2022 Gold Star & Blue Shield Families

Army SGT Robert Carr

Robert Michael Carr was born August 25,1984 in Warren, Ohio. Rob graduated from Champion High School in 2002. During his senior year he had been in contact with an Army recruiter, as his desire was to join the United States Army. Rob enlisted for four years and joined the Army on June 14, 2002.  Shortly after enlistment, Rob had gotten a tattoo on his left chest of the American flag, with the phrase “Live Free, Die Well”. Eventually that would become Robs motto. He had an amazing personality and huge  heart! 

Rob married Nina April 10, 2006 and lived in Fort Carson, Colorado until his final deployment. Rob had a passion for wrestling and in January 2007, he learned he’d been accepted into the UFC program, he then called himself “Greatness”. Sadly, Rob was KIA 3-13-2007 in Baghdad, Iraq and didn’t get to fulfill his dream.  Rob lived by his motto, “Live Free, Die Well”, and that eventually became his legacy.

Marine Sgt Tristan Clinger

Tristan was born on October 23, 1987 in Marion, Ohio, to MGySgt., Ret., Daniel and Darlene (Tiell) Clinger, who currently living in Xenia, Ohio.  He married Rachel Self on January 24, 2011 in Leonardtown, Maryland, currently of Beavercreek Oh. He has 3 children Alice, Ellsie, and Bearett Clinger, three sisters, Tianna of San Diego, Kieren and Kiersten at home, and was proceeded in death by his brother Keegan.

Tristan graduated from Fern Creek High School in Louisville, KY in 2006 and attended the University of Louisville Art Institute. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2010 and became a CH-53E helicopter mechanic. He worked hard, treacherous hours and labored to fix the helicopters for his squadron. He was often referred to as their “go to” mechanic and they knew if the job was going to be done right, he wouldn’t stop until it was.

He was passionate and fiercely dedicated to his family and was most proud of the family he had made for himself. He was a tremendous husband and father and put all of himself into being so for his wife and 3 children. He worked hard and made any sacrifices necessary to provide and protect his family, but more importantly, he was attentive and gave them his time. No matter how long and hard his day was, he’d come home with a smile and hug to his wife and help take care of and play with his kids. Tristan had a special way of showing his children the wonders of the world through his own eyes.

Along with being a wonderful son and brother, he was a very passionate person putting all he was into anything he was doing. Although he dabbled in many forms of art and somehow seemed to be brilliant at anything he tried, he favored art, photography and ceramics. He also did a lot of skateboarding in his younger years, a passion which followed him throughout his life.

Tristan had many hobbies. He was always reading, learning and trying new things. He loved art, music, dancing, cooking, and what a cook he was!  He especially loved making whatever he could with his own two hands and seemed to be good at anything new. He loved being outdoors, hiking, camping, and fishing, and knew how to be one with nature. He was adventurous, free spirited and was fortunate to have traveled many places, experiencing many different terrains, foods, and cultures. He loved getting the opportunity to do just that. 
Some people spend their life searching for a type of love they never quite find, but he had found it. He had it, he shared it and it was his most prized possession…his family.

Sgt. Tristan M. Clinger, age 28, of Lakehurst, NJ, passed away on December 26, 2015 in New Jersey.

Army SGT Joshua A. Hester

Joshua was born November 3rd, 1978, in Modesto California. Joshua was born 4 months premature, so he was born fighting for his life already. Before he turned one year old his father gained custody of him and moved him to Oregon to live with him.

Joshua grew up in a small town called Deer Island, he was raised by his father, his grandpa, and grandma. His dad was raising his other son at that time as well. Joshua loved the farm animals and being outdoors. He always had a big smile and beautiful blue eyes that had a spark on them. He loved to talk too much; he was a very mischievous little boy and kept grandpa and grandma busy.  

Joshua comes from a strong military family. His dad, grandpa, uncle, cousins, great uncles, and brother all have served in the military.  They go back as far as serving during George Washington’s presidency. They have a lot of great history and one of his great uncles is at the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor where he lost his life.  His dad was a Pathfinder in Vietnam, Joshua’s stepdaughter is currently serving in the Navy.

