Honored Warriors & Distinguished VIP
Team Fastrax™ Warrior Weekend to Remember 2015
Medal of Honor – Army MSG Leroy Petry (Ret) – Honored Warrior Ambassador
(Medal of Honor/Purple Heart Recipient) Master Sergeant Leroy Arthur Petry was last assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga. with duties as a liaison officer for the United States Special Operations Command Care Coalition—Northwest Region, providing oversight to wounded warriors, ill and injured service members and their families. He was born in 1979 in New Mexico and in September 1999, Petry enlisted in the United States Army, something he wanted to do since he was 7-years-old. Petry then volunteered for the 75th Ranger Regiment because of its reputable history. After completion of One Station Unit Training, the Basic Airborne Course and the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program – all at Fort Benning – Petry was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. He served as a grenadier, squad automatic rifleman, fire team leader, squad leader, operations sergeant and a weapons squad leader. He has deployed eight times in support of overseas contingency operations with two tours to Iraq and six tours to Afghanistan. At the time of the May 26, 2008 combat engagement, Petry was a Staff Sergeant Squad Leader assigned to Co. D, 2nd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Petry enjoyed serving in the Army, and had a great opportunity to work with the care coalition; in his words, “If I can’t go to the fight, I can help the men who are wounded, injured or ill.” SFC Leroy Petry was awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.
Army PFC Bill Wilch (90) (WW-II D-Day Survivor) – Honored Warrior Ambassador
(Two Purple Hearts) Bill Wilch, who had received a Knight of the Legion of Honor medal, the highest honor that France can bestow upon a person, and other WWII veterans were invited to have dinner at a French restaurant in Columbus. There was a TV crew there from France, and they were so intrigued by Wilch that they drove to Middletown and interviewed him in his home. The TV special is set to air on June 6, D-Day. There were about 100 letters that Wilch sent to his mother and 75 he mailed to his wife of 63 years ago who died four years ago. Steve Wilch became engrossed in the war and its impact on his father. He couldn’t help but consider how the family’s history would have been written differently without fellow soldier Burton Burfeind, a member of the 29th Infantry Division, 115 Regiment, who was credited with saving Wilch’s life more than once and keeping him from being a POW. Burfeind was killed on Sept. 9, 1944 in France. It was Burfeind’s advice to Wilch that became the title of Wilch’s memoirs: “Don’t Just Kill Them, Murder Em. Shoot Pee Wee, Just Shoot.” Some in the family didn’t like the title because they thought it misled readers into thinking it was a violent book, instead of a collections of letters. Wilch told his son to keep the “gory” details out of the book.
Marine COL John Bates (Ret) – Honored Warrior Ambassador
(Three Time – Purple Heart Recipient) Marines Corps Colonel John Bates earned three Purple Hearts in Vietnam, the first after surviving machine-gun fire to the chest. Of the sensation, Colonel Bates says, “It’s like standing over home plate having Mark McGwire wind up and try to hit you out of the ballpark.” The second commendation came after a hand-grenade explosion blasted shrapnel into his leg. “If you’ve ever been hung up in barbed wire, that’s what it’s like,” says Colonel Bates. “Except it’s hot. Very, very hot. A searing heat and you can’t get it out.” Both experiences pale when compared to the time he fell into a pit and his left foot became impaled by a three-foot bamboo stake, the stake smeared with water-buffalo manure to maximize infection. Colonel Bates’ military passion seeped into him through his bloodlines. His father, Leland, who died two months ago, flew 51 combat missions during World War II. When the Vietnam War heated up in the mid-1960s, Colonel John Bates enlisted. The machine-gun fire to his chest didn’t deter him. After being hospitalized in intensive care for 23 days, Colonel Bates had been relegated to mopping the hospital floor. “That wasn’t my intention for being in Vietnam,” he said. So he found a pair of boots, pants, and a blue hospital gown, walked out of the hospital, hitched a ride to the airfield, caught a helicopter and despite still spitting up blood, rejoined his platoon. “Everyone was glad to see me,” Colonel Bates says. “They needed more trigger-pullers.” Less than two years into his scheduled three-year enlistment, he was discharged because of the injuries he received in combat. In the next seven years Colonel Bates earned a bachelor’s degree and two masters. He worked as a substitute teacher, a railroad brakeman and a heavy-equipment operator. But his real goal was to rejoin the Marines. Knowing he’d have to prove his fitness, Colonel Bates began training intensely. Unbeknownst to his wife, Stephanie, over a 2½-year period he applied for readmission to the Corps at least five times. Finally, he was accepted. “Quite honestly,” Colonel Bates said, “I think I wore them down.” Colonel John Bates has served throughout the world since then, including tours in Kuwait during Desert Storm, and recently in Iraq.
Army SPC Chris Bowser (Ret) – Honored Warrior Ambassador
(Purple Heart Recipient) Medically Retired, US Army. Tour in Mosul, Iraq, with 1-502nd INF, Fort Campbell, KY. After 19 days in country, while riding as a gunner in a MK-19 Humvee, a grenade was thrown by an oncoming vehicle and landed in the back passenger seat. It damaged both his legs. Chris has over 30 some pieces of shrapnel in his legs and is 90% disabled. He is currently working on founding an organization to connect vets to celebrities who they admire, www.HeroesMeetingHeroes.com
Marine Gunnery SGT Sam Deeds (Ret) – Honored Warrior Ambassador
(Purple Heart Recipient) During his Iraq deployment in 2005, Deeds came across an improvised explosive device (IED) while setting up a vehicle checkpoint near Abu Ghraib Prison. When he saw two of his fellow Marines approaching the area, Deeds turned back toward the IED to warn them of danger. Moments after successfully warding off his comrades, the device blew. “It basically leveled me,” he said. His injuries set him on a path of nearly 40 operations and procedures to date. For his actions, Deeds received a Purple Heart, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, a Combat Action Ribbon and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal. The moment he put his colleagues’ lives ahead of his own may have cemented his legacy as a military hero, but he wasn’t finished sacrificing his own welfare. In 2008, Deeds was recuperating from one of many surgeries–this one to repair a high-incision hernia. The surgical area was sutured and covered with a protective mesh. The doctors told him to avoid any strenuous activity for eight weeks. Six weeks into his recovery, Deeds was relaxing with his family on a beach when a woman was carried away by a rip tide. The woman’s husband and another man tried to save her, but all three were overcome by the current. “People were taking pictures and videos with their phones, and nobody was going to do anything,” he said. “I couldn’t let the guy drown in front of his family.” Deeds plunged into the rip tide and helped all three return safely to shore. The protective mesh and two sutures tore away, leaving a hernia so close to his sternum he opted not to have any more surgery. He’s been living with pain ever since. Deeds medically retired from the marines in 2011 with the rank of gunnery sergeant. Over the course of his injury-shortened career, he served Iraq, Japan, South Korea, and Haiti (twice). He also has worked in Greater Cincinnati as a recruiter.
