UNDER the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you 'grave for me:
Here he lies where he long'd to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
--Robert Louis Stevenson
Three more knocks at the door came this week. The families of three men--Sgt. Benjamin W. Sherman, 21, of Plymouth, Mass.; Staff Sgt. Ryan L. Zorn, 35, of Upton, Wyo.; and U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Brian M. Patton, 37, of Freeport, Illinois and Nanticoke, Pennsylvania--got the news. With the opening of the door came news of the closing of lives. No more cheering for the Red Sox. No more playing Santa for comrades. No more fishing, hunting or playing football under autumn skies.
They died doing what they loved, and still we mourn. Please join me in honoring them tonight.
Sgt. Benjamin W. Sherman, 21, of Plymouth, Mass. and of the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. The Department of Defense says that he was killed while participating in a resupply mission on Nov. 4.
"He was very outgoing, he gave the world his all for everybody, absolutely everybody. He would stop what he was doing and go help somebody who was in need." -- Patricia Sherman, his widow (Source)
In Manomet, Mass., a village near Plymouth, children grow up with the sea. On Friday, 21-year old Sgt. Benjamin (Ben) W. Sherman, one of Manomet's sons, took a last ride along the shoreline and was laid to rest in his home soil. He died in the course of a resupply mission in Bala Murghab, Afghanistan, after jumping into a river to help a fellow soldier who was having difficulty in the water. Both were swept away.
A military dive team recovered Sherman's body; the team continues to search for Sgt. Brandon T. Islip, 23, of Richmond, Va. who went missing during the same resupply mission, according to the Department of Defense. Such dangerous, sad work. Please think of them tonight too, those divers who are committed to bringing their brothers home.
Officially, the investigation into the incident continues. Sherman's family believes that their Ben died while trying to save a life. "I know that day he jumped into the river to try to save his comrade was not because he didn't just see another soldier in the water, he saw his brother," his sister, Meredith Sherman, said in a statement. "He didn't jump in because he was trained to, but because that's what his heart told him to do."
His widow, Patricia Sherman, concurred. "Ben was an amazing guy...He was very outgoing, he gave the world his all for everybody, absolutely everybody. He would stop what he was doing and go help somebody who was in need."
A paratrooper, he was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Patricia and Ben met when they were 6-year-olds, says SouthCoastToday.com. It was at a birthday party. They started dating each other in the eighth grade, and continued to see each other throughout their high school years (his at Plymouth South High School, and hers at Plymouth North). They married, and were expecting a child. After she learned her husband was missing, Patricia wrote a statement, which reads, in part:
He may be obsessed with hard core metal music,tattoos (wich he has no skin to see on his arms), and most of all his job serving as a US Army Soldier. He may seem like a mean tough guy but deep inside he is the most sweetest guy i have met, wheather it would be suprising me with flowers, cards or coming home with diner or even a pack of twizlers!! , or even a flower trail to the bedroom he aways put a smile on my face and in my heart, He has touched so many lifes with a kind word, hug, or a kiss with love. Ben is the type of guy to live day by day and take life as it comes.
We can never know the men and women we read about here at "I Got the News Today," but we can hear how much they are missed by those who knew and loved them best. His family remembers him this way:
You do not know my son personally. I would like to share with you about him.
He was raised under the American flag to be honorable, loyal, respectful and courteous. He was strong willed and has never been a quitter. I raised him with the understanding that when you choose to do something you do it to the best of your ability.
He was powerful, ingenuitive and determined. Perhaps now you understand why he fit in the Army so well. We called him the unstoppable one. -- Denise D. Sherman, mother
I love my brother more than anything and I am heartbroken at the loss we are suffering. He was fun loving, brave and full of life and everything he did he did 150%. He put his heart and soul into anything and everything.
He loved tattoos, music, drums and was an avid Boston sports fan. He LOVED his Red Sox. But most importantly family, he loved his family. He didn't consider his friends, "friends," he considered them family. He was the perfect brother, even when he teased me as little kids, yet we always had a close bond.
