Camp Pendleton Marine KIA, first in 2013

A Camp Pendleton Marine was killed in action Friday, the Department of Defense announced today.

Staff Sgt. Jonathan D. Davis, 34, of Kayenta, Ariz., is the first Marine killed in Afghanistan in 2013, and the first Marine KIA since the December 14 death of another Camp Pendleton Marine, Sgt. Michael J. Guillory, 28, of 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion.

Davis was assigned to Headquarters Battalion, 32nd Georgian Liaison Team, Regimental Combat Team 7, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. He was conducting combat operations in Helmand province, the DoD said.

He becomes the third American service member killed in Afghanistan this year. Two soldiers were killed in January, and another died stateside of wounds suffered during a December attack.

 

Military deaths: December 5, 2012 – February 14, 2013

The following is a listing of military deaths between December 5, 2012 – Feb. 6th. The Debrief‘s last casualty post was December 5. This post is broken into sections including Operation Enduring Freedom deaths as well as other military deaths due to on and off duty mishaps.


Department of Defense announced the following military casualties which occurred during deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

No OEF deaths have been reported by the DoD thus far in February.

20 Jan. 2013: Sgt. Mark H. Schoonhoven, 38, of Plainwell, Mich. died Jan. 20, at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas from wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device on Dec. 15, 2012 in Kabul, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 32nd Transportation Company, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

16 Jan. 2013: Sgt. David J. Chambers, 25, of Hampton, Va., died Jan. 16, in Panjwai District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when he encountered an enemy improvised explosive device while on dismounted patrol.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, under control of the 7th Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

10 Jan. 2013: Sgt. Aaron X. Wittman, 28, of Chester, Va., died Jan. 10, in Khogyani District, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when he was attacked by a rocket propelled grenade while on mounted patrol.  He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

29 Dec 2012: Army Pfc. Markie T. Sims, 20, of Citra, Fla., died Dec. 29 in Panjwal, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 38th Engineer Company, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, under control of the 7th Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

• 24 Dec. 2012: Army Sgt. Enrique Mondragon, 23, of The Colony, Texas, died Dec. 24, in Baraki Barak, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when his unit was attacked by small arms fire while on dismounted patrol. He was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 173rd Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Bamberg, Germany.

• 22 Dec. 2012: Navy Cdr. Job W. Price, 42, of Pottstown, Pa., died Dec. 22 of a non-combat related injury while supporting stability operations in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan. Price was assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit in Virginia Beach, Va.

14 Dec. 2012: Army Sgt. 1st Class Kevin E. Lipari, 39, of Baldwin, N.Y., died Dec. 14 in Logar province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to HHC 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Bamberg, Germany. This incident is under investigation.

14 Dec. 2012: Marine Corps Sgt. Michael J. Guillory, 28, of Pearl River, La., died Dec. 14 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, Camp Pendleton, Calif. This incident is under investigation. The Naval Safety Center posted a mishap summary involving a Marine killed during an ATV rollover in Afghanistan on the same day and with the same rank (E-5).

13 Dec. 2012: Army Staff Sgt. Nicholas J. Reid, 26, of Rochester, N.Y., died Dec. 13 in Landstuhl, Germany from wounds suffered on Dec. 9, in Sperwan Village, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 53rd Ordnance Company (EOD), 3rd Ordnance Battalion (EOD), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

13 Dec. 2012: Army Staff Sgt. Nelson D. Trent, 37, of Austin, Texas, died Dec. 13 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Fort Worth, Texas.

10 Dec. 2012: Army Staff Sgt. Wesley R. Williams, 25, of New Carlisle, Ohio, died Dec. 10 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, under control of the 7th Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

8 Dec. 2012: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque, 28, of Monroeville, Pa., died of combat related injuries suffered Dec. 8, while supporting operations near Kabul, Afghanistan. Checque was assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit. Checque was a Navy SEAL and died during a mission to rescue Dr. Dilip Joseph, who was abducted by Taliban insurgents, CNN Reports.

As of 10 a.m. EST, Thursday, Feb. 14, U.S. casualties during Operation Enduring Freedom totaled 2,168 including 2,047 in Afghanistan, 118 in other locations, and 3 DoD civilians. 18,255 military personnel have been wounded in action which is an increase of 146 WIA from statistics cited in The Debrief’s previous casualties post last on Wednesday, December 5.