Army SSG Shilo Harris (Ret) – Honored Warrior Ambassador
(Purple Heart Recipient) Shilo Harris understands the difficult challenges facing all soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as how to overcome adversity. During his second combat tour in Iraq, his armored vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device (IED). The explosion on February 19, 2007 killed three of his fellow soldiers and wounded the driver. Burned over one-third of his body, Shilo spent 48 days in a coma followed by nearly three years of recovery at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Shilo credits his recovery to the courage and commitment of his wife and family, and the dedication and expertise of the military medical community. Shilo’s mission today is to deliver a call to action on behalf of wounded warriors, their families, caregivers, and the surrounding communities. By offering hope, encouragement, and practical strategies for dealing with adversity, Shilo currently speaks to groups around the country about his experiences. Owner of WIN Home Inspection Services and national spokesperson for Helping A Hero, Shilo is a fierce advocate for today’s veterans. Shilo and his family were awarded a new home during ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition December 2012. His book, Steel Will, will be available in September 2014 through Baker Publishing Group.
Army & Air Force SGT Michael Mather (Ret) – Honored Warrior Ambassador
(Purple Heart Recipient) SGT Michael Mather served 15 years total to include the two years on Temporary Retirement prior to a full Retirement, 11 deployments around the world to include The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey, and a few other locations. He served in the US Air Force for 9 years as an F-15 crew chief, then made the switch to the Army in 2007 as a Forward Observer, deployed to Iraq for my 11th and final time where he was shot by a Sniper who was 550 meters away, his 5.56mm round struck just below the left corner of his mouth and exited his neck on the left side, he is currently a senior at Xavier University where he is studying to be a Cyber Security Specialist. Mike is an active member in the local MOPH chapter that he started in Clermont County where he brought Chapter 156 from Mt. Healthy to Clermont. He participates in the JROTC graduations at Western Brown High School. He has two children and has been married for 9 years as of July 2. His duty stations include Texas, Florida, England, California, North Carolina, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Kentucky/Tennessee, before moving back to Ohio where he grew up.
Air Force MAJ Timothy O’Sullivan (Ret) – Honored Warrior Ambassador
(Purple Heart Recipient) Major Timothy O’Sullivan entered the Air Force in October of 1991 completing 21 years of military service after being medically retired in December of 2013 due to related combat injuries. Major O’Sullivan began his career in United States Air Force as an enlisted propulsion specialist. In early 2000, he was selected for Officer Training School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama where he earned a commission in May of 2000. Following his commission he was assigned to Air Force Special Operations as a contingency planner. Following the September 11th Terrorist attacks, Major O’Sullivan had then deployed to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Oman from Hurlburt Field as part of the initial Special Operations Task Force, Joint Special Operations South/Task Force K-Bar and Task Force 11. In 2007, he deployed in lieu of Army as an embedded combat advisor with British and Australian Forces assigned to the Iraqi Army 10th and 14th Division in Basra Iraq. During this deployment, he endured nearly 1000 rocket attacks, 2 direct fire incidents, convoyed 500+ combat miles and was later injured on March 2nd 2008 during a convoy with British Forces by an 80lb explosively formed projectile. His injuries included a mild traumatic brain injury, internal bleeding and two surgeries removing several bones related to torn ligaments. By April of 2008, he was transferred to his home station MacDill AFB to receive ligament reconstruction, occupational Therapy and TBI treatments at the James A Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa. Upon recovery from his injuries, Major O’Sullivan continued his career at USCENTCOM HQ where he served as a principle advisor to the Combatant Commander (General David Petraeus/General James Mattis) on Security Assistance and Security Cooperation activities regarding Oman and Qatar. His distinguished awards include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Air Force Combat Action Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Distinguished Presidential Unit Citation.
Army LT Daniel Sack (Ret) – Honored Warrior Ambassador
(Purple Heart Recipient) After being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army, Dan served state-side as a television production officer with the US Army Mobile Television Detachment in Pennsylvania. After one year, he received orders to Vietnam in July 1967. He was assigned as a communications platoon leader in the field with the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry. He served seven months in the field with his last assignment at firebase Katum on the Cambodian border. At the end of that assignment he was transferred to the 125th Signal Battalion at Cu Chi. In February of 1968, during the Tet Offensive he was wounded by a 122mm Rocket that landed on his hooch in the early dawn. He woke up under his hooch mate’s bunk with shrapnel in both legs and temporary deafness. His hooch mate was killed in the blast. Currently President, OmniCom Solutions Groups, Inc and a graduate of University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. Dan was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the US Army and served with the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam from July 1967- 1968.
Army SSG – Joel Tavera (Ret) – Honored Warrior Ambassador
(Purple Heart Recipient) Army Staff Sgt. Joel Tavera is one of those truly remarkable people who, if you spend even a few minutes talking to him, any problems you think you have fade away. Tavera was horrifically injured in Iraq on March 12, 2008, in an attack that killed three others and wounded Tavera and another soldier. Tavera, who was volunteering for a mission shortly before he was supposed to head home, remembers a rocket exploding near his up-armored Chevy Suburban. Then came a panic attack. He opened the door. Then came the whistle – the sound of another rocket, heading straight for the Suburban. He was severely burned, had traumatic brain injury, lost part of his right leg, the sight in both his eyes, the fingers on his left hand and had to undergo many painful surgeries. Fast forward a few years. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue’s Kelly Hallman heard that Tavera needed a home. When not fighting fires, Kelly is an architect and, among other things, designs houses. So, working with the Building Homes for Heroes, a non-profit that supports the needs of severely wounded or disabled veterans and their families through building mortgage-free homes, Hallman designed a home for someone who couldn’t walk and needed full-time nursing. Hallman tells a funny story about what happened when Tavera learned of the plans. His response as he walked up to Hallman with a prosthetic on his right leg speaks volumes for a recovery that can only be considered miraculous. “He said, ‘Get that out of my house,’” Hallman says of Tavera’s response to being told of plans for wheelchair access, a nursing station and a therapy room. “I don’t need that.’ I said, ‘You are right, you don’t need that,’ and I took it out.” Joel continues to be a strong role model in showing people that they can move forward and make a difference regardless of their setbacks.
Marine SSGT Curtis Long – Honored Warrior Ambassador
(Purple Heart Recipient) Curtis Long is a 10-year combat veteran of the United States Marine Corps with deployments to Iraq in 2007, and the Mediterranean Ocean in 2008 as an EOD Team Member. Curtis joined the Marine Corps after high school in 2002. Curtis came into the Marine Corps as a Bulk Fuel Specialist. Three years into his military career Curtis moved into EOD. While deployed in 2007 with 2nd EOD Co, Curtis’ MRAP was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) while operating in Karma, Iraq. This hit resulted in a TBI and several other internal injuries resulting in being transferred to the Wounded Warrior Battalion. Upon completing his time at the WWB-E, Curtis was medically retired from the USMC in September 2012. Shortly after Curtis’ retirement in 2012, he attended Coastal Carolina Community College and earned his Associate of Arts degree. While attending college, Curtis also volunteered at his kid’s elementary school to help the kids of deployed parents. Curtis continues his volunteer services by helping at his church in Jacksonville, NC. Currently, Curtis is working on plans to start up a coffee shop called The Outpost in Jacksonville, NC and will partner up with the non-profit organization Warrior Institute located in Gainesville, FL to continue to help our wounded warriors and veterans. My awards are Navy Unit Commendation, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, (2) Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, (3) Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals.
