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On Sunday's This Week, George Stephanopolous announced that the Department of Defense had released the names of 25 soldiers and marines who were lost in Afghanistan and Iraq this week. This will be the first of two IGTNT diaries that will be posted tonight. The second will be posted by JeNoCO at about 9:30 eastern. Tonight I will honor two men whose deaths were announced on Saturday. Pfc. Brian R. Bates, Jr. was a soldier who died on October 27th when the vehicle he was riding in was hit by an IED, and Frank R. Walker was an Air Force civilian who died of a heart attack while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. We will also be honoring four men, Chief Warrant Officer Michael P. Montgomery, Chief Warrant Officer Niall Lyons, Staff Sgt. Shawn H. McNabb, and Sgt. Josue E. Hernandez Chavez, who died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on October 26th.

Please follow me below the fold to learn more about the lives and sacrifices of these brave men.

On Saturday the Department of Defense made the following announcement:

Pfc. Brian R. Bates, Jr., 20, of Gretna, La., died Oct. 27 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.


Pfc. Brian Bates did not have an easy life. From age four onward, he was raised by his grandmother, Marline Tully, in her home near Gretna, Louisiana. He attended George Cox Elementary School and Livaudais Middle School, and he played soccer, baseball, and basketball at Oakdale Park.

Bates was forced to grow up quickly when he became a father at age 17. His grandmother notes that:

"Brian had a hard life....He had to grow up fast. A lot of young men might have walked away, but he took full responsibility, and he was by their side as best he could be. He did what he needed to do.”

Brian took jobs in the Louisiana oil industry to support his family, but he decided to join the military in November of 2008 after speaking to a recruiter. He completed his military training in March and reported to Ft. Lewis in Washington in April. He expected to be deployed in 2010, but he actually shipped out on July 15th of this year. His wife left college during her final semester so that she could spend more time with him.

In the military, Pfc. Bates' job was to drive the Stryker while his team moved northward into uncharted territory in Afghanistan. He had been promoted to private first class last month.

Enjolie Bates, Brian's wife, said

“He loved the Army and he wanted to make a career out of it....He was a great guy, a great husband and a great dad. His kids were Daddy’s boy and Daddy’s girl.”

In addition to his grandmother, Brian Bates leaves behind his wife, Enjolie, a two-year-old daughter, and a one-year-old son.

Rest in peace, PFC Bates, and bless you for your selfless service to our country.


On Saturday, the Department of Defense announced the following:

Frank R. Walker, 66, of Oklahoma City, Okla., died of non-combat related medical causes Oct 28 at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 72nd Civil Engineering Directorate, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.


Frank Walker was a civilian geologist who worked in environmental restoration for the Air Force. He was working in Afghanistan as a project construction manager for the Army Corps of Engineers. He was involved in the reconstruction of damaged and destroyed buildings including schools. This was Mr. Walker's fifth trip to Afghanistan as a civilian volunteer.

Mr. Walker suffered a heart attack and passed away at Bagram Air Force Base on Wednesday.

Walker is remembered by his colleagues as being a dedicated man who was willing to leave his own family behind to improve the lives of others.

"The Corps of Engineers thinks the man walks on water, so to speak,” [Tinker AFB spokeswoman Kathy] Paine said.~source

May Frank Walker rest in peace. May we always honor his willingness to risk his own life to help rebuild Afghanistan.

The following tribute was written by Twilight Falling

Staff Sgt. Shawn H. McNabb, 24, of Terrell, Texas

SSgt. Shawn McNabb

Shawn’s parents, David and Ann McNabb, have already written the obituary for their son that they want people to see. It is a summary of the life of a very special person whom everyone said they were privileged to know—a person who dedicated his life to saving lives and serving others. A life that ended far, far too soon.

US Army SSG Shawn Henry McNabb of Terrell, Texas passed away while protecting our nation’s freedom in Afghanistan on October 26, 2009. He was born on May 14, 1985 in Dallas, Texas to David and Ann McNabb. Shawn attended Terrell Public Schools and graduated from Terrell High School in 2003. While in school he was active in sports, but his bravado, talent and his love of both music and of the Terrell Tiger band was demostrated when he won many awards and was also selected to the All State Band. Shawn had a thirst and passion for medicine and was preparing to attend Physicians Assistant School. He was also a very proud Texan.

Stationed at Hunter Army Air Field in Savannah, Ga.; SSG McNabb was a soldier in the 160th Special Operations Air Regiment (SOAR) serving in the Third Battalion as an Airborne Combat Flight Medic. He has been awarded numerous awards for his heroism, dedication, and meritorious service receiving the Bronze Star, the Air Medal x 1OLC, the Army Commendation Medal with Valor posthumously. He was credited for saving the lives of two other men while serving in Afghanistan.

