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Several of the past Mondays have been "my day" to check the list from the Department of Defense for new casualties. If there are some, it is my turn to put their stories in a diary. The Monday of this week listed 5 more names and it is my sad duty to tell about what our country, our communities, and our neighbors lost when these men died.

Photobucket * Army Specialist Marques I. Knight from California who died in Aliabad, Afghanistan, on September 6th

* Sergeant 1st Class Daniel R. Sexton from Missouri who died at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, on September 10th

* Chief Warrant Officer Michael Slebodnik from Pennsylvania who died at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on September 11th

* Staff Sergeant Darris J. Dawson from Florida who died in Tunnis, Iraq, on September 14th

* Sergeant Wesley R. Durbin from Texas who died in Tunnis, Iraq, on September 14th

Army Specialist Marques I. Knight
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An Army specialist from San Juan Capistrano was shot and killed in Aliabad, Afghanistan. The 24-year old, Marques I. Knight, died September 6th, of wounds suffered when he received small arms fire while on dismounted patrol.

Specialist Knight joined the army in August of 2002 as an infantryman and was living in San Juan Capistrano, California.

Knight was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. He had been deployed in July.

According to WTVY News

According to initial reports, Specialist Knight was fatally injured when his walking patrol came under small arms fire...

Specialist Knight's family resides in the Wiregrass area.

His mother lives in Altamonte Springs, Florida and his father lives in Dothan.

His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon.

The Patriot Guard Riders will be joining Knight’s family to honor his memory in Dothan, Alabama, where he will be buried on the 20th.

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Sergeant 1st Class Daniel R. Sexton
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Daniel R. Sexton was born Feb. 16, 1955, in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduating from Wentzville High School, Sexton attended several colleges in Missouri while working in his family's restaurant business. He joined the Army in 1988, when he was 33.

After completing basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama, Sexton served at Army facilities in Korea and Germany as well as several in the U.S. He was a veteran of the Gulf war.

He died at the age of 53, in Iraq, of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 164th Military Police Company, Fort Richardson, Alaska since June of 2004.

According to STL Today news Sexton's wife, Tori, said her husband was believed to be the victim of an accidental shooting:

Father and sons enjoyed skiing and snowboarding together, the family said. The three also enjoyed playing video games and watching cartoons.

And while Sexton might have been the oldest soldier in his company, he rode his bicycle most places and was in excellent physical condition, his family said.

Many of the younger soldiers in the company considered Sexton a father figure and frequently confided in him, the family added.

In addition to his wife, Tori, among the survivors are two teenage sons, Shane and Corey.

A military memorial was held in Iraq and at Fort Richardson. Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery.

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Chief Warrant Officer Michael Slebodnik
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Michael Slebodnik grew up in western Pennsylvania, and joined the Army after graduating from high school in 1987. He was a helicopter pilot almost from the time of his enlistment. The married father of four children, and two stepchildren (ages 3 to 18) lived in Clarksville, Tennessee.

He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Slebodnik had been in Afghanistan since January and was scheduled to return to the U.S. next month. He had served five tours in Iraq since 2003 and was a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. The Army helicopter pilot was killed during a firefight in Afghanistan. He was 39 years old.

The Tribune Democrat talked to the family and stated that according to his mother, Patricia Slebodnik, the family was still waiting for more details on how he was killed:

"He loved the military. He wanted to fly. He loved being a soldier," Patricia Slebodnik said.

..."He knew everything about every battle that was ever fought — World War II, the Civil War, even the ancient battles," Dan Slebodnik said.

Michael Slebodnik was planing to retire from the military and wanted to return to the Western Pennsylvania region, get his college degree and become a math teacher.

The Pittsburgh Channel news found out the following about the Chief Warrant Officer:

The Slebodniks have focused on the many special moments they spent with a person that meant so much to them -- from his sense of humor, to his good work ethic, they have a long list of things they will miss about a man they affectionately call "Micky."

However, they get some comfort in knowing "Micky" wanted to be overseas.
"He definitely felt what he was doing over there was important. I don't know if he knew the big scheme of the war but he felt what he was doing was important," Deems said.

Deems remembered what her brother told family before he headed to war.
"If anything should happen to me, it's OK. Don't be sad because if something happens to me and I died doing what I love," she said.

According to the Pittsburgh News:

Seven-year-old Douglas Slebodnik lost his idol when his uncle, Warrant Officer 4 Michael Slebodnik, an Army helicopter pilot, was killed in combat in Afghanistan.

"My son just idolized my brother. He let him into his chopper and that was just better than Superman and Spiderman combined," said Daniel Slebodnik of Richland.

..."He was a family man, through and through. It used to bug him that he did not see his kids much. He would really miss them," Dan Slebodnik said.

Chief Warrant Officer Michael Slebodnik leaves behind his wife, Tanja, and children, Jake, Ginger, Spencer, Ben, Dylan and Michie; his parents, William and Patricia; a brother, Daniel; and a sister, Jody Deans.

There will be a memorial ceremony for Chief Warrant Officer Michael Slebodnik on the 20th at St. Richard's Cathedral Church in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania. The Patriot Guard Riders will be attending. The burial is planned at Arlington National Cemetery.