The following on-duty non-OEF related military deaths have been reported for December – present.

15 Jan 2013: (FLORIDA) An Army National Guard Soldier died Jan. 15, from injuries sustained in a single vehicle crash. The 20-year-old Soldier was driving a HMMWV on a Florida highway when he lost control of the vehicle while attempting to change lanes and the vehicle overturned. HMMWV is the acronym for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, also known as a “Humvee” tactical vehicle. According to police, the soldier was not wearing his seatbelt and was thrown from the vehicle. He was air evacuated from the crash but died following the medical transport at the hospital.

14 Jan 2013: (MacDill AFB, FL) Air Force Staff Sgt. Emily Elizabeth Clayburn, 29, of Palatine Bridge, N.Y., died in an industrial area accident. She was assigned to 6th Logistic Readiness Squadron, 6th Air Mobility Wing,

09 Jan 2013: (Abilene, TX) Marine Corps E-7 died on 18 Jan from injuries sustained in a multi-vehicle mishap. He was driving a government vehicle.

09 Dec 2012: (Camp Pendleton, CA) Navy E-4 was killed after he was ejected during a HMMWV rollover. HMMWV is the acronym for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, also known as a “Humvee” tactical vehicle.


The following off-duty military deaths have been reported for December – present. This list includes all deaths and mishap investigations The Debrief has access to, but does not include all PLRs posted by the U.S. Army Combat Readiness / Safety Center.

06 Feb 2013: (Camp Pendleton, CA) Marine Corps E-3 died in a single-vehicle mishap.

05 Feb 2013: (Meridian, MS) Navy E-5 passenger died on 07 Feb from injuries sustained in a single-vehicle mishap.

24 Jan 2013: (Naples, Italy) Navy E-4 died in a multi-vehicle mishap.

20 Jan 2013: (St. Lucie County, FL) Navy E-6 died in an automobile mishap.

20 Jan 2013: (Hawaii) Army soldier Trevor McGurran, 23, of Wahiawa, Hawaii died in a motorcycle accident. He was assigned to 500th Military Intelligence Brigade, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

20 Jan 2013: (Houston, TX) A 38-year-old Soldier died Jan. 20 from injuries sustained in a single vehicle crash while on leave in Houston, Texas. The Soldier was driving his vehicle at a high rate of speed through a construction zone when he lost control, struck a curb, and slammed into a concrete pillar. He was evacuated to a local medical center where he was pronounced deceased.

19 Jan 2013: (Georgia) A 47-year-old Army officer died Jan. 19 from injuries sustained in a single vehicle crash in Georgia. He was driving his vehicle when he lost control in a curve. The vehicle exited the roadway and struck a tree. Seatbelt use has not been reported but initial reports indicate he was ejected from his vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

13 Jan 2013: (Jacksonville, FL) Navy E-5 found deceased in hotel hot tub.

06 Jan 2013: (San Diego, CA) Navy E-4 died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle mishap.

03 Jan 2013: (Newport News, VA) Navy E-5 killed in motorcycle accident involving a tractor-trailer.

27 Dec 2012: (Beaufort, SC) Marine Corps E-4 died in a motorcycle mishap when he was struck head on by another vehicle.

27 Dec 2012: (Wichita, KS) Marine Corps E-3 passenger died in a single-vehicle mishap after the vehicle hit a ditch, went airborne and overturned.

24 Dec 2012: (Pagat Caves, Guam) Navy E-3 drowned while swimming.

19 Dec 2012: (Escondido, CA) Marine Corps E-5 motorcyclist died in a multi-vehicle mishap.

01 Dec 2012: (Mission Bay, CA) Marine Corps E-3 died in a recreational diving mishap.


Sources: Department of Defense, Naval Safety Center, Air Force Safety Center, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center.

Three Wounded Warriors in Humana Challenge amateur field

Former President Bill Clinton talks with wounded warrior double amputee golfer Saul Martinez on the driving range at PGA West's Palmer and Nicklaus Private Courses on Thursday, January 17, 2013 during the first day of the Humana Challenge golf tournament. Crystal Chatham, The Desert Sun

Three wounded warriors are playing in the amateur field of this week’s PGA Tour Humana Challenge golf tournament in La Quinta. Saul Martinez, Dave Romanowsky, and Matt Anderson, who are representing the Troops First Foundation, will be on the course for their third and final round in the Humana Challenge’s amateur competition.


