Taylor Wilson

“Taylor was born in Montgomery, Alabama and graduated from Daphne High School. He was a gifted athlete. He lettered in baseball, football, and placed 2nd in the state for the javelin his senior year. He was a hugger, a lover, a fighter, a father and best friend to our son, Gabriel, and a loyal husband. He had a huge heart for his family and his friends. He never met a stranger. He loved to talk to people and had an amazing sense of humor. Taylor had the most contagious laugh. Taylor effortlessly made others feel special. Taylor was accepted to the University of Auburn but joined the Marine Corps in August 2004 instead. He served three deployments abroad, including al-Asad and al-Qaim, Iraq, in 2006; on the USS Nimitz in 2007; and in al-Asad again in 2009. Taylor dreamed of retiring from the Marine Corps and returning home to Daphne, AL, raising our son.” Shared by his wife, Nina U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Taylor Wilson left this world and returned to the care of the Lord on June 19, 2018, while stationed at MCAS New River in Jacksonville, NC. He was 32. Taylor, who was born in Montgomery and graduated from Daphne High School in 2004, was beloved by everyone who knew him personally. He was a hugger, a lover, a fighter, a father and best friend to his son, and a loyal husband. He had a huge heart for his family and his friends. He never met a stranger, because he loved to talk to people and had a generous sense of humor. Taylor effortlessly made others feel special and the people who met him throughout life remembered this foremost about him. Taylor was one of the best among us, and his friends and family pray their thoughts and words and actions may serve as much purpose as his did. We rededicate ourselves to making the world a better place the way Taylor did, and as Taylor would have wanted us to do. Taylor joined the Marine Corps out of high school in August 2004 and served three deployments abroad, including al-Asad and al-Qaim, Iraq, in 2006; on the USS Nimitz in 2007; and in al-Asad again in 2009. He accepted Christ at an early age and was raised in the United Methodist Church (Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery and Spanish Fort UMC in Spanish Fort). Taylor was baptized and confirmed in the United Methodist Church. He converted to Mormonism in 2004 and was an active member in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, where he taught a Youth Sunday School Class. Taylor was very close to his siblings, both in age and in spirit. Taylor loved sports of all kinds, particularly football and baseball, and loved the Daphne Trojans as well as the Auburn Tigers, Atlanta Braves, Carolina Panthers and the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was a lover of cheese, gumbo and hot sauce. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for contributions to an online fundraiser at GoFundMe for Gabriel Wilson’s college fund (gf.me/u/jc8xq3) or to the National Veterans Foundation – No One Left Behind (Vet-to-Vet assistance). States he called home or was associated with: AL, CA, OH, NCFinal Resting Place: Alabama State Veterans Memorial Cemetery#22toomany#OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

Chip Wicks

Chip joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served our country for 4 years, serving in Okinawa, Guam, Iwo Jima, Australia, Kuwait and Iraq. Chip was a sergeant in the infantry 1/5 Marines – the first Marine ground combat unit in Iraq during the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was a squad leader, certified scuba diver, and small arms instructor. Most recently, Chip was enrolled full time at the Del Tech Stanton Campus. He will fondly be remembered as a tough Marine, who looked out for his buddies, a generous friend who loved spending time with his friends, and a good-hearted son who loved his family. “Please also remember those who came back after combat and died from PTSD through suicide. My son, USMC Infantry Sgt Boyd “Chip” Wicks, Jr. died that way. After combat in Iraq from March – June 2003, he came back to the US and was discharged in October 2003. In February 2004 he committed suicide.No one wants to seem to care about him or the others who have died from PTSD after Iraq combat. Because they didn’t die in a war zone or in uniform, they are forgotten, swept aside. They don’t fit in anywhere during the services – no one recalls these dead heroes, who also gave all. It’s like having a special needs child in your neighborhood – it’s someone else’s problem, it’s someone else’s heartache.” Boyd W. Wicks, Sr.

Kyle Whisler

Earlier this year, a study by the U.S. government revealed the prevalence of suicide among military veterans was much higher than originally expected, with 22 deaths a day — or one death nearly every hour. Released by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the study covered suicides from 1999 to 2010. The U.S. military also indicated that suicides hit a record high in 2012, outnumbering the combat deaths with 349 active-duty suicides. That’s almost one a day. One suicide is too many in the eyes of Ashley Whisler, who lost her brother, Kyle Whisler, a Marine who served 10 months in Iraq and Kuwait in 2003. Kyle had suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for several years following his service overseas. He committed suicide Oct. 25, 2010. Kyle gained some relief in 2008-2009 when he was paired with a combat veteran for counseling but then the veteran was relocated to a different area and Kyle could no longer see him anymore, Ashley explained. He also had repeated problems securing his Veterans Administration benefits. “We don’t even know a quarter of what he went through over there,” Ashley said. “He didn’t really talk a lot about it. He didn’t show his emotions… That was the hard part.” Ashley won’t let his memory be forgotten. She has since partnered with The Voice of Warriors, a support network for veterans and their families. It operates under the mission to bring warriors and communities together through education and resources. The organization is based in Saginaw. Its website www.voiceofwarriors.com offers significant information about services. “We want them to know that there are other options for military veterans to get help,” she said. “We are trying to stop the military’s suicides. This is such an awesome organization. They have all sorts of activities and they include everybody – family members and their caregivers.” Ashley’s motivation to stay involved with Voice of Warriors is having the opportunity to help other veterans. “I was not able to save my brother, but I hopefully can be a source of support for another veteran,” she said. “Voice of Warriors has been a strong support for my family. Knowing people are there for us and we are helping others keeps us pushing through our tragic situation. Suicide prevention for the military is important to me. This organization is the best and closest way to be a part of helping out.” Mollie Grywalsky and Patti Katter started Voice of Warriors together after some of Kyle’s friends came into The Bunker back in 2010 for Kyle’s uniform for the funeral. Patti ended up donating the entire uniform. “She had resources… she felt she could have helped someone like Kyle and veterans who were struggling so we started VOW (Voice Of Warriors), also Kyle’s family had a really hard time reintegrating after Kyle’s passing,” Mollie said. Both Mollie and Patti are married to veterans who are working through injuries sustained while serving in Iraq. “It is so important for me to take the time to give back with this organization,” Mollie said. “I truly feel that this is what I was meant to do. I have a passion to help our veterans and their families. Our family has learned so much through our experiences and through this I have found many invaluable resources that can help others. I need to be the voice for others who can’t do it for themselves.” Free Printables are available at www.voiceofwarriors.com and include the following: • Combat and Secondary PTSD – Info and encouragement. • Music Therapy – Information how music therapy helps veterans with TBI and PTSD. • TBI – Traumatic Brain Injury information. • VOW Poster • VOW Volunteer Application

James Wheeler

The journey to find my brother.I was placed up for adoption at birth and was reunited with my birth family in 1996. I was told I had an older brother who was a Marine. I was so excited to learn that. Unfortunately he lived in Massachusetts and I wasn’t ever able to meet him. You see our Dad wasn’t the best father and James and Dad hadn’t spoken in years. So I had no way of contacting James to tell him I was his sister and how much I love him. Even though we never met he is my blood and I love him. Years past when I heard the news that James was missing from his base is Charleston, WV. The marines said he was a deserter but I knew something was not right. I knew from talking to my grandfather (Ret) Lt Co. Glynn Wheeler that James lived and breathed for the Marine Corps. It just took a piece of me and shattered it into pieces knowing in my gut that James wouldn’t be seen alive. He suffered from Depression and PTSD and also had a drinking problem obviously due to his depression. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan and had been a Marine Reservist for 18 years up to 2004. Nine months later I was informed by a friend that he saw in the newspaper in Montana that my brothers’ body was found June 27, 2005. That is the exact same day my fiancé, Travis, was killed.How much more pain could I take in one day. I have been doing everything in my power to make sure James will forever be honored and remembered for the hero he will always be to me. I called the Madison County Sheriff Department where he was found. They gave me the coordinates where James was found. I have them tattooed on my forearm so I will always know where he is. His Mom, we have different moms, had him cremated and spread his ashes near where he was found.I wish I could say I knew James but as you can see we never met but I know he is in heaven smiling and proud of his little sister. ♡♡ Ana R. November 4, 2004Bozeman Daily Chronicle:A Madison County sheriff’s deputy piecing together the mysterious trail of a missing U.S. Marine whose vehicle was found abandoned in the Gravelly Mountains last month has unearthed a few clues, he said Thursday.Staff Sgt. James Wheeler, 38, was severely depressed, struggled with a drinking problem and may be suicidal, Sheriff Deputy Dan Birdsill, who is leading the investigation, said Thursday.In addition, the U.S. Marine Reserves had classified Wheeler a deserter in September, 30 days after he disappeared from a base in West Virginia.Yet Birdsill, who led a search of the area around Wheeler’s abandoned vehicle with a dog last week, has yet to determine just what happened.“We just don’t have anything solid to say we’re pretty sure this is what happened,” he said.Wheeler, 38, checked in with his Marine Reserve unit in Charleston, W.Va., in late August, Capt. Patrick Kerr, spokesman for the Marine Reserves, said in a telephone interview from New Orleans. Wheeler had moved to West Virginia from Massachusetts and told his commanders he was going to find a place to live.“They never saw him again,” Kerr said. “The next thing we know his vehicle was found in Madison County, Montana.”He was classified a deserter in late September after he was missing for longer than 30 days.But Wheeler’s mother Ellen Wrede said her son had been in the Marines for 20 years, served in Afghanistan and Iraq and planned to re-enlist when his contract was completed in early October.She said her son was not trying to get out of military service.“He was very upset about not being able to go to Iraq, because he thought he was better trained than many of the people who were going,” she said in a telephone interview.In addition, her son’s friends told her that he had slipped into a deep depression and had recently sold and given away many of his valuables.Those are some of the telltale signs that someone is contemplating suicide, Wrede said.Clearly, Wheeler had some problems in his personal life, Birdsill said.Wheeler had a drinking problem, for which the military had sent him to alcohol treatment, Birdsill said. Yet it appears that he was drinking again. Officers found an empty whiskey bottle in the abandoned vehicle.Wheeler had also been drawing married pay, even though he divorced in 1998, Birdsill said. But the military was going to allow Wheeler to pay back the money. In October, U.S. Forest Service rangers received reports of a red Geo Tracker parked near Crockett Lake, about a half-mile off the Gravelly Range Road, but hadn’t investigated because they thought it belonged to a bow hunter.After the Madison County Sheriff’s Department determined that the vehicle had been in the same place for quite some time, deputies searched it on Oct. 25.The vehicle contained an expensive shotgun, military fatigues and uniforms and a sleeping bag.There were also a few clips from a 9 mm pistol and M-16 rifle, a laptop computer and some food, Birdsill said. The keys were still in the ignition, the doors were unlocked and the vehicle started right away.Search-and-rescue volunteers plan to search the cabins and old homesteads in a broad area of the southern Gravellys.In addition, they’re chasing a few tips that have trickled in since Wheeler’s disappearance, including a Helena man’s discovery of a pair of hiking boots sitting on a pile of rocks last week in the Black Butte area.Nick Gevock is at ngevock@dailychronicle.com From June 2005:BOZEMAN – A body believed that of a missing Marine staff sergeant has been found in the Gravelly Mountains near where his abandoned vehicle was found more than nine months ago, officials said Monday.Searchers using cadaver-sniffing dogs found the adult corpse Saturday, Madison County Sheriff Dave Schenk said.The team of 21 sheriff’s deputies, search-and-rescue volunteers and six search dogs and their handlers found the remains about an hour after resuming a search that was halted last fall.The body, believed to be that of James Wheeler, was sent to the state crime lab in Missoula for positive identification, Schenk said.“It’s pretty clear that it’s him,” Wheeler’s mother, Ellen Wrede, told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in a telephone interview from her house in Spokane. She was on the scene when the remains were found.Wheeler, 38, disappeared in late August after he checked into his new Marine Reserve base in Charleston, W. Va. He was seen a few days later at a shooting range in Ohio. Eventually, his vehicle was noticed parked in late September near Crockett Lake in the Gravellys. Sheriff’s deputies and U.S. Forest Service officers opted not to search the vehicle or the area for a month because no one had been reported missing.When they finally searched the vehicle and ran an identification check, officials found food, camping gear and an expensive shotgun.A search was started, but snow already blanketed the mountains and nothing was found, Schenk said.Schenk said he wanted to conduct a thorough search this spring once the area dried up and before the public was allowed in. The roads reopen Fourth of July weekend.In the months since Wheeler’s car was discovered, Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Birdsill’s investigation revealed Wheeler had fallen into a deep depression. He said Wheeler also struggled with a drinking problem and was classified a deserter by the U.S. Marine Reserves after disappearing from the West Virginia base in late August.His mother said she intends to spread her son’s ashes in the Gravellys.#22toomany#OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

Chad Weddington

Chad Trevor Weddington, 38 of Parkersburg, passed away Wednesday May 27, 2015. He was preceded in death by his brother, Matt Weddington. Chad worked as a cable splicer for Frontier Communications. He served his country in the United States Marine Corps. He and his wife, Kim attended the Wayside United Methodist Church, Vienna. In his spare time, Chad was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying hunting and fishing and was a former volunteer firefighter in Institute and Havlock, NC. Chad is survived by his wife Kimberly Weddington; step-children, Ava and Jordan Taylor; father and step-mother, David and Belinda Weddington of Culloden; mother and step-father, Alice and Johnny Redhawk of Dunbar; sisters, Holly (Clay) Medley of Charleston and Kortney Patterson of Ravenswood; mother-in-law, Diana Coll of Scott Depot, sister-in-law Amy (Tim) Whittaker of Scott Depot, four nieces and a host of other family and friends. Burial with military honors will Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar, WV From his tribute wall:“I use to work with Chad at Cherry Point. He was our designated trainer for our CPR and first aid class. He was a natural and enjoyed sharing his experiences as a rescue worker and Marine. He loved to do whatever he could for the chance to help somebody. I’m sure the knowledge he taught to hundreds of people will be paid forward for many, many years to come and will make a difference! Always had a smile on his face. So sorry to the family and friends.” “Certainly, as anyone that knew Chad, we are all deeply saddened by the loss of such a wonderful friend, co-worker and family member. Chad was always a highlight of our day at the Mid-Atlantic Electronic Warfare Range. Generally, Chad was mild mannered. Every once in a while we experienced that fire and Marine influence. Chad never did anyone wrong.Our thoughts and prayers go out to all that knew and loved Chad.Semper Fi Chad.”#22toomany #OurHeroes are #Neverforgotten

