SSgt Daniel Acosta

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Staff Sergeant Daniel Acosta (USAF, Ret.) is one of the relatively few wounded veterans who did not serve in the Army or Marine Corps. A native Chicagoan, Dan joined the Air Force right out of high school in 2002 where a combination of natural skills and opportunity led him into a highly charged career path – explosive ordnance disposal.

Daniel’s training in explosive ordnance disposal included 11 months of technical school at Elgin Air Force Base in Florida, and was assigned his first duty station for three months pre-deployment training at the Utah Test and Training Range at Hill AFB in Utah, about 30 miles north of Salt Lake City.

Daniel was assigned to the 775th Civil Engineer Squadron at Hill Air Force Base. From there he was dispatched to Iraq in 2006 as a member of the 447th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. Explosive ordnance disposal specialists were in high demand, then and later. Daniel underwent nearly three weeks additional training in Kuwait before deploying to Sather Air Force Base at Baghdad International Airport. He had been in Iraq performing missions for three months when he was injured.

On December 7, 2006 he was sent to disarm hidden improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and had disarmed two when the third one got him. “I stepped on a pressure plate,” he recalled. “It wasn’t detected (by the metal detection device) because it was wood.”

The IED that nearly claimed his life contained two 122 mm projectiles, Daniel said. His left arm was blown off in the blast and he received third degree burns to his legs. He also sustained arterial injuries to his leg and heart.

“In the back of my head I always knew something could happen,” Daniel said. But he and his fellow airmen on his team had undergone combat life-saving training at Ft. Carson, Colorado, and he attributed that training applied by his teammate Staff Sgt. Joe Upton to his survival. The first tourniquet Upton used did not stop the bleeding from his severed arm so Upton took a water tank strap off a Humvee and was able to use that as a tourniquet. Also, Daniel said there was a Medic on the scene. “They (the doctors) gave me a 25 percent chance of living,” Daniel said. “They said if I made it through surgery, I would have a 50 percent chance.”

Later Daniel’s marriage broke up as he was in the process of leaving the military, but he does not attribute that to his injury. “It was not related to that,” he said. “It was a communications issue.” Daniel said the wives of injured veterans do have a difficult job. “Spouses have the harder job,” he said. “We’re prepared for things like this, but they aren’t.”

It is unusual for an Air Force guy to get blown up, Daniel said, but the Air Force still gets its fair share of casualties. “In the hospital, I was the only Air Force guy there,” he said. “I ended up with 100 percent disability because of the loss of my arm. I did not have to wait very long to get my benefits perhaps because I was the only Air Force guy there.”

Daniel said he has avoided the perils of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). “The Veterans Administration rated me a minor case of PTSD. But I accepted the reality of my injury early on. I get around well. The injuries are there, sure, but I am capable of doing a lot. I play different sports. I am enjoying life.”

Daniel was not one of the many who received financial aid from the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes when he returned from the battlefield. “I received no direct financial assistance,” he said. “I didn’t need it. My benefits came through fairly quickly. I am a modest guy. I don’t ask for help if I don’t need it.”

But even so he has developed a close working relationship with the Coalition. “Early on in my recovery I learned about the Coalition through one of their reps at the hospital,” he said. “My initial involvement was to attend the Road to Recovery Conference in 2008. That was a positive experience that helped me get moving in a positive direction. I enjoyed the time with other wounded veterans and benefitted from it, sharing our experiences, talking to other people who have been through the same thing. I wanted to be an active member of society and continue with my rehabilitation.

“I support the Coalition through being an ambassador for the program and doing things on their behalf,” Daniel said. “I come into contact with many guys who are in a much worse situation than I am. I have seen them dealing with their injuries first-hand, physical and psychological. A lot of guys cannot handle it and it’s easy for me to see why. When (Coalition President and CEO) David Walker asked me to help host a fund-raising event in California, I was glad to participate.

“The Coalition’s primary role is to provide direct financial aid to wounded veterans returning from the war zone who have to wait a long time for their benefits, sometimes for months,” Daniel said. “In the meantime they have bills to pay and are unable to work. The Coalition helps fill that gap. Every veteran has a unique situation. When they are severely injured the transition time is difficult and financial aid is vitally important. Our veterans are not prepared for what they encounter. I don’t believe the military does a very good job of preparing personnel for that situation.

“It is important to wounded veterans to feel that they are part of a larger community,” Daniel said. “They want to know the community supports them. The Coalition fills that role and it is an important one.”

We honor you, Daniel Acosta.