Wounded warrior double amputee Saul Martinez works out on the driving range Thursday at PGA West.

Sgt. Saul Martinez, U.S. Army (Ret), joined the Army infantry in 2006 and was deployed to Iraq the next year as part of the surge.  He quickly became a Sergeant assigned to the Brigade Commander’s security detail.  On May 8, 2007, his vehicle was hit by a large IED, instantly killing his best friends and severely injuring Martinez.

He became a bilateral amputee who also had a traumatic brain injury. He medically retired in 2010 after three more years of active duty including regular soldier training and serving as a squad leader in a Warrior Transition Unit. He also returned to Iraq in 2011 as part of Operation Proper Exit.

During his recovery he discovered that golf was both therapeutic and relaxing.  He and his family live in Montana, where he tries to get out on the course as much as possible.

Before the opening round on Thursday, Martinez was greeted by former President Bill Clinton on the driving range at PGA West.

A 15-handicap, Martinez posted 7-under in the opening round at Nicklaus Private Course with professionals Daniel Summerhays and Roberto Castro, who is a tournament co-leader at -14 after the second round. On Friday Martinez played with Michael Bradley and Jason Bohn and shot 4-under. He is at 11-under for the tournament.

Martinez tees off Saturday at 8:50 a.m. on the 1st tee at La Quinta Country Club. He will play with professional golfers Robert Streb and Steve LeBrun.


Technical Sgt. Dave Romanowsky, U.S. Air Force (Ret), served in the Air Force for 17.5 years where he served as an intelligence operative for 12 years before switching to Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD). Before Sept. 11, 2001, Romanowky served a 12-month deployment to Kosovo. Following 9/11 he did two one-year tours in Iraq where he conducted over 1200 ground combat missions.

He worked one year as a demolition specialist for Army Special Operations and as he described “in a capacity to go and catch the bomb makers that were killing or wounding so many of my fellow troops.”

He is a recipient of the Bronze Star for Valor, Purple Heart, Army and Air Force Commendation Medals, and several Combat action medals.

Romanowsky turned to golf as a rehabilitative tool after he was wounded in action with several fractured vertebra. “I am so thankful to just be walking,” he said about his injuries which include other injuries to legs, head, and torso area with severe damage to the lung area and hearing loss in left ear. He spent roughly 4 months in the hospital and roughly 18 months doing rehabilitation in Colorado. He and his family recently moved to Dallas.

“I found that golf is not only extremely fun but acts as a great way to spend time with wife and my two children. I did play prior to being injured but now being retired from the service I’ve thrown myself into it here in Texas,” Romanowsky said.

“I look forward to the great opportunity to play in the Humana and cannot even put into words how thankful I am for the opportunity. Having been nearly killed in combat, I truly embrace everyday of life and this event is almost unbelievable to a be a part of.”

Romanowsky has been Tweeting about his trip to the Humana Challenge via his handle, @Romo9999.

In Thursday’s first round, Romanowsky played with pros Brad Fritsch and Aaron Watkins at La Quinta Country Club where he shot 3-under. Friday the airman, who is listed as an 8-handicap, posted 9-under at the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West with Jason Kokrak and Greg Owen. He is 12-under so far in the tournament.

He tees off Saturday at 8:40 a.m. on the 10th tee of the Palmer Private Course at PGA West. He will play with professional golfers D.A. Points and Tommy Gainey. Comedian Ron White is also in his foursome.


Wounded warrior Matt Anderson shakes hands with PGA Tour player William McGirt after their foursome finished up on the18th hole at Palmer Private Course on Thursday, January 17, 2013 at the Humana Challenge. Crystal Chatham, The Desert Sun

After the September 11th attacks, Capt. Matt Anderson, U.S. Army, left college and join the military.  He enlisted as an 11B Infantryman and became a Scout/Sniper with the 25th Infantry Division shortly before deploying for a 15 month deployment to Iraq. He promoted from a Private First Class to Staff Sergeant in four years. He was selected to go to Officer Candidacy School. After finishing at #4 in his class, he voluntarily served as an assistant S-3 in planning and operations for 1-66 Armor, part of 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. Later he was given command of 1st Platoon, Bravo Company. 1-66 Armor was the first Heavy Brigade Combat Team to occupy Afghanistan.  Their area of operation in the Arghandab River Valley was heavily contested and land mines were a constant threat. The Arghandab River Valley was regarded as the worst area in Afghanistan in 2010. Within the first two-and-a-half weeks, his platoon suffered 14 casualties, diminishing their manpower by half.