Sean Webster

Sean joined the Marines fresh out of High School. He had always loved physical activities, growing up mastering swimming, soccer and skateboarding. Physical challenges were in his blood and he wanted to put himself in with the best of the best. He said they were the toughest, they had the hardest boot camp, and they were the strongest and the best. After Basic Training, he was stationed at Camp Pendleton where he trained as an Assault Amphibious Vehicle crewman. He went on to serve in two tours in Iraq, earning two Purple Hearts. The second Purple Heart was awarded when he was severely and permanently wounded from an IED explosion. He spent the following years going through countless surgeries and physical therapy trying to regain full mobility in his arm, which never happened. After his injury he was stationed at Camp Pendleton where he helped open and worked at the Wounded Warrior Center. He wanted to help other Marines coping with injuries from war. Between his struggles with becoming permanently disabled and PTSD there were a lot of dark moments and demons. His fight ended at the young age of 23. Sean is survived by his parents Michele McCarthy and Ken Webster. His sister and her husband, Jessica and Ray Scopelliti and 5 nephews and a niece.from Charlottesville, VA

Daniel Vilevac

Daniel was born and raised in North Olmsted, Ohio. Daniel was a drummer, bicyclist, swimmer, body builder, weightlifter, skate boarder. He had a strong Christian faith. He was a certified swimming instructor in the Marines at Quantico, VA. He had 5 years of service with 2 tours of duty to Afghanistan. Resting place: Holy Cross Cemetery, Brook Park, Ohio#22toomany#OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

Antonio Trejo

Antonio F. Trejo, age 25, passed away on Friday, August 2, 2013. Tony was born in Oak Park, IL on September 30, 1987. Tony graduated from Grayslake High School then enlisted into the United States Marine Corps where he attained the rank of Corporal. He served with the Crash Fire and Rescue Unit as an Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Specialist for 3 years and 4 months out of Yuma, AZ. He was a combat veteran of the Afghanistan War and was honorably discharged in 2010. He currently was in the process of relocating to Odessa, Texas where he was employed in the oil industry. Tony had a huge heart and loved his family immensely. He loved his dog Gatlin, his many reptiles and most importantly the newest and greatest love of his life, his daughter Aria. He loved fishing, motorcycles, his Jeep, sharpshooting, hunting, anything adventurous, ‘Merica’ and the Corps. Tony always had a smile on his face, a tacky outfit, and a goofy act to follow. We will all miss “Freelove’s” sense of humor, outlandish dance moves, crazy stunts, and loud announcements of his arrival. Some remembrances:“He was always smiling and always had an open ear. His personality lit up the room. I hadn’t seen him in years, then, I ran into him last year and his smile was brighter than ever. He will be missed by many.” “Trejo and my husband served together while he was stationed in Yuma,Az. He was one of the first friends we were blessed to know! He was hilarious, and so sweet to my kids! We shared thanksgiving dinners, holidays and celebrated many events with him and many of our closest friends! One thing we did a lot was meet up and play volley ball! He will truly be missed and we are so thankful for the time my family got to spend with him.” “Tony brought so many happy moments in our lives and left us with treasured memories. We loved him & we’ll never be able to forget him.” “Tony’s heart has always been huge and reading all these memories just proves how many lives he has touched.”

Randal Stevenson

Remembering Sgt. Randall Antonio “Steve-O” Stevenson USMC, who passed away in his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Tuesday April 5, 2016. Randall was born April 2, 1991. Although he liked to have mischievous fun, he always considered how things affected others and reacted kindly, such as refusing as a child to eat turtle eggs when he realized they were endangered. He was distance runner, setting two school records, and a lover of both is Salvadorian and Celtic heritages. Shortly before graduation in 2009, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and entered active duty in August, 2009. He said he had known he would be a Marine like his Dad since he was four years old. He went through recruit training at MCRD, San Diego, and then basic and advanced infantry training at Camp Pendleton, California. After an intensely-selective process, he was sent to Reconnaissance School and then was stationed in Okinawa, Japan in 3rd Recon Bn. He trained as a Paratrooper at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, where he saw frequent combat in the Sangin Valley of Helmand Province and earned a reputation for always doing more than his share as a SAW gunner and later Assistant Team Leader. After the tour, he was transferred to the 3rd Force Recon Company and trained as a Scout-Sniper in Hawaii. He was promoted to Sergeant just as he completed his active duty in 2013. He often said, “I never shot a round at anyone I did not know was an enemy combatant. I can face God for every round I fired.” After active duty, Randall returned to Baton Rouge where he studied business and hoped to become an entrepreneur. He had the ability to find humor in situations, such as when he was changing a flat tire it began to rain and he responded by laughing. He was dedicated, loyal and passionate, whether it involved running track, his family, his girlfriend, his Marine brothers, his friends, or the ideals which governed his life. Although usually easy-going and humble, when his values were challenged, he inflexibly stood his ground. Although very gregarious and loved by many, he struggled with PTSD, likely from percussions in combat. He was tender-hearted, generous, and quick to apologize if he realized he had wronged someone. He saw in each person a potential friend, intrinsic value and someone deserving respect, unless they proved otherwise. He was quick to share what he had with family, friends and strangers, often helping the homeless he met on the streets. Even if he did not give them money, he recognized them to acknowledge their dignity as a human instead of ignoring them. A few months before his death, he saw someone stuck on a train track, left his vehicle, pulled her to safety just before the train destroyed her car, made sure she was OK and left to get to classes before emergency people arrived. He is missed, but the hole he has left in the world is an invitation to those who knew him to let love for others reach out and touch suffering wherever it is found.#22toomany#OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten Randall’s memorial video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wYGbThqOqY

Michael Stangelo

Michael Stangelo, 30, of Lawrence Township, Ohio died Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at Metro Health in Cleveland. He was born October 27, 1985 in Barberton to Pamela Sue (Holmes) and the late Tony Stangelo and had been a Canal Fulton resident all of his life.A 2005 Northwest High School graduate, Michael had an infectious smile. He was a veteran of the US Marine Corp and enjoyed camping, playing cornhole, music, fishing and he loved his family, friends and dog, Layla.Memorials may be made to: Semper Fi Fund @ www.semperfifund.org Unified Warrior @ www.unifiedwarrior.orgPlease show your appreciation for Michael’s sacrifice by leaving condolences on the page www.facebook.com/TheFightForMichael#22to0 #22aday #EndVeteranSuicide #22TooMany“Michael Stangelo is a local Marine veteran from the Cleveland area. On January 3, 2016 he attempted to end his life. He was rushed to the hospital and his future was undetermined. Throughout treatment his story was near and dear to my heart. I kept in contact with his cousin, Erica Lee Warner. Every time there was an update or even a setback she notified me. I wrote at least weekly to reach out to the family. He went from a medicated coma to waking up to sitting up to moving his hands to head to writing his name. His journey wasn’t over after that. He had to get reparative surgeries and was susceptible to illness. To me it was so inspiring to watch a man work so hard and not give up hope or faith after wanting to lose it all. Local businesses held fundraisers and events for him to help with food and medical expenses that may had not been covered. Not once did they ask for anything more than prayers. His latest surgery did not go as planned or go well, Michael Stangelo passed this morning at 845am. I know how hard this is for his family, friends, and old units. The one thing I can say as I spoke to his cousin this morning is he came back from his initial wounds and knew just how loved and cared for his was and forever will be. He was a true warrior and fighter as he battled at war and home with PTSD/suicide and pushed to survived. He passed away but his legacy of strength and perseverance will always been known. R.I.P Stangelo until Valhalla” shared by Amanda

Brandon Slack

Brandon K. SlackResident of Florence, MontanaAge 29, passed away Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at his home in Florence.Brandon was born January 2, 1984 in Fort Belvoir, VA to Kathleen D. and Robert K. Slack, Jr.Survivors include his mother, Kathleen Slack of Florence, MT; his father, Robert Slack, Jr. of Redmond, CA; his sister, Ashley Slack of Toccoa, GA; his daughter, Marley Santos of San Francisco, CA.A graveside service will be held on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 11:00 A.M. at the Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery in Missoula, MT.Th family suggests memorial donations may be made in Brandon’s name to www.solidersuicideprevention.org. From his friend and brother-in-arms, Del: “We served in Iraq together in OIF II and Brandon also deployed as part of OIF III. He was big on fitness, art, and being outdoors. He loved his daughter, Marley. He ran track in high school and came from a Marine family.” #22toomany#OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten News Report of 22 Too Many Chaplain Ed McClelland (of Operation Creekside) delivering Memorial Bench to Brandon’s family: Pictures of the American Legion Riders accompanying Ed’s Operation Creekside truck which pulled Brandon’s memorial bench from California to Montana where it was unveiled and presented to Brandon’s family: https://www.facebook.com/gearjammer45/posts/2039525842726671?__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARBeUdx5YLJ0st4lB8jmyd2G4B1l7zR9ahGwyADHk57V0I1_oElwgxpwKLofeoGhVUmiTYUYYkHAGr7w9MLwN-xwri-RJ72TN2u97cR1VPBnHobTHe7afo4D2TPMP83x1S3LzINNbFupSw1OR9T1eveuHdv-UOJr8Couc-HFrhEAIMZo878O7JmkWksm7r7v3pDs0gOkyKfcCPaqkz1HRYZLGLc&__tn__=C-R — with Ed Mcclelland and Del Velarde.

Daniel Sidles

Daniel Eli Sidles, was born January 16, 1982 in Emmetsburg, Iowa. He attended grade school in Graettinger, and he was a 2000 graduate of Emmetsburg High School. During high school, Dan excelled at football and wrestling.After a year of junior college, and just before the September 11, 2001 attacks, he enlisted into the United States Marine Corps. Dan graduated boot camp as the Platoon Honor Man, and he continued to the School of Infantry to become a machine gunner. As a team member of the 2003 invasion of Southern Iraq, Dan pushed as far north as Nasiriyah. He returned home in the summer of 2003 and was redeployed to Fallujah in March of 2004 for Operation Vigilant Resolve – the first Battle of Fallujah.During his service, he was meritoriously promoted in the field; he was given a Certificate of Commendation for expertly prosecuting enemy targets during multiple engagements with enemy forces in and around Fallujah, and he was awarded the Purple Heart. The best-selling book, No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle of Fallujah, was written about Dan’s battalion.After returning home to the United States, Dan served his last year with the Marine Corps as an instructor in the Marksmanship Training Unit. Dan participated in World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Soldiers to the Summit expedition in 2010. It was an opportunity to climb Mount Everest along with 10 other wounded veterans as the movie “HIGH GROUND” was filmed. As a result of this, Dan found a new love. Climbing mountains brought back that rush of life he was so eager to rekindle. Dan enjoyed working out, playing guitar, watching movies and of course, climbing mountains.On April 26, 2016, Dan Sidles passed on from this life.——————————————–The Paradox community is deeply saddened by the news that friend, climber, and veteran, Dan Sidles, took his own life earlier this month:A Sergeant in the US Marine Corp, Dan first joined Paradox Sports in 2013 and had an immediate impact on many members of our community, including our Executive Director at the time, Timmy O’Neill. Timmy asked Dan to join Paradox Ice in Ouray 2014 as a volunteer and be the guest speaker at our annual “Got Stump” fundraiser. As Dan spoke, his vulnerability, honesty and bravery were revealed, giving the audience a rare glimpse into the real struggle of a combat veteran fighting to survive long after returning to civilian life.Dan Sidles was originally from Emmetsburg, Iowa. Following a year of community college, he followed his older brother into the Marines. Shortly before the September 11, 2001 attacks, Dan was sent to boot camp, where he graduated as the Platoon Honorman, and then he continued to the School of Infantry to become a machine gunner.As a team member of the 2003 invasion of Southern Iraq, Dan pushed as far north as Nasiriyah. He returned home in the summer of 2003 and was redeployed to Fallujah in March of 2004 for Operation Vigilant Resolve, or the First Battle of Fallujah – some of the toughest fighting in the entire war. The best-selling book, No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah, by Bing West, was written about Dan’s battalion.During his deployment from 2003 to 2004, Dan Sidles’ suffered a TBI, PTSD, two herniated disks and shrapnel to the face, head, and torso. He was badly wounded twice while serving and earned a Purple Heart.“My recovery has been a nightmare at times,” Dan said in an interview with World T.E.A.M. Sports in 2010. “The war is not fought over there, it’s fought when you get back. I really don’t have too many people in my life. I’ve burned a lot of bridges. I keep mainly to myself.”In October 2010, Dan Sidles was part of a mountaineering expedition in Nepal led by blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer (co-founder of NoBarriers). The 2012 documentary “High Ground” by emmy-winning director Michael Brown follows 11 combat veterans, including Dan, as they return from combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. These men and women, representing all four branches of the military, set out to climb the 20,075 peak of Lobuche East, just 8.7 miles from Mount Everest. The documentary revealed the true story of the soldiersʼ difficult road to recovery as they faced a return to civilian life, a challenge that Dan often spoke about with friends.Before heading on the expedition in 2010 Dan said, “This opportunity to go to Nepal seems to be too good to be true. I have not climbed, but I am excited to learn and to get a rush out of life again. I am looking forward to this new experience.”Dan’s passion for climbing grew after Nepal. While living in the Front Range, he loved climbing the Flatirons in Boulder, CO, sometimes soloing the First Flatiron multiple times in a day. Dan has since guided on Denali in Alaska and climbed two of the “Seven Summits” – Mt Elbrus in Russia and Aconcagua in Argentina.The sport of climbing requires you to be present, in the moment and almost in a meditative state. As much as it gets your adrenaline going, it also helps you clear your mind and connect intimately with the natural world. Dan knew the value in that connection to the mountains.“Dan did his best to find peace and fulfillment in the mountains, on glaciers, on rock or on ice,” High Ground (Michael Brown from Serac Films) commented on Facebook following the news of his death, “Everyone who met Dan was touched by him in some way and his smile and laughter were a joy to experience. We are grateful to have been able to share his story, and those who climbed with him will always hold him close to their hearts. Fair winds and following seas, Dan. May the trails ahead be clear and offer sure footing.” We will miss you, friend. If you or someone you know needs support, please reach out. The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring VA responders. Confidential help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Veterans and their loved ones can anonymously:Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 Send a text message to 838255

Dillon Shoffner

James Dillon Shoffner, 27, of Lexington, formerly of New Haven, died Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. He was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corp. His eight years in the service included one tour in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan. He had most recently enrolled in the University of Kentucky, where he was a full-time student.

