Valley’s first Purple Heart chapter named in memory of Cathedral City High graduate

The Coachella Valley’s first chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart will be instituted during a ceremony from 5-9 p.m. on Sunday, April 21 at American Legion Post #519, 400 N. Belardo Road, Palm Springs.

The Palm Springs-based chapter has been designated The Military Order of the Purple Heart PFC Ming Sun Chapter #755. The chapter was named in memory of U.S. Army Pfc. Ming Sun, 20, of Cathedral City, who died on Jan. 9, 2007.Sun was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo. A graduate of Cathedral City High School, he was killed when his unit came under fire during a patrol in Ramadi, Iraq.

The evening’s festivities will include live entertainment and guest speakers from the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Suggested donation is $5. Information, or to RSVP: Justin J. Gardiner at (760) 567-0442, email PSPH755@gmail.com

Soldier in finals at Modern Pentathlon World Cup in Palm Springs

Team USA's Dennis Bowsher, who is an Army Spc. and 2012 Olympian, had the lead of his group going into the combined 3km cross-country race and shooting event and finished second for the group during the men's qualifier at the 2013 World Cup of Modern Pentathlon in Palm Springs, Calif. on Wednesday, February 20, 2013. During the qualifier, athletes compete in four events including epee fencing, 200mm freestyle swim, and the combined run and shoot. During the finals, show jumping will be added. Crystal Chatham/The Desert Sun

A Fort Carson, Colorado soldier is in the men’s final of the Modern Pentathlon World Cup today in Palm Springs.

Army Spc. Dennis Bowsher, is the only American to advance to today’s finals. He’ll be competing against 2012 Olympic gold medalist David Svoboda of Czech Republic and and bronze medalist Adam Marosi of Hungary. Also in the field is world #1 ranked Aleksender Lesun of Russia.

Team USA's Dennis Bowsher nears the finish line in the combined 3km cross-country race and shooting event to qualify for the finals at the 2013 World Cup of Modern Pentathlon in Palm Springs, Calif. on Wednesday. Crystal Chatham/The Desert Sun

During Wednesday’s men’s qualifying round, Bowsher started the final event — a combined run and shoot — in the lead for Qualification Group C. He scored a personal best 1032 in fencing, and 1264 in swimming with a time of 2:08.16. He finished the combined event second with a time of 12:12.85 after only Christopher Patte of France who came in at 12:07.17.

Another service member, Air Force Reserve Maj. Eli Bremer, was the top American in Qualification Group A. He finished 14th for the group, but did not make the cut for today’s final.

Bowsher is part of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) which provides soldiers with elite-level athletic qualifications to represent the Army while they train and compete. Though Bowsher travels on the competition circuit, he is a soldier first and had to apply for the WCAP after basic combat training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and advanced individual training (AIT) where he became an 88M Motor Transport Operator.

A 2012 London Olympics veteran, Bowsher told The Desert Sun sports reporter Patti Myers he is focused on Rio de Janiero in 2016. “Rio is gonna’ be our main focus and the main push for everything leading up that point,” he said. “Everything I learn from here it’s gonna be something I put in my bag for Rio.”

He and the rest of the finals field started the morning with fencing. The other four events will follow with swimming at 12:25 p.m., horse jumping at 2:35 p.m., and the combined 3km run with shooting between laps tonight at 5:25 p.m. The event’s presentation is scheduled at 5:55 p.m. All events are within walking distance of each other at Palm Springs Stadium and Sunrise Park in Palm Springs.

Two servicemen competing in Modern Pentathlon World Cup

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Herbert Temple, Jr. meets with service members and Team USA pentathletes and Olympians Army Spc. Dennis Bowsher (left) and Air Force Reserve Maj. Eli Bremer (right) after the opening ceremony of the 2013 World Cup of Modern Pentathlon in Palm Springs, Calif. on Tuesday, February 19, 2013. Crystal Chatham/The Desert Sun

A pair of servicemen, both Olympians, are competing in this week’s World Cup of Modern Pentathlon, currently underway in Palm Springs.

Army Spc. Dennis Bowsher and Air Force Reserve Maj. Eli Bremer are set to compete in this week’s event.

They carry on a legacy of service member pentathletes in a list that includes Gen. George S. Patton, who competed in modern pentathlon at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. Helen Patton, the general’s granddaughter, offered the keynote address at Tuesday’s opening ceremony.

After the opening ceremonies, both Bowsher and Bremer were greeted by retired Army Lt. Gen. Herbert Temple, Jr. who also spoke at the competition’s kickoff. During his speech, Temple challenged all the athletes to “be audacious.”

Throughout the week athletes will compete in five events including epee fencing, 200mm freestyle swim, show jumping, laser shooting, and a 3km cross-country race.

Bowsher, who is stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado, competed for Team USA in London at the 2012 Olympic games and placed 32nd overall with a point total of 5324. He is training for the next 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Bowsher completed Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, and is trained as an Army 88M Motor Transport Operator for his occupational specialty.

He applied for and is now part of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) which offers elite-level athletic training to soldier-athletes in Olympic sports. Soldiers are selected from active duty, Army Reserve, and the National Guard. On the Army WCAP website, the program is described as “A program that provides outstanding Soldier-athletes the support and training to compete and succeed in national and international competitions leading to Olympic and Paralympic Games, while maintaining a professional military career and promoting the U.S. Army to the world.” The program falls under the Army’s Recruiting Command and is an outreach tool to promote a positive image of the Army.

Bremer competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and comes to the Palm Springs event from Colorado Springs. According to his website, Bremer is a 2000 Air Force Academy graduate and competed for the Academy in swimming and fencing. After graduating, he was part of the Air Force’s World Class Athlete Program, which is similar to the Army’s WCAP detailed above. He earned an MBA from University of Colorado in 2006 and co-founded a corporate motivational training company, 5Ring Insight, in 2008. He continues to serve as a reservist and reports to Robins Air Force Base in Georgia when not in Colorado Springs.

Both athletes will compete in the Men’s Qualifying Round on Wednesday at venues located at Sunrise Park in Palm Springs. During the qualifiers, athletes compete in four out of five events with equestrian show jumping left for the finals and mixed relay days only.

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.