US troops killed in Afghanistan and Africa

AP News
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Posted: Apr 14, 2011 11:08 AM
US troops killed in Afghanistan and Africa

?Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher S. Meis

Christopher "Steele" Meis' family remembers him as kind, considerate and funny.

"He was a stand-up guy who knew he wanted to be a Marine since eighth grade," his mother, Holly, Meis, told the Denver Post. "He loved his family. He was all about family and all about country."

Meis, 20, of Bennett, Colo., was killed March 17 in combat in Helmand province. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune.

The Denver Post reports that he enlisted in the Marine Corps in January 2010 and he was deployed to Afghanistan a year later.

"He loved being a Marine," his mother said. "He said he was going to make a career of it, and he told me last week he was going to re-enlist. He wanted to be the front guy; he wanted to make a difference."

A graduate of Bennett High School, Meis is survived by his mother; father, Christopher; and brother, Hunter, 16.

His awards include the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

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?Army Cpl. Donald R. Mickler

Donald R. Mickler Jr. worked hard to get into the Army and worked hard to be a good soldier.

Part of what motivated him was a desire to get out of his hometown, Dayton, Ohio, and avoid being influenced by people he knew who were not progressing.

"He realized his parents couldn't send him to college, so the military was a good option for him," his great-uncle, Roy Hollis, told the Dayton Daily News. "He very easily could have been a casualty of the streets, but he was determined not to be caught in Dayton."

Mickler, an athlete who participated in varsity track, football and wrestling, started training for the military as a student at Trotwood-Madison High School, Hollis said. He graduated in 1999 and joined the Army the same year.

Mickler, who was assigned to a regiment in Vilseck, Germany, was sent to fight in Afghanistan. He died March 19 in Kandahar province. He was shot, allegedly by a member of a military security group that was supposed to protect soldiers. The shooting remains under investigation.

Mickler, 29, was one of 10 children. He leaves behind a 3-year-old son in Germany.

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?Marine Cpl. Ian M. Muller

It's hard for family members to picture Ian Muller in any job that's not with the Marines. The young corporal from Danville, Vt., said he picked the Marines because it's the toughest and most elite of the military branches.

But it's a career he chose only because he was having trouble finding work around Danville, says his father, Clif Muller. He knew the dangers that came with his choice, and they scared him, the Marine told his brother, Ryan.

But after nearly four years, Cpl. Muller had overcome his fear and was dedicated to his job and fellow Marines. He was sent to Afghanistan in January and often volunteered to take the more dangerous lead position during combat patrols. He said he did it because many of his colleagues had wives and children, and he did not.

Cpl. Muller, 22, was killed in combat March 11 in Afghanistan's Helmand province. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune.

Friends say Muller lived his life to the fullest; he enjoyed skiing, snowboarding, bodybuilding, soccer and track. He also played the viola and liked to cook.

He also leaves behind his mother, Suzanne Muller, four other brothers and a sister.

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?Army Sgt. 1st Class Dae Han Park

Dae Han Park was an ambitious soldier constantly looking for opportunities to improve his skills.

He joined the Army in 1998 as an infantryman after graduating from Watertown High School in Watertown, Conn., where he grew up.

He joined the elite Rangers two years after enlisting and volunteered for Special Forces training a few years later.

Park rose to the rank of sergeant first class. He served in Iraq, Bangladesh, Philippines, Cambodia and India.

"He was a consummate professional," Maj. Matt Gregory told The Olympian newspaper. "Everything he did was to improve himself so he could improve others."

Park, 36, was on his first rotation to Afghanistan and had been in the country for about a month when he was killed in a March 12 bombing in Wardak province. He was assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"He is a hero who died serving his country, and he will be honored and remembered as such," Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.

Park is survived by his wife, Mi Kyong Park, and daughters, Niya and Sadie.

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?Army Pfc. Arturo E. Rodriguez

To family, Arturo Rodriguez was an "angel," his aunt said.

