2018 Gold Star Families – Team Fastrax™ Warrior Weekend to Remember 2018
New 2018 Gold Star Families
Fallen Warrior – Army SFC Jack B. Beers
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Sergeant First Class Jack Blaine Beers (ASN: RA-23877112), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company B, 3d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry, 173d Airborne Brigade. Platoon Sergeant Beers distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on the evening of 7 April 1969 during an attack by an estimated reinforced Viet Cong company on his platoon’s night location near the town of Bao Loc, Lam Dong Province. Sergeant Beers moved through the initial barrage of rocket, automatic weapons and small arms fire to reach a section of the perimeter under heavy ground attack, and was painfully wounded by shrapnel from an incoming rocket when he arrived at a machine gun bunker. Despite his injury, he directed that position’s fire against the aggressors and momentarily halted their assault. After hearing a rocket hit in the platoon’s command post and a cry for help from his radio telephone operator, he started toward the stricken post, but was seriously wounded in the legs and stomach by shrapnel from enemy grenades and rockets as the communists began attacking from all sides. Disregarding his safety, he encouraged his men to hold their positions and crawled to a radio to call for artillery support. Although he was in an exposed location, he continued to adjust artillery strikes until he was mortally wounded by hostile small arms fire. Platoon Sergeant Beers’ extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
Fallen Warrior – Army Spc. Michael B. Cook Jr.
Died June 6, 2011 Serving During Operation New Dawn. He was 27, of Middletown, Ohio, assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.; died of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with indirect fire in Baghdad. Also killed were Army Spc. Emilio J. Campo Jr., Army Spc. Christopher B. Fishbeck, Army Spc. Robert P. Hartwick and Army Pfc. Michael C. Olivieri.
Fallen Warrior – Army SGT David Hart
Hart joined the Army in November 2003 and arrived at Fort Campbell in March 2004. He was born in 1985. His family moved from city to city, living in missionary communities where they built churches and did evangelical work. Hart was on his second tour of duty in Iraq when he was mortally wounded after he rushed into the middle of the firefight to help an injured soldier. For his actions, he was awarded a Bronze Star with valor.
Fallen Warrior – Army Pfc Tim Hines Jr.
Pfc Hines was assigned to the 64th Military Police Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas. Hines, a 2002 Cincinnati Christian School graduate, was mortally wounded in Iraq on Father’s Day when his convoy was attacked by a roadside bomb along an Iraqi highway. He died nearly a month later at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and was interred at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. He is survived by his wife, Katy and two children.
Fallen Warrior – Army Cpl Alexander Jordan
Alexander died September 10, 2006 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was 31, of Miami; assigned to 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Fort Richardson, Alaska; died of injuries suffered when he encountered enemy forces using small-arms fire during combat operations in Baghdad.
Fallen Warrior – Marine Maj Elizabeth Kealey
Maj Elizabeth Kealey, a native of Indiana, Pennsylvania, died on-board an aircraft that crashed while conducting training aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California.
Kealey, 32, commissioned in the Marine Corps May 27, 2005. She served within HMLA-169 as a UH-1Y Huey helicopter pilot and weapons training instructor. She deployed twice with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and once in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Her personal awards include the Air Medal with three Strike/Flight awards and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star in lieu of the second award.
Fallen Warrior – Army Spc. Russell E. Madden
Died June 23, 2010 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom. He was 29, of Dayton, Ky.; assigned to the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Conn Barracks, Germany; died at FOB Shank, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his vehicle with rocket fire.
Fallen Warrior – Army Sgt. Arthur Mora Jr.
Arthur, or Art, as he was known to friends and family, was one of four children raised by a single mother and a large extended family. He was quiet and hilarious, but never at the same time. He was the family clown, who enjoyed seeing everyone around him with a smile or laughing until it hurt their sides. He was a wonderful son, caring brother, a doting dad, devoted husband and his wife’s best friend. Family was his number one priority. Well, that and the L.A. Dodgers.
When he was 6 years old, his passion for the military was sparked when he paid a visit to the American Military Museum in South El Monte, Calif. “When he saw all the tanks he fell in love with the idea of joining the Army,” said his mother, Sylvia Mora. “After that he would spend hours playing with his little Army guys.” He never wavered in his vision, and he enlisted within a month of graduating from El Rancho High School in 2000.
