3rd Quarter 2015 Newsletter

3rd Quarter 2015 Newsletter
3rd Quarter 2015 Newsletter

Our 3rd Quarter 2015 Newsletter is out. Please download a copy for yourself, family, friends, and community. In this issue we have the following:

  • SGT Harris Memorial Ride
  • Upcoming Events
  • Troop Thanks
  • LHCP Sponsors
  • 3rd Quarter Honorees
  • 2015 3rd Quarter Shipments
  • Unit Needs

3rd Quarter 2015 Newsletter

Pocatello Veterans Home

The 56 men and women who are residents of the Pocatello Veterans Home in Pocatello, Idaho each received an overflowing handmade Christmas stocking this year. The stockings were donated by the LHCP Stitches of Love group and the stocking stuffers were donated by an Idaho business. James Spliedt, the LHCP Secretary, and his family volunteered to fill the beautiful 56 stockings along with the Veteran Home staff on December 21, 2015.

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Salt Lake City VA Medical Center

On December 15, 2015 the LHCP Secretary, James Spliedt, delivered 211 handmade Christmas stockings to Salt Lake City VA medical center. All of these handmade stockings were donated by the LHCP Stitches of Love group. Belinad Karabalsos for the Voluntary Services Office was delighted to receive these marvelous stockings, and was looking forward to presenting these stockings to the patients for Christmas.

Salt Lake City VA Medical Center
Voluntary Service Office Manager Belinad Karabalsos & LHCP Secretary James Spliedt

Rachel Bosveld

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Army Pfc. Rachel K. Bosveld.


 

Rachel Bosveld
Rachel Bosveld

WAUPUN, Wis. — All Rachel Bosveld wanted was to come home.

She never complained, but after eight months in the sands of Iraq, barely surviving a roadside ambush and patrolling anti-American riots, the 19-year-old military policewoman from Waupun had had enough.

“More and more people want us to go home,” she wrote in a letter to her father. “Believe me, we want to go home.”

Rachel Bosveld died Sunday in a mortar attack at a Baghdad police station, becoming the first Wisconsin woman killed in the Iraqi conflict and the fifth soldier from the state to die in that country this year.

Marvin Bosveld said he supported the invasion at first, but now he isn’t sure.

“That war killed her,” Marvin Bosveld said. “I’m not so sure what I’ll support now.”

Craig Bosveld, 32, described his sister as an artist who loved to draw forest scenes, play her violin and act in Waupun High School’s drama club. She played Frieda in the school rendition of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” She hoped one day to become a graphic artist, he said.

“Can’t believe it,” he said. “The chances are one in a hundred thousand. She did what she had to do and never complained. We’re all proud of her.”

Reporters, photographers and cameramen descended on the Bosvelds’ modest white house Tuesday as a cold rain fell outside. A red Marine Corps flag hung outside the door in honor of Rachel’s stepbrother, 19-year-old Aaron Krebs.

The other Wisconsin soldiers who died in Iraq were Army Spc. Paul J. Sturino, 21, of Rice Lake; Army Reservist Dan Gabrielson, 40, of Frederic; Army Maj. Mathew Schram, 36, of Brookfield; and Marine Sgt. Kirk Straseskie, 23, of Beaver Dam.

Marvin Bosveld sat on the couch and told the story of his daughter’s short life.

Marvin Bosveld and his former wife, Mary, were serving as foster parents when Rachel came to them as a neglected baby. The couple adopted her. After they separated, she lived in Oshkosh with her mother but moved to Waupun with her father for her junior and senior years in high school.

She enlisted in the Army when she graduated in June 2002, following in the footsteps of her father, who served in the Army in Italy from 1967-1969, and Craig, who served in the Army in Alaska.

“She idolized her brother,” Marvin Bosveld said, pointing to a photograph of Craig holding a toddler-sized Rachel on a tree branch. “I had some reservation because she was a girl. She asked me not to worry about it. She was as good as anyone.”

Her mother said she desperately tried to talk her daughter out of it.

“I would have done anything to have her choose a different career,” Mary Bosveld said. “She said, ‘I know, Mom, but I have to do this. I want to keep up the family tradition. Except, Mom, I’m going to be the first girl in our entire family.”’

Rachel graduated from boot camp in October 2002. Her father rode his Harley-Davidson motorcycle to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri to see her graduate. She asked for a ride on the back. That, Marvin said, was his last real memory of her.

