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From the oldest American casualty in Afghanistan to two young men just beginning their life's journey, we are here this evening to pay tribute to three who gave the last full measure for their country.

Please join me and my co-diarist, blue jersey mom, as we remember 1st Sgt. Jose "Joe" Crisostomo, Pfc. Brian Wolverton and Spc. Justin Pellerin.

Crisostomo  1st Sgt. Jose "Joe" Crisostomo

                                           DoD Identifies Army Casualty

                The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
 
                Army 1st Sgt. Jose S.N. Crisostomo, 59, of Inarajan, Guam, died Aug. 18 in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.  He was assigned to International Security Assistance Force Kabul, Kabul, Afghanistan.

First Sergeant Jose “Joe” Crisostomo retired after a 24-year career in the Army, during which he served tours of duty in Vietnam and Kuwait.  In the aftermath of 9/11, the 59 year old grandfather re-enlisted because “he insisted going back and serving his country,” his wife of 39 years, Patricia, told King5.com.  “That was his passion, his life,” she said.

Born in Guam, Crisostomo founded an organization made up of fellow Pacific Islanders in his Spanaway, WA community.  Julian Leon Guerrero Mendiola, a long time friend and fellow Guamanian, told Guampdn.com, "We describe it as a 'group of happiness,' or our happy group. And he was our first vice president," Mendiola said.

Meniola went on to say “...he was a hell of a guy.  He was very family-oriented.  And he went above and beyond himself to help other people.”

Crisostomo joined the Army in 1969 and was sent to Vietnam following basic training in California.  From there his duty stations ranged from Ft. Benning, GA to Belgium, St. Louis, MO, Germany and Ft. Lewis, WA.

He deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan in June 2008.  Crisostomo is, at 59, the oldest American casualty of the war in Afghanistan.

In addition to wife Patricia, Crisostomo had four children and ten grandchildren.  Seventeen year-old Amalia Perez told Guampdn.com:

“He definitely, to his last day, set a good example for all us younger generations here.  I’m proud to say he’s my grandpa.”

Rest in peace, 1st Sgt. Jose Crisostomo.

Wolverton  Pfc. Brian M. Wolverton  
(Photo courtesy of Fort Drum Public Affairs)

                                               DoD Identifies Army Casualty

                The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
 
                Pfc. Brian M. Wolverton, 21, of Oak Park, Calif., died Aug. 20 in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with indirect fire.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.

“Finally in Afghanistan, time to earn my pay.  Mood: Accomplished.”  These are the words Pfc. Brian Wolverton posted to his MySpace page on August 12, the day before he died of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit in the Kunar province of Afghanistan.

Wolverton graduated from Oak Park High School in 2006 and received an associate degree from Moorpark College in 2008.  He joined the Army in January 2009 and completed combat training in late June.

According to The Ventura County Star Daniel Wells, a former classmate of Wolverton’s, described him as “the kind of kid who’s a little bit quiet but once you talk to him was very funny and unique in his own way.  He wasn’t like the kind to conform and do whatever he could to fit in.  He was just himself.  He had a unique sense of humor.  He was a unique kid.”

The County Star notes that the Kunar province is a dangerous region of Afghanistan in the northeastern part of the country, bordering a tribal area of Pakistan known for Taliban militants.

In a statement made Friday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger remarked: “Maria and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Private First Class Brian Wolverton, a courageous soldier who selflessly sacrificed his life while fighting to protect the freedoms that we hold dear. We join all Californians in remembering his service and we send our thoughts and prayers to Brian’s family and friends as they mourn this tremendous loss.”

Pfc. Wolverton is survived by his parents, Christopher and Miriam Wolverton.  

The County Star reports that “beneath Wolverton’s senior year photo in the high school yearbook, his quote reads: “Courage is facing your fear, with no fear that is no courage.”

Rest in peace, Pfc. Brian Wolverton.

On Saturday, the Department of Defense made the following announcement:

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Spc. Justin R. Pellerin, 21, of Boscawen, N.H., died Aug. 20 in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.

 title=  Spc. Justin R. Pellerin

Spc. Pellerin was a 2006 graduate of Concord High School. He joined the military in June of 2007 and arrived at Fort Drum, NY in September of that year. He arrived in Afghanistan in January of 2009 and was sheduled to return to the US on December 15th.

Justin Pellerin married his high school sweetheart, Chelsea, in July 2008. Josh Bisson, the best man at his wedding and a childhood friend, described Justin as:

"...a funny man who loved American muscle cars and had decided to join the military in hopes of 'doing something good' for other people."

"He'd give the shirt off his back for anyone," Bisson said. "Everyone he met he was friends with. He had no rough edges, everybody loved him." ~source

His grandfather, Louis Choinard, said that Justin:

"...had it in his mind that he wanted to make a difference, so that's why he did what he did. He was just a great kid." ~source

In addition to his young bride, Justin Pellerin is survived by his mother and step-father. Justin is the 19th soldier from Fort Drum killed in action since June.

(The Pellerin memorial is courtesy of Diarist blue jersey mom)

Rest in peace, Spc. Justin Pellerin.

Photobucket

I Got the News Today (IGTNT) 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.

Click here to see the series, which was begun by i dunno, and which is maintained by Sandy on Signal, monkeybiz, noweasels, greenies, blue jersey mom, chacounne, twilight falling, joyful, roses, SisTwo, SpamNunn, a girl in MI, and JeNoCo.

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.

Originally posted to JeNoCo on Tue Aug 25, 2009 at 05:55 PM PDT.

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