Brando Robinson

“Brandon was born in Virginia Beach, VA. We moved to Moyock, NC when he was 10. Brandon wanted to join the Marines when he learned of the Marine Barracks Bombing in Beirut, Lebanon.Brandon loved motocross, starting from age 6. He loved the outdoors – his true love was fishing. Brandon was a thrill seeker; I think that’s why he joined the Marines. He was honorably discharged in October 2011. We were so happy when Brandon came home; we felt he was safe. Little did we know our Brandon never came home… not our Brandon… I believe an empty shell come home. I see it so clearly now! I now want to do all I can to share Brandon’s story in this FIGHT for our 22 vets we are losing on a daily basis. His death was ruled service related / PTSD.” Shared by his mother, Stephanie Brandon was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps who served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and was a proud member of the color guard. He was a student at Elizabeth City State University where he was nearing his degree in Industrial Engineering with a minor in Mechanical Engineering. He graduated from Kinston Aviation School and had obtained his private pilot’s license. Brandon was a hard worker who lived life to the fullest and enjoyed fishing, motor cross, being outdoors and spending time with his family who loved him deeply. He was an honorable Marine and had a great love for his country and the brothers he found along his journey. He was a dependable and responsible father and loved his daughter wholeheartedly. His beautiful spirit will live and remain in the hearts of all who knew and loved him. Brandon, we will be lost without you. We will miss you every minute of every day. Rest in peace – until we meet again.#22toomany#OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

Robert Richards

Rob Richards, a Marine Scout Sniper, had deployed 3 times to Afghanistan, suffering severe physical wounds from IED explosions in his 2nd and 3rd deployments. He was medically retired last year at 100% disability. His physical wound, and PTSD and TBI were extensive, and he came close to taking his own life as he struggled to adjust to the transition to the civilian world. His Marine Brothers and family joined forces to make sure he was not one of the “22”; and succeeded. As Rob’s resolve to live grew stronger, we watched him take on the call to help his troubled brothers also come back off the edge. Tragically, On August 13, 2014, though Rob did not succumb to suicide, PTSD and his other wounds claimed his life. An adverse reaction to a change in medications used to treat PTSD and pain caused him to collapse and die unexpectedly. Hundreds came to his memorial, with stories of his heroism on the battlefield, and back at home in helping his brothers. Rob’s last communication, a text, right before he collapsed, was to a friend who was organizing a Veterans Motorcycle Run in support of #22Kill. He was saying how much he was looking forward to helping them on their upcoming fund raiser. Rob’s family has picked up actively supporting his cause. During his military career, he was awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation, two Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with four stars, as well as numerous other unit and personal awards.He is described by his fellow Marines as a selfless leader, a dedicated Marine, and a faithful friend.He was a native of St. Petersburg.

Matthew Rethi

Matthew D. Rethi, 32, of Indiana, passed away Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, in Indiana, PA. He was born in 1982 in Indiana, to Daniel and Lori Jadzak Rethi.Matt was a 2001 graduate of Marion Center Area High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served eight years with two tours in Iraq, where he received the rank of sergeant. He then attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania as an honors student, where he studied safety health and environmental sciences. Matthew is survived by his mother, Lori A. Anhorn and husband, Randy, of Hempstead, Texas; his father, Daniel Rethi, of Phoenix; two brothers: Daniel Rethi and wife Katrina, of Phoenix; and Justin Rethi and wife Kelley, of Nashville, Tenn.; one niece and two nephews; his paternal grandmother, Elsie Rethi, of Indiana; his maternal grandfather, Charles Jadzak, of Home; and many cousins, aunts and uncles.

Jeffery Reber

SSgt Jeffery Reber joined the Marines in September 2003, assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The 11th MEU is a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based Marine air-ground task force. Jeff served two tours in Iraq, one tour in Afghanistan and one tour in Yemen. While serving in Afghanistan Jeff received the Navy Commendation Medal with Valor for combat heroism.Jeff is survived by his wife, two sons, his mother, a brother, and a sister.Jeffery loved surfing and spending time with his family and his 2 boys. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA and served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. He was in 2 different companies 1/1 and 1/4. He served as a recruiter for 4 years. He loved USC football and the Los Angeles of Anaheim Angels.From Menifee, CA

Michael Price

My husband, Michael Shawn Price, enlisted in the USMC at the age of seventeen. He was deployed to: – Kuwait– Japan– China– Philippines He fought in the Gulf War. I will never know what he did; the VA has advised that he was an “elite soldier”, and that his work required a very high level of security clearance. I never knew this man, only to learn of his honor after his death. After his return to the United States, he became an alcoholic with a gross spending problem. Within two years, he knew he could not live as a civilian; he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served in the Army for four years, ranking an E6 at the time of his departure into the civilian world. Next, he was contracted as a civilian for the U.S. Coast Guard. When we wed, he joined the Indiana National Guard as he was struggling living as a civilian. At first, he was quite successful. Four years into his enlistment, he started to have psychosis and anxiety the night before he was scheduled to leave for the weekend. I had him hospitalized twice. During the span of the next two years, Michael exhibited signs of PTSD. Three out of four doctors and three therapists diagnosed him with combat-related PTSD. Michael denied the importance of his service, sometimes blatantly lying to others. I was one of those “others”. After his death, I found a wealth of terrorizing poems he wrote while in the war and while serving with the U.S. Army. On February 8, 2014, Michael was no longer able to be deployed and/or carry a gun per the Army doctors; he was medically discharged due to his psychiatric maladies. On February 8, 2014, I watched my husband sob,”If I am not a soldier, what good am I. The only thing I ever did well was serve as a soldier.” The VA denied request for medical assistance, stating,”He made too much,”; his disability claim was denied as well. I contacted the VA to no avail. I was advised that I could file an appeal. My husband stated,”You don’t know the military. You will not win, so please don’t try.” I have yet to receive a dime from the VA after my husband served nineteen years and eight years despite a document I have stating that he was eligible for a pension. On February 18, 2015, my husband died from a single gunshot wound to the head as a result of combat-related PTSD. I had him hospitalized twice within the last six weeks of his life due to psychosis. My son’s final words to his father were,”This is all my fault. I was so mean to him.” He vomited the instance he learned of my husband’s death. My daughter’s last whispered words were, “Goodbye, Daddy.” I cannot reconcile with this moment. I will live with this moment. Behind closed doors, our marriage motto was,”always faithful”. I did not sign up for the military life. I am, in fact, now the soldier. I now carry the sorrows of a soldier. It has been my absolute honor to be of service to this man and this country. Always faithful, Michael. Always faithful. Yours, Stephanie Mckenzie PriceWife, Michael S. Price Michael Shawn Price, 45, passed away Wednesday, February 18, 2015 in Fort Wayne. Born in San Diego, CA, Michael worked as a radio communication tech with the Fort Wayne Police Department. He served his country as a member of the US Marine Corp, the US Army, and the National Guard. He was a very decorated solider that accomplished much during his time of service. He served in active duty during the Desert Storm. Michael was a member of St. Vincent Catholic Church. Michael’s motto in life was to be, “always faithful, in God, country, and family”.“One of the most caring and compassionate men I have ever had the pleasure to serve many years with. Funny, witty, intelligent, passionate about everything and everyone he touched. One of a kind. Brother I love you man. I will see you at the gates that you so safely guard. We shall meet again brother. Until then your spirit and life resides in my heart forever. We are forever spiritually connected brother.”Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful)

Jonathon Powell

On May 24th 2014, we lost a good man. A man that would take the shirt off of his back for anyone no matter the cost, an amazing husband and even better father, and last but not least, a Man that served his Country with Pride. He took his job as a Marine seriously and was very proud of everything he accomplished.Jonathon, in September 2013, EAS’d from the Marine Corps with a maxed out 100% disability rating with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and TBI (traumatic brain injury). Exactly 8 months later he took his own life. Sadly our statistics show that 22 Veterans a Day take their own life!! This whole process has been something I never wish on anyone.Jonathon served 2 tours in Afghanistan and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan for 2 years and Camp Lejeune for 3 years. We were not married when he came back from the first deployment, but his family said he wasn’t the same. After the 2nd one he definitely wasn’t the same and it was much worse than the first. Life around our house changed drastically. While Jonathon was deployed I gave birth to our first born, about a month and half before his return. Soon after his return we got pregnant with our 2nd child… During this pregnancy things with Jon made a turn for the worse. He had to stay occupied with work or something or he would go crazy sitting in the house, so he poured his life into his Marines and was rarely ever home. Our marriage began to fall apart. He began looking at and doing things with other women when he should have been looking at me. This is when I just practically felt like giving up. The trust went out the window. We fought all the time about him being so standoffish and the slightest thing set him off. We were hoping when he got out and we moved back to his home in Ohio things would get better they only got TREMENDOUSLY worse. He was very angry and distant and became uncontrollable at times he would just leave home for several days.In May of 2014, I asked to go back to NC to see my family for my birthday and Mother’s Day. He had to work so couldn’t take the time off so just the kids and I went. Nothing was abnormal and he kissed the kids and told them he would see them later, and so we left. As our time in NC came to an end it got harder and harder to get up with Jonathon. On the 22nd he asked to video chat so he could see the kids. I was driving so I said let me get home and we can do it. He never answered the video chat. The next morning he was supposed to show up to a “Lay off” meeting (which he had never mentioned. I found out after he passed when I called to inform his boss), and he had never shown up. A part of me just thought he was busy and didn’t have time to call or text so I didn’t want to bother him. Since I was 10 hours away there was nothing I could really do. So Saturday morning I woke up worried out of my mind – something just told me to call his mother. When I did I told her to please go to the house and check on Jonathon. That day just happened to be high school graduation at their school and his sister was graduating. She said if he doesn’t show up to graduation we will go check. His dad ended up going before and found Jon lifeless.To this day I have no answers. I constantly ask WHY?? He was such a good person and loved by so many. WHY him? Why now? Why when we had an almost 2 year old and a 10 month old??? And to set it all off, a month and a half before, he had called the VA begging for help and they pushed him back 3 months saying they had more serious cases to deal with. They could get him an appointment on JUNE THE 26th?????? Three months after the original phone call was made?? Why so long?? I will never understand all this and I’m not gonna try. God has a purpose for everything, but as bad as all this hurts me, what hurts me the most is seeing my kids having to grow up without the most important man in their life. They need their dad!!” (shared by his wife, Megan)

Scott Pickerel

My son, Sgt Scott Pickerel, served honorably 4 years in the Marine Corp. After serving 9 months in Fallujah, Iraq he became a different person. After years of fighting his inner battles, he tried to get help from the VA. His appointments and meds were too far and few apart. He lost his battle this past Thanksgiving – he could not fight any longer and was too proud to keep his family in so much worry. He was a sweet boy, kind and generous, and we miss him so much. I found out from getting his VA medical records what happened in Fallujah. I will forever feel the pain he felt. So many more vets are suffering; we cannot lose more. Scott and all these vets are my heroes. God Bless and thank you, Mary. Scott Alan Pickerel, 30, of Belleville, Ill., born August 8, 1984, in Belleville, Ill., died Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. It is with much sorrow that Scott’s family bids farewell to their fallen hero.A graduate of St. Henry’s Catholic Grade School and Belleville West High School, Scott proudly served four years with the United States Marine Corps defending our freedom during the Iraq War. Sgt. Pickerel served honorably and earned the following awards: Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, a Certificate of Commendation, and an Expert 2nd Rifle Qualification Badge.

LeeJay Pelton

Mr. Pelton was born on Nov. 9, 1967, in Greeley, Colorado, to Rodney J. Pelton and Caroline R. (Foos) Pelton. He graduated from Greeley West High School in 1986. After graduation from high school, he entered in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Japan and Camp Pendleton. He was honorably discharged, a corporal, in 1990. He then attended and graduated from ITT Tech in Aurora. He worked as a computer programmer. He loved his four dogs, all of which he adopted. He was a musician, playing guitar in a band “Powder Munki” which played in the Denver area.“My childhood friend Lee Jay Pelton, enlisted in the USMC in 1986. In Sept 6 2006 he took his own life. We had known a classmate when we were in high school that killed himself. Lee and I promised one another we would never take our own lives no matter how bad things in life got. But he became one of the 22 per day and is forever missed.. Lee loved his dogs.The closest family member, his father, passed away the year before Lee passed. Lee and I were as close as any brother/sister. He loved the band Y & T; his nick name was Johnny Fever (WKRO Cincinnati). His mannerisms were similar to that character; that is how he got the nick name. I met him when I was 14. He was the greatest. He helped me make it through basic training…. he was stationed in Japan at the time I was in basic… he wrote to me every day, telling me if he could make it through 13 weeks of USMC boot camp I could make it through 6 weeks of USAF boot camp. He and I would talk for hours and hours about anything and everything. I miss him so much.”

Robert Parkhill

Staff Sergeant Robert M. Parkhill was born April 17, 1976 in Williams Lake, BC Canada, Native of the Chilcotin tribe. At a young age, he was adopted to James Parkhill and Irene Heppler and grew up in Spokane, WA. In 1994, he graduated from Cheney High School; it was at that time he wanted to become a Marine. On October 25, 1994, he enlisted into the Marine Corps. Upon recruit training in San Diego, SSgt Parkhill attended Bulk Fuel Specialist Course in Virginia. He was assigned to MWSS271, Cherry Point, NC; he held the billet of Line Safety NCO; throughout the next several years he worked his way through the USMC ranks. In February 2003 he was deployed to Iraq. In December of 2004, he received orders to the 8th Engineer Support Battalion, Camp Lejeune, NC as a Platoon Sergeant, he held the billets as Platoon Commander, Company Gunnery Sergeant, Watch officer and Fuel Farm SNCOIC. In September of 2005 he was sent to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), February of 2007 sent to OIF IV and in April of 2009 he was sent to Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Upon his return from Afghanistan he received orders to the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, Camp Lejeune, NC where he retired after 20 years of dedicated service. He received numerous personal awards during his career including the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal and Combat Action Ribbon. Staff Sergeant Rob “Hoss” Parkhill, died of complications related to PTSD on January 25, 2015 in Chewelah, Washington. He is survived by wife Valerie, children Chelsey and Robert Parkhill, stepsons Chris, Patrick, Tyler and Kyle; mother Irene Heppler and sister, Onna Andrews. He was proceeded in death by father James Parkhill and younger brother Abraham Parkhill. Rob enjoyed mixed martial arts, outdoor activities including camping, hunting and fishing. His hobbies included watching his favorite NFL team Seattle Seahawks and favorite TV shows: Family Guy, Ax Men and Life Below Zero, as well as relaxing and spending time with family and friends. He enjoyed driving his white Nissan Titan 4×4 where he loved to rev the engine. He adored the Chewelah Peak located in Colville National Forest where he shot his first deer at a young age. He loved being a dad to his children, always willing to teach them new things. He was known to his fellow Marines as “Hoss” and was a mentor to his fellow Marine brothers and sisters. He is remembered for his sense of humor, always telling jokes, and he had a unique laugh and beautiful smile. Grew up in Spokane, WA; stationed and Camp Lejeune, NC and Camp Hansen Okinawa, JapanFinal Rest: Marshall Cemetery, Cheney, Washington#22toomany#OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