His platoon helped with the identification and reduction of multiple IEDs and the improvement of the infrastructure and Afghan/American sentiment within three local towns.  One night, they were tasked to secure the Arghandab River from an abandoned town that was rumored to be extensively mined by the Taliban. At 4:16 a.m. then-First Lt. Anderson stepped on the first land mine inside the compound.  The explosion shattered his heel into 13 pieces and his ankle into three pieces. He also suffered a fractured tibia, fibula, cubiod and navicular bones with extensive vascular and neurologic damage.

A few months after his injury, he learned that there was 45-pounds of ammonium nitrate explosive attached to the land mine that did not detonate, had it gone off he would not have survived the blast. Two other soldiers were injured by land mines within the same compound.

Anderson has had 24 procedures and operations on his right leg.  His leg was salvaged and with the help of a brace, he remains an active duty Army officer and was promoted to Captain.

He said he loves to compete as an athlete and perform the job that he loves. He says that his men are his inspiration to always strive to become a better leader, to work harder, and not let pain or physical limitations stop him from anything.

Anderson is a recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

He opened the tournament 6-under on Thursday at the Palmer Private Course of PGA West with tour pros Brian Harman and William McGirt. On Friday he played at La Quinta Country Club and played 2-under for the round with pros Ryo Ishikawa and Lucas Glover. He is listed as an 8-handicap and is currently 8-under for the tournament.

Anderson tees off Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the 1st tee of the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West. He will play with professional golfers Ben Kohles and Alistair Presnell. Singer Dave Brock is also in his foursome.

*Tournament officials provided biographical data for each wounded warrior.

See the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument on Tues-Weds in Pasadena

This undated publicity photo provided by John Burnam Monument Foundation, Inc., shows the frontal view of the U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument. It is the first national monument ever to pay tribute to dogs and honors every dog who has served in combat since World War II. (AP Photo/John Burnam Monument Foundation, Inc.)

Today and tomorrow, the public can get a first glimpse at the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument in Pasadena before it starts a cross-country road trip to Texas for permanent installation later this year.

The bronze sculptures of a military dog handler and four working dogs — each canine standing about 5′ tall — are scheduled to be displayed on a vehicle parked next to the Natural Balance Pet Foods “Canines with Courage” float following the 124th Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. Each was created by sculptor Paula Slater.

In this undated publicity photo provided by Natural Balance, a rendering of a float called "Canines with Courage," the Natural Balance entry for the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena on Jan. 1, 2013 is shown. War handler veteran, John Burnam, and dogs and handlers from every branch of the service will ride the float. (AP Photo/Natural Balance)

The float features a floral replica of the bronze monument and including working dog teams walking along side. Also riding on the float was Lucca, a working dog with three combat deployments, who lost her front left leg during a roadside bomb blast in Afghanistan last March. Natural Balance’s Rose Parade annual canine star, Tillman, was also on the float. This year, the skateboarding and surfing bulldog traded in his sports equipment for Marine Corps dress blues. Tillman was made an honorary Marine Corps Private First Class during an October ceremony in Dallas.

The post-parade Showcase of Floats is open to the public on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013 from 1-5 p.m. and Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The showcase offers a chance to see the floats up-close and often speak with volunteers or staff who worked on them. Tickets for the float viewing are $10. Click here for more information, directions, and tips for the post-parade event.

The Military Working Dog Teams National Monument will be permanently installed and dedicated in late summer at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas, where military working dogs are trained.

In this Aug. 2, 2012 publicity photo provided by Natural Balance, war handler veteran, author and designer, John Burnam, left, and veteran portrait sculptor, Paula Slater, stand with the silicon bronze 9.5-feet tall military dog handler that is part of the U.S. Working Dogs Teams National Monument shown in the Sculptor's Studio in Hidden Valley Lake, in Calif. (AP Photo/Natural Balance)

Overseas troops send holiday greetings home

Troops with ties to the Coachella Valley and surrounding areas sent recorded holiday greetings home this season while they serve on deployment or stationed at bases overseas. A video reel of their messages is below.