He was an amazing son, brother, husband and soldier and I will never forget him. I hope you can find it in your heart to pray for Benjamin and his fellow comrades. -- Meredith P Sherman, sister
He was a soldier, and was considering staying in the military that he loved so much. In the memorial thread in the Patriot Guard forums, poster StarCruzer left the following message:
To the Family of SPC Benjamin Sherman. My son, SSgt Jeremiah Waggoner, 82nd Airborne 1/508 Scouts, presently a Ranger Instructor, served with Benjamin on the tour that was completed in April '08. He is deeply distressed over his tragic passing and has nothing but the highest praise for him as a Person and as a Soldier. Jeremiah spoke with me about him at great length in a recent telephone conversation. Sherman, as he called him, was the best mortar man on the team that laid in rounds over the Scouts and on the enemy. He told me they positioned about 200 meters behind them, were always in sight of them and the lead fired that passed the Scouts continued right toward the mortars. Sherman was by my son's account, the bravest of the brave, and absolutely knew no fear. His loss is felt deeply, and I'll be on the mission honoring him in Spirit. God Bless you all and special prayers go to his wife and their unborn daughter. Her Dad was a hero. Terry Waggoner, Veteran & Patriot Guard Rider 82nd Airborne & 7th Special Forces Group (Abn) Camarillo, CA
When he died, Sherman was just a few days short of becoming a Sergeant. He was promoted posthumously.
According to SouthCoastToday, "(b)esides his widow, he is survived by many relatives in SouthCoast, including his father, William, of Fairhaven, the captain of the fishing boat Kurlew II, and his father's longtime girlfriend, Denise Gaudiello; his sister, (Jessica) Santos, and a grandmother, Adele Sherman, both of New Bedford. He is also survived by his mother, Denise Sherman of Plymouth; a sister, Meredith (Sherman) Sturge, formerly of Plymouth, now of Maine, and a grandmother, Barbara Richmond of Plymouth."
The funeral and interment were held on Friday, and Patriot Guard riders escorted Ben Sherman's remains through his town, along the shores he grew up with, and, finally, to the Manomet Cemetery.
Godspeed, Sgt. Benjamin W. Sherman.
Staff Sgt. Ryan L. Zorn, 35, of Upton, Wyo. and of the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. The Department of Defense says that he "died Nov.16 in Tal Afar, Iraq, of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over," and that the circumstances surrounding this incident are under investigation.
"He loved his country, and he loved serving his country -- and that's what he lived for," she said. "He had a really big heart. He was always helping people out." --JoAnn Zorn, his mother (Source)
When you see Santa at the mall this season, remember Staff Sgt. Ryan L. Zorn, who brought the holiday to his brothers and sisters in arms:
In December 2005, during his second tour in Iraq, he called his parents after noticing some of the servicemen he worked with weren't receiving Christmas presents or mail from back home.
"He asked his dad and I to take money out of his savings account and buy gifts," JoAnn Zorn (his mother) said. "He didn't want them to know it was coming from him -- he wanted us to put our names on it. And that way, they would have a gift to open on Christmas."
When Ryan's parents mentioned his request to friends, six families volunteered to each "adopt" a serviceman in his unit, and shipped over care packages with movies, candy, baby wipes, clothes, baked goods and Christmas hats.
"They kept sending all these boxes over to Iraq, and (Ryan's) commander finally said, ‘You got to get to opening some of these, Ryan.' Because he didn't have any room to hardly crawl into his bed," JoAnn Zorn said.
"And then that's when Ryan said, ‘They're not for me. These kids have been adopted out, and it's all for the soldiers over there.'"
The 35-year-old Zorn, who served as a communications information system operations non-commissioned officer, "died Nov.16 in Tal Afar, Iraq, of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over," according to the Department of Defense.
He might have gone from football, wrestling and debate at Upton High School in Upton, Wyo. into the coal mines, with his father, Myron Zorn, who told his son that he could try to get him a job there. "He had always wanted to go into the service, as much as we tried to talk him out of it," his mother, JoAnn Zorn, told a reporter."At high school, when they would have career day or anything like that, he said, 'No, I want to go into service,' and that's what he did."
Ryan Zorn entered the Army in January 1994 and served all over the world--Germany, Saudi Arabia, South Korea. He was on his third tour in Iraq when he died. "He loved his job," JoAnn Zorn said. "He loved being a soldier, and he loved serving his country."
His town remembers him as a guy with a big heart. "He was willing to do anything for anybody at any time," Upton High School Principal Gary Glodt told the Rapid City Journal. "He was just that kind of kid." Upton High classmate Chermey Arthur told the newspaper that Ryan Zorn "always had a smile for you... Ryan was a very gentle soul. He had a very kind heart. He will be missed greatly." Neighbor Kay Johnson recalls that he had "a broad smile and a great sense of humor. 'For me he was still a little boy,' she said. 'He just was excited about stuff. He always showed me pictures of the new vehicles that the Army had.'"
In Wright, flags are at half-staff and yellow ribbons wave in the breeze. And, adds the Gillette News-Record, his parents' home is filling up with food, dropped off by those who knew and loved Ryan.
