Tonight we remember two National Guardsmen from Pennsylvania. Both men were experienced and highly decorated pilots. The two were on a reconnaissance mission in an Apache helicopter in eastern Nangarhar province, when the aircraft went down. The crash is under investigation.
Since 2001, there have been 2192 American troops killed in Operation Enduring Freedom. Since 2010, there have been 66 casualties in Operation New Dawn.
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
They died April 9, in Pachir Wa Agam District, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. They were assigned to the1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 104th Aviation Regiment, 28th Combat Aviation Brigade, 28th Infantry Division, Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.
Chief Warrant Officer Matthew P. Ruffner, 34, of Tafford, Pa., and
Chief Warrant Officer Jarett M. Yoder, 26, of Mohnton, Pa.
Chief Warrant Officer Matthew Ruffner was born in Punxtawney, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Army Reserves shortly after graduating from London High School in 1997. He earned a degree in Criminal Justice from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. His friends in the Pennsylvania National Guard and classmates remember him as a good athlete, a serious student and a true Patriot. His friend, Ryan Peters recalled how he loved to fly.
From the Madison Press:
Peters and Ruffner were working together in a private company when opportunity knocked twice on Ruffner’s door in the same week.Former classmate and class President of London High School in 1997, Pat Closser, told this about CWO Ruffner:
“He got accepted to flight school and was offered a big promotion at the same time,” Peters said.
It came down to more money or a chance to fly — something Ruffner always wanted to do.
“Matt followed his dream to fly,” Peters said.
“He laid his life on the line to keep us safe,” Closser said. “People throw the term ‘hero’ around loosely. Matt was a real hero.”His longtime girlfriend, Jacqueline Bignardi , told the Madison Press how they met in Arizona and it was love at first sight, she moved to Pittsburgh and they had not been apart, until he left for training in Texas and onto Afghanistan in December.
“He would say ‘Don’t worry, I’ll be back in no time,’ ” Jackeline said. “I didn’t know it would be like this … He was my best friend. He was everything to me.”Besides his girlfriend, Jacqueline Bignardi, Ruffner is survived by his parents, a brother and several nieces, cousins, aunts and uncles. Funeral arrangements will be on Saturday, April 20th in Punxtawney.
Chief Warrant Officer Jarrett Yoder graduated from Oley Valley High School and Reading Community College. He joined the Army Reserves in 2005 and served multiple tours of duty in Iraq. Shortly before his deployment to Afghanistan, he married Heather Garay in July of 2012. In August 2012, he left for Afghanistan. The local Patriot News featured a photo of Yoder kissing his bride, he told the paper:
"This is my second time deploying, I just want to go over an get back home," Yoder said in August 2012.Heather Yoder released the following statement:
“Jarett is my American Hero. He always dreamed of being an Apache pilot and he followed those dreams to continue to fight for our country. Jarett died doing what he loved and dreamed of doing, a true hero. There are so many people who love him and we will never forget. I love you, always and forever. Your loving wife, Heather.”Principal of Oley Valley High School, Dr. Darrell Markley remembered Yoder,as an athlete and a patriotic man:
"He was very passionate about serving his country and that's why we're all so proud of him," said Dr. Darrell Markley, principal at Oley Valley High School.Services for Chief Warrant Officer Jarrett Yoder will be Monday, April 22, 2013. Besides his wife, Yoder is survived by his parents.
In Flanders Fields
by Lt. Col. John McRae, MD, (1872-1918)
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved,
and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
I Got the News Today is a diary series intended to honor, respect and remind. Its title is a reminder that almost every day a military family gets the terrible news about a loved one. Diaries about the fallen usually appear two days after their names are officially released, which allows time for the IGTNT team to find and tell their stories.
All of the U.S. fatalities can be seen here and here. They all had loved ones, families and friends. The DoD news releases are here. I Got the News Today is intended to honor, respect and remind. Click the IGTNT tags below for previous diaries.
Click the IGTNT tags to see the series, which was begun by i dunno, and which is maintained by Monkeybiz, Noweasels, Blue Jersey Mom, Chacounne, twilight falling, SisTwo, Spam Nunn, True Blue Majority, CalNM, Wide Awake in Kentucky, Maggie Jean, Jax Dem, Ekaterina, and me, Sandy on Signal.
Please bear in mind that these diaries are read by friends and family of the service members chronicled here. May all of our remembrances be full of compassion rather than politics.