US troops killed in Afghanistan and Africa

AP News
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Posted: Oct 10, 2010 4:01 PM
US troops killed in Afghanistan and Africa

Army Staff Sgt. Joshua D. Powell

Joshua Powell was the type of guy who'd talk to anybody, nearly anytime, but didn't need to be the star of the show, according to former classmates.

"He definitely wasn't the publicity type," high school friend Jamie Kleimenhagen told the State Journal-Register in Illinois. "Taking care of his own people _ that was a huge priority to him."

Powell, 25, of Pleasant Plains, Ill., died in a helicopter crash Sept. 21 during combat operations in Zabul province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Fort Campbell and previously served in Afghanistan and in Iraq, where he was a helicopter crew chief in a medical evacuation unit, the newspaper reported.

He joined the Illinois Army National Guard in 2003, the same year he graduated from Pleasant Plains High School, where he played varsity soccer for four years.

"You could go to him in a time of joy and he would be there for you," former teammate Bobby Johnson told the Journal-Register. "You could go to him in a time of sorrow and he would be there. He would talk to you in any situation."

Powell, an avid hunter, also liked to collect guns and was a motorcyclist.

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Marine Lance Cpl. Cody A. Roberts

Cody Roberts' family remembers the 22-year-old Marine as a "true hero" who committed his life to serving his faith, family and country.

"Cody embodied the true spirit of the Marine Corps, believing entirely in his God, Family, and Country. The three values he lived for, he ultimately died for," his family said in a statement released through the Idaho National Guard.

Roberts died Aug. 31 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, the military said. He was from Boise, Idaho, and assigned to Camp Lejeune.

He is survived by his wife and a child.

Roberts, who enlisted in the U.S. Marines four years ago, was on his first deployment to Afghanistan when he was killed, a military spokesman told the Idaho Statesman Journal.

"He made the ultimate sacrifice on the streets of a city in Afghanistan so his son would never have to be afraid for his life or ours," Roberts' family said.

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Marine Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Rosa

Anthony Rosa, a lance corporal in the Marines, recently asked his mom to send care packages to him in Afghanistan. He wanted to give them to soldiers who had never received anything from their families.

Such kindness is what made Rosa, nicknamed Chuckie, so popular among friends and neighbors in Swanton, Vt., where he grew up.

"He was a perfectly mannered gentleman," said Bill Rowell, a close friend of Rosa's family. "He wasn't perfect," Rowell added, "but he came closer to it than most."

Rosa, 20, also was known as an excellent golfer, an avid fisherman and a good student.

He joined the Marines a few months after graduating from Missisquoi Valley Union High School in 2008. He was serving in Afghanistan's Helmand province when he was killed Sept. 23 while on patrol. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune.

"It's a real big loss for the community," said Chris Ste. Marie, owner of Ste. Marie's Deli & Quick Stop, where Rosa worked in high school. "Chuckie was the type of kid that ... would have done something with his life, he would have done well for himself."

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Senior Airman Daniel R. Sanchez

Friends say Daniel Sanchez was a green-eyed, walking ball of energy who had a knack for persuasion, a passion for skateboarding and playing sports, and a creative streak that showed in his music and sketches.

His mother urged mourners at his memorial to live as Sanchez had, according to the El Paso Times in Texas.

"It's not easy because he took it one day at a time," Yvette Sierra Duchene said. "Get up, go to work, put a smile on your face and enjoy every second of your life."

Sanchez, 23, of El Paso, Texas, died Sept. 16 after a firefight in Oruzgan province, Afghanistan, during his first deployment. He had planned to become an instructor and make a career in the military.

Relatives wrote in his obituary that Sanchez was "always on the go, making things happen" and that one of his favorite quotes was a Theodore Roosevelt line about a man pursuing a worthy cause and being daring.

He graduated from Montwood High School in 2005 and fulfilled his dreams of flying and scuba diving as part of a Special Tactics Squadron at Hurlburt Field in Florida, where he was assigned.