Rachel Bosveld
Rachel

When she first got to Iraq, she was ready to “kick butt,” her father said.

Until Sept. 12. That was the day a rocket-propelled grenade hit the Humvee she was driving.

Craig Bosveld said the Humvee burned up from the inside. His sister dislocated her shoulder trying to open the door. When she did free herself, her unit started taking small-arms fire until another Humvee arrived to help.

From then on, her father said, her opinion changed.

She counted the days until she could leave in her letters. One focused on all the dead and abused horses she saw in Baghdad. Another talked about anti-American riots and people chanting “USA go home.”

She transferred from night patrol to day patrol. She hoped she might live longer that way, Craig Bosveld said.

Mary Bosveld said her daughter wrote to her and asked her to ask newspapers in Wisconsin to do a story on the real hardships troops there face.

She got three letters from her daughter Tuesday, the day after the family learned she had been killed.

“Mom, don’t worry so much about me,” one letter said.

Rachel Bosveld
Rachel K.H. Bosveld

Mary Bosveld said Rachel hoped to write a book about her experiences. Now she has to pass on her daughter’s story to reporters, as much as she hates it, she said.

“I’m doing this for Rachel because this is her story,” she said.

Marvin Bosveld said the hardest part for him will be dealing with unopened birthday cards when they return. Rachel would have turned 20 on Nov. 7.

“She kept assuring me she was getting her sleep, staying alert, keeping her head down and looking over her shoulder,” Bosveld said.

“I can hardly believe it yet today,” he said. “That was my daughter.”

— Associated Press

Michael Weidemann

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Army Sgt. Michael R. Weidemann.


 
Michael Weidemann
Michael Weidemann

Fallen: October 31, 2006

Sergeant Michael R. Weidemann of Newport, RI was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Giessen, Germany. He became a hero on Oct. 31, 2006 in Asad, Iraq, from injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Light Medium Tactical Vehicle in Hit, Iraq.

Remembering Michael:

Born in Canada on August 17, 1983, Sergeant Michael R. Weidemann moved to Middletown, RI with his family when he was 7. In 2001, he graduated from Rogers High School, where he attended the Newport Area Career and Technical Center and participated in the automotive program. He was also an honor student and an active member of the Junior Recruiting Officer Training Candidate program. His participation in the program had the biggest impact on him. The program completely turned his life around, giving him some direction. One month after graduating from high school, Sergeant Weidemann pursued his interests by enlisting in the Army as an auto mechanic and joined the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division.

Those who knew Sergeant Weidemann remember his optimistic personality, his loyalty, his hard work and willingness to fix everything. Most importantly, he had a positive impact on all who knew him. He loved the Army and wanted to make it a career. After serving one tour in Iraq, Sergeant Weidemann was nearing the end of his second tour when he became a fallen hero at the age of 23 in Asad, Iraq from injuries sustained after an improvised explosive devise detonated near his Light Medium Tactical Vehicle in Hit, Iraq.

When Sergeant Weidemann’s Nation called him to duty to preserve freedom, liberty and security, he answered without hesitation. We will remember him as a patriot who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
Sergeant Weidemann is survived by his grandmother, Gertrude K.C. Miller; his sister, Catharine E. Weidemann; and his brothers, Richard L. Weidemann and Edward R. and Benjamin J. Berriault.

Courtesy of Run for The Fallen Rhode Island


 
Michael Weidemann
Sergeant Michael Weidemann

Lt. Col. Raoul Achambault drove from Newport to Providence this morning thinking of one person: Sgt. Michael R. Weidemann, who was killed Tuesday in Iraq. He was 23.
Archambault, who works in the Junior ROTC program at Providence’s Hope High School, ran the program at Rogers High School in 2001, when Weidemann graduated.
“The thing I remember most clearly about Michael is that he was a nice kid and he was nice to other kids,” Archambault said. “That is not always the case. He went through the same challenges that all kids face. It can be a tough time of life for kids. And they can very mean to each other. He was always nice to other kids, and I think they looked up to him in a lot of ways. He was a very active participant in our events and in any community service project we did.”
Weidemann was killed while on patrol when his armored military vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in the city of Hit in the area of the Anbar province west of Baghdad, according to the Rhode
Island National Guard.
Weidemann is the 11th Rhode Islander killed in Iraq since 2003. Funeral arrangements this morning were incomplete.

