Since 2001, 2300 U.S. troops have died while serving in Afghanistan. From 2003 to 2012, 4486 U.S. troops died while serving in Iraq.
The IGTNT (I Got The News Today) series is a reminder that nearly every day, somebody gets the heartbreaking news that a friend, former classmate, or beloved family member will not be coming home from war.
Tonight we remember six soldiers killed in the crash of a Black Hawk helicopter in Afghanistan:
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy L. Billings, 34, of Heavener, Oklahoma
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua B. Silverman, 35, of Scottsdale, Arizona
Sgt. Peter C. Bohler, 29, of Willow Spring, North Carolina
Sgt. 1st Class Omar W. Forde, 28, of Marietta, Georgia
Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Williams, 30, of Elkhart, Indiana
Spc. Terry K. D. Gordon, 22, of Shubuta, Mississippi
Please take a moment below to remember them,
and all those who have died in these wars.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy Billings, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Silverman, and Sgt. Peter Bohler who were assigned to the 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kansas; Sgt. 1st Class Omar Forde, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, at Fort Riley, Kansas; and Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams, who was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, based in Vilseck, Germany.
WCVB reported that the date "was the single-deadliest day for U.S. forces in Afghanistan since a helicopter wreck killed seven Americans and four Afghans in August 2012." A report from KSN said that Fort Riley confirmed a seventh soldier was injured in the crash, and that the cause of the crash remained under investigation.
The memorial for Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy Billings was written by JaxDem.
Billings had been deployed to Iraq twice and was on his second deployment to Afghanistan. Both Chief Billings and Chief Silverman were piloting the aircraft.
It was as if Randy was destined to be a soldier as family members spoke to how seamlessly he fit into the military life.
Randy's uncle, Hurschel Billings made this comment:
He really loved it. Every time he came back, he couldn't wait to go back. He died doing loving what he does. Serving the country.Other family members said Randy enjoyed traveling and seeing the world as he served his country.
Cousin, Amanda Billings spoke proudly about Randy:
He was just one of the nicest people you could possibly be around ... He was the definition of what a hero is. He served his country well.Uncle Hurschel Billings spoke about future plans Randy and his wife Ashely had made:
He left in August, he had nine months and when he got back they were going to start a family. That's what makes it so hard.Aunt, Donna Billings added:
He represented our town, he represented this family in what he did, serving his country. To me, that makes me feel special.Chief Billings and his wife Ashley lived in Kansas and much of his family lives in Oklahoma. No funeral arrangements have been announced.
The memorial for Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Silverman was written by CalNM.
The military lists Joshua Silverman's hometown as Scottsdale, Arizona, where he lived with his family after living in Flagstaff from the late 1990s to early 2000s, according to KPHO and CBS 5 News. His parents, Barry and Susie Silverman, now live in Aurora, Colorado.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua B. Silverman, 35, of Scottsdale, Arizona
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Silverman was co-piloting the Black Hawk U-60 helicopter when it crashed on December 17th.
But prior to living in Arizona, his family lived in St. Louis, Missouri, where Joshua "Josh" Silverman graduated from Schechter High School in 1990. The Silverman family were longtime members of Congregation B’nai Amoona when they lived in St. Louis.
His boyhood friend, Matthew Litwack, that as a youth in St. Louis, Josh “did his own thing and people gravitated around him.”An obituary in the SLPostDispatch lists a graveside service for CWO2 Silverman for Tuesday, December 24th, 11:30 AM at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery-White Road. Head of School Cheryl Mayaan said flags will fly at half mast in CWO2 Silverman’s memory and members of the community are welcome to share stories about him.
"He was well-liked, and caring," Litwack said in a story in the St. Louis Jewish Light.
The two met in third grade while attending Hebrew school at B’nai Amoona and traveled to Israel together when they were teenagers.
Litwack said CWO2 Silverman’s Facebook posts during his tour to Afghanistan "always contained humor."
“That was Josh,” Litwack told the SLJL.
“He always could see the positive in the negative.”
Among those Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Silverman leaves behind are his beloved wife and parents, and other family and friends.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Silverman is missed. May he rest in peace.
The memorial for Sgt. Peter Bohler was written by Sandy On Signal.
