Thursday, February 20, 2014

18 Heroes Who Died December 11, 2013 to February 18, 2014

December 11, 2013 - Petty Officer 1st Class James L. Smith, 38, of Huffman, Texas, died in Landstuhl, Germany, from a non-combat related incident.

December 17 - They died in Now Bahar, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered as a result of a helicopter crash. The incident is pending investigation. Killed were:
- Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy L. Billings, 34, of Heavener, Okla., 
- Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua B. Silverman, 35, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and 
- Sgt. Peter C. Bohler, 29, of Willow Spring, N.C.

December 23 - Sgt. Daniel M. Vasselian, 27, of Abington, Mass., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

December 27 - Capt. David I. Lyon, 28, of Sandpoint, Idaho, died from wounds suffered when his vehicle was attacked with an improvised explosive device in Kabul, Afghanistan.

January 1, 2014 - Sgt. Jacob M. Hess, 22, of Spokane, Wash., died while supporting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.  The incident is currently under investigation.

January 4 - Sgt. First Class William K. Lacey, 38, of Laurel Hill, Fla., died in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when the enemy attacked his unit with rocket propelled grenades.

January 10 - They died at Bagram Airfield, in Parwan Province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when the aircraft they were aboard crashed.  The incident is under investigation. Killed were:
- Chief Warrant Officer Andrew L. McAdams, 27, of Cheyenne, Wyo.
- Sgt. Drew M. Scobie, 25, of Kailua, Hawaii.

January 14 - Sgt. Daniel T. Lee, 28, of Crossville, Tenn., died in Parwan Province, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire during combat operations.

January 17 - Spc. Andrew H. Sipple, 22, of Cary, N.C., died in Kandahar City, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident currently under investigation.

January 20 - Chief Warrant Officer Edward Balli, 42, of Monterey, Calif., died in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, of wounds from small arms fire when he was attacked by insurgents.

February 10 - Pfc. Joshua A. Gray, 21, of Van Lear, Ky., died in Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident currently under investigation.
- Spc. Christopher A. Landis, 27, of Independence, Ky., died on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, from wounds received when the enemy attacked his dismounted patrol with a rocket propelled grenade in Kapisa Province, Afghanistan.

February 12 - They died in Kapisa Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when they were struck by enemy small arms fire. Killed were:

- Spc. John A. Pelham, 22, of Portland, Ore. KPTV reports (video here):
The family of John Alexander Pelham, 22, learned that he died of gunshot wounds Wednesday.
Pelham is a Sunset High School graduate, and his family still lives in southwest Portland.
His father, Wendall Pelham, said he talked to his son on Monday. He said because of his role in the Army, he knew his son couldn't say much about the mission he was about to embark on.
Still, he said their last conversation felt different. Wendall Pelham said he was not able to get the words out to tell his son to call him back when he returned.
"Which was my affirmation that, you know, it was probably going to be the last time I talk to my son," Wendall Pelham said, fighting back tears.
This was John Pelham's second tour in Afghanistan.
Back home, he was one of six children. He played baseball and graduated from Sunset High School in 2010.
John Pelham tried junior college, according to his dad, but the Army was his true calling.
"His grandfather, my father, was career military," Wendall Pelham said. "My brother was a ranger and I believe Alex always had that warrior spirit."
John Pelham was scheduled to come home for more training and possibly go to college through the ROTC program in June.
He was also engaged to be married.
Wendall Pelham said his son was living his dream.
"He told us numerous times, 'I've never been happier. I've never been more at peace with who I am and what I'm doing,'" Wendall Pelham said. "So, as a dad, how do you refute that?"
Spc. John A. Pelham and Sgt. First Class Roberto C. Skelt
- Sgt. First Class Roberto C. Skelt, 41, of York, Fla.  Pelham and Skelt were killed by an insider attack.
Defense officials said earlier in the week that two service members were killed and four were wounded in an attack Wednesday by gunmen wearing Afghan security force uniforms in eastern Afghanistan. The soldiers were not identified at the time.

A defense official confirmed for Army Times on Friday that the slain service members were Skelt and Pelham.

Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss details of the attack, which is the latest in a string of incidents in which Afghan troops turned their weapons on their supposed allies.

The officials said four Afghans involved in the attack were killed in the ensuing battle.

The frequency of these insider attacks has declined markedly in recent months. At the height of the problem, in 2012, U.S. and coalition troops were more often fighting and training alongside their Afghan partners; the relationship evolved last year with the Afghans taking a lead combat role. That has put the Americans and other coalition troops in a less visible position as advisers.
February 15 - Master Sgt. Aaron C. Torian, 36, of Paducah, Ky., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.


MAX Redline said...

Those "insider attacks" are especially disturbing.

T. D. said...

That and the unnecessary deaths since we are leaving soon anyway. The Obama administration has given no evidence that staying will make any difference except meeting their published "timeline".

MAX Redline said...

I understand that Pelham returned home this afternoon.

If we're getting out, then let's do it.

T. D. said...

I'm so sorry for his family.

I agree on getting out, Max. Afghanistan doesn't even have the reasonable background that Iraq had for keeping a US/Coalition presence there with a (somewhat) stable government. And that was muffed. I wonder why U.S. and NATO generals didn't say this a long time ago when the withdrawal timeline was set up.

Lots of nations already bailing out.

Top nations contributing troops in 2009:
Australia - 1,090
Canada - 2,800
France - 3,160
Germany - 4,050
Italy - 2,795
Netherlands - 1,770
Poland - 2,000
Romania - 1,025
United Kingdom - 9,000
US - 29,950
Total: 64,500
ramp up:
Georgia - 1

link for 2009:

Georgia - 1,560
Germany - 3,077
Italy - 2,159
United Kingdom - 5,200
US - 38,000
Total: 57,004
draw down:
Australia - 348
Canada - 265
France - 205
Netherlands - 200
Poland - 967
Romania - 505

link for 2014:

MAX Redline said...

I wonder why U.S. and NATO generals didn't say this a long time ago when the withdrawal timeline was set up.

If I recall correctly, some did - and Barky got rid of them.

T. D. said...

Thanks, Max. You have to be right.

MAX Redline said...

I don't have to be right, TD - I just seem to recall that Barky's removed a few generals and a couple of admirals. I've not checked on it, but if I remember correctly, there were some reports about that.

T. D. said...

You are undoubtedly right, Max, because you are you, and it only makes sense that people who disagreed were forced out (with no big public outcry as with Shinseki because they were critical of the policies of a president the media likes).