Nicole Suveges

Nicole Suveges—December 2008 Shipment Honoree

Johns Hopkins Grad Student Killed

Nicole Suveges
Nicole Suveges

BALTIMORE (WJZ)  Students and professors alike were shocked earlier this week to hear of one of their rising stars killed in a bombing in Iraq.

Mike Schuh reports Nicole Suveges was doing double duty.

The Johns Hopkins University campus first got a look at Nicole Suveges when she enrolled in 2000 as a grad student.

“She was just an outstanding person,” said Hopkins professor Matthew Crenson. “And from the very beginning, she was interested in the Middle East.”

But once the war in Iraq began, she changed her area of study. She wanted to know how the transition to democracy affected ordinary citizens. That’s what she was doing in Baghdad when she was killed.

It was Tuesday in Sadr City. A bomber blew up some government offices. Suveges and 10 others died. She was there helping the troops understand Iraqis.

The company says, “She came to us to freely give of herself in an effort to make a better world. A leading academic, she believed in translating what she learned into action.”

And she followed action. This was her second tour of Iraq as a civilian. The first was in 2006.

A decade ago she was an army reservist in Sarajevo.

“Well, she took a lot of chances,” said Crenson.

The young woman was known to be brave, and now she is sadly missed.

Crenson fondly remembers Suveges as a natural-born leader, someone who, despite her own workload, would organize parties and gatherings. She was a magnet to other students.

Suveges is originally from the Chicago, Ill. area. There’s no word yet on funeral arrangements.

(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved


Johns Hopkins Grad Student Dies in Iraq

University Stunned After Baghdad Blast

By Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 27, 2008; Page B03

Nicole Suveges was not the type of woman to back away from controversy.

So when Laura Locker learned that her friend, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, had joined the Army’s Human Terrain System, a program that embeds social scientists within military units, Locker said she was not surprised.

But friends and faculty members at Hopkins were stunned this week when they learned that Suveges, 38, was among four Americans killed in an explosion Tuesday in the District Council building in the Sadr City section of Baghdad.

“Two hours ago, I thought she was fine and I thought she was going to come back and defend her dissertation,” Mark Blyth, an associate professor of political science and Suveges’s primary faculty adviser said in a statement. “She was a very bright, engaging, sweet person, very intellectually curious.”

Political science professor Matthew Crenson, who was the director of graduate studies the year Suveges was admitted to Hopkins about eight years ago, described her as an “unusual student,” who brought a wealth of experience to the department.

In the 1990s, as a U.S. Army reservist, Suveges served in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In 2006, Suveges spent a year in Iraq as a civilian contractor and social science adviser to the military. She returned from that tour, Blyth said, with data to analyze for her dissertation on “Markets & Mullahs: Global Networks, Transnational Ideas and the Deep Play of Political Culture.” During her most recent tour, which began in April, Suveges was employed by Rockville-based BAE Systems, a contractor.

“She came to us to give freely of herself in an effort to make a better world,” said Doug Belair, president of BAE System’s Technology Solutions and Services line of business, in a statement. “Nicole was a leading academic who studied for years on how to improve conditions for others.”

Suveges expected that this tour in Iraq would provide the final data she needed to finish her dissertation. She received a master of arts degree in international affairs from George Washington University in 1998. She grew up in Illinois and graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1992.

Blyth said that after the war in Iraq began, Suveges decided she wanted her research to focus on the transition from an authoritarian government to democracy, and the impact on ordinary citizens.

Locker said Suveges had two sides to her personality. There was the “tough Army woman,” and the “total sweetheart” who would do anything for anybody.

Locker said yesterday that Suveges was the type of person who could win people over.

“When I first met her, I was sure I wasn’t going to like her,” Locker said. “She was an Army woman, and she was Republican, very outspoken. I’m a diehard Democrat.”

Locker, who worked with Suveges when they were teaching assistants in 2003, said it was Suveges’s tenacity that won her over. Or maybe it was her love for dogs, the way she was willing to cook meals for a classmate she had never met because the woman’s father had passed away, or how unafraid she was to speak her mind.

“She was a conservative person in a liberal department,” Locker said. “She brought a much-needed perspective to our department . . .

“The fact that she was one of my only Republican friends says a lot,” Locker said. “I adored her.”


American Grad Student Dies in Iraq

(CNN) — An American graduate student who went to Iraq to find ways to help ordinary citizens persevere in a transitioning government was one of two American civilians killed in a Sadr City bombing.

Nicole Suveges, a married political scientist from Illinois, was part of a program that embeds academics into military units to help personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan navigate the local environment, according to her employer, BAE Systems.

Suveges, who started her tour with Human Terrain System in April, had been assigned to support the 3rd Brigade Combat Team for the 4th Infantry Division in “political, cultural, and tribal engagements,” a statement from the program said.

She was one of four Americans to die in the Sadr City bombing Tuesday. Two U.S. soldiers and a State Department employee, Steven Farley, who worked with the provincial reconstruction team, also were killed in the blast.

“Nicole was a leading academic who studied for years on how to improve conditions for others,” Doug Belair, president of BAE’s Technology Solutions & Services, said in a written statement. “She came to us to give freely of herself in an effort to make a better world.”

Suveges was the second BAE employee to die in a combat zone this year. Michael V. Bhatia, 31, a social scientist from Medway, Massachusetts, died in a roadside bombing May 7 in Afghanistan, BAE said.

Scott Fazekas, BAE’s director of communications, said Suveges and Bhatia were among three dozen social scientists hired by the company and its subcontractors to support the program.

The Johns Hopkins University graduate student was also working toward a doctorate in political science with an emphasis on international relations. The focus of her dissertation was on the transition from an authoritarian regime to democracy and how it affects ordinary citizens, the university said.

“Nicole was committed to using her learning and experience to make the world a better place, especially for people who have suffered through war and conflict,” William R. Brody, president of the university, said in a message Wednesday to the campus community. “She exemplifies all that we seek to do at Johns Hopkins: to use knowledge for the good of humanity.”

Mark Blyth, Suveges’ primary faculty adviser, said that when Suveges came to Johns Hopkins, she planned to write her Ph.D. dissertation on how ideas move across borders from society to society, exploring how radical Islamic ideas filtered through Western European mosques.

After the outbreak of the Iraq war, Suveges decided to shift her focus to the experience of ordinary citizens under a transitional government, said Blyth, a topic that had interested Suveges since her experience in Bosnia with the SFOR/NATO Combined Joint Psychological Operations Task Force.

“She was a very bright, engaging, sweet person, very intellectually curious,” Blyth said Wednesday.

BAE said Suveges’ experience, which included a tour in Iraq as a civilian contractor and a stint in Bosnia in the 1990s as an Army reservist, made her especially valuable in efforts to improve the lives of Iraqis.

A Human Terrain System statement said Suveges and others were attending a meeting of the District Advisory Council on Tuesday to elect a new chairman.

The officials were helping mediate disputes among the Sadr City leadership and “facilitate the development of a more representative local government,” the statement said.

The attack was blamed on a Shiite insurgent cell.

Suveges graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1992 and received a master’s degree in political science from George Washington University in 1998.

She had delivered papers to international relations organizations and served as a graduate teaching assistant, the company said.

At Johns Hopkins, she was managing editor for the Review of International Political Economy, the university said.

Maj. Mike Kenfield, spokesman for the Army’s training and doctrine command, said that the program was credited for “reductions in non-lethal operations” and that there had been talk about expanding the purview of the team to outside Iraq and Afghanistan.

CNN’s Joe Sterling contributed to this report

David Day

David F. Day—January 2006 Shipment Honoree

Army SSgt., 25, of Saint Louis Park, Minn.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery, 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota Army National Guard, Montevideo, Minn.; killed Feb. 21, 2005 when an improvised explosive device detonated as he was assisting injured soldiers in his command in Baghdad. Also killed were Army 1st Lt. Jason G. Timmerman and Army Sgt. Jesse M. Lhotka.

Day ‘found his way with duty, honor and courage’

Source: Associated Press and Military Times 
 

Army Command Sergeant Major Erik Arnie talked about Staff Sgt. David F. Day at a flag-pole dedication ceremony in his honor on July 9 during Pioneer Prairie Days in Minnesota. — Ed.