Art met his wife, Veronica, at a restaurant in Ohio when he was on his way to attend the Detroit Auto Show with some of his Army buddies. They have a daughter, Celina, and son, Christopher, together, and Art was in the process of adopting Veronica’s young daughter, Olivia. His wife, Veronica Mora, said, “He was the frosting to my cupcake, he made everything in life sweeter.”
Sgt. Arthur Mora Jr., was killed in action on October 19, 2005 while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sgt. Mora was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Ft. Stewart, Georgia. He had only been deployed 94 days. His older sister, Celia Mora, said, “He loved the military and he would have made a career out of it.”
Sgt. Mora’s awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Badge, the Good Conduct Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Ribbon, the Army Service Medal, and the Korean Defense Service Medal.
Fallen Warrior – Army Cpl. Nicholas H. Olivas
Died May 30, 2012 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom. He was 20, of Fairfield, Ohio; assigned to 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died in Zharay, Afghanistan, of injuries caused by an improvised explosive device.
Fallen Warrior – Army CPT Bartt D. Owens
Captain Bartt D. Owens was born in Middletown, Ohio on 17 October 1971. He died in an over-water helicopter crash on 22 February 2002 in a training mission in support of the Global War on Terrorism. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in Aviation upon graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1994, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in International Relations. His military education includes the Aviation Officer Basic Course, the Aviation Officer Advanced Course and the Combined Arms Services Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Captain Owens’ past assignments include Section Leader and Flight Platoon Leader in B Company, 7th Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He also served as the Battalion S-1 and as the A Company, Flight Operations Officer. He joined the Night Stalkers in September, 1999.
Since graduating from the Special Operations Aviation Qualification Course and the MH-47E Qualification Course, he served as a Platoon Leader in Echo Company, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). As the only E/160 Platoon Leader, CPT Owens served as one of the advance personnel as the company began operations in the Republic of Korea. He later deployed his unit to multiple locations across the Pacific Command in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Captain Owens’ awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal (1 OLC), National Defense Service Medal, Aviator Badge, Parachutist Badge, and Air Assault Badge. He was rated in the OH-58 A/C, CH-47D, and MH-47E. He was posthumously awarded the Legion of Merit and the Air Medal. CPT Owens is survived by his wife Leah, their daughters, Megan and Lauren and his mother, Penny.
Fallen Warrior – Air Force TSgt Joshua Riggs
United States Air Force TSgt Joshua Andrew Riggs was born on April 20, 1977 in Greenville, MI to Robert and Joann Riggs (Crooks). He graduated from Carson City-Crystal High School in 1995. After high school, he attended Grand Rapids Community College and earned a degree in Criminal Justice. He joined the USAF soon after graduating from college. He earned the rank of Airman 1st Class after graduating from basic training at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, TX in 1998. He stayed at Lackland for Security Forces tech school and then went to his first duty station, Wright Patterson AFB, OH. He met his wife, Elizabeth while stationed there and they were married on August 7th, 1999. He was a Security Forces patrolman, gate sentry and armorer while stationed at WPAFB.
Josh deployed to Al Jaber AB, Kuwait in 2000 and was part of a team that would spend the next 120 days there. He received an Air Force Commendation medal during his time at Wright-Patterson. He was an expert marksman on several different weapons as well. He was given an opportunity to go to Combat Arms training back at Lackland AFB and was given orders to Tyndall AFB, Panama City, FL in 2003.
His daughter, Megan Joann was born in October of the same year at Gulf Coast Medical Center. Josh decided to separate from the Air Force in 2006 and was honorably discharged that year. The family then moved back to Ohio and Josh got a job as a police officer with the Cincinnati VA Medical Center. His son, Andrew Robert was born in June of 2007 at Mercy Fairfield Hospital in Fairfield, OH. He reenlisted into the Air Force due to low manning in the Combat Arms career field. The family then moved to Lackland AFB in 2008 so that Josh could be a weapons instructor for the 342d TRS and later, the 343d TRS.
