A horrific week.
From McClatchy's Jonathan Landay:
At 5:50 a.m., Army Capt. Will Swenson, of Seattle, WA, the trainer of the Afghan Border Police unit in Shakani, began calling for air support or artillery fire from a unit of the Army's 10th Mountain Division. The responses came back: No helicopters were available.
"This is unbelievable. We have a platoon (of Afghan army) out there and we've got no Hotel Echo," Swenson shouted above the din of gunfire, using the military acronym for high explosive artillery shells. "We're pinned down."
Tonight, we honor 3 Marines, and 1 Sailor killed during an ambush in Ganjgal, Afghanistan.
We also honor 3 Soldiers killed by an IED explosion in Iraq. Please take a moment to remember and honor their sacrifice.
Thank you, Timroff, for our beautiful logo.
It has been a terrible week in both of our wars. Besides, the 4 American troops killed during the ambush, 3 other Americans were wounded, 9 Afghanis were killed and 19 wounded. It was a fierce battle and it is being investigated by NATO, after McClatchey journalist, Jonathan Landay provided an account which asserted U.S. commanders rejected pleas for artillery and air support from the desperate Marines during the ambush. From McClatchey:
U.S. commanders, citing new rules to avoid civilian casualties, rejected repeated calls to unleash artillery rounds at attackers dug into the slopes and tree lines — despite being told repeatedly that they weren't near the village.
Semper Fi, 1st Lt. Michael E. Johnson, Gunnery Sgt. Edwin W. Johnson Jr., Staff Sgt. Aaron M. Kenefick and Petty Officer 3rd Class James R. Layton.
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of three Marines who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
The following Marines died Sept. 8 while supporting combat operations in Kunar province, Afghanistan:
Gunnery Sgt. Edwin W. Johnson Jr., 31, of Columbus, Ga.
1st Lt. Michael E. Johnson, 25, of Virginia Beach, Va.
Staff Sgt. Aaron M. Kenefick, 30, of Roswell, Ga.
“If we leave this house, the people in the house in front of us will shoot us,” were the last words that Marine Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick of Roswell, Ga., was heard calling into his radio before it went silent.
Aaron Kenefick's family spoke to the WKBW television news about her brave and well loved brother. She wants the world to know he died a hero.
"He was just very strong in going over there and doing his job," said sister Jacque Tiftickjain.
He was not going to be with the majority of troops. They were going to be on the front lines the whole time," said brother-in-law Kevin Myszka.
Just two days before Kenefick's death, he was hit and injured from shrapnel, and received the Purple Heart medal. Kenefick did not let his injuries keep him down. He quickly recovered and went right back into combat.
He called me and wanted us to know that he was okay, and that sandbags saved his life, and that he loved us very much. I told him we were praying for him," added Jade.
Two days after that phone call, Aaron's mother, Susan Price, was busy at work when two Marines paid her a visit and gave her the horrible news: her only son was killed in Afghanistan.
"This is my worst nightmare. To lose a child," said his mother Susan Price.
"My son was always my hero, and just always the most honorable man," added his mother.
My heart goes out to the family of Aaron Kenefick.
Michael Johnson was a lover of the great outdoors. He enjoyed the oceans and the mountains, so although he was born in Virginia, the young man chose to go West to Oregon. Michael Johnson chose and graduated from Oregon State University. His uncle, Greg Chase, told the Oregonian:
"He took to the state," his uncle, Greg Chase, said. "He was all about doing stuff outdoors, traveling around, hiking."
In 2006, the day he graduated college, he was commissioned as 2nd Lt. in the 7th Communications Battalion, 3rd Marine Headquarters Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa, Japan. In 2007, he married Durinda Donat of Keizer. His uncle told the Oregonian:
"My dad has a Marine Corps sword from his dress uniform," Chase said. "It was kind of a tradition that any time anybody gets married, this sword is what's used to cut the cake."
After the wedding, the young couple lived in Okinawa, until two months ago when Johnson was sent out to Afghanistan. On Sept. 8th, Johnson was injured during an ambush in eastern Afghanistan. He was attended to by Hospital Corpsman, Petty Officer 3rd Class James Layton, when both were mortally injured by insurgents.
1st Lt. Michael Johnson is survived by his wife, parents, a twin brother, along with his uncle, Norman Chase. My heart goes out to all who loved 1st. Lt. Michael Johnson.
DoD Identifies Navy Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a sailor who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Petty Officer 3rd Class James R. Layton, 22, of Riverbank, Calif., died Sept. 8 in Kunar province, Afghanistan, while supporting combat operations. He was assigned to an embedded training team with Combined Security Tranisiton Command in Afghanistan.
James Layton was a Hospital Corpsman who had been stationed in Okinawa, two months ago he was shipped out to Afghanistan. He was tending to a wounded Marine, 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, when both were killed during an ambush. His family remembers the young man from Riverbank, California as a true hero. He always helped and cared for others. He wanted to be where the action was. The Modesto Bee spoke to his mother, Mrs. Frietas,
"He said he was bored, waiting for his orders," Freitas said. "He wanted to be out doing what they sent him there to do. ... He liked the camaraderie. He said he might not come home at Christmas because he didn't want to leave the other guys there."