The date of 21 February 2005 has been etched into the small communities of Western Minnesota, such as Appleton, Marshall and Morris, for all eternity. For it was on that day that the lives of three young, brave men from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery, were sacrificed for their country and their comrades half a world away.

On that morning 1st Lt. Jason Timmerman, Staff Sgt. David Day and Sgt. Jesse Lhotka were conducting what was supposed to be an ordinary mission. The mission turned out to be anything but ordinary.

First Lt. Timmerman, Staff Sgt. Day and Sgt. Lhotka were traveling in the 2nd Echelon of Charlie Company on mission. They had departed the company area at approximately 7 a.m. First Lt. Timmerman and Staff Sgt. Day were in the same Humvee with their driver. Sgt. Lhotka was in another Humvee, with his driver and gunner, that lost control somehow, left the road and began to roll, injuring two soldiers. The small convoy stopped and did what it was trained to do, provide security around the scene and begin assisting the injured. Staff Sgt. David Day, the squad leader of most of those on the scene, did exactly what he was trained to do, take care of his men. After a medevac was called in, the first injured soldier was carried to a helicopter. The second soldier was being carried on a stretcher by 1st Lt. Timmerman; Staff Sgt. Day, Sgt. Lhotka and a soldier from another unit who had also stopped to provide security. As they carried the soldier across the road towards the helicopter an explosion occurred within a few feet of the group. Three soldiers from Western Minnesota died that morning and two others were seriously wounded.

Many of you did not personally know Staff Sgt. David Day — but you did. You know of the boys who grew up from this area; playing ball in the park, riding bikes to the store with a buck from mowing and excitement on what awaited, swimming and fishing in the Pomme de Terre, playing cops and robbers throughout the neighborhood, chasing the fire trucks when they came flashing by, going to Scout camp; and pretending the enemies of America were in the backyard and he was an Army sergeant stopping them in their tracks.

You know of the young men, desiring to be their own man, going off to vocational school or college or joining the service or going to work in the elevator and eventually finding their own way. You know of the those men finding their sweethearts. Oh yes, you know Dave Day — but he was more.

Dave found that serving and protecting was his calling. Whether a police officer with the St. Louis Park Police Department, or a soldier in the Minnesota Army National Guard, or a son and a husband, Dave Day was dedicated to serving and giving back to those who had given to him. Staff Sgt. Day lived out his childhood imaginings and found his own way with duty, honor and courage.

Duty: an act or course of action required of one by position, custom, law or regulation. Moral obligation: the compulsion felt to meet such obligations. These are just a few of the definitions listed in most dictionaries.

On the morning of 21 February 2005, Staff Sgt. Day was performing his duty. More than just the duty that he swore to the day he pledged the oath to serve his president and country. He was doing the duties of a warrior. “I will always place the mission first.” He was out on a mission; helping to protect and secure the new state of Iraq. He did not hesitate to accept this mission when the Charlie Company commander issued it, therefore placing the mission ahead of himself. “I will never accept defeat.” He did not accept defeat; when one of his own teams lost a vehicle, he reacted quickly to recover his soldiers and vehicle and attempted to continue on with the assigned mission.

Honor: personal integrity maintained without legal or other obligations;

“I will never quit.” He certainly did not quit just because something had gone wrong — he obligated himself to carry on as did the rest of his squad from Company C to set up security around the perimeter of the scene and help his comrades.

Courage: Some say that courage is the lack of fear. I say courage is having fear, but knowing and understanding your fear — using it to motivate you and knowing how to put it aside when duty calls. Staff Sgt. Day certainly overcame any fears when he assessed the situation and reacted in a way to assist his men. “I will never leave a fallen comrade.”

It is right that we pay tribute to Staff Sgt. David Day and place a memorial within his community — but not just as a reminder of a boy, a man, a son and a husband, but that of a servant with duty, honor and courage — to those he loved dearly and those he served bravely.

I am honored and proud to be a part of this event. And to Amy, David and Vickie — on behalf of the 1st Battalion 151st Field Artillery, the community of Morris, the state of Minnesota and the Army National Guard, the St. Louis Park Police and friends — thank you for letting all of us know Dave.

He will be forever remembered!


Minnesota Towns Honor Fallen Soldier

MORRIS, Minn. — Two by two, a procession of 110 squad cars with lights flashing drove slowly and silently through this western Minnesota city. A Blackhawk helicopter flew over the procession, flying low enough to create a stir of dust. And when a white hearse carrying Staff Sgt. David Day drove by, people laid down pink, red and peach roses on the streets of Morris in tribute to a Minnesota soldier who laid down his life last week in Iraq.

Day, 25, a Morris native who was a St. Louis Park police officer, was one of three members of the same Minnesota National Guard unit who were killed Feb. 21 by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. Separate funerals were held earlier in the week for 1st Lt. Jason Timmerman of Tracy, and Sgt. Jesse Lhotka of Alexandria. Gov. Tim Pawlenty and first lady Mary Pawlenty attended all of the funerals.

After the procession passed Thursday, the crowd dissipated, leaving a line of roses behind them. “It kind of just overwhelms you, there’s so much support here,” said Carolyn Smith, who held an American flag.

Day, the youngest child of David and Vicki Day, was remembered as a hardworking, good-humored and courageous young man.

An estimated 1,000 people packed Assumption Catholic Church for Day’s funeral. Their ranks included more than 250 law enforcement members from 70 agencies, including 65 from the St. Louis Park Police Department, which swore in Day in February 2004, and the staffs of the Morris police and Stevens County sheriff’s departments. Day had also worked as a community service officer in Morris. Seating and closed-circuit televisions were set up in the church basement and at St. Mary’s School to accommodate the large numbers.

The Rev. Alan Wielinski shared family stories about Day and reiterated that Day had “laid down his life for his friends.” The three soldiers were killed while coming to the aid of injured comrades. “The selfless service of David, and countless other soldiers like him, gives witness to some of the very best of human qualities: courage, faithfulness, selflessness, steadfastness, loyalty and love unto death,” he said.

Stevens County Sheriff Randy Willis said Day was a “great kid.”

“A lot of people are liked. A lot of people are respected. But it’s hard to be both,” Willis said. “He pulled it off.”

Capt. Kirk DiLorenzo of the St. Louis Park Police Department worked with Day for two years. He stood on the church steps while Day’s coffin was brought in and out. “All of the officers are heartbroken,” he said.

Day married his longtime girlfriend, Amy Gulbrandson, 12 days before his deployment in October. Sgt. 1st Class James Howe was Day’s first sergeant and knew Day for about five years. “He’s not only a good soldier, but a good individual, a great person,” Howe said before the funeral. “The kind of guy you’d want your daughter to marry.”

Before the procession, Brian Brummond, of Morris, spoke of his “very hard emotions.” His son, Joshua, 23, is in Day’s unit — the Montevideo-based 151st Field Artillery — and was assigned to gather the personal belongings of Day, Timmerman and Lhotka to be sent back home. “He said it was one of the hardest things he’s had to do,” Brummond said.

— Associated Press


The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember David during the month of January 2006 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 David’s family and friends today and in the years to come.

Gathering of the Guard

Gathering of the Guard
Gathering of the Guard

This year’s GOTG will be a time to remember. Remember all those that we have stood for, wars we have fought, and the freedom we enjoy. At the same time, we want to make this a Gathering you will not soon forget. It will be a weekend to reflect, a weekend to enjoy, and most definitely “A Weekend to Remember!”

Utah is proud to be hosting the 2009 Gathering Of The Guard. We have selected Ogden for the mild summer climate, excellent mountain views, and some of the best motorcycle riding routes in the country.

Don’t come to Ogden expecting a typical mountain town. This is the place Al Capone said was too wild for his taste in the 1920s. And while we’ve replaced bootlegging, prostitution and gambling with skiing, climbing, and some of the most scenic motorcycle riding in the country, Ogden’s soul will always be a bit rowdy. If you want homogenized, we’re probably not for you. But if you’re rolling around the western United States with an appetite for life, welcome to one of the liveliest places you’ve never been.

During GOTG 2009 we are going to block off Historic 25th Street to everything but motorcycles and pedestrians and have a street party with some great local bands, a beer garden, and a great gathering of many friends we have yet to meet. We also plan on having some big name entertainment available as well.

