US troops killed in Afghanistan and Africa

AP News
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Posted: Nov 09, 2009 3:37 PM

Army Sgt. Ryan C. Adams

Ryan C. Adams celebrated life, whether he was enjoying the outdoors by hunting and fishing or volunteering with Angels on My Shoulder, a nonprofit cancer support group dear to his heart. He had an infectious sense of compassion, his family said.

Adams joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard shortly after graduating in 2001 from Rhinelander High School, in Rhinelander, Wis., where he was a quarterback on the football team and played baseball and golf. Staff at the school remembered him as a respectful, hard-working student who made time for others, and those qualities stuck in his military life.

"He was where he wanted to be, doing what he wanted to do," his parents, Peter and Jalane, said in a statement. "He did it with pride and honor."

Adams, 26, died Oct. 2 in Logar province of wounds from an attack involving rocket-propelled grenades. He had previously served in Iraq.

"He was very proud to serve his country," said his uncle, Patrick Adams. "He was incredibly proud to be a soldier, and he loved doing what he did."

Survivors include his sister, Amanda, and dozens of aunts, uncles and cousins.

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Marine Lance Cpl. David R. Baker

Growing up just off Lake Erie in northeast Ohio, David Baker was quiet and more comfortable in the background.

That changed after he joined the Marines. While serving in Afghanistan, he took on the job of leading patrols, searching out hidden explosives and other dangers to protect his fellow Marines behind him.

"You could just see the transformation of his personality from being a shy boy into a young man because of his tour of duty in the Marines," said his uncle Jim Baker.

Baker, 22, of Painesville, Ohio, died Oct. 20 while on patrol in Helmand province. He was based at Camp Pendleton.

Baker joined the Marines shortly after graduating in 2006 from Riverside High School in Painesville, Ohio.

"From the beginning, Dave's goal was to be a Marine," Riverside computer and math teacher Sally Vaidean wrote on the school's Web site. "His work always reflected this _ from his use of the Marine Emblem to the words of the Marine hymn."

Friends and relatives say Baker was smart, witty and enjoyed country music.

Survivors include his parents, Laurie Lewkowski and Mark Baker.

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Army Pfc. Brian R. Bates

As Brian Bates' grandmother tells it, the boy she had raised since age 4 had a hard life and grew up fast: He was already a father age 17.

"A lot of young men might have walked away, but he took full responsibility, and he was by their side as best he could be," said the grandmother, Marline Tully.

Bates had two children, 2-year-old Brylie and 1-year-old Braiden.

"He was a great guy, a great husband and a great dad. His kids were Daddy's boy and Daddy's girl," said Bates' wife, Enjolie. The couple would have celebrated their first anniversary in November.

Bates, 20, was killed Oct. 27 when the Stryker armored vehicle he was driving hit a roadside bomb. He joined the military in November 2008. He was assigned to Fort Lewis and was on his first overseas deployment.

Tully said she often told her grandson to watch his feet over there, but he always kept it lighthearted on phone calls and assured her he was safe.

"He said, 'Now listen, I'm calling to check and let you know I'm breathing,'" Tully recalled Bates telling her in their last phone conversation. "'But if I don't call, I'm still breathing. And even if the Army comes to your house, there's a possibility I could still be breathing.'"

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Army Staff Sgt. Keith R. Bishop

Keith Bishop was pretty sure he wanted to join the military, but after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, there was no doubt.

He joined the Army two years later, and became a special forces Green Beret last year.

"They only take a small group into training, and not everyone makes it, but he did," Robert Bishop said of his son.

Keith Bishop, 28, was among 10 Americans who died Oct. 26 when the helicopter he was in crashed in Darreh-Ye Bum. He was assigned to Fort Bragg.

Bishop grew up in Medford, N.Y. and was a 1999 graduate of Patchogue-Medford High School. He had a wife, Maggie Bishop.

"His courage was admirable and passion for life undeniable," said his brother, Stephen Bishop.

President Barack Obama was among those who honored Bishop when his body was returned to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Robert Bishop said Obama took time to console each member of the family, including Keith Bishop's nephew.