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Staff Sergeant Darris J. Dawson
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Darris Dawson joined the Army after graduating from Escambia High School in 2001. Army Staff Sgt. Darris J. Dawson was killed in Tunis, Iraq, on his third tour of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 24-year-old was the father of four children, none older than 4 years old.

The Department of Defense said Dawson and another soldier, Sgt. Wesley Durbin, 26, of Hurst, Texas, died of "wounds sustained in a nonhostile incident" but has released no other information.

The soldier was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia.

According to MyFox News

PENSACOLA, Fla.  --  Darris Dawson was number 23. He played guard for Escambia High School back in 2000. His old basketball coach Steve Brown, wasn’t surprised when he heard Dawson was guarding our country in Iraq.

The shock came when he got word, Dawson was killed Sunday. Brown said Darris was the type of kid who makes me love what I do. He was a leader."

Outside of Escambia High School, there’s a memorial that lists the name of every fallen soldier that went to the school. Unfortunately, Dawson’s name will soon be added to that list.

According to the Pensacola News Journal:

"He liked the Army and would have loved it, except that he didn't like going back and forth to Iraq,'' said his father, Army veteran Darryl Mathis of Pensacola. "He saw all the action — he was an infantry fighter. Goodness, he saw a lot of action.''

...His father and stepmother remember him as an honorable young man who wanted to serve his country.

"He felt it was an honor for him just to be able to serve," said a teary Maxine Mathis at the family's home near Nine Mile Road. "He would say he's not going to re-enlist, but he ended up re-enlisting twice when it was time. And he loved it more and more each time. He called us one day and said, 'I think I'm going to make this a career. This is what I want to be.'"

The Department of Defense defines a non-hostile casualty as "a person who becomes a casualty due to circumstances not directly attributable to hostile action or terrorist activity. Casualties due to the elements, self-inflicted wounds and combat fatigue are non-hostile casualties."

Staff Sergeant Dawson is survived by his father, Darryl Mathis, his stepmother, Maxine Mathis, and his mother, Stephanie Dawson of New York. Dawson's wife, Tasha Dawson, lives near Fort Stewart, Georgia, with the couple's four children.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced, but it is believed that Pensacola, Florida will be Staff Sergeant Darris J. Dawson's final resting place.

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Sergeant Wesley R. Durbin
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A North Texan was killed Sunday at a coalition patrol base in Iraq. His death resulted from what the Defense Department described as a non-combat related incident.

Durbin was an honors student and 2001 graduate of Dallas Lutheran School. He volunteered in the Civil Air Patrol in high school, then joined the Marines. After he left the Marine Corps, he joined the Army two years ago.

Army Sgt. Wesley R. Durbin was killed in Tunis, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. No more information is being released at this time about the death of the 26-year-old soldier.

The Department of Defense said Durbin and another soldier, Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson from Florida, died of "wounds sustained in a nonhostile incident" but has released no other information.

The Department of Defense defines a non-hostile casualty as "a person who becomes a casualty due to circumstances not directly attributable to hostile action or terrorist activity. Casualties due to the elements, self-inflicted wounds and combat fatigue are non-hostile casualties."

The soldier was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced, but it is believed that Texas will be Sergeant Darris J. Dawson's final resting place. The Patriot Guard Riders will be attending the funeral in Texas.


 

Monday Monday, can't trust that day,
Monday Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be    
Oh Monday Monday, how could you leave and not take me?

- From a song by the Mommas and the Papas


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Helping our troops:

If you wish to assist our military and their families, consider Operation Helmet, or Fisher House. If you have frequent flyer miles, they can be donated to hospitalized veterans or their families. See Fisher House’s Hero Miles program for details. Consider sponsoring a deployed service member at TroopCarePackage.com. Letters or care packages can make a real difference in a military person's life. To assist the animal companions of our deployed military, information is available here. Also, you could visit:

Go to AnySoldier.com

When our veterans come back home, they need jobs. Look at the programs of Hire Heroes USA and Welcome Back Veterans to see if you can help out.



About the IGTNT series:

"I Got the News Today" is a diary series intended to honor, respect, and remind us of the sacrifice of our troops. Click here to see the series, which was begun by i dunno, and which is maintained by Sandy on Signal, monkeybiz, noweasels, MsWings, greenies, blue jersey mom, Chacounne, twilight falling, moneysmith, labwitchy, joyful, roses, SisTwo, SpamNunn, a girl in MI, JeNoCo and Mediaprof.  These diaries are heartbreaking to write, but an important service to those Americans who have died and to our community’s respect for and remembrance of them. If you would like to volunteer, even once a month, please contact me, Sis.

Fallen service members whose names have been released by the Department of Defense will usually be diaried two days after the official announcement on the DoD website. This allows the IGTNT team to cover each person more fully, but still in a timely manner


Please bear in mind that these diaries are read by friends and family of the service members mentioned here. May all of our remembrances be full of compassion rather than politics.

Originally posted to SisTwo on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 04:27 PM PDT.

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