A U.S. Army carry team transfers the remains of Army Staff Sgt. Ryan L. Zorn, of Upton, Wyo., at Dover Air Force Base, Del., November 17. (U.S. Air Force photo/Roland Balik) (Source)
According to one obituary, "Ryan is survived by his parents, Myron and JoAnn Zorn of Wright, Wyoming; brother, Todd (Sara) Zorn of Wright, Wyoming; nephew Brian (Jen) Gibbs of Wright, Wyoming; nieces Samantha and Paige Zorn of Wright, Wyoming; great nephew, Jacobi Gibbs of Wright, Wyoming; numerous aunts, uncles and cousins; and Kay and Scott Johnston of Wright, Wyoming who adopted Ryan as their military son."
Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at Wright Baptist Church in Wright, Wyoming. The Patriot Guard will honor him on Tuesday and escort his casket to the Black Hills National Cemetery.
Godspeed, Staff Sgt. Ryan L. Zorn.
This tribute is by noweasels.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Brian M. Patton, 37, of Freeport, Illinois and Nanticoke, Pennsylvania.
Petty Officer Patton died Nov. 19 in Kuwait in a non-combat accident.
Wednesday was Brian Patton’s ninth wedding anniversary. He called his wife Amy to wish her a happy anniversary and then headed out on a mission. Fifteen minutes later, he was dead.
Amy Patton said she was told that her husband was traveling southbound when a vehicle that was trying to get around a military convoy traveling in the northbound lane struck the vehicle her husband was in. It is unknown if Patton was the driver or a passenger in the vehicle.
She and her husband's two brothers, Robert, 36, and Scott, 26, drove to Dover, Del., Friday evening to await the return of his body at Dover Air Force Base.
Patton, who was a Master at Arms, which is a military police officer, was assigned to a law and order detachment after arriving in Kuwait in June, (Lt. Cmdr. Doug Gabos, a spokesman for Navy Reserve Forces Command in Norfolk, Va.) said.
This deployment was Patton's second time to serve overseas. He served on active duty in the U.S. Navy when he was assigned to the USS Camden during the first Gulf War from November 1993 through January 1996, Gabos said. He received an honorable discharge from the Navy to raise his oldest son, his brother Robert said.
He joined the U.S. Navy as a reservist in October 2007 and was eventually transferred to the Naval Security Force in Rochester, N.Y.
Brian Patton, a correctional guard at SCI-Dallas, returned home last month from his military deployment for a short vacation.
He, Amy and their 8-year-old son, Nicholas, traveled to South Bend, Ind., to root for the Notre Dame football team, Patton’s favorite, when he was home for a brief break from Oct. 13 to 30.
"He lost his voice from screaming," she said explaining how excited he was to attend a Notre Dame football game with their son. Patton had hoped to get involved in coaching youth league teams once he returned from his deployment, she said.
Nicholas and his father had a special bond, Amy said.
Both are fans of the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs and North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team. "He wanted to be like him, do everything like him. He wanted to be a soldier like him."
Source ~ Times-Leader
Brian, Amy and Nicholas Patton.
Amy Patton is devastated.
"It's so surreal. It hasn't hit me. I'm sure it will tonight. I keep waiting for him to call," Mrs. Hynoski Patton said (Thursday). "All I have been doing is crying."
She said her husband called about 11:45 p.m. Wednesday, their ninth wedding anniversary, and the two spoke about buying plane tickets for an upcoming trip to Hawaii with their son.
"When he was hanging up, he said, 'I miss you.' I said, 'Good, I'm glad.'"
Petty Officer Patton, an active-duty military veteran of the first Gulf War, was a member of a Navy Reserve unit based in Binghamton, N.Y. He volunteered for deployment to Kuwait to serve as a military police officer, his wife said. The unit deployed in March.
Petty Officer Patton was scheduled to return home in late February or early March.
After his initial Navy service, Petty Officer Patton earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice and a bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He was also a graduate of Stockton High School in Stockton, Illinois, where he played football. An outdoorsman who loved fishing and hunting, Petty Officer Patton was an all-around sports fan.
Petty Officer Patton first enlisted in the Navy in July 1993. His awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.
Petty Officer Patton is survived by his wife, Amy, by their son, Nicholas, by an older son, Brian James, 19, from a previous marriage, by his stepson, Tyler, 12, and by two brothers.
Thank you, Petty Officer Patton. Godspeed. Your mission is done.
You can help.
This list is from noweasels and I reprint it here with thanks to her and to you. Here's what you can do:
You can send a care package. Please consider brightening the day of a soldier with a care package.
You can write letters.
You can send a cup of organic coffee.
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.
You can help the left-behind animal companions of our troops. See how here.
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.