Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jake W. Suter, Marines, Private, 1st Class -- Rest In Peace

Jake W. Suter, 18

Marines, Private 1st Class
Based: Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii
3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force
Supporting: Operation Enduring Freedom
Died: May 29, 2010
Helmand province, Afghanistan
Gender: Male
Hometown: Stevenson Ranch
High School: West Ranch High (Valencia)
That night, he spoke to his parents for 2 1/2 hours.

"We had a work-up on the Afghani people, and they're really nice people, they're very respectful people," his mother quoted him as saying. "I'm a liberal now. I'm going to liberate the Afghani people."

Throughout the conversation, she said, he emphasized how much he had learned in his first year as a Marine. His mother said he was excited and motivated, and ready to go.

"It was our first glimpse of what kind of adult he was going to be," she said. "He was so mature, and he was looking at things so clearly. He talked about everything, and he was honest about everything."

Two weeks later, Jake William Suter was killed while supporting combat operations in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, on the Pakistani border. The cause of his death has not been disclosed and is under investigation. He was an assaultman assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force at Kaneohe Bay.
Lance Cpl. Max Bernstein, 20, met Suter in November 2008 when both enlisted in the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program. During his senior year of high school, Suter would often volunteer at the recruiting station where Bernstein worked. The two became close friends, Bernstein said.

Suter scored 94 points out of 100 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, which opened a variety of opportunities for him, his friend said.

"He had every single job in the Marine Corps available to him, and he chose to grab a rifle and go patrol," Bernstein said. "That's the ultimate dedication to your country; that's an extraordinary amount of courage and bravery."
His mother said no memories stand out for her quite like the final phone calls she shared with her son.

She said she was happy to hear him sounding so upbeat when he called from Hawaii, and thankful that he called once more May 25, his first day in Afghanistan.

"I know my job is arduous," he told her. "But I can't imagine doing anything else."
Read the entire LA Times article about Marine Private 1st Class Jake W. Suter here
Find more about Jake W. Suter at:
Visit Private Jake W. Suter's Guest Book.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

High School Musical

Friday, May 27, 2011

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Clayton G. Dunn, Army, Sergeant -- Rest In Peace

Clayton G. Dunn II, 22

Army, Sergeant
Based: Ft. Bragg, N.C.
2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: May 26, 2007
Salahuddin, Iraq
Married, 1 child
Gender: Male
Hometown: Moreno Valley
High School: Rialto High (Rialto)
Army Sgt. Clayton G. Dunn II grew up knowing he wanted to be a soldier.

The Moreno Valley native, who was killed May 26 in Iraq, was a second-generation soldier whose father, Roy, served in the Army for 22 years.

"He was brought up that way," said Dunn's wife, Haidy. "Ever since he was little, he would play in his dad's boots and helmet."
That helmet became a part of a memorial, with a white cross, flags and flowers, erected on the lawn of his parents' home.

Dunn, 22, was among three paratroopers who died when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle in Salahuddin province, north of Baghdad.

Also killed were Spc. Michael J. Jaurigue, 20, of Texas City, Texas, and Spc. Gregory N. Millard, 22, of San Diego.

Dunn deployed to Iraq in August, when his wife was pregnant. The couple would debate baby names during twice-weekly long-distance phone calls.

"One day he just called me on the phone saying, 'I have the name; you can stop searching,' " his wife said. The name was Grace.

Dunn first held his daughter, now 3 months old, during a visit home in April.

"He had a big old smile on his face and he didn't know how to carry her," his wife recalled. "He was carrying her like a football.

"He would say, 'We're not going to spoil her.' And I'd tell him, 'You know she's going to be daddy's little girl.' "

In addition to his wife and daughter, Dunn is survived by his parents, Roy and Aminta Dunn; and a brother, Roy Dunn Jr.

Read the entire LA Times article about Army Sergeant Clayton G. Dunn here.
Find more at Military Times and LA IndyMedia.
Find messages, memories and pictures of Sergeant Clayton G. Dunn in his Guest Book.


Michael J. Jaurigue -- Rest In Peace

Gregory N. Millard -- Rest In Peace

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Duane G. Wolfe, Naval Reserve, Commander -- Rest In Peace

Duane G. Wolfe, 54

Naval Reserve, Commander
Based: Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
30th Mission Support Group
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: May 25, 2009
Fallouja (southeast of), Iraq
Married, 3 children
Gender: Male
Hometown: Los Osos
High School: Hueneme High (Oxnard)
Foreign Country of Birth: Canada
Burial: Los Osos Valley Memorial Park, Los Osos, Calif.

