You, whose forebodings have been all fulfilled,
You who have heard the bell, seen the boy stand
Holding the flimsy message in his hand
While through your heart the fiery question thrilled
"Wounded or killed, which, which?"--and it was "Killed--"
And in a kind of trance have read it, numb
But conscious that the dreaded hour was come,
No dream this dream wherewith your blood was chilled--
Oh brothers in calamity, unknown
Companions in the order of black loss,
Lift up your hearts, for you are not alone.
~ Henry Christopher Bradby
Tonight we stand in silent vigil for four more valiant young men who were killed in Iraq. Let us use compassionate words to remind their grieving families, friends and fellow soldiers that they are not alone.
Sgt. Phillip R. Anderson, 28, of Everett, Washington
Sgt. Anderson died Mar. 10 in Balad Ruz, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas.
Sgt. Anderson was a highly-decorated soldier, who served with valor and distinction.
An Everett soldier who was killed Monday in Iraq had seen previous combat.
The Army said Friday that Sgt. Phillip Reid Anderson, 28, had won a Purple Heart and a number of other decorations associated with the war there.
An Army spokesman at Fort Hood said there was little information immediately available about Anderson's family or where they live.
Anderson joined the Army in October 1999. He has been assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment since August 2006. He and his companions were deployed to Iraq in November.
Besides the Purple Heart, Anderson's decorations included the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Service Unit Award, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge and Driver-Mechanic Badge.
The 2nd Squadron, known as Sabre Squadron, originated in 1846 as a regiment of mounted riflemen designed to provide greater mobility than the regular infantry, according to the Army.
In modern times, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment is equipped with M1 Abrams tanks and M3 Bradley fighting vehicles. It is the only heavy armored cavalry regiment in the Army. Two other regiments are both considered light armored cavalry regiments.
Sgt. Anderson’s body will be returned to the United States next Tuesday. His funeral will take place on March 20, 2008 at the Fir Lane Funeral Home in Spanaway, Washington.
Sgt. Anderson was born in Mexico, Missouri on August 20, 1979. His widow, Melanie Anderson, left this message in his memorial guestbook at the Fir Lane Funeral Home:
I love you so much you are my hero and, you will always be in my heart and in my thoughts. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you have done for me and Warner. We love you so much and are so proud of you.
A family member sent this photo of Sgt. Anderson with his son, who is now 16 months old:
Thank you, Sgt. Anderson. Your mission is done.
Spc. Donald A. Burkett, 24, of Comanche, Texas
Spc. Burkett died Mar. 10 in Balad Ruz, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas.
Spc. Burkett, who was known as "Wesley," had planned to give his three-year-old son a puppy when he came home on leave in September.
Three-year-old Mason Burkett can't quite fathom that his father went away to war and isn't coming back.
Mason's dad, 24-year-old Spc. Donald A. "Wesley" Burkett of Comanche, and two other soldiers were killed Monday when their vehicle came upon an improvised explosive device in Balad Ruz, Iraq.
Soon, however, Mason will have a reminder of his dad, a birthday present Burkett planned to give his only child when he came home on leave from Iraq in September.
"We were supposed to go out and get the puppy, so his daddy could give it to him when he came in," said Carolyn Gray, Burkett's mother.
Now, she said, the family plans to obtain a puppy and give it to Mason, months before his fourth birthday, in remembrance of his late father.
Plans are to tell Mason, Gray said, "That was what Daddy was going to do."
A Zephyr high school dropout who received his GED (General Educational Development) in February 2001, Burkett entered the U.S. Army in April 2006.
Before his death, Gray said, her son had told his family he was "reading the Bible over there and that he wanted us to get Mason into Sunday school and start taking him to church on a regular basis."
"He wanted to go forward in the Army," Gray said. "He was very proud to be in the military, and I was very proud he was in the military."
His goal was to become a sergeant, she said, and he was extremely serious about his Army duties.
Final services will likely be Friday for U.S. Army Spc. Donald Allen "Wesley" Burkett, 24, formerly of Zephyr, who was killed Monday in Iraq.
Burkett’s widow, the former Brandi Peel, said (yesterday) she had last talked to her husband on Sunday. The couple had bought a home in Killeen just before Burkett left for a 15-month deployment on Nov. 6, 2007.
"He joined the Army to make a better life for himself and for our family. He wanted to make a better life for our son," Brandi Burkett said.
He was born Jan. 27, 1984, in Brownwood. He attended elementary school in Priddy, then attended school in Zephyr and was a student at Ranger College prior to joining the Army.