Brandon Overton

Brandon James Overton LCPL, USMC Feb. 13, 1986~March 23, 2011. Although Brandon lived in California as a small child, he grew up in Excel, Alabama, graduated high school, and joined the Marine Corps from Alabama. Brandon and Chad (SGT Jerome Chad Lechlinski, USMC – also in our album of 22 Too Many Marine Corps Heroes) served together in the USMC and were on deployment when their vehicle was targeted and hit with explosives. Their gunner was killed upon detonation and fell into the truck. The impact of the explosion caused Brandon to be thrown out of the vehicle, and he suffered a compound fracture. Chad was able to retrieve the medical kit and treat Brandon’s injuries until the Corpsman arrived on the scene. The Corpsman then noted Chad was also injured and they were both put on the medivac to be taken back to camp. As a result of his heroic efforts, Chad was recommended for the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. Brandon was a Purple Heart Recipient. Brandon and Chad were close, like brothers, and now their mothers have a sad but special bond. Here is more information about Brandon, shared by his mother, Kim:Brandon raised service dogs for the VA; his special dog was Webster – a golden retriever he trained for service for a fellow injured veteran. Webster got his name from the “Doc” (Corpsman) whose name was “Doc Webster” (Dean Webster, who drove Brandon and Chad to safety, saving their lives the day of the bombing). Due to his injuries, Brandon had 18 surgeries and was prescribed many opiates, on which he overdosed. The survivor’s guilt was the worst, because the day of the explosion he was being given a break by LCPL Kevin Smith, and in minutes a suicide car exploded and Kevin was killed on impact. Brandon carried the guilt of “it should have been me.” Brandon had just turned 19 the month before the bomb shattered their lives. He was very outgoing and the best son and brother anyone could have. His only nephew, Tanner, was his whole world. Brandon was amazing “In loving memory of our son, brother, uncle, grandson and best friend who was always there for us. We will miss him dearly and cherish his warm heart, deep love and jovial spirit. He will always be in our hearts and prayers. God forever bless him!” #22toomany #OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

Deana Orellana

Shared by her sister, Robin: “We lost Deana to a PTSD-related suicide on March 4, 2016. We didn’t even know about her diagnosis. My sister was one of the funniest and strongest women I ever knew. From a very young age, she always excelled at athletics. Her success in soccer came from her love of the game, hard work, and perseverance. Deana never failed at anything she put her mind to. She was a fun-loving and caring daughter, aunt, sister, and friend. She was an amazing scholar. She was an outstanding Marine and had recently found her calling to share her love of health and fitness with others. Deana was so brave. She served on one of the first Female Engagement Teams (FET) in OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan). She never shared what she saw and went through over there. She only said it forever changed her. Although Deana’s passing is tragic, my family is trying to raise PTSD and suicide awareness by sharing her story and keeping her memory alive.” Resting Place: Sacred Heart Cemetery, Monongahela, PADeana home state is Pennsylvania and her last residence was North Carolina#22toomany #OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

Jeffrey Mount

Cpl. Jeffrey Alexander Mount with the U.S. Marine Corps 2D Battalion 9th Marines. Cpl. Mount was a 2007 graduate of Station Camp High School in Hendersonville, Tenn. and a 2009 graduate of MCRD in Parris Island, S.C. Most recently, he was stationed at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville and lived with his wife and daughter. Cpl. Mount served his country honorably with the U.S. Marine Corps on three tours of combat duty in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2014. Cpl. Mount was beloved by his family and friends and is dearly missed by all who knew him.

James Morris

“Dexter loved his family. He has 6 sisters and 4 brothers. His brothers were his best friends. He had a baby girl born to him when he was in the Marine Corps. The proudest day of his life was coming home to see her and to be a new Daddy. He wanted to be a hero. He loved music, writing songs, drawing, shooting, and he really loved eating, especially his mamma’s homemade food! When he was 16, he was overweight with bad feet, but he dreamed of becoming a United States Marine. He worked hard over the next few years to get into shape, in the process he became a full mechanic for Ford, got engaged to his baby’s mother, and was excited to sign up for Infantryman so that he could be where the action was and make a difference. Dexter was incredibly patriotic. He read books about the founding of our country, about George Washington and other heroes. He wrote beautiful letters home from Parris Island – about the humility and pride he felt following in the footsteps of men of greatest honor. He honored God and gave him credit for making it through the Crucible. I was so proud that he achieved the dream of becoming a Marine. As I’ve learned about his illness, it is most likely he began suffering as early as 8 years old…still he pressed on like a warrior to achieve his dreams and to hopefully be a good brother, son and Daddy. He was loyal to his family and even in his darkest times thought of helping others. After he was diagnosed with bipolar1 – schizoaffective disorder, his dream was to learn to speak publicly, write a book or set up a foundation that might help other members of the military who had their careers destroyed by mental illness. Dexter was a fighter. He was fiercely independent and until the demons overwhelmed him, not knowing what was happening, he continued to do his best and to dream. He had some very dark times after getting out of the Marine Corps, as he descended into a full onset and psychotic break that eventually took his life. I know he would hope that telling his story might help save another person’s life. Around age 16 Dexter started exhibiting symptoms of a severe mental illness like severe depression & suicidal thoughts. He kept this to himself. It grew progressively worse as he got older. During his time as a Marine in training at Camp Pendleton he began hearing voices in his head, and to quiet them he started drinking heavily. He tore his ACL and was put on opioids which he self-medicated with to attempt to quiet the “demons”. He was hit hard with suicide ideation and realized he would be putting his Marine brothers at a huge risk if he continued to pretend there wasn’t a problem. He confessed his opioid addiction and received an honorable release. Soon after, he was diagnosed as 100% disabled with bipolar1 schizoaffective disorder, a severe and often deadly mental illness. His career being over and suffering from the loss of respect and control over his life and his dreams, he sunk quickly and it wasn’t long before he took his life with a gun. He loved being a Marine. It was the dream of his life. I have absolutely no doubt if he’d been of sound mind he would have served a full career in the armed forces. He loved his brothers, he loved America, he loved the Constitution of the United States and wanted to defend her.” Shared by his mother, Rosie Final Rest: Ketoctin Cemetery, Round Hill Virginia #22toomany #OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

Keith Miller

Keith Anthony Miller was born on 1/22/93 in Glendale, Queens, NY. He grew up in East Islip, Long Island, NY. He loved sports and video games. He was intelligent, always came home with excellent grades and never had to study. He joined Civil Air Patrol when he was 13. He competed in Color Guard Competitions and Drill Competitions. He attained the rank of 2nd Lt. and received the Billy Mitchell Award. He was on the high school football team his freshman year and on the HS wrestling team his junior year. Throughout his high school years he always spoke about going into the military. After graduation, he tried his hand at college. It really was not what he wanted to do. He wanted to join the Marines. In February, 2012, he left for boot camp. He graduated Parris Island in May, 2012. He finished his MOS in Pensacola, FL in May of 2013 as a Radar Tech and was stationed at MCAS, Yuma, AZ (3rd MAW, MACG-38, MACS-1, Det C). On Sept 1, 2015, in Yuma, AZ, Cpl Keith A. Miller died by suicide. It was a shock to all his fellow Marine Brothers and Sisters, all of his friends and family back home. No one saw any signs of his struggles. He had a sarcastic sense of humor. He was compassionate and always ready to lend a hand to anyone in need. He could be relied on to get the job done. Keith made a lasting mark on anyone who knew him and certainly made a mark in this world. He will forever be loved and missed.#OurHeroes #22TooMany #NeverForgottenFollowing is a link to his memorial page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/842603905837246/

Brandon Meyers

My son Brandon Meyers….died by suicide June 28th 2013. He was 25 years young. He enlisted in the Marines at 18, couldn’t wait! His life long dream was always to be a Marine. He started talking about being a Marine at age 7. I figured he would out grow that. But in his teens I seen that was not going away. At 17 I begged him not to join, I threatened too! I am a very anti-war mom and tried everything to change his mind. After his 18th birthday he enlisted. The gunnery Sargent called me crying after she met Brandon, when he signed up. Saying he was one of the few that joined for the right reasons. My son said he was joining to fight for the ones who fought and died for him in all the years past. She said few come in for that reason. Most for a job, and a lot for someone to pay for their school. He served 1 tour for 8 months. He came back to the states for only for 11 weeks, and was shipped back to Iraq. He was there this last time for 19 months! Yes, 19 months. I knew the day he left he was gone. He would never be the same if he lived through that hell. I’m so sad I was right.Brandon was one that helped everyone, always gave his money to those in need more than he. He didn’t have much but he would pay for a VETS meal if he ran into one. He graduated in the top 5% of his class. He was smart as a whip and was going to go into computers before joining. He was the jokester, always making others laugh. Even when he was in Iraq, he had the goofiest pictures he sent, getting guys to laugh. I sent 1-2 boxes every week, and in there I would send something funny…wax lips, a pooping jelly bean pig..etc.He went to school and became a mechanic, becoming certified in many areas…but he decided its not what he really wanted to do. He realized he still wanted to help others and was graduating this year as a paramedic.Since his passing, we have learned even more..Brandon was the ROCK for everyone. Even when he was falling apart inside, he was there for many many people. We learned he stopped one person from committing suicide, One he stopped from dying from drug use. Another one he got in shape, stopped him from using drugs and got him enlisted in the marines too! He helped strangers by listening to them, getting to know them, sitting on a bar stool. He touched many more lives than anyone I know! He has the most amazing group of best friends, guys and girls..all looked up to him and are at a total lose as to how to go on now.He was a great son….a great brother to his one sister. We were a very close family…even thou he came back different…he still came back home to talk. Sadly the VA didn’t do enough to help my son, as with many many more suffering PTSD.We never imagined this happening, he stated MANY times he would never kill himself, that he wanted to live and he would beat his demons. He lost many from his unit to the same fate. July 19th we know was the trigger, he lost a buddy in Iraq in front of his eyes, one he said he would protect. That coming day was hard on him, this time he didn’t live through it. It was so unplanned, he was going to have surgery to fix his collar bone from a motorcycle accident, he just got a physical and bought his trucks Rims and tires 2 days before. He didnt plan this, he didnt see the demons coming again. He didnt cry out to his friends or family once more to help him get up this one more time….after many many calls in the night before.In the end….my son died living his dream. I question my faith now, but will try to find God again. My son sought God for 6 weeks before his death, unknowing to us. He said he didn’t believe in God anymore after what happened over there. But he went to church with a friend for 6 weeks before his passing. So if there is a God, we know he is finally at peace. And I pray we will see him again one day.RIP CPL Brandon D. Meyers 4-8-88 to 6-28-2013 Continued… shared by Brandon’s mom:I want to share a story that just happened a few nights agoBackground:We are struggling with God right now…why did he let this happen and such. Brandon was a non-believer, more so after all he went through in Iraq. But we learned he was seeking God out the 6 weeks prior to him taking his life. He went to church with a friend all those 6 weeks. We found this out at his funeral. So we are struggling even more now, first trying to think if there is a God, and Brandon was seeking his help, why did he let him take his life? And now, if there is a God, we need to seek him even more, because if Brandon is with him now, we want to be there one day too.So….now the story:Wednesday night my dog Lexi was acting odd. It was about 6:30 pm and dark outside. She started barking in my kitchen by the table and a wine cabinet. I went in there to see whats going on…nothing. shooed her out. She ran back in, in the dark, and kept barking. I would go in and when I approached her I startled her to the point she about hit the wall running out. Anyhow, she kept this up for about 20 minutes. Awhile later when we decided to go to bed, we walked past that table and cabinet, to let the dogs out. There on the cabinet was a Military bible! I asked David, where did you get this? He said I didnt put it there. I said really..come on…was this Brandons? He said he never seen it before. So, since I didnt put it there, David didnt, there is no one else in this house. I believe Lexi seen Brandon here that evening, Brandon left us a sign he is here with us and he left us the bible to help us understand and believe once again. I say this with all the truth in my heart. I was and still am a little freaked out about it! There have been signs Brandon is around and with us, but nothing concrete like this!Love and miss you my son…. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=675520162458526&set=a.587001214643755.1073741832.585478254796051&type=1&theater http://www.friedrichjones.com/obits/obituaries.php/obitID/725347/obit/Cpl-Brandon-D-BubbaJonathan Rhys Meyers

Brando Meacham

Brandon joined the Marine Corps September 11, 2001 and served honorably for six years. He completed two tours in the desert. Brandon was a loving father, husband, son, brother, and a friend. One thing that everyone knew about Brandon is that he loved his family and loved his Oregon Ducks. He is a true American Hero. Resident of Roseburg, Oregon, was born 11/30/82 and passed away 12/28/15. He was an extremely loving and proud father, husband, son, brother and friend. He honorably served and loved the US Marine Corps from 2001 to 2006

Trey McCumber

Charles “Trey” Edward McCumber III age 29, of Galena, Ks passed away Monday February 22, 2016 at the Freeman West Hospital Joplin, Mo. He was born on May 5, 1986 in Joplin, Mo. the son of Charles and Marianne “Purvis” McCumber. He was a veteran serving his country during the Iraq War with the United States Marines. He married Krystina Brewer on August 17, 2013 at Joplin, Mo. Trey was employed with SEK Interlocal as a Special Education Para for the Galena USD 499 School District (serving grades 3,8,9). He was a true hero with a kind heart who was always putting others first. He loved to hunt, fish, and teaching and coaching children especially his two boys Landon and Parker. He was a member of the Riverton Friends Church in Riverton, Ks. Trey was preceded in death by his baby Leighton and grandparents. Survivors include his wife, Krystina, two sons: Landon and Parker, his parents, a brother and wife, a sister and husband, grandmother, father in-law, mother in-law and step mother in-law, two brother in-laws and their children and a sister in-law.#22toomany #OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

Stephen McClure

Stephen Christopher McClure, 33, of Oswego, passed away Monday, February 4, 2019 at his home.He was born October 1, 1985 in West Monroe, Louisiana. As a young boy, he attended elementary school in Ada, Oklahoma and later graduated from North East High School in Arma, Kansas.He and Nicole Farris were married August 27, 2006 in Oswego. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California. He served in the Marine Corps Infantry 0311 and was assigned to the 2/4 Fox Company and was deployed under Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, he moved to Oswego in 2008. He later enlisted in the Air Force Reserve where he served in the 931st Civil Engineering Division and became certified in HVAC. Stephen was deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. He honorably discharged from the Air Force Reserves in July of 2018.Stephen was currently employed by TAMKO in Joplin, Missouri where he had worked since 2016. He was a member of the Oswego Assembly of God Church. He enjoyed woodworking, baseball, cooking, and had recently become interested in weightlifting. He especially loved spending time with his children. Shared by his mother, Renni:Stephen’s hobbies included woodworking, baseball, cooking, and weight lifting. His teams were the Kansas City Chiefs and the KC Royals. He was extremely intelligent. He loved to dance and could do it well. He was such a comedian and there was never a dull moment around him. He was loved by many and he was a wonderful Daddy! He could do anything! He was just a natural at everything. There is so much more to share. Places he called home: Kansas and OklahomaFinal Rest: Oswego, KS Please read these important words Stephen wrote:“Just feel the need to express how important family and friends are in life. I’ve spent the last decade hiding emotions, pushing everyone far away, and building up walls so that they cannot affect my heart or mind. This essentially made me a numb, emotionless, unworthy person. PTSD is not something that can be ignored or put aside to eventually go away. I thought I could stay busy enough being a husband, a father, in the military, working a regular job, a coach, delving into hobbies, helping anyone out that asks etc. The result of overextending myself and not getting the true help I needed is catastrophic. I feel so alone and lost…so hurt. I did this to myself unintentionally. I’ve been trying to get help from the military for years and am ignored. I’ve spoken to the chain of command, medical, mental health clinic and told them I need help. I have been literally shoved aside and completely ignored. We constantly take suicide prevention classes and have “PTSD” pamphlets in every corner and it’s all a joke. I guess that is what I deserve after all. I’ve hidden for so long that I am invisible and don’t matter. Seek friendship and communicate often. Allow yourself to feel emotions because they allow you to relieve anxiety, laugh, love, and be in the moment. If you do as I did, you will internalize emotions which turn the voice in your head into an enemy. I fight with myself and somehow make everything my fault. I am stuck in a mode of self-hatred and the voice in my head catches me smile and says “don’t smile, you don’t deserve to be happy”. It reminds continuously that I am worthless and undeserving of even the simplest things. I know that the token phrase is “it’s never too late to get help”………WRONG! Please take it from me and seek help before it’s too late. No matter the severity, get help. The smallest problem can be tucked away and blinded by day to day life all the while it is a cancer that slowly metastasizes until it is spread throughout everything.”#22toomany#OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

Jesse Martin

“This is my son, SGT Jesse Michael Martin, USMC. He hung himself Nov 3, 2013 while waiting to get into the PTSD program at the VA. His unit was 2nd Anglico stationed in Jacksonville, NC. He served 2 tours in Afghanistan. Before joining the Marines he competed in the stand up Jet Ski competitions and did well. He enjoyed hunting, camping, canoeing – any outdoor activity. He was an extremely loving man and spent so much time with fellow veterans with PTSD, trying to help them.”Sgt. Jesse Michael Martin, USMC, a Marine who served his country with distinction, honor and commitment, died Sunday, November 3, 2013 in Florence. He was 26.Jesse grew up in Florence, Alabama and graduated from Bradshaw High School in 2005. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2008 and received Boot Camp training at Parris Island, SC. He served one tour in Afghanistan in the 2nd Anglico Unit. He returned home and married. He was called for a second tour in Afghanistan where he was a forward observer working with the Nepalese Gurkhas, known as the fiercest fighters in the world. He taught them to read maps and call in artillery strikes and the handbook he wrote is still used by them. As a show of respect, the Gurkhas ceremoniously presented Jesse a Kukri, a forward curving knife used in combat.Following his second tour he and his wife lived in Camp Lejeune, NC and they moved to Florence where he attended UNA. Jesse was an avid Jet Ski rider and had entered amateur competitions. He loved the outdoors, was a hunter, and a collector of guns.Jesse was a great storyteller and was animated as he shared his tales. Friends and family knew not to interrupt until the story was told!