Wolfe and his wife of 34 years, Cindi, who have three children in their 20s, considered the Iraq deployment carefully. He could have retired, but he thought that he needed to go.
"He said they could really benefit from all his years of training," his wife said. "There was a need for that construction and engineering background."

And having joined the Navy at 17, after graduating from Hueneme High School, she said, he had always retained "a real sense of what it was like to be that new enlisted guy, starting out your career. I said, 'You make the call.' "

Wolfe arrived in Anbar province around Christmastime as officer-in-charge of the area's U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office. He oversaw a group of 59 service members, Iraqi civilians and others involved in $300-million worth of economic development and security reconstruction projects.

On May 25, as he traveled with a convoy to inspect a new wastewater treatment plant, a roadside bomb exploded. He was among three people killed. It was his first tour of duty in the Middle East.
Read the entire LA Times article about Naval Reserve Commander Duane G. Wolfe here. Find more at Military Times, at US Forces - Iraq, and read more about Commander Duane G. Wolfe at Freedom Remembered.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mark R. C. Caguioa, Army, Specialist -- Rest In Peace

Mark R. C. Caguioa, 21

Army, Specialist
Based: Ft. Hood, Texas
1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: May 24, 2007
National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., USA
Gender: Male
Hometown: Stockton
High School: Bear Creek High (Stockton)
Burial: San Francisco National Cemetery, San Francisco

The LA Times article about Army Specialist Mark R. C. Caguioa:

They were playing R&B and hip-hop at the Tejano club that night.

Army Spc. Mark Ryan Climaco Caguioa, 21, was passing the sweltering Texas night drinking with fellow soldiers -- a bunch of guys barely out of their teenage years, trying to meet girls.

Megan McCommas, 18, was sitting alone, in a sulk. She had quarreled with her high school girlfriends. She sat in a corner, hoping the girlfriends would call.

The young men at the next table wanted her attention.

They found a way to get it: One of Caguioa's friends tapped her on the shoulder, then looked away when McCommas turned, pretending nothing happened.

That smooth move started the conversation.

Caguioa watched as his friends bantered with the young woman. They said they couldn't believe McCommas was a local girl -- a shopkeeper's daughter from Florence. They thought everyone around Ft. Hood was military. They teased her about her country-western clothes. "You in the wrong club?" they asked.

But Caguioa was tongue-tied. His friends had to tell him: "Just talk to her!"

Finally, he did. That night, the last phase of Caguioa's young life began.

The earlier phases had included cars, video games, high school, restaurant work, a stint as a sushi chef, community college and finally, the Army, according to the his family's account recorded by the Lodi Funeral Home in Lodi, Calif.

Born to Filipino immigrants in Stockton, Caguioa attended Bear Creek High School, where he was told that he couldn't play football because he was too small.

No amount of lifting weights or supplementing his diet could make him gain, his family said. Even after he joined the Army two years ago, he was one of the smallest men in his unit, though he was passionate and sought assignments, his family said.

He had always been funny, well-liked. But that night in the Tejano club, Caguioa's life turned a little more serious. He started dating McCommas. They began to plan a grown-up life together.

He helped her stock shelves in her parents' pawnshop and opened up to her about his life. On leave home, he told his Stockton family that he'd met a girl who looked like Lindsay Lohan. Even so, he was still too embarrassed to kiss her in front of his friends.

Then, last fall, he was bound for Iraq.

All the men in his unit had the same worry: that their girlfriends would leave them while they were away. Caguioa wanted to propose but feared rejection.

He hedged.

He called McCommas on the phone and asked what she would say -- just supposing he were to ask her to marry him.

She answered quickly: "I'd say yes as long as you weren't asking over the phone!"

Although he never got the chance to ask in person, they did become engaged.

But the summer days of the Tejano club and the pawnshop ended at a hospital in Maryland.

Caguioa was in a Humvee in Baghdad on May 4 when a roadside bomb exploded. He lost both legs and was transferred stateside.

McCommas was on her senior trip to Six Flags at the time. She learned of his injury shortly after and asked her mother for permission to go see him. Her mother said she had to finish the school year first.

His condition worsened. Finally, the military flew her to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.