Weidemann was an honors student who attended the Newport Area Career and Technical Center, housed at Rogers, where he specialized in automotive technology. But his uncle, Ambrose Miller of South Kingstown, said it was the JROTC program that had the biggest impact on his nephew.

“That school and that program completely turned his life around,” Miller said this morning. “It really gave him some direction. He loved the Army and wanted to make a career of it. It’s a sad situation, of course. But he ended up doing exactly what he wanted to do. And how many young people can say that?”

Miller said Weidemann’s father lives out of state. His mother, Susanna Weidemann, died in 1999 at the age of 39, he said. She was a Navy veteran, Miller said, but her experience had little influence on her son’s military decision.

“It was the school and the ROTC that had the biggest impact,” Miller said. “That’s what did it.”

Weidemann is the second oldest of five children and also is survived by a grandmother.

Victoria Johnson, retired Rogers High School principal, had yet to hear the news of Weidemann’s death until this morning. She remembered him vividly.

“He was such a nice young man, so friendly,” she said. “I used to talk to him in the cafeteria and he was always so likeable. He’s one you remember.”

Johnson recalled Weidemann telling her he planned to enlist in the Army after graduation. “He wasn’t going on to college and was very excited about joining the Army,” Johnson said. “I think he saw it as a good opportunity. This is such sad news.”

Sheri Martins graduated from Rogers in 2003, two years after Weidemann, but said she knew him early on in high school. “He was a total sweetheart,” she said. “He always had a smile on his face. If you needed someone to talk to, he was always there for you, just a sweetheart.”

Weidemann was a member of the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Brigade, based in Germany.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., an Army veteran, issued a statement about Weidemann’s death. “This is a moment to reflect on the courage and dedication of one brave American who has given all for his country,” he said.

Courtesy of Newport Daily News

Camella Steedley

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Marine Sgt. Camella M. Steedley.


Camella M. Steedley

Courtesy of www.findagrave.com

Birth: Jul. 19, 1981
Death: Oct. 3, 2012
Sgt. Camella M. Steedley, 31, of San Diego, Calif., died Oct. 3, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. She was assigned to Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif. Steedley lived in San Clemente with her husband of eight years and fellow Marine, James, and their four children. She also is survived by her mother, Ardraine and father, Marcus.

Courtesy of www.dailykos.com
Camella Marchett Alsbrooks Steedley comes from San Diego, California, where her father and mother still live. She enlisted in the Marine Corps in December of 2001.
Camella had lived in San Clemente with her husband of eight years, fellow Marine James Steedley, and their four children. The couple and children had also been previously stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay.
Sgt. Steedley was an air operations clerk in a logistics unit and serving her first Afghanistan combat deployment.
Her friends and fellow Marines describe Camella Marchett as a great friend and loving soul with a beautiful smile and good conversation whenever needed.
Among those Sgt. Steedley leaves behind are her husband and four young children, and her mother and father, and her fellow Marines.

Camella M. Steedley

2nd Quarter 2015 Newsletter

2nd Quarter 2015 Newsletter
2nd Quarter 2015 Newsletter

Our 2nd Quarter 2015 Newsletter is out. Please download a copy for yourself, family, friends, and community. In this issue we have the following:

  • Troop Thanks
  • Upcoming Events
  • Healing Heroes Benefit
  • 10th Annual Poker Run
  • LHCP Sponsors
  • 2nd Quarter Honorees
  • 2015 2nd Quarter Shipments
  • Unit Needs

2nd Quarter 2015 Newsletter

Ember Alt

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Army Spc. Ember M. Alt.


Ember Marie Alt

 

https://www.dignitymemorial.com

Ember Marie Alt, 21, of Killeen died Tuesday, June 18, 2013 in Afghanistan while serving her country.
She graduated from Killeen High School in 2009 where she excelled in track. One of her crowning moments is where she helped lead her team to the State finals her senior year.
Ember joined the United States Army in 2011. During her service, SPC Ember Marie Alt received many awards for her accomplishments to include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart Medal and the Combat Action Badge just to name a few.
She was a vibrant and loving person who left a lasting impression on everyone she came into contact with.
Ember is survived by her parents; Chuck Alt of Killeen, Cynthia Merchant of Gulfport MS. and Rick and Jennifer Owens of Killeen. Grandparents; Charles Alt, Ruchanee Holmer, Mike and Bella Trowbridge and Marc and Theresa Nadeau. Godparents; Corey Daughtry, Cody Hall, Bryce Nadeau and Shannon Alt.
She will also be missed by her siblings; Kayla and Jacob Alt, and Bryce and Evan Owens and many aunts, uncles and cousins.
Ember is preceded in death by her grandmother, Mary M. Alt and her grandfather, Roger Holmer.

