Mark E. Stratton II

by Karen Grimord on July 30, 2012

Mark Stratton–May 2011 Shipment Honoree

Roadside bomb kills PRT commander, airman

By Bruce Rolfsen
Staff writer
 

Senior Airman Ashton L. M. Goodman was 21 years old and in the Air Force for less than three years; Lt. Col. Mark E. Stratton came up through the ranks as a navigator and left his Pentagon desk job for a year in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, both died when a roadside bomb exploded as they drove in Afghanistan near Bagram Airfield.

A third person also died in the attack, but as of Wednesday afternoon had not been identified by the Pentagon.

Goodman, a vehicle operator dispatcher, was assigned to the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team and deployed from the 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, N.C. She grew up in Indianapolis.

Stratton, 39, commanded the PRT. He was deployed from the Joint Staff’s plans and program office at the Pentagon, an Air Force spokesman said.

Provincial reconstruction teams specialize in helping Afghan communities with development projects such as building roads and schools, expanding medical services and providing electrical power. Panjshir Province is located in the mountains north of Bagram Airfield.

A Pope spokesman said Goodman enlisted in July 2006 and arrived at the base in October 2006. She had already been on one deployment prior to joining the Panjshir team in June 2008 for a yearlong stay in Afghanistan.

“We will all feel sorrow as a result of her death, but should celebrate in how she chose to live her life, her commitment and dedication,” said Col. John McDonald, 43rd Airlift Wing commander.

Before starting the Pentagon staff post, Stratton flew as a senior navigator onboard RC-135 Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft. On the Joint Staff, he served as an executive assistant for the deputy director for politico-military affairs-Asia.

Stratton’s Air Force career began in 1992 after receiving his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps and graduating from Texas A&M University in 1991.

He was raised in Foley, Ala.

Stratton’s survivors include a wife and three children in the Washington area.

“Mark was just an all around wonderful person,” Stratton’s step-father, Buddy York, told WKRG-TV. “The three things that were more important to him were God, his family and the military.”


Patriotism, belief in nation core values of Stratton

The Associated Press
 

 Mark E. Stratton II was a superb but humble leader, said his friend, Lt. Col. Clark Risner. “He wouldn’t have wanted any media spotlight on him,” Risner said. “He would want it on his team.”

“It sounds cliché but Mark was the most patriotic person I’ve ever met, just a model airman in every way,” he said. “He put the airmen that he was supervising or leading first, every step of the way.”

Stratton, 39, of Houston died May 27 near Bagram Air Field of wounds from an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to Pope Air Force Base, N.C.

“He was a very, very God-and-country kind of guy, very into the Air Force and democracy and the United States,” said his brother, Frankie Little. “People just couldn’t help but like him.”

After graduating from high school in 1987, Stratton went on to graduate from Texas A&M University. He had previously served on the staff at U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

Stratton was commander of the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team. The group was building a road in the Panjshir Valley in north central Afghanistan.

He is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and her three children.


Defense officials identify Air Force casualties

U.S Air Force News

5/27/2009 – WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Department of Defense officials announced May 27 the death of two Airmen who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died May 26 near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device.

Killed was Lt. Col. Mark E. Stratton II, 39, of Houston, who was deployed as the commander of the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team. He was assigned to the Joint Staff, Pentagon, Washington, D.C. as an executive assistant for the Deputy Director for Politico-Military Affairs, Asia.

Also killed was Senior Airman Ashton L. M. Goodman, 21, of Indianapolis, who was also deployed to the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team. She was assigned to the 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, N.C.

A senior navigator for the RC-135 Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft, Colonel Stratton previously served on the staff at U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

Lt. Col. Stratton received his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1992 following his graduation from Texas A&M University in 1991.

Senior Airman Goodman, a vehicle operator dispatcher, enlisted in July 2006. Pope Air Force Base was her first duty assignment.

For further information about Colonel Stratton, please contact the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs office at (703) 695-0640.


AIR FORCE LIEUTENANT COLONEL MARK E. STRATTON, II

Washington, Jun 9, 2009

Speaker, noble sacrifice dominates the character of a man who so willingly dedicates his life for others. There are none who understand that any better today than the men and women in our U.S. military. They personify the very essence of what it means to be an American.