Brandi Burkett said the couple met in December of 2001 in Brownwood and were married on Dec. 18, 2005, in Comanche County. The couple have a 3-year-old son, Mason.
"Mason was my husband’s pride and joy," Brandi Burkett said. "He didn’t like being away from him, he missed being home, but he felt like serving our country would be his chance to make things better for our future.
"Wesley died as a soldier fighting for our country," she said. "He died a true hero."
Spc. Burkett entered the Army in April 2006 as an armor crewman. During his service, he earned the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, and the Army Service Ribbon. He had deployed to Iraq in November 2007.
Besides his wife and son, Burkett is survived by his mother, Carolyn Gray of Comanche, Texas; two brothers, Jayson Geoffrey Brown of Beeville, Texas and Wayne Burkett of Albany, Texas; his grandmother, Linnie Faye Gray of Comanche, Texas; and his mother-in-law, Amy Bailey of Brownwood, Texas.
He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Don Gray, formerly of Comanche.
Spc. Burkett’s funeral will take place next week at the Heartland Funeral Home in Early, Texas. He will be buried at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen, Texas
Thank you, Spc. Burkett. Your mission is done.
Capt. Torre R. Mallard, 27, of Oklahoma and Alabama
Capt. Mallard died Mar. 10 in Balad Ruz, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas.
Capt. Mallard, the son of a Master Sergeant, was an outstanding student at the United States Military Academy. At his commissioning ceremony, he received his first salute from his father.
The son of a well-respected military instructor in Spotsylvania County was killed in Iraq this week.
Yet, few of retired Master Sgt. Mose Mallard's co-workers knew of his son's accomplishments, said Lee Browning, principal of the Spotsylvania Career and Technical Center.
Mallard has taught the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps at the center since 2006.
"He could have bragged about his son, but he was never the type to do that," Browning said of Mallard. "He's kind of a quiet man and he's highly regarded and respected."
Mallard left his Stafford County home this week for Fort Hood, Texas. His older son, Capt. Torre Mallard, was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood.
The 27-year-old captain and two other soldiers from the unit were killed Monday.
Mallard was proud his son had followed him into the military, said Sgt. Ed Fulmore, a fellow JROTC instructor at the center.
Torre Mallard was on his second tour of duty in Iraq, Fulmore said. In 2004, as a first lieutenant, he was photographed while searching for insurgents in Baghdad.
The Army officer graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2002. At his commissioning ceremony, he received his first salute from his father.
(Capt. Mallard) graduated in May 1998 from Selmen High School in Slidell, La., and entered the West Point Military Academy the summer of 1998, according to a 2002 report from the Anniston Star newspaper in Alabama.
He graduated from West Point on June 1, 2002, with a bachelor's of science degree in computer science, the newspaper reported.
During the spring semester of his sophomore year he served a four-month term as company commander at West Point, achieving one of the highest positions in the Cadet Chain of Command at the academy, the Star stated.
He was the "finest young man in the world."
Mallard's grandfather, Mose Mallard Jr., described Torre as the "finest young man in the world."
"It broke my heart when I heard it," the Anniston, Ala., resident told The Oklahoman.
"He played football and baseball, and he was just an outstanding student. (He) always got good grades. I was proud of him."
Mallard played sprint football for the Army and completed airborne training at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Capt. Mallard had majored in computer science at West Point. During his Firstie Year, he was part of the Academy team that won the 2002 Inter-Academy Cyber Defense Exercise.
Capt. Mallard’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Combat Action Badge.
Capt. Mallard is survived by his wife and two sons, Torre Jr. and Joshua. He is also survived by his parents, Mose and Robin Mallard, of Stafford, Virginia, and his grandparents, Mose and Flora Mallard of Anniston, Alabama, and Betty Davis. A memorial service for Capt. Mallard will be held next Wednesday at the Goodson Funeral Home in Anniston; his funeral will take place on Friday at West Point.
Thank you, Capt. Mallard. Your mission is done.
Cpl. Jose A. Paniagua-Morales, 22, of Bell Gardens, California
Cpl. Paniagua-Morales died March 7 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds he had suffered in Samarra, Iraq, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.
Cpl. Paniagua-Morales was promoted from Specialist posthumously, in honor of his valor and courage.
Cpl. Jose A. Paniagua-Morales, 22, was from Bell Gardens, Calif., the Pentagon said. He died from wounds at the U.S. military hospital in Balad.