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Army Spc. Deangelo B. Snow

Before he deployed to Afghanistan, Deangelo Snow used his talents as an artist to design a special reminder of him for his mother, Deloris.

He drew two hands pushed together in prayer, with a dog tag necklace bearing his name dangling from the fingers, and she had it made into a tattoo on her leg, according to The Saginaw News in Michigan.

Snow, a 22-year-old native of Saginaw, Mich., died Sept. 17 Kandahar province after his vehicle was attacked with a rocket propelled grenade. He joined the military after graduating in 2008 from Buena Vista High School, and he was assigned to Fort Campbell.

"He was very well-known, very polite people person," an aunt, Charlene McCall, said. "He was loving, funny, loved to dance."

People writing remembrances in an online memorial described him as an outgoing and creative man who was loved like a brother by some of his closest friends.

Snow's death came nearly a year after his father died after a robbery gone awry in Saginaw.

The soldier's survivors include his mother and stepfather; seven brothers; seven sisters; and his fiancee, Shanlece Scarborough.

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Army Pfc. Clinton E. Springer II

Clint Springer made friends easily _ and he had hundreds. Perhaps it was the way he treated people that made him so popular.

"He could make anybody smile on the worst of days," one friend, Terean O'Reilly, told the Boston Globe. "If you were having a bad day, he would just walk in the room and you would instantly smile. He just had that presence."

Springer, of Sanford, Maine, graduated from Contoocook Valley Regional High School in Peterborough, N.H., in 2007. He joined the Army about two years later and was assigned to Fort Drum. He wanted his family and friends to be proud of him.

In January, he went on his first deployment, to Kabul, Afghanistan. He died there Sept. 24. The Army says his death was not combat-related, and an investigation is under way.

Springer was to return home later his year, and friends say he was looking forward to starting a life with his girlfriend, Kalie Masse.

"He was just an all-around great guy. I know everybody says that about someone after they die, but with him it was true," O'Reilly said.

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Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class James M. Swink II

James Swink, a Navy hospital corpsman, knew early in life that he liked to help people.

At 13, he volunteered with Project R.I.D.E, a Northern California group that provides horseback lessons for children with autism and other special needs.

Too young at first to do more than cleans stalls, he continued to volunteer with the organization until he could begin working hands-on with the new riders, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"He was obviously drawn to help others, as he was one of very few volunteers who came here in their teens, as those years are a time when they are more into themselves than others around them," Tina Calanchini of Project R.I.D.E. told the Times.

Swink, of Yucca Valley, Calif., was killed Aug. 27 in a vehicle accident in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was 20 and based at Camp Lejeune.

He enlisted after graduating from Yucca Valley High School in 2007.

He was the youngest in a family of veterans, with his father and grandfather having served in the Navy; his brothers Brian Mullins and John Swink serving in the Marine Corps; and his sister Melissa Strickland in the Air Force.

"Mike became a corpsman because he loves people and he loves to care for people," his father said.

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Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua T. Twigg

Josh Twigg was an athlete who liked hunting and fishing and tinkering with electronics. He especially enjoyed hanging out with family and friends, making sure they were having fun.

"He was a young man who enjoyed life," said Bill Packer, Twigg's high school football coach. "He always had a lot of friends around him."

Twigg, of Indiana, Pa., always put others first, said his longtime girlfriend, Christina Young.

"He was the most selfless person I know. He was just worried about everyone else," she said.

Twigg was a 2007 graduate of Penns Manor High School, where he played offensive and defensive tackle for the Comets football team. He was an honors student his senior year.

Twigg joined the Marines shortly after high school and served in Iraq from September 2008 to April 2009. He went to Afghanistan in July.

Twigg, 21, died in combat Sept. 2 in Helmand province. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune.

"Josh was proud to serve his country as a Marine, having served previously in Iraq two years ago, and volunteering to be deployed to Afghanistan," his family said in a statement.

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Army Pfc. Barbara Vieyra

Barbara Vieyra joined the Army because she wanted a job that would make her daughter proud, her sister said.

