He joined the Army in September 2008 and arrived at Fort Campbell in February 2009. His awards and decorations include: National Defense Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon.

Please Remember Sgt. Michael Paranzino

Please Remember Sgt. Michael Paranzino, 22-years-old, killed November 5.

He was killed by an improvised explosive device while serving near Kandahar in Afghanistan. The decorated soldier had been a cavalry scout with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. He had been in Afghanistan since March, after serving a tour in Iraq.

His family saw him just two weeks ago, when he was home on a mid-tour leave.

Please Remember SSG Matthew Weikert

Please remember SSG Matthew Weikert, 29-years-old, who was killed on July 17th, 2010, by an improvised explosive device in the Paktika province of Afghanistan.

Matthew had already served 4 tours in Iraq and had been recently deployed to Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division. Enlisted first with the Marines and later the Army, he'd been awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the NATO medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Never Forget!