Thursday, July 19, 2012

Defense Department Identifies Army Casualties

Earlier this week, the Department of Defense announced the deaths of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.  The following are brief profiles of those we have lost.

Staff Sgt. Carl E. Hammar, 24, of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., died July 14, in Khost province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from enemy small arms fire.

Hammar was assigned to 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

Staff Sgt. Hammar, who previously served two tours of duty in Iraq, had been in Afghanistan since December. He graduated from Lake Havasu High School in 2005 and went on to take classes at Mohave Community College’s Lake Havasu City campus from fall 2004 to fall 2006.

“He was very funny,” said Lamae Spellman-Douglas, who taught Hammar at Mohave Community College. “He was always telling jokes. And he listened to the weirdest music, like that ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic. He was always saying, ‘Here you gotta listen to this.’”

Spellman-Douglas said Hammar felt strongly about his Swedish heritage, and had come to her house to cook Swedish pancakes for her and her husband a few years ago.

“He was really excited about going in (to the Army),” she said. “He’ll be missed by his friends.”

Hammar joined the Army in December 2005 and graduated from basic training, advanced individual training and the basic airborne course at Fort Benning, Ga., before being stationed as an infantryman at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer ordered that the flags at all state buildings be lowered to half-staff Tuesday and again on the day of his burial.

“This is a day to offer our condolences, prayers and due respect for Staff Sgt. Hammar and the family he leaves behind,” Brewer said in a prepared statement.

Sgt. Erik N. May, 26, of Independence, Kan., died July 14, in Ghazni province, Afghanistan. May was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

May joined the Army in September 2007 and was assigned to Fort Riley in February 2009. He was on his second deployment when he died, having served in Iraq in 2009.

His awards include an Army Commendation Medal, an Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghan Campaign Medal with one campaign star, and the Iraq Campaign Medal with one campaign star.

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) issued a statement Tuesday on the death of Sergeant May. It states: “All Americans will forever be indebted to Sergeant May for his service on our behalf. My deepest sympathies go out to his family, and I ask all Kansans to join me in remembering his family and friends in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

According to Moran's press release, initial reports indicate that May died of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident.

Spc. Sergio E. Perez Jr., 21, of Crown Point, Ind. and  Spc. Nicholas A. Taylor, 20, of Berne, Ind. both died July 16, in Wali Kot District, Afghanistan, from injuries suffered when their vehicle was struck by enemy rocket propelled grenades.  The soldiers were assigned to the 81st Troop Command, Indiana National Guard, Indianapolis, Ind.

Spc. Perez graduated from Lake Central High School in May of 2010 and not long after graduation joined the Indiana National Guard. After training in Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, he was deployed to Afghanistan with the 17th Engineer Company. His company mobilized at the end of September 2011 and is scheduled to return toward the end of September this year.

Friend and former co-worker Amber Counts said Perez made a strong impression on those who knew him.

"Sergio was very, very friendly," she said. "He always asked how people were doing and was concerned about them."

"He was just an all-around great guy - no matter who you are, he would get along with you no matter what," said friend Esteban Gutierrez.

"He would do anything for anybody. No questions asked," said good friend Mitchell Peters, who got a tattoo to honor Perez Tuesday morning. "There's nothing anyone would say bad about him."

Perez is survived by his parents, Sergio E. Perez Sr. and Veronica Orozco.

Spc. Nicholas Taylor,  the son of Timothy Ray and Stephania Dawn Taylor, graduated from South Adams High School in May of 2010. His father is the police chief in Berne, a community in northeast Indiana.

"For the young men and women that do serve our country, I cannot say enough about them to volunteer and do that," said Asst. Chief Jim Newbold of the Berne Police Department. "As for Nick, I am kind of at a loss for words."

After graduating from high school, where he played football, wrestled and ran track,  Taylor enlisted in the Indiana Army National Guard and went to basic training and Combat Engineer training at Fort Leonard Wood.  Taylor returned to Fort Leonard Wood in April 2011 to attend the Route/Reconnaissance Clearance Operations Course in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan.

According to family, Taylor was scheduled to come home in September and had spoken about enrolling in college with his brother and majoring in criminal justice.

"He was very well thought of, very highly respected," said Matt Lehman, a former co-worker of Taylor. "He was kind of a people magnet... whenever you saw him, he had a big smile, and people were naturally attracted to him."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.