Whether you have been to Gatherings in the past, or you have yet to attend one, this is one you won’t want to miss! Patriot Guard Riders, welcome to “A Weekend to Remember!” Welcome to Utah!


 

The Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) held their annual Gathering of the Guard in Ogden, Utah this year. The Patriot Guard Riders provided LHCP with free vendor space for the weekend. Events started on Thursday July 30 and went through Sunday, Aug 2. Activities for the PGR included the traveling Vietnam Memorial wall, a concert and the Field of Flags. The Field of Flags was approximately 5,000 American flags representing all our fallen heroes during the Global War on Terror. Many of the riders that came to Utah went on to Sturgis later that weekend.

The Patriot Guard Riders were kind enough to provided LHCP with a free vendor space for the weekend. During the weekend James Spliedt, LHCP vice-president had a chance to meet many veterans and several Gold Star families. A number of the LHCP contact cards, brochures and pins were given out over these few days.

One of the local PRG Gold Star families, John and Celeste Thibeault son is the LHCP September 2009 Honoree Pvt. Jordan Thibeault.

It was a good experience overall and Jim Spliedt said he hoped to get LHCP’s name out to other parts of the United States.

Several weeks later Jim said the weekend was successful because our newsletter editor, Rachel Hause was attending a monthly breakfast gathering of the Minnesota Marine Moms a couple weeks later and met an Army mom from Wisconsin that had one of our contact cards and pin from this event.

Gathering of the GuardGathering of the Guard
Gathering of the GuardGathering of the Guard
Gathering of the GuardGathering of the Guard
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IMG_1317Gathering of the Guard
Gathering of the Guard

BAE Systems and Rotary Club

2008 BAE Systems Yearly Events

 Mojave, CA

 

“The Rotary Clubs of Lancaster and Lancaster West recently joined forces to present over 60 pairs of pajamas to Denise German, Charity Challenge Coordinator for BAE Systems, Flight Systems. The Pajamas were presented in supp or t of the Company’s 2008 Charity Challenge, America Supp or ts You, Landstuhl Hospital Care Project (LCHP). LCHP is a non-profit organization that provides comfort and relief items f or military members who become sick, injured, or wounded from service in Iraq , Kuwait and Afghanistan . Donated items will be distributed to patients at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany , the largest American military hospital outside of the US ; and to field hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq ; and to VA Facilities throughout the United States ”.

BAE Systems, Mojave and Rotary Club of Lancaster CA
BAE Systems, Mojave and Rotary Club of Lancaster CA
  Left – Denise German, Charity Challenge Coordinator for BAE Systems, Flight Systems.
Right – Barbara Sellon, Secretary Rotary Club of Lancaster.

LHCP 2008 Scout Project of the Year

Baylor Dickerson of Bumpass, Virginia

Update: June 2011
Ms. Karen Grimord
President and Founder
Landstuhl Hospital Care Project

 

Dear Ms. Grimord

Eagle Badge
LHCP 2008 Scout Project of the Year

I hope this letter finds you well and that you are enjoying the beginning of summer. I am, especially since school is winding down and graduation is this weekend!

This letter is sent to thank you for helping me earn national rankings as the National Runner Up for the American Legion Eagle Scout of the Year for 2011 and for taking first place as the Veterans of Foreign Wars Eagle Scout of the Year for 2011. I never envisioned my efforts would take me this far, nor did I ever think I would still have an opportunity to talk abut the sacrifices of our service personnel and the good work of the Wounded Warrior Ministry, as I have during this competition.

I am sure you will remember at the first of the year, when I asked you for a letter of recommendation to meet requirements for awards offered by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Both awards are separate, but similar, scholarship award programs that look exclusively at Eagle Scouts across America, in an attempt to select the “Best Eagle Scout in the Nation”. My applications were thorough, requiring a lot of research and writing to document my Scouting Career and Eagle Scout Project. Once submitted, the review process was also long and equally thorough with the final award being announced on June 9th at the Department of Virginia, Veterans of Foreign Wars Annual Conference in Richmond, Virginia.

Reading the letters contained in the returned applications, I am thankful for the time and effort you placed in my letter and how much of an impact I know your letter offered in support of my applications. I cannot thank you enough and I appreciate your time in drafting your letter of recommendation, and especially in your interest in my efforts to have my Scouting work and Eagle Scout Project honored at the national level.

Announcements for both awards can be viewed on: www.legion.org, “What We Do” and “Scouting”, and www.vfw.org “Community” “Programs” “Scout of the Year”. At this time my awards total over $10,000, and are being sent directly to Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, Virginia as part of my tuition, or being placed in my “book fund” to pay for books and school computer.

Thank you again for all you have done to make my Eagle Scout project special and for your time and effort in writing my letter of endorsement. I feel that your words and letters made a difference. As you can imagine, the competition is intense and when competing in a field of over 1,000 Eagle Scouts, every letter is scrutinized and does define success for each applicant. Certainly, your letters made a difference for me.

Thank you for all you did towards my Eagle Scout Project, from Day 1 all the way to the End! It would not have been as successful without your help.

Yours in Scouting
Baylor Dickerson
Eagle Scout, Class of 2009

Luke Mercardante

Luke Mercardante—2008 Shipment Honoree

“I want no person to ever feel sad or pity for me or my Marines as we endure hardship and sacrifice, as this is our calling with the unknown outcome being of God’s master plan.”

1st Sgt Luke Mercardante
Combat Logistics Battalion 24 SgtMaj
OEF 08 / KIA on 15 Apr 08

24th MEU honors its first 2 to fall

Sources:  Paul Wiseman – USA Today, Military Times
Luke Mercandante
Luke Mercardante

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Even before the Marines here began fighting Taliban insurgents in the lawless southern provinces, they were holding a memorial service for two of their own.

Cpl. Kyle Wilks was remembered as a NASCAR-loving prankster. First Sgt. Luke Mercardante, the highest-ranking noncommissioned officer in his logistics battalion, was “the glue that held us together,” said Maj. Keith Owens. “He helped our small problems from becoming big problems.”

“It hit us hard,” said Staff Sgt. Liandro Barajas, 28, of Yakima, Wash.

The deaths last week during a supply run — the Marine unit’s first major foray outside the safety of the sprawling military base at Kandahar airfield — are a brutal reminder of an enemy that is tenaciously hanging on seven years after U.S. and allied forces toppled the Taliban leadership for sheltering Osama bin Laden.

About 100 Marines left Kandahar airfield April 15 in a convoy of dozens of vehicles carrying supplies when a powerful improvised explosive device hidden in a culvert beneath the road detonated around midnight.

“The road was gone,” says Staff Sgt. Lauro Samaniego, 30, of Laredo, Texas, leader of a four-man bomb squad who had investigated IED attacks during two tours in Iraq. “This was one of the biggest ones I’ve ever seen.”

The blast gouged a hole 12 feet wide and 6 feet deep, stopping the convoy. Mercardante, 35, of Athens, Ga., and Wilks, 24, of Rogers, Ark., were dead. Two other Marines were injured, one seriously.

“They knew we were coming,” said Staff Sgt. Robin Clements, the assistant convoy commander. “We were making pretty good headway. Out of nowhere — a huge explosion. We could see it from the rear of the convoy. Immediately, we knew it wasn’t your ordinary IED. … That explosion could have demolished a tank.”

The bomb went off beneath Mercardante’s Humvee. He was originally assigned to sit in the lead Humvee but was moved farther back, where it was thought he’d be safer, Clements said.

Marine 1st Sergeant Luke J. Mercardante
Marine 1st Sergeant Luke J. Mercardante

When the sun came up, the Marines found that they’d been hit in a place of rare beauty — wildflowers, wheat fields, vineyards, streams — in countryside usually dominated by rock, dust and dirt. Samaniego’s team traced the detonator to a spot behind a mud wall about 50 yards from the convoy. The insurgent who planted it and set off the bomb was long gone.

Canadian troops from a nearby outpost fed the stranded Marines and filled in the crater, allowing the convoy to get moving again before mid-morning, says Lt. Col. Ricky Brown, commander of the Marines’ logistics battalion.

Afterward, the Marines’ commander, Col. Peter Petronzio, received handwritten, hand-delivered condolences from dozens of allied countries — a sign, he says, that despite widespread reports of divisions within the NATO security force, “we’re all in this together.”