 


 

Ember Marie Alt

U.S. Army Women’s Foundation

SPC Ember M. Alt, 21, of Beech Island, S.C. died June 18, in Bagram, Afghanistan along with three other soldiers, from wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with indirect fire. She was assigned to the 32nd Transportation Company, 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.

She graduated from Killeen High School in 2009 where she excelled in track. One of her crowning moments was when she helped lead her team to the State finals during her senior year.

Alt joined the Army in May 2011 and was deployed to Afghanistan for the first time on Nov. 26, 2012. She served as a wheeled vehicle mechanic. During the course of her military career, she was awarded the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.

Ember is survived by her parents; Chuck Alt of Killeen, Cynthia Merchant of Gulfport, MS, and Rick and Jennifer Owens of Killeen. She will also be missed by her siblings; Kayla and Jacob Alt, and Bryce and Evan Owens as well as her grandparents, godparents, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

 


 

Contributed by Kevin Posival of the Killeen Daily Herald

The Roo Nation is mourning the loss of another teammate and friend.

Spc. Ember Alt, a 2009 graduate of Killeen High School, was among the four U.S. service members killed by indirect enemy fire Tuesday in Bagram, Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

Alt, 21, was among the three killed who were assigned to the 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson, Colo.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said Wednesday that militants fired two rockets into the Bagram Air Base late Tuesday.

Alt, who ran track at Killeen High, is the second Roo athlete to die in a little more than a year. Dino Cannon Jr. was fatally shot and killed June 15, 2012, in Orlando, Fla., less than two weeks after he graduated.

Alt, a native of Beech Island, S.C., was a stand-out on the Lady Roos’ track team and entered the Army in 2011.

She was serving her first tour in Afghanistan at the time of the attack. She’d been deployed since November.

She was awarded the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and an Army Service Ribbon.

“I think it (the Army) was a good fit for Ember,” said former Killeen girls track coach Leah Cannon. “She wasn’t for sure what else she wanted to do. She was a very loving person. Always had hugs for everyone. I could see her serving her country and giving everything she had like she did here in school.

“This is last thing I ever thought about,” Cannon added. “When kids join, you just don’t think about (this happening). I know you should, but I never thought about that for Ember.”

Also killed from Alt’s unit were Spc. Robert W. Ellis, 21, of Kennewick, Wash., and Spc. William R. Moody, 30, of Burleson.

Sgt. Justin R. Johnson, 25, of Hobe Sound, Fla., who was assigned to the 10th Transportation Battalion, 7th Sustainment Brigade, Fort Eustis, Va., also was killed in the attack.

Alt ran the first leg of the Lady Roos’ 1,600-meter relay team that finished seventh at the University Interscholastic League State Track and Field Championships in 2009.

Alt called the relay team the “Fantastic 4-by-4,” in an interview with the Killeen Daily Herald that year.

Cannon said Alt, who also was a regional qualifier in the 300-meter hurdles, had a love-hate relationship with the mile relay.

“Sometimes, she couldn’t decide if she needed to give it her everything in the 300 hurdles because she was afraid she would let her teammates down on the mile relay,” Cannon said, “but yet, she loved the 300 hurdles and she didn’t just want to not give it her everything, either.”

It was the relay that reached the pinnacle of Texas high school track — Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.

Alt told the Herald in 2009 that she was glad she achieved that milestone with her teammates.

“Anybody can get to state as an individual,” Alt said. “It means more to go with your family. It’s an adrenaline rush. If I’m running (an event) by myself and I mess up, it doesn’t affect anybody but me. Having them out there makes me want to do better because how I do affects them.”

Ember Marie Alt

1st Quarter 2015 Newsletter

1st_Quarter_2015_Newsletter
1st Quarter 2015 Newsletter

Our 1st Quarter 2015 Newsletter is out. Please download a copy for yourself, family, friends, and community. In this issue we have the following:

  • Troop Thanks
  • Upcoming Events
  • Stitches of Love
  • 2014 Youth/Scout of the Year
  • LHCP Sponsors
  • 1st Quarter Honorees
  • 2015 1st Quarter Shipments
  • Unit Needs

1st Quarter 2015 Newsletter

James Steel

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Air Force Capt. James Steel.

