The young dead soldiers do not speak.
Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses:
who has not heard them?
They have a silence that speaks for them at night
and when the clock counts.
They say: We were young. We have died.
They say: We have done what we could
but until it is finished it is not done.
They say: We have given our lives but until it is finished
no one can know what our lives gave.
They say: Our deaths are not ours: they are yours,
they will mean what you make them.
They say: Whether our lives and our deaths were for
peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say,
it is you who must say this.
We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning.
We were young, they say. We have died; remember us.
~ Archibald MacLeish
Spc. Christopher M. Talbert, 24, of Galesburg, Illinois
Spc. Talbert died July 7 in Shindad, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, Marion, Ill.
Spc. Talbert’s friends and family are remembering, with gratitude, that they were lucky enough to know him.
Army National Guard Spc. Chris M. Talbert, 24, Galesburg, was serving as a medic in Afghanistan as part of the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He was killed Tuesday in Afghanistan when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device near Shindad.
"A lot of his close friends are in the service so this is an especially hard time for them. Some are even in the same National Guard unit from Milan," said family friend Elisa Cecil of the man she called her "adopted brother."
"All the teachers liked him," said Eric Lieber, who said he had the "privilege" of coaching Talbert at Galesburg Christian School. "He would always help young kids up the steps and assist teachers around the school."
Knoxville High School Principal Mike Kemmer remembered Talbert similarly from his time coaching the young man: "He enjoyed being there. He was always there doing his best and being a positive person."
Talbert attended Knoxville High for his freshman and sophomore years, where Kemmer said he participated in Scholastic Bowl and Spanish Club, in addition to football. He attended Galesburg Christian School for his final two years, graduating in 2003.
According to Talbert’s MySpace page, he also liked to work on his car and on his buddy’s car "when I’m bored."
On another social networking site, Facebook, Talbert said he was working on a 1993 Honda Civic. His plans were to become a paramedic when he returned from his deployment, the Web site states.
Susan Powell, 23, of Galesburg said in an e-mail that she and Talbert had just talked a few days ago.
"We talked about when he comes home that we needed to do some catching up. We also talked about going back to school. He was so ready to come home," she wrote. "I just can’t believe that he is gone. I was looking forward to him coming home and spending some time with him."
Talbert loved children, she said, and was "Uncle Chris" to her daughter.
Cecil said Talbert’s deployment in Afghanistan was scheduled to end in September.
"He wanted to be there, he loved it," Cecil said.
Spc. Talbert dedicated his life to helping others.
In the Army, Talbert was a medic, a position that mirrored his civilian life, in which he was trained as an EMT and a phlebotomist at Galesburg Cottage Hospital. He also was a certified nurse’s aide.
"I remember asking him when he was getting ready to going to the Army, 'why are you doing this?' He didn’t answer me, but I believe that he did it so show everyone that he could do it. He wanted to turn his life around, and make his parents proud," (his friend, Susan) Powell said.
Guard officials didn't confirm Talbert's death until Wednesday afternoon, but messages on his MySpace Web page began appearing early in the day as the news filtered out about his death. The social networking Web page has several posts from friends expressing their condolences.
Elisa Cecil of Knoxville used to live across the street from the Talberts.
"We're friends, but they’re as close to family as can be," Cecil said. "My kids adored him."
Cecil said Talbert's deployment in Afghanistan was scheduled to end in September.
Cecil said Talbert was the type of person who had "lots of fun. He was very sweet and always thinking of others."
The town of Galesburg is in mourning.
Elisa Cecil was very close to Chris and his family. "Chris was a wonderful person, very compassionate a person who would do anything for anybody," said Cecil. Her girls thought of Chris as a brother.
Specialist Talbert worked at the Galesburg Cottage Hospital as a Phlebotomist before he was deployed. Co-worker Cassie Friend just found out Wednesday that Chris was killed. "It's blown everybody away because he was so young and just starting his life," mentioned Cassie. "He had so much going for him - so much to look forward to."
Chris's house still has wishes etched on the windows that say 'A soldier. A hero' and 'Come Home Soon.'
Spc. Talbert's friend, Karen Kraft, contacted local radio station WGIL to remember him.
Kraft says she and her daughter Kristin have known Talbert since he was a boy -- communicating often with him, even when the Krafts moved to New York for a time.
Kraft tells WGIL she remembers Talbert as always being full of life. "My perception of Chris never changed at all," Kraft said. "He was always, always helping everybody. He loved people. He grew up with my nieces as well, and he treated all three of the girls as if they were sisters."
Kraft says . . . "Chris tried to be everybody's hero."
She says she hasn't yet talked to Talbert's family, wanting to give them time to grieve, but wants to give them a big hug and help them however she can.
Kraft says her heart aches for Chris' mother Amanda and their entire family.
Spc. Talbert is survived by his parents, Terry and Amanda Talbert, and by two step-brothers.
Visitation and funeral services will be held at Bethel Baptist Church, 1196 N. Academy St, Galesburg.
Spc. Talbert will be buried in Knoxville Cemetery in Knoxville.