On Tuesday, more than 100 Marines stood at attention before four empty boots and two sets of dog tags. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tom Nagy, a medical officer attached to the Marine unit, read from a letter Mercardante wrote to his sister.

“I want no person to ever feel sad or pity for me or my Marines as we endure hardship and sacrifice, as this is our calling with the unknown outcome being that of God’s master plan,” Nagy quoted Mercardante as writing.

Memorial Service for 1stSgt Luke Mercardante and Cpl Kyle Wilkes
Memorial Service for 1stSgt Luke Mercardante and Cpl Kyle Wilkes

The Marines say they won’t be looking for revenge when they launch their operations against the Taliban insurgents.

“You focus on what you can do for the living. You’re no good to anyone if you let your emotions get in the way,” Samaniego said. “Am I angry? No. Am I sad? Yes. We lost two men who were willing to fight for other people they never knew and for a culture that didn’t understand them and that they didn’t understand.”

“This is what we do.” Clements said. “We move on.” Her husband is also a Marine back at Camp Lejeune. Together, they have served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001, alternating deployments so one of them could stay home to care for their children.

“I’m a mother of four boys,” she said. “I don’t want them over here doing this one day.”


Former VMI ROTC Instructor Killed in Afghanistan

Source:  Virginia Military Institute

LEXINGTON, Va., April 18, 2008 – Marine 1st Sgt. Luke Mercardante, who served on the staff of the VMI Naval ROTC unit from 2002 to 2005, was killed in action in Afghanistan on April 15, according to a Department of Defense news release.

Marine 1st Sergeant Luke J. Mercardante
Marine 1st Sergeant Luke J. Mercardante

Mercardante, 35, was acting sergeant major for Combat Logistics Battalion 24 of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit when he died.

While at VMI, Mercardante was an assistant Marine officer instructor, or MOI, and helped train cadets preparing to be commissioned as officers in the Marine Corps.

“As an assistant MOI, First Sergeant Mercardante was a superb Marine and a tremendous role model for all of us,” said Col. William Grace, commanding officer of the VMI Naval ROTC unit. “He loved being a Marine and helping develop our next generation of leaders. He was totally devoted to our cadets while at VMI and to his Marines while leading them in our nation’s effort in War on Terror. He will be missed.”

Mercardante’s impact on training cadets was so appreciated by the VMI Class of 2007 that the class selected him as an Honorary Brother Rat. The first year cadets attend VMI they are known as Rats, and the shared experience of that demanding time forges bonds among them that last a lifetime. Members of the class call one another “Brother Rat,” and the selection of a faculty or staff member to join that brotherhood is the highest honor a class can bestow.

Jamaal Walton, president of the Class of 2007, said the class member extend their condolences to the Mercardante family.

“First Sergeant Mercardante was chosen as an Honorary Brother Rat for our class because he was man of honor, integrity, and always went above the expectations of his duty,” Walton said. “He always lent a helping hand to others and made a positive impact to those who got to know him. Brother Rat Mercardante was truly a great Marine, a great friend, and most of all a great father.”

Sally Coffman Arciero, the class agent for the Class of 2007, said the class was the first that Mercardante saw matriculate and that “he grew into VMI along with us.”

Though his primary duties put him into close contact with those cadets involved in Naval ROTC, he made a special effort to meet all members of the class, she said.

“I saw him making an effort to talk with and get to know all of us,” Arciero said. “It was a much appreciated effort…. I found him to be an intense man, and he supported that which he believed in with his entire being. He was an honorable man, a good leader, and a proud Brother Rat.”

In responding to his selection for the honor with a letter that was published in the Bomb, the VMI yearbook, Mercardante said, “Your class and this great institution has also played a significant role in my life and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be associated with such a prestigious, honorable, and respectable organization. From the day you matriculated … I developed a sense of respect and admiration for each of you and those who wear the VMI uniform.”

He said he was impressed as the members of the class developed over their cadetships.

“Keeping with the spirit of the Brother Rat,” he said, “I will represent you and your class at all times in the most professional and respectable manner, be an ambassador for VMI, be an individual that any of you can call upon at any time, and wear your class ring with great pride…. This is one of the greatest honors of my life after being able to call myself a Christian, a father, and a United States Marine.”


Former Athenian killed in Afghanistan

Source:  Joe Johnson, Online Athens

A U.S. Marine who grew up in Athens was killed in Afghanistan Tuesday by a roadside bomb near the Pakistan border, according to his family.

First Sgt. Luke Mercardante, 35, was attached to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, a rapid-response force that is hunting down insurgents in the southern province of Kandahar, a former Taliban stronghold, relatives said.

The Pentagon hasn’t confirmed Mercardante’s death.

But his sister, Bridget Clark, said Marine Corps representatives came to her home in Bogart this morning to inform her that her brother had died.

Another Marine died and two were injured in the attack on their convoy, according to Clark.

Mercardante has been in Afghanistan since February, his second overseas deployment; he served as gunnery sergeant at a detention center in Al Asad, Iraq, in 2006.

He planned to marry when he returned to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina this fall, according to Clark.

He has two children from a previous marriage.

Born in California, Mercardante moved east as a child and split his time with family in Georgia and New York.

He attended Athens Christian School and graduated from Oconee County High School in 1990. Mercardante attended Gainesville College for two years before enlisting in the Marines in 1992.

One of his brothers, Patrick Mercardante Jr., is a former Athens-Clarke police officer and former athletic director for the local YMCA.

In addition to his brother and sister, Mercardante is survived by two other brothers, his mother, Gertrude Mercardante, of Bogart, and his father and step-mother, Patrick Mercardante Sr. and Katie Mercardante, both of Statham.

McCaa’s Enterprises

Soldier Down 2008

Bike Show Guest Judge
MONDO “The Godfather of Choppers” of Denver’s Choppers
Soldier Down Fundraiser
Fort Mohave, Arizona

Dear Sir or Madam,

Soldier Down
Soldier Down 2008

On October 18th, 2008 McCaa’s Enterprises will be sponsoring a charity event for the benefit of wounded American armed forces personnel. We are raising money and goods to support the Landstuhl Care Project (LHCP). The LHCP provides comfort and relief items for military members who become sick, injured or wounded from service in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.

Donated items are distributed to military patients at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, or are sent to field hospitals with needs that we have learned about from patient liaisons.

Many of the military personnel are grievously wounded and require long hospitalization and rehabilitation. The purpose of LHCP’s program is to enhance the morale and welfare of the wounded by contributing quality of life items such as sweat pants, sweat shirts, pajamas, lounge pants, boxers, socks, and seasonal jackets or coats. Combat Support Hospitals also receive items such as sheets, blankets, pillows, and towels. Each shipment that Landstuhl Hospital Care Project sends is sent in honor of a military member who has made the ultimate sacrifice and lost his or her life in service to our country.

We are approaching area business and individuals to help with our event by donating money, food, paper goods, raffle prizes, postage (to ship goods to the Virginia based LHCP) and any of the items listed on the attached flyer.

Soldier Down 2008
Liz Davis-Joyce and Rob McCaa receive certificate from LHCP Vice President James Spliedt

We hope that you can help us to help the men and women who have put it all on the line for what is still the greatest country in the world. Your donations will help our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines know that they are supported.

In exchange for your donation we can offer you publicized recognition at the level of press, radio and TV, as well as recognition during the event via announcements and printed materials (i.e., posters).

If you have any questions about our event or how to help, (or suggestions too!), please feel free to contact one of us at the numbers also listed on the flyer.

 
 
Sincerely,
Liz Davis-Joyce
530-701-6062
Lydia Smith
928-303-8557
McCaa’s Enterprises – 1516 Courtney Pl Suite E. Fort Mohave
Arizona
 

Harrison Brown

Harrison Brown—Oct 2008 Shipment Honoree

Soldier from Prichard, Alabama, killed in Iraq

Sources:  Garry Mitchell – The Associated Press, Military Times
Harrison Brown
Harrison Brown

PRICHARD, Ala. — A Ft. Benning, Ga.-based solider killed in Iraq was eulogized April 20 at his funeral as a “gentle giant” hero and a role model growing up in his hometown of Prichard.

