In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
The words of Dr. McCrae, written in 1915 after witnessing the death of his friend, have as much relevance today as they did then. With 26 soldiers killed in September 2012, 18 of which were Americans, U.S. troop deaths in Afghanistan surpassed the 2000 mark. American troops are dying in Afghanistan at a pace that does not seem to register beyond their hometowns. So far this year, it is 31 per month on average, or one per day. National media attention is drawn, briefly, to grim and arbitrary milestones such as the 1,000th and 2,000th war deaths. But days, weeks and months pass with little focus by the general public or its political leaders on the individuals behind the statistics.
NBC called Afghanistan a “forgotten war” that “no one really cares” about, but there are hundreds of families who care and will never forget. It is a safe assumption that most Americans who have been paying attention to the news put forth by the corporate media in print and on national TV do not know how many service members died last month, and even fewer know their names. Whatever views one may have on the recent wars, military personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifice deserve more recognition than that.
If you cannot take the time to read about and recognize the sacrifice of each individual, then ask yourself if it was worth it for any one of these young people to give up their lives. Ignoring the wars does not make them go away. Only we the people can stop this insanity by demanding an end to these wars and the military presence in the Middle East.
To whom it may concern, here are their names and some information about each one of them:
Staff Sgt. Jeremie Shane Border. Age 28, Mesquite, Texas. Company A, 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group. Jeremie was one of two soldiers killed when enemy forces attacked their unit with small-arms fire in Batur village, Ghazni province, Afghanistan, on September 1, 2012.
Neighbor John Counts described Border as “A man of honor.” He and others best remember him as a boy – a football player at Mesquite High School, where he was a member of the 2001 state championship team which recorded a perfect 15-0 season. Jeremie went on to play college football for four years at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Communications in 2006. Then he joined the Army, became a staff sergeant, and a Green Beret. His body arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Monday, September 3rd.
Staff Sgt. Jonathon Philip Schmidt, age 28, Petersburg, Virginia. 767th Ordnance Company, 192nd Ordnance Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group, 20th Support Command. Jonathon died on September 1, 2012 in Batur, Afghanistan. He was one of two soldiers killed when enemy forces attacked their unit with small-arms fire in Batur village, Ghazni province, Afghanistan. Jonathan was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed camping, hiking and fishing. He enjoyed cooking and entertaining with family and friends as well as working in his garage with his Harley and Excursion vehicles. Surviving him are his wife, Natalie M. (Lipsie) Schmidt, who he married Dec. 19, 2006, his son Aiden, his parents and numerous other relatives.
Spc. Kyle Robert Rookey, age 23, Oswego, New York. Company B, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. Kyle died on September 2nd, 2012 in Jalalabad, Afghanistan as a result of a non-battle related injury. He loved to participate and work at the Renaissance Faire. He was involved in music starting in elementary school and continued all through High School. The U.S. flag that draped the casket was presented to Spc. Rookey’s widow, Victoria Rookey, by General Anderson. Donations to a college fund for Kyle’s daughter may be made payable to Flora Kyleigh Rookey in care of Carol Sue Akers, 112 Niagara St., Oswego, NY 13126. Kyle’s video tribute can be viewed here.
Lance Cpl. Alec Robert Terwiske, age 21, Dubois County, Indiana. Inspector/Instructor Staff, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. Alec died on September 3rd, 2012 following a roadside bomb attack in Helmand province, Afghanistan. In memorial, Governor Brown of California ordered that flags be flown at half-staff over the State Capitol on September 17th. Lance Cpl. Terwiske’s family received a letter of condolence from the Governor.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jose Luis Montenegro Jr., age 31, Houston, Texas. F Troop, 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division. Jose died on September 5, 2012 in Pul-e Alam in Logar province Afghanistan. He was one of two soldiers killed when their OH-58D Kiowa Warrior reconnaissance helicopter crashed. Reyna Torres shook with tears at the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in Mission as Honor Guard soldiers carefully folded and handed her the flag from the casket of her son. “He was an all-around good guy,” Chief Warrant Officer 2 Sean Byard said of Montenegro during the service. “He could be counted on or depended on when you needed someone to listen to, a shoulder to cry on, a drinking buddy or a wingman.”