Those shown below are part of a total 5,965 holiday greetings recorded this fall by Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, and Marines.

Featured holiday greetings are from -

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin Priest
Location: Southwest Asia
Hometown: Cathedral City

Air Force Staff Sgt. Alexis Gonzales
Location: Bagram Air Field
Hometown: Beaumont

Air Force Technical Sgt. Maurice Carbajal
Location: Aviano Air Base, Italy
Hometown: Yucca Valley

Army Maj. David Bourne
Location: Qatar
Hometown: Palm Springs

Army Specialist Theresa Baldwin
Location: Forward Operating Base Joyce
Hometown: Twentynine Palms

Army Staff Sgt. David Jimenez
Location: Bagram Air Field
Hometown: El Centro

Army Sgt. 1st Class Tamara Bogan
Location: Bagram Air Field
Hometown: Twentynine Palms

Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Hunt
Location: Kabul
Hometown: El Centro

Army Private First Class Hollie Stutes
Location: Camp Leatherneck
Hometown: El Centro

Marine Cpl. Craig Maddy, shot in head in Desert Hot Springs, “always wanted to be a Marine,” says mom

U.S Marine Corps Cpl. Craig S. Maddy

The Marine who suffered a single gunshot would to his upper body in a car-to-car shootout on Dec. 6 in Desert Hot Springs had been back from Afghanistan less than two months when the shooting occurred, Marine Corps officials said.

Cpl. Craig S. Maddy, 21, of Texas, served with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from April to October, according to Capt. Lisa Lawrence-Arocho, director of public affairs, 1st Marine Division.

Desert Sun Kate McGinty attended a Desert Hot Springs Police press conference Thursday morning and has provided this report:

“The Marine who was shot in Desert Hot Springs was last week was struck in the back of the head “in cold blood” affer a fight in downtown Palm Springs, investigators said today.

During the hourlong press conference, Desert Hot Springs police released more details about the shooting and the Marine’s parents spoke to media to generate tips about his shooter.

Cpl. Craig Maddy and his friends, who are also Marines, got into a “physical altercation in downtown Palm Springs,” Sgt. Brian Link said. He did not release more specifics.

Their car was chased down Indian Canyon Drive by at least one person in a light-colored SUV early Dec. 6.

Someone fired at the car from the SUV with a rifle, striking Maddy in the back of the head, Link said. His friends pulled him from the back seat and tried CPR and packing the wound while waiting for paramedics.

No one in the vehicle with Maddy was armed, Link said.

Maddy remains in serious condition in an intensive care unit at an unspecified hospital. Doctors have told his family he is unlikely to survive.

“I refuse to believe that,” his mother, Vandi Frame, said. “I don’t care what form he’s alive in. He’s alive, and that’s what’s important for me.”

Frame called her son a smart man with strong leadership skills who was meritoriously promoted in boot camp to private first class.

Maddy’s parents worried that their son would be unfairly blamed for the shooting because he had been in a fight earlier in the night.

“No matter the circumstance, no one should be chased down and gunned down,” his stepfather, John Arnold, said. “This is not a video game.”

Raised in Texas, Maddy spoke about joining the Marine Corps since he was 3 years old, his mother said. He has four step-siblings, two of whom are in the Army and Navy.”

He was scheduled to move into the reserves in April, and intended to enroll in college to study finance, his parents said.”

Stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Maddy deployed to Afghanistan on April 2012 and returned Oct. 2012.

Maddy, who has served in the Marine Corps for three years and four months, was deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to Okinawa from July, 2010 to January, 2011.

Maddy has received the following awards and decorations: Combat Action Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (2), National Defense Service Medal, NATO Medal – International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Police ask anyone with information to call Det. Raul Sandoval at (760) 329-6411 Ext. 330, or Crime Stoppers at (760) 341-7867.

Marine Cpl. Craig Maddy, "always wanted to be a Marine," says mom Vandi Frame.

Military deaths: November 28 – December 5, 2012

The Department of Defense announced the following military casualties from November 28 – December 5, 2012. All were deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

• Sgt. 1st Class. Darren M. Linde, 41, of Sidney, Mont. and Spc. Tyler J. Orgaard, 20, of Bismarck, N.D. died Monday, Dec. 3, in Lashkar Gah City, Helmand province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.  They were assigned to the 818th Engineer Company, 164th Engineer Battalion, Williston, N.D. as part of the North Dakota National Guard.

• Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Denier, 26, of Mechanicville, N.Y., died Sunday, Dec. 2, while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  Denier was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

As of 10 a.m. EST, Wednesday, Dec. 5, U.S. casualties during Operation Enduring Freedom totaled 2,156 including 2,035 in Afghanistan, 118 in other locations, and 3 DoD civilians. 18,109 military personnel have been wounded in action which is an increase of 38 WIA from statistics cited in The Debrief’s previous casualties post last on Wednesday, November 28.

—-

A Coast Guard member was killed in action this week off the coast of California. The Coast Guard is one of the five U.S. Armed Services, but falls under the primary jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security rather than the Department of Defense.

• Coast Guard Chief Boatswains Mate Terrell Horne III, 34, of Redondo Beach, CA., died Dec. 2, during a counter-drug operation near Santa Cruz Island, Calif. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said in a statement Monday, “BMC Horne and his fellow crew members of the USCG Cutter Halibut were engaged in an at-sea interdiction when they came under threat by a small vessel that rammed their small boat.  This tragedy reminds us of the dangers our men and women in uniform face every day, and the great risks they willingly take, as they protect our nation.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of BMC Horne and all of our Coast Guard personnel at this difficult time.”

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A memorial service was held Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012 at Fort Leonard Wood, MO., for Tygo, a bomb-sniffing military working dog, who was killed Nov. 10 in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device. Tygo was trained at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas and then transferred to Fort Leonard Wood before deployment to Afghanistan. His handler spoke at the service.

 

Military Deaths: November 21-27, 2012

The Department of Defense announced the following military casualties from November 21-27, 2012. All were deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

• Cpl. Christopher M. Monahan Jr., 25, of Island Heights, N.J., died Nov. 26 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 2, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

• Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin R. Ebbert, 32, of Arcata, Calif., died Nov. 24 while supporting stability operations in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.  Ebbert was assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit in Virginia Beach, Va.

As of 10 a.m. EST, Wednesday, U.S. casualties during Operation Enduring Freedom totaled 2,153 including 2,032 in Afghanistan, 118 in other locations, and 3 DoD civilians. 18,071 military personnel have been wounded in action which is an increase of 79 WIA from statistics cited in The Debrief’s previous casualties post last on Wednesday, November 21.

9 more Iraq, Afghanistan war veterans joining Congress

Rep.-elect Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., an Iraq War veteran who lost both legs in combat before turning to politics, arrives for a group photo on the East steps of the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The number of veterans serving in Congress has decreased dramatically in the past 35 years. The 95th Congress, which served in 1977-78, had more than 400 veterans among its 535 members, according to the American Legion. The number of veterans next year in Congress will come to just more than 100.

By Kevin Freking

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – As Tammy Duckworth sees it, her path to Congress began when she awoke in the fall of 2004 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. She was missing both of her legs and faced the prospect of losing her right arm.

Months of agonizing therapy lay ahead. As the highest-ranking double amputee in the ward, Maj. Duckworth became the go-to person for soldiers complaining of substandard care and bureaucratic ambivalence.

Soon, she was pleading their cases to federal lawmakers, including her state’s two U.S. senators at the time – Democrats Dick Durbin and Barack Obama of Illinois. Obama arranged for her to testify at congressional hearings. Durbin encouraged her to run for office.

She lost her first election, but six years later gave it another try and now is one of nine veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who will serve in next year’s freshman class in the of House of Representatives.

Veterans’ groups say the influx of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is welcome because it comes at a time when the overall number of veterans in Congress is on a steep and steady decline. In the mid-1970s, the vast majority of lawmakers tended to be veterans.

For example, the 95th Congress, which served in 1977-78, had more than 400 veterans among its 535 members, according to the American Legion. The number of veterans next year in Congress will come to just more than 100. Most served during the Vietnam War era. In all, 16 served in Iraq or Afghanistan, not all in a combat role.

“We’re losing about a half a million veterans a year in this country,” said Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America. “We are not going to be in a world where a significant plurality of people spent some time in the military, so to have 16 men and women who fought in this current Congress is incredibly significant.”

Tarantino said he recognizes that the 16 Iraq and Afghanistan vets have wide-ranging political views. But at the end of the day, he said, their shared experiences make it more likely they’ll put political differences aside on issues like high unemployment and suicide rates among returning veterans, or in ensuring that veterans get a quality education through the post-9/11 GI bill.