She had grown up in Mesa, Ariz., where her father worked at the C-Bar dairy farm. In 2008, two years after graduating high school, Vieyra enlisted in the Army and her parents cared for her young daughter, Evelyn.

"She always said, 'I'll be able to come back and it won't be like I've missed her whole life. I'll just have missed a part of her life but I'll be able to give her a better life,'" her sister, Guadalupe, told the Arizona Republic.

Barbara Vieyra, 22, died Sept. 18. She was mortally wounded in an attack in Kunar province, Afghanistan. She was assigned to Fort Hood.

"They're just a very close family," Barbara Feenstra, of C-Bar dairy, said of Vieyra, her parents and two siblings. "And now she's not here anymore."

Barbara Vieyra was born in 1988 to Raul and Elizabeth Vieyra, who emigrated from Mexico several years earlier. She has been described as someone who always looked for the best in people.

On her Facebook profile, she listed competitive swimming and dancing as two of her interests.

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Army Chief Warrant Officer Matthew G. Wagstaff

With a smile on his face, Matthew Wagstaff's college roommate remembers when the burly, future chief warrant officer once showed off his moves during Madonna's "Vogue."

Greg Butler said that after a couple of beers, the 6-foot-4 Wagstaff did his best impression of the pop star as the song played at a Utah State University dance.

Years later, the memory still draws laughter from Wagstaff's friends.

"Beneath a tough exterior, he had a gentle and kind heart," longtime friend Pat Hoggan said.

Wagstaff, 34, of Orem, Utah, died Sept. 21 in a helicopter crash that also killed four other members of the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell.

He was a graduate of Orem High School and Utah State University, where he earned a degree in Aerospace Technologies.

His father said his passions included football and flying, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

"He played football with everything he had," Ron Wagstaff said. "And he was one of those rare people who has a dream as a child and then makes it come true. He became a pilot."

Matthew Wagstaff leaves behind his wife, Tiffany, whom he married in January.

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Army 1st Lt. Todd W. Weaver

Todd Weaver's idea of a romantic gift wasn't jewelry. When his wife, Emma, celebrated her 21st birthday, he skipped the glittery stuff and took her skydiving.

"My husband was an amazing person who left this world too soon," Emma said while eulogizing her husband. The couple's daughter, Kiley, was born just nine months before Weaver left for his second deployment to Afghanistan.

He couldn't see his daughter every day, but the Internet made it possible: His family sent video of the little girl walking around more than he'd ever seen.

Weaver, 26, of Hampton, Va., was killed Sept. 9 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Fort Campbell. Weaver had attended the College of William and Mary, where he was a member of the ROTC. He had served in the National Guard, doing a tour in Iraq, before enrolling at the college.

Todd and Emma Weaver both attended Bruton High School in Virginia, but Emma told The Washington Post that she didn't fall for the baseball and football star _ who was always "the most popular guy" _ right away.

Right before he left for Iraq, though, they were at a party together. It was raining. He ran outside in his socks, despite the rain, and gave her a kiss. When he came back, they were together every day.

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Army 1st Lt. Eric Yates

Eric Yates was a quiet soldier who took a no-frills approach to his job and let his work do the talking.

"He looked at it as just doing his job," said Michael Leasor, who graduated from Kentucky's John Hardin High School with Yates in 2003.

Former school principal Brent Holsclaw said Yates didn't talk much but was a good student who did all that was expected of him.

Yates, 26, of Rineyville, Ky., died Sept. 18 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Fort Campbell.

Yates graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2008 with a degree in social studies and history. He was in the school's ROTC program.

Jessica Forrest, a social studies teacher at Hardin High School, said Yates "was a real sensible and likable young man" who couldn't wait to one day begin a career as a teacher.

Lt. Col. Jason Caldwell, who leads the ROTC program at WKU, said he always heard only good things about Yates.

"He was kind of a quiet, soft-spoken young man, but always got the job done, was always true to his word," Caldwell said.