(#Repost @https://saluteheroes.org/daniel-acosta/)

SSgt John P. Jones

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Staff Sergeant John P. Jones was born March 12, 1977 and was raised in Enid, OK. He joined the United States Marine Corps in July 1995, and underwent recruit training at MCRD San Diego. He completed recruit training and was assigned to SOI west at Camp Pendleton, CA where he was assigned the MOS of 0331 Machine Gunner. After completion of his MOS School, he was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, Company “G” Weapons Platoon, where he was deployed to Okinawa, Japan in 1996. Upon completion of his tour with 2/7, he then transferred to 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, Company “C” in 1997 where he deployed again to Okinawa, Japan in 1999 and held security for the G-8 Summit and participated in Cobra Gold 2000. He then transferred to Marine Corps Security Forces Training Company where he was a Cadre Instructor and Non-Lethal Weapons Instructor.

In 2002, Staff Sergeant Jones was transferred to Bahrain where he participated in Operations Southern Watch and Operation Iraqi Freedom 1. He then transferred to 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, Company “C” again and deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom 2 in August 2004. During his deployment, SSgt Jones was severely injured when his hummer ran over a double-stacked anti-tank mine. SSgt Jones underwent 30 surgeries at NNMC Bethesda, MD attempting to save his legs. As a result of his injuries, SSgt Jones lost both legs below the knees.

SSgt Jones transferred down to BAMC San Antonio, TX where he rehabilitated his legs and gradually began the process of walking again with prosthesis. In 2005, he joined 4th Reconnaissance Battalion where he was assigned as the Operations and Training SNCOIC. SSgt Jones medically retired from the USMC in 2007, putting in a total of 12 years of service to his country. Shortly after retirement, SSgt Jones began training fellow wounded servicemen and women with the F.A.T.S. System (Fire Arms Training Simulator). He devoted his time and effort to help retrain service-members how to shoot their weapons effectively with their new disabilities. SSgt Jones had a 100% success rate to include graduation of various amputees, burn victims, and blind patients.

SSgt Jones was the Executive Director of Wall Street Warfighters Foundation.  Wall Street Warfighters Foundation helps disabled veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan find jobs in the financial industry.  During his time at WWSF he developed the training programs for the participants.  He was an intricate part of the development of the job hiring processes with various banks and financial institutions

SSgt Jones is working for the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, as a development officer and special projects. MCSF provides scholarships to the children of Marines and Navy personnel that have been killed in action, wounded in action, and for those that have served the US Marines and Navy Corpsmen whom are attached to the Marines.

We honor you, John Jones.

(#Repost @Halo Warrior Foundation)

CPL Jessica Ellis

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Jessica Ellis was born in Burley, Idaho on June 26, 1983. She graduated from Lakeview (Oregon) High School in 2002, where she was active in cross country, track and field, and the swim team. After high school graduation she attended Central Oregon Community College in Bend, while working summers as a US Forest Service firefighter on the Fremont National Forest in southern Oregon.

In September 2004, Jessica entered the US Army with the goal of becoming a Medic. After successful completion of basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, and the Combat Medic training program at Ft. Sam Houston, TX, she was assigned to the Army’s 101st Airborne Division. CPL Ellis completed her first 12-month combat tour in Iraq in 2006. She earned the Combat Medic Badge on this first tour for treating a wounded buddy under direct enemy fire. She left for a second Iraq tour in October 2007. She served both tours as a Combat Medic with the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Fellow soldiers called her “Doc” Ellis.

In April, 2008 CPL Ellis and four other soldiers escaped serious injury during a night time “road clearing” operation in Baghdad when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. They were riding in a “Buffalo”, a heavily armored vehicle that is primarily used by combat engineers to clear roadside bombs. Jessica sustained superficial injuries in the attack which wrecked the armored vehicle. She returned to the road clearing duties because she didn’t want “her guys” to be out on missions without a Medic.

Her combat engineer unit was attacked again while on combat patrol in NW Baghdad the evening of May 11, 2008 (Mother’s Day). The Buffalo armored vehicle in which Jessica was riding was struck by at least one EFP (explosively formed penetrator) warhead. Jessica died in the attack. She was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

CPL Ellis was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. Her courage, cheerful spirit, and devotion to fellow soldiers were noted many times to her parents and family by the 101st Airborne Division. She is honored at the Division’s memorial at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. CPL Ellis’s name is also engraved on the Afghan-Iraqi Freedom Memorial in Salem, Oregon where more than one hundred of Oregon’s fallen veterans are honored.

We honor you, Jessica Ellis.

(#Repost @Fallen Heroes Project)

LCpl William “Billy” David Spencer

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When Lance Corporal William “Billy” D. Spencer saw his squad leader wounded in an Iraq shootout, he did the only thing he could do: He tried to save his commanding officer.

Spencer was killed in the process, hit by enemy fire on Dec. 28, 2006, in Al Anbar province. Nearly two years later, Spencer was awarded the Silver Star — the U.S. military’s third-highest honor — in a ceremony at Nashville State Community College on Sunday afternoon.

“I knew when he joined that he was going to give all he had to give,” said Julia Lockaby, Spencer’s mother. “My greatest fear came true.”