More than 1,000 mourners filled the Nazaree Full Gospel Church in Mobile to bid farewell to Army Staff Sgt. Harrison “Duck” Brown, 31, who was killed April 8 in a bomb blast that hit his Humvee.  Brown, assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, at Fort Benning, was on his third tour of duty in Iraq.

“This young man is a hero. He died as a hero and from what we’ve heard today, he lived as a hero,” said the Rev. Dr. Ralph Huling, pastor of St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus, Ga., where Brown, his wife, Delisha, and three daughters — 9, 12 and 14 — worshipped.

A small musical ensemble played “When the Saints Go Marching In” as the 1,200-seat church in Mobile filled. A soloist sang “Amazing Grace.” The service swelled into a hand-clapping celebration of Brown’s life.

Among those exchanging upbeat memories of Brown before his flag-draped coffin was his uncle, Hezekiah Brown of Elizabeth City, N.C., who described his nephew as a “gentle giant who never wanted to hurt anybody.”

Others remembered how Brown influenced their lives with his admirable behavior.

Blount High School coach Ben Harris recalled Brown as a wide receiver on his team from 1991 until his graduation in 1994.

“He was a fine person all around,” Harris said.

Alvin Daniels, a former Blount classmate, said it’s a sad time, but Brown liked being in the Army.

“He was a good fellow, real quiet, laid-back,” Daniels said.

Brown also played on the school’s baseball and basketball teams before enrolling at Tuskegee University, where he played football for one year on a scholarship.

Brown left Tuskegee after his freshman year and enlisted in the Army to support his growing family.

Brig. Gen. William Forrester of Fort Rucker, Ala., represented the Army at the service, with an Honor Guard also from Rucker. Brown was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart.

Scores of veterans on motorcycles from the Patriot Guard escorted the funeral procession with police.

Prichard officials announced plans to name a street for Brow. Resolutions honoring Brown from the Alabama Legislature and the city of Mobile also were delivered to Brown’s family.

Burial was in the National Cemetery in Mobile.


FALLEN WARRIOR: Prichard soldier called a ‘gentle giant’

Source:  Jane Self Special to The Tuscaloosa News

Harrison “Duck" Brown
Harrison “Duck” Brown

Blount High School’s head football coach said Army Staff Sgt. Harrison “Duck” Brown was an outstanding wide receiver when he was in school in the early 1990s. In 1992, his team won the state Class 5A high school football championship. When he graduated from Blount in 1994, Brown received a four-year scholarship to play football for Tuskegee.

But he left school after one season and joined the Army.

“He said he had to do it to take care of his children,” said Mary Dozier of Prichard, Brown’s sister. “I was upset about that. I wanted that degree.”

Brown later told his only sister – he also had three brothers – that he had three requests of her.

Because all the children of the family looked up to her, he wanted her to make sure his three daughters went to college so they could have choices in life. His two oldest daughters, Katrina and Alexya live in Prichard with their mother, and Dozier sees them every day. His youngest daughter, 9-year-old Kilani, lives in Columbus, Ga., with her mother, Delisha Brown.

He also asked Dozier to look after their mother, Chris Ann Brown, who lives near Dozier, and to stay in regular touch with Delisha Brown.

He was stationed in Hawaii at the time and just wanted to make sure his sister knew his priorities.

“We’re a real close family, anyway,” Dozier said. “Always have been. Duck and I would sit and talk all the time.”

Dozier said one of her brother’s coaches gave him the nickname “Duck” when he was in the ninth grade.

“They said he waddled like a duck when he ran,” Dozier said, admitting that she agreed. “He was bowlegged and had these big ole hands and feet. He looked like a duck.”

The nickname stuck, following Brown through high school, college and into the Army.

Brown had just returned for his third tour of duty in Iraq a few weeks before he was killed on Easter Sunday, April 8, in a bomb blast that hit his vehicle in Baghdad. He was with the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning.

Brown was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart. On Sept. 22, the day Brown would have turned 32, Prichard officials will name a city street in his honor.

An uncle called Brown a “gentle giant” at his funeral, and many talked about what a good person he was.

One soldier he served with at Fort Benning said Brown was a quiet, dedicated man who put his soldiers’ needs before his own.

Dozier said her little brother was always a good kid. She was about 7 when he was born so she looked after him a lot.

“Duck always did what I told him to,” Dozier said. “He was no problem. Duck was always quiet, not like the others. Duck probably didn’t get more than four whippings his entire life.”

She said the whole neighborhood got excited when he came home on leave.

“It would be like a big block party. Everybody was so glad to see him,” she said. “He was such a great person to be around. He was such a joy. He was smooth talking. He’d be telling those kids something and they’d be listening. He always talked real soft, never talked loud. But he made his point.”

She said she tried to talk him out of re-enlisting in the Army, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He loved what he was doing. He told her not too many 30-year-old black men could say they’ve experienced what he had.

“He said, ‘I have traveled and seen this world, and if I had to do it over again, I’d do it again.’ I said, ‘aw shucks.’ He re-enlisted two days later,” Dozier said.

“When he was about to leave this last time, he told me it was perfect. Here he was going back to the war and saying it was perfect,” she said.

The day before he was killed, Brown was on the phone with his mother for nearly an hour, Dozier said.

“They were giggling and laughing for the longest time. He’d always call Mama,” she said.

Brown had also tried several times to reach his older brother who had a birthday on April 6 to wish him happy birthday. He never reached him, but left several messages.

“My brother has recorded them on a CD now,” Dozier said. “He kept saying ‘Hey, this is your little brother calling.’ Oh, I sure do miss him.”

William Kerwood

William Kerwood—September 2008 Shipment Honoree

Thank you for thinking of my brother and sending out the care packages in his name. I hope it helps those in need and I appreciate your kind deed.

Ken


William Kerwood
William Kerwood

LHCP received the below email with a request for us to honor William Kerwood as a honoree.

“I’ve started & stopped this email so many times the last few days, the memories bring the feeling of loss back to the surface when least expected & get me tickled all over again at the same time. But I’m determined to do this for Bill, so here it goes.

Bill Kerwood, in all my time as an Air Force wife I have never met another man like him. Bill was the kind of guy that always had a smile on his face, a wicked sense of humor & willingness to help out any way he could. He loved his job but wasn’t one to brag about his accomplishments. I think we’d known him for 2 years before we knew he had received the Distinguished Flying Cross for the rescue of a downed U.S pilot in Yugoslavia. That’s just the way he was. He’d be gone for weeks sometimes months but as soon as he was back it was time to “fire up the grill & toss back a beer.” Those were the best times.

He was the one of the funniest people I’ve had the honor of knowing. There was one of those weekend cookouts where he got the idea to try one of his Golden Retriever’s dog biscuits to see if they were any good…I can’t think of a time I’ve laughed harder. And he decided those dog biscuits were better then some of the MREs he had had. Then there was the New Year’s Eve we hung out & he decided to dress his wife & I up in his chem gear & helmet…somewhere around here I still have the pictures of that night.And the Halloween when the same Golden Retriever was dressed up like “Bat Dog” & Bill dressed up like Jason. The kids would walk up to pet Jake & then here would come Bill & scare them half to death…those poor neighborhood kids.

There are so many things I could say about Bill. He was a great husband, friend, son, brother, & father. And for those of us who were lucky enough to know him even for just a little while, lost a little bit of ourselves the day we lost him. But, there’s comfort in knowing he died doing a job he loved for a country he loved & we’ll see him again on the other side. Be at peace, Bill. We’ll see you again.”


In Remembrance of William Kerwood

Casualties of Afghan Campaign Honored
Five Were Killed In Copter Crash

Source:  By Leef Smith, Courtesy of the Washington Post, Arlignton Nation Cemetery Website
William Kerwood
William Kerwood

The flag-draped coffin was borne by a horse-drawn caisson and followed by mourners who made their way through Arlington National Cemetery yesterday to honor four airmen and a soldier who died when their helicopter crashed in Afghanistan in November.

The men were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, working together in an MH-53M helicopter when it fell about seven miles east of Bagram Air Base. Nearby villages reported that the helicopter crashed near a riverbed and caught fire. Officials said mechanical failure might have been to blame.

