Staff Sergeant Justin DeCrow, Evans, GA/Plymouth
Army Staff Sgt. Justin DeCrow and wife Marikay DeCrow. (Photo courtesy of Fort Gordon Public Affairs)
Justin DeCrow, 32, was a "loving husband and father, and we're going to miss him," sobbed his wife, Marikay DeCrow, from their home in Evans, Georgia. The couple has a 13-year-old daughter.
DeCrow went to Fort Hood in September to prepare for his deployment to Iraq, which was scheduled for sometime between December and March, Marikay DeCrow told CNN.
He had just come back from a tour in South Korea, where he worked in satellite communications, she added.
Daniel DeCrow, Justin DeCrow's father, told CNN affiliate WSBT in South Bend, Indiana, that his son joined the Army after finishing high school in Plymouth, Indiana.
He last spoke to his son last week, WSBT reported.
"As usual, the last words out of my mouth to him were that I was proud of him," Daniel DeCrow said, according to WSBT's Web site. "That's what I said to him every time -- that I loved him and I was proud of what he was doing. I can carry that around in my heart."
His wife, Marikay said Saturday:
...“his infectious charm and wit always put others at ease. He will be greatly missed.” They were high school sweethearts. She said she and Justin “enjoyed nearly 14 years of a wonderful marriage.”
Their daughter Kylah is 13 years old. Marikay said her husband loved his family.
Staff Sergeant DeCrow graduated from Plymouth High School, Plymouth, Indiana, in 1996, married Marikay that spring and joined the Army in the summer.
Marikay said “he always wanted to be a soldier.” DeCrow, a satellite communications operator-maintainer, had been assigned to a Signal unit at Fort Hood since September, and was to be deployed to Iraq soon. He was assigned to Fort Gordon in 2000, to attend the training course for his job as a satellite communications operator-maintainer.
Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka,
West Jordan, Utah
He was a young man who loved both his family and his country.
Family members of 19-year-old Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka said he planned to officially ask his girlfriend to marry him when he returned home in December for a short visit before being deployed in January to the Middle East.
[He had] dreams of being a husband, father and career soldier Aaron Nemelka was the youngest of four children and a 2008 graduate of West Jordan High School in West Jordan, Utah. An Eagle Scout, he joined the Army in October 2008 after consulting his grandfather, an ex-Marine, and his cousin, another serviceman who is currently deployed in Germany. He was looking forward to possibly making a career out of the Army, his grandfather said. "He was very happy that the Army let him enlist," Michael Nemelka said. "He was fun loving and bright. He liked to hang out with his family and his friends." In his free time, the young man also enjoyed skate boarding, and bowling.
His aunt, Alesa Forrest, said both his mother and father came from big families. Aaron was one of 42 grandchildren.
"His family was everything to him," Forrest said. "He was one of the favorite cousins, always willing to play with the kids. ...He was a sweet, nice kid; quiet, well-spoken. He loved life and his family,"
Forrest said Aaron Nemelka's main hobby was his family, because when they all got together, by the time he was done visiting with each person or playing cards or games, an entire day would have gone by.
Aaron's father, Michael, said:
“He was proud to follow in the footsteps of both of his grandfathers, two of his uncles, and his cousin,” said Mr. Nemelka’s father, Michael. “He felt it was his duty to stand with them in defense of our country.”
“As a person, Aaron was as soft and kind and as gentle as they come, a sweetheart,” his uncle said. “What I loved about the kid was his independence of thought.”
...recalled Aaron's excitement about his coming deployment. "He was all ready to ship out," ... "He was excited as all heck. He was going to go do what he was trained to do. He just wanted to serve his country.
Spc. Jason Dean Hunt,
As a boy, Jason Hunt once had to wear silver caps on his front teeth. When he was too timid to smile, his sister, playing on his love for video games, asked him to show his Ninja Turtle teeth.
"He was so embarrassed and such a shy boy," recalled his sister Leila Willingham, 30, of Frederick, Okla. "That was the only way I could make him smile." In high school, Hunt refused to dissect a cat for a class assignment. He was so upset that his mother had to pick him up from school.
Hunt, 22, of Frederick, Okla., went into the military after graduating from Tipton High School in 2005 and had got married just two months ago, his mother, Gale Hunt, said. He had served 3 1/2 years in the Army, including a stint in Iraq.
But Hunt's shy and sensitive side was transformed, his family said, when he joined the military. His already caring nature bloomed into something brave, selfless and fearless, they said. He hoped to save somebody's life someday.
Hunt, who was stationed in Fort Stewart in Georgia after high school, transferred to Fort Hood to be closer to his family.
In August, he got married in Okalahoma City. "He had a blue tie and he was so happy to have his family there and to be becoming part of a family," his sister recalled through sobs.
Willingham recalled her brother once likened his feelings for his military family to the love a parent feels for their children.
"He said, 'I would die for your children.' He said, 'I would die for a stranger to save them.' And he said he would dive in front of a bullet for a soldier."
Spc. Frederick Greene, Mountain City, Tennessee
Greene, 29, was assigned to the 510th Engineer Company, 20th Engineer Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas.