Sgt. Peter Bohler came from a family with a rich history of military service. Sgt. Bohler's great-grandfather served in World War I, his grandfather in World War II, and a great-uncle in the Korean War. He followed in their footsteps and proudly served in the U.S. Army out of Fort Riley Kansas.
Bohler's mother, Deborah, was given the devastating news about her son on Wednesday morning. Deborah works for the Wake County District Attorney in North Carolina. She went to work and dropped off a note concerning her son and that the family needed privacy. She then posted a note on Facebook:
"At 5:30 this morning my heart shattered into a million pieces. Dear God gives us strength to get through this pain."Sgt. Peter Bohler, who goes by Chris, was the eldest of three children. Funeral arrangements are pending. The Patriot Guard Riders will accompany and assist the family.
The memorial for Sgt. 1st Class Omar Forde was written by noweasels.
Sgt. 1st Class Omar W. Forde, 28, of Marietta, GeorgiaSgt. 1st Class Forde was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas
A soldier's soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Forde turned down football scholarships to college so that he could join the Army and start a family with his high school sweetheart, Megan.
After playing three years of varsity football at Kennesaw Mountain High School, Omar Forde had offers to play at the college level when he graduated in 2004.Source ~ Atlanta Journal Constitution
But he had bigger plans that included serving his country and starting a family with his high school sweetheart. He passed on football and enlisted in the military.
Forde grew up in Cobb County, where he attended Dowell Elementary School, Pine Mountain Middle School and then Kennesaw Mountain, his best friend of more than 20 years, Jon Barker, said Thursday night.
In eight years of military service, Forde had been promoted seven times and was dedicated to his military career, Barker said. But outside of work, Forde had a fun personality that drew people to him. And he was a family man, dedicated to his wife, Megan, and two boys, ages 5 and 17 months, his friends said.
Forde’s former coach at Kennesaw Mountain, Scott Jones, is now the football coach at North Paulding High School. He called Forde one of his "pride and joys" in his 28 years of coaching and teaching.
"It doesn’t surprise me at all that he was serving his country because he was selfless and very committed to what he did," Jones said Thursday night.
Sgt. 1st Class Forde was on his third deployment when he lost his life. In high school, he had been a role model for other young men.
Sgt. 1st class Omar W. Forde, 28, who graduated from Kennesaw Mountain in 2004, is remembered for being a team player and a role model for his fellow teammates, said former football coach Scott Jones.Source ~ The Marietta Daily Journal.
Forde was from Marietta, and played cornerback on his high school football team.
Jones, who now serves as the football coach at North Paulding High School in Dallas, said Forde was a leader on the school’s team.
"He had a lot of class on and off the field," Jones said.
The memorial for Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams was written by Joy of Fishes.
Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Williams
Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Williams, 30, of Elkhart, Indiana, died on December 17, 2013 of injuries suffered as a result of a helicopter crash. He was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany, and he was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Now Bahar, Afghanistan. He was on his third deployment.
At 6:30 in the morning of December 18, Staff Sgt. Williams’ mother, Debbie Passerallo, received a knock on the door.
As a mother, you're never prepared for this … You always know the possibility is there, but you just think, 'This can't happen to my son. This can't happen to my kid.' This deployment was different, and he knew it. The goodbye was longer, a little more intense. The tears were there. They weren't there on the other deployments.
Staff Sgt. Williams joined the military to work on computers, and he was recently promoted Staff Sergeant. People who served with him praised his hard work and his great love for his daughter:
Amanda Caldwell, who is mother to Staff Sgt. Williams’ daughter, Madison, described his love for the military and for his child:
"He loved it …
He didn't want to do anything else.
He was the best father to Madison …
He loved everything that he did.
He loved his family and friends so much."