Killed in the November 23, 2003, crash were Air Force Major Steven Plumhoff, 33, of Neshanic Station, New Jersey, and three other airmen, Staff Sergeant Thomas A. Walkup Jr., 25, of Millville, New Jersey, Technical Sergeant Howard A. Walters, 33, of Port Huron, Michigan, and Technical Sergeant William J. Kerwood, 37, of Houston, Missouri.  Also killed was Army Sergeant Major Philip R. Albert, 41, of Terryville, Connecticut.

Yesterday, the men’s remains were interred with full honors in a common grave whose headstone will be marked with each of their names. The service included a flyover by an MH-53 Pave Low helicopter — the largest, most advanced line of helicopters in the Air Force’s inventory — from Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Kerwood, an 18-year veteran, was among the first troops to deploy to Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, according to news reports.  He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for helping rescue a downed U.S. pilot in the former Yugoslavia in 1999.

  • Sources:
    • Washington Post
    • Military Times

Bryant Wayne Mackey

Bryant Wayne Mackey—2008 Shipment Honoree

Fallen staff sgt. remembered as selfless, hard worker

Sources:  The Associated Press, Military Times

Bryant Wayne MackeyMaj. David Olsen, who worked for about eight months with Army Staff Sgt. Bryant W. Mackey, described him as a “quiet professional” who always put his soldiers before himself.

“I needed experienced leaders to prepare all of these young soldiers for the war in Iraq,” he said, and Mackey “was one of the hardest workers in my troop.” Olsen recalled when Mackey injured his foot, refusing to take time off even though he couldn’t put his boot on.

Mackey, 30, of Eureka, Kan., was killed Feb. 20 in Mosul, Iraq, when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his vehicle. He was a 1996 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.

“On his second combat tour, even to his last breath, he would not give up,” Brig. Gen. David Quantock told Mackey’s family and friends at the funeral.

Mackey enjoyed football, especially watching the Washington Redskins and Kansas State Wildcats. Trained to drive tanks, Mackey enlisted in August 2001. He had been injured in his first tour, trying to move a comrade out of harm’s way, said his mother, Karen Nielsen.

He also is survived by his wife, Marie, and children, 10-year-old Ryan, 7-year-old Koby, and 5-year-old Stephanie


Friends Remember Eureka Solder Killed in Iraq

Source:  by Jim Graw, KWCH

Another Kansas soldier has died in Iraq. The Pentagon says 30-year-old Staff Sgt. Bryant Mackey died after a rocket-propelled grenade struck his vehicle.

People close to Mackey say he was funny, a team-player who was dedicated to both his family and his country. They say he was well aware of the dangers of war but was proud to be a soldier.

Waylon Stitt and Kelly Ebberts both graduated with Mackey from Hamilton High School in 1996.  SSgt. Mackey joined the U.S. Army just before September 11th and was on his second tour of duty in Iraq. The first time he was injured by gunfire, but his friends say that wasn’t about to scare him away from serving his country.

“We graduated with 17 people in our class,” says Stitts. “It was the biggest class in 28 years, and with a class so small you can just imagine how big our hearts were for each other.”

Ebberts says, “When you hear about it happening on TV and then it’s someone that you know, went to school with, palled around with, that’s when it hits your heart.”

SSgt. Mackey leaves behind a wife and three small children who have been living in the Howard area during his second tour in Iraq.


In Memory of Sgt. Bryant Mackey

Source:  Kansas Patriot Guard

The Patriot Guard paid tribute to SSGT Bryant Mackey and his family with a two-part mission.

Bryant Wayne MackeyFirst part was the escort of SSGT Mackey from the Independence KS Municipal Airport to Countryside Funeral Home in Fredonia KS on Wednesday 27 February 2008.  Riders from Independence, Caney, Fredonia, Yates Center, Chanute, and the Wichita area provided escort.

Second part was the funeral, followed by the graveside service on Friday 29 February 2008 in Fredonia, KS and Howard, KS.  An estimated 300 or more motorcycles plus a couple dozen cages from all over Kansas and Missouri arrived in Fredonia early Friday morning to stand guard at the funeral.  Following the funeral, we escorted SSGT Mackey to graveside services in Howard where he received full military honors provided by the US Army from Fort Riley.  US Army Brigadier General David Quantock presented SSGT Mackey’s wife, Marie, and his parents a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and many other heroic medals that Mackey had earned.  Kansas Highway State Troopers were present in large numbers.  SSGT Mackey’s brother is a Master Trooper.  They provided an honor guard at the funeral.

James E. Kier Memorial Golf Tournament

It was a perfect day on July 21st, even with the little bit of rain that fell, and great fun was had by all who attended The James E. Kier Memorial Golf Tournament benefiting The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project. Kier employees thoroughly enjoyed the company of their friends and associates and appreciate so much their support for this very worthwhile project.It was a full tournament with 36 teams, a total of 144 players. There were also 36 hole sponsors contributing $500 per sponsor of which $467 went directly to the Project. Total cash received from hole contests was $1,080.00, also going directly to the Project. The Kier Companies will give a donation of approximately $24,000.00 toward The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project.It was with pleasure that James Spliedt got to personally present the Kier family with a Certificate of Appreciation on April 13, 2009. Norma Kier selected LHCP for the 2008 Kier Memorial Golf Tournament and was held in Ogden Utah on July 21, 2008. This golf tournament raised much needed funding for LHCP during this economic downturn.

Kier
Bonnie Kier-Herrick, Scott Kier, Kimi Kier-Noar, Norma Kier, James Spliedt, Steve Kier

Keir Golf Tournament
Mike Berry, Steve Kier, Scott Swallow and Scott Kier.

Keir Golf Tournament
Bonnie Kier-Herrick, Norma Kier, Steve Gleason and Kimi Kier-Noar.

Freedom Walk 2008

America Supports You Freedom Walk 2008

National Freedom Walk Ends With Musical Tribute

By Samantha L. Quigley/American Forces Press Service

 

Oak Ridge Boys
Grammy-winning country music group The Oak Ridge Boys perform a musical tribute at the Pentagon following the fourth annual National America Supports You Freedom Walk in Washington, D.C., Sept. 7, 2008. Nearly 10,000 walkers participated in the one-mile walk from Arlington National Cemetery. Defense Dept. photo by Samantha L. Quigley

WASHINGTON, DC – Nearly 10,000 people walked the mile between Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon’s South Parking lot here to commemorate the events of Sept. 11, 2001, as part of today’s fourth annual National America Supports You Freedom Walk.

More than an hour after the walk began, the walkers watched as a well-known country music group took to the stage to perform a musical tribute.

“Did we mention the Oak Ridge Boys are here, and Secretary [Gordon] England, and the Oak Ridge Boys, and cabinet members and the Oak Ridge Boys?” asked Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he addressed the crowd.

Before turning the microphone back over to Fox News Channel Anchor Kelly Wright for the group’s formal introduction, Cartwright took a minute to thank a few groups.

He thanked those who are deployed on the nation’s behalf for “all of the things that they do, whether in uniform or civilian, to support this nation and serve so that we can get up every day free. Thank you to them.”

He went on to include another group: families.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t pick up on one other group, the group that supports us … so that we can serve, in uniform and as civilians, this nation,” he said. “Their contribution should never be forgotten.

“Did I mention the Oak Ridge Boys are coming out?” he joked with the crowd.

ASY 2008 Freedom Banner
ASY 2008 Freedom Banner

Shortly the air was filled with a familiar melody and the crowd’s unified voices as the Oak Ridge Boys led them in the national anthem

The musicians followed that up with their patriotic song, “Colors.”

“It’s one that’s red as the bloodshed, blue as the wounded, white as the crosses on our soldier’s graves,” they sang as they reached the chorus. “Through the rain, through the sun, these colors never run.”

“Now I’ve seen people treat her like she was some old rag, clueless to the human sacrifice,” they sang referring to the flag. “But you’ll always find a mother, a widow, a child, a sister or a brother with a carefully folded teardrop in their eyes.”

For some, those teardrops weren’t necessarily attached to a loved one’s passing, just the fear of the possible.

“I was sitting on the balcony of our building at 6th [Street] and Pennsylvania Avenue, watch the planes in the air not knowing if they were ours or if they belonged to a terrorist,” said Leeann Hall, as she remembered the Sept. 11, attacks. “My daughter was in school in Arlington, and I could see the planes flying near there. I thought, ‘Just stop. Just get away.’”