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thalia Suzanne Ramiraz, age 28, San Antonio, Texas. F Troop, 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division. Thalia died along with Jose Montenegro on September 5th when their OH-58D Kiowa Warrior reconnaissance helicopter crashed near Pul-e Alam in Logar province, Afghanistan. An ex-Marine, Michael O’Donnell, posted this to Thalia’s husband on her Guest Book page. “I cannot express the sorrow I feel in words. You were fortunate to have such an outstanding wife.”
Sgt. Kyle Bruce Osborn, age 26, Lafayette, Indiana. Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. Kyle died of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire in Muqer, Ghazni province, Afghanistan, on September 13, 2012. “Kyle died a hero with his soldiers, with his brothers at his side,” said his wife Maggie. “I cannot thank you enough, his family, friends and mentors, for helping making him the man he became.”
Sgt. Bradley Wayne Atwell, age 27, Kokomo, Indiana. Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force. Atwell was one of two Marines killed when 15 insurgents organized into three teams attacked Camp Bastion in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on September 15, 2012. Dressed in U.S. Army uniforms, the insurgents penetrated the camp’s perimeter fence and destroyed six AV-8B Harrier jets, six refueling stations and damaged six aircraft hangars before 14 insurgents were killed and one captured.
Brad graduated from Taylor High School in 2003. He then went on to attend various colleges, most recently, while in Afghanistan, attending Thomas Edison State College, where he was only a few credits shy of his associate degree. A friend, Heather Hielman, wrote on his Guest Book page, “I will forever have a hole in my heart for you my friend. I will always remember the all those adventures we took throughout the many years of our friendship. Words cannot express how my I will miss your presence!”
Brad is survived by his wife, Danielle Atwell, Yuma, Ariz.; mother, Cheryl (Turnpaugh) Atwell; father and stepmother, Victor and Kimberlee Atwell; mother and father-in-law, Jeanette and Christopher Cross; brother, Dustin Atwell; two sisters, Erin and Lauren Atwell; and grandmother, Shirley (Turnpaugh) Oody, all of Kokomo.
Lt. Col. Christopher Keith Raible, age 40, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Marine Attack Squadron 211, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force. Raible was one of two Marines killed when 15 insurgents organized into three teams attacked Camp Bastion in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on September 15, 2012.
On that day, 15 insurgents dressed in U.S. Army uniforms split into three teams and stormed British-operated Camp Bastion, which is connected to an American-run base known as Camp Leatherneck. The Taliban fighters penetrated the perimeter and attacked the shared airbase, destroying six Marine AV-8B Harrier jump-jets and damaging two others. It was the worst loss of U.S. military aircraft since the Vietnam War.
Raised in Irwin, Lt. Col. Raible attended Norwin High School, where he excelled at academics and played football. He graduated in 1990 in the top 10 percent of his class of 520. After high school, Lt. Col. Raible also attended Kent State University and transferred to Carnegie Mellon, graduating in 1995 with a civil engineering degree. He was later promoted to commander of Marine Attack Squadron 211 based in Yuma, where he left behind his wife, Donella, and their three children, ages 11, 9 and 2. You can view his memorial video here.
Pfc. Genaro Bedoy, age 20, Amarillo, Texas. Company C, 52nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. One of four soldiers killed when their position was attacked with small-arms fire in an insider attack suspected to involve members of the Afghan police in Muriani, Mizan district, Zabul province, Afghanistan, on September 16, 2012.
Genaro’s mother, Veronica Quiroz, cried aloud, and his widow, Patricia, gripped her flag as they walked away from the cemetery. U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Rich Herman, who escorted Bedoy’s mother during the services and burial, said “He could have done anything he wanted, but he wanted to serve his country…He felt like serving his country was like protecting his family. He was an outstanding soldier…He was a stand-up young man, who loved his family, loved his country, loved everything. He loved life.” Herman said he is planning a fundraiser on Oct. 14 to help Genaro’s widow and infant child.
