Tonight, we have a special group diary with several IGTNT members contributing to help cover 7 troops and 1 dog killed on May 4th in two incidents in Afghanistan. Thanks to Jax Dem, The Fat Lady Sings, and Joy of Fishes for their work on this difficult tribute. The two Marines and a Marine Corps dog named "Flex" were killed in an insider attack by an Afghan National Army soldier. The five Soldiers were out of Fort Bliss and died from an IED explosion.
DoD Announces Marine Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
They died May 4, while conducting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan. They were both assigned to 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Camp Lejeune, N.C. This incident is under investigation.
Staff Sgt. Eric D. Christian, 39, of Warwick, N.Y., and
Cpl. David M. Sonka, 23, of Parker, Colo.
Semper Fidelis is the motto of the United States Marine Corps and means always faithful. These two words perfectly describe Staff Sgt. Eric Christian.
Phillip Christian, brother of Staff Sgt. Eric Christian, told the NY Newsday:
"The team that he led, he depended on them and they depended on him," he said. "That's why he kept re-upping. He wasn't going to be a career guy, I can tell you that. He had thought about when he was going to get out, but his feeling was, they needed him, so, he was just kind of seeing how long his body would hold out."Staff Sgt. Christian was born in Poughkeepsie, New York. He spent his early years there, then the family moved to Warwick, New York. Christian was an athlete and played Varsity Football for Ramsey High School. He graduated in 1993.
After graduation, Christian attended Grambling State University in Louisiana, where he played football. He left after the first year because he "hated" it, his brother told the New York News Day. He moved out west and lived in Seattle and San Francisco. Later, he would go back east to New Jersey and attend college and play football; however, 9-11 happened and that changed everything.
"My brother Mark was in ROTC in college and enlisted [in the Marines] after 9/11, out of a sense of patriotism," Phillip Christian said. "Eric enlisted when Mark was deployed, also out of a sense of patriotism, and a sense of responsibility to his family and his country, I think. He was always the one to look after us and defend us when we were all in school."In honor of his service and sacrifice, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued the following statement:
"I join with all New Yorkers in mourning the loss of Staff Sgt. Christian," Governor Cuomo said. "I extend my deepest sympathy to his family, his friends and his fellow Marines. We will honor his service and sacrifice and his dedication to our nation."Staff Sgt. Eric Christian is survived by his parents and three brothers. Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery.
Governor Cuomo has directed that the flags on all state buildings be lowered to half-staff in honor of and in tribute to our state's service members and those stationed in New York who are killed in action or die in a combat zone.
Cpl. David Sonka and his working dog, Flex, and Staff Sgt. Eric Christian died on Saturday, when an Afghan soldier turned his weapon on them and fired. All three were greeted at Dover when their flag-draped coffins returned back home to the United States.
Cpl. David Sonka was born in Aurora, Colorado and graduated from Chaparral High School. He was on the wrestling and track teams. Rodney Padilla, the wrestling coach, told the News Channel 7:
"He had a great work ethic. Never shied away from anything we ever did," Padilla said. "He always did what was supposed to do. And what do you tell them. You tell the do what you’re supposed to do when you're supposed to do it, someday you'll be able to do what you want to do, when you want to do it."Sonka joined the Marine Corps in 2008. He became a Military Policeman, later went onto become a Military Working Dog Handler. Sonka trained with the III Marine Expeditionary Force K9 Section of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in California from July 2009 to March 2012. Later, he went to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in special forces and canine course training. After completing training, he joined the 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion as a Multi-Purpose Canine Handler.
Cpl. Sonka's awards and decorations include: Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and Combat Action Ribbon.
DoD Announces Army Casualties
They died May 4, in Maiwand, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when their vehicle was attacked by an enemy improvised explosive device. The soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36thInfantry, 1stBrigade Combat Team, 1stArmored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.