The 19-year-old from Bellflower, Calif., liked to run and lift weights, and grew up knowing he wanted to join the U.S. Army, his aunt Maria Melendrez told the Guadalajara Reporter in Mexico.

"He was very disciplined and obedient," his Melendrez said.

He died in Paktika province on March 12, having been wounded in an attack on his unit. He was assigned to Fort Campbell.

His death came a week before his family expected him to return from Afghanistan, his aunt said.

The Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Army Achievement Medal are included on a long list of his military honors.

He is survived by his father, Arturo Rodriguez Segura, and mother, Rosa Jimenez Davila, both of Mexico; and aunt, Maria Lopez of Bellflower.

A funeral was held for the soldier in Tonala, Mexico, last month.

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?Army Cpl. Justin D. Ross

Around groups of people, Justin Ross was quiet and sometimes shy. But around his friends, his personality blossomed, and the son of a pastor began to shine.

"He never, ever thought of himself," friend Amy Staeven told WBAY-TV. "He was always there to encourage, (and) never had anything bad to say about anybody."

The Green Bay, Wis., native enlisted in the Army reserves in 2006. He graduated from Port Bay High School in 2007 and Universal Technical Institute in 2009.

His high school principal told WFRV-TV that Ross was a quiet leader who enjoyed building things and working with his hands.

The 22-year-old died March 26 after he was shot in Afghanistan's Helmand province. He was posthumously promoted to corporal.

His father, the Rev. Ron Ross, said the combat engineer had begun conducting missions on foot to clear bombs from roadways and was enjoying the chance to truly see and experience Afghanistan.

"He . believed in what he was doing," his father said in a statement, according to WLUK-TV. "He also told me that after meeting guys from the Afghan Army that he now understood why we were over there."

Ross was based in Wausau, Wis.

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?Marine Cpl. Jordan R. Stanton

Growing up, Jordan Stanton and his brothers were known as standout athletes in their Southern California community, where the Marine played football and baseball in high school.

He wrestled, too. But his father told the Orange County Register that Stanton wouldn't let his athleticism define him. He planned to pursue "a more certain path," which involved enlisting in the military, his father said.

"He was a planner. It was amazing to see a young man so driven," said Pastor Doug Elliott with RockIrvine Church.

Stanton, 20, died March 4 in combat in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune.

More than 1,000 people attended a service for him in his hometown of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. There, friends and family remembered Stanton as full of life _ someone ready with a joke and the right thing to say.

"If I know Jordan, right now he's probably getting a tattoo of angel's wings," said his brother Ryan Stanton, 28, "And then drinking an energy drink concocted by Jack LeLanne."

Jordan Stanton graduated from Trabuco Hills High School in 2008.

His survivors include his father, Robert; mother, Joyce; brothers Ryan, Ethan and Cole; and fiancee, Julie Dickson.

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?Army Spc. Brian Tabada

Brian Tabada's family remembers how he used to enjoy skateboarding, playing the guitar and video games, and writing and drawing.

Born in Olangapo, Philippines, he moved to the United States as a boy and, according to the Las Vegas Sun, attended Shadow Ridge High School and Arbor View High School in the area, which he called home.

The 21-year-old, who grew up to become a soldier, was killed Feb. 27 in Konar province, Afghanistan, by a grenade attack on his unit. He was assigned to Fort Campbell, where he arrived in 2009 _ the year after he enlisted in the Army.

Survivors include his father, Muncko Kruize, and Kruize's wife, Carol Ann Kruize, of Honolulu; mother, Leinette Mahan and husband Larry Brady, of Las Vegas; and four siblings.

For his military service, Tabada earned the Army Commendation Medal, one of multiple military honors, officials said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval praised Tabada after his death, saying the soldier "made the ultimate sacrifice and we are forever grateful."

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?Army Staff Sgt. Travis M. Tompkins

Beyond being a soldier, Travis Tompkins was a devoted husband and father.

During a visit home this spring, Tompkins surprised his wife with a vow renewal ceremony to mark their 10th anniversary on March 1.

