Oklahoma Soldiers Laid to Rest

Specialist Josh Seals was laid to rest today; Saturday, August 27th, 2011.  He was the most recent Oklahoma soldier to have been killed in Afghanistan.
Since July 29th, 2011; no less than 8 soldiers from Oklahoma  have been killed in that conflict.  Most were serving in the Oklahoma National Guard.

American Legion Post #142 of Hominy
remembers and honors:

2nd Lt. Jered W. Ewy, 33, of Edmond, and Spc. Augustus J. Vicari, 22, of Broken Arrow, died July 29, when an improvised explosive device detonated while they were conducting a dismounted patrol in Janak Kheyl.

Staff Sgt. Kirk Owen, 37, of Sapulpa, was killed August 2 when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in the Lajah District of Paktia Province.

Sgt. Anthony Del Mar Peterson, 24, of Chelsea, was killed August 4 when he was struck by small arms fire while on a dismounted patrol in Paktia Province.

Specialist Jordan Morris, 23, of Stillwater, was killed August 11 in the Kandahar province when explosives detonated by his vehicle. Morris was one of five who died from injuries in that explosion.  He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

2nd Lt. Joe L. Cunningham, 27, of Kingston, died August 13 at Laghman Province of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident.

1st Lt. Damon T. Leehan, 30, of Moore, was killed August 14 when a military vehicle in which he was riding struck an IED while conducting operations in the Alingar District of Laghman Province.

Specialist Josh Seals, 21, of Porter died Tuesday, August 16th from non-combat related injuries.

NEWS UPDATE>>>8/27/2011

PORTER, Oklahoma — The 8th Oklahoma soldier to have been killed in Afghanistan in recent weeks was laid to rest on Saturday, August 27th, 2011.

Specialist Josh Seals of Porter served with the Oklahoma National Guard’s 45th infantry. The Department of Defense says Seals died Tuesday, August 16th from non-combat related injuries.  He was just 21 years old.

Specialist Seals graduated from Porter High School in 2008. He signed up for the military soon after.  His high school science teacher, Janet Wynbrant, says he had a big future in front of him and