There, Caguioa's young fiancee sat overnight in his room, wiping the sweat from his face and dabbing tears that overflowed over tubes that blocked his mouth.

"His eyes would water up, would look like he was crying," she said. "I had never seen him cry before."

The doctors came to tell the family that they would have to amputate one of his arms too. A clot had blocked the blood flow.

McCommas had tried hard not to cry, but with this news, she had to leave. She didn't want his mother and relatives to see.

"I went so far no one could find me," she said. "I walked outside and found a couple trees. I stood under the trees and watched cars go by. I brought a photo album, and I was looking at it, and crying."

The 21-year-old soldier died May 24. He had been awarded a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Combat Infantry Badge.

President Bush met his family in Bethesda, and Caguioa was granted a headstone in Arlington National Cemetery, though his remains lie at the Presidio in San Francisco National Cemetery, closer to his family.

He is survived by his mother, Maria "Lulay" Climaco; two younger brothers, Sean and Gary; a younger sister, Loren; and other family and friends, according to the funeral home.

Since Caguioa died, McCommas has gone back to Florence, back to stocking shelves at the pawnshop.
Find more about Army Specialist Mark R. C. Caguioa at
 Iraq War Heroes
and visit Specialist Caguioa's  Guest Book.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Victor H. Toledo-Pulido, Army, Corporal -- Rest In Peace

Victor H. Toledo-Pulido, 22

Army, Corporal
Based: Ft. Benning, Ga.
3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized)
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: May 23, 2007
Nahrawan, Iraq
Married, 1 child
Gender: Male
Hometown: Hanford
Foreign Country of Birth: Mexico
Burial: Grangeville Cemetery, Armona, Calif.

Toledo-Pulido's mother, Maria Gaspar, said that she tried to dissuade her son from joining the Army but that he was determined to volunteer. "I told him I did not approve. We all told him," she said. "He was my youngest; he was my baby. And since he was born, I overprotected him. [But] he was grown up, and he wanted to mature and make his own decisions."

Growing up in the Central Valley, he was keenly aware that he was not an American citizen, but "he loved this country," his mother said. "He said, 'This is my country.' "

Toledo-Pulido was about 7 years old when a smuggler helped him and his older brother and mother cross over the mountains along the California border into the United States. He became a legal resident in 1999. Like many undocumented immigrants, he worked hard jobs at a young age. He toiled in the fields of the Central Valley with an uncle, picking grapes and other crops. Later, he took jobs as a restaurant cook.

Family members said they didn't know why, but Toledo-Pulido always showed an interest in joining the military.

Gaspar said she last saw her son in March as he and hundreds of soldiers left Ft. Benning for Iraq. He told her that no matter where he went, she would always be with him. He went over the good times and the bad times of their lives, as if paging through a family album.

"He talked like he knew something was going to happen," his mother said.

In the early morning hours of May 23, Toledo-Pulido and others in his platoon were awakened and given a mission to retrieve a military vehicle that had just been hit by an explosive. After concluding the mission, the team started driving back to their base. Minutes into the trip, their vehicle was hit by a tremendous explosion. 
Army Capt. Troy Thomas, who was in the vehicle, was sent flying through the air. Miraculously, he was unscathed. But when he looked back to check on the others in the vehicle, he saw Toledo-Pulido's lifeless body slumped over the steering wheel. 
Another soldier, Cpl. Jonathan D. Winterbottom, 21, of Falls Church, Virginia, was also mortally wounded in the blast.

"It is hard to explain the rush of emotion in a time like that," Thomas wrote in an e-mail to The Times. "People should not have to experience that feeling. It is because of brave human beings like Victor that war is only witnessed by a few so that the majority can live free and never experience what I felt that day."

Thomas said he would never forget him or the American values he stood for. He said Toledo-Pulido was a "Mexican citizen voluntarily serving in our armed forces at a time when you hear more about illegal immigration on TV than the war itself."

"What does it take to prove your worth as an American?" Thomas asked. "Well, if you ask me ... Victor Toledo-Pulido showed his worth by serving his nation and his family."
Gaspar said she is proud of her son, an "immigrant who gave his life for this country, and who did so with joy."