The Legacy bookfor James Layton is filled with fun and loving messages from family and friends. Instead of the usual somber condolences, the book provides a glimpse of a kind, loving and funny young man.
From his Grandfather, Winn Layton note: grab a tissue.
The last time I saw James, he was on his last leave before deploymant. I picked up James, and his brother and sister, Jesse, and Jordan, for one of my"infamous family dinners." The room at the restaurant was full. there were 20 to 25 people there, all family, and friends, there to visit with James. It was a wonderful evening, and when I took James, Jesse, and Jordan home, we stood out on the front lawn and talked, and I again told him how much I loved him, and how very proud of him I was. He walked over to me, he had to bend down a little, but he put those big strong arms around me, hugged me, gave me a kiss, and said "I love you grandpa." That was the last time I saw him.
As you can imagine, our family is devasted, by the loss of James, and our hearts will never really heal.
and from a fellow Hospital Corpsman:
My name is HM3 Greg Reinhart and I had the great opportunity to serve and to train with HM3 layton.. I have never really been with a "real" marine corps unit and when I was augmented to this unit he helped me transition, and helped me get used to being with the marines... In the 5 months prior to this deployment we became very close friends and we were almost always side by side... now that I think about it we practically inseparable, ha ha... James was a great guy to hang out with, just like me he was quite at first but once you got to know him he opened up and turned out to be a pretty funny guy... I still cant believe he is gone, I honestly didn't expect this... I am now waiting for a phone call, telling me that I will be taking his position in Afghanistan. I miss you Layt...
you were a great friend, a great corpsman, and a great person....
Funeral arrangements are set for Thursday, September 17th in Riverbank, California. The Patriot Guard riders will accompany the family. My sincere condolence to the family and friends of Petty Officer 3rd Class James Latyon.
Unfortunately, there is very little on Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Johnson of Columbus, Georgia other than the standard Department of Defense announcement. When photos and information are available, I will update this tribute.
The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an explosive device Sept. 8 in Baji, Iraq. They were assigned to the 545th Military Police Company, Arctic Military Police Battalion, U.S. Army, Alaska, Fort Richardson, Alaska.
Staff Sgt. Shannon M. Smith, 31, of Marion, Ohio.
Pfc. Thomas F. Lyons, 20, of Fernley, Nev.
Pfc. Zachary T. Myers, 21, of Delaware, Ohio.
Pfc. Zachary Myers loved his job as an MP, his mother, Tonya Latto, told the Columbus Dispatch.
Latto said she remembers her son as someone who did not go for discipline in high school.
"The family joke was that for most of his teenage years he was being brought home by police. Now, he is one," Latto said.
Her son loved being a MP and considered making a career with the Army. Myers graduated high school in 2006, and enlisted in the Army in 2008. After boot camp, he was stationed up in Alaska at Fort Richardson, and was part of the Arctic Battalion Military Police. Staff Sgt. Shannon Smith was there too.
The two were close friends, even though Smith graduated from Marion High School in 1997. His mother told the paper:
"He talked about Shannon all the time and about what a great a guy he was. He was a good friend who showed him the ropes," Latto said. "He thought very highly of him."
Pfc. Zach Myers was expected home today, September 12th, for a break to be with his wife and 14 month old daughter. The family planned a 22nd birthday party for him on September 23rd. Instead, they just returned from Dover, Delaware and are planning his funeral.
My deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Pfc. Zachary Myers.
Staff Sgt. Shannon Smith's family declined to speak to the media. We will respect their wishes for privacy at this time.
Smith's high school honored him last night at the football game. The local paper the Marion Star wrote about the shocked and saddened community who remembered Staff Sgt. Smith.
Shannon joined the military in 1997. He served tours in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. His high school wrestling coach, Ed Henning, told the paper
"Obviously, being there for 12 years, there was something there he really loved," Henning said.
Thank you for your service, Staff Sgt. Shannon Smith. My heart goes out to your family and the community of Marion, Ohio.
Pfc. Thomas Lyons grew up in the Carson City area of Nevada. After high school, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his life. His uncle suggested the military and it was there he found his "niche" according to his mother. He became a Military Policeman something he enjoyed doing. His wife is also serving in the Army in Iraq. She gave birth in May to their first child, a son.
Pfc. Thomas Lyons funeral will be at 11am on Tuesday, September 15th, at the Church of Latter Day Saints in Fernley, Nevada. Governor Gibbons of Nevada is expected to attend. In honor and remembrance of Pfc. Thomas Lyons flags were ordered at half-mast in Nevada.
Rest in Peace, Pfc. Thomas Lyons. Thank you for your service.
Since 2001, there have been 827 American troops killed in Afghanistan. Since 2003, there have been 4343 American troops killed in Iraq.
I Got the News Today is a diary series intended to honor, respect and remind. 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.
All of the U.S. fatalities can be seen here and here. They all had loved ones, families and friends. The DoD news releases are here. I Got the News Today is intended to honor, respect and remind. Click the IGTNT tags below for previous diaries.
Click the IGTNT tags to see the series, which was begun by i dunno, and which is maintained by monkeybiz, noweasels, greenies, blue jersey mom, Chacounne, twilight falling, joyful, roses, SisTwo, a girl in MI, Spam Nunn, JeNoCo, Media Prof, rb137, True Blue Majority, and me, Sandy on Signal. .
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.