Pfc. John Ross Townsend, age 19, Claremore, Oklahoma. Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. One of four soldiers killed when their position was attacked with small-arms fire in an insider attack suspected to involve members of the Afghan police in Muriani, Mizan district, Zabul province, Afghanistan, on September 16, 2012.
John married his high school sweetheart while on a leave from Afghanistan and he deployed again only three days later. Three days married – that is all the time he had with his wife. Carl Middleton wrote on Maggie’s notebook, regarding Tom, “The whole country of Afghanistan isn’t worth the blood of Jon Townsend or any of the others we have lost. I say it’s past time to bring them all home together, not one at a time this way. May God bless and keep his young wife.”
Sgt, Sapuro Brightley Nena, age 26, Honolulu, Hawaii. Company C, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. One of four soldiers killed when their position was attacked with small-arms fire in an insider attack suspected to involve members of the Afghan police in Muriani, Mizan district, Zabul province, Afghanistan, on September 16, 2012. Linda Holcolmb wrote on his facebook page, “words cannot express the sadness in my heart…so young but so brave and honorable. RIP.”
Spc. Joshua Nathaniel Nelson, age 22, Greenville, North Carolina. Company D, 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 513th Military Intelligence Brigade. Joshua was one of four soldiers that died when their position was attacked with small-arms fire in an insider attack suspected to involve members of the Afghan police in Muriani, Mizan district, Zabul province, Afghanistan, on September 16, 2012.
Sgt. Jason M. Swindle, age 24, Cabot, Arkansas. 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. Jason died on September 20, 2012 of injuries suffered when he was attacked by insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades while on patrol in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan. An excerpt from Jason’s Guest Book page: “It’s personal and it’s heartbreaking. My thoughts and prayers are with Jason’s wife and children and all the Swindle family.”
Petty Officer 2nd Class Dion R. Roberts, age 25, North Chicago, Illinois. East Coast Naval Special Warfare Unit. While the details are still unclear, it is officially reported that Dion died as a result of a single vehicle accident in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on September 22, 2012. “My brother lived his life to the fullest,” Jaleesa Roberts said. “He never took life for granted. He would say that I better be grateful for what I have because a lot of people don’t have half of what I have.” Dion was a 2005 graduate of North Chicago High School and was expected to return stateside next month.
Sgt. Jonathan A. Gollnitz, age 28, Lakehurst, N.J. 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. Jonathon died on Sept. 26th, in Pul-E Alam, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when an insurgent wearing a suicide vest detonated the device near his patrol. “His aunt and uncle were very close mentors to him, especially since he graduated high school,” said Rev. Eimers. “He (Sgt. Gollnitz) requested it this way.”
Staff Sgt. Orion N, Sparks, age 29, Tuscon, Arizona. 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team Conn Barracks. One of two soldiers killed when an insurgent wearing a suicide vest detonated the device near their patrol in Pul-E Alam, Afghanistan, on September 26, 2012.
Sgt. 1st Class Riley Gene Stephens, age 39, Tolar, Texas. Company B, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group. Riley died of wounds sustained from enemy small-arms fire in Wardak province, Afghanistan, on September 28, 2012. This was his fifth deployment with the 3rd Special Forces Group. He is survived by his wife, three children and father.
Last month saw an increase in so-called “green-on-blue” killings, in which Afghans that U.S. troops are tasked with training turn their weapons on their trainers. Each week at war has a certain sameness for those not fighting it, yet every week brings distinct pain and sorrow to the families who learn that their son or daughter, brother or sister, father or mother was killed or wounded. And there is no end in sight until at least 2014, if ever.
It is about time for the American people to support our troops by demanding that they be brought home now.
Author’s note: Most of this information was collected from local news sources. If any of it is incorrect, please leave a comment and I will edit and correct it ASAP.
Dain-Cullinan Funeral Home, Inc.
Amarillo Globe News
Sgt. Jim’s blogspot
CNN – Home and Away
Fox 10 – Phoenix