He decided to join the Oregon National Guard right after Highschool and his duty station was in St. Helen’s Oregon, he served with 1/B/1-186 infantry called Bravo 1/186. He was transferred to Hillsboro Oregon to Co A/162 Infantry called Alpha 1/162 and by then he extended his enlistment so he could be deployed with his unit.  In February of 2003, He was deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom. He was sent to Iraq serving with his unit A/1-162 Infantry Alpha Forces Command.  While there he was sent to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. 

During the deployment to Iraq Joshua and his recon team were waiting to be picked up by an armored unit. When they were picked up, the tank Joshua was riding on ran over an IED. He was blown off the top and landed on the unit behind the one he was riding on. Joshua suffered brain and spinal cord injuries. 

He came home to Ft. Lewis in WA in 2004 and from there he was sent back to Hillsboro with the A/Z-162 Infantry.  In July 2004, Joshua went to FT. Benning Georgia Co. B 2nd BTL. 29th Infantry Regiment and took the Javelin training. He learned how to operate and fire portable long-range anti-tank rockets.  The same month he took the 11th Infantry Regiment Combative Training Course and learned to train other soldiers 

In September of 2010, Joshua could no longer perform his duties and went on Ready Reserve Status to serve out his remaining time.  Joshua received his Honorable Discharge on February 7, 2012.  

Joshua loved the military. He kept re-enlisting until he started struggling. He struggled with PTSD which was affecting his life in the military and at home. 

When we found out I was pregnant; Joshua was extremely happy. He was so looking forward to the birth of our baby. We continued being a team and he had plans.  He was working in getting better so he could go back to school and be a Phlebotomist. He was keeping up with his counselor’s appointments and doctor visits. He trusted his doctor so much.  He was waiting for the VA to complete his disability claim, but it all changed the morning I woke up to him dead. 

I was eight months pregnant when he went home to heaven. I am not going to lie to you and tell you it has been easy because is not.  I miss Joshua so much, there is never a day that goes by that I do not think of him, especially around the special dates. Our son acts so much like his father and that is a daily reminder of him as well.  The only things I can share with my son about his father are pictures, videos, and sharing all the memories I had with him. Our son Matthew is just as loud as his father was and very affectionate. Every day I look at Matt is as if I am looking at Joshua. 

Marine Sgt David Krueter

Marine Sgt. David K.J. Kreuter died August 3, 2005 serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Kreuter, 26, of Cincinnati; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, Columbus, Ohio; attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward); killed Aug. 3 when his amphibious assault vehicle was attacked by an improvised explosive device while he was conducting combat operations south of Hadithah, Iraq. Also killed were Marine Lance Cpl. Timothy M. Bell Jr., Lance Cpl. Eric J. Bernholtz, Lance Cpl. Nicholas William B. Bloem, Sgt. Bradley J. Harper, Sgt. Justin F. Hoffman and Cpl. David S. Stewart.Long before the military ever sent David Kenneth J. Kreuter overseas, there was a Boy Scout in love with the outdoors.

“The first time we went away to camp, he was all fired up because his parents had given him a hammock,” said Greg Kluener, a friend. “He slept outside in the hammock all week instead of in the tent.”

Kreuter, 26, of Cincinnati, was killed Aug. 3 by a roadside bomb south of Hadithahh, Iraq. He was assigned to Columbus.

Another friend, Eric Wiete, remembers Kreuter as a skinny kid with hair full of gel. He was “the goofball, always the funny guy,” Wiete said.

“That’s how David would want people to remember him,” he said.

“You couldn’t help but think he was hilarious.”

The 1997 high school graduate joined the reserves in 1998. He attended Ohio University and earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2004 from the University of Cincinnati.

He is survived by his wife, Chrystina, and newborn son, Christian.

“Some never find what they love. David loved being a U.S. Marine,” said Kreuter’s godfather, Norm Clarke.