Medal of Honor – Army CSM Bennie G. Adkins (Ret) – Honored Warrior Participant
(Medal of Honor/Purple Heart Recipient) Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins was drafted into the Army Dec. 5, 1956, at the age of 22, from Waurika, Oklahoma. Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins distinguished himself during 38 hours of close-combat fighting against enemy forces on March 9 to 12, 1966. At that time, then-Sergeant First Class Adkins was serving as an Intelligence Sergeant with Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces at Camp “A Shau”, in the Republic of Vietnam. When Camp A Shau was attacked by a large North Vietnamese force in the early morning hours of March 9th, Sergeant First Class Adkins rushed through intense enemy fire and manned a mortar position defending the camp. He continued to mount a defense even while incurring wounds from several direct hits from enemy mortars. Upon learning that several soldiers were wounded near the center of camp, he temporarily turned the mortar over to another soldier, ran through exploding mortar rounds and dragged several comrades to safety. As the hostile fire subsided, Adkins exposed himself to sporadic sniper fire and carried his wounded comrades to a more secure position at the camp dispensary. Sergeant First Class Adkins exposed himself to enemy fire transporting a wounded casualty to an airstrip for evacuation. He and his group then came under heavy small arms fire from members of the Civilian Irregular Defense Group that had defected to fight with the North Vietnamese. Despite this overwhelming force, Adkins maneuvered outside the camp to evacuate a seriously wounded American and draw fire away from the aircraft all the while successfully covering the rescue. Later, when a resupply air drop landed outside of the camp perimeter, Adkins again moved outside of the camp walls to retrieve the much needed supplies. During the early morning hours of March 10th, enemy forces launched their main assault. Within two hours, Sergeant First Class Adkins was the only defender firing a mortar weapon. When all mortar rounds were expended, Adkins began placing effective rifle fire upon enemy as they infiltrated the camp perimeter and assaulted his position. Despite receiving additional wounds from enemy rounds exploding on his position, Adkins fought off relentless waves of attacking North Vietnamese soldiers. Adkins then withdrew to regroup with a smaller element of soldiers at the communications bunker. While there, he single-handedly eliminated numerous insurgents with small arms fire, almost completely exhausting his supply of ammunition. Braving intense enemy fire, he returned to the mortar pit, gathered vital ammunition and evaded fire while returning to the bunker. After the order was given to evacuate the camp, Sergeant First Class Adkins and a small group of soldiers destroyed all signal equipment and classified documents, dug their way out of the rear of the bunker, and fought their way out of the camp. Because of his efforts to carry a wounded soldier to an extraction point and leave no one behind, Sergeant First Class Adkins and his group were unable to reach the last evacuation helicopter. Adkins then rallied the remaining survivors and led the group into the jungle – evading the enemy for 48 hours until they were rescued by helicopter on March 12th. During the 38-hour battle and 48-hours of escape and evasion, Adkins fought with mortars, machine guns, recoilless rifles, small arms, and hand grenades, killing an estimated 135 – 175 of the enemy and sustaining 18 different wounds. Sergeant First Class Adkins’ extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces and the United States Army.
Army SGT Richard Cicero (Ret) – Honored Warrior Participant
(Combat Injured) A former Army Paratrooper, with assignments in the 7th SOSC, 3rd Bde of the 82nd Abn Div., and 173rd LRSD. Served as a police officer and after a serious injury was retired. He was a military contractor in 2008, with assignments both CONUS and OCONUS. On his second deployment to AFG he encountered an IED on a foot patrol, which resulted in the loss of his right arm and leg. Now he works to support programs that challenge and motivate fellow veterans.
Air Force MAJ Jason Regester (Ret) – Honored Warrior Participant
(Purple Heart Recipient) Following a very long line of military service in my family Jason Regester enlisted in the Air Force on Oct 7th 1993 and served 9-1/2 years as a Structures Specialist in Civil Engineering. He was selected for Officer Training School in 2002 and received his commission on 27 June 2003 after graduating OTS and then served as a Logistics Readiness Officer until retirement on May 1st 2014. During his career he was deployed to Dhahran AB Saudi Arabia, Incirlik AB Turkey on two occasions; Soto Cano AB Honduras for Joint Task Force-Bravo supporting counter narcoterrorism operations, Guam for a humanitarian assistance mission following the devastation of Typhoon Chataan, and Baghdad Iraq as part of the Multi-National Security Transition Command. Some of the decorations he has earned during his career are the Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal x4, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal x6, Army Achievement Medal x2, Joint Meritorious Unit Award x2, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award x6, and Iraq Campaign Medal w/ 2 service stars.
Army CPT Alec Ross (Ret) – Honored Warrior Participant
(Purple Heart Recipient) US Army Airborne Ranger Charlie Company 2nd Ranger Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment Ft Lewis WA 1989-1993. Wounded 20 December 89 on combat jump into Rio Hato Panama, Jump Altitude around 400 feet “Six Minutes!!” The jumpmasters started their pre-jump commands. It was time to stand up. His knees had never been so thankful. Now it would be his legs and shoulders that would bear the discomfort of the tremendous weight of equipment. The C-130 had interior red lights and Ross heard someone reciting the Ranger Creed. You could hear the plane taking hits from ground fire, and away they went. Ross had a perfect exit, no twists. His riser was shot and he streamer in somewhere around 100 Feet. Alec Ross was medically discharged out the military in 1993. From 2003-2008 he worked as a defense contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, and rehabilitated and reenlisted in the Army Reserves in 2005. Ross was selected for Army Physician Assistant program in 2008 and graduated with a Master’s degree in Physician Assistant studies and was commissioned in Sept 2010. He served several posts and currently a Physician Assistant with Special Operations Command Africa and working as a civilian at Ft Campbell KY in a Troop Medical Clinic caring for our Soldiers and their families.
Marine SSGT Damon Zeigler (Ret) – Honored Warrior Participant
Damon Zeigler SSgt U.S.M.C Enlisted into the U.S.M.C. out of Massachusetts in 1997. He then joined The Fleet Marine Forces in Camp Lejeune with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion 2nd Mar Div were he attained the rank of Cpl, and began his Degree in Criminal Justice at C.C.C.C. He also received a CERCOM while deployed on the Navy ship the Gunstin Hall. In 1999 he received Orders to the Chemical Biological Incident Response (C.B.I.R.F) Force 4th Marine Expeditionary Force (Anti-Terrorism Task Force). There he was promoted to the rank of Sgt and attended the Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructors Course, trained with FDNY, received a Global war on Terrorism Award and a 2nd CerCom for his role as Plt Sgt during the Attacks on 9/11. In 2006 he received orders to 11th Marine Regiment HQ Bt 1st Mar Div Camp Pendleton. There, he was the Motor Transport Chief and sustained severe injuries including a below the knee amputation during a vehicle accident. He rehabbed at Balboa Naval Medical Hospital San Diego before returning to 11th Marine Reg as acting Battery GySgt and Training SNCOIC for HQ Regiment.