Working with SSG Williams was an honor. So glad he finally got promoted to SSG, he works so hard for this promotion. He always had a nice word to say and a smile that would just make your day. You will be truly missed. I pray for your family, especially your daughter. ~ Nichelle D. Clay-VaughnIndiana Governor Mike Pence said of Staff Sgt. Williams:
I am deeply sorry for the tremendous loss of our comrade U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams. I’m grateful to have known him and served with him here in Afghanistan. What separate him from the rest was his everyday and constant joyfulness. He will be missed and never forgotten. He will live on forever in our hearts. My sympathies go to all the family and may God bless you all. ~ Edwin Ortiz
SSG Williams was the epitome of what every Father, Soldier, and son should strive to be. He truly served his country the very best that he could and pushed us all to do the same. I'm honored to have served with such a wonderful person. Anyone that knew SSG Williams knew of his precious Madison. He would flash this huge smile everytime he spoke of her. Her picture sat on his desk for everyone to see. He was a very proud father. Madison, your dad loved you more than life itself and he was very excited about taking you fishing this summer. You should be FOREVER PROUD OF HIM FOR HE WAS FOREVER PROUD OF YOU!!! Rest in peace Battle, we will all miss you here in Afghanistan. ~ Renata CoCo Singletary-Gaddis
It is with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Staff Sgt. Jesse Lee Williams, a heroic Hoosier who fell this week in the midst of his third deployment defending our freedom in Afghanistan … Jesse Lee Williams is an American hero whose service and sacrifice will never be forgotten by the people of this state and nation.Staff Sgt. Williams’ parents are long-time riders with the Patriot Guard Riders. Motorcyclists from Indiana and neighboring states plan to escort his body and attend his funeral in support of his family.
Sources: DOD, The Elkhart Truth 1 The Elkhart Truth 2, The Elkhart Truth 3, WSBT, WNDU
When you go home, tell them of us and say
For their tomorrow, we gave our today.
~ John Maxwell Edmonds
The memorial for Spc. Terry K. D. Gordon was written by CalNM.
Spc. Terry Gordon grew up in the small town of Pachuta, near Quitman, Mississippi. Local towns are waiting to embrace the young soldier and well-remembered son on his sad return to Clarke County.
Spc. Terry K. D. Gordon, 22, of Shubuta, Mississippi
Spc. Gordon was the youngest of the six soldiers who perished in the December 17th helicopter crash.
When Gordon’s remains reach either the Meridian or Jackson airport, law officers from agencies including the Clarke County Sheriff’s Department, the Quitman Police Department and the Mississippi Highway Patrol will be waiting there.Terry Gordon was a member of the Junior ROTC during his four years at Quitman High School.
“He will be escorted from there into town,” Quitman Mayor Eddie Fulton sais, according to the Tennessean.
“Our veterans will be waiting."
“As soon as his body gets back to the United States, as soon as that day hits, our flags in Quitman will be lowered to half mast...... “All of our police forces will support his family when his body comes in, and he will get a military escort with Quitman High’s ROTC."
“Those things don’t help you with your grief. But, it does show that the citizens of our county and city respect his sacrifice and the effort he put forth for us.”
“Terry always wanted to go into the Army,” Quitman High School Principal McDonald told The Meridian Star, and described Gordon, a 2011 graduate of the school, as a "great kid."Among those Spc. Gordon leaves behind are his family and friends in Quitman.
"His leadership and confidence was clearly evident," McDonald said. "He just oozed confidence and he was dependable and well respected among the students here."
"He was just one of those young men who you would notice for the way he carried himself," the principal said, according to a story in Gulf Live.
Spc. Terry K. D. Gordon is missed. May he rest in peace.
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Thanks to Timroff for our faithfully lighted candle IGTNT logo;
Other Photos by CalNM and linked Sources
Helping our troops: If you wish to assist our military and their families, consider Operation Helmet, or sponsoring a deployed service member at TroopCarePackage.com. Fisher House provides housing for families of injured troops and veterans who are recovering in hospitals, and Guardian angels for soldierspet assists the animal companions of our deployed military. When our veterans come back home, they can find support at Welcome Back Veterans. Our recently returned veterans need jobs, and Veterans Green Jobs is now hiring for positions and filling training sessions. VGJ corps retrains veterans as leaders in forest and resource conservation, green construction, and energy efficient upgrades of homes in rural areas. Encourage a Veteran, and see if you can help out.
About the IGTNT series: I Got the News Today is 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 at war.
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 page. 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, Joy of Fishes, and me, CalNM. 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.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.