Their election victories also provide a sense of assurance to veterans.

“The biggest fear we have as veterans is that the America people are going to forget us,” Tarantino said. “When you have an 11-year sustained war, the fight doesn’t end when you pull out.”

Duckworth carries the highest profile of the incoming vets. She was co-piloting a Black Hawk helicopter in Iraq when a rocket-propelled grenade landed in her lap, ripping off one leg and crushing the other. At Walter Reed, she worried about what life as a double amputee had in store. But during her recovery, she found a new mission – taking care of those she describes as her military brothers and sisters. That mission led her to a job as an assistant secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs during Obama’s first term.

“Had I not been in combat, my life would have never taken this path. You take the path that comes in front of you,” Duckworth said from a wheelchair last week as she and her fellow freshmen went through orientation at the Capitol. “For me, I try to live every day honoring the men who carried me out of that field because they could have left me behind, and they didn’t.”

Duckworth is one of two freshmen Democrats who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. The other is Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who served near Baghdad for a year and was a medical operations specialist. Gabbard said she hopes the two of them can be a voice for female veterans and the unique challenges they face.

About 8 percent of veterans are women. They tend to be younger on average. Nearly one in five seen by the Department of Veterans Affairs responds yes when screened for military sexual trauma.

Seven Republicans served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Most had backing from tea party supporters who share their views that the size and scope of the federal government should be curtailed.

-Ron DeSantis of Florida was a judge advocate officer in the Navy who deployed to Iraq as a legal adviser during the 2007 troop surge.

-Brad Wenstrup of Ohio was as a combat surgeon in Iraq.

-Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan served in an administrative capacity with an artillery unit in Iraq and retired after suffering a neck injury. He also served as an infantry rifleman in Vietnam.

-Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma was a combat pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan.

-Scott Perry of Pennsylvania commanded an aviation battalion in Iraq in 2009 and 2010.

-Doug Collins of Georgia was a chaplain in Iraq.

-Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a Harvard Law School graduate, was an infantry platoon leader in Iraq and then was on a reconstruction team in Afghanistan. In between, he was a platoon leader at Arlington National Cemetery.

Cotton said the reason he ran for Congress is the same one that led him to enter the Army after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“I felt we had been attacked for who we are – the home of freedom,” Cotton said. “And I worry now our liberty is threatened at home by the debt crisis we face, which in the long term will mean less prosperity and less opportunity, and therefore less liberty.”

Cotton said he could easily see himself working with Duckworth and Gabbard on veteran’s issues. “They’ve carried a heavy load and we owe them a great debt,” he said.

At the same time, it’s clear the freshmen veterans have clear differences of opinion over policy matters. For example, Gabbard is a strong critic of the war in Afghanistan. She says the United States needs to get out as quickly and safely as possible. Cotton opposes setting timetables for withdrawal.

“We’re trying to win a counter-insurgency war where we can put a friendly, allied, stable government in place,” Cotton said. “It’s certainly been a long and somewhat winding road, but on the whole, America and our interests in the world are much better off for having waged the war in Afghanistan.”

There also will be differences over spending priorities. Cotton is reluctant to trim spending on defense as a way to deal with the deficit.

Duckworth said certain programs need close examination, particularly in the area of government contracts. She said she “can actually stand up and talk about defense spending in a way that will be realistic without being attacked for lack of patriotism or not being strong on defense.”

Military Casualties: November 14-20, 2012

The Department of Defense announced the following military casualties from November 14-20, 2012. All were deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

• Lance Cpl. Dale W. Means, 23, of Jordan, Minn., died Nov. 18, while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 2, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

• Sgt. Channing B. Hicks, 24, of Greer, S.C., and Spc. Joseph A. Richardson, 23, of Booneville, Ark., died Nov. 16, in Paktika province, Afghanistan, from injuries suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device and small arms fire.  They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

• Staff Sgt. Rayvon Battle Jr., 25, of Rocky Mount, N.C., died Nov. 13, in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 38th Engineer Company, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

As of 10 a.m. EST, Tuesday, U.S. casualties during Operation Enduring Freedom totaled 2,151 including 2,030 in Afghanistan, 118 in other locations, and 3 DoD civilians. 17,992 military personnel have been wounded in action.