Joseph Martinez

Joseph “Joey” Tyler Martinez, age 23, of Thousand Oaks, California passed away on Sunday, January 20, 2019. Joseph was born on December 22, 1995 in Thousand Oaks, California, at Los Robles Hospital. His parents are German and Julie Martinez. Joey grew up in Thousand Oaks. He graduated from Westlake High School class of 2014 where he played offense for their football team. Everybody who knew him loved, adored, and cared for him. Those that speak of Joey would say they will cherish most his infectious laugh and contagious smile. Joey made an impact where ever he went due to his kind heart and genuine loyalty. After Graduation Joseph served his country from 2014-2017 as a tow gunner in the US Marines.He married Jestine Yarbrough on April 11, 2015 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Once his term with the Marines was completed, he studied at Northwest Linemen College where he graduated on July 13, 2018. Joey then went on to receive his Diploma from American Truck School. He was employed with IBEW Local 47, as a Lineman for Aldridge Electric Company. Joey is survived by his wife Jestine, his parents Julie and German Martinez and his two older sisters, Breanna and Katelynn. He also has four nieces and two nephews. He also is survived by his grandparents, German and María Martinez and Carl and Vivian Drummer. Joseph will be deeply missed but will forever be in our hearts. Joey we love you to the moon and back. States he called home: Hawaii (where he served); California (born, raised, final rest)#22toomany #OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

Kristopher Marrow

Kristopher Leon Marrow age 24, born August 22, 1991, went to be with the Lord on December 24, 2015.Kris was a former US Marine who proudly served one former deployment. He was born and raised in Mt. Zion, Georgia and moved to Richmond a short time ago. He loved the Georgia Bulldogs, the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta Braves. Kris had a laugh that carried through a crowd and a smile that will never be forgotten. He was always the life of the party and the center of attention. Kris was a devoted father of two children and a wonderful husband to his wife Tessa. Kris was a silly, wild spirited man who often referred to himself as an “Outlaw like His Pappy.”Kris never knew a stranger and was genuinely loved by anyone who crossed his path. He was a Christian who truly loved God and tried his best to abide by the Lords word, and worked hard to make sure his children did the same. Kris had a passion for music; there was never a time when he wasn’t serenading the people around him or dancing to his own rhythm. He never left us short of stories. Kris had a sense of humor that could even make the devil laugh, our lives will be forever filled with happy tears over the amazing memories he had left us with. “Kris was 6’6” about 270-280 pounds, with fluffy, dark chocolate hair, always shiny and beautiful. He had these gorgeous eyebrows and eye lashes that women pay 100’s of dollars for and the most beautiful hazel/green eyes that would melt you instantly. He graduated high school early, because he’s literally one of the smartest and most intelligent people I have ever known. He joined the Marines when he was 17, graduated from Parris Island, and was deployed to Africa shortly afterwards. After his deployment he came home, worked for a small gardening company and attended technical school as he tried to get into the police academy. He loved working on farms – he was a country boy through and through. He knew any answer to any question about farming, taking care of animals, soil, feed, planting, and gardening. He knew how to shoe horses; he even could tame them. He could work on houses, barns, cars, bikes – anything in the world – he could do it. He’s worked in construction, and worked at Troup County correctional facility, in Lagrange, Georgia for almost 2 years. He got hired on at Southwire, an amazing company where he became an “Extruder Operator”, the highest paid operator for the company. He was a model employee, never ever missed work, never late and always went above and beyond. You name it, Kris could do it. He loves the opportunity to be able to do something better than someone else. He’s a show off like that – Lol. He was the best dad you could possibly imagine; he was a very hands on daddy, always teaching the kids something every opportunity he had. He was a big kid himself! Every child in the world loved Kris – he was goofy – he’s the man in the yard rolling around in the mud with the kids, or tossing them across the pool. He melted for our daughter though. He was tough until he saw her crying! He was an all-star baseball player, die hard Atlanta Braves fan, and also a die hard Georgia Bulldogs fan. Kris played baseball from the time he could walk, until literally the day he died. He never stopped. He was a family man and provided for us by all means; he worked his fingers to the bone. There was never a person he met that didn’t love him; he made friends with complete strangers. When I say he was a county boy, I mean it; the song “A Country Boy Can Survive” was Kris’ song. He listened to nothing but Merle, Johnny, Waylon, Willie any music like that. He sang from sun up till sun down, always singing and dancing around everywhere. He had the sickest, most hilarious sense of humor in the world, could make you fall over laughing. He used to sit in our room listening to the comedy channel, and literally crack himself up, then he’d come downstairs and start cracking jokes on me and the kids! He was a God fearing man and taught me and the kids everything we knew about God. He prayed with us on a daily basis – said blessing with us before meals. He would even pray and thank God when he killed an animal while he was hunting. He talked about God often and how wonderful God is. Kris loved to eat home cooked, good, greasy soul food. He was even sweet enough to help with the dishes. He loved exotic food and trying different animal meat. He was a kind, warm man, he would surprise me with random hugs and kisses when he knew I was feeling down – flowers and candy when he felt like I needed it – just small thoughtful things. He was a jokester but also had the softest side. He would take our daughter on dates and taught our son to play ball. He was just an all around American, gun shooting, God loving, beer drinking man. There was only one of him -that is for sure.”Shared by his wife, Tessa, who loves and misses him so much

Hugo Manzo

“Hugo Manzo’s home was Los Angeles, CA. His stations: Charlie Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Company (2013-2015), 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment (2015-Passing). Pvt Manzo served under me in 2nd Platoon, Charlie Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Company in Norfolk, VA from Nov 2013 – Aug 2015. I was his squad leader and he was my designated marksman. During this time, we deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and various locations in the Middle East. Pvt Manzo was impeccable behind the long gun and was planning on going to scout-sniper school. He just really enjoyed shooting and weapons. He tried to know anything and everything an infantryman could know. As far as sports, he really loved soccer.”Shared by his squad leader of two years, Matt Nordin. “We may not understand why, but we must be strong enough to prevail.”

Leland Machler

Leland Machler was a proud Marine and Vietnam veteran. He proudly and honorably served this country. Lee was a humble man who loved his family greatly. He loved building things and even built a beautiful home with his own hands for his family. He grew up loving the beach and was a “California guy” – surfing was a hobby. He loved working with his hands, building furniture, and working on cars. He was an amazing man, loving father and great husband. His family loved him dearly and continue to carry his passionate spirit! (shared by Nadia, his niece, who runs Spartan races both in her Uncle Leland’s memory and in memory of our other 22 Too Many fallen heroes)

Jeffrey Lucey

‘Something happened to Jeff’Jeff Lucey returned from Iraq a changed man. Then he killed himself.By Irene Sege, Globe Staff | March 1, 2005BELCHERTOWN — Less than three weeks before he committed suicide, Jeffrey Lucey, lance corporal in the Marine Reserves, veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, totaled his parents’ Nissan Altima.He wasn’t drunk when he ran the car off the road and landed between two trees, which was surprising given how much he used alcohol to dull the torment roiling inside his head. But he’d taken the Klonopin prescribed to ease his anxiety.So when Kevin and Joyce Lucey visit their only son’s grave, they drive his Hyundai, with the Marine Corps decal Jeff put on the back window and the Marine seal he affixed to the bumper and the ”Support Our Troops” magnet and Kerry-Edwards sticker they added after he died. They pass yellow ribbons still fluttering from trees in front of the house where they raised three children, and when they arrive at the Ludlow cemetery, an expanse of small, fluttering American flags tells them Jeff finds his final rest in the company of scores of other veterans.Jeffrey Michael Lucey was 23 and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder when he hanged himself with a garden hose in the cellar of his family’s home last June 22. His family shares his story in hope of helping those, among the hundreds of thousands who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, who will battle similar demons.”He wasn’t an important person, but he was very important to us,” his mother says. ”What’s important is what happened to him when he came back.”On the TV in the Lucey living room, beside a teddy bear Marine, is a photograph of Jeff as a Cub Scout, his face impish enough it’s possible to imagine the day, when he was about 13, that his father came home to find him tobogganing off the roof into deep snow. On the piano is a prom picture of him and Julie Proulx, his girlfriend since high school.”He was your everyday kid,” says Kevin Lucey, a 54-year-old therapist for sex offenders. ”He wasn’t a saint. He snuck out of his window. He’d be meeting up with his friends, and we thought he was sleeping. He started calming down when he and Julie started going out.”Jeff joined the Marine Reserves in 1999, in part to pay for schooling his parents were prepared to finance. ”He also wanted to prove something to himself,” Kevin says. ”He knew the Marines were the toughest branch.”In May 2000, Jeff left his Western Massachusetts hometown for boot camp, then was assigned to the Sixth Motor Transport Battalion in New Haven. In January 2003, the unit was activated. Lucey arrived in Kuwait in February, in advance of a war he opposed. In a tiny notebook with a camouflage print cover, he kept a journal that ends as the invasion of Iraq begins.”Emotions such as anger towards our anything but wise commander in chief for ripping us out of our daily lives and pasteing us into a waste depository named Kuwait,” he wrote on March 8, 2003, ”or pain and heartache from missing the loved ones we left behind and of course the depression that forms when these two emotions are mixed together. With the deep thought associated with depression blooms uncertainty. Uncertainty can drive any man crazy, the uncertainty about what’s going to change about your life upon your arrival home.”The journal ends March 20, apparently in Iraq, with news of a scud missile landing nearby. ”The noise was just short of blowing out your eardrums. Everyone’s heart truly skipped a beat and the reality of where we are and what’s truly happening hit home,” he wrote. ”We now just had a gas alert and it is past midnight. We will not sleep. Nerves are on edge.”In July 2003 — after serving in Iraq in a light transport company that his comrades say ferried such cargo as ammunition, food, and Iraqi prisoners of war — Lucey, tan, thinner, and smiling, arrived by bus at the Marine reservist center in New Haven.”We felt so good,” his father says. ”He survived.”Although it’s unclear what proportion of Iraq veterans will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, the numbers will undoubtedly surge as more troops come home. A 2003 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine last summer found that about 15 percent of returning soldiers have PTSD, anxiety, or depression. Among Vietnam veterans, 25 to 30 percent developed PTSD. ”In the nature of the disease, onset is delayed,” says Dr. Thomas Burke, director of mental health policy for the Department of Defense. ”It remains to be seen whether early intervention and the treatments that are available today will catch some of it early and result in these vets having only 15 percent.”The department counts 32 suicides among American forces while serving in Iraq and another 10 in Afghanistan. How many killed themselves after returning home is harder to pinpoint, but the Army and Marines report at least 29 have.Beginning last March, as winter gave way to spring, Jeff seemed increasingly distressed. By mid-May, he was spiraling downward. He heard voices, hallucinated, rarely left his room, drank alone. He pushed his girlfriend away. Seeing these changes, his family hid dog leashes and removed combat knives from their home. They disabled Jeff’s car after he crashed theirs. They took him to the Northampton VA Medical Center and the Veterans Center in Springfield. They barely slept.They had attributed earlier changes they’d noticed to the readjustment period the military told families to expect. ”Julie noticed a distance. Sometimes he would get lost in a daze,” Kevin says. ”He was drinking, but nothing to where it ended up being, and it wasn’t continual.”Lance Corporal Pablo Chaverri, a childhood friend who enlisted with Jeff, rarely ran into him in Iraq but saw him again back home. ”He just seemed down,” Chaverri writes in an e-mail from Iraq, where he’s been redeployed. ”We ended up going to Maine for a weekend during October of 2003. I didn’t notice anything until we started driving back home. He was very quiet and didn’t say much. That was not like him. He was the type to talk and get into conversations. He seemed zoned out and just didn’t seem right. He was not the type of guy that would admit he is weak.”On Christmas Eve, in a sign of the despair to come, Jeff begged off the family’s traditional visit to his grandparents. His sister Debra, 21, came back early. As they talked in the kitchen, Jeff threw two Iraqi dog tags he wore at her. ”He said, ‘Don’t you know your brother’s a murderer?’ ” Debra recalls. ”I didn’t know what to say. I said, ‘You’re my brother.’ “The most chilling story Jeff told his family was of being ordered to shoot two Iraqi prisoners and then keeping their dog tags, a claim the Marines investigated and determined did not happen. A Marine buddy, Lance Corporal David Samen, remembers seeing Jeff find one dog tag in the sand. Jeff also talked of running from his truck and scooping up a dead child. Jeff was buried with the small, bloodied American flag he said the child clutched.”Something happened to Jeff that had him totally fall apart and be destroyed. What it was I don’t know,” Kevin says. ”Whatever happened — whether it was a collection of things, whether he assumed collective guilt — there is no question his experiences there planted something within him that was almost like a cancer.”The bed in Jeff’s room is neatly covered with a Marine blanket, unlike in his last weeks, when it stayed unmade. Otherwise, the room is much as he left it. Under the window are several pairs of military boots and folded uniforms. On the door is a poster of a Marine ready for battle. Empty bottles of beer and brandy rest on his bureau. His handprint smudges the window.The house carries the sweet scent of lit aromatic candles, and a blaze crackles in the living room fireplace. Here, last spring, Jeff found his dad’s copy of ”Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” by Matthew Friedman. He turned to a list of symptoms — ”recurrent distressing dreams,” ”reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes,” ”estrangement from others,” ”difficulty falling or staying asleep,” ”outbursts of anger.” Repeatedly Jeff said, ”I have that.”After he returned from Iraq, Jeff had resumed his studies at Holyoke Community College, where he befriended Shaun Lamory, a fellow Belchertown High graduate recently discharged from the Air Force. ”We shared the same sentiments about the war,” says Lamory, 22. ”We were both against it.” Jeff planned to transfer to the University of Massachusetts in the fall and talked, in the last months of his life, of switching his major from business to nursing. ”He told me he had been involved in taking lives long enough,” Lamory says. ”He wanted to do something that would make him sleep better at night.”Jeff once asked Lamory to join him for a cigarette. ”When he was telling me that story about the dead child, he was drinking wine out of an empty Jack Daniel’s bottle,” Lamory says. ”He said he drinks in solitude in his room and stares at the flag and thinks of that child.”Jeff had been deteriorating since March, when he complained of being easily startled. ”He said when somebody slammed a door in the hall he would drop his books and crouch down real quick,” says Joyce, who worked as a nurse. ”He was very embarrassed.” By April, he skipped classes. He didn’t take his final exams.Yet Jeff resisted suggestions that he seek help. He feared the VA would tell the Marines his problems and worried he’d have trouble getting a job if he was labeled with post-traumatic stress disorder. His drinking worsened. ”We didn’t want to take away his ‘medicine’ until he got help,” Kevin says.Finally, in May, Jeff started seeing a private therapist, who diagnosed him with PTSD.Jeff frightened his family, telling Debra in May he’d chosen a rope and a tree — probably a favorite maple with a rope swing. ”I would never do it,” Debra says he reassured her, ”because it would hurt Mom and Dad.” Walking with his mother one sunny day, he handed her his headphones and asked her to listen. What Joyce heard alarmed her. ”I’m staring down the barrel of a 45, swimming through the ashes of another life,” went the lyrics to ”45″ by Shinedown.”He said, ‘Don’t take it that way. I don’t think of it as looking down a .45. I look at it as a dark tunnel,’ ” Joyce says. ”When you think about it, it’s the same thing — no light.”By late May, Jeff had so deteriorated that his family, assured his medical records would be private, took him to the Northampton VA Medical Center. He expressed enough suicidal tendencies — talking, according to progress notes his family shares, of overdosing or hanging himself — that he was admitted for three days. He refused to stay longer. ”He felt like he was a prisoner,” Kevin says.Jeff was told, his family says, that the VA couldn’t treat the PTSD until he quit drinking, in contrast to what they have since learned from the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder website (www.ncptsd.org), which recommends treating PTSD and alcohol abuse simultaneously. VA officials won’t comment on Jeff’s case, but Dr. Gonzalo Vera, a psychiatrist at the Northampton hospital, says most medications used to treat PTSD don’t mix with alcohol. ”PTSD,” he says, ”is not something you can really treat with somebody who’s drinking, because it takes a lot of insight.”On June 5, Jeff arrived drunk at his sister’s graduation from Holyoke Community College. With difficulty, his family persuaded him to return to the VA medical center. This time, however, Jeff voiced no suicidal thoughts. He was not admitted.Jeff kept a flashlight by his bed because he imagined he heard the camel spiders he’d […]