It’s that fear, the thought of what could have happened, that prompted Hall to participate in the walk. “I don’t want people ever to forget the terror we felt on that day and the importance of our freedom,” she said.

Her daughter, Samantha, now 14, was just in second grade on when terrorists hit the Pentagon.

ASY 2008 Walking 2nd Group
ASY 2008 Walking 2nd Group

“I don’t really remember, to be honest [what it was like that day,]” she said. “I’m not sure I really grasped what was going on, but now I definitely understand how severe and scary it really was.”

Another thing she understands is that the troops need continued support from back home. By participating in the walk with her mother, she showed that. “They’re protecting us and their families, and we just really need to appreciate that and how fortunate we are to have people who care,” she said.

Regardless of the solemnity of the walk, both mom and daughter were excited to hear the Oak Ridge Boys, and they weren’t alone.

Shelley Marshall, with Military Officers Association of America’s Scholarship Fund, was elated that the group was performing. “I’m thrilled,” she said. “I’m a country fan and … I think we’ve got the best seats in town!”

MOAA, as well as 25 other organizations that support America Supports You, were on hand to provide information to the walkers about what the groups do and how individuals can get involved.

The majority of the walkers and all of those representing the troop-support groups enjoyed the Oak Ridge Boys nearly hour-long musical tribute.

America Supports You is a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

ASY 2008 Karen and Kathy Hass LHCP Member
ASY 2008 Karen and Kathy Hass LHCP Member

ASY 2008 Bugle and Drum
ASY 2008 Bugle and Drum

ASY 2008 Oak Ridge Boy
ASY 2008 Oak Ridge Boy

ASY 2008 Talking with walkers
ASY 2008 Talking with walkers

Nino D. Livaudais

Nino D. Livaudais—July 2008 Shipment Honoree

Nino D. Livaudais

Sources:  USA Today, Associated Press, Military Times 
Nino Livaudais
Nino Livaudais

Livaudais, 23, was the “image of an American,” his best friend says.  “He’s a hero, definitely,” that friend, Hayden Hatch, told Salt Lake City’s KSL-TV.  “They had to do a terrorist-type thing in order to get him.  He was definitely a strong individual.  He was a good guy.  I’m proud to say he was my friend.”

Livaudais was killed in a suicide car-bomb attack April 3 while coming to the aid of a pregnant woman standing next to the car.  The woman, who had been a passenger in the car, also was killed.

Hatch, friends with Livaudais since junior high school, last saw him in the summer when he went home to Utah for a visit.  Hatch said Livaudais didn’t talk much about Iraq, except to say he was willing to serve.  “He was definitely an image of an American.  He loved his country.  He loved his family.  He would do anything for either,” Hatch said.

Jackie Livaudais, who has two children with Nino and is pregnant with a third, said she was proud of her husband.  “He had a purpose,” she said.  “He was doing his part as an American. I knew I never was going to get him behind a desk.  He wanted to make the world better and get the bad guys.”  She wasn’t surprised her husband would have rushed to aid a pregnant woman.  “What man wouldn’t run to that?” she said.

Livaudais, who also served in Afghanistan twice, planned to make the military his career.  He graduated from high school in Ogden in 1997, joined the Army in 1998 and became a Ranger in 1999.


Utah Soldier Buried at Arlington

Source:  Arlington National Cemetery Website
 April 17, 2003

Nino LivaudaisARLINGTON, Virginia — With a breeze off the Potomac River freshening the unseasonably warm noon, a group of 50 mourners solemnly watched as Army Staff Sgt. Nino Dugue Livaudais of Syracuse was buried Wednesday in Arlington National Cemetery.

The 23-year-old Army Airborne Ranger from the Davis County community was one of three soldiers killed April 3 at a coalition checkpoint near Haditha Dam in western Iraq when they approached a vehicle while attempting to help a screaming pregnant woman. In an apparent suicide attack, a bomb in the vehicle detonated, killing the two female occupants along with Livaudais, 27-year-old Captain Russell B. Rippetoe, of Arvada, Colorado, and 21-year-old Specialist Ryan Long of Seaford, Delaware.

Livaudais, whose 24th birthday would have been April 30, was born in the Philippines and emigrated to the United States with his mother, Divina, who lives in Syracuse. His late father Howard, an Air Force veteran, was a survivor of the Bataan Death March.

Besides his mother, four brothers and two sisters, Livaudais is survived by his 21-year-old wife, Jackie, a native of Clinton, and their two sons, Destre, 5, and Carson, 2, who live in Fort Mitchell.   Alanama Jackie Livaudais is pregnant with the couple’s third child.

According to statements released through Fort Benning, his family remembered Livaudais as a humble man who cared for the less fortunate.      “He was always looking out for others,” Jackie Livaudais said. “He’d pile needy men into the back of his pickup and take them to McDonald’s where he’d buy food for them.”

As a matter of practice before leaving on a combat deployment, Army rangers write a letter to be forwarded to their families in case they die.  Fort Benning officials released a portion of Livaudais’ last letter to his loved ones.

“Please know I died defending my family and my beliefs,” he wrote. “I just hope in the event of my death, that a lot more of my comrades and fellow Americans’ lives will be saved.”

A memorial fund for Livaudais’ children has been set up through America First Credit Union.

Kevin Sheehan

Kevin F. Sheehan—June 2008 Shipment Honoree

In Remembrance of Kevin F. Sheehan

Sgt. Kevin F. Sheehan
Sgt. Kevin F. Sheehan

A member of the Vermont National Guard for about 12 years, Sgt. Kevin Sheehan volunteered to go to Iraq when his unit was mobilized.  Sheehan, a project manager at Engineers Construction in South Burlington, Vt., died when his unit was attacked while escorting a military intelligence detail.  The 36-year-old left behind a wife and two children, ages 3 and 6.

 

American Legion Riders

Norwich 3rd Annual Ride for Troops

Dear Karen, Brian, LHCP Staff and Veterans.

Our third annual Poker Run at the Lt. Warren Eaton Post 189 in Norwich N.Y. went well. There was a threat of rain during the afternoon. As the saying goes, weather will not stop our cause for our Veterans serve us 24/7 and continue the mission no matter what the weather is.

We had 50 motorcycles and Legion Riders from the Various Posts; Oneonta Vets Club, Sackets Harbor, Munnsville, Waterville, Binghamton and Penn Yan PA.

We started off at 11:15 am with Bill Fowler leading the way. As we were turning to cross over the Chenango river and exiting Norwich our Norwich City Fire Department was on the side of the road with a Hook and ladder fire truck, the ladder was extended over Rexford St. with the American Flag suspended in the air. (Compliments from Jeff Stewart). What an awesome and touching site.

As we continued down the road with our first stop at the New York State Veterans Home in Oxford you can tell we road for a great cause. We met several veteran patients at the Vets Home and the Riders couldn’t stop talking about the Flag over the road and the spirit of why we were there that day. We had a group photo with a special Vietnam Veteran named Jim. Jim use to ride and was very appreciated we visited and gave him his wish, (a group photo).

As we road to Greene we stopped for ice cream, still no rain. Then off to Seebers Tavern in Smithville Flats for our third stop. The twenty minute stops were great, but as we were in Smithville the clouds started to come in from the South West and we were heading North. So off we went to the Balsam Inn in East Pharsalla. As we arrived it just started raining lightly and we took cover, however most of us just relaxed and enjoyed the moments.

After the Balsam Inn we kept to our route and went up County Rte 10, W to Route 23 East back to Norwich. As we turned onto Rte 23 the sun came out and the group formation was tight and flawless, the steady stream of motorcycles was so impressive! Most of the time I was a road guard and in the rear of the pack. Being in the back gives you a sense of protection and pride for the group and gives you a different perspective of following the true spirit of being free and working together as a team. The red taillights illuminate and let the person behind know we are there and that we are a group of Riders who pave the way!

As we approached Norwich and entered the Post we parked our Motorcycles in the big lot out back. It was impressive to see the smiles and enjoyment of the ride. Many couldn’t say enough about the beauty of the roads in Chenango County and the route we planned.

Once inside with rain on it’s way, we had an opening prayer and moment of silence for our combat veterans. The quote I used was;” For those that fought for it… Life has a flavor that the protected will never know”.

