Today the US military announced: "Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq – Two U.S. Army pilots were killed when a helicopter experienced a hard landing in Salah ad Din Province, Nov.8. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website [. . .]The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." And they announced: "AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq – A Marine attached to Multi National Force – West died as the result of a non-combat related incident here Nov. 8. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. [. . .] The incident is under investigation." The announcements bring the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4362.
Lukas Hopper died serving in Iraq October 30th. Saturday was his funeral in Merced, California. Jonah Owen Lamb (Merced Sun-Star via the Modesto Bee)reports:
The funeral was a time for mourning, but it also was a celebration of Hopper's life and a reaffirmation of his family's faith. His friends and family described Hopper as an adventurous, opinionated and fun-loving prankster who grew up fast after he joined the Army.
Hopper's aunt Paula Kruczyk described how, in his typical impetuous way, Hopper joined the Army on a whim. He had meant to sign up for the Navy like his father and grandfather, she said. But when the day came to sign up, the Navy recruiter wasn't in his office, so Hopper chose another branch of the armed services, she said.
"Rather than wait, our impetuous Luke went ahead and signed up for the Army," she said.
CBS 47 (link has text and video) reports on his funeral:
Tony Botti: A large motorcade made it's way down Yosemite Avenue in Merced en route to Catheys Valley Cemetery, the burial spot for Spc Lukas Hopper. Visitors at his funeral at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints included 40 bikers from the Patriot Guard Riders.
Woody Hall (Patriot Guard Riders): A lot of the members of this organization are veterans and we're here to honor and respect his loss of life in the service of our country.
Tony Botti: Childhood friends reflected on Lukas' positive attitude and electric personality.
First Woman: He always had a smile on his face.
Second Woman: Loved life. Lived in the moment. And, uhm, he's a funny person.
Dana Mounce: His energy and spirit just brought everybody together, you know, just to make everything better, just made everybody happy.
Amy Gray: Luke was just the sweetest kid in the world. It's terribly sad.
Tony Botti: While fighting overseas, Hopper earned the respect of his fellow soldiers including supervisors like Sgt Daniel Holden.
Sgt Daniel Holden: He was a good kid. I enjoyed working with him. He made life a lot easier.
Tony Botti: Killed in the line of duty at only 20-years-old, Hopper did not spend nearly enough time on earth, however, he did leave his mark.
Amy Gray: He was loved by everyone. He was just a precocious little kid and a wonderful soldier, a great friend and big brother. His sisters are going to miss him dearly. His best friend, Daniel, is going to miss him dearly. Let alone, everyone else.
Tony Botti: And friends tell us that Hopper was just eight days away from ending his deployment in Iraq.
Friday morning, we noted Sgt Amy Seyboth Tirador:
Dennis Yusko (Albany Times Union) reports that Staff Sgt Amy Seyboth Tirador died on Wednesday while serving in Iraq according to Gerard Seyboth, her father and that she was on her second deployment to Iraq. He is quoted stating, "I'm very proud of my daughter." Her survivors also include husband Mickey who is on his third tour of duty in Iraq. Yusko notes, "More than 206,000 U.S. women have served in the Middle East since 2003, most of them in Iraq. About 106 servicewoman have died and more than 600 injured in Iraq, according to casualty lists." Paul Merril (Fox 23) reports that Mickey Tirador "is accompanying his wife's remains back from Iraq."
Torie Wells (Fox 23) reports on the family's grief which is compounded by not knowing how she died-- her mother, Colleen Murphy, explains, "Amy was shot and she did not kill herself." Marie Luby (WTEN) adds:
Seyboth Tirador planned to start a family next year with her Sgt. First Class husband. Her parents say she worked to change attitudes about women in the military.
"She wanted to show men that there were good women that were there to help the country, and to help everybody within whatever unit they were working in," says [Colleen] Murphy.
Her parents say she did that, saving another soldier's life during her first tour in Iraq.
Murphy and Seyboth want their tragedy to serve as a wake-up call. They say too many have forgotten sacrifices like their daughter's.
"People just don't even think of that, most of us, until it hits home," says [father, Gerald] Seyboth.
"When Amy came out on the tarmac, you know she had her family there. Second casket that came out had no family. I didn't know who I was sadder for," says Murphy.