Josh struggled with anxiety, depression and PTSD for many years. On July 12th, 2012, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head at Lackland AFB. He is deeply missed by his wife, children, family and friends.
Fallen Warrior – Army Sgt. James C. Robinson
Died August 28, 2010 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom. He was 27, of Lebanon, Ohio; assigned to 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died at FOB Boris of wounds received in Paktika province, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit with indirect fire.
Fallen Warrior – Army Sgt. Joshua Rodgers
Army Ranger Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers, 22, of Bloomington, was killed in action Thursday (April 27, 2017) in Nangarhar Province during a joint operation with Afghan forces. Josh was assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and stationed at Fort Benning, Ga. He was on his third deployment to Afghanistan.
After graduating from high school in May 2013, Josh enlisted in the U.S. Army and completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, as an infantryman. Following completion of the Basic Airborne Course, Rodgers was assigned to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program 1, also at Fort Benning. He graduated from RASP 1 and was then assigned to 2nd Platoon, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, where he served as a machine gunner, light machine gunner, gun team leader, and Ranger fire team leader.
While serving our country, Josh deployed three times to Afghanistan, earned the coveted Ranger Tab, the Parachutist Badge and the Marksmanship Qualification Badge Expert-Rifle. He was also awarded the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two Campaign Stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, and the NATO Medal. Posthumously, Sgt. Rodgers was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star medal with Valor.
Josh knew his purpose in life and was living out his dream. He was an amazing friend with a big heart. Josh had a smile that could light up any room and a very contagious laugh that was loved by all. He was a man of very few words, but when he spoke you listened. Through hard work and determination he continually led by example and made everyone around him proud. His generosity was unwavering and if you needed anything from him he was always there.
Although Josh may physically be gone, his presence on earth will forever remain near. His soft-spoken words will continue to be our daily motivation. Josh was, and forever will be, a warrior. Tenacious, humble, determined and supportive. He was a true inspiration to everyone who knew him.
Fallen Warrior – Army Staff Sgt. Sonny C. Zimmerman
Died July 16, 2013 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom. He was 25, of Waynesfield, Ohio; assigned to 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, Fort Campbell, Ky.; died in Mushaka, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Ambassador Gold Star Families
Honored Warrior – Army CPT George “Jordy” Alsfelder
CPT George “Jordy,” devoted and loving son of Robert, Jr. and Deborah (nee Taylor) Alsfelder and brother of CPT Robert Alsfelder III, CPT James William Alsfelder (Ret.) and Katherine Eileen Alsfelder. Cherished great-grandson of Helsie Patrick of Wilmington, OH. Jordy was preceded in death by his grandparents, Robert and Katherine Alsfelder and James and Eileen Taylor. Jordy passed away suddenly on May 8, 2016 at the age of 26 of a heart attack. He was a 2008 graduate of Cincinnati Country Day School and a 2012 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Jordy had a huge, contagious smile that made everyone around him happier. His quick wit and sharp sense of humor lit up a room and put a smile on everyone’s face. Jordy was an active, fun-loving person who played basketball, baseball, golf, dodgeball, and surfed, ran track, and enjoyed hiking. He was an avid sports fan and had an especially strong love for Ohio State football and Indiana University basketball. Jordy cared about his family and friends more than he cared about himself. He was proud to serve his country with honor and considered it a privilege to lead soldiers. His passing leaves an enormous void in the lives of so many that will never be filled.
Fallen Warrior – Army SFC Ofren “AC” Arrechaga
SFC Ofren “AC” Arrechaga was KIA 29 March 2011, Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Ofren was born in Havana, Cuba, on December 22, 1982. He and his family moved to Hialeah, Florida, when he was 14. In February 2001, at the age of 18, Ofren enlisted in the United States Army. He was assigned to Alpha Company, 2-327 Infantry Regiment (No Slack), 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) where he remained the entirety of his 10 years in active duty service. During Ofren’s career he was deployed four times, three to Iraq, once to Afghanistan. In April 2010, Ofren deployed to Afghanistan in what would be his hardest deployment yet. By the first week of July, 11 of his brothers had given their lives. On March 29, 2011, the day after Alston’s third birthday, Ofren and five others would do the same. Their final mission and sacrifices can be seen in the documentaries The Hornets Nest, and No Greater Love. Ofren is best known among his men for his ability to boost morale. Even on the worst of days he could make just about anyone laugh, even if they were laughing at him instead of with him. Ofren loved his job but he loved his guys more and that was evident in everything he did. Shortly before his death Ofren received orders to be a Ranger Instructor at Fort Benning. He was beyond excited to have a few non-deployable years with his family.