Shawn is survived by his loving parents: David and Ann McNabb of Terrell; sister: Heather Gray and husband Josh of Waxahachie, TX; fianceé: Sarah Jane Kirk of Savannah, GA; grandparents: George and Teresa Rock of York, PA; aunt and uncle: Sharon and Gordon Bennett of Athens, TX; plus numerous other aunts, uncles, as well as a host of friends and family. He is preceded in death by his grandparents: David Henry and Virginia McNabb.

SSG Shawn H. McNabb's arrival with military escort will be at Majors Airfield in Greenville, Texas TBD.

Funeral service with full military honors will be 10:00am, Friday, November 6, 2009 at First Baptist Church in Terrell, Texas, 403 N. Catherine, Terrell, Texas, 75160 with interment to follow at D/FW National Cemtery in Dallas, Texas. The family will receive friends from 4:00pm to 9:00pm, November 5, 2009 at Anderson Clayton Bros. Funeral Home, 301 W. Nash, in Terrell.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorials in Shawn's name may be made to Night Stalkers Assn., 11304 Bell Station Rd., Oak Grove, Kentucky 42262.

  Source: Anderson Clayton Bros. Funeral Home

A fellow Soldier with whom he served also remembered Shawn, calling him “one of the most talented Medics I have ever worked with”:

To the McNabb Family, please accept my condolences for the loss of your Son, Shawn. It was my honor and priviledge to have served with Shawn "Big Grab" McNabb in Iraq, while assigned with the 57th Medical Company (Air Ambulance). I witnessed him change from a fresh-faced kid to one of the most talented Medics I have ever worked with. Never without a sense of humor, Shawn kept spirits up with his antics and enthusiasm. I am proud to have known him and will always carry his memory wherever I serve. His sacrifice is not in vain... he made a difference in the lives of many, including mine. very respectfully, SFC FRANCISCO VASQUEZ 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM

President Obama was there to witness Shawn’s final trip home at Dover Air Force Base on Oct. 30:

"It was a sobering reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our young men and women in uniform are engaging in every single day, not only our troops but their families as well," Obama said from the White House, reflecting briefly on his surprise middle-of-the-night trip to Dover Air Force Base to observe the return of the fallen Americans to the United States.

Source: The Dallas News

Godspeed, Shawn McNabb. Thank you.


The following tribute was written by Twilight Falling:

Sgt. Josue E. Hernandez Chavez, 23, of Reno, Nev

Sgt. Josue Hernandez Chavez

Note: Sgt. Hernandez Chavez’s family has asked for privacy as they mourn his loss, and we will, of course, honor their request. The information presented below is publically available about Josue’s distinguished service to his country, in a way that we hope respects his family’s desire for privacy while honoring their loved one’s life and service.

Josue Hernandez Chavez joined the Army in February 2005. In 2006, he passed the entry requirements for the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, known as the Night Stalkers. The Night Stalkers provide helicopter support to Special Operations forces, and, as their nickname suggests, they often operate at night, on short notice, behind enemy lines, and in dangerous circumstances. They are an elite group with stringent requirements, and only the best—like Josue—can  serve with the Night Stalkers. Their motto is “Night Stalkers Never Quit,” and certainly Josue never did—he had, in fact, been deployed six times in support of the wars on terrorism since he joined the Army.

Josue’s distinguished service to his country resulted in his being awarded two Army Commendation Medals, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal-Campaign Star, the Iraqi Campaign Medal-Campaign Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, two Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbons, the Army Service Ribbon, the Combat Action Badge, the Basic Aviation Badge, and the Parachutist Badge. (Source: My News 4)

This gifted, dedicated young man made his final trip home to Dover Air Force Base with his Night Stalker buddies who perished with him when their helicopter went down. A ceremony in their honor was held that day at Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia, home of the Night Stalkers.

Godspeed, Josue Hernandez Chavez.  Thank you.


This tribute was written by monkeybiz.

Chief Warrant Officer Michael P. Montgomery, 36, of Savannah, Ga. and of the 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Regiment (Airborne), Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. was one of seven soldiers who "died Oct. 26 of wounds suffered when the MH-47 helicopter they were aboard crashed in Darreh-ye Bum, Afghanistan," says the Department of Defense.


