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Patriotic Article
Heroes and Patriots
By Army SSgt. Todd Pouliot

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TF Paladin Honors Fallen EOD Comrades
(April 16, 2011)

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U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Lauren Larson, Combined Joint Task Force Paladin operations sergeant major, and a native of Cumberland, Md., places the identification tags of one of 20 Paladin service members who were killed in combat over the past 12 months, onto the pistol grip of the fallen warrior memorial during a remembrance ceremony here April 5, 2011. The memorial at Bagram Air Field coincides with the annual Explosive Ordnance Disposal commemoration at Elgin Air Force Base, Fla., scheduled for next month, when the names of these 20 fallen heroes will be added to the memorial wall. Photo by Pfc. Michael Syner
U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Lauren Larson, Combined Joint Task Force Paladin operations sergeant major, and a native of Cumberland, Md., places the identification tags of one of 20 Paladin service members who were killed in combat over the past 12 months, onto the pistol grip of the fallen warrior memorial during a remembrance ceremony here April 5, 2011. Photo by Pfc. Michael Syner
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan -- Combined Joint Task Force Paladin remembered and honored fallen comrades who had made the ultimate sacrifice during the past 12 months during a ceremony here April 5. The lives of 20 Paladin service members, which included 10 soldiers, eight Marines and two airmen, were honored in the CJTF Paladin 6th Annual Fallen Comrade Memorial, a memorial which coincides with the annual Explosive Ordinance Disposal Memorial, held at Elgin Air Force Base, Fla., each spring.

“The memorial is important for two reasons,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Hockstedler, CJTF Paladin command sergeant major, and a native of Warroad, Minn. “First, it begins the healing process for friends and family members; and second, it provides closure.”

The fallen heroes had come to Paladin from all over the United States; from Alaska, the West Coast, the Northeast, the Midwest, the Great Plains, and the South. They were husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and friends. They were Eagle Scouts, star athletes, hunters, outdoorsmen and extreme sports enthusiasts.

Honored were:

U.S. Army Spc. Wade A. Slack, 21 of Waterville, Maine, assigned to the 707th Ordnance Company, 3rd Ordnance Battalion, of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, died of combat wounds inflicted by the enemy May 6, 2010 in Wardak province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Adam L. Perkins, 27, of Antelope, Calif., assigned to 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st EOD Company, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., died on May 17, 2010, at Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Afghanistan, while supporting combat operations
in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Shane S. Barnard, 38, of De Smet, S.D. , assigned to 53rd Ordnance Company, based at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, died of combat wounds inflicted by the enemy on May 19, 2010 while supporting combat operations in Zabul province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Eastman, 28, of Moose Pass, Alaska, assigned to 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., died July 18, 2010, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Derek J. Farley, 24, of Nassau, N.Y., assigned to 702nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, based at Grafenwoehr, Germany, died August 17, 2010, while supporting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Daniel L. Fedder, 34, of Pine City, Minn., assigned to 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., died August 27, 2010, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Floyd E. Holley, 36, of Casselberry, Fla., assigned to the 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., died August 27, 2010, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Matthew J. West, 36, of Conover, Wis., assigned 62nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, based at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, died of combat wounds inflicted by the enemy on August 30, 2010 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Capt. Jason T. McMahon, 35, of Mulvane, Kan., commander of 744th Explosive Ordnance Company, based at Fort Campbell, Ky., died September 5, 2010, at Bagram Air Field of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with indirect fire in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael J. Buras, 23, of Fitzgerald, Ga., assigned to 99th Civil Engineer Squadron, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., deployed with 755th Air Expeditionary Squadron, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, died September 21, 2010, while supporting combat operations in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Daniel J. Johnson, 23, of Schiller Park, Ill., assigned to 30th Civil Engineer Squadron, Explosive Disposal Flight at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and deployed with 755th Air Expeditionary Squadron, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, died October 5, 2010, while supporting combat operations in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Joshua J. Cullins, 28, of Simi Valley, Calif., assigned to 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., died October 19, 2010, while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jordan B. Emrick, 26, of Hoyleton, Ill., assigned to 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., died November 5, 2010, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jason T. Smith, 29, of Colorado Springs, Colo., assigned to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Branch, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Marine Corps Bases Japan, Iwakuni, Japan, and attached to 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, died November 19, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Justin E. Schmalstieg, 28, of Oceanside, Calif., assigned to 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., died December 15, 2010, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Spc. Joshua T. Lancaster, 22, of Millbrook, Ala., assigned to 723rd Explosive Ordnance Company, based at Fort Campbell, Ky., died January 19, 2011, from injuries suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with indirect fire in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Chauncy R. Mays, 25, of Cookville, Texas, assigned to 705th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 184th EOD Battalion, based at Fort Polk, La., died February 28, 2011, while supporting combat operations in Wardak province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Spc. Christopher G. Stark, 22, of Monett, Mo., assigned to 705th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 184th EOD Battalion, based at Fort Polk, La., died February 28, 2011, while supporting combat operations in Wardak province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Mark C. Wells, 31, of San Jose, Calif., assigned to 74th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 303rd Battalion, 45th Sustainment Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, based at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, died March 5, 2011, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Eric S. Trueblood, 27, of Alameda, Calif., assigned to 720th Explosive Ordnance Company, 391st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, based in Mannheim, Germany, died March 10, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.


Each spring, EOD members past and present gather at Elgin Air Force Base, Fla., to commemorate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Twenty names will be added to the 238 that currently enshrined on the memorial's wall.

“It's a special breed of [service member] who does what we do,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Larry Cushing, Task Force Paladin South and 63rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion command sergeant major, and a native of Gadsden, Ala. “We accept the inherent danger to protect others.”

The guest speaker at BAF memorial, Col. Thomas Langowski, CJTF Paladin commander, and a native of Port Edwards, Wisc., asked attendees to ponder what it is that makes someone a hero. He then named each of the 20 fallen EOD service members, when and where they were killed, and a personal message for each one.

“I submit to you, that all of these men are without a doubt, heroes,” said Langowski. “They all displayed a special courage, not a courage that is absent fear; but a courage that each of them came by as they all judged that something else was more important than fear, and they lived their lives in control of that fear as they rendered safe explosive hazards designed to harm and injure others indiscriminately. And courage is a faith in something worth dying for. And fear is nothing more than our faith on trial.”

“So honor the sacrifice of these 20 heroes tonight by living your life to the fullest, but when you refelect on the freedom that you enjoy, remember their sacrifice. We Remember.”

By Army SSgt. Todd Pouliot
10th Combat Aviation Brigade
Copyright 2011
Provided through DVIDS

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