1stLt. Brandon J. Landrum, 26, of Lawton, Okla.,
Staff Sgt. Francis G. Phillips IV, 28, of Meridian, N.Y.,
Spc. Kevin Cardoza, 19, of Mercedes, Texas,
Spc. Thomas P. Murach, 22, of Meridian, Idaho, and
Spc. Brandon J. Prescott, 24, of Bend, Ore.
Landrum is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.
1st Lt. Brandon Landrum earned the following awards and decorations: the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal with a Campaign Star, the Afghan Campaign Medal with a Campaign Star, the NATO Medal and the Combat Infantry Badge.
This tribute of Staff Sgt. Francis Phillips written by Jax Dem.
Frankie graduated from Oceanside High School in 2003 just prior to the family's move to Meridian. He enlisted in the Army in 2004 and joined the Airborne Ranger Infantry.
Father, Francis G. Phillips III said:
Frankie joined the military because he's a patriot. Against his father's wishes, he joined the infantry. The infantry deploys you far too much, but he did it anyway because he wanted to serve his country.Staff Sgt Phillips deployed to Iraq in September 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 for fifteen months. He returned to Afghanistan in 2009 as a Section Leader for twelve months.
Phillips complete Ranger School in January of 2011, just prior to arriving at Fort Bliss where he was selected to be Team Leader of the Reconnaissance Platoon. He deployed to this current assignment to Afghanistan in December of 2012.
"Frankie's" father praised the support the family has received from the Army and says the biggest support has come from the other families. Although no formal funeral plans have been made, his father said "Frankie will ultimately make the walk to Arlington (National Cemetery)."
His father continued, saying Frankie was the firstborn grandchild of 16, a true leader, a lover of the Lord and "would give anything if he thought someone needed it."
He was a pillar of our family. He was the grandchild that all grandchildren aspired to be. They all wanted to be like Frank.Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed flags on state government buildings to fly at half-staff on Friday in honor of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Francis G. Phillips IV and released this statement:
Along with all New Yorkers, I mourn the death of Staff Sgt. Phillips and I extend my deepest sympathy and condolences to his friends, family and fellow soldiers. We will honor his sacrifice and his dedication to our great nation.Staff Sergeant Francis G. Phillips' awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal with Valor, the Army Commendation Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal with a Campaign Star, the Afghan Campaign Medal with a Campaign Star, the NATO Medal, Expert Infantry Badge, Parachutist Badge and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
Staff Sgt Francis G. Phillips is survived by his wife; a daughter who is 4; his parents; brother and a sister.
This tribute of Spc. Kevin Cardoza written by Jax Dem.
Kevin graduated from Edcouch-Elsa High School in June 2011 where his photo will be placed in the school next to one of a fellow fallen serviceman.
Teachers remembered Kevin as a respectful student who had a deep love of his country.
Math teacher, Rohny Escareno said he knew from the start that Cardoza would join the military.
There are times when a student says I'll just join the military, and then waives it off. You can hear it sometimes. But he wanted to ... that was his calling.Principal Rene Ramos said:
We feel very sad for the family, but also very proud of his accomplishment and him being out there.Spc Kevin Cardoza enlisted in the Army on 12 July 2011. He then attended a fourteen-week long Infantry Training Course at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Cardoza's family said Kevin was fulfilling a lifelong dream when he joined the Army. Aunt Esmer Cardoza said "it was his passion".
The impact of his loss was felt all along the row of homes on Joel Cardoza Sr Road where his parents and many aunts and uncles live.
Uncle, Joe Lopez said:
You would never see him without a smile. He woke up with a smile and went to bed with one.Cardoza was dedicated to being a good role model to his younger siblings and cousins, making a point to visit them and offer advice when he was home on leave.
Before his last trip in November to his grandfather’s street, Cardoza’s Facebook post said it was “family time,” but his family members really knew he was home when he announced his arrival.
