On Friday, the Department of Defense announced the deaths of seven American servicemembers. Four were diaried in last night's IGTNT, and tonight we will honor the other three. This diary is dedicated to the memories of Staff Sgt. Ronald C. Blystone, Staff Sgt. Shaun J. Whitehead, and Sgt. Guadalupe Cervantes Ramirez.
In 1914 Laurence Binchon wrote the following words:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Follow me below the fold as we pay tribute to three young fathers who will never grow old.
On Friday, the Department of Defense announced the following:
Staff Sgt. Ronald C. Blystone, 34, of Springfield, Mo., died April 23 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered when he encountered small arms fire during a dismounted patrol. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
The News-Leader reports this tragic story:
When a black car pulled into the driveway and she saw two officers coming to the front door, Alexia Blystone knew one of her sons had been killed in Iraq -- she just didn't know which one.
"I wouldn't let them speak for a long time ... I didn't want to know," she said.
"It was exactly like in the movies," she said, recalling the officers' visit to her Springfield home Wednesday evening. "It's every parent's worst nightmare to have to bury their child."
Mrs. Blystone soon learned that her oldest son, Staff Sgt. Ronald Blystone, had been killed in Iraq last Wednesday. Staff Sgt. Blystone, who was known as R.C., was a 1992 graduate of Glendale High School. He was a football player and a scuba diver, and he had recently been certified to carry out deep-water rescues. He had already received the Bronze Star, the fourth highest combat award for the US armed Services.
Staff Sgt. Blystone is survived by his wife, Kelly, and his three children, Maggie age 13, Molly age 10, and Zackery age 9. His family hopes that his youngest brother, Joseph Blystone, who is also deployed to Iraq, will be able to return home for his brother's funeral.
On Friday, the Department of Defense also announced the following:
Staff Sgt. Shaun J. Whitehead, 24, of Commerce, Ga., died April 24 in Iskandariyah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when he encountered an improvised explosive device while on a dismounted patrol. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Staff Sgt. Whitehead is one of three Fort Cambell soldiers who were killed within a 48-hour period last week in Iraq and the sixth Fort Cambell soldier killed last week. He joined the Army in 2003 and arrived at Fort Campbell in Kentucky in 2004. Source
Staff Sergeant Whitehead is survived by his wife, Brenda Whitehead, and his two children, Gabriel Whitehead and Jana Moore, as well as his mother, Rebecca Whitehead of Maysville, GA. Source
His mother said that he died doing what he had always wanted to do.
"He was an exceptional person. He was a good son, a good father, a good soldier," she said. "He was going to be a career military man, and he was very proud to tell you, too."
The Department of Defense also announced the following on Friday:
Sgt. Guadalupe Cervantes Ramirez, 26, of Fort Irwin, Calif., died April 23 at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, of injuries suffered in a vehicle incident. He was assigned to the 2nd Transportation Company (Heavy Equipment Transport), Echelons Above Brigade Support Battalion, National Training Center Support Brigade, Fort Irwin, Calif.
The incident is under investigation.
The Sun reports that Sgt. Ramirez was based in Kuwait and that his job was driving supplies into Iraq. He was killed in a vehicle accident that was not combat related.
Sgt. Ramirez left Fort Irwin on May 7th, 2007 for a 15-month tour. He leaves behind a wife, Amber Ramirez, and two daughters, aged 7 and 4.
When California Governor Schwartzenegger learned on Ramiriez's passing, his office issued the following statement:
Sergeant Guadalupe Cervantes Ramirez sacrificed his life to protect the values and freedoms which define our nation and its people. His devotion, loyalty and unfailing courage in the face of danger serve as an inspiration to all Americans. Maria and I extend our deepest condolences to Guadalupe's family and friends as they mourn the loss of this brave Californian.
The flags at the state capitol will be flown at half-mast in his honor.
May these three soldiers rest in peace, My thoughts and prayers are for their families. Let us never forget the sacrifices made my these three fathers who will never grow old.
About "I Got the News Today" (IGTNT)
I Got the News Today is a diary series intended to honor service members who have died as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; its title is a reminder that almost every day a military family gets the terrible news about a loved one. Diaries about the fallen usually appear two days after their names are officially released, which allows time for the IGTNT team to find and tell their stories.
The series was begun by i dunno and is maintained by Sandy on Signal, monkeybiz, noweasels, MsWings, greenies, blue jersey mom, Chacounne, twilight falling, moneysmith, labwitchy, joyful, roses, SisTwo, SpamNunn and AGirlinMI.
Please bear in mind that these diaries are read by friends and family of the service members chronicled here. May all of our remembrances be full of compassion rather than politics.