Tonight we honor two young soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan.
Since 2001, 2051 U.S. troops have lost their lives while serving in Afghanistan; since 2003, 4486 U.S. troops have lost their lives while serving in Iraq.
The IGTNT (I Got The News Today) series is a remembrance of U.S. servicemembers who will not be coming home from war.
~ Photo Credit Timroff
The Department of Defense has announced the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Pfc. Jeffrey L. Rice, 24, of Troy, Ohio, died July 19, in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 20th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, Fort Hood, TX.Please join me below for a remembrance of their lives.
Spc. Darrion T. Hicks, 21, of Raleigh, N.C., died July 19 in Ghazni, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained from an enemy improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 54th Engineer Battalion, 18th Engineer Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, Bamberg, Germany.
Pfc. Rice’s family described him as "goofy, very loving, sensitive, protective, always happy, a jokester and proud to be a soldier." On his second deployment, Pfc. Rice was a field engineer who searched for improvised explosive devices. The circumstances surrounding his death are still under investigation by the Army.
A native of Troy, Ohio, Pfc. Rice graduated from Troy High School in 2007, where he was in the welding program and played football. Although he earned a scholarship to continue studying welding, he enlisted instead. His welding teacher, Alan Wuebker, said:
“Jeff was an awesome student. He always talked about serving his country. It was his lifetime goal to do that.”
Pfc. Rice’s father, Bruce, died in January 2007 after he suffered a stroke. Rice quit football to help care for his father before he died. According to his aunt, Cathy Pencil:
“He was just a very caring and likable person. Ever since he was a kid he wanted to be a soldier so he was just in his element when he joined the Army. He was very protective of his mother. She’s just devastated at the loss.”Pfc. Rice's former football coach and history teacher, Steve L. Becker, said:
“He was a hard worker and what sticks out most is whatever you asked him to do he would go 100 percent to do it. He always wanted to do very, very well. The effort was always there on the football field, in the classroom. He had the work ethic that really, really made him stand out.”Pfc. Rice's family went to Dover AFB to receive his body. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Rest in peace, Pfc. Jeffrey L. Rice. You have served with honor.
Spc. Hicks "was considered a role model for fellow students" at Broughton High School in Raleigh, NC. Teachers recalled him as "a fun-loving go-getter." He joined the Army in 2009 immediately after graduation.
Master Sgt. Richard Suggs, who was Hicks' ROTC instructor in high school, said Spc. Hicks was a hard worker who participated in the drill team, color guard and Veterans Day parade units. He was voted Mr. Junior ROTC as a senior. Suggs said:
"He's a young man I wish all of my cadets were like....He set an example for others. He was an all-round student and just a good person.”Ricky Brantley, who teaches automotive technology at Broughton High, said Hicks was one of his favorite students:
"He was a person who just wanted to learn....We always had a joke because I would call him my black son, and he would just, it would tickle him to death to hear me say that to him. That's how much I loved him....We're not talking about a teacher that made an impact on a student. We're talking about a student who made an impact on the teacher."During high school, Spc. Hicks also participated in community service programs, including the Special Olympics and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Friends and teachers say he always wanted to become a soldier.
Brantley said of his beloved student:
"You know what? He passed away fulfilling the goal he had set."Spc. Hicks is survived by his mother and a younger brother. Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time. On Monday, his family was in Delaware to receive his body.
Rest in peace, Spc. Darrion T. Hicks. You have served with honor.
About the IGTNT series:
"I Got the News Today" is a diary series intended to honor, respect, and remind us of the sacrifice of our US troops. Click here to see the series, which was begun by i dunno, and which is maintained by Sandy on Signal, noweasels, monkeybiz, blue jersey mom, Chacounne, twilight falling, joyful, SisTwo, SpamNunn, TrueBlueMajority, CalNM, Wide Awake in Kentucky, maggiejean, Kestrel9000, TheFatLadySings, JaxDem, and me, Ekaterin. These diaries are heartbreaking to write, but are an important service to those who have died, and show our community’s respect for them.
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. The US Department of Defense news releases are found at defense gov/releases. Icasualties lists the names of those killed, and shows the number of wounded. Published AP photos of the returning war fatalities are found on the Dover AFB site. Click the IGTNT tags below for previous diaries in the series which was begun by i dunno, and which is maintained by monkeybiz, noweasels, blue jersey mom, Chacounne, twilight falling, joyful, roses, SisTwo, a girl in MI, Spam Nunn, JeNoCo, Janos Nation, True Blue Majority, Proud Mom and Grandma, Sandy on Signal, Wide Awake in Kentucky, Ms Wings, maggiejean, racheltracks, ccasas, JaxDem, CalNM, TheFatLadySings, and me, Ekaterin. These diaries are heartbreaking to write, but are an important service to those who have died, and show our community’s respect for our fallen brothers and sisters.
If you would like to contribute to the series, even once a month, please contact Sandy on Signal.
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.