Natural Resource Officer Jason Lagore

Natural Resource Officer Jason Lagore died while responding to a call at Rocky Fork State Park on February 23, 2021. Officer Lagore was responding to a call at Rocky Fork State Park in Highland County just before 6:30 p.m. on reports that two people had fallen through the ice near the North Shore boat docks. During the search, Officer Lagore suffered a medical emergency and was taken to Highland District Hospital in Hillsboro, Ohio, where he was pronounced deceased. A 13-year-old male who fell through the ice was able to get out of the water. He was taken to the hospital in stable condition. The second victim, a 16-year-old female, was recovered by divers unresponsive. She was transported to the hospital but was later pronounced deceased.  Officer Lagore was a dedicated officer, having served 15 years with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. He was responsible for the first ODNR K-9 academy, led the Division of Parks and Watercraft K-9 training program, and was well respected across the state for his expertise working with K-9s. When he wasn’t proudly serving ODNR, Officer Lagore enjoyed deer and turkey hunting, loved history, and enjoyed vacations with his family. Officer Lagore is survived by his wife Michelle, his two young sons, and his K-9 partner, Sarge.

Army PFC James Markwell

Bio Pending

Army SSG Edward D. Mills

Edward Mills Junior was 29, of New Castle, Pa., assigned to the 4th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died May 26 of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device in Spin Boldak, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Also killed were 1st Lt. John M. Runkle, Sgt. Thomas A. Bohall, Spc. Adam J. Patton, Sgt. Louie A. Ramos Velazquez and Staff Sgt. Ergin V. Osman. Mills was a member of the Army’s 101st Airborne Ranger Pathfinders on his third tour of duty in the Middle East.

Family members told the New Castle News that the 2000 graduate of Union High School had been in Afghanistan since Feb. 11. “He was in a highly-trained, specialized unit,” said his uncle, Francis “Poncho” Exposito. “He liked it and talked about making a career for himself in the military.” Exposito said the family was notified early Friday. He said he did not have details of the attack that killed Mills. “It’s been tough,” he told the paper for a story Saturday. “We’re a close family. This is the last thing you expect to hear — especially on Memorial Day weekend.”

Army SSG Ronald Phillips Jr.

Army Staff Sgt. Ronald Phillips Jr. was 33, of Conway, S.C.; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; died Sept. 25 in Bahbahani, Iraq, of wounds sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.

Wanda Phillips said a moment with a South African pastor during her son’s high school days was his first nudge toward service.

“God said, ‘If you serve me, I’m going to take you places,’” she said, reading from the family’s written account of what Ronald Phillips Jr. was told that day. “You’re going to be able to run with young people and go with teams. You’re going to countries in the world.”

“All Ron heard out of that was he was going to lead teams,” said his father, Ronald Phillips Sr. “Well, he was a basketball player and said, ‘Oh, Daddy, I’m going overseas to play basketball.’ I said, ‘Boy, that ain’t what that means.’”

Phillips, 33, of Conway, S.C., died Sept. 25 in Bahbahani of wounds suffered when his vehicle struck an explosive. He was a 1994 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Stewart.

He was known for his love of R&B music and his ability to just draw people in, whether at football game as a child, or fishing with his three brothers as an adult.

He is survived by his wife and two young children.

“He’s my hero,” said Ronald Phillips Sr.

Army SGT Joseph Ponder Jr.

My late husband, Joe Ponder, loves classic cars. Loved it so much that he purchased a 1950 Mercury fixer upper which he and our son spend countless hours working. Our son, Wesley, can’t wait to take ‘shop’ at school so he learn more about cars can continue to work on it and possible drive it someday.

Joe loves to go to the ranges… actually we both do. Needless to say, we have taught our son, even at an early age, about gun safety. My son and I have gone to several hunting trips.

Joe is also a builder… not carpentry builder, but more of Legos builder. Yes, he’s a kid at heart. I like to think that he passed his creativity to our son because he likes to build things as well.. not just with legos, but with other materials laying around the house/yard as well. 

Other notable hobbies that my late husband enjoyed are: reading, playing video games, watching sci-fi movies, collecting action figures, and playing pranks with us.

Army SFC Richard C. Ramirez

Sergeant First Class Richard Clifton Ramirez, 36 years old of Azle, Texas passed away Tuesday, September 11, 2018. He was born in Oklahoma City. Rick was a career military man. He served in the Air Force from 2002 – 2004 then in 2005 Rick re-enlisted into the Army where he reclassified to be a 68w Army Medic. Who would have known that during his medic training he would meet his future wife Nancy Morales.   Eights months later Rick and Nancy were married in her home town of Newark, Texas and where married 12 1/2 years till his passing. During their years of marriage they had two incredible young men Riley and Caleb Ramirez. 