Spec. Frederick Greene was a Tennessee native so quiet and laid-back that he earned the nickname "Silent Soldier" while stationed at Fort Hood preparing to go overseas.
He hoped to spend the months before his deployment to Afghanistan with his wife of less than two years. She had made arrangements to leave their home in Mountain City, Tenn., next week and move to Fort Hood until January, when Greene was to ship out.
He went by “Freddie” and was active at Baker’s Gap Baptist Church while he was growing up, said Glenn Arney, the church’s former superintendent and a former co-worker of Greene’s.
“I went to church with him, knew him all of his life. He was one of the finest boys you ever saw,” Arney said.
Arney worked with Greene for several years at A.C. Lumber and Truss in Mountain City. The company designs and builds trusses, which are structures that support the roofs and floors of houses and other buildings.
“He was a hard worker. He was a computer whiz. He could design a truss. He could do about anything,” Arney said.
Greene's mother died when he was a boy, and he was raised by her twin sister Karen Nourse, and Karen's husband, Rob Nourse. Family members are leaning on their Christian faith as they grieve, said Howard Nourse, Rob's father.
His family released a statement Sunday calling him a loving son, husband and father, who often acted as the family’s protector.
“Even before joining the Army, he exemplified the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage,” the family said.
Freddie's father, Howard:
"God is still in control," he said. "Even though we don't understand why something happens, He's still in control."
Spc. Kham Xiong, St. Paul, Minnesota
Kham S. Xiong, 23, of St. Paul, Minn, a 2004 graduate of Community of Peace Academy who enjoyed hunting and fishing.
Kham Xiong of St. Paul had two years under his belt with the Army when he got the orders to go to Afghanistan. He was stationed at Fort Hood in Texas and was training to work with heavy artillery overseas.
His relatives said he was in line waiting for a physical.
His wife Shoua texted him a message saying, "Come home for lunch and go back later." But he wrote back, "No, I'll stay. It's almost my turn."
The family said Kham Xiong was a good, hard-working son who called home every night to talk with his father and younger brothers. He was going to be deployed to the Middle East soon, the family said, and was anxious to get oversees. He has ten younger siblings.
The family's last conversation with their son was earlier this week.
"I talked with him, how he needed to teach his young sons to do everything good like him," Chor Xiong said. Kham Xiong lived off base with his wife, Shoua Her, and three children — two boys and one girl.
Shoua Her had talked with her husband by phone around noon Thursday but could not reach him when she called again at 1:30 p.m. after seeing news of the shooting on television, Chor Xiong said.
The Xiongs immigrated to the United States when Kham Xiong was three years old, his father said. They spent 11 years in California and moved to St. Paul about 10 years ago.
Chor Xiong said his family has a history of serving in the military. Chor Xiong fought in Laos during the Vietnam conflict, as did his father.
Kham Xiong, Chor Xiong's oldest child, had had an interest in serving since childhood. "From kindergarten to 12th grade, he liked the Army," Chor Xiong said.
The father said his son wanted to go on to college but didn't have the money. A younger brother was already serving in the Marines and encouraged Kham Xiong to join the Armed Forces. The older brother enlisted in the Army two years ago.
He was stationed at Fort Knox in Kentucky before he was moved to Fort Hood, his family said. He returned to Minnesota this July to pick up his wife and children and move them to a home near the base.
"We loved him very much," father Chor Xiong said.
Capt. Russell Seager, Racine, Wisconsin
Seager, 51, of Racine, Wis., was a psychiatrist who joined the Army a few years ago because he wanted to help veterans returning to civilian life, said his uncle, Larry Seager of Mauston.
Russell Seager’s brother-in-law, Dennis Prudhomme, said Seager had worked with soldiers at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Milwaukee who were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He also taught classes at Bryant & Stratton College in Milwaukee, said Prudhomme, who is married to Seager’s sister.
Larry Seager said his nephew’s death left the family stunned, especially because the psychiatrist only wanted to help soldiers improve their mental health.
According to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, radio station WUWM, which did a profile on Russell Seager earlier this year, the 51-year-old man was a nurse from the VA Medical Center in Milwaukee and worked to help veterans with mental health problems related to war experience.
"I've always had a great deal of respect for the military and for service, and I just felt it was time that I stepped up and did it," Seager told the radio station, talking about his deployment.
"I mean it sounds corny and patriotic, but when you talk to people that decide to do this, the feelings are similar," he said.
The radio station, whose profile on Seager aired in August, said he had a Ph.D. in alternative medicine and would have been working in Iraq to prevent mental health problems from developing in troops.
Capt. Seager’s sister, Barbara Prudhomme, said in a statement read by her husband:
“We are very proud of the way Russell lived his life, both personally and professionally, and our hearts go out to all the victims and their families.”
Bratnote again: Because I have no idea if these pictures work - you all know how tech challenged I am.;) - there are pictures of all the fallen heroes all over the place. BUT one of the resources I also used is Flopping Aces blog. They have a post - and pictures - here.]
The pictures were beautiful. Sad, but beautiful. So many lives snuffed out my hate. I noticed how many of the casualties were women. I want to say something really really mean about that, but now is not the time. Bless the families who will miss their loved ones. This is just heartbreaking.
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