"It was the most perfect day," his wife, Candy, wrote in an online message.

Tompkins was a military police officer devoted to leading his unit. At 6 feet 7 inches tall, he also went by the nickname Tiny and hoped to open his own motorcycle shop one day, KSWO-TV reported.

He was also a dedicated friend who loved to laugh.

"He was a fine young man, and he was a hero," State Rep. Ann Coody, his former high school principal, told The Lawton Constitution. "He was very friendly. He would come up and befriend you."

Tompkins was a 1999 graduate of Macarthur High School and had been an active Boy Scout.

He'd been in Afghanistan less than two weeks when he died March 16, a day after he was injured by a rocket-propelled grenade in Logar province.

Tompkins is survived by his wife and two daughters, along with his parents and a sister. He was assigned to Fort Polk.

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?Army Staff Sgt. Eric S. Trueblood

An eight-year Army veteran, Eric Trueblood was known as an honest soldier who used humor and encouragement to remain positive.

Friends said in a Stars and Stripes newspaper report that he was a skilled bomb technician and had been a trusted mentor.

"He was a good guy, one of a kind, first class," said Spc. Graham Burnsed of the 515th Transportation Company in Mannheim, Germany.

Trueblood, 27, of Alameda, Calif., died March 10 after his unit was attacked Kandahar province, Afghanistan. He was based in Mannheim and on his second tour in Afghanistan.

An obituary for him published in the Laramie (Wyo.) Boomerang said he was born in Gillete, and he and his family lived in the state until he was 5. They then moved to Alameda, Calif., where Trueblood attended St. Joseph School.

He enlisted in the Army in March 2003 and eventually became a bomb technician.

"Eric was always there when you needed someone," said Spc. Kyle Holly. "He was a person of action."

Trueblood's survivors include his mother, Linda Trueblood, of Mountain View, Calif.; father, Donald Trueblood, of Walnut Creek, Calif.; and sister, Nena Trueblood.

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?Army Spc. Andrew P. Wade

On the field and off, Andrew Wade had the makings of a standout soccer star.

At Antioch High School in the Chicago suburb of Antioch, Ill., Wade was a defensive starter on the school's team, helping take his squad to the division championships two years in a row.

"I don't think he was afraid of any opponent, no matter how big they were, how fast they were," soccer coach Charlie Trout told WBBM-TV. "He would take anybody on."

Wade graduated in 2007 and joined the Army in 2008. He worked as a weapons specialist, according to The Daily Herald, and arrived in Afghanistan last spring.

The 22-year-old died in a noncombat related incident March 9 in Afghanistan's Kunduz province.

Wade's sister said he hoped to become a professional soccer player and was planning a trip around the world with his friends after they finished their time in the military, according to the newspaper.

"After that trip, he talked about possibly going back to school. His family and friends were everything to him," she told the paper.

In addition to his sister and two brothers, Wade is survived by his parents. He was assigned to Fort Drum.

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?Army Sgt. Jason M. Weaver

Jason Weaver had a smile and sense of humor that could cheer those around him, friends and family said.

When times grew challenging, the soldier showed optimism, even smiling through hot and dusty days as he served in Afghanistan, comrades remembered.

"He was beautiful inside and out," said his aunt, Gloria Wood. "And those dimples _ what a face!"

Weaver, 22, of Anaheim, Calif., was killed March 3 in Kandahar province. He was assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Friend Spc. Brian Gabel said Weaver took the lead on his squad's foot patrols, and he volunteered for the position, even though it was a risky responsibility.

"He knew it was a dangerous job," Gabel said in an Army account. "But that's the kind of guy he was: the kind who wanted to lead the way for his team and be there to protect them if they were in danger."

Weaver was promoted posthumously from specialist to sergeant.

The Orange County Register reported that he played linebacker on the El Dorado High School football team in Placentia before graduating in 2007.

"My son was a very compassionate, loving, caring and generous person," Patricia Weaver said in a statement. "He will be missed dearly by everybody."