Air Force MAJ Scott Bullis (Ret) – Honored Warrior Participant
(Purple Heart Recipient) Major (Ret) Scott R. Bullis retired from the United States Air Force in August 2014 after 20 years of service. Serving primarily in responsibilities as a Force Support Officer, Major Bullis’ assignments included duties with the 36th Fighter Squadron, Osan AB, South Korea; Executive Assistant, Air Force Chief of Staff Executive Review Secretariat, Pentagon; Executive Officer to the CENTCOM Forward Deployed Commander; and culminated as Chief, Officer Development, HQ Air Force Space Command, Peterson AFB, CO. During his final deployment, Maj Bullis was assigned to the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, and attached to the 28th Infantry Division as Principle Advisor to the Afghan National Army Ground Forces Command (GFC) Director of Personnel. Working on an Afghan installation, Major Bullis provided guidance to his Afghan counterparts as they built GFC from stand-up to a force of nearly 350,000. On 13 Sep 2011, during one of his over 600 combat convoys, his vehicle was struck by a rocket propelled grenade, then came under small-arms fire while attempting to return to his Afghan installation. Maj Bullis continues to have after effects from the injuries he received. Following retirement, he began a course of study to receive and art degree in Antique Automobile Restoration at McPherson College.
Marine CPL Mike Strahle (Ret) – Honored Warrior Participant
(Purple Heart Recipient) CPL Mike Strahle joined the United States Marine Corps in the Fall of 2003 and deployed to Iraq in January 2005 with Columbus based Lima Company, 3rd Battalion 25th Marines. On May 11, 2005 while conducting combat operations during Operation Matador, his vehicle struck an IED blast in the road, critically wounding him and fatally wounding six of his squad members. Mike would recover from his injuries and was medically retired in 2007. He now carries on the legacy of 3/25 and all service members by traveling The Eyes of Freedom: Lima Company Memorial all over the country. This traveling tribute honors all who have answered our nation’s call; then, now, and tomorrow.
Army CPT Greg Amira (Ret) – Honored Warrior Participant
(Purple Heart Recipient) Amira Joined R.O.T.C. while attending University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida in 1989. Attended and graduated Airborne School at Fort Benning, GA in the summer of 1993. Upon commissioning as a 2nd Lieutenant on 3 May, 1994 and graduating college simultaneously, he attended Quartermaster Officer Basic Course at Fort Lee, VA until 16 September, 1994. He heroically re-entered buildings to help in the evacuation of victims and was trapped and buried when the buildings collapsed. He was then disabled from his civilian career by Social Security Disability, NY State Workers Compensation, and a private Long Term Disability Insurance company. All the while he remained in the IRR. While on disability, he was recalled by the US Army Special Operations Command to deploy in Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion, Bravo Company. After explaining that he was 100% disabled, the Army disregarded this, said there wasn’t enough time for an overdue physical and gave him the choice of resigning (basically equivalent to quitting) from the military or deploying and losing all disability monies, including $1.25 million from the Federal 9-11 Victim Compensation Fund. He chose to deploy and was sent to FOB Warhorse, Baquba, Iraq as part of the Diyala Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT). There he served as the Economic Development and Agriculture Officer for the Diyala PRT. He was instrumental in standing up both the Diyala and Salah ad-Din PRTs, most specifically, their Economic Development Teams, and was the liaison to the Embassy in Baghdad for the PRT and maneuver Brigades (4th Infantry Division & 1st Cavalry Division) to report to Senior State Department officials, General Officers, and Ambassadors. He spent roughly 13 months in Iraq working on projects, meeting with business and government leaders, shaping policy, and promoting democracy. He completed over 155 combat patrols and 58 Blackhawk missions. On 26 January, 2007 CPT Amira was engaged with the enemy after another vehicle in his convoy was hit with an IED blast. The ensuing events claimed the life of his friend & Commander, MAJ Alan R. Johnson, and severely injured three of his friends. CPT Amira ran from the safety of his vehicle and jumped in the canal where the damaged vehicle was. CPT Amira assisted in pulling out three survivors and in doing so, damaged his neck & back, and ingested raw sewage and chemical waste which caused internal injuries from his esophagus to his bowels and further. CPT Amira returned to the United States at the end of May 2007 and was assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Bragg, North Carolina for wounded soldiers from his injuries of 26 JAN. After 13+ months of medical treatment at Womack Army Medical Hospital, he was released by the Army to continue treatment at James Haley VA Hospital in Tampa, FL for TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and spinal cord injury treatment. He now resides in Trinity, Florida, attends James Haley VA Hospital on a regular basis for various therapies, and volunteers for various wounded veteran organizations. CPT Amira was officially permanently retired by the U.S. Army on 13 July 2010 with an 80% DoD disability rating. He is currently pending VA appeals & requests for increase in service connected disabilities, but is rated at 150% combined and 80% overall. After 3+ years of volunteering his time and efforts with other wounded veteran organizations & being Commander of his local Chapter of Military Order of the Purple Heart (#1980 ~ “Pride of Paradise” encompassing parts of Pasco, Hernando, & Pinellas Counties) from 2010 – 2011, he founded WoundedVets.org and left most other positions to focus his efforts on the success of the new non-profit. He still continues to speak for other organizations and participate in some of their events. He has recently returned to the Commander position of MOPH Chapter #1980. Captain Amira was awarded the Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal with Valor, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal with 2 campaign stars, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M device, the Combat Action Badge, and the CPT Amira resides in Trinity, Florida and New York City, NY near his mother, Marlene, and father, Irvin, respectively. He has a daughter, Alexis Rae who is currently employed in Boston, Massachusetts.