Jason Lopez

Jason was 26 years of age when he took his own life. He served honorably in the United States Marine Corps for four years as a Sergeant and received two Purple Hearts. He was wounded in the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq. Upon honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, he had severe PTSD with 100% disability. He is greatly loved and missed by his family.

Rocky Littlewind

“My brother Rocky was my number one the day he was born. I promised him I would always take care of him. My sister and I helped raise him in his early years. We doted on him and his brother Ray who was just a little older than him. He was a fighter. So much energy. I was almost 9 when he was born. He was born in Devils Lake, ND. There wasn’t a time that I didn’t see a smile on Rocky’s face growing up. He was comical – loved making people laugh. No matter what, though, he had your back. He had so many friends because everybody loved him. Rocky loved his Native American Heritage. He loved Rolling Rock beer and Jameson. Growing up he played Army… I honestly never thought he would have joined the Marines. He was so proud of his service. I remember the day he called me and told me he was joining. He told me ‘I’m joining the best branch and I when I get done with my training.. I’ll be a badass and I’ll look good in my uniform.’ I never doubted him for a minute. Rocky loved guns and knives. That was his passion. Halloween was his favorite time of the year. Rocky loved dogs and he loved his family; he loved the drums. He was a truck driver who drove for Coke at the time of his death. He loved it. He loved driving for them. He loved snapchatting pictures of his truck. He was the last person I received a snap that day from. He had sent me a picture of the Coke Truck and as usual, we went through our normal bantering.. I always told him he was a dork for always taking pictures of that stupid truck! He hauled two trailers at a time. I’d give anything right now to get that darn picture again. We had planned on getting together that upcoming week for dinner.” Shared by his sister, Jody Final Rest: Crary, North Dakota#22TooMany #OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

Chad Lechlinski

“Chad’s hobbies were fishing and hunting and spending time with his family – he was so in love with his wife and he loved his two kids dearly, but he just couldn’t take the demons in his head that the PTSD caused, along with the TBI.”‘Jerome will be remembered by his family and friends as a faithful father, loving son, devoted friend, patriot and outdoor sportsman. Jerome was medically retired from the United States Marine Corps with eight years of service. His life and service to his family, country and friends will never be forgotten.’ “Widow Recounts Husband’s Stateside Struggles”Jerome “Chad” Lechlinski took his own life on June 4 in his Jacksonville home. His widow hopes sharing his story will help others.By Bianca Strzalkowski From JDNews.comA Jacksonville man is one of the latest casualties of war, but his death did not occur in the foreign lands of Iraq or Afghanistan — his battle was lost at home.Jerome “Chad” Lechlinski was a jokester, his wife Heather says, always looking for a way to make people laugh. On the inside though, Chad was fighting an internal enemy that not even his family fully realized.Chad took his own life on June 4 in his Jacksonville home.His widow hopes sharing his story will help others.The 31-year old graduated from Dixon High School in 2002. He joined the Marine Corps to follow in his family’s long lineage of military service. In 2004, Heather and Chad Lechlinski met online while he was deployed to Cuba.His wife had little familiarity with the military, but she moved to Onslow County to be with him and his family. His career in the infantry never slowed with continuous deployments to Africa and Iraq. During his first Iraq deployment in 2005, a suicide bomber attacked the vehicle Chad was driving, causing the death of one of his gunners. That incident was the start of something changing within him.“He had a hard, hard time when he got back. He blamed himself since he was the one driving the Humvee, he felt like it was his fault,” Heather said. “No matter how many times we told him it wasn’t his fault, no matter how much time you have to heal, you can never get over seeing your friend pass away right next to you.”Her husband was overcome by survivor’s guilt.He returned from that deployment in August 2005 and by July of the next year the military slated him to go back to Iraq. Heather said she and his mother tried to fight it because they knew he wasn’t “up to par, he was still on light duty.”“There was no reason he should have been deployed, we just weren’t getting the answers that we wanted or needed,” Heather said. “I think basically it was slap a Band-Aid on it and then send them back in.”During the second deployment, Chad expressed a different demeanor to his wife. He had a fear within him, admitting he was scared and felt “less invincible” than he had before the tragedy that took his friend. By now, they had welcomed their first child — a daughter. Chad was injured again in Iraq and was returned home because of those injuries. His enlistment was up and after eight years in the Marine Corps, he left the military only to enter the complicated system of Veterans Affairs (VA).Heather said she had little knowledge of what signs were associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As a caregiver, a 1-800 number was constantly tossed at her. In the thick of it, sitting on the phone as her husband expressed suicidal ideations didn’t help their situation, she said. Fliers and brochures didn’t either.“Nobody ever talks to you about it; nobody pulls you to the side and says, ‘Here, this is what might happen.’ So you’re really going into it blind,” she said.Reflecting back, she says there were signs: emotions he displayed that she hopes by sharing can help other caregivers recognize what is happening before it is too late. He had sadness, crying, his appearance changed and there was a deep survivor’s remorse especially around the anniversary of the incident that claimed his friend’s life, she said. He would have little breakdowns where he would be emotional for no reason, and before his death, the episodes increased.She also said Chad’s inability to get a continuum of care from the VA magnified his desperation. He was diagnosed with both traumatic brain injury and PTSD. Heather said he was given excessive medications to mask his symptoms but limited access to group therapies that would have him connected him to others feeling the same way. The meetings, she added, were often canceled.She pleaded with her husband on the day of his death to please stay, expressing to him how much she and their two children, ages five and 9, needed him. The only source of comfort for her in the weeks since he died is to know he is no longer hurting.“He was so full of life and at the end he wasn’t the happy-go lucky man that I married. (The only comfort is) knowing he’s not suffering anymore, knowing he doesn’t have to battle those demons that just ultimately took his life. He couldn’t handle it,” she said. “Never in a million years would I have imagined this would happen.”If there is one piece of advice that Heather could pass on to other military caregivers, it is to not wait on the VA for care. She says seek your own doctor, even if that means incurring out-of-pocket expenses, because ultimately that could mean the difference in saving a veteran’s life.The VA declined to comment on Chad Lechlinski’s case citing HIPAA and privacy concerns. Jeffrey Melvin, public affairs officer for the Fayetteville VAMC, provided the following statement: “Every Veteran’s death, especially at a young age, is a terrific loss. Our hearts go out to the Veteran’s family. Patient privacy laws will not allow us to comment specifically on this Veteran’s care.” Melvin added that the local Jacksonville Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) offers group and individual psychotherapy services. If veterans are unable to get an appointment for immediate care, they can seek a referral from their doctor to go to a non-VA provider.A fundraiser has been setup for the Lechlinski family. Jennifer Burgess, Heather’s cousin, started a GoFundMe account for the family because Chad did not have a life insurance policy.“My hope for her and the children is that on a day-to-day basis this will get easier and they will learn to deal with his loss because it was so sudden and unexpected,” Burgess, a Jacksonville resident, said. “I would like her story to get out there and make (people) aware they (veterans) mask the pain under the smile.”For anyone interested in helping the Lechlinski family, donations are being accepted through the end of July at gofundme.com/Helpforheathef.Veterans Affairs provided a list of resources for veterans and caregivers:National Suicide Prevention Line 800-273-8255; press 1 to be routed to the Veterans Crisis Line.Jacksonville Vet Center, 110A Branchwood Drive in Jacksonville; 910-577-1100 or 877-927-8387 (open to veterans who served in a combat zone or experienced military sexual trauma).National Alliance for the Mentally Ill’s (NAMI) Coastal Division is specifically for families and loved ones caring for people recovering from PTSD and other mental health related issues. Contact number: 252-354-4722.VA’s mental health website: mentalhealth.va.gov.

Stephen Keyes

Stephen proudly served his country with multiple tours of deployment, including Haiti and Afghanistan. Stephen will be remembered for his loving, caring, sensitive nature and love of the outdoors, especially hunting and fishing. His cousin is SPC Sean O’Dell, who is also in the “Our Heroes” album. Here is a link that includes both of these cousins and a movie “Almost Sunrise’ they will be a part of.https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=643081172447735&set=vb.619039064851946&type=2&theater.https://www.facebook.com/PTSDMemorial/photos/a.751637201530087.1073741827.743143069046167/770381806322293/?type=1&theater

Christopher Kass

Christopher Damon Kass, age 26 of San Marcos, California went to be with Jesus on March 28, 2016. He was born on February 9, 1990 in Jacksonville, Florida. The son of a sailor and a naval base neonatal nurse, John and Pamela Kass respectively. Chris was raised in Jacksonville, Florida, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and San Diego, California Naval bases with his only sibling, younger brother Anthony Kass. He graduated from Mission Hills High School in 2008.Following high school, Chris accepted the courageous call in his heart to the U.S. Marine Corp. Christopher attended boot camp at MCRD and upon graduation attended the SOI at Camp Pendleton. As a gunfighter in the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment Chris bravely trained, fought, and lived the motto of his battalion “Ready For All – Yield To None”. Tragically, Chris conceded to mental illness after a long and valiant effort to find peace once he returned from deployment and honorable discharge.He was last employed with Best Buy working for the Geek Squad. His passion was for computers, especially computer wargame challenges with his marine buddies and online friends. He loved hiking, camping, bicycling and enjoying nature. Long before the Marines, Chris lived their motto in his daily life, “no man left behind.” He offered financial support to children in Africa through Save the Children and became a bone marrow donor. He cared deeply about the everyday struggles of the homeless and frequently stopped to lend a helping hand, an ear, or a meal to those whom he met. Chris was always on duty–no one was left behind in his supersized heart. Above all, Chris cherished family life and the time that he spent with his brother and parents.He is survived by his parents, John and Pamela Kass, and brother Anthony Kass, his grandmother, Dorothy Kass, and forty-three aunts, uncles, cousins, and countless friends across the U.S., all who will miss him dearly. A memorial service will be held at New Venture Christian Fellowship in 4000 Mystra Drive Oceanside, CA on April 22, 2016 at 3:00 pm. The funeral service was held in Jackson, OH. In memory of Christopher, the family invites you to consider a donation to The MENdleton Foundation (www.mendleton.com). Condolences may be shared online at www.lewisgillumfuneralhomes.com. http://www.cw6sandiego.com/suicide-sweeps-california-based-marine-corps-unit/ Suicide sweeps California based Marine Corps unitAT LEAST 25 MARINES WHO SERVED WITH THE 2/7 HAVE TAKEN THEIR OWN LIVES SINCE 2009.April 22, 2016by Amy DuPont OCEANSIDE, Calif. — We’ve heard the staggering statistic that 22 veterans commit suicide every day. That statistic may be a low estimate.U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs study that released the number covered suicide rates in 21 states. Data from states with the highest population of veterans, including California, was not included. CW6’s Amy DuPont meet with Marines from a California-based unit that has suffered more casualties from suicide than combat.Pamela Kass knew this day was coming. She knew she would bury her son. Pamela knew her son Christopher couldn’t heal from the invisible wounds he suffered serving his country. She knew she couldn’t save him and that Christopher was unable to save himself.Chris served with and deployed with the 2nd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment based out of Twenty Nine Palms until he left the Marine Corps in 2013. That’s when, like too many other Marines from the 2/7, Chris starting to give up on life.“We’re doing something wrong. We’re letting them die. We ask them to serve our country to help another but then we’re not ensuring they are okay. That mentally they are okay. I don’t get it,” says Pamela.Suicide has spread through the 2/7 like a virus. According to men who once served with the unit, at least 25 Marines from the 2/7 have committed suicide since 2009.“I don’t count anymore. More people out of the 2/7 have died because of suicide than combat,” say former 2/7 Marine Eric Durosky.Chris joined the ranks of the fallen on March 28, one month after his 26th birthday. His mom says because Chris was over 18 and he refused to seek treatment there was nothing she could do.“We tried our best to get help for him. I think the system failed him. We begged for help for him, and we failed him.”No one understands why the suicide rate among men of the 2/7 is four times the rate of other young male veterans. The men who’ve taken their own lives served at different times and in different conflicts. Some were fired upon. Others were not.Members of the 2/7 believe saving lives needs to start long before all men leave active duty.“It needs to be done in house. It needs to be veterans. It needs to be people in that unit that talk each other and say I’ve felt that way before. You can get through it, don’t take that way out. It’s not a way out.”Pamela Kass knew she would bury her son. Now she knows 25 other moms have done the same. She prays she is the last.“I don’t want to see someone else go through the same pain we are going through. If we can save a life maybe more then he doesn’t die in vain.”The Mendleton foundation is helping at-risk California veterans find one another. Members, many of whom served, pour over social media pages and reach out to vets who post anything that appears to be a cry for help. The foundation also help families like Chris’ by providing them with uniform items at funerals: www.mendleton.comThe VA also offers a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline. If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. You can also text 838255.