Steve Ramirez (Las Cruces Sun-News)reports from Gadsen High School on the reaction Friday to the news that Spc tony Carrasco (2003 graduate) had died serving in Iraq Wednesday and Ramierz notes: "Carrasco becomes the seventh Do-a Ana County resident to die in the Iraq War. Army Sgt. Matthew Apuan, 27, of Las Cruces died in February 2007 while on his second tour of duty; Army Cpl. Jesse Zamora, 22, of Las Cruces was killed in February 2006 when shrapnel from a roadside bomb hit his Humvee in Beiji, Iraq; Army Pfc. Mario Reyes, 19, of Las Cruces died in November 2005, near Baghdad, when a car bomb blew up while he was on patrol. Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Rodriguez, 25, of Las Cruces was killed in January 2005 when an improvised explosive struck his vehicle in south Baghdad, and Army Spc. James 'Heath' Pirtle, 27, of La Mesa died in October 2003 when the vehicle he was riding in, near Assadah, was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Also, Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher Adlesperger, 20, of Albuquerque, died in December 2004 during a battle in the Anbar province. Adlesperger grew up in Mesilla and still has relatives living there." Bill Richardson is the Governor of New Mexico and his office issued the following November 3rd:
SANTA FE – Governor Bill Richardson signed a proclamation today lowering flags across the state to half staff in honor of Army Specialist Joseph L. Gallegos, 39, who passed away while serving his country in Iraq on October 28th.
Spc. Gallegos was a native of Questa and was a graduate of Questa High School. He served in the United States Army for a number of years in the 4th Infantry Division, 204th Forward Support Battalion. After his time with the Army, Gallegos went on to work as a wildland firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service. In 2007 he was awarded one of their highest awards, the Chief’s Honor Award, for saving a man’s life. Joseph Gallegos was also a volunteer firefighter for the Questa Fire Department. He had recently reenlisted with the New Mexico National Guard and worked as a light-weight vehicle mechanic with the 720th Transportation Company out of Las Vegas, NM. At the time of his death, he was stationed in Tallil, Iraq.
Spc. Gallegos is survived by his parents, Adonario and Petronila Gallegos; five sisters, Rosie Cisneros, Donna Trujillo, Sherry Gallegos, Louise Padilla and Connie Manzanares; and two brothers, Donald and Ronald Gallegos.
In memory and honor of U.S. Army Specialist Joseph L. Gallegos, Governor Richardson signed an Executive Order directing flags be flown at half-staff from Saturday, November 7, 2009 through sundown on Monday, November 9, 2009.
Full text of proclamation follows:
EXECUTIVE ORDER 2009-043
FLAGS FLOWN AT HALF STAFF IN HONOR AND MOURNING
OF UNITED STATES ARMY SPECIALIST JOSEPH L. GALLEGOS
WHEREAS, United States Army Specialist Joseph L. Gallegos, age 39, died on Wednesday, October 28, 2009, while serving in Tallil, Iraq;
WHEREAS, Born on June 20, 1970 in Taos, New Mexico, Specialist Gallegos, a native of Questa, New Mexico, was a proud graduate of Questa High School. Specialist Gallegos had previously served in the United States Army. While in the Army, Specialist Gallegos served with the 4th Infantry Division, 204th Forward Support Battalion as a track vehicle repairer. He was awarded Special Army Commendation Medals (1997-2001) and Army Achievement Medals in 1998 and 1999;
WHEREAS, He had recently reenlisted in the New Mexico National Guard and had been deployed in Tallil, Iraq. While serving in the National Guard, Specialist Gallegos was a light-weight vehicle mechanic with the 720th Transportation Company out of Law Vegas, New Mexico;
WHEREAS, prior to reenlisting with the New Mexico National Guard, Specialist Gallegos had worked as a wildland firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service. In 2007, Specialist Gallegos was awarded one of the highest awards on the Forest Service, the Chief’s Honor Award, for saving a man whose car had overturned and then burst into flames. Specialist Gallegos was also a member of the Questa Volunteer Fire Department and was a first responder for the Department;
WHEREAS, Specialist Gallegos is survived by parents, Adonario and Petronila Gallegos, and siblings Rosie Cisneros, Donna Trujillo, Sherry Gallegos, Louise Padilla, Connie Manzanares, Donald Gallegos, and Ronald Gallegos, and numerous nieces and nephews; and
WHEREAS, Specialist Gallegos’ patriotism, bravery, and dedication to the Nation will always be remembered.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Bill Richardson, Governor of the State of New Mexico, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the Laws of the State of New Mexico, do hereby order that all flags be flown at half-staff from Saturday, November 7, 2009, until sundown on Monday, November 9, 2009, in honor and mourning of United States Army Specialist Joseph L. Gallegos. The thoughts and prayers of the people of New Mexico go out to his family as well as a heartfelt appreciation for his courageous service.
Bill Richardson was also one of the candidates vying for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2008. His campaign material included the following bumper sticker.
Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts "That Barack" went up last night.
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jonah owen lamb
the world today just nuts