Thank you, Spc. Talbert. Godspeed. Your mission is done.
Pfc. Nicolas H. J. Gideon, 20, of Murrieta, California
Pfc. Gideon died July 6 at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered earlier that day in Paktya, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fires. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.
Six weeks ago, on June 3, Pfc. Gideon proposed to Wendy Herman, his high school sweetheart, while he was home on leave. Today, she is preparing for his funeral.
The wedding was planned for March 13.
On Thursday, Wendy Herman began making different plans ---- the most painful kind, especially for a 20-year-old who'd hoped to soon begin a life together filled with love, surrounded by family and, someday, kids.
Gideon and Herman met while both attended Chaparral High School in Temecula.
"He was always happy," Herman said Thursday. "He could make you so happy even when you were so sad."
Herman was at the her fiance's childhood home off Margarita Road in Murrieta on Thursday afternoon awaiting the arrival of Gideon's parents, Mike and Carol Tyndale, who were escorting their son's body home.
Mike Tyndale, Gideon's stepfather, is a career U.S. Marine, Herman said. His mother, Carol Tyndale is a longtime teacher for the Temecula Valley Unified School District.
Nick Gideon's father, Hugh, lives in Las Vegas and is also on his way to Southwest County, Herman said.
He joined the Army in June 2008 and was stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska, in November after completing basic training at Fort Knox, Ky.
Renee Garcia, 20, met Gideon when both attended James L. Day Middle School in Temecula and played in the school band.
"He was like a big brother to me," she said. "He always wanted to do something to help out others."
Herman said she and Carol Tyndale would sit down Thursday night and plan the soldier's funeral, which will likely be held at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside.
"He loved what he was doing," she said. "He was an amazing person."
In honor of Pfc. Gideon, flags in California are flying at half-staff today, by order of the Governor.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today issued the following statement regarding the death of Pfc. Nicolas H. J. Gideon of Murrieta:
"Maria and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Private First Class Nicolas Gideon, who willingly put his life on the line to protect his fellow citizens and uphold the values this country was founded upon. He served with courage and pride and we are forever indebted to his sacrifice. On behalf of all Californians, we send our heartfelt condolences to Nicolas’ family, friends and fellow soldiers."
Pfc. Gideon is survived by his mother, Carol Tyndale, by his father, Hugh Gideon, by his stepfather, Mike Tyndale, by five siblings, and by his finacee, Wendy Herman.
Thank you, Pfc. Gideon. Godspeed. Your mission is done.
Capt. Mark A. Garner, 30, of Elkin, North Carolina
Capt. Garner died July 6 in Argandab District, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels, Germany.
A 2002 graduate of the United States Military Academy, Capt. Garner is being remembered today for his service to his country an dedication to his family, friends, and community.
The body of fallen soldier Capt. Mark Garner returned to the country Wednesday during a tear-drenched ceremony at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Garner, an Elkin native and alumnus of Elkin High School, was one of seven slain soldiers brought home.
"There is a sense of loss today. We’ve lost a friend, comrade, and brother-in-arms," said Col. Michael S. Higginbottom, chief of staff and acting commander of the Joint Multinational Training Command in Grafenwoehr, Germany. "We are saddened by the loss, but also proud and humbled by the demonstration of this soldier's commitment to peace, cooperation, and camaraderie as displayed by his selfless service."
Garner initially entered the Army in 2002, after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering.
"People who knew Mark know what type of person he was," Beth Garner, Mark’s mother, said. "He was genuine, and he had a big smile. He was always happy and smiling. I remember when he was in boot camp, a picture was taken of the group while they were in their camouflage uniforms that were covered in mud, and it was hard to discern each individual. Each one with the exception of Mark, because right in the middle of the crowd was a big, white smile."
A profound grief was evident in the Garner home in State Road on Thursday evening, after their return from Dover Air Force Base, Del.
"He was kind to everyone regardless of popularity status or socioeconomic levels," Susan Hayes Lane said in a card she sent to the family. "He was always honest and sincere, and he had a generous soul."
Garner's sisters, Rachel and Jo, felt that Lane's comments were on point with who their brother was.
"Mark was the type of brother that didn't mind if I tagged along when he was with his friends," Rachel Slawter, Garner’s younger sister, said. "Some brothers don’t want their sisters, especially younger ones, following them around, but Mark welcomed me and Jo."
"I was always kidding him," older sister Jo said. "I always told him I was the one who made him tough by picking on him."
"Jo was always tall as a child," Don Garner, Mark's father, said. "When Mark was little, all the way through the ninth grade, he would walk around measuring, waiting to be taller than Jo. It was the ninth grade when he achieved it."
"He was a wonderful brother," Jo said. "I called him 'little brother' all our lives. Even when I wrote to him and sent care packages every two weeks, I started my letters out 'Hey little brother.'"