SFC Richard C. Ramirez deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where he distinguished himself for exceptional meritorious service by earning the Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal. Rick served his country faithfully until his passing. 

Rick was a “MANS MAN”, jack of all trades; there was not much he couldn’t do. He was a great man who taught his sons how to live an exemplary life by showing love, kindness and respect to others. Rick treasured and loved his wife beyond all measures. Rick enjoyed the outdoors. He would rather spend his time hunting, fishing, building with his hands and showing his sons life long skills.  A beloved Husband, Father and Son, Rick’s memory will forever be etched upon our hearts.

Navy LT Patrick Ruth

Patrick Lawrence Ruth, 31, a United States Naval Aviator and resident of Collinsville, Mississippi, passed away on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in a naval aviation training mishap in the Cherokee National Forest near Tellico Plains, Tennessee. Patrick was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1986 to David Allen and Mary Warren Ruth. He grew up the middle of five children surrounded in love by his siblings, David A. Ruth Jr., Lesley Ruth Fandal, Alison Ruth Zeringue, and Sean W. Ruth. He proudly held the title of ‘favorite uncle’ for his five nieces and two nephews. Patrick was to be married on October 28, 2017 and is survived in mourning by his fiancé, Jessica Lauren Fugitt. He is also survived by his maternal grandmother, Patricia W. Warren. Patrick, a member of Brother Martin High School’s Class of 2004 graduated from Tulane University with a B.S. in Mathematics and was commissioned as a naval officer in 2008. He earned his “Wings of Gold” in 2011 to begin his career as an aviator in the fleet. He deployed with VAW-126 Seahawks on the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), in 2013-2014 in support of U.S. Navy operations in the Persian Gulf. His most recent tour of duty was as an instructor pilot at Naval Air Station Meridian, Training Squadron VT-7 Eagles, training the next generation of Naval Aviators. Patrick loved the life he lived and celebrated each day with new adventure and wonder. He will be forever missed and never forgotten.

Marine Cpl Clarence Duaine Stoneking

Clarence Duaine Stoneking was born January 4, 1930. He entered the United States Marine Corps November 1,  1950. During his second enlistment he returned to Korea. His date of death was January 10, 1954.

Clarence was a Corporal assigned to 1st Combat Service Group, 1st Marine Division, FMF. According to the casualty report he was assigned duties as guard in a baggage car en-route from Ascom City to Munsan-ni, Korea. Upon arrival at destination baggage car was found to be afire. Body of deceased was burnt and lifeless. Cause of death Asphyxiation and severe burns.

He was survived by his wife Annie Ruth Stoneking of Wilmington , NC and infant son. He is buried at the National Cemetery in Wilmington,NC.

Army SGT Christopher Terry

To have known Chris Terry is to have known selflessness, integrity, love and laughter. From onesies to full battle rattle, Chris yearned to experience life in the most spectacular of ways. He always went above and beyond for his family, friends and fellow soldiers. He led by example and challenged all to do the same. Chris’ exuberance was infectious and his drive to always pay it forward was inspiring. We are all better for having known this remarkable soldier and ever captivating man. Chris enjoyed running, playing hockey, playing racketball, kicking back with friends and generally having a good time. He followed the Buckeyes (more so after prodding from me) and the Capitals (I was still secretly rooting for the Jackets – sorry babe… I’m Ohio to the core). He was a man without a lap. He could stand and be active,  or lay down and nap. Sitting only happened when required to do so. He was a man of many antics and a truly thoughtful partner. He was one of a kind, my best friend and a source of joy still for those who knew him. 

Army PFC James Paul White Jr.

Army Pfc. James P. White Jr. Died August 11, 2006, serving during Operation Enduring Freedom. He was 19, of Huber Heights, Ohio; assigned to 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.; killed Aug. 11 when his platoon came in contact with enemy forces using rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire during combat operations in Nangalam, Afghanistan. Also killed were Spc. Rogelio R. Garza Jr. and Pfc. Andrew R. Smalls  

Jp played basketball, little league baseball, and pee wee football. When he started high school he joined the ROTC competed in this all four years of high school. He was a awesome kid who joined the military because of 9/11 and then wanted to become a history teacher. He has two sisters one older and a twin sister.