James Steel


Air Force Capt James M. Steel
KIA April 3, 2013
Operation Enduring Freedom
Assigned to 77th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina

Air Force Capt. James Steel died April 3, 2013 in the crash of an F-16 near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. While returning to the airfield from a close-air support mission, Capt. Steel was flying his F-16 low to prepare for landing but could not see the mountain in his flight path due to poor weather conditions. According to the crash investigation report, Steel’s plane had a low altitude warning that sounded before he crashed. However, his Predictive Ground Collision Avoidance System did not warn him about the mountain because it was not connected to the digital terrain database. Capt. Steel began to pull up when the PGCAS emitted an altitude warning, but not enough to avoid the mountain. Capt. Steel was on his first deployment to Afghanistan and was due to come home in just three weeks.

“He was always smiling, always happy,” James’ mother, Dee Steel, said, “He loved life. I think he lived two days for every one day. He just got the most out of every day.” Dee recalls that though James was not the oldest of his four brothers and one sister, he took the lead from the very beginning. Every Christmas, James told his siblings what gifts they would get their parents and how much they each owed him. James taught himself to play guitar, had a love for skydiving, working out, and fishing.

From as far back as Dee can remember her fearless son wanted to be an F-16 pilot like his father, retired Air Force Major General Robert Steel. James’ mother had also spent 4 years in the Air Force, as well as both grandfathers, who were Air Force veterans. James ran cross country and track in high school, graduated valedictorian and, like both his parents, went on to the Air Force Academy where he was commander of the same squadron to which his mom and dad belonged more than two decades before. Col. Clay Hall said, “Mano [Steel’s call sign] was proud of serving his country, proud of being an F-16 pilot and proud of being a ‘Gambler.’” Col. Shaun McGrath, 20th Operations Group Commander, honored Capt. Steel by allowing members of the 20th OG to wear 77th FS “Gambler” red and black t-shirts under their duty uniforms. On an internet post dedicated to James, the words “Once a gambler, always a gambler” appear next to his name.
Capt. James Steel was 29 years old from Tampa, Florida

https://americanfallensoldiers.com

JamesSteel3


 

I Salute You; Air Force Captain James M. Steel
Mankato Times
Air Force Captain James M. Steel, 29, of Tampa, Florida died April 3 in the crash of an F-16 near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
Captain James M. Steel was assigned to 77th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina and was serving during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Steel graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2006, completed pilot training and arrived at Shaw in June 2010. He was the chief of mobility for the squadron, which provides close air support for U.S. and coalition troops on the ground.
Steel is the son of retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert Steel, former commandant of the National War College in Washington. Steel’s mother, Dee, twin brother, Jonathan, and younger brother Christopher are also Air Force Academy graduates, according to an article from the Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., newspaper and the Air Force Times.
“Capt. Steel was an outstanding young officer who loved being a fighter pilot – it was obvious from the moment you met him,” said Col. Clay Hall, 20th FW commander. “He was well liked and respected within the Shaw community; subordinates, peers and supervisors alike. Mano [Steel’s call sign] was proud of serving his country, proud of being an F-16 pilot and proud of being a Gambler. He served his country with honor and made the supreme sacrifice. Mano will be missed, but not forgotten.”
“Capt. Steel was an absolute pleasure to work with as a student. I wish I had more students just like him,” said Sanetta Holder, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-Shaw Campus. “He was a good student and a great friend. I’m going to miss him coming in the door smiling, telling me he’s ready to register for the next class.”
James Steel taught himself to play the guitar. He liked to sky-dive. “He loved to work out. He loved fishing,” Dee Steel said.
Steel is survived by mother, father, and five brothers and sisters.


JamesSteel2
Captain James M. Steel, I Salute You.

By Capt. Ann Blodzinski
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
4/9/2013 – SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. — On April 5, 2013, Shaw AFB flags were slowly brought to half-staff at noon honoring a fallen 20th Fighter Wing combat Airman.

The Airman, 77th Fighter Squadron pilot, Capt. James Steel, died April 3, 2013, after his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed in Afghanistan. He is the first 20th FW aviator lost in combat since 1945 during World War II in England.
The flags at Shaw AFB remained at half-staff throughout the weekend in observance of Capt. Steel’s final trip home.
“Capt. Steel was an outstanding young officer who loved being a fighter pilot – it was obvious from the moment you met him,” said Col. Clay Hall, 20th FW commander. “He was well liked and respected within the Shaw community; subordinates, peers and supervisors alike. Mano [Steel’s call sign] was proud of serving his country, proud of being an F-16 pilot and proud of being a Gambler. He served his country with honor and made the supreme sacrifice. Mano will be missed, but not forgotten.”