Jimmy Kalitz

Cpl. James “Jimmy” Kalitz was born 4.8.1982, went missing on 8.27.2014 and he was found 8.31.2014 He was 32 years old and a father to 3 daughters then ages 5,9,10. He was born in Philadelphia, PA. Jimmy enlisted in USMC shortly after high school graduation in 2000, graduated boot camp from Parris Island, SC in summer of 2001. He served with the 2nd Tanks Battalion; his MOS was tank mechanic. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC. He deployed winter/spring of 2003 to Afghanistan/Iraq – Fallujah. He enjoyed spending time with his daughters,fishing, camping, shooting, cars, reading, and outdoor projects. His hobby was fixing things that were broken or making things that weren’t broken “better”. Jimmy was a funny guy and always joking. He lived in Pine Hill, NJ 2008-2013. He moved back to Hampstead NC, 30 mins outside of Camp Lejeune around Easter 2013. He passed away in Hampstead, NC. After serving his time in the Marine Corps he suffered terribly with PTSD. Jimmy will always be remembered for his kind heart and infectious smile.In his memory, his sister has established a Facebook page called Military Suicide Awareness Project: JIMMY 22 .

TJ Jones

Six deployments. SIX ! He served our country bravely. He returned from war – he suffered from severe PTSD. He was in the middle of a flashback and thought he was being attacked by the Iraqi Guard. He was waving a gun but shot or hurt no one. He was shot and killed by the police. This is tragically referred to as “suicide by cop.” His family seeks to raise awareness of combat PTSD and the importance of police and other agencies being trained to respond to combat veterans in these situations. (a summary of what his sister has shared).He was a beloved father, husband, brother and son.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHEzYZk9Fkg http://www.wate.com/story/21893423/former-marine-shot-by-police-after-having-flashback-is-laid-to-rest

Sidney Jones

Jones, Sidney A.D. “Alex”, age 18 passed away Tuesday October 22, 2019 in San Diego, CA. Sidney graduated from Hoffman Estates High School (Hoffman Estates, IL) in May of 2019, before enlisting in the US Marines Corps, graduating from S.D.M.C. boot camp September 13, 2019. He is survived by his loving mother Brandy; sisters Crystal and August; maternal grandparents, Wanda and Rodger; niece Aubrie; uncles James and Thomas, and also many loving cousins and other relatives. Sidney dedicated his life to helping others, he was an avid history buff and a loyal Miami Dolphins fan; he also loved his dog and all animals. He was also a big fan of the Chicago Cubs. From the age of 5, he always wanted to be a Marine. From his Marine brother, Josiah:Just wanted to thank my friend Sidney Jones for trying to be the best person and role model he could be in this short life he lived. You were a great friend of mine even before we went to Recruit Training and a better one after, you had some big dreams that you never got to pursue. This is your day buddy, a day of remembrance. I still miss our late night conversation and talks of the future, you’ll always be on my heart no matter where I go.Semper Fi, I know I’ll see you again someday. Interment with full Military Honors at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, IL.#22toomany #OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

Kindall Johnson

My heart hurts, my eyes wetThat dreadful day, I will never forget.I tried to run to you, to hold you, to help you,but it was too late,They held me back, said you had met your fateI refused to believeand waited with hopeful friends,Then they told me, it was now the end.It crushed me and your dad, and all who stood,Such a sweet soul, but yet misunderstood.I cry everyday now, wondering,Wishing I could have taken your pain.You hid it well from me, but it’s not in vain.So when you look down on us, and see our fight,It’s all for you and the 22 plight.You will always be with me, my warrior,My protector, my little boy, my pride and joy.You always stood up for what you believed in,as all could see.You were a true testament to the few,the proud, a Marine.Peace on earth as it is in heaven.We will change a life and make a difference.I love you Kindall Wade….we will miss you too,Forever…..you’ll be in my heart.…..Mom#be Kind2All Facebook page in Kindall’s memory: beKIND2ALLhttps://www.facebook.com/beKIND2ALL-529403963895792/?fref=ts His birthday is Nov.10th, same as USMC, 1992. He wanted to be a doctor eventually. He started visiting the recruiting center when turned 15. That’s all he ever wanted to do: Be a Marine – since he was 6. (from his Aunt Sheila) Hero Johnson served 3 years and 8 months in the United States Marine Corps attaining the rank of Corporal before being honorably discharged. CPL. Johnson is a recipient of the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, National Defense Medal, one letter of Appreciation. Hero Johnson was qualified as a sharp shooter with a rifle, marksman with a pistol, and as a Green Belt Marine Corps Martial Arts. The suicide this weekend of a 22-year-old military veteran brought home to Springfield a statistic that has caused alarm nationwide.Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day, a 2013 Department of Veterans Affairs study found.Kindall Johnson, a Missouri State University student fresh out of the Marines, joined their ranks when he killed himself Saturday afternoon while parked in a car near the Springfield police station on Chestnut Expressway.A vigil held on Thursday night gave friends and family of Johnson an opportunity to remember and honor him.“Our hearts are broken and our minds are boggled,” said Blake Shepheard, who was in the fraternity Delta Sigma Phi with Johnson. He urged those attending the vigil to seek support from those around them — whether that meant counselors, friends or simply a stranger in the crowd.The quiet young man who grew up in Willard struggled with his return to civilian life and was reluctant to seek help, said his longtime friend and pastor, Jeffrey Chavez.“He would never admit he had (post-traumatic stress disorder),” said Chavez, the senior pastor at The Catalyst Church, who knew Johnson since he was in the eighth grade.Like Johnson, many veterans struggle to admit they have PTSD and often don’t seek out help, said Dennis Peters, Ozarks Technical Community Veterans Student Services representative.“It’s really hard for veterans when they have exchanged bullets and done what they’ve done — to ask for help,” Peters said. Peters’ son, Sgt. Joseph Peters, was killed in 2013 when his unit was attacked in Afghanistan.Johnson left the Marines earlier this year. He enrolled at MSU and was pursuing a degree in biochemistry. But he struggled with school, finding the rhythm of college life frustrating, Chavez said.Johnson would often spend time with Chavez, he said, because the pastor had served in the Gulf War and he too suffered from PTSD. Chavez said he prodded Johnson to seek out help, but his young friend would become frustrated with the therapists provided by Veterans Affairs.In recent months, however, Johnson began to see a therapist who made him feel comfortable and it appeared he was making progress, although he still had ups and downs, Chavez said.On Saturday, Chavez received long text messages from Johnson. In the texts, Johnson thanked Chavez for his friendship and told him not to blame himself for what Johnson would do.“I think it was just an impulsive reaction,” Chavez said Thursday, referring to the suicide.Peters said many veterans come from small towns or households where they were expected to be stoic and tough, which makes it all the more difficult to seek help or see a therapist. Additionally, PTSD can make them seek isolation, which can make it harder to cope, Peters said.While services are often available to veterans, more outreach is needed because of the difficulty many have with seeking out help, Peters said.“As a society we need to find even better ways to (get help to veterans). And I don’t know how to make it easier,” Peters said.During the vigil, friends remembered Johnson’s kindness and his penchant for giving others nicknames.Kyle Reynolds, national chaplain for Delta Sigma Phi, asked everyone to turn and look at the people near them. “We are people moved by Kindall and the way he chose to live his life.”Reynolds also emphasized that those who knew Johnson shouldn’t blame themselves.“There probably wasn’t one more conversation, one more sign, one more doctor that could have stopped this,” Reynolds said.Stigmas associated with PTSD are a big part of the problem, said Debora S. Biggs, executive director of National Alliance on Mental Illness of Southwest Missouri.Sadly, veterans often feel like they are going to be blamed for their PTSD, Biggs said. She said changing people’s attitudes about PTSD and increasing their understanding of the disease will help reduce the stigma.With the suicide, Chavez fears Johnson will be thought of something other than what he was: a kind young man who served his country.

John James

“John served with the Marine Corps for just under eight years. John lost his battle with PTS April 30, 2014, to suicide. We were stationed in Hawaii in 2006-2008, he did a tour in Iraq in 2007, from 2009-2011 he was @ Ellington Field Air Force base in Houston Texas, which was our home town. In 2011-2012 he was ordered to Japan-Camp Fuji for an unaccompanied tour. We couldn’t go with him. He switched to the USMC reserves for a little while before getting out in Sept 2012. John was a loving husband, father of our 3 amazing children (John Jr, Jason, Jayda). He was a loving brother, son, friend, and coworker. He was a leader and mentor to many and will forever be missed. Thank you for sharing his story & for walking to honor his memory. He is worth our tears and he is worth walking for. God bless you and the others involved in this organization.” Shared by his wife, Amber John was always quick to share a joke and brought many smiles to all that knew him. He was a very generous man who loved to please others and make them laugh. John loved to cook and worked hard to support his family. He will be dearly missed by those lives he has touched.John’s dream was to serve his country in the USMC like his father, Robin James. With the support from his wife and family, John was able to fulfill his dream and he graduated in 2005 from Camp Pendleton, San Diego.#22toomany #OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

Trey Jablonowski

“Trey passed on 05/11/2014. He was born on 06/08/1990 He joined the Marines in 2008. Trey did two deployments in Afghanistan and one in South Korea. His medals included the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement , Marine Corps good conduct medal, combat action ribbon, sea service deployment ribbon, Korean defense service medal, global war on terrorism service medal, Navy unit commendation, Presidential unit citation, Navy meritorious unit commendation, meritorious mast, certificate of commendation, Nato medal, ISAF Afghanistan.. He had so many for someone so young. His commander told me out of 1000 Marines he was in the top 5. Trey was the most loving, generous and brave young man – he loved the Colts and Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning was his favorite player. Trey had a kind heart and a kind soul. I miss him every second of every day.” Shared by his mother, Dorothy

Charles Ickes

“This is our son, CPL Charles R. Ickes III, United States Marine Corps – Camp Lejeune. He was born February 25, 1993 and died by suicide August 13, 2016. He served a tour in Afghanistan where he was the machine gunner up in the turret of a vehicle sweeping for IEDs. After active duty (as a veteran) he was going to school at Universal Technical Institute in Exton, PA to be an auto mechanic. Charlie was always a happy guy with a great smile till he came back from Afghanistan. He was everyone’s friend and would do anything for others. Charlie had a very kind heart. He liked riding his Harley and dirt bike in the summer and snowboarding in the winter.” shared by his parents, Chuck and Cindy Final Rest: Richland Cemetery#22toomany #OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

Clay Hunt

The 60 Minutes Special on about Clay:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poxKILRDvCAHUNTClay Warren Hunt, a war hero and giant-hearted humanitarian, died in Houston, Texas on Thursday, the 31st of March 2011, at the age of 28.He was an adventurer who experienced more, and gave back more to his country and his fellow man, than most men accomplish in a full lifetime.Clay grew up in Houston attending Spring Branch Schools – Rummel Creek Elementary, Memorial Middle School, and was a proud graduate of Stratford High School. He was a solid second baseman from Tee-ball to Pony League, and an accomplished junior golfer. However, his real passion was football and his fifth grade team’s win of the Tully Bowl gave him great joy. He also enjoyed playing for Stratford and “just being a part of a great group of guys” on the team during his senior season of 2001.Clay received an Associate degree from Blinn College in College Station, and attended Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California.Following his heart, Clay joined the United States Marine Corps in May of 2005, completed the School of Infantry in 2006, and shipped out to Iraq in January of 2007 as part of the Second Battalion, Seventh Regiment of the U.S.M.C. While on patrol in Anbar Province, near Fallujah, he was wounded in a sniper attack, earning a Purple Heart. Clay recuperated in 2007, and applied for and graduated from the Marine Corps Scout Sniper School in February of 2008.His scout sniper teams shipped out to an area near Sangin, Afghanistan in March of 2008 as part of NATO’s multi-national force deployed against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. Clay’s unit returned to the states in October of 2008, and he was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in April of 2009.Clay cherished his time in the Marine Corps and the unconditional and absolute bonds of camaraderie that he built with his band of brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan. He often wondered why he survived when so many close friends and others paid the ultimate price for our nation’s freedom.Clay continued to give back to ease the suffering of others in January of 2010, when he and Marine brother Jake Wood and others founded Team Rubicon, an early response team for natural disaster relief. Clay and Team Rubicon entered Port-Au Prince, Haiti one week after that country’s devastating earthquake, and immediately established field medical facilities, and secured transportation to those facilities for thousands of injured Haitians during a month-long stay in that ravaged country. Team Rubicon was on the ground saving lives long before the Red Cross and other institutional organizations were up and running. Clay found his true calling for service in the chaos of Haiti, and his warrior mentality along with his compassion for others were the perfect combination to deliver “hands-on” medical and other humanitarian aid to those so desparately in need.Clay also went to Chile in 2010 with Team Rubicon to aid earthquake victims in that nation, and returned to Haiti in June of 2010 on a follow-up mission. He also “felt the pain and did something about it” of his fellow veterans by participating in four Ride2Recovery challenges to raise money for struggling wounded veterans across the U.S. Additionally, he helped lobby Congress on behalf of Iraq-Afghanistan Veterans of America for better and more timely delivery of benefits for our veterans of these two conflicts.Clay had a smile that would light up a room, and his boundless energy was his greatest asset. No family could have had a better son. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/houstonchronicle/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=149856681#fbLoggedOut

Joe Herburger

“Joe was a charming, handsome, loving, caring and devoted husband and a proud, wonderful and fun Daddy to his three young children. He would always be smiling saying he was “living the dream.” He inspired so many people to always do more and be better. He was our Marine motivator who had a fierce eyebrow and super contagious laugh. He was the guy who overcame fear to help others with their demons. He loved fishing, traveling, and classic cars. His family had a passion for living life – enjoying things like camping, bonfires, football, coaching his children’s sports teams, following the Oregon Ducks and just being around his family and friends. He and his wife would travel to different breweries together because he loved to explore and venture out to find new things. The love and passion he had for his wife and three babies were his pride and joy. This man would always put everyone and their happiness before his own, just to see people smile and hear them laugh at his jokes. He was such a comforting soul. He made my bad days better. He could turn a conversation about something negative into a positive without any effort at all. He was definitely the neighborhood watchdog for all the kids, always leaving the garage open for kids to come in and out. We called him the neighborhood mayor because he was always on guard to make sure everyone around him was safe and secure. Joe had a warmth that made everyone want to be around him…. it almost made you just want to hug him, and you eventually did because he loved hugs and just being loved. No matter the sadness surrounding us now with his death, that warmth in our hearts that he gave us will always be there. I will never think of Joe by how he died; it’s always going to be by how he made me feel…..happy and safe. We love you Joe Bear. Corporal Joseph David Herburger 4.23.85 to 4.21.16 Marines 2/5” shared by his wife, Danell.