Today, under the morning sky at Arlington Cemetery, myself and other Members of Congress–Rob Wittman from Virginia, Jo Bonner from Alabama, and Senator Sessions from Alabama–joined several hundred other family members and friends as a 21-gun salute and “Taps” was played for United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mark E. Stratton, II. The somber silence of the grave sites was broken with this tribute.

Colonel Stratton trained as a navigator on an Air Force KC-135. In his honor, one of these massive aircraft flew low and slow over Arlington Cemetery, over the flag-draped coffin of one of Air Force’s finest. He gave his life helping the Afghan people to know dignity of a life lived in freedom.

He was assigned to the Joint Staff at the Pentagon here in Washington, D.C. and he served as the commander of the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan. On May 26, 2009, Mark died near Bagram Airfield of wounds that he sustained from an improvised explosive device, what we call an IED.

Mark had strong Texas ties. He graduated from Texas A&M University in December of 1991 with a degree in political science. And while at Texas A&M, he was a member of Squadron 1 in the Corps of Cadets. He received his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1992. He has numerous Air Force commendations, including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

He is remembered by friends as a man of unquestionable character and loyalty. He was a patriotic individual who exemplified the spirit of the American airman.

Lieutenant Colonel Gil Delgado, Mark’s former roommate at Texas A&M, described Mark as a man who passionately loved God, his family, his friends and his country, and it showed in everything Mark did.

Through his heroic work in Afghanistan, Mark lived a life helping other people. His time was spent building roads and clinics, schools and canals for the Afghan people. He was an ambassador for the American spirit. He described the job to family and friends as the best he had ever had in his entire career. When he was killed, Mr. Speaker, the villagers in Afghanistan had a memorial service in his honor.

Mark held a deep sense of tradition. Just a few weeks prior to his death, Mark made a special effort to share his Texas Aggie spirit with the Afghan friends that he had met. Mr. Speaker, each April 21, the day Texas gained independence, Aggies from Texas A&M observed what is called Aggie Muster. This occasion is where all Aggies gather in all parts of the world to honor Aggies who have died the previous year.

Even though Mark was the only Aggie within 100 miles of his forward operating base, he convinced the Panjshir Provincial Governor and his security detail to join him atop a nearby mountain to observe the very special occasion of Aggie Muster. One Aggie Air Force colonel and Afghan villagers paid tribute to Americans who died the previous year; that must have been a sight to see.

Texas Aggies have a long tradition of military service. In fact, during World War II, Texas A&M produced over 14,000 officers, more than came from West Point or Annapolis combined. Mark was a proud Texas Aggie.

Mark is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and their three children, along with his mother, stepfather, and his brother, Michael. Mark’s late father and namesake served as an Army captain in the Vietnam War. His stepmother, Debby Young, lives in southwest Houston. Mark’s brother, Michael, and stepbrother, Steven, also live in the Houston area.

A great testament to Mark’s life is the lives he forever changed through his work; every structure, every canal and road well traveled. Every school Mark helped build will offer generations of Afghan children the opportunity that comes from education. Every clinic he helped build will be a place where sickness will be cured, where human suffering is relieved, and where lives are being saved every day.

Mark has left a noble legacy as he has come to the end of this Earthly journey. It is for others now to pick up the torch he used to light a way for the Afghan people in the rugged mountains and deserts of this remote nation.

Mr. Speaker, it has been said, “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” Next year, on April 21, at Aggie Muster, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Stratton’s name will be called. His name and life will be remembered by Aggies and other grateful Americans and by his Air Force buddies. But no doubt the people of Afghanistan will also remember the man from America, the Air Force colonel who built their schools, their water wells, and their villages. And maybe those villagers will return once more to that mountaintop and pay tribute to this American hero, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Stratton.

And that’s just the way it is.


Lt. Col. Mark Edward Stratton II

Legacy Obituaries

LT. COL. MARK EDWARD STRATTON, II, 39, of Stafford County was killed Tuesday, May 26, 2009 near Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan while serving as Commander of the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction team. Lt. Col. Stratton will be posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Air Force Combat Action Medal, and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal. Lt. Col. Stratton was a ’91 graduate of the Texas A&M squadron 1 Corps of Cadets. Following graduation, Lt. Col. Stratton entered the Air Force as a Communications Officer. He then went on to earn distinction as an RC-135 Cobra Ball Senior Navigator and Executive Assistant to the 55th Wing Commander, Offutt AFB, NE. Following graduation from the inaugural class of the Joint Advanced Warfighting School, Lt Col Stratton served in J-5 on the Joint Staff as the Taiwan desk officer and then as Executive Assistant to the Deputy Director for Asia. He was an active member of Stafford Baptist Church where he served as a beloved Sunday School Teacher. Lt. Col. Stratton is survived by his wife, Jennifer Stratton; his children, Delaney, Jake, and A.J.; his mother, Janice York and brother Frank Little of Foley, Alabama; brothers, Michael Stratton and Steven Stratton and step-mother, Debby Young of Houston, TX; grandparents, Frances Harrell, Gene and Dolly Little and Buzz & Ellen Goins. The family will receive friends from 4-6 p.m. Saturday, June 6 at Covenant Funeral Service, Stafford, VA. A funeral service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 7 at Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in Stafford, VA with Rev. Bill Jessup officiating. Burial will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 9 at Arlington National Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Stafford Baptist Church Missions, 2202 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Stafford, VA 22554 or to the USO. Online guest book.


 

Published in Houston Chronicle on June 4, 2009

Air Force officer from A&M dies in Afghanistan

By LINDSAY WISE Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle

Lt. Col. Mark Stratton got his undergraduate degree at Texas A&M in 1991.

An Air Force officer with Houston ties who led a reconstruction team in Afghanistan was killed this week in an explosion, the Department of Defense said Wednesday.

Lt. Col. Mark E. Stratton II, 39, was assigned to the Joint Staff at the Pentagon in Washington as an executive assistant for the deputy director for politico-military affairs for Asia.

Stratton died Tuesday near Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, of wounds he sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated, according to Pentagon officials.

Also killed in the incident was Senior Airman Ashton L.M. Goodman, 21, of Indianapolis, Ind. She was assigned to the 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, Pope Air Force Base, N.C.

Stratton, a Texas A&M graduate, had deployed to Afghanistan in November as commander of the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team, said Air Force Capt. Tom Wenz.

The team worked on civil affairs initiatives with the Afghan population, including a $28 million road construction project. As commander, Stratton would have interacted closely with local leaders and village elders, Wenz said.

Stratton was a superb but humble leader, said his friend, Lt. Col. Clark Risner. “He wouldn’t have wanted any media spotlight on him,” Risner said. “He would want it on his team.”

“It sounds cliché but Mark was the most patriotic person I’ve ever met, just a model airman in every way,” he said. “He put the airmen that he was supervising or leading first, every step of the way.”

Risner met Stratton five years ago when both men were students at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., and later served with him at the Pentagon. After Stratton deployed to Afghanistan, he emailed Risner about his pride in his team’s efforts to help Afghanis rebuild their country.

“He told me that was the best job he’s ever had. He felt like he was making a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis,” Risner said. “The work that they’re doing there is nothing short of heroic, and it’s truly tragic that his efforts would end this way.

A senior navigator for the RC-135 Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft, Stratton had previously served on the staff at U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

He had received his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1992, a year after his graduation from Texas A&M University. His commendations include a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

“He’s a wonderful person, just a fine man as could be,” said Stratton’s grandmother, Dolly Little, in a telephone interview from Foley, Ala., where Stratton spent much of his childhood. “He loved his service.”

Stratton was very close to his late father and namesake, Mark Stratton, an Army captain and Vietnam veteran, said his stepmother Debby Young, who lives in southwest Houston. Stratton’s brother, Michael, and stepbrother, Steven, also live in the Houston area. His wife, Jennifer, and their three children live near Washington, D.C.

Young said Stratton’s family is devastated. “We’re pretty much basket cases,” she said. “You always know this is a possibility, but you always think it’s going to happen to somebody else, not to you.”

She takes solace in her memory of Stratton’s passion for his work in Afghanistan.

“This is what he wanted to do,” Young said. “He wanted to make a difference. And he did.”

Stratton will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Steve Polliard May 8, 2015 at 8:28 am

We remember!

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