Image courtesy: Pfc. David Hauk, U.S. Army. Kandahar, Afghanistan, November 12, 2009

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rising souls

Image courtesy: Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron Burden

For nine American families and the close-knit Navy SEAL and 101st Airborne communities, the last 48 hours have been filled with devastation and grief. Since Tuesday's tragic helicopter crash in Afghanistan's Zabul province, the Department of Defense has been delivering official casualty notifications to loved ones of the fallen. All nine departed warriors hailed from different states, and leave behind powerful legacies of service and sacrifice.

According to the Pentagon, four Navy SEALs were killed in the crash.

Lt. Brendan Looney, 29, Owings, Maryland
Senior Chief Petty Officer David McLendon, 30, Thomasville, Georgia
Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Smith, 26, Hurland, Missouri
Petty Officer 3rd Class Denis Miranda, 24, Toms River, New Jersey

Five U.S. soldiers assigned to 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky, died alongside the SEALs.

Lt. Col. Robert Baldwin, 39, Muscatine, Iowa
Chief Warrant Officer Matthew Wagstaff, 34, Orem, Utah
Chief Warrant Officer Jonah McClellan, 26, St. Louis Park, Minnesota
Staff Sgt. Joshua Powell, 25, Pleasant Plains, Illinois
Sgt. Marvin Calhoun Jr., 23, Elkhart, Indiana

The Unknown Soldiers will have much more on the lives of these patriots in the days and weeks ahead. In the meantime, as Gold Star families fly American flags at half-staff from Owings, Maryland, to Orem, Utah, we share their pain. Years of rigorous training and personal sacrifices preceded these nine men climbing aboard a Black Hawk helicopter in the middle of a rugged war zone on September 21. While one chopper may have gone down, nine courageous souls did not.

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