On Monday April 8, 2013, Col. Shaun McGrath, 20th Operations Group commander, honored Capt. Steel by allowing members of the 20th OG to wear 77th FS “Gambler” red and black t-shirts under their duty uniforms.
The 77th FS has been deployed since the fall of 2012. In total, Capt. Steel flew 85 combat missions; his efforts in combat saved American and coalition service members’ lives, according to Lt. Col. Johnny Vargas, 77th FS commander.
“He flew with great passion and as sad as his loss is, know that Mano died doing what he loved to do,” said Lt. Col. Vargas. “He died serving his country, protecting his fellow service members, and accomplishing our nation’s objectives. He died a fighter pilot. A hero.”

As a base, Shaw has had to keep moving forward, accomplishing the mission. However, you can see and feel the loss everywhere you go.

“Mano was the finest American and patriot warrior,” said Lt. Col. Scott Shepard, former 20th Operations Support Squadron commander. “He worked extremely hard enhancing the combat readiness of the 20th FW during his tour in my squadron as the chief of air-to-surface programs. Mano never said ‘no’ or ‘I can’t’ and never tried to deflect even the most difficult tasking. He was happy, friendly, funny, ever so patriotic, and loved flying the mighty F-16 Viper like you can’t even imagine. This young man was truly cream of the crop and there’s no explanation on this earth why he was chosen to depart this world early. He will be sorely missed.”
Capt. Steel, a 2006 U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, is remembered throughout base, not just the 20th OG. The exuberant pilot befriended everyone he met.
“Capt. Steel was an absolute pleasure to work with as a student. I wish I had more students just like him,” said Sanetta Holder, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-Shaw Campus. “He was a good student and a great friend. I’m going to miss him coming in the door smiling, telling me he’s ready to register for the next class.”
The families of the Gamblers back home also mourn Capt. Steel’s loss, here in Sumter, as do those whose lives Mano touched at previous Air Force assignments. The news of the crash resulted in an outpouring of support from the F-16 community, the Sumter community and more.

“I have been stationed at a number of locations through my 17 years in the Air Force. I can honestly say that nowhere else have I felt more close and more cared for by a community than in Sumter,” said Lt. Col. Vargas. “The support that has been provided by our community to our Gambler family throughout this tragedy has been incredible. We cannot thank the Sumter community enough for helping us through our loss.”

As the Gamblers wind down their deployment, they look forward to returning home and celebrating Capt. Steel; he was the friend who always wore a smile and made you laugh, Vargas said.

“Mano will always be a part of our lives and I can tell you that from this day until our very last, every member of the Gambler family will hold him in a special place in their hearts.”

Marilyn Gabbard

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Command Sgt. Maj. Marilyn L. Gabbard.


 

By Henry C. Jackson
The Associated Press

Marilyn L. Gabbard
Command Sgt. Maj. Marilyn L. Gabbard.

JOHNSTON, Iowa — The first woman promoted to the rank of command sergeant major in the Iowa Army National Guard was among those killed when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Iraq, guard officials said Jan. 24. Command Sgt. Maj. Marilyn L. Gabbard, 46, of Polk City, was a passenger on the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter when it crashed Jan. 20 northeast of Baghdad, officials said. She was the first woman in the history of the Iowa National Guard to be killed in combat, Iowa National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Greg Hapgood said. Gabbard was 19th Iowa National Guard member and the 50th service member with Iowa ties to be killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Marilyn L. Gabbard
Marilyn L. Gabbard

Gabbard was born in 1960 in Boone and graduated from Boone High School in 1979. She served in the National Guard for 27 years, starting in 1979, ascending to the rank of sergeant major. In her most recent post, Gabbard served as state operations sergeant major at the Iowa National Guard’s Joint Forces Headquarters in Johnston. Gabbard’s long tenure with the Iowa National Guard made the pain from her loss acute, Hapgood said. “She touched so many people in so many different areas of our organization,” he said. As the first woman promoted to her rank, Gabbard was in a position to serve as a role model to other woman soldiers in particular, Hapgood said, but Gabbard never saw herself as a trail blazer, just a soldier and a leader. “She didn’t take it as a burden,” Hapgood said. “She embraced the fact that she had gone places other people hadn’t gone before. I think she relished having soldiers look up to her.”