"My grandson, he's 11 and he was very upset, crying," Robert Bishop said. "He bent down and was talking to (my grandson). He showed a lot of respect."

Survivors also include his mother, Suzan Bishop, and five siblings.

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Army Spc. George W. Cauley

George W. Cauley was a perfectionist who always wanted to do things right, whether he was playing around with the mechanics to increase the speed of a small sports car or cranking out tunes on the guitar, piano and drums.

He also enjoyed playing basketball with friends, spending time on the computer and listening to music.

The 24-year-old from Walker, Minn., died Oct. 10 in Bagram of wounds from an improvised explosive attack on his vehicle three days earlier in Helmand province. He was assigned to the Minnesota Army National Guard in Duluth, Minn.

It was his first tour in Afghanistan, his family said.

The 2003 graduate of Remer High School in Remer, Minn., had enlisted in the National Guard at age 17. His family said he was known as a patient, respectful guy who stood up for others and took pride in wearing his uniform.

He is survived by his parents, Richard and Gloria, about a dozen aunts and uncles and several cousins.

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Army Spc. Kyle A. Coumas

Kyle Coumas would have gotten away with throwing a party in his parents' house when he was in high school. But he gave himself away.

With his parents gone, Coumas cleared the front room of their Lockeford, Calif., removing pieces of furniture and pictures so they wouldn't get damaged. But after the party ended, said Stockton resident Mycal Wayte, Coumas forgot to put a picture back in place, and his mother noticed. The ordeal had been fairly out of character for Coumas, Wayte said.

"He was probably one of the best kids I ever met in my life," Wayte said. "Basically good natured; you didn't have to worry about him."

Coumas, 22, died Oct. 21 in Kandahar province when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. He enlisted in February 2007 _ two years after he graduated high school. He was based at Fort Lewis.

He is survived by his parents, Lori and Greg Coumas.

"Our goal was for you to be your own person," said a letter Coumas once received from his parents.

The letter was read at a service for Coumas attended by some 500 people. Letters Coumas wrote while in Afghanistan were read aloud, too.

"It's hot as hell," he wrote to his parents.

"I just want to let you know I'm OK."

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Army Spc. Michael A. Dahl Jr.

Michael Dahl Jr. may have been calm and soft-spoken, but he didn't care much for sitting around.

When other soldiers at his Army base played video games or watched movies, Dahl pushed for a trip to Las Vegas.

At age 23, Dahl's friends said, he was fun-loving yet serious; humble, yet proud of his work.

He "wouldn't trade his job for the world," wrote Spc. Peyton Cloninger, Dahl's friend.

Cloninger's statement was read last month at a memorial service for Dahl, who was killed Oct. 17 in Arghandab when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.

"Not only was he a great friend, he was a good soldier," Cloninger's tribute said.

Dahl was from Moreno Valley, Calif., and assigned to Fort Lewis.

Before deploying to Afghanistan, Dahl served for a year in Iraq, said his mother, Patricia Dahl.

"I think my son's a hero," Michael Dahl Sr. said. "He died for what he believed in."

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Army Sgt. Fernando De La Rosa

Fernando De La Rosa viewed his military work as a personal cause, a matter of protecting the people he loved.

"He told me he was the only one who could defend his friends and family, and that is why he kept joining," said his mother, Rosa De La Rosa.

The 24-year-old from Alamo, Texas, was killed Oct. 27 by an explosive in Arghandab Valley. He was assigned to Fort Lewis.

"He was crazy, very lovable, outgoing, mischievous," his mother said. "He liked girls, a lot of girls."

He had graduated in 2003 from Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Memorial High School, where he was an athlete and developed a preference for eating vegetables instead of meat.

"He was always looking after his weight," his mother said.

He enlisted in the Army after graduation, and it seemed to make him a more spiritual person, she said. He had deployed twice to Iraq.

His mother said he planned to retire after spending a decade in the military.

His survivors include his wife, Karen; young sons Fernando and Juan Carlos; father, Rolando; and four younger siblings, Rolando, Rogelio, Rayven and Alfredo, also a soldier.

