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I Got The News Today (IGTNT) is one of the oldest continuous series on Daily Kos. It is a way for our community to pay its respects to those who have died as a result of war.

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Sadly, we gather again to learn of four more soldiers who lost their lives while serving our nation overseas. Two of the men died in separate incidents on Saturday, July 14th, and two died together on Monday, July 16th of 2012. These servicemen are:
  • Staff Sergeant Carl E. Hammar who was from Arizona (and Sweden)
  • Sereant Erik N. May who was from Kansas
  • Specialist Nicholas A. Taylor who was from Indiana
  • Specialist Sergio E. Perez Jr who was from Indiana

May the loved ones of these casualties, and those injuried find peace and comfort.

Staff Sergeant Carl Eric Hammar
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Carl Eric Hammar was from Sweden but he had been a resident of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, which is northwest of Phoenix, along the Arizona-California border. More commonly known as "Eric," he was living with his grandparents in the States when he graduated from Lake Havasu High School in 2005 and took classes at Mohave Community College’s Lake Havasu City campus from the Fall of 2004 to 2006. While attending high school he met, and in 2005, married fellow student Abby Mahan.

Hammar joined the US Army in December of 2005. He had basic training, advanced individual training and the basic airborne course at Fort Benning in Georgia.

Although Eric and Abby divorced in 2009, Hammar's former mother-in-law has fond memories of the young man, according to the News-Herald:

“He loves his family,” Janet Mahan said. “He enlisted in the army to support his family. He hadn’t yet decided what to do with his life, but he thought the army was a wise choice.”

Hammar had dual citizenship, and although he spent much of his young life in Sweden, he considered both the U.S. and Sweden to be home countries, Janet Mahan said.

His mother was an American citizen who met her husband in Sweden while on a Mormon mission, Janet Mahan said. The couple made a home in Sweden, raising six children, she said.
Hammer was deployed twice to Iraq. His first tour was January 2007 to March 2008, and the second was August 2009 to July 2010.

Hammar was an infantryman and a paratrooper, assigned in September of 2010, to the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. He served as a squad leader at the facility, which is also known as JBER. Staff Sergeant Hammar and his 3,500-member “Spartan” Brigade left for an expected yearlong deployment to Afghanistan in December.

Army Staff Sergeant Hammar was wounded when enemy forces attacked his unit with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire on July 14th. He was medevac’d to Forward Operating Base Sharana for treatment, but died from the injuries later that same day. The 24 year-old was on a dismounted patrol in the Khost Province of Afghanistan at the time of the attack.

Governor Jan Brewer issued a statement honoring Staff Sergeant Hammar:
In honor of Staff Sgt. Carl E. Hammar, I have ordered that flags at all State buildings be lowered to half-staff until sunset today, July 17, 2012. I also will request that flags be lowered from sunrise until sunset on the day of his interment, for which services are pending.
A memorial service is planned at JBER in Alaska for the Staff Sergeant. Funeral arrangements are being planned by Eric's parents and siblings in Sweden and have not yet been announced. Besides his family in Sweden, Hammar leaves behind his grandmother, Dorothy, who now lives in Utah; his former wife, Abby; and their son, Lux.

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Sergeant Erik N. May
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Erik N. May was born May 12, 1986, at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. For a short time he attended West High School, but graduated from Kansas’ Fredonia High School in 2004. While he had wanted to join the military since he was a little boy, his dying father asked that he wait three years before enlisting. May kept the promise to his dad and joined the US Army in September of 2007.

In February of 2009, Sergeant May was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One), which is based at Fort Riley in Kansas. His unit is currently in Afghanistan. This was May's second combat deployment with the ‘Dragon' Brigade. He deployed to Iraq with the brigade in 2009.

May's mother, Carla Kryston, was quoted by The Wichita Eagle about her son’s generosity:
When friends came up short of money, he loaned them not only money, but sometimes his pickup truck.

“One of his friends didn’t have enough money for his wife’s plane ticket. Erik loaned him the money for the ticket, then drove him to Kansas City to pick up his wife and then handed over his truck keys and told the couple to go enjoy themselves,” Kryston said. “He did stuff like that all the time.”

When he deployed for Afghanistan less than two months ago, Kryston said she did not expect that it would be the last time she saw her son alive.
May was found unresponsive and was taken to at a medical facility in eastern Afghanistan. May died at the facility. He was 26 years old. The Army is investigating the cause of death.

Awards earned by Sergeant Erik N. May include an Army Commendation Medal, an Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghan Campaign Medal with one campaign star, and the Iraq Campaign Medal with one campaign star.

Sergeant May is survived by his mother, Carla Kryston, and her husband, Leonard Kryston, Wichita; stepfather, Ron Green of Wichita; and grandparents, Jerry and Mary Ann May.