Gabbard leaves behind her husband, Edward Gabbard; daughter, Melissa Danielson; mother, Mary Van Cannon; brothers, Mark and Mike Van Cannon; sister, Marla Noren; two grandchildren, five stepdaughters and a stepson.


 

JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP)   In the tight-knit headquarters of the Iowa National Guard in Johnston, Command Sgt. Maj. Marilyn L. Gabbard was known for her near perpetual smile. “She was always smiling,” her friend, Sgt. Maj. Renee Blodgett, said Wednesday. “And she always had a smile to give.” With the smile came a drive and determination, colleagues said. Gabbard enlisted with the Iowa National Guard in 1979, the same year she graduated from Boone High School, and spent the next 27 years in the Guard, starting as a personnel management specialist and earning a reputation as an adept problem solver. She was the first woman in the Iowa Guard to attain the rank of command sergeant major. “She was a person who did not say ‘no,'” said Lt. Col. Greg Hapgood. “She was the person who, if you had a project that was difficult and you weren’t sure who to give it to, she was the person you would give it to.”

Gabbard was killed Saturday in a Black Hawk helicopter crash northeast of Baghdad, officials said. She was 46. She is believed to be the first woman in the history of the Iowa National Guard to be killed in combat. Military officials said Gabbard’s helicopter might have been shot down, and an investigation is ongoing. She was one of 12 National Guard members from seven states and the U.S. Virgin Islands killed in the crash. Gabbard was the 50th Iowan _ and the 19th member of the Iowa National Guard _ to die while training for or serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Gabbard lived in Polk City with her husband, Edward. She was serving her first deployment in Iraq, leaving Iowa on Dec. 16 to serve as a non-commissioned officer in charge of the National Guard Affairs Team in Baghdad. Gabbard welcomed the challenge, Blodgett said, in part because she took such pride in training her fellow soldiers. “She loved the National Guard. She loved people. She was always looking out for others,” she said. Gabbard was a role model for women, said Blodgett, who credits her steady climb in the Iowa National Guard for easing the way for other women to win promotions.

Marilyn L. Gabbard
Marilyn

Blodgett was one of about 50 people who packed into an auditorium at Joint Forces Headquarters in Johnston for a press conference held to announce Gabbard’s death. Most at the Guard’s headquarters already knew of Gabbard’s death when they filed into the room, filling in seats and standing at the back of the auditorium. “In some ways this was closure,” Hapgood said. “But it’s also causing people to call upon their memories of Marilyn.” Although Hapgood agreed Gabbard was a role model for women, he said it would be a mistake to let her gender classify her, or her influence. “She didn’t take it as a burden,” he said of her gender. “She embraced the fact that she had gone places other people hadn’t gone before. I think she relished having soldiers look up to her.”

Gabbard leaves behind her husband, Edward Gabbard; daughter, Melissa Danielson; mother, Mary Van Cannon; brothers, Mark and Mike Van Cannon; sister, Marla Noren; two grandchildren; five step daughters; and a stepson.

Legacy.com
Gabbard Was A First, In Life And Death (by CBS News with Scott Pelly)

Raul Bravo

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Marine Lance Cpl. Raul S. Bravo.


Marine Lance Cpl. Raul S. Bravo

Died March 3, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

Raul and Sister Rachel
April 17, 2007
Rachel Bravo
In Honor of LCPL Raul “Chato” S. Bravo Jr.

Raul aka Chato which means little or no nose, was killed in Iraq on 3/2/07. He was an essential part of our family, the only boy, youngest of 3 sisters. He loved to drive, dance and make others smile. His favorite meal was Thanksgiving Dinner, my mother would make this for him anytime he requested it. He was the most giving and selfless man I knew. Too young to go so soon. We will always remember the good times my brother. We are with you always.

big-lil-sister
Rachel


MARINE MOM’S MEMORIES

Favorite stories about her son will fill Mother’s Day void

 

By PAUL HARASIM
REVIEW-JOURNAL

Raul Bravo
Raul Bravo

Every time the doctor looked at a new ultrasound of the baby growing inside her belly, he smiled: “Joy, you’re going to have a beautiful baby girl.”
And then, on April 10, 1985, Joy gave birth to a 6-pound, 9-ounce baby boy.