"Mark loved team sports," Don Garner said. "He loved playing with other team members and doing the best job he knew how. He played soccer when he was little and really wanted to play football, but his mom would say no because she thought he would get hurt. Instead of playing football, she had him take piano lessons. In the fourth grade, he completed his piano lessons with a recital where he was one of three boys with 12 girls. He concentrated so hard on his song that it sounded like 'Row, Row, Row your Boat' instead of the selection chosen. After he completed the recital, Beth said I’ll have to let him go to football now, and away he went."
"Mark was all-conference his junior and senior year, was Blue Ridge Conference his senior year and named permanent captain of the team in his senior year," Don Garner said.
Garner's high school class chose him as DAR good citizen and the Elkin school board named him as the good sportsman citizen.
Garner seemed to know from an early age that he wanted to serve his country in the military. His mom told of visiting the United States Military Academy at West Point while he was deciding whether or not to make application there.
"We visited the campus and on our way back to the car he said, 'Mom, I really want to come here,' and until Monday he was so proud to serve his country and help the Afghani people."
West Point classmates and friends have already posted more than fifty eulogies and remembrances in honor of Capt. Garner. A few:
He was a steadfast soldier that epitomized selfless service. He has left a mark on many and he will be missed. Be thou at peace, Mark. Be thou at peace.
I'll always remember Mark as one of the nicest and most genuine people I have ever met. We were roommates during Cadet Basic Training and his calm and quiet demeanor helped me tremendously during those rough first weeks. Mark was a man of few words and a loyal friend. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family. Mark was a very special person with unquestionable integrity and will sorely be missed.
Capt. Garner is survived by his wife, Nickayla; by his father, Donnie Ray and mother, Elizabeth; by his sisters, Rachel and Jo; by two nephews, Luke and Ethan; by one niece, Liz; and by his brother-in-law, Matt Slawter.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Thank you, Capt. Garner. Godspeed. Your mission is done.
Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Darren Ethan Tate, 21, of Canyon, Texas
Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Tate died of non-hostile causes July 8 at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. He was assigned to the USS Iwo Jima, and deployed as an Individual Augmentee to Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan.
Airman Tate, who died this week of pneumonia, is being remembered as "an angel in disguise here on earth."
When a friend couldn't afford shoes, the Canyon High grad used the last of his money to buy the man a pair.
He later persuaded his mother to mail about a dozen boxes of clothes to him in Afghanistan so he could distribute them to farmers he had befriended.
When a boat capsized off the Carolina coast last year, Tate was the one who was dropped from a Navy helicopter to rescue the stranded boaters, according to a former teacher, Veronica Morris.
And after being told his pregnant sister, Sarah, couldn't afford bedding for her child, Tate said he'd cover the cost.
"He just had a heart of gold," his sister said.
His parents, Barbara and Larry, had previously been notified that he'd fallen ill and were traveling to Germany to meet him at a hospital there. They had gotten as far as Washington, D.C., when they learned of his death.
Morris, Tate's former teacher at Canyon High School who's close to the family, said he had contracted a lung infection that didn't respond to antibiotics.
He was expected to complete his military tour in the fall.
Tate joined the Navy in June 2006 - two weeks out of high school - and after completing his recruiting and technical training was assigned to the USS Iwo Jima, an amphibious assault ship based in Virginia. The ship is now deployed overseas, but Tate left it last August for a temporary assignment in Afghanistan to help train locals in farming and other areas.
He had accepted the assignment on behalf of a friend, who was reluctant to go because his wife was experiencing complications from pregnancy; Tate said he'd go in his place.
The anecdote was just one of many shared by family and friends Friday who spoke of a young man who epitomized selfless behavior and one day hoped to become a pediatrician.
"He's touched a lot of lives," Morris said. "He was just an angel in disguise here on earth."
Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Tate is survived by his parents, Barbara and Larry and his sister, Sarah.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Thank you, Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Tate. Godspeed. Your mission is done.
Remember them. Honor their sacrifice.
To date, 4322 members of the United States military have lost their lives in Iraq. The death toll thus far in 2009 is already 92. More than 33,000 members of the military have been wounded, many grievously. 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 200,000 and quite probably many times that number.
To date, 732 members of the United States military have lost their lives in Afghanistan. The death toll thus far for 2009 is 102. 504 members of the military from other countries have also lost their lives.
Assisting our military: Supporting our troops is the RIGHT THING to do.
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You can send a care package. Please consider brightening the day of a soldier with a care package.
You can write letters.
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You can find other ways to give at 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.
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About the IGTNT series:
(Our beautiful logo was created by kossack Timroff. Thank you, Timroff.)
The purpose of the I Got the News Today series is 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.
Click here to see the series, which was begun by i dunno, and is currently maintained by Sandy on Signal, monkeybiz, greenies, blue jersey mom, Chacounne, twilight falling, joyful, roses, SisTwo, SpamNunn, a girl in MI, JeNoCo, mediaprof, rb137 and me, noweasels.
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 ~ all of whom rest beneath our nation‘s flag ~ I hope that the comments tonight will demonstrate our respect for the sacrifices of our fallen military and our compassion for their families. Please reserve your political comments for appropriate diaries; this is not one of them.