Army SPC Brent Hendrix (Ret) – Honored Warrior Participant
(Purple Heart Recipient) Brent Allen Hendrix typically goes by his Army nickname is Hoss. He is originally from Forest City, North Carolina and always wanted to join the US Military. He decided to join the Army after he graduated, and wanted to be in the infantry. Upon completing Infantry School at Ft. Benning, GA, he was then stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska and was assigned to 4-14 CAV as an 11C or Indirect Fire Mortar man. He was there 2 years before transforming into 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. He deployed to Iraq in August of 2005 and was sent to Mosul, Iraq. He was in Mosul for 6 months and then had to rotate with another unit in our brigade and moved southwest to Rawah, Iraq. On June 27 of 2006, his vehicle hit an I.E.D. or Improvised Explosive Device. He had just received an Op order of pressure plates coming in from Syria and they were among the explosion that hit his vehicle. He doesn’t remember any of the blast and went through many medical stations in Iraq and then to Germany. His first thoughts took place after awakening at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital, 2 1/2 weeks later, out of a drug induced coma. The struggle was real, he says! On June 27th of 2009, he medically retired from the Army and left with an open wound, hoping the VA wound care would provide new healing methods since his wound on his lower left leg hadn’t healed in the years prior. He wanted to move on with college and left Walter Reed too early. He had already been at Walter Reed for 3 years. He left Walter Reed and moved to Jacksonville, Florida and worked with the Wounded Warrior Project and completed their TRAC program. It was a program designed to transition veterans back to college and civilian life. His wound continued to stay open and after talking to mentors and friends, he was able to go back to Walter Reed in 2011. He lived on base and stayed at the Fisher House. He underwent more surgeries of skin grafts, Apple graphs, pig skin graphs and many more but none would seem like they would never take. He started working with Georgetown University Hospital as well and has done many hyperbaric oxygen treatments too. Each surgery always got him a little closer to being fully healed but the wound would always open back up. He completed a 75th surgery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Hospital on January 30th of 2014. It was a reduction of a large flap surgery that he completed at Georgetown University Hospital. His leg was doing much better and was almost healed. He decided to move to Cincinnati, Ohio in April of 2011, after he was honored in 2008 with the USO. He got to see how patriotic Ohio is and wanted to continue to help veterans out and meet others so they could help each other out. He wanted to get back into school as well, and is still enrolled at Cincinnati State College taking summer classes now. His overall hope is to complete college at University Of Cincinnati with a communication degree, without having to go back for more surgeries! His wound persists to stay open but he is still doing wound care. After moving to Cincinnati, he completed my 76th surgery at Advance Dentistry where he had a 6 hour operation performed. Since over the years, the military has been primarily focused on saving his other leg; his dental care was always a second. His jaw was broken from where the buttstock of his weapon hit his jaw and knocked out a lot of teeth, and Advance Dentistry is helping to relieve one less stress off my plate. He is nowhere from being done, and is determined to continue until the end!
Army SPC Ken Doyle (Ret) – Honored Warrior Participant
Ken joined the Army in 2009 and after Basic Training and began his training as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician. After that training was complete he was stationed at FT. Bragg, NC until he deployed to Afghanistan Jan 2012 in support of 3rd Group Special Forces mission. On August 15, 2012 he was injured while his team was neutralizing an IED in a local village. Doyle spent the next two years stationed at Walter Reed hospital undergoing recovery and awaiting medical retirement. He is currently retired and living with his wife and son in Marion, NC where he is trying to open his own business in the community.
Army SGT Jared Kriger (Ret) – Honored Warrior Participant
(Purple Heart Recipient) Jared Kriger is originally from Oregon and joined the Army in 2002. He served from 2002- 2006 and met his wife at Ft Benning GA, where he was stationed in 2003. They married in 2004 and have two children, Madelyn and Jared Jr (JJ). Kriger moved to Northern Kentucky to be closer to his wife’s family after he got out of the Army. Kriger was deployed on two tours of duty to Iraq and was shot during the invasion, which earned him his Purple Heart. He now resides in Independence KY with his wife and children. Kriger currently works for the United States Postal Service and has done so since he got out of the Army in 2006.
Army Mark Hodges (Ret) – Honored Warrior Participant
(Purple Heart Recipient) Mark is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. He is an E4 and was deployed in the 173rd 2/503rd (ABCT) on May 18th, 2007. While serving, Mark was shot in the neck, and his wound became cancerous. He spent six months in Walter Reed Army Medical Center and has completed five years of chemotherapy outside of hospitalization. He now resides in Fairfield, Ohio and is working at Donato’s Pizza.
Army Matthew Deatherage (Ret) – Honored Warrior Participant
(Purple Heart Recipient) Matthew grew up in Maineville, Ohio where he enjoyed wrestling and being a young Marine. Matthew’s drive to serve his country started at a very early age. Sadly, in 2005 at the age of 15 Matthew lost his Father to cancer. Shortly after Matthew experienced this tragic loss, a young lady named Kelly transferred to Kings High School where their friendship grew even attending Senior Prom together; little did they know they would end up marrying July 2012. After high school, Matthew joined the United States Army (101st Airborne) January 2010. Just a few days into the training, Matthew knew he had chosen the correct career path and was excited for the opportunities ahead. August 2010 Matthew was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan. On March 10, 2011 life as Matthew had known it was forever changed. While on a foot patrol cleaning a landing zone, Matthew stepped on an IED (improvised explosive device) resulting in the immediate loss of his right leg below the knee, a severed finger, broken Left Patella, shrapnel covering his body, and a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Once back in the states, Matthew was stationed at Fort Sam in San Antonio, Texas for recovery which included the attempt to save his left leg. Unfortunately, after eighteen months of a Taylor Spatial Frame, the left leg had to be amputated below the knee as well. To add insult to injury Matthew also learned he is now diabetic. Doctors have not been able to directly identify the cause but it is believed the TBI shut down the pituitary gland triggering the pancreas to no longer produce insulin. Almost 2 years to the day of his injury, Matthew was medically retired from the Army. Now, living back in Ohio, The Deatherage Family has continued on with their new normal. Although Matthew still has several surgeries a year, Matthew takes pride working with fellow veterans on behalf of veterans at the Warren County Veterans Office. He is also the Senior Vice Commander at the Morrow VFW and a part of the Mason American Legion where he attends the funerals of those who have fallen. Although his road is far from over, Matthew believes in pushing on.
Marine SGT Sam Nelson (Ret) – Honored Warrior Participant
(Purple Heart Recipient) Sam completed his basic training with honors at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. He was awarded a dress blue uniform by “Leatherneck “magazine as the top individual recruit in his platoon. As platoon Honor Man, he competed with other Honor Men in his series. His accomplishments proved to be exceptionally noteworthy and he was selected as the top graduate from his series and designated as the Series Honor Man.
After completing combat infantry training and Scout Sniper School at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sam was deployed to Vietnam in September 1969 and assigned to Kilo Co., 3rd Battalion, and 7th Marines. On January 16, 1970, while leading a patrol, he tripped an explosive device and suffered shrapnel wounds to his right chest and thigh.
After recuperating at the naval hospital in Yukosko, Japan, he was assigned to Headquarters & Service Battalion, 3rd Force Service Regiment in Okinawa, Japan. In August of 1970, Sam was presented a Meritorious Mast award for his display of loyalty and professional competence in serving as the company’s Education and Training NCO. Sam is a graduate of Indiana University and the University of Cincinnati. He and his wife, Ellen, reside in Middletown, Ohio.
