SGT Damien Thai Ficek

2018-1-08 Ficek

Sergeant Damien Thai Ficek, 26, an infantryman assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry, a part of the 81st Brigade Combat Team, died December 30th, 2004 as a result of hostile action near Baghdad.

Washington Governor Gary Locke issued this statement; “I praise and honor Damien for answering the call of duty, and I salute him for making the ultimate sacrifice in defending our security, our freedoms and our way of life,” said Gov. Gary Locke. “I know how much he will be missed and my heart goes out to his wife and family.”

SGT Ficek graduated from Beaverton High School, Beaverton, Oregon in June of 1996 and enlisted in the United States Army in August of 1996, serving with 2nd Ranger Battalion at Fort Lewis, Tacoma WA. He remained on active duty with the Army until June of 2000 and was extremely proud of his service as a Ranger. In July of 2002, he enlisted in the Washington Army National Guard and was activated and deployed for service in Iraq in February of 2003.

SGT Ficek was an accomplished athlete and student. In High School Damien was selected as Co-Captain for both his wrestling and football teams. At Washington State University, where he was a student in the Athletic Training Education Program, Damien was outstanding performer; having made the President’s Honor Roll on several occasions and had been granted an academic scholarship. Damien was guided and influenced by many families and friends including grandparents with whom he spent a great deal of time throughout his life.

Major General Timothy Lowenberg, the Adjutant General of the Washington National Guard, and Brigadier General Oscar Hilman, Commander of the 81st Brigade Combat Team, along with the entire Washington Military Department express their heartfelt sympathy to Sergeant Ficek’s family and loved ones.

We honor you, Damien Ficek.

(Submission by: Miah Parry. #Repost @WA National Guard)

Col Ronald Scott

2018-1-03 Scott

The remains of Air Force officer, Col Ronald Scott, declared missing in action after a 1966 mission over North Vietnam have been identified and his remains were returned to Claremore, Oklahoma in September of 2017, where he was honored with graveside services.

The Oklahoma native was the aircraft commander and wingman of an F-4C Phantom II as part of a two-aircraft reconnaissance mission on March 15, 1966, the Defense POW and MIA Accounting Agency said in an August release announcing the identification of Scott’s remains. The pilot of Scott’s aircraft radioed the other plane to say he was about to strafe two trucks in the target area; the pilot in the other plane saw an explosion near the target shortly thereafter, and no trace of Scott’s aircraft.

Fighting in the area made a search impossible, per the agency’s release, and Scott was declared missing in action later that year.

A mission the month before would earn Scott a posthumous Silver Star. On Feb. 25, 1966, near Hanoi, then-Capt. Scott “flew his aircraft at levels of twenty-five to fifty feet with unerring accuracy through extremely heavy and accurate anti-aircraft fire over forbidding and hostile terrain to two different targets” as a member of 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, according to his Silver Star citation. “Despite the extreme hazards involved, the mission was executed exactly as planned.”

Scott’s remains were identified through DNA analysis, dental analysis and other circumstantial evidence.

We honor you, Ronald Scott.

(#Repost @Military Times)

Capt Elmer John Gedeon

2017-12-21 Gedeon

Elmer J Gedeon – nephew of former major league infielder Joe Gedeon, University of Michigan three-sport athlete and major league outfielder – was born in Cleveland, Ohio on April 15, 1917. He and cousin Bob used to ice skate together at Brookside Park in Cleveland. On one occasion the ice gave way and Bob plunged through. Elmer slid across the ice on his stomach and reached into the icy water to pull his cousin to safety. That’s the kind of person Gedeon was. “A very fine guy,” recalls Fred Janke, a University of Michigan football teammate. “A perfect guy. Everybody liked him.”

At 6-foot-4, he was a naturally gifted athlete and played baseball and football at Michigan, and is one of only two Major League Baseball players killed in action during World War II.

Gedeon received his summons for military service in January 1941. He went to spring training with Charlotte but joined the Army in March, taking induction at Fort Thomas, Kentucky. Gedeon reported to the Cavalry Replacement Center at Fort Riley on March 18, and was assigned to Troop B of the First Squadron, becoming an acting corporal the first day of the 13-week training program. Reno Simone, a young recruit who arrived at Fort Riley the same time as Gedeon, explains “I was assigned to the kitchens, and one morning Elmer showed up and said he was tired of his men being assigned kitchen detail so he put himself on KP.

Around Memorial Day, 1941, Gedeon transferred to the Army Air Corps. He earned his pilot’s wings and a commission as a second lieutenant at Williams Field near Phoenix in May 1942, and trained with the 21st Bomb Group at MacDill Field in Tampa.

Flight training was always a hazardous time and almost claimed the 25-year-old’s life on August 9, 1942. Gedeon was the navigator in a North American B-25 Mitchell medium-sized bomber that crashed on take off and burst into flames at Raleigh, North Carolina. Despite suffering three broken ribs, he managed to free himself and crawl from the wreckage, then realized a crewmate – Corporal Barrat was still inside. Without a moment’s hesitation, Gedeon went back inside the burning plane and pulled Barrat to safety. Gedeon was promoted to first lieutenant and awarded the Soldiers’ Medal for his heroics in a ceremony at MacDill Field.

In July 1943, Gedeon began training on Martin B-26 Marauders at Ardmore Army Air Field in Oklahoma. By the following month he was flying combat simulations and high altitude bombing practice in preparation for overseas duty with the 394th Bomb Group.