“What hurts the most is we’ll no longer hear the honk and knock on the door to know he was home,” his aunt, Esmer, said. “It’s hard to swallow the final honk and wave.”Specialist Kevin Cardoza's awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghan Campaign Medal with a Campaign Star, the NATO Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
Spc Kevin Cardoza leaves behind his two young daughters: 4-year-old Delilah and 2-year-old Melanie; father, Ramiro Cardoza Sr.; his mother, Maria; an older brother, Ramiro Jr.; a younger brother, Michael; and a younger sister, Leslie.
This tribute of Specialist Thomas Murach written by TheFatLadySings.
Specialist Thomas Murach was born on May 16, 1990, in Mountain Home AFB,
Idaho. He graduated from High School in Meridian, Idaho, in 2008.
Specialist Murach enlisted in the Army on August 24, 2010. He attended the
fourteen-week long Infantry Training Course at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Specialist Murach's first duty assignment was Fort Bliss, Texas, where he
was assigned to 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment and was selected to be
a member of the Reconnaissance Platoon as a Sniper. He deployed to
Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as the Senior Sniper
for his Platoon.
Specialist Murach's awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart,
the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the
National Defense Service Medal, the Afghan Campaign Medal with a Campaign
Star, the NATO Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge. ktsm.com El Paso.
His family provided the following tribute to him.
“Tom was a wonderful, outgoing man who lived his life to the fullest. He was very gregarious and kind, and was always quick with a laugh and a smile for friends and acquaintances alike. We couldn’t imagine that anybody could meet him and not like him.photo courtesy of the Murach family.
“Tom loved telling a dumb joke, and we were always amused not so much by the joke itself, but by Tom’s reaction to telling the jokes…he would laugh his head off! We called him “Spanky,” originally as a joke, but Tom came to embrace his nickname.
“He was very passionate about everything he did, whether it was playing video games, enjoying a movie, telling a joke or working out at the gym. But he was especially passionate about spending time with his friends, and he had hundreds of friends. Tom was happiest when he was with a group of his friends and the bigger the group, the better.
“Tom loved being an Army infantryman, and he never complained about the difficulty of his duties. He believed in the mission the Army performs, and he saw the value of that mission and the impact he was making in Afghanistan."
"But he also looked forward to becoming a civilian again after his Army service. Tom was a devout Christian, and he knew he could trust God’s plan for him. We take great comfort in knowing Tom felt this way, and that his life ending at such a young age is a part of that plan.
“Tom leaves behind his mother Mary, his father Chet and his brothers Nick, William and Mike along with many beloved aunts, uncles and cousins in our extended family. Tom was very much loved by all of us and we greatly miss him.” –kboi2.com
This tribute of Spc. Brandon Prescott written by TheFatLadySings.
Spc Prescott grew up in Dana Point, Calif., and graduated from Dana Hills High School in 2006. Two years later, their mother, Tracey, moved the brothers to Bend, Oregon where Prescott took classes at Central Oregon Community College and become a lover of the outdoors. Their father, Joseph Prescott, lives in Montgomery, Texas; their mother, Tracey Prescott has returned to Dana Point.
Mrs. Prescott said her son volunteered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and took part in a firefighting academy before joining the Army in 2010 in Portland. He fought wildland fires for two years.
Prescott was due to return home in September. However, he signed up for another three years when he discovered he would have to leave his unit behind, Aaron Prescott said.
The older twin said he spoke to Prescott on the phone about four hours before he was killed. The soldier said he loved and missed his family He is survived by his mother, father and three brothers.
"He was a hero and an inspiration for all of us," Aaron Prescott said. "Before he left for Afghanistan, he told us that if he died, he wanted us to be proud of him and hold our heads up because we know he was doing something he loved."
Tracey Prescott described her son as a selfless, humble man who loved his family and the beach. She, Aaron and Jake were flying to Dover, Del., to claim his body. Service arrangements were to be announced.
"I'm a broken woman right now," Tracey Prescott said. "I'm sad and angry, but also very, very proud of my son. He definitely was a special kid."
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, The Fat Lady Sings, Ekaterina, Joy of Fishes, 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.