Army Jim Stahley (Ret) – Honored Warrior Participant
(Purple Heart Recipient) Jim was born and raised in Greendale IN. After graduating from high school in 1985, Jim enlisted into the US Navy, after serving the four years of his first enlistment, Jim was honorably discharged in 1989. He took 1989-90, rode a bicycle from Greendale to Cincinnati and started college in 1990. Needing a part time job, Jim joined the US Army Reserves in 1990. He served in a Military Police Unit from 1990-97. Later Jim moved to Arkansas and went through OCF for a year and a half, after having knee surgery he later returned to his home state and joined the Indiana National Guard until 2006. During that time Jim was activated in 2002-2003 and served at Fort McNair. While there his unit was activated. He did not deploy with his unit and stayed home from 2003-2004. Jim was activated again in 2004 and was transferred to the 612th Combat Engineers of St. Marys’ and was deployed with that unit to Iraq during 2005. During his deployment his job with the Combat Engineers entailed dealing with roadside bombs. During that time Jim was blown up nearly a dozen times while inside his vehicle, and one time outside the vehicle. In one instance, Jim rescued two fellow soldiers from a burning HUMMV, a second IED was detonated during the rescue and the blast severely injured his back. Upon returning to the states, Jim was transferred to a water purification school for training, got a promotion and was eventually transferred to the 324th Military Police Company in Middletown, Ohio. Jim was assigned to this unit for a year before he went to a medical review board for back, hip, and head, foot, and knee injuries and was medically retired in 2009.
Army SGT Matthew Pennington (Ret) – Honored Warrior Ambassador
(Purple Heart Recipient) Raised in both Maine and Texas, Matthew Pennington entered into military service at the age of seventeen; he had a robust career full of responsibility and leadership roles. Then at the age of twenty three he was struck down by an ambush IED team in Iraq. Losing his left leg and receiving severe damage to his right he was honorably retired and received the Purple Heart and the state of Maine Silver Star among various others.
Matthew has starred in a short film “A Marines Guide to Fishing”. It is story that portrays an injured veteran’s transition back into the work place as well as coping with his loss one year later on his alive day.
Prior to acting, Matthew gave a speech for veteran’s day in the town of La Plata, Maryland as well as campaign videos for Senator Susan Collins. He has served on a panel for Secretary of Defense Gates at Walter Reed and received many of other types of recognition for his service to America.
Matthew has worked alongside director Nick Brennan and Marjorie Pennington to perform screenings of “Marines Guide to Fishing” to raise donations for charitable organizations serving veteran’s. It was creating these environments of entertainment and education that led him to further his speaking career as a Keynote Speaker for the Brain Injury Alliance, Joining Forces, various Military-Civilian conferences and Universities. Matthew has built a program that was endorsed by Congressman Mike Michaud and it has been replicated by the Vet Center’s located within Maine and has been reported to have great success.
Currently Matthew is a part-time National Spokesman/Field Associate for the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, it is a job he believes in and also one that allows him to witness and hear about the positive impact made in the lives of the combat wounded. Matthew has been married to his wife Marjorie Pennington for 11 years and looks forward to a life full of giving to and assisting those in need.
Marine CPT Ed Combs (Ret) – Honored Warrior Participant
(Purple Heart Recipient) Ed Combs is a graduation of the University of Kentucky (1966) and University of Louisville Law School (1972). He served on active duty in the USMC from 1966 through 1970. First as a platoon commander with Mike Company, 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division in 1967. He then served as an Executive Office, Guard Company Henderson Hall Headquarters Marine Corps from 1968-1970. Ed is a decorated hero, being honored with a Bronze Star with V, two Purple Hearts, Presidential Unit Citation, and Combat Action Ribbon. He was injured with gunshot wounds to the chest and right arm. He now practices law in Middletown, Ohio as a partner with Combs, Schaefer, Atkins and Little. He is married to Susan L Combs, they have two children (Charlie and Elizabeth) and five grandchildren.
Army SGT Juan Gabriel Perez (Ret) – Honored Warrior Ambassador
Juan joined the U.S. Army in May 2002 after working construction for the Detroit Carpenters union for 7 yrs. On his second deployment in Iraq 2005, he was preparing for a Reconnaissance mission to downtown Baghdad when he was struck in the left eye by a foreign object.
As a result Juan was thrown nearly 10 feet from his Bradley Fighting Vehicle rendering him unconscious. The blunt force trauma to the eye caused blindness, damage to both shoulders and severe trauma to the head. Juan was immediately air lifted to a secure location outside of Baghdad. Later it was determined while in Germany that his injuries needed special attention available at his Home Post at Ft. Carson, CO. Since his injuries Juan has undergone surgeries for his shoulders, and extensive Physical and Mental therapy for his TBI and PTSD.
Juan briefly returned to school earning a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Colorado Technical University and also worked in various jobs from a car salesman, Logistics specialists, brief Colorado Marshal and Mentor for Teen Court.
Today Juan is employed with The Coalition’s ‘Heroes Thanking Heroes Program’ as a Senior Team Lead. Through this program he serves as mentor and helps provide support to over 50 representatives who make thank you calls to the supportive donor’s, both past and present. Juan has also participated in events which help raise funds and awareness for the needs of CSAH families. Juan’s story is one of perseverance in which others can look at for a model when they are experiencing similar situations.
Sgt. Perez (Ret.) lives in Colorado Springs with his wife Christy of 10 yrs. and 5 Children.
Air Force MAJ Kevin B. Lombardo – Honored VIP Guest
(Combat Veteran) Major Lombardo is the Commander of the 721st Security Forces Squadron, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, and Colorado. In this capacity he leads a squadron of 140 Security Force members and associated support personnel in the protection of North American Aerospace Defense Command, United States Northern Command, United States Strategic Command, and Air Force Space Command crews in the performance of their air defense, space surveillance, and missile warning missions. Major Lombardo is a Combat Valor decorated Officer who is very active in Wounded Warrior programs. He is an in-demand speaker for PTSD and Combat Stress platforms. Major Lombardo entered the Air Force in 1996. After graduating from the Security Forces Apprentice course he was stationed in Incirlik AB, Turkey, Kleine Brogel, Belgium, and MacDill AFB, Florida. In 2002 Major Lombardo commissioned through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. He has been assigned to numerous operational wings and MAJCOM positions. Major Lombardo was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal w/Valor for the rescue of SGT Joel Tavera during a rocket attack at COB Adder in 2008. Major Lombardo is an Ohio native from Chagrin Falls, OH and is a 1990 graduate of Kenston High School in Bainbridge Twp.
Air Force SSG Tony Paletta (Ret) – Honored VIP Guest
(Combat Injured, PTSD/TBI) Staff Sergeant Anthony Paletta, in honor of a deceased Military Working Dog named Agbar, is tandem skydiving with his service dog Aggie this Warrior Weekend to Remember 2015. Paletta enlisted in the Air Force in 2006, completing 7 years of military service before being medically retired in September of 2013 due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. Staff Sergeant Paletta served in United States Air Force as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC). Anthony has had multiple tours to both Iraq and Afghanistan with over 105 combat engagements. Duty Stations included Hulbert Field, Florida, Ft. Hood, Texas and Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii. Staff Sergeant Paletta was awarded the Air Force, PACAF Pitsenbarger award for the year of 2011. This award distinguishes one enlisted member per year, for a heroic act that resulted in saving a life or preventing serious injury to another person or persons. Anthony currently works as a JTAC Subject Matter Expert at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio as part of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Simulators Division, and SOF/AETC Branch. Staff Sergeant Anthony Paletta, a qualified Joint Terminal Attack Controller in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, supported many military and government units with CAS (Close Air Support), ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance), CCA (Close Combat Attack), Armed Reconnaissance, and CFF (Call For Fire) missions.