Paniagua-Morales graduated from high school and joined the Army in September 2004 and arrived at Fort Lewis the following January after initial training at Fort Benning, Ga.
He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, a unit of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which began a 15-month deployment to Iraq last April.
Since November the brigade has taken the lead in operations to clear al-Qaida in Iraq fighters from Diyala province and, in more recent months, in some of the towns and cities farther north.
Paniagua-Morales is the brigade’s 37th soldier to be killed in Iraq.
The brigade is due to return home in July.
The City of Lakewood (Washington), which has a special "connector community" relationship with the 4th Brigade, made note of the fact that this would be the first local funeral for a unit soldier. They mostly hail from other parts of the country.
"It’s an honor for Lakewood," said Councilwoman Claudia Thomas, who has attended memorial services at Fort Lewis for other soldiers.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Cpl. Jose A. Paniagua-Morales of Bell Gardens, CA:
"Corporal Jose Paniagua-Morales was a true patriot who gave his life in the defense of liberty. He fought with honor, bravery and loyalty to our country and his fellow soldiers. On behalf of the people of California, Maria and I offer our prayers and deepest condolences to Jose's loved ones as they mourn the loss of an extraordinary Californian."
In honor of Cpl. Paniagua-Morales, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.
Cpl. Paniagua-Morales enlisted in the Army at Los Angeles -- where he had been born on May 19, 1985 -- on Sept. 7, 2004. He reported to Fort Benning, Ga., on Sept. 17, 2004, for initial entry training. He reported to Fort Lewis Jan. 5, 2005, where he was assigned to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (later reflagged 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division). He was assigned to the brigade's 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment on Jan. 31, 2005. The brigade deployed to Iraq in April, 2007.
Cpl. Paniagua-Morales was promoted from Specialist posthumously. His awards and decorations include the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Army Service Ribbon.
Cpl. Paniagua-Morales is survived by his mother, who lives in California, and his wife.
Funeral services for Cpl. Jose Paniagua-Morales will be held on Monday March 17, 2008 at 1 p.m. at the Mountain View Funeral Home in Lakewood, Washington.
In the Mountain View Funeral Home Guestbook, the father of one of Cpl. Paniagua-Morales’s fellow soldiers left this poignant message:
I learned of the death of Jose from my son PFC Patrick Degeus. Patrick was with Jose when their Stryker was hit and called me to tell me about the tragedy how proud he was to have known Jose and to have called him his Army "buddy."
My love and prayers are all I have to offer. My thanks to our hero Jose for keeping our Nation safe.
Thank you, Cpl. Paniagua-Morales. Your mission is done.
To date, 3987 members of the United States military have lost their lives in Iraq. Of these, 102 have been women. The death toll for March is already 14. More than 30,000 men and women have been wounded, and 145 have taken their own lives while on active duty. All of the fatalities can be seen here. The Department of Defense Press Releases, from which the information at the start of each entry in this diary was drawn, can be seen here. The death toll among Iraqis is unknown, but is at least 100,000, and may well be many times that number.
To date, 487 members of the United States military have lost their lives in Afghanistan. The death toll thus far for 2008 is 12. 289 members of the military from other countries have also lost their lives.
Other sites have stories, video, pictures and remembrances, including: Honor the Fallen.
If you want to do something to assist our military and their families, please visit anysoldier.com or Fisher House. If you have frequent flyer miles you would like to donate to hospitalized veterans or their families, please see Fisher House’s Hero Miles program. Finally, if you would like to assist the animal companions of our deployed military, information is available here.
And don’t forget them when they get home! Read welcomebackveterans.org to learn what you can do.
I Got the News Today is a diary series intended to honor, respect and remind. Click here to see the series, which was begun by i dunno, and is currently maintained by Sandy on Signal, monkeybiz, silvercedes, MsWings, greenies, blue jersey mom, Chacounne, Wee Mama, twilight falling, labwitchy, moneysmith, joyful, roses, SisTwo, Avila, SpamNunn, a girl in MI and me, noweasels. These diaries are heartbreaking to write, but, we believe, 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 Sandy on Signal, monkeybiz, or me, noweasels.
NOTE, PLEASE: As you read this diary, please consider that the families and friends of those profiled here also may read it and that many members of our community have served in Iraq or Afghanistan or have loved ones currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the very proud daughter of a Navy pilot, and the granddaughter of a Marine pilot and a submariner, I hope that the comments tonight will demonstrate our respect for the sacrifices of our fallen military and our compassion for their families, whatever our personal feelings about the war and occupation happen to be.