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Marine Cpl. Gregory M.W. Fleury

Gregory Fleury was playing in his high school orchestra and involved in the Navy JROTC when he decided _ with his family's support _ that he would join the Marine Corps.

"We encouraged him because the military service is a good training and learning ground for young adult people," his grandfather Albert Fleury said.

Earlier this year, the 23-year-old Fleury was considering a career in computers and what he would do after he left the military when he learned he would be deployed _ for the third time. He willingly accepted, and again he had his family's support.

"Some people would have tried to demand that they be let out, that they've already served," his grandfather said. "But he accepted the extra challenge and responsibility, which is typical of him."

Gregory Fleury, of Anchorage, Alaska, died in Helmand province in an Oct. 26 helicopter crash.

The elder Fleury said his grandson was born in Sitka, Alaska, a small seaside community. He graduated from Service High School in Anchorage and enlisted in the Marines in June 2006.

He completed two Iraq tours as a gunner and mechanic aboard combat helicopters, his family said. He also is survived by his mother, father and seven siblings.

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Army Spc. Jesus O. Flores Jr.

Jesus O. Flores Jr. was "Flo," "Jun-jun" and "Lil Boi" to his many friends.

As a youth, "Jun-jun" was kind and liked to play video games, said Phil Rivera, who wrote on a Los Angeles Times Web page dedicated to the 28-year-old Flores.

On Oct. 15, Flores was one of four soldiers killed in Kandahar when their vehicle was attacked with an improvised explosive device. All were based at Fort Carson.

Flores, who joined the Army in December 2003, was a decorated soldier. He received the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, the Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.

"Specialist Jesus Flores will be forever remembered for his courage and strength while protecting our country's freedom," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

He also will be remembered as a high schooler who could break dance, wrote friend Melgaspher Rozul.

"I'll miss you homie," Rozul said. "... Watch over us."

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Army Sgt. Justin T. Gallegos

Before he died, Justin Gallegos spent most of the time that he wasn't deployed with his 5-year-old son.

When a service was held for Gallegos, 27, the boy, McAidan, sat at the graveside and was given a folded U.S. flag.

"This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation," Brig. Gen. Sean Macfarland told the boy.

Those close to Gallegos say the soldier had been especially close to his son.

"He was a hero because he loved his family," said the soldier's sister, Amber Gallegos.

Gallegos died of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked a contingency outpost in Kamdesh. He and eight other soldiers killed in Oct. 3 attacks were assigned to Fort Carson.

Gallegos received a Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, two NATO Medals and a number of other honors.

He grew up in Tucson, Ariz. Before enlisting in 2005, Gallegos played football at Tucson High Magnet School from 1996 until 2000, then transferred to Aztec Middle College and graduated there.

Pfc. Rene McCormick, an Army National Guard member who played football with Gallegos, also said his teammate was a hero.

"One of the best men that we knew," McCormick said.

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Army Staff Sgt. Luis M. Gonzalez

Luis Gonzalez had a commanding presence that seemed to make him a good fit for the Army.

"When he walked in the room, he walked heavy, he spoke loud, and he was always noticed," said his mother, Bienvenida Gonzalez.

The 27-year-old Queens, N.Y., native had dreamed for years of joining the Army and enlisted eight years ago after graduating from high school. He distinguished himself by earning more than 23 medals, including the Bronze Star.

Gonzalez served twice in Iraq before being deployed to Afghanistan in July. During his second Iraq tour, he provided security for high-level diplomats, military leaders and reporters.

Gonzalez died Oct. 27 when the vehicle he was riding in was bombed in Arghandab Valley. He was assigned to Fort Lewis.

Gonzalez grew up in the Corona area of Queens, but later moved to the South Ozone Park neighborhood.

Gonzalez, an avid New York Yankees fan, had a wife, Jessica, and son, Isaiah. He always was the life of the party, his mother said.

"He was a good boy, very happy," she said.

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Army Spc. Anthony G. Green

Anthony "Gabe" Green died wearing his wedding band, the symbol of his devotion to his wife, Lindsay.