Army SFC Dana Bowman (Ret) – Honored VIP Guest
Dana Bowman has astounded the nation and the world with his drive, determination, and will to succeed. He is a retired Sergeant First Class with the U.S. Army where he was a Special Forces Soldier and a member of the U.S. Army’s elite parachute team, the Golden Knights. Dana Bowman is a double amputee. He lost his legs in an accident during the annual Golden Knights training in Yuma, Arizona, in 1994. On February 6, 1994, Bowman gained worldwide attention when he and his teammate Sgt. Jose Aguillon collided in midair during the team’s annual training. Aguillon died instantly. Bowman’s legs were severed from his body, one above the knee and one below the knee. Nine months later, he turned this tragedy into a triumph when he became the first double amputee to re-enlist in the United States Army. This achievement is just one example of Bowman’s many successes under adverse circumstances. Dana has been fortunate to have the opportunity to let his speeches touch so many from the physically challenged to the able-bodied. He strives to show physically challenged people can still work and excel in today’s society and military. Dana emphasizes the words amputee and uselessness are not synonymous. Dana has given more than 400 speeches in the last few years and has been featured in magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Reader’s Digest, People and many more. There have also been numerous television programs which focused on Dana and his story. Some of the programs include: Dateline, A Current Affair, Real TV, NBC Person of the Week, Day and Date and Extra. Dana retired from the United States Army in 1996. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in commercial aviation at the University of North Dakota in May of 2000. Dana spends a great deal of his personal time working with other amputees and disabled or physically challenged people. As the founder and President of the HALO for Freedom Warrior Foundation Dana continues his selfless work giving back to the brave men and women that have given so much of themselves for our country. Dana jumps the “HALO for Freedom Warrior Foundation” Logo in to the many events he addresses annually and tells his audiences about our group and our cause.
Air Force Captain Guy D. Gruters (Ret) – Honored VIP Guest
POW in North Vietnam, December, 1967 to March, 1973: 5 years, 3 months. The rescue of Guy and Captain Charles Neel, who Guy characterizes as a fighter pilot’s fighter pilot, is a truly awe inspiring story of the dedication and courage of the Jolly Green Chinook Helicopter Search and Rescue units. His second shoot down on December 20, 1967, resulted in a five year, three month odyssey that humbled his pride, tested his fortitude, and forged his faith. In the courageous Christmas bombing of late 1972, Strategic Air Command US Air Force B-52 Bombers and Tactical Air Command Fighters and US Navy Aircraft Carrier Fighters forced the North Vietnamese to release Guy and the other surviving POWs in March of 1973. Guy’s brother, Terry, volunteered for multiple tours in Vietnam over the years of Guy’s imprisonment in his attempt to best help to end the war and bring Guy home. Terry was shot down two times and crash-landed once behind enemy lines during those tours. His persistence was rewarded and he flew one of the B-52s which actually did bomb his brother out of prison camp. Of the more than 3500 aircrew members who were shot down and not rescued in North Vietnam, 457 survived. The North Vietnamese and the Russians had tortured to death or killed in one way or another six out of seven aircrew members. There were a total of five hundred and ninety-one surviving POWs of all military services released in 1973 for return to the States during “Operation Homecoming.” Guy flew more than 400 combat missions resulting in more than 30 combat awards including two Silver Stars, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Bronze Stars for Valor, two Purple Hearts the P.O.W. Medal, and more than twenty Air Medals.
WWII Red Robinson (Ret) – Honored VIP Participant
World War II veteran Dale “Red” Robinson survived not one, but two of America’s extraordinary moments of World War II.
Red joined the Army in 1940 at the age of 18. He served in the 35th Infantry Regiment, part of the 25th Infantry Division, at Schofield Barracks on the island of Oahu and survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
He rose through the ranks to staff sergeant serving in Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army during the Allied invasion of Normandy, France that began on June 6, 1944.
At 93 years old Red resides in Texas where he enjoys his garden and playing poker.
Army SSGT John P. Hart Sr.- World War II Veteran, Combat Engineer, 11th Airborne Division
John P. Hart Sr. served our nation during WWII as a member of the 11th Airborne Division and closed out the war in Japan amongst the nuclear fallout. He is the most humble American Patriot you will ever meet and this weekend would not even be possible without him. He raised his children on the principle of putting God first in their lives, Family second and our Country third. He has been married to his wife Marilyn for 60 years and his seven children and twenty-two grandchildren are reminded every day of the importance of God, Family and Country.
Honored Fallen Warriors & Gold Star Families
Team Fastrax™ Warrior Weekend to Remember 2015
Fallen Warrior – Marine LCP Taylor Prazynski – Honored Gold Star Family
Taylor B. Prazynski, Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps
Born at the Medical Center at Hill Air Force Base Utah 12 Nov. 1984. He graduated Fairfield High School, Fairfield Ohio and joined United States Marine Corps 5 Nov. 2003. Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island South Carolina. 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment, L Company, 4th Platoon, Squad Automatic Weapon Gunner, MOS 0311, Infantry, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Served in Operation Secure Tomorrow, Port Au Prince, Haiti March-June 2004. Served in Operation Iraqi Freedom January 2005 – May 2005. He was killed in Action 9 May 2005, in Al Karmah, 16km Northeast of Fallujah, Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Awards Include: Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon. He is buried in Arlington Nation Cemetery, Section 60, Site 8111.
Fallen Warrior – Air Force SSgt Travis L. Griffin – Honored Gold Star Family
Travis was born 21 January 1980 in Okinawa Japan. He was born into a military family and never had a “home town”. He traveled with his family from Kadena AFB, Japan to Mt Home AFB, Idaho, Patrick AFB, Florida, Keflavik NAS, Iceland, and Dover AFB, Delaware. He joined the Air Force in Dover Delaware in June 1999, and attended Basic Training at Lackland AFB, Texas. After basic training he attended Security Forces School at Lacklamd AFB, Texas. His first duty station was Moody AFB, Georgia. While he was at Moody he joined the 820th Safesiders. He was at Moody AFB until September 2003. He then was stationed at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. He became an instructor for the 377th Security Forces Squadron and was responsible for training approximately 550 Airmen on security tactics and procedures. He volunteered for his 7th deployment for a 365 with the 732 ESFS/Detachment 3 which was a United States Air Force Security Forces unit sent to support Police Transition Teams in Baghdad, Iraq. It was a “Request for Forces” (RFF) #619 or “In Lieu Of” agreement between the United States Air Force and United States Army . They recruited and trained Iraqi policemen. He was killed 3 April, 2008 by an IED that hit his Humvee. This was his 7th deployment and 4th to the Middle East. He performed 82 missions in the 6 months that he was there.