"I serve with the memory and pride of those who have gone before me for they loved to fight, fought to win, and would rather die than quit." --from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment's (Airborne) Night Stalkers' Creed

Chief Warrant Officer Michael P. Montgomery, pilot , electronic-warfare officer and a son of Redmond, Wash., died so far from home. He was no stranger to serving overseas; he was on his seventh deployment., serving twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and five times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, according to a bio (.pdf) released by the U.S. Army's Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office.

Little information, other than what the SOC Public Affairs office offers. He began his military service in 1991 by joining the Army National Guard. 1995 saw his acceptance into the Army Warrant Officer Program at Fort Rucker, Ala. Flight school came next, and he graduated in 1996. Various assignments--aviation life support equipment officer, instructor pilot, tactical operations officer, senior instructor pilot and instrument flight examiner, electronic warfare officer--took him from Washington, Arizona and Georgia. Somehow, he managed to fit in a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, where he graduated with the class of 2002. He was [ accomplished and highly decorated (.pdf); his awards include "the Air Medal, two Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, four Army Reserve Component Achievement Medals, two National Defense Service Medals, Afghanistan Campaign Medal-Campaign Star, Iraqi Campaign Medal-Campaign Star, Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, and Senior Aviator Badge."

So much talent. So much experience. Lost.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he is survived by "his wife and son, Anita and Riley Montgomery of Savannah, and his mother, Mary Montgomery of Redmond, Wash." Funeral arrangements are not available. Last Friday, "(f)amily, friends and unit members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment had a private memorial service at Hunter Army Airfield," says the Savannah Morning News.

For his comrades in mourning at the 160th: Night Stalkers Don't Quit.


Godspeed, Chief Warrant Officer Michael P. Montgomery.


This tribute was written by monkeybiz.

Chief Warrant Officer Niall Lyons, 40, of Spokane, Wash. and of the 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Regiment (Airborne), Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. was one of seven soldiers who "died Oct. 26 of wounds suffered when the MH-47 helicopter they were aboard crashed in Darreh-ye Bum, Afghanistan," says the Department of Defense.


"I serve with the memory and pride of those who have gone before me for they loved to fight, fought to win, and would rather die than quit." --from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment's (Airborne) Night Stalkers' Creed

Long before he earned the title of Chief Warrant Officer, Niall Lyons majored in geography at Eastern Washington University, where, even 14 years later, his former professors still remember him:

Neighbor and friend Jesse Lee told the Dothan Eagle that he was mourning Lyons' loss. "He became more than just a neighbor, he was part of our family," Lee said. "He was coming home in November, and he would’ve had Thanksgiving with us, and we would’ve gone fishing. But what I’ll miss the most about him is his friendship.”

Others remembered Lyons as a friend too. Phil Schmiesing, Lyons' former flight instructor, and his wife, Robin, are godparents to Lyons' son. “He’s like a brother to us,” said Robin Schmiesing. “Our home was his home when he came home, he spent Christmases with us. He loved spending time with his son. That was the joy of his life.”

A classmate from Spokane's Shadle Park High School, Todd Bender, who graduated with Lyons in 1988, told, “I remember how complimentary he was... You could give him a compliment and he would turn it around to where you were the one that deserved to be recognized. I am not surprised at all that he went into the service.”

His modesty extended to his last wishes: He wanted as little coverage as possible of his death. The family has also requested privacy. The governor of Washington, Chris Gregoire, has asked for state agency flags to be flown at half-staff on Nov. 4 in Lyons' honor.

He was highly experienced and decorated (.pdf), and served two tours of duty, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. This biography covers his many accomplishments in his time with the military. Suffice it to say that America has lost a great deal of talent and experience with Lyons' death.

He is survived by (.pdf) his son John of Dothan, Ala.; his parents, John and Nuala Lyons; his brothers, Sean and Kevin Lyons; and his sister, Bernadette Buck, all of Spokane, Wash. Funeral arrangements are not available. Last Friday, "(f)amily, friends and unit members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment had a private memorial service at Hunter Army Airfield," says the Savannah Morning News.

For his comrades in mourning at the 160th: Night Stalkers Don't Quit.


Godspeed, Chief Warrant Officer Niall Lyons.


Poppies are the universal symbols of remembrance:


Rest in peace, gentlemen. Thank you for your selfless service to our country.

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.

Click here to see the series, which was begun by i dunno, and which is maintained by Sandy on Signal, monkeybiz, blue jersey mom, twilight falling, joyful, roses, Chacounne, JeNoCo, SisTwo, SpamNunn, a girl in MI, JanosNation, Proud Mom and Grandma and True Blue Majority.

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 blue jersey mom on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 05:40 PM PST.

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