We started with door prizes from many local merchants that understood the cause. Then we had trophies to give out, Best Poker Hand with a $25 gas card, Worst Poker Hand with a $10 gas card, Choice Bike with gas card and a $25 gas card for longest distance to travel.

Everyone started to depart at 3:30 pm due the threat of heavy rain. As they were leaving I prayed for their safety and as the saying goes, keep the rubber on the road! The experience and dedication our fellow Legion Riders and guests showed they truly care enough to make a difference for the LHCP purpose!

I was honored to ride with many American Legion Riders groups from NY and PA. It is truly a reminder to be an American and respect what our Veterans are doing, both active, retired and for those that served. There were many supporters that truly understand our goals and mission to help our fellow comrades in need.

American Legion Riders, Post 189
President, Paul Russo

 

THE NEXT NORWICH RIDE IS ALREADY SCHEDULE FOR MAY 2, 2009

Nathan J. Schuldheiss

Nathan J. Schuldheiss—May 2008 Shipment Honoree

In Remembrance of Nathan J. Schuldheiss

Source:  by Linda Borg, The Providence Journal
Nathan J. Schuldheiss
Special Agent Nathan J. Schuldheiss

PROVIDENCE — Special Agent Nathan J. Schuldheiss was nothing if not well-prepared.  In his will, written before he left for Iraq, the counterintelligence specialist left $1,000 for the bar tab at his funeral.

He also asked that his ashes be spread over the Gulf of Mexico, in international waters 3 miles out, because he was someone who didn’t belong to any one place.

Everyone expected to celebrate Nathan’s homecoming on Thanksgiving.  But, on Thursday, Nathan and two other special agents were killed near the Balad Air Force Base in Iraq when an improvised explosive device burst next to their military vehicle.

Nathan Schuldheiss was 27 years old, a graduate of Roger Williams University School of Law and a civilian assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.  His job was to ferret out insurgents who might pose a threat to the military men and women assigned to the region.  During his five months in Iraq, the work done by Nathan Schuldheiss and his team led to the arrest of 13 insurgents.

Nathan was on his way to interview a group of informants when the bomb exploded, according to his father, Jeff Schuldheiss, who lives in Newport, where he runs a bed-and-breakfast.

“He volunteered to go to Iraq,” Jeff Schuldheiss said yesterday.  “His boss said, ‘You don’t have to go.’  But he had this calling.  He couldn’t shake it.  He told his mom, ‘If anything happens, remember, I had a full life.’ ”

Nathan was a natural leader, his father said, someone whose dreams were writ large.  He talked about pursuing a career with the CIA or the FBI and joked about running one of those organizations one day.  But he also talked about sailing around the world and opening a club with his friends.

“He was the consummate gentleman and smart aleck when we needed some humor,” a special agent wrote on a Web site called The Officer Down Memorial Page.  “I will always remember his mischievous smile and his grace.”

Robert Waterman, a professor of political science at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., remembered Nathan as a student with remarkable self-confidence who was adept at making connections between political theory and contemporary politics.

“He always seemed to know what he was doing,” Waterman said. “You felt that something important would happen to him.”

Nathan was an adventurer, a young man with a real sense of wanderlust.  As an Air Force brat, his family was always on the move and, as an adult, he visited all but 2 of the 50 states.

Jeff Schuldheiss said his son decided to work in counterintelligence because he knew that the experience would be invaluable and possibly life-changing.

“He was absolutely patriotic,” his father said.  “He has a quote in his will that says something like, ‘War is not the worst of things.  Even worse is the person who believes that there is nothing worth fighting for…’ ”

Despite his 27 years in the Air Force, Jeff Schuldheiss was completely unprepared for the knock at the door Thursday, when two uniformed Air Force officers informed him about their sorrow over the “untimely death of your son.”

“It didn’t click,” he said.  “They’re not coming for him.  No.  It can’t be.  It’s absolutely a mistake.  This isn’t right.”

Schuldheiss never once considered that his son wouldn’t return from Iraq because Nathan was always so dedicated and well-equipped and determined to finish whatever he set out to do.

Nathan J. Schuldheiss
Nathan J. Schuldheiss

“I’m 53 years old and I know that not everybody is the same as the next person,” his father said.  “There are some people who are the leaders, the coaches, the people who continue to get better.  Nate was a shooting star who burned so brightly.”

Nathan, the wanderer, will be remembered as he lived.  A funeral service will be held in Colorado, where his mother, Sarah Conlon, lives.

His gravestone will be placed in Spokane, next to his maternal grandmother’s grave.

And, in a couple of weeks, his ashes will be spread over the Gulf of Mexico, where he loved to sail.


SPECIAL AGENT NATHAN SCHULDHEISS

Nathan J. Schuldeiss
Nathan J. Schuldeiss

Special Agent (SA) Nathan Schuldheiss graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane Washington in 2002 with a degree in Political Science. He went on to attend Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol, Rhode Island where he was awarded his Juris Doctorate in 2005. While attending Law School, Special Agent Schuldheiss was awarded a Legal Fellowship in Clarendon Chambers, Lincoln’s Inn, London, England. In addition, Special Agent Schuldheiss also served as a legal intern for the Spokane County Superior Court, Spokane Washington.

In September 2005, Special Agent Schuldheiss was hired by the United States Air Force and selected to attend the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). In March 2006, he successfully completed the special investigators course and was credentialed and certified as a Federal Agent for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Special Agent Schuldheiss was subsequently assigned to AFOSI Detachment 204, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

In May 2007, Special Agent Schuldheiss volunteered and was deployed to the AFOSI Expeditionary Detachment 2411, Balad, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During this time, Special Agent Schuldheiss was chosen above his peers as Civilian Special Agent of the Quarter for July – September 2007.

On 1 November 2007, Special Agent Schuldheiss was killed when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Special Agent Schuldheiss was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Defense of Freedom Medal.

  • Sources:
    • Legacy
    • WBZTV

Operation PJ

“Operation PJ’s helping bring comfort to soldiers

By Roslyn Ryan
Editor

 

LHCP PJ Pickup
LHCP PJ Pickup Crew In Action

He might not be the first person you’d peg to be jumping up and down at the sight of a clothing sale, but Andrew Seamons, Jr. was having a hard time containing his excitement last Friday as he proudly showed off the bargains he had just snagged at an Old Navy store in Chesterfield.

Seamons’ booty consisted of armloads of pajama tops and bottoms, may drastically marked down in the post holday rush to clean out the stockrooms. His excitement, however, had little to do with saving a few dollars.

In November of 2007, Seamons initiated “PJs for Soldiers” to benefit troops wounded while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The recently purchased pajamas Seamons had in his home Friday will soon be on their way to the US Army Combat Hospital in Baghadad. There, wounded soldiers who would normally have little more than the standard issue, open-backed hospital gown to wear, will be provided a measure of comfort and perhaps even a small reminder of home as they begin the recovery process.

LHCP PJ Pickup
Andrew Seamons, Jr.

Seamons, a member of Powhatan VFW Post 10570 and American Legion Post 201, first got the idea for the pajama project while talking to his nephew, CW4 Herman Murray, who is currently stationed in Baghdad.

“It’s something they need, because when they come to the hospital, and then when they are transported some where else, the open-backed gown just doesn’t cut it,” said Seamons.

“It’s also really a big moral boost when they get something that doesn’t have an open back…and it gives them warmth.”

To date, Seamons has sent 10 boxes of pajamas, which included 305 tops and bottoms. He has also sent out letters and made visits to area businesses seeking financial support for the project.

LHCP PJ Pickup
LHCP PJ Pickup

“My uncle and aunt along with the other local supporters from the Powhatan area are doing two things,” said Murray, via e-mail last week.

“One is they are immediately encouraging a wounded soldier by them having warm pajamas to put on, and two, the soldier is encouraged knowing that folks back home are supporting them.”

The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project volunteers drove to Richmond to help Mr. Seamon repack and ship the many pajamas and scrubs that were donated by Owens & Minor Volunteer Council, Owens & Minor Corporate Office, Tri Club Woman’s Club, Dale Dotson and many other individuals and volunteer groups in the Richmond, Virginia area.

LHCP PJ Pickup
LHCP PJ Pickup Crew