Fallen Warrior – Marine SGT Lucas T. Pyeatt – Honored Gold Star Family
Sergeant Lucas Todd Pyeatt, United States Marine Corps, March 5th, 1986 – February 5th, 2011. Lucas Todd Pyeatt was born in Lakenheath, Suffolk, England on March 5th, 1986 to Lon Scott and Cynthia Louise Pyeatt currently of West Chester, Ohio. Luke is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and was active in his church and community. He was an avid member of the Boy Scouts of America and was a member of the Wahunsenakah Lodge of the Order of the Arrow. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout and later became an Assistant Scout Master. He enrolled at the University of Miami at Ohio in Oxford, Ohio where prior to beginning his studies he learned of the death of a friend, a member of the United States Army, who was killed in action in Iraq. He immediately began his quest to join the United States Marine Corps and reported to Recruit Training Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina in April of 2007. Luke entered the Cryptologic-Linguist MOS and attended Russian language training at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. Following his graduation from DLI he reported to Goodfellow AFB, Texas to complete cryptology training and Pashto language training. Upon graduation Luke was assigned to the 2nd Radio Battalion, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and at the time of his deployment was assigned as Team Leader, Signals Intelligence Support Team 6, and was a proud member of Charlie Company. He was affectionately known in his battalion as Fat Louis. Luke deployed on January 19th, 2011 with the 2nd Radio Battalion, II MHG (1 MHG, I MEF Forward) and was assigned to Forward Operating Base Zeebrugge, Outpost Athens with the 1st Battalion/10th Marines. As a member of a dismounted combat patrol conducting a pre-dawn raid on a Taliban stronghold, Corporal Pyeatt was killed in action at Shomali Ghulbah, Kajaki District, and Helmand Province, Afghanistan on February 5th, 2011, exactly one month shy of his 25th birthday. This was Luke’s first deployment and first combat action. According to members of his unit, Luke volunteered for the patrol saying, “This is my time!” He wanted to know what his team members would be facing before they went into action. Luke died of multiple traumatic injuries sustained in an IED attack. Although he received immediate medical attention the attending Navy corpsman was unable to obtain any vital signs, and Luke was declared dead at 6:10 AM that morning. Three other patrol members received collateral blast injuries, but thankfully none were killed. The patrol leader, a Gunnery Sergeant with the famed 3rd Battalion/5th Marines…the Dark Horse Battalion…was the first to find Luke. He mentioned later that just prior to the IED event Luke had been listening to the Taliban radio chatter and said, “They’re talking about breakfast…they have no idea we’re here!” A few moments later he was gone… A visitation for Luke, his family and friends was held in West Chester, Ohio on Friday the 18th of February. A funeral service followed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Saturday, the 19th of February. As was his wish, Luke was buried in his beloved Virginia along with his brothers and sisters in-arms at Arlington National Cemetery on February 28th, 2011. Following time-honored Marine Corps tradition, Luke has been in the company of his fellow Marines from the time he was killed on the battlefield until he was laid to rest in Arlington. Luke was posthumously promoted to Sergeant. His decorations include the Purple Heart, the Director of National Intelligence Medal for Valor, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Sea Services Ribbon, the Iraq/Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the National Defense Service Ribbon. In November 2011 Luke’s name became 165th added by the Director of the National Security Agency to the 166 others on the NSA Cryptologic Memorial Wall of Heroes. In one of his final emails to us Luke wrote: “I’ll keep safe and keep my guys safe. If anything should happen to me though, just know that you’ve given me the best life I could have possibly had. That I’m happy. And that I’m here where I belong, doing what I am supposed to be doing. I have no regrets.” To Luke’s credit, all members of SIGINT Support Team 6 returned home safely!
Fallen Warrior – Marine CPL Paul W. Zanowick II – Honored Gold Star Family
Corporal Paul W. (Rocky) Zanowick, II was born in Miamisburg, Ohio on 31 December 1987. He enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported for recruit training at MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina on 21 January 2008. After earning the title, “Marine”, Corporal Zanowick reported to the School of Infantry-East, Camp Geiger, North Carolina to attend the Basic Infantryman program of instruction and the Anti Tank Guided Missileman program of instruction graduating with a MOS of 0352. In October 2008, after completion of MOS training, Corporal Zanowick reported for duty with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California. On 1 June 2009, Corporal Zanowick was promoted to Corporal. On 4 October 2009, Corporal Zanowick deployed to Afghanistan with Regimental Combat Team 7 and served for 7 months in Helmand province in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. On 9 April 2011, Corporal Zanowick deployed a second time with Weapons Company, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was assigned as a vehicle commander with Blue Section, Combined Anti-Armored Team Two. Corporal Zanowick was mortally wounded while conducting offensive operations in the Upper Gereshk Valley, Helmand Province, Afghanistan on 3 June 2011. Corporal Zanowick is survived by his wife the former Ryan Lynn Detwiler from Pennsylvania, his 2 year old son, Uriah Zanowick of Twentynine Palms, California, his parents Paul and Nanette Zanowick, and his sister Nicole Zanowick all of Miamisburg, Ohio.
Corporal Christopher “Tyler” Warndorf- Was born on July 15, 1985 and K.I.A. on August 29, 2006. He proudly represented the United States Marine Corp. His bravery earned him several medals, awards, and decorations, including the National Defense Service Medal, the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon and the Purple Heart. He was assigned to Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, based in Camp Lejeune, NC. He was first deployed to Haiti. As a very naïve young man the conditions and how the children were force to scavage for food appalled Tyler. He requested us to send healthy snacks. He was known for his compassion, sense of duty and responsibility. He was only 9 when his father passed away, taking on the role of “Man of the house.” He told me that about a week after his father was gone. Saying, “Mommy you don’t have to ever worry, or be sad. I am now the man of this house and I promise to help you with Nick (age 7) and Katelyn (age 2). He put his loving little arms around me and I never felt so loved. Tyler had a way about making every single person he met feel as if they were everything to him. I never had to tell Tyler what to do, he just did it. He was very determined, strong willed, and went after everything in life he wanted to achieve. He was beloved by so many and continues that in death. I am so honored to call him my son. To date he has 8 children named in his honor with another one due in September making it number 9. I will say the past nine years have had it’s good and bad days with his existence gone…but, whenever I need that extra reminder that he is not forgotten I will hear from a Marine. I have been fortunate to have their love, hear their stories of how Tyler impacted their lives. It always touches and amazes me how truly wonderful he was. He certainly was an amazing young man. He loved to serve God, Family, and Country. He did his job exceedingly well! In life…even the last moments leading up to his death. He was taking his men water who were in the tower. As always making sure others were being taken care of. He noticed the vehicle at the gate in Al Anbar Post was not being checked properly. I was told he grabbed the interprator and took off running with no other thought, but to stop them. It was because of his quick action that vehicle with it’s whole purpose to kill unsuspecting soldiers was stopped. He freely gave his life in order to protect others. So when you hear this name, look at his picture, I only to leave you with one summation of the man he was…the most SELFLESS human being I have ever known. Semper Fi, God Bless, and all my love!
Tina L. Warndorf
Fallen Warrior – CPL Adam Jones Honored Gold Star Family