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!