Trey Hamsley

“Trey was a wonderful son, grandson, brother, nephew and father to his son, Nathan. He grew up in Warner Robins, Georgia. He joined the USMC after completing high school, and served two tours in the Middle East before his exit from the military in 2007 due to PTSD, seizures, hearing loss and other service-related conditions. He was honored to be a Marine and considered his USMC brothers to be family. He had a kind, gentle spirit, enjoyed making people laugh, and was loved by everyone who met him. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, loud music and motorcycles. Above all he loved his family, particularly Nathan. He will forever be missed.” Shared by his mother, CherylFinal rest: Perry Memorial Gardens,Perry, Georgia#22toomany #OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

John Guthrie

My father, affectionally known as John Boy, was a man’s man. Born in 1949, he hailed from the mountains of Asheville, NC and was the middle son of four brothers and two sisters. Growing up in the early 50’s was a tough time for many families, especially in the wilds of western NC. My dad talked of a childhood living on dirt floors, an outhouse, no running water, but with an endless wilderness to hunt and fish. There was family lore, too. His father, my grandfather, Andrew Guthrie, used to run moonshine for a mob crime syndicate. Andrew lost his life early in a shootout in Detroit and left my dad’s mother no choice but to turn her children over to the Presbyterian Home for Children in Asheville. It was there that six-year old John Boy grew up until he joined the Marines at 18. Growing up in an “orphanage” wasn’t like Orphan Annie and Miss Hannigan. My father vividly recalled the structure, discipline, and lifelong relationships he established. He felt it ultimately prepared him for the Marines. Even “old man” McKenzie, the school superintendent, became a mentor and much-needed father figure to my dad. There were fun times, too – shooting out red lights with guns, raiding storage sheds containing alcohol on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, getting in epic fist fights with the rich kids across town. Teenage life wasn’t bad at all. When my father graduated high school in 1967, he learned that his life-long friend had died in combat in some tiny, remote, alien place called Vietnam. Affectionally known as Viet-fucking-nam. John Boy decided, like a lot of white, southern, God-fearing boys in the late 60s, that he would join the Marines. In hindsight, it might not have even been a choice. It might have been destiny. Life in basic training was a lot like life in the orphanage – Spartan, no privacy, everything shared – and every detail of your life known almost immediately by everyone around you. He excelled during the training and landed in Vietnam to fight Victor Charlie in October of ’68. Not yet 19, he was eager to fight for American freedom. John Boy wasn’t very tall but he was a wiry, muscular, combat grunt. In fact, when I was 12, I already towered above him thanks to my mom’s side of the family. Given his height, his commanders knew exactly what job they had in store for John Boy. A .45 and a red capped flash light was all he needed. His job – to duck into the labyrinths of unending Vietnamese tunnels, locate Dogface Charlie, and eliminate him from the world. I went caving once in Boy Scouts. A simple exercise where we found a hole in a barren cow pasture. Single file, we would enter the hole, turn on our overhead flashlights, and slink our way like inchworms down this narrow “tube” of dirt, grime, and mud. Ten feet inside felt like ten miles. My fear became sheer panic. It felt like the walls were closing in on me. I started hyperventilating, knowing that at any second there could be a collapse and instant death. I fought through my claustrophobia, came out into this cavern where we turned off our lights, and was met by instant night. Nothing, nada, zip – coffin blackness. I shudder at what experiences John Boy must have endured, what he went through, what he faced. He never spoke one word about it. After Vietnam, John Boy returned home. He was combat wounded, the “million dollar wound” which was a clean shot through the knee, and got a one-way ticket back to the world. He moved in with his brother, landed a job in Richmond, VA, and one night, ended up on a blind date where he met my mother. All of a sudden, life took an unexpected turn for John Boy. He had responsibilities of a different sort – a wife, a house, and a blue eyed baby boy – yours truly. My mother would often describe John Boy as a deliberate man, a man who would sit back, smoke his Marlboro Reds and quietly assess the world around him. But his temper would snap with lightning speed, as if the dam within him was unable to contain the pressure of the turbulent thoughts and fears inside. When angered, he would be up and after someone in the blink of an eye. One night, he foiled two men trying to break into our house. He was on the night shift, came home at 2am, and caught the would-be burglars red handed. He nearly ran one of them over with the car, and chased the other on foot. The police caught them. One of them bloodied and bruised. They went to prison. John Boy was not the best of husbands in terms of patience, understanding, and nurturing. But John Boy was as reliable as they came. Helped neighbors without question, gave you the shirt off his back, stopped to help a complete stranger on the side of the road with a vehicle repair. And clean, impeccably clean. He would work all day only to come home and toil endless hours in the yard and garden. Every blade of grass manicured, 50-foot tree limbs sawed to perfection, every trace of leaf and debris on a two acre wooded lot raked. My mom believed he was trying to process the horrors he’d seen in Vietnam by losing himself in these chores. She tried to talk with him about it twice. Both times ended badly. As a father, he was quite the presence. Stoic, steadfast, and strong are words that come to mind. Strict, yes, but in the sense that he was trying to protect us from something greater, perhaps a secret evil and void around the next corner that only he could see. I always felt his love, felt it in the way he would look, hold, and hug me and my sister. Though we didn’t have many of the in-depth conversations that a son yearns for from his father, I always knew he was there, a guiding presence that would always keep me from harm. My mother and father divorced when I was six. There are probably many reasons. Lack of communication, misunderstandings, different goals, hopes, dreams brought on by the opposite sex. Perhaps it was the death of my newborn brother Christopher. Only three months old, he struggled to breathe from birth. One Saturday morning my mother saw that he wasn’t breathing. She called for the ambulance. My dad, refusing to wait, scooped him up and ran out the door and on foot to the ER almost ten miles away. The ambulance caught up to him halfway there. But Christopher had died hours before. Life for my parents changed that day. How do you recover from something like that? Can you? As a father now, I couldn’t imagine it. Coupled with combat and a failing marriage, the crushing stress must have taken its toll. But John Boy persevered. Moving forward and adapting to the situation is what a Marine does. And that’s exactly what John Boy did. For almost nine years. They were good years, too. John Boy remarried, hunted, fished, he bought a F150 truck, he worked at Phillip Morris, he spent time with his kids, he spent time with his family. He was a good man, he was the best of men. An undaunted person that worked hard to compartmentalize the pain, put it somewhere safe, and redirect it to someplace far away. But one bleak January morning, that pain became too much. Maybe he simply couldn’t adapt anymore, maybe the horrors and nightmares of life and war became too great. Maybe he blamed himself for Christopher. Maybe, just maybe, he hoped he’d found a way out from the pain and tragedy. He took his life like a Marine. A single pistol shot to the heart. Maybe that’s where it hurt most. “I survived, but it’s not a happy ending.”― Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried(shared by John’s son, Ben)

Jacob Gray

Jacob enjoyed hunting, fishing, and the great outdoors. You would always catch him on down time reading a book or on his kindle. He loved spending time with his family and friends. He was a kind, giving and extremely intelligent person who always was looking for ways to better himself and those around him. May we always remember him for his dedication, service and honor to this country, his men, his family and the Corps. Jacob was born in Alexandria, Louisiana on 12/3/86, the third son of Brenda and Chris Gray. He was a twin and the ”baby” of the family. Since the age of 10 all Jacob talked about was joining the Marines. He actually graduated 1 year early (taking summer courses) from Cloverleaf High School, Lodi, OH in June 2004. He had enlisted early in Marines on a delayed entry program. Leaving for MRCD Parris Island, SC on November 15, 2004; graduating February 11, 2005, he participated in Permissive Recruiter Assistance Program prior to attending. He graduated May 2005 from the School of Infantry. Jacob was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Lima Company in June 2005. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC his whole career. He was found dead hanging in the barracks on June 4, 2015. His deployments include: Operation Iraqi Freedom: 8/25/05-3/20/06, 1/19/07-8/9/07, 4/5/08-10/25/08 (he re-enlisted while in Iraq). Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan: 1/9/10-8/17/10. While in Marjah he stepped on an IED and suffered knee damage, though he was back on duty protecting his men 24/36 hours after this incident. Jacob’s Awards include:Combat Action Ribbon with Gold StarGlobal War on Terrorism Service MedalAfghanistan Campaign Medal with 1 bronze starMarine Corps Good Conduct Medal with 3 bronze starsPresidential Unit Citation-NavyIraq campaign Medal with 4 bronze starsIndividual Certificate of CommendationSea Service Deployment RibbonNational Defense Service MedalNATO Medal-lSAF AfghanistanNavy Unit commendation with 4 bronze starsNavy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Gold ‘V“ for Valor. Final resting place: Hazard Cemetery, West Salem, OHIO 44287#22toomany #OurHeroes are #NeverForgotten

Nicholas Gomez

I can share with you the wonderful man my son was. Nicholas was part of an organization in Overland Park, Kansas called Faith Builders. This organization takes suburban upper middle class teenagers into the inner city to help low income families clean up their yards, homes and help make repairs. He was a man who wanted to give back. He was deeply loved by his grandparents. His brother was his best friend. He adored and was adored by his cousins. His little sister and brother worshiped the ground he walked on and he was very close to them.Nicholas was born in Kansas City, KS. He was a graduate of Blue Valley North West High School. He attended the University of Kansas. He loved to hunt, play video games and swing dance. He especially enjoyed all activities associated with the Marines.

Dane Freedman

http://www.danefreedman.com/– Born September 13, 1988– Marine, Son, Brother, Friend, Hero– Served in the USMC as a Machine Gunner from 2007-2011– Avid outdoorsman – loved hiking, camping, anything pertaining to guns, playing the guitar, being surrounded by the great outdoors, spending time with his family and his girlfriend Kristina, and playing with his beloved dogs– Sadly left us on December 13, 2013 “Thank you for visiting our website in honor of our hero, Cpl Dane Freedman who was taken from us far too soon. Dane struggled a long, hard battle with PTSD for two years. After two tours of duty serving in the United States Marine Corps, Dane came home to absolutely no reintegration help from the Department of Veterans Affairs or his branch of service. The lack of resources our veterans are receiving along with the overmedication they experience from the VA is not only unacceptable, it is inhumane! At the height of Dane’s illness the VA had him on 21 pills per day. This overmedication caused him to lose his appetite, and the only thing that calmed his mind and gave him the will to eat was consuming marijuana. After not leaving his home for over a year, we got Dane a service dog, Lager. That dog totally changed his life. Sadly, Lager died of a sudden heart attack at the young age of 14 months in Dane’s arms. That loss had to be a battlefield moment. Dane told his mom, “that dog saved my life mom, he brought me from the depths of hell and taught me how to love again, I have such a hole in my heart, what am I going to do?” Twenty days after Lager’s death, Dane put a gun to his chest and shot a bullet through his heart. The overwealming pain for him was ended. We promise to make something positive out of our tragedy and help other veterans cope with the invisible wounds of war. We feel many warriors leave the war but bring the battle home with them. We fully support the legalization of medical marijuana because we believe veterans and other patients should have safe and legal access to an alternative medicine that is much safer than the pharmaceutical concoction prescribed by the VA that turned Dane into a zombie. Marijuana greatly improved Danes quality of life and eased many of the symptoms he was experiencing from the prescription medications he was taking daily. Another mission we have following Danes death is to emphasize the lifechanging effects a service dog can have on a veterans quality of life. Not all wounds are visible and mental illness is just as real as physical illness!! We need to break the stigma associated with mental illness so more individuals feel comfortable reaching out for help. We have started two funds in honor of Dane: 1) CPL Dane M. D. Freedman Suicide Awareness Scholarship Fund which aims to grant financial aid to individuals struggling in school with either learning issues or mental health issues and looking to further their education; and 2) CPL Dane Freedman PTSD Service Dog Fund, which will donate service dogs according to the amount raised and deliver them to struggling veterans free of charge. We are pleased to report we have already matched three German Shepherd puppies with struggling veterans in need. A fourth puppy has also been donated to a family from Harrisburg and they welcomed him into their home in June 2014. These are the rewarding and lifechanging things we can do as we continue to keep Danes memory alive. Huge thank you to all our donors!!! “

Brian Felber

Brian is a dear and close friend of a friend. We run in his honor and memory but have not added his story and picture to the “Our Heroes” album. We are still developing it and seeking information.

Cody Engen

“Cody declared he wanted to be a Marine at the age of five, he never wavered from this goal, he joined the Young Marines at the age of twelve after the Twin Towers fell and the day after his high school graduation, he left for MCRD San Diego. Cody was honorably discharged from the Marine Corp after serving for four years with the 2nd Light Armored Recon. as a gunner. He was also the designated marksman for his company in O.I.F. He was diagnosed with TBI/PTS after his tour in Afghanistan after an IED explosion. He didn’t want to be called a hero and kept his numerous citations and medals out of sight.He loved surfing off of Onslow Beach, Camp Lejeune, N.C., he said it relaxed him. He had a hard time adjusting to landlocked South Dakota when he came back, it wasn’t home anymore, his home was with his band of brothers.He suffered from survivor guilt and he said he felt like he was deserting his unit as they had been deployed back to the ‘Ghan. His doctor in North Carolina recommended intensive in-patient treatment for at least six months, but Cody denied he had a problem, promised his Dr. he would get help immediately when he got back to South Dakota, which he did, but the help wasn’t immediate and he was given pain meds and other controlled meds. Cody loved the Marines and loved being a Marine and told his family not to think badly or blame the Marines for his PTS or TBI.In his letters, calls and emails home, he was proud of the job the Marines were doing, he was an idealist and believed that one person could change the world. Three months after he returned home, he had a PTS episode where he felt like justice wasn’t being served about a complaint he had filed with the Sheriff’s Office, he went to take care of the complaint himself, in the early hours of Sept. 6th, 2011 Cody was gunned down in his hometown where he was born and raised. On a day when there are fluffy clouds in the sky, I imagine him surfing the clouds with not a worry or care. Cody used to plant sunflowers as a joke in his mother’s perennial garden, the Summer after he left, three sunflowers grew in his mother’s perennial garden, not believing in superstitions or signs, his mother let them grow and believed they were a gift from her son. One each for the three people who loved him the most, his parents and little sister.”lovingly shared by Cody’s mom