“He’s my gift from God,” the proud mother told her surprised doctor.

On Mother’s Day, Joy Marsico has long delighted in sharing the story that she says proves that medicine is as much art as science.

“It’s such a fun story,” she said Thursday as she stood at a grave site at Palm Mortuary cemetery on Eastern Avenue, near Warm Springs Road.

As she smiled, tears flowed from beneath her sunglasses.

Year after year her son, Raul Bravo, who grew up to be a muscular Marine, good-naturedly laughed along with everyone else as his mother talked about how she had already picked out beautiful new dresses for her new baby to wear.

This Mother’s Day that story, and so many others, will not be told while the family goes down memory lane at dinner. They will be shared with everyone at her son’s grave site.

“I have to tell them,” she said of the stories. “They’re part of this family.”

On March 3, Lance Cpl. Raul S. Bravo, 21, was killed by a roadside bomb, becoming the first Nevadan to die in military action in Iraq in 2007.

“I’m not sure I could get through this Mother’s Day without his buddies,” Marsico said, nodding at Lance Cpls. Joshua Jordan, Jeff Perez and Craig Perez, all Marines who served in Bravo’s unit. “I am so thankful for my daughters, but it is so unnatural to bury a child. I guess you’d have to say my Mother’s Day is always going to be broken from now on. I haven’t slept since my son died.”

The Marines, all of whom refer to Marsico as “Mom,” brought a Bud Light to Bravo’s grave. Small American flags were everywhere.
If the Marines weren’t hugging Marsico or holding her hand or consoling their friend’s father, also named Raul, they were telling two of Bravo’s three sisters who were on hand, Isabelle and Rachel, about their brother’s service in Iraq.

The Marines just returned to the United States last week, leaving their base in California to visit Marsico on this Mother’s Day weekend.
“Mom needs us and we need her right now,” said Jeff Perez, who told Marsico that with her son’s death he now feels like he has “half a heart.”
“It means so much to me right now to have my son’s Marine Corps family here for Mother’s Day,” Marsico said as she touched her son’s dog tags hanging around her neck. “They made a pact with my son to help me if he died. They’re part of him. They want to help me, and I need to help them. Josh said he feels like he lost an arm since my son’s death. And Craig said he’s having a hard time remembering things. We do need each other.”

Bravo’s buddies want to learn more about their friend and his entire family. And Marsico will share all she can.

“My son had so much fun with life,” she said. “And family meant so much to him.”

Marsico will let the Marines know how her son needed a haircut as soon as he was born because his hair covered his eyes. And they’ll learn how his sisters dressed him up as girl and put him in a large can.

They’ll hear how Raul painted his hand as a child, imprinted it onto cloth and gave it to his mother, and how he gave her a ring from a gum ball machine that he made her wear every day.

Turkey and mashed potatoes was his favorite meal. So Thanksgiving dinner, she’ll say, was eaten by Raul several times a year.
Another memory makes her sob almost uncontrollably.

How she loved it, she said, when her son and his Marine Corps friends, on leave from their first stint in the war, slept off a hard night of partying at her house.
Clothes were strewn on chairs, couches and tables. The young men slept on the living room floor.

“Their feet smelled. So did their breath,” Marsico said. “Even as I was cooking breakfast for them, I couldn’t get rid of that smell. And I loved it. I loved that they could have a good time after all they’d been through. God knows they deserved it. I am so proud to be the mother of a young man who lived life to the fullest. I only wish I lived life the same way.”


Rep. Jon Christopher Porter
State NV

Raul Bravo
LCpl Raul S. Bravo, Jr.

Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor the life of LCpl Raul S. Bravo, Jr. who died on Saturday, March 3, 2007, of injuries sustained in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lance Corporal Bravo, who was on his second tour of duty in Iraq, was killed by a roadside bomb during combat operations in the city of Qaim, Anbar province, Iraq. Lance Corporal Bravo was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center.

Lance Corporal Bravo, a 2004 graduate of Elko High School, was a hero whose desire to serve his country will forever make an impact on his family, his community and his country. He joined the United States Marine Corps to serve his country in the global war on terror. He will not only be remembered for his sacrifice and willing service, but for the extraordinary person that he was. His warmth and optimism brightened the lives of his family and friends.

Madam Speaker, I am proud to honor the life of LCpl Raul S. Bravo, Jr. who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country while fighting the war on terror and defending democracy and freedom.