Soldiers aren't allowed to wear jewelry in combat. But Green had it tattooed on his finger the day before he left for Afghanistan.

"Hey man, this will be permanent, and you can't get rid of it later," Green's father, Cornell, recalled his son telling the tattoo artist.

"The wedding ring is also forever," Gabe Green replied.

Green, 28, of Yorktown, Texas, was killed by a roadside bomb Oct. 16 in Wardak province. He was assigned to Austin, Texas. He graduated from high school in Yorktown, where he played football and was in drama club.

His family wrote in his obituary that Green loved working with the people of Afghanistan. One of his proudest accomplishments was teaching villagers how to irrigate from a windmill they erected, tripling their yield.

On Saturdays back home, Green enjoyed simpler pursuits: He always made time to watch "SpongeBob SquarePants" with his daughters, Kaydence and Madie.

Other survivors include his mother, Patricia, four brothers and three sisters.

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Army Spc. Christopher T. Griffin

As a youngster, Christopher T. Griffin was a cheesehead, and a proud one. He grew up in Michigan, in a town called Kincheloe, but his heart was across Lake Michigan with the Green Bay Packers.

"We would pop in to see him around game time, there he was with his cheese hat on," said Marcia Griffin, who is married to Griffin's grandfather. But Griffin wasn't a couch potato.

"He was friendly, and he was a hard worker," she said. "If any of the neighbors needed their lawns mowed or anything, he would do it."

Griffin's aunt, Nikcole Johnson, said the 2004 graduate of Rudyard High School wasn't interested in college or the mostly prison jobs in his hometown but was very proud of his Army life.

The 24-year-old known sometimes as "Griff" was one of eight soldiers who died Oct. 3 in Kamdesh when their outpost came under fire. He was based at Fort Carson and previously served in Iraq, his aunt said.

Griffin was soft-spoken and unassuming but had a competitive streak and had played football and wrestled, principal Mark Pavloski told CNN. He said Griffin "wasn't one of those kids who needed to be the center of attention, but he wanted to be successful."

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Army Sgt. Dale R. Griffin

Dale R. Griffin was known for his strength and athleticism from the time he was a teenager. In 1999, he was runner-up in his weight class at the Indiana high school wrestling championships. The next year he won his weight class in the All-Academy Wrestling championship while competing for the Virginia Military Institute. And recently, he swept a mixed martial arts competition against colleagues at Fort Lewis, Wash., where he was assigned.

The 29-year-old from Terre Haute, Ind., was killed Oct. 27 by an explosive in Arghandab Valley.

He had planned to be home for Thanksgiving and told his mother, Dona, he loved her so much he was passing up an Australian vacation to make the trip.

His parents said the 1999 Terre Haute South Vigo High School graduate always tried to improve himself and help others. He was becoming fluent in Arabic and had asked them to send crayons and paper for him to give to the Afghan children.

"He wanted to make a difference," his father, Gene, said. "And that's what he's doing."

He eventually planned to leave the Army and pursue a master's degree and a law degree.

Griffin is also survived by his siblings.

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Army Pfc. Kimble A. Han

Kimble Han enlisted in the Army in 2008, fulfilling his hope of leading a life he could be proud of.

"It gave him purpose and meaning in life," said his older brother Jerod Han. "He was scared, but he was proud. He was a soldier."

Han, 30, of Lehi, Utah, and another soldier were killed Oct. 23 when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. Both were based at Fort Carson.

Jerod Han said he and his younger brother graduated from Cheyenne High School in Las Vegas, and the two moved to Utah in 2002 to seek work.

Han's mother, Lisa Barnes, said her son, a combat engineer, was transferred to Afghanistan after starting a tour of duty in Iraq. Barnes said her son was big and strong. He was a patriot, she said.

The last time she talked to him, though, she said she sensed fear in his voice. Han told her the Taliban's improvised explosive devices had become more difficult to detect.

"I'd never heard that from my son before, but yes, I could tell. He was so scared," she said.

Han is survived by his wife, Melissa, and three stepchildren.