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Tonight we honor two soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan.

Since 2001, 2075 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.

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                                                                                       ~ Photo Credit Timroff

The Department of Defense has announced the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

1st Sgt. Russell R. Bell, 37, of Tyler, Texas
Staff Sgt. Matthew S. Sitton, 26, of Largo, Florida
They died Aug. 2, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when they encountered an enemy improvised explosive device. These soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, NC.                

Please join me below for a remembrance of their lives.



1st Sgt. Russell R. Bell

Born in Tyler, Texas, 1st Sgt. Bell joined the Army on January 24, 1996 as an Infantryman, attending One Station Unit Training and U.S. Army Airborne School at Ft. Benning, GA. before reporting to Camp Casey, Korea for his first assignment.

After a year in Korea, 1st Sgt. Bell served at Fort Bragg for more than five years in the
504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He then assumed drill sergeant duties at Fort Jackson, SC. He also served in Italy, then spent three more years with various units out of fort Bragg.

This was his fourth combat deployment to Afghanistan in seven years.

Lt. Col. Ced Carrington, 1-508th Battalion Commander, said:

"1st Sgt. Russell Bell was one of the best all around leaders I have had the privilege of serving alongside in over 18 years of military service. His presence alone made each day brighter. He constantly shared stories that put smiles on Troopers' faces. He always looked for opportunities to make those around him laugh - particularly during tough situations. 1st Sgt. Bell made a difference every day and all who worked anywhere near him were immediately drawn to his personality."
1st Sgt. Bell's training and accomplishments include Airborne School, Air Assault School, Warrior's Leader Course, Advanced Leader's Course, Drill Sergeant School, Jumpmaster School, U.S. Army Ranger Course and the Senior Leader's Course.

His awards include the Bronze Star Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal with Valor, the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal with five bronze knots, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three campaign stars, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon with the numeral three, the NATO medal, the Drill Sergeant Identification Badge, the Ranger Tab, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge, and the Air Assault Badge.


                     

An Army carry team carries the transfer case containing the remains of Army 1st Sgt. Russell R. Bell, of Tyler, TX, upon arrival at Dover Air Force Base, DE, on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012.

~source~~source~

Rest in peace, 1st Sgt. Russell R. Bell. You have served with honor.

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Staff Sgt. Matthew S. Sitton

A native of Largo, FL, Staff Sgt. Sitton joined the Army on March 2, 2006 as an Infantryman, attending Basic Training and Airborne School at Ft. Benning, GA, and joined 4th Brigade in August 2007. This was his third combat deployment to Afghanistan.

He had been scheduled to return home in a month.

His battalion commander, Lt. Col. Ced Carrington, said Sitton was:

"...one of the battalion's most proficient and well-trained Leaders. The bond he developed with his team serves as a testament to how much he was loved and respected by the Troopers who served beside him. His no-nonsense approach towards accomplishing tough tasks was commendable. There was no task that he could not accomplish."
In 2004, Staff Sgt. Sitton graduated from Indian Rocks Christian School High School, where he was a member of the baseball team. One of his baseball teammates and good friend at Indian Rocks Christian School, Frank Gross, also was killed in Afghanistan. Cpl. Gross died in July 2011 when an improvised explosive device caused a vehicle roll-over. The mothers of both men are good friends.

Matthew's mother, Cheryl Sitton, said:

"He was very adventuresome as a child. If he could figure out a way to do something, he would do it....He loved the Army. He believed in what he did."
In 2007, Matthew met his future wife Sarah, and they were married on July 4, 2009. They have a nine-month-old son.

His family last saw him in February, when they said goodbye to him at Fort Bragg. He regularly Skyped with his wife Sarah and their son Brodey. Sarah said her last conversation with her husband was on Sunday. They were planning on visiting Fort Bragg Saturday to look for a place to live. Sarah Sitton said:

"My whole life, every plan that I made, stopped on Aug. 2, 2012."
On Saturday, Sarah Sitton and her in-laws flew to Dover Air Force Base to receive his body.


An Army carry team carries the transfer case containing the remains of Army Staff Sgt. Matthew S. Sitton of Largo, FL, upon arrival at Dover Air Force Base, DE, on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012.

On Matthew's Facebook Memorial page, a friend wrote:

"He was funny. He was smart, compassionate, he was perfect and he loved the Lord and that was the most important thing to him. And I think that's why everything else just fell into place. He was an incredible, incredible young man."
Staff Sgt. Sitton's accomplishments and training include Airborne School, Long Range Reconnaissance Course, U.S. Army Ranger Course, U.S. Army Sniper School, Warrior's Leader Course and Advanced Leader's Course.

His awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal with one knot, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with a campaign star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Ribbon with the numeral two, the NATO medal, the Combat Action Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge and the Parachutist Badge.

~source~~source~~source~~source~

Rest in peace, Staff Sgt. Matthew S. Sitton. You have served with honor.

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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.

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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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