In addition to his mother and Yosio, he is survived by his wife, Christi; his son, Isak; his stepfather, Paz Gaspar Noriega; his brother Gaston Toledo-Pulido; and his sister, Maria McGee.
Read the entire LA Times article about Army Corporal Victor H. Toledo-Pulido here
Find more about Victor H. Toledo-Pulido at the Iraq Page 
and visit Corporal Toledo-Pulido's Guest Book.

of Falls Church, Virginia
 Rest In Peace
Read more about Corporal Winterbottom here 
and visit his Guest Book.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

1000 Words -- Trig Palin Files


Kathy Mattea Interlude -- Rock Me On The Water

Funny what'll pop into the mind on an Arkansan Sunday afternoon.
And, yeah, been liking this Kathy Mattea/Jackson Browne version of Rock Me on the Water since the Red Hot + Country cd came out back in the early 90's. Mattea always kinda soothes my fevered brow, like a sister.

Here's another Kathy Mattea version, live, with her band, sans Jackson Browne.

Previous Red Hot nod.

Doonewey White, Army, Specialist -- Rest In Peace

Doonewey White, 26

Army, Specialist
Based: Ft. Hood, Texas
2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: May 29, 2007
Baghdad (died in Balad), Iraq
Engaged, 1 child
Gender: Male
Hometown: Milpitas
High School: Andrew P. Hill High (San Jose)
Foreign Country of Birth: Philippines
Burial: Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, Calif.

From Military Times:

MILPITAS, Calif. — A 26-year-old soldier from Milpitas died last week in Iraq when an improvised explosive device exploded near his vehicle.

Army Spc. Doonewey White died May 29 in Balad, about 50 miles north of Baghdad, from wounds suffered the previous day, the Pentagon said in a statement June 4.

White’s family members said it was always his goal to serve in the Army.

“He was really happy to be in the army. He was proud of it,” his aunt, Maria White of Pittsburg, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

His half brother, Jason Gillette, 23, of Oceanside, said a military official told the family that his brother was on patrol when his Humvee was rammed by a suicide bomber driving a vehicle packed with explosives. He suffered third-degree burns to his face, neck and chest, Gillette told the Chronicle.

White emigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines when he was a young boy and was raised at times by his mother and different aunts in Pittsburg and Milpitas, Maria White said.

White was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, in Fort Hood, Texas.
Read more about Army Specialist Doonewey White 
in the LA Times 
and at the Iraq Page
Visit Specialist Doonewey White's Guest Book

Some pictures of Specialist Doonewey White were found on MySpace.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Frank J. Gasper, Army, Staff Sergeant -- Rest In Peace

Frank J. Gasper, 25

Army, Staff Sergeant
Based: Ft. Carson, Colo.
3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: May 25, 2008
Najaf, Iraq
Gender: Male
Hometown: Merced
High School: Golden Valley High (Merced)
Burial: Merced District Cemetery, Merced
Army Staff Sgt. Frank Gasper loved what he did so much that a fellow soldier gave him a nickname that stuck: "Gaspartacus."

"That was in his last tour," his mother, Anita Richards, recalled. "He said it meant that only the strong can call themselves warriors."

Gasper, 25, was killed May 25 when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb in Najaf, Iraq, south of Baghdad.

A career soldier, the Merced native was killed months after volunteering for his fourth tour in Iraq.
"He'd always write, saying, 'I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing. I wouldn't be anywhere else,' " his mother said.
Following the example of many family members, he enlisted in the Army after high school.

"He just wanted to do his four years, get some experience, get out and become a cop," said his wife, Breanna Gasper, who married him just after he graduated from boot camp. "He figured his military experience would help him with that."

But military life grabbed him in a way he never expected.
Worried about buddies who never received mail, he gave their names to his mother. A caseworker for the Merced County Health Department, she recruited fellow employees to send them messages and small gifts.

"I'd always try to see him before he deployed," she said. "I'd say, 'Frank, are you ready?' And he'd say, 'I'm always ready, Mom. Just pray for me.' "

Gasper was buried at Merced District Cemetery.