Fallen Warrior – Army SSG Bryan Burgess
SSG Bryan A. Burgess of Cleburne, TX entered the Army in March 2003 and arrived at Fort Campbell, Kentucky in Sept, 2009. Burgess was assigned to the 101st Airborne 1st Brigade Combat Team 2nd Battalion 327th Infantry Regiment No Slack Charlie Company.
His Awards include: Bronze Star; Bronze Star of Valor; Purple Heart; Army Commendation with 3 Oak Leaves; Army Achievement with one Oak Leaf; Army Good Conduct with Double-Knotted Rope Clasp; National Defense Service; Afghanistan Campaign with One Bronze Campaign Star; Iraq Campaign with One Bronze Campaign Star; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary; Global War on Terrorism Service; Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral “4” device; NATO ISAF; Two Certificates of Achievement; Combat Infantryman Badge and Air Assault Badge.
Bryan was assigned to mission Strong Eagle III in March of 2011. Their mission was to extract Taliban leader “QZR.” With only 16 days left of his tour, Bryan marched into Kunar Province, Afghanistan with his team. The Taliban were ready. Bryan’s unit No Slack was ambushed as they proceeded into the valley where the Taliban had set up their headquarters. Bryan was mortally wounded and as Medic Eric Matheson held him Bryan asked, “Where’s my chariot?”
Bryan died on March 29, 2011. His last words have been immortalized in the song “Chariots” from the film “The Hornet’s Nest.”
Fallen Warrior – Army CW3 James E. Groves
CW3 James E Groves III served in 3-17 CAV, 3 CAB. The 37-year-old Kettering Fairmont High School graduate was KIA when the helicopter he was piloting crashed near Kandahar, Afghanistan. His military decorations include Air Medal and Bronze Star. James was an instructor pilot with over 3000 combat hours and 7000 training hours. He was on a check ride with a new pilot, who had 100 hours of experience. They had just completed a live fire run and were coming around for another pass when the helicopter (OH-58 D Kiowa) lost power due to a fuel pickup device failure. James was unable to restart the engine and they crashed. James died due to extent of his injuries. His co-pilot survived but suffered multiple injuries. Groves, who enlisted following commencement in June 1994, was nearing the end of his second tour in Afghanistan, following two in Iraq. Groves was married to Katie Groves with sons, James IV, 12, and Shane, 9. James, who has an older sister, Jeannette, was born in Columbus on Nov. 7, 1975. The family moved to Kettering in 1978. He played baseball while growing up in Kettering and football for Fairmont High School. He attended Rosewood Elementary School, now the city’s arts center, for kindergarten and then went to Indian Riffle Elementary School. At Fairmont, one of his assignments for the student television station was to interview military recruiters. Groves, who attended officer training school and was an instructor pilot, was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division at Hunter Airfield. His resume included military intelligence and air assault.
Fallen Warrior – Army SGT David J. Luff
Army SGT David Luff was excited about his son’s birth in May and was glad he was home for the day he had been looking forward to since getting married a year and a half earlier. But, he had just three weeks with his newborn before leaving for his second deployment to Iraq. He looked forward to returning home on leave in February and reuniting with his wife, Katie, and son, Aiden. He talked about his anticipation in text messages to his sister, Stacy Garrison, she told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He was an awesome guy. … He loved his son and his wife very much,” Garrison said.
Luff, 29, of Hamilton, Ohio, died Nov. 21 in Tikrit when insurgents attacked his unit with small weapons. He was assigned to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. His second wedding anniversary would have been Dec. 31. He began dating Katie when they were students at Hamilton High School.
Luff, a 1999 graduate of Hamilton High, also was known for his sense of humor and good-natured attitude. He was a big fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals, and semipro wrestling. He also leaves behind his parents, Dave and Lucy Luff.