Spencer was born in Cincinnati but grew up in Paris, Tenn., where he played football at Henry County High School and enjoyed reading to schoolchildren, said father David Spencer.

After graduating in 2004, Billy Spencer trained with the Nashville-based I Company reserve unit of the 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment. In late 2006, Spencer and 75 Nashville-based members of the 3rd Battalion went to Iraq with the 1st Battalion, 24th Regiment.

Killed during a firefight, Spencer, a rifleman, was three months into his Iraq tour when his squad went out on a mission to investigate a suspected enemy sniper. When his squad leader went down in an ensuing firefight, Spencer was shot trying to drag him to safety.

Both died from their injuries.

“I got a text message on what he had done, and when I read it … I made it a personal mission for him to be recognized,” said Maj. Sean M. Roche of the 3rd Battalion.

Spencer had previously been publicly recognized with three other fallen Marines in May 2007, before the Silver Star award. At Sunday’s ceremony, his parents were presented with the award in front of a theater packed with Spencer’s fellow Marines.

We honor you, William Spencer.

(#Repost @Fallen Heroes Project)

1LT David Bauders

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1st Lt. David A. Bauders, of Seattle, Wash., died May 6, on Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, in a non-combat related incident. Bauders was assigned to 176th Engineer Company, Snohomish, Wash.

He was serving with the Washington National Guard’s 176th Engineer Co., which deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in April, Guard spokesman Capt. Joseph Siemandel told USA Today.

Bauders was commissioned as an engineer in May 2013 after graduating from the University of Portland. The 176th specializes in construction, Siemandel said.

We honor you, David Bauders.

(#Repost @Military Times)

CPT Stephen Wolf

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Stephen Wolf was born in Fort Hood, Texas, on October 11, 1985. His father was a platoon leader on the base, and later a banker, and his mother was a nurse. Wolf was the middle child of the family and a self-proclaimed “Army brat.” He attended West Windsor Plainsboro High School and was active in wrestling, lacrosse and the row team. After graduating from high school in 2003, Wolf attended Bucknell University, joined the ROTC, and was the vice president of his class for one year. He graduated in 2007.

Wolf decided to join the Army based on his personal experiences during the September 11 attacks—his father was working in New York City at the time of the attack, and Todd Beamer, a passenger on Flight 93, lived a mile away from Wolf. He was also influenced by his ROTC instructors to join the service. He decided to become a scout for the Armored Cavalry. Wolf received his officers training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and was assigned to the 1st Platoon of Tanks at Camp Casey in South Korea. At Camp Casey, he was a Tank Commander, and then made the rank of Gunnery Sergeant. Wolf was then assigned to the 361st Cavalry at Fort Carson, Colorado.

Wolf was deployed to Afghanistan on May 26, 2009. As a junior lieutenant, he became a platoon leader for a Recon Unit in Fall 2009. He patrolled the Kunar River Valley, engaged in skirmishes with the Taliban, and worked closely with the Afghan National Security Forces. When his tour was finished, Wolf went to Airborne School at Fort Rucker, Alabama. He was then deployed to Iraq in the last four months of the (2003) Iraq War in 2011. He was assigned to the 3rd Brigade 1st cavalry and stationed at Tahfal Mountain as an advisor to the Brigade Commander.

He left the Army in 2011 and attended Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University to earn an MBA in business. Wolf is a member of the Kellogg Veteran Association and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

We honor you, Stephen Wolf.

(#Repost @Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

LCpl Budd “Buddy” Michael Cote

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Budd M. Cote’ attended elementary, middle school and his freshman year of high school in Las Vegas, Nevada. His family relocated to Tucson, Arizona in 2001 due to his father’s employment. Budd was an avid hockey player since the early age of four years. He played all positions and became quite proficient while enjoying every game. Budd also ran track and field, cross country, and was very active in drama activities, photography and drawing free style sketches. Budd excelled at so many different aspects of the arts by playing guitar, singing in the choir, and enjoyed dancing. He loved all types of music and had a knack for knowing “which” band sang “which” song. In addition, Budd was active in martial arts and earned his black belt by the age of ten. One of the very best qualities he possessed was that he could make anyone laugh. He gave from the heart and compassion came naturally to him.

LCpl Budd M. Cote’ entered the USMC in July 2005 at MCRD in San Diego, California. He graduated from the Military Police Academy at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri and later trained as a Field Military Police Officer. He was assigned to the; Military Police, Marine Wing Support Squadron 373, Marine Wing Support Group 37, 3D Marine Air Wing, 1st Expeditionary Force-Forward (MWSS 373, MWSG 37, 3D MAW, 1 MEF.) and stationed at Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, California. He deployed to Iraq in September 2006 where he provided convoy support and escorts near Fallujah. He was the driver of a Humvee, call sign “Havoc 2” and was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated on his convoy.

 

We honor you, Budd Cote.

(#Repost @American Legion Post 52)