2019 Gold Star & Blue Shield Families - Team Fastrax™ Warrior Weekend to Remember 2018
New 2019 Gold Star & Blue Shield Families
Fallen Officer – A.J. Coursen
Officer AJ Coursen was ambushed when answering a domestic call in 2002. He was a graduate of Keystone High School. He began his career in fire and law enforcement in LaGrange, OH as an Emergency Medica Technician (EMT 4) in community service. At age 21, he began training at Medina Police Academy. He volunteered much of his time to auxiliary police until taking a full time position as an officer with LaGrange Police Department. He quickly advanced to a Captains position and served a total of 13 years with that department. His dedication to community service led him to a dual career in law enforcement and fire fighting, becoming chief of the LaGrange Fire Department. He was instrumental in acquiring LaGranges largest fire truck. In July, 2000, he married Deborah Jean "D. J.", and settled in Beaufort, SC.
Fallen Warrior – Army SGT Adam Gilliam
Sergeant Adam Kyle Gilliam was born on 6 September 1985 in Mason City, Iowa and raised in Morristown, Tennessee.
After completing One Station Unit Training as a Cavalry Scout at Fort Knox, KY, he traveled to Schweinfurt, Germany. There he served with the 91st Cavalry Squadron, 173rd Airborne Brigade, deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (EOF). Upon redeployment, SGT Gilliam was assigned to Fort Knox as an instructor with the 15th Cavalry Regiment. While serving at Fort Knox, SGT Gilliam met his wife, Amanda, and they were married in May 2009 in Elizabethtown, KY. SGT Gilliam was then assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Headquarters, station at Camp Ederle, Italy. During that time, he completed his second deployment to Afghanistan. Following redeployment, SGT Gilliam received orders to Fort Bragg, NC where he was assigned to Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, as a Vehicle Gunner.
SGT Gilliam’s military awards include the Combat Action Badge, Army Commendation Medal (5), Army Good Conduct Medal (2), Army Achievement Medal (2), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Service Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Non Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (2), North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal (2), and Parachutist Badge.
SGT Gilliam was constantly surrounded by friends and loved ones including his wife, Amanda, and their two dogs, Carlisle and Esme; parents Sherry and Emery Gilliam; grandparents Earl and Stella Jensen; siblings Dennis Gilliam, Phyllis Gilliam Owen, Rose Murphy, Cory Gilliam, Andrew Gilliam, Joe Gilliam, and Olivia Keller; uncle Bruce Jensen; in-laws Patricia Gilliam, Julia Cureton, Alisha Gilliam, Tiffany Johnson, and Dane Johnson; parents-in-law Josephine P. Coreno and Ronald Strah; step-father-in-law Albert Gender; and nieces and nephews Cheyenne Cureton, Jordan Bishop, Hailey Bishop, Keyshawn Gilliam, Kendra Gilliam, Jonathan Gilliam, Lucas Johnson and Amelia Johnson.
Fallen Warrior – Army Sgt. Daniel McCall
Sgt Daniel McCall died Oct. 30 in Baghdad of wounds sustained when enemy forces engaged his unit with small-arms fire and an improvised explosive device. Also killed were Spc. Rush M. Jenkins and Pfc. Cody M. Carver.
Sgt. Daniel L. McCall of Pace, Florida will stay in the Pace High School record books until someone runs faster. He still holds the 400-meter record. Daniel also played soccer throughout his life and football during his senior year. He was chosen to the News Journal All-Area Track second team in 2001 after finishing second at the Class 3A state championships in the 400-meters. He was an all-around athlete. Daniel enlisted in the United States Army June 2004, following in his grandfather "Duke's" footsteps, as he is a retired Vietnam Army Veteran. He was assigned to Ft. Benning, GA, for completion of Basic Training and Airborne School. Daniel was transferred to Ft. Bragg, NC, for Special Forces Training. It was at Ft. Bragg that Daniel met the love of his life, Brittnay, whom he married in April of 2006. Sgt. McCall eventually returned to Ft. Benning to serve with the 3rd Infantry Division and was deployed to Iraq in March 2007. Sgt. McCall's accomplishments while serving his country include: Combat Life Savers Training, Sniper School, Warrior Leaders Course, Airborne School and Special Forces Training. Daniel's medals for service are the Purple Heart, Parachute's Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge, Bronze Star Medal, ARCOM, AGCM, NDSM, ICM, GWTSM, and ASR. He was raised by his grandparents, Marvin and Liane McCall, who moved from Pace to Mississippi after the young man graduated and joined the Army.
Fallen Warrior – Air Force SrA Brad Smith
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Senior Airman Bradley R. Smith, United States Air Force, for gallantry in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States while serving with the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron, in action near Badvan village, Afghanistan, on 3 January 2010. On that date, Airman Smith's platoon was ambushed by simultaneous mortar, improvised explosive device, and machine gun fire while on foot patrol, leaving a Soldier and Airman immobilized in an adjacent creek and a second Soldier missing. Airman Smith, returning fire, ran without hesitation through the lethal crossfire into the creek to save his comrades. Still exposed to enemy fire, and without regard for his personal safety, he rescued the disoriented and blinded Airman from the water and recovered the mortally wounded Soldier. Airman Smith then administered rapid first aid to his fellow Airman's head and eyes. After stabilizing the wounded, Airman Smith continued returning fire and coordinated close air support. He controlled three formations of Kiowa attack helicopters, expending all available munitions on surrounding enemy positions. Airman Smith did not hesitate to act upon hearing of the still-missing Soldier's location. He volunteered to proceed 200 meters into the village to recover the Soldier, knowingly exposing himself to continued enemy fire for a second time while disregarding the dangers of the ongoing firefight and the risk, consequences, and threat of further improvised explosive devices as explained by the platoon leader. Determined not to leave a fallen comrade behind, he retrieved the dismembered Soldier and maneuvered toward the casualty collection point. A second improvised explosive device detonated as he approached the collection point, killing him instantly. By his gallantry and devotion to duty in the dedication of his service to his country, Airman Smith has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Fallen Warrior – Army Sgt. Jonnie Stiles
Jon died 11/13/2008 in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when an IED detonated near his vehicle. He had been assigned to the Louisiana Army National Guard, serving in the 927th Engineer Company in the 769th Engineer Battalion. Stiles was born in Bartlesville, Okla., and graduated from Littleton High School in Colorado. He served in the military for 17 years, first joining the Marines and then switching to the Army in 1999. Stiles served three years at Fort Carson, left the Army and then returned as a member of the Colorado Air National Guard. He had asked to be transferred to the Louisiana National Guard.
Fallen Warrior – Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Jeffrey L. Wiener
Wiener, a petty officer third class assigned to II Marine Expeditionary Force, joined the service after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He was shot by insurgents during a firefight after a suicide bombing near a hospital in western Iraq. Wiener, 32, worked as an emergency medical technician in Jefferson County from 2000 until he joined the military in 2002.Wiener sought out the specialized training for a Navy corpsman so he could help more people and go where medical personnel were needed.
Ambassador Gold Star Families
Fallen 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 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 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 – 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 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 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 – Marine LCpl Taylor Prazynski
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 National Cemetery, Section 60, Site 8111.
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 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 – Marine Cpl Paul W. Zanowick II
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.
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.