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Specialist Sergio E. Perez Jr
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Sergio E. Perez Jr. was from Crown Point, Indiana and was the son of Sergio Perez Sr. and Veronica Orozko. He graduated from Lake Central High School in May of 2010 and joined the Army National Guard that same year.

He was assigned to the "713th SAPPER CO" 81st Troop Command, Indiana National Guard, which is based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The unit deployed to Afghanistan in October and was due back in September.

Specialist Sergio Perez was in the Wali Kot District of Afghanistan, conducting a bomb clearance patrol on July 16th. His vehicle was struck by enemy rocket propelled grenades. Perez and Spc. Nicholas Taylor were killed during the complex attack, that included rocket propelled grenade fire and small arms fire. Another soldier was seriously wounded in the incident.

Perez was 21 years old. His death caused great sorrow among those who knew him. Sorrowful statements were expressed by a friend to on the NWI Times local news website:
When he and his fellow soldiers heard the news of Perez’s death, “We were torn apart. He was so young,” Gutierrez said.

“He touched everyone. It was his personality, his smile, his laugh. He was an all-around great guy,” Gutierrez said. “I’m glad to have had him in my life. I’ll never forget him.”

The 713th Engineer Co. is assigned to clear military supply and combat routes. Gov. Mitch Daniels said Tuesday, "No Guard unit in my memory has been assigned to a more dangerous mission than the 713th.

"Here again we see the incredible risks these citizen soldiers volunteer to run for the rest of us," Daniels said.
Funeral arrangements for Specialist Perez, Jr. have yet to be announced.

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Specialist Nicholas A. Taylor
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Nicholas A. Taylor was born to Timothy Ray and Stephania Dawn Taylor in Decatur on October 10, 1991. He grew up in Berne, a small community in northeast Indiana. His father works as the police chief in Berne. He graduated from South Adams High School in May of 2010.

After graduation, Taylor enlisted in the Army National Guard and went to basic training and 12B (Combat Engineer) MOS training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. Taylor returned to Ft. Leonard Wood in April of 2011 to attend the Route/Reconnaissance Clearance Operations Course in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan with the 713th Engineer Company.

Taylor was assigned to the "713th SAPPER CO" 81st Troop Command, Indiana National Guard, which is based in Indianapolis, Indiana. About 100 members of the unit deployed to Afghanistan last October. The unit is due to return in September and has previously lost six soldiers in action in Afghanistan.While deployed he was promoted to the rank of Specialist (E4) in April 2012. Specialist Taylor had spoken about enrolling at IPFW with his brother and majoring in criminal justice after he returned home.

Spc. Nicholas A. Taylor was driving an armored truck in the Wali Kot District of Afghanistan on July 16, when the vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Taylor died from the injuries he suffered. He was just 20 years old.

Specialist Sergio E. Perez Jr. was also killed in the blast and another soldier with the bomb-clearing unit was seriously wounded in the incident. The U.S. flag flew at half-staff outside the Guard armory in Valparaiso on Tuesday in honor of the two slain Guardsmen.

Reactions to the Specialist's death by people in Taylor's hometown was reported by the Journal Gazette site:

"He's always been a kind-hearted guy," Drew Taylor said of his older brother. "He would go out of his way to make people feel good."

...Jeff Lehman coached Nick Taylor in football and track and also had him in class...

"He was just a fun-loving guy," Lehman said. "He was just smiling all the time."
Nick Taylor is survived by his father Tim Taylor; his mother, Stephania Taylor; his brother, Drew; and sisters Holly and Sophia. The Mayor of Berne announced that flags will be flown half-staff the day of the funeral. Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.

**********************
Helping our troops:

If you wish to assist our military and their families, consider contributing to Fisher House. Donating to Netroots for the Troops provides care packages that make a real difference in a military person's life. To assist the animal companions of our deployed military, information is available here. Also, you could visit:
Go to AnySoldier.com
When our veterans come back home, they need jobs. Look at the programs of Hire Heroes USA and Welcome Back Veterans to see if you can help out.
About the IGTNT series:
”I Got the News Today” is a diary series intended to honor, respect, and remember the fallen, and to remind us that each casualty has family and friends who received the terrible news that their loved one has died. US service members whose names have been released by the US Department of Defense will usually be diarized two days after the official announcement on the DoD website. This allows the IGTNT team to cover each person more fully, but still in a timely manner.Click the IGTNT tags below to see previous diaries in the series, which was begun by i dunno, and is maintained by Sandy on Signal, Monkeybiz, Noweasels, Blue Jersey Mom, Chacounne, Twilight Falling, Joyful, Roses, SisTwo, a girl in MI, Spam Nunn,  JeNoCo, True Blue Majority,  CalNM, Wide Awake in Kentucky, Maggiejean, JaxDem, TheFatLadySings & Ekaterin. These diaries are heartbreaking to write, but show our community’s respect for those who have died.
Please bear in mind that these diaries are read by friends and family of the service members mentioned here. May all of our remembrances be full of compassion rather than politics.
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