Fallen Warrior – Army SGT Anthony R. Maddox
Sgt. Anthony R. Maddox joined the Army in January 2011, and attended Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He completed Advanced Individual Training at Fort Lee, Virginia, graduating as a Petroleum Supply Specialist. He served as a Petroleum Supply Specialist and a Heavy Wheeled Vehicle Operator for Foxtrot Forward Support Company, 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1/87 Infantry Battalion in Fort Drum, NY. In January 2013, he was deployed with his unit to Andar Ghanzi Province, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While in Afghanistan, he sustained severe burn injuries over 97% of his body as a result of a petroleum accident. He passed away two days later, on 7/22/2013.
Fallen Warrior – Army SPC Donald “Scott” Morrison
On September 26, 2010, my son, SPC. Morrison, Donald “Scott” was KIA. This was his first deployment during Operation Enduring Freedom. Prior to deployment he was stationed at Fort Hood, TX to the 584th Mobility Augmentation Company, 20th Engineer Battalion.
Fallen Warrior – Army SGT Luther W. Rabon
SGT Luther W. Rabon Jr. “Will” was born on August 21, 1978 in Lexington, SC. He was the son of Luther Sr. and Martha “Sissy” Rabon. He is the father of four beautiful children, Summer Rain, Grace Rene, Trinity Rose, and Noah Michael Allen Rabon. He was the husband of Catherine Rabon, the brother of Amy Terry, the uncle to Matthew and Dillon Terry and the friend to many.
Will was a great son, husband, father, brother, uncle, and friend. He had a larger than life personality, and could cure the sourest of moods with one of his famous smiles and awesome bear hugs. He loved to spend time with his family and friends, and was often the life of the party. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, dirt track racing, and most of all he loved being a soldier.
Over the years, he had many jobs but was not truly satisfied until he became a soldier. He was a member of the Honor Guard and felt truly blessed to be able to pay respect to his fellow soldiers by being a member of such a great team.
He was assigned to the 1221st Engineer Clearance Company, South Carolina National Guard, Graniteville, S.C. He died Oct. 1, 2010 in the Orgun district of Paktika province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his military vehicle with an improvised explosive device.
Fallen Warrior – Army 1LT Justin Smith
On 7 November 2005, 1LT Justin Smith and his platoon were conducting a vehicle checkpoint south of Baghdad. Their replacements were on the way and there were only a few vehicles left to search. Unfortunately, one of those vehicles was packed with explosives and detonated, killing Justin instantly. Three members of his platoon were also killed, as well as their Iraqi interpreter.
Fallen Warrior – Army SSGT Wesley R. Williams
SSG Wesley Ross Williams was born on March 17, 1987, at Darnell Army Community Hospital on Fort Hood, Texas. He grew up in Park Layne, Ohio. Skateboarding, video games, and AFJROTC occupied much of his time. During his senior year at Tecumseh High School, he joined the United States Army. He took his oath of enlistment on July 6, 2005. He earned his Infantry Blue Chord and his Parachutist Badge before being assigned to Ghostrider Company, 3rdBrigade, 2nd Stryker Calvary Regiment in Vilseck , Germany. Wes’s first deployment was to Iraq from August 2007 to October 2008 as a Radio Telephone Operator. When he returned from this deployment he married his high school sweetheart, Krista, in December 2008.
In February on 2009, Wes was assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. He deployed to Iraq again from September 2009 to October 2010 as a Rifleman with Bayonet Company, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
Wesley and Krista welcomed Faith Evelyn into their family in August 2011. Wes was a proud papa. His third tour took him to Sperwan Ghar, Afghanistan as a Squad Leader in 3rd Platoon. On December 10, 2012, Wesley died of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by an IED. He was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, Section 60-10393, in April of 2013. Their second daughter, Valerie Marie, was born in July of 2013.
SSG Wesley Ross Williams earned the following awards and Decorations: Army Commendation Medal w/2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal w/4 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Good Conduct Medal (2nd Award), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/Campaign Star, Iraq Campaign Medal w/2 Campaign Stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Ribbon (Numeral 3), NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, Parachutist Badge. Bronze Star, and Purple Heart.