In February 1944, Captain Gedeon arrived at Boreham Airfield in England with the 586th Bomb Squadron of the 394th Bomb Group. “Gedeon was the Operations Officer for the 586th,” recalls James Taaffe, his co-pilot at the time. “He had a delightful sense of humor and was a super gentleman.”

On April 20, 1944, just five days after celebrating his 27th birthday, Gedeon piloted one of 30 Marauders that left Boreham to bomb German construction works at Bois d’Esquerdes. It was the group’s thirteenth mission. As they approached the target area, German anti-aircraft fire intensified and Gedeon’s bomber was severely hit by flak. “We got caught in searchlights and took a direct hit under the cockpit,” says Taaffe. “I watched Gedeon lean forward against the controls as the plane went into a nose dive and the cockpit filled with flames.”

Taaffe was the only crew member able to escape the flame-engulfed airplane. As he descended by parachute and captivity at the hands of the Germans, he watched the bomber smash into the ground, carrying Gedeon and five others to their death.

Gedeon was reported missing in action, and it was not until May 1945 that his father, Andrew A Gedeon, received word from his son’s commanding officer that Elmer’s grave had been located in a small British army cemetery in St Pol, France.

We honor you, Elmer Gedeon.

(#Repost @Baseball in Wartime)

PFC Henry Harrison Ford Jr.

- - Ford

“I remember a young kid with a big smile and a fun loving nature. I served too. Thanks Henry.” – James Logan.

US Marine Private First Class Henry Harrison Ford Jr was a casualty of the Vietnam War. As a member of the Marine Corps Selective Service and a Draftee, PFC Ford served our country until December 12th, 1966 in Quang Nam, South Vietnam. He was 20 years old and was married. It was reported that Henry died from artillery fire. His body was recovered. PFC Ford is on panel 13E, line 037 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. He served our country for less than a year.

He served with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, 3rd MAF.

He was awarded The Combat Action Ribbon(CAR), The Purple Heart Medal for his combat related wounds, The Vietnam Service Medal, The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Service Medal, The National Defense Service Medal and The Good Conduct Medal.

We honor you Henry Ford Jr.

(#Repost @Find A Grave)

SFC Richard L. Schild

2017-12-09 Schild

Richard L. Schild loved Christmas so much that some of his friends had to tell him to cool it. “He was always looking for new ways to decorate,” said Merlin Goehring, a co-worker. “He always wanted the Christmas tree up before Thanksgiving, and I would tell him, ”You can”t light it up until Friday.”” Schild, 40, of Tabor, S.D., was killed Dec. 4 in a roadside bomb in Baghdad. He graduated from Mount Marty College and was assigned to Yankton. Schild was the office manager for the Bon Homme-Yankton Rural Electric Association and was trying to turn a portion of the local elementary school into a daycare run by a nonprofit organization. “Rich was one of those guys who, when he was lined up to do something, was committed and took it very seriously,” said elementary principal Mike Duffek. “I think of his personality as like a bulldog _ ”If I”m supposed to do something when I said I would, I would go do it.”” Ron Koupal, who hired Schild, said he enjoyed football and golf. “He loved the Minnesota Vikings and the Nebraska Cornhuskers,” Koupal said.

We honor you, Richard Schild.

(Submission by: Miah Parry. #Repost @The Washington Post)

SFC Kenneth W. Westbrook

2017-11-27 Westbrook

Army Sergeant First Class Kenneth W. Westbrook was looking forward to retiring from the military in November, a long-cherished milestone that would allow him to spend more time with his wife and three sons. Then came the call to Afghanistan and one final tour of duty. With U.S. casualties mounting in the war-torn region, the dangers were evident. Yet Westbrook didn’t hesitate.

“They called him up and he said, ‘Of course I’ll go,’” related his brother, David Westbrook, 50, of Farmington, N.M., in a phone call Sunday night. “He was a strong believer in the job he was doing for our country.”

About two months from retirement, the 41-year-old Westbrook found himself in a fierce battle Sept. 8 during which he was gravely wounded when insurgents attacked his unit in the Ganjigal Valley of Afghanistan. The insurgents used small arms and indirect fire, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Westbrook, who was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, died from his wounds Wednesday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. His brother, Sergeant Marshall A. Westbrook, of the 126th Military Police Company of the New Mexico Army National Guard, died at age 43 on Oct. 1, 2005, when a bomb exploded near his Humvee in Baghdad, Iraq.

We honor you, Kenneth Westbrook.

(#Repost @Fallen Heroes Project)

SGT Marshall A. Westbrook

2017-11-27 Westbrook

Before Marshall A. Westbrook was deployed to Iraq, he installed a new door on his family’s home. It was the start of many home improvement projects he wanted to get done. Recently, about 20 community volunteers from at least eight local businesses, including the Public Service Company of New Mexico, where Westbrook worked as an environmental process operator, picked up hammers and other tools and picked up where Westbrook left off. “He worked for us for 23 years. This is the least we could do,” said Dick Goeden, who worked with Westbrook at PNM. “The house definitely needed some repairs.”

“He was a gentle giant,” said Sergeant First Class Arthur Garcia, who has known Westbrook in and out of the military for about 15 years. “He had a soft voice. He was a good guy, and he will be sorely missed.”

Westbrook was a member of the Albuquerque-based 126th Military Police Company. He died on the morning of Oct. 1 in Baghdad after being struck in the head by shrapnel from an explosive device.

“He loved his family. He loved his soldiers. This gentle giant, Sergeant Allen Westbrook, will rest in peace,” Brigadier General Kenny Montoya said. Westbrook, born July 25, 1962 at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., was married and the father of five children.

We honor you, Marshall Westbrook.

(#Repost @Fallen Heroes Project)