In addition to his wife, mother and stepfather Joel Richards, Gasper is survived by a sister, Victoria Beuerlein. Her husband, Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Beuerlein, is a member of Gasper's unit and served with him in Iraq.
Read the entire LA Times article about Army Staff Sergeant Frank J. Gasper here
find more at Military Times 
and at his Memorial Page
Visit Sergeant Frank J. Gasper's Guest Book.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Douglas Jose Marenco-Reyes, Marines, Corporal -- Rest In Peace

Douglas Jose Marenco-Reyes, 28

Marines, Corporal
Based: Camp Pendleton
4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: May 18, 2003
Samawah (near), Iraq
Gender: Male
Hometown: Chino
Foreign Country of Birth: Nicaragua

At Fallen Heroes, the beloved son of Corporal Marenco-Reyes writes:
"Over the years I've read the messages left by servicemen, family members, veterans, and others expressing their condolences and wishing my family the best. I wish to thank you for these messages. Over the past years, nothing has ever been able to mend the hole that my fathers passing has left on my heart as well as my family. Writing is my passion that has helped me mend this gap by using imagery and words to paint a portrait of my father.

Because of him, I have created a resume for college that has been fueled by my father's example. I've worked with non-profits since the start of High School from reducing the risk of teen pregnancy by producing a theater production, halting illiteracy among the youth through poetry, and dedicating my Winter vacation to feed the less fortunate on Skid Row.

I would have never been willing to do this or wanting to do this if it weren't for my mother raising me right and my father instilling in me good morals and ethics.

This New Year will mark another year that my father has left us physically. I remember him every time I get up on a stage, every time I speak a poem, sing a song, look in my sister's eyes, and hang out with my uncle.

When I want to see who my my father was I hang out with my Uncle Robert, the last remnant of what my father was like. The rest are out of the picture. I hang out with my dad's Marine Core buddies so I could see what he was like as a Marine.

There are three steps in dying fully out of this world. The first is the immediate death when body and soul are split apart. The next step is when the body fully decays and goes back into the ground to nourish the world. And the last is when no one remembers who they are anymore. They simply fade away in existence.

His memory has been kept alive through the messages sent. Through the flower placed on his grave. Through the stories told about him. Through my sister and mother. I thank everyone so much for the appreciation and hope everyone has a great New Year."
--Julian Damien Marenco (His son) of Fullerton, Ca -- visiting family with my sister and celebrating

Read more messages and remembrances of 
Marine Corporal Douglas Jose Marenco-Reyes 
and find more about Corporal Marenco-Reyes 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Victor M. Fontanilla, Army, Specialist-- Rest In Peace

Victor M. Fontanilla, 23

 Army, Private 1st Class
Based: Ft. Richardson, Alaska
725th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: May 17, 2007
Iskandariya, Iraq
Married, 2 children
Gender: Male
Hometown: Stockton
High School: Tinian High School (U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands)
Burial: San Joaquin Catholic Cemetery, Stockton
The Army private first class breezed through basic training and passed airborne instruction before being deployed last fall to Iraq, where he served as a motor transport operator.

Fontanilla kept in close touch with his family, adding pictures and tributes to his wife and son on his page.

He had planned to return home June 4 on leave midway through his 15-month deployment. He wanted to be with his wife for the birth of their second son, Jonathan-Tobias Ho'Opakele Fontanilla.

He never made it.

On May 17, Fontanilla was among three paratroopers killed when a roadside bomb exploded near their Humvee in Iskandariya, south of Baghdad, according to the Department of Defense. Also killed were Sgt. 1st Class Jesse B. Albrecht, 31, of Hager CIty, Wisconsin and Spc. Coty J. Phelps, 20, of Kingman, Arizona
Having grown up without much involvement from his own father, Fontanilla made sure to play an important role in his son's life.

That's how his aunt, Lysia Espinosa, remembers it. She continues to speak about her nephew in the present tense as if he is still alive.

"He loves his son more than anything," said Espinosa, 41, who helped raise Fontanilla. "He always tells his son that he doesn't want him growing up without a father."

Fontanilla spent his childhood in Stockton. He left while in high school to be with his mother, who was living on the island of Tinian, part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, about 1,000 miles east of the Philippines.
Fontanilla was of Filipino ancestry; his wife came from a Hawaiian family. The couple were married in October 2004. Their first son was born the following May, and Noel Fontanilla is awaiting the imminent arrival of their second son.

In the aftermath of his death, the Army posthumously promoted Fontanilla to Specialist.

In addition to his wife, son, and brother, Fontanilla is survived by his father, mother, stepfather and two sisters.
Read the entire LA Times article about Army Specialist Victor M. Fontanilla here. Find more at Military Times and visit Specialist Victor Mykal Fontanilla's Guest Book.


Army Sgt. 1st Class Jesse B. Albrecht -- Rest In Peace

Army Spc. Coty J. Phelps -- Rest In Peace