Sunday, August 19, 2012

17 Heroes Fighting in the Afghanistan War Who Died August 6 to August 17, 2012

August 6 - Cpl. Daniel L. Linnabary II, 23, of Hubert, N.C., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

August 7 - Petty Officer 3rd Class Clayton R. Beauchamp, of Weatherford, Texas, died when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device while conducting a dismounted patrol in the Shaban District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
- Spc. Ethan J. Martin, 22, of Lewiston, Idaho, died in Koragay, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when he encountered enemy small-arms fire.

August 8 - Maj. Walter D. Gray, 38, of Conyers, Ga., died from injuries suffered during a suicide bomb attack in Kunar province, Afghanistan.
- They died in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when they encountered an insurgent who detonated a suicide vest. Killed were:
- Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, 35, of West Point, N.Y., and
- Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, 45, of Laramie, Wyo.

- Master Sgt. Gregory R. Trent, 38, of Norton, Mass., died in Bethesda, Md., from wounds suffered July 31 in Baktabad, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire.

August 10 - They died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Killed were:
- Capt. Matthew P. Manoukian, 29, of Los Altos Hills, Calif.,
- Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Jeschke, 31, of Herndon, Va., and
- Staff Sgt. Sky R. Mote, 27, of El Dorado, Calif.
This incident is under investigation.

- They died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Killed were:
- Staff Sgt. Scott E. Dickinson, 29, of San Diego, Calif.,
- Cpl. Richard A. Rivera Jr., 20 of Ventura, Calif., and
- Lance Cpl. Gregory T. Buckley, 21, of Oceanside, N.Y.
This incident is under investigation.

August 15 - Pfc. Andrew J. Keller, 22, of Tigard, Ore., died in Charkh, Afghanistan when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire. From the Oregonian:
It had been just Tuesday night when Army Pfc. Andrew Keller, 22, texted his family that he was safe, that he loved them, said Debbie Silva, a neighbor.

The next day, Keller was killed when insurgents attacked his unit in Charkh, in the southern part of Logar province in Afghanistan, the U.S. Department of Defense reported. He is the 34th soldier from Oregon to be killed in Afghanistan.
. . .
As a child, Andrew Keller grew up around the love of sports. He played in the Southridge Youth Football program, and his father, Jeff Keller, managed a Murrayhill Little League team that went to the Little League World Series in 2006.

Keller was a gifted athlete in football and enjoyed mentoring others at youth camps, said Jeff Martin, a former coach from the youth program.
. . .
In the youth program up until eighth grade, Keller played as a linebacker and running back, sometimes even in pain with injuries so that he wouldn't let his team down, Martin said.
. . .
Keller carried his strong work ethic to the varsity football team at Southridge High, where he mostly played as an outside linebacker. During one game leading up to the championships against Jesuit High School, Keller continued to play with a torn-up shoulder so he could support his team, said Doug Dean, who at the time was a defense coordinator.
. . .
Connie Jolley, a former Southridge High School health teacher, said she has taught thousands of students, but Keller was one of the few who affected her the most.

"His smile could make anyone's day brighter and he was liked by many," Jolley wrote in an email. "He was hilarious and the kind of kid that people just wanted to be around."

Jolley was impressed by Keller's diligence in his schoolwork, especially his research on dietary supplements, she wrote. She also lived down the street from him and often saw him when she went on a jog, she wrote. When she passed him, he would yell, "Go faster, Jolley." Those words always gave her a burst of energy, even if she was huffing to get up the hill.

After Keller graduated in 2008, he didn't feel college was the best route for his future, Dean said.

"He really wanted to do something positive and productive with his life," Dean said. "You can see why he went into the armed services."

Keller was proud of his decision to join the U.S. Army, Dean said.
From another Oregonian piece:
The military record will show that Army Pfc. Andrew Keller, 22 and the leader of his unit, was killed in action Wednesday in Afghanistan. He was shot by insurgents on a hillside in Charkh, and when the "Soldier down!" call came, two men in his unit ran up the hill two miles to his body.

Keller was dead from a gunshot to the head.
. . .
Soldiers are brothers. We hear that all the time. But you don't fully grasp it until you hear Jeff Keller talk about those two soldiers who ran to his son's body. They saw that he was dead, and pulled off their shirts to shield him as a helicopter stormed in. As the rotors hurled rocks and debris everywhere, they covered his dead body with their bare backs to the sky.

"They got," Jeff said, choking up, "all torn up protecting his body."


Andrew struggled after high school to find purpose. Football was over. He got engaged to Marissa Jones, his eighth-grade sweetheart and, after being talked out of going into the military, enrolled in community college.

Then, in his second year of college, he told his parents, "I'm thinking of joining the Army."

Dad said, "Now, let's talk about this."

Andrew said, "I've already joined."

Andrew was 22, an adult, and the exact kind of proud, confident, capable soldier that our country has long relied upon. His parents, while worried sick at the idea of their first-born seeing combat, knew he had to make his own journey.

It was one that ultimately led to what was supposed to be a 48-hour mission to secure an observation post.

One that led to Andrew’s final communication to his father:

"I'm safe. I'm on a hill in some God-forsaken place. Text you as soon as I can."
- Staff Sgt. Eric S. Holman, 39, of Evans City, Penn., died in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when he encountered an enemy improvised explosive device.

August 16 - Pfc. Michael R. Demarsico II, of North Adams, Mass., died in Panjwa’l, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when he encountered an enemy improvised device.

August 17 - Spc. James A. Justice, 21, of Grover, N.C., died at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany from injuries suffered on Aug. 14 from enemy small-arms fire in Wardak province, Afghanistan.


James Nicholas said...

Good post. Those were some good men.

T. D. said...

Thanks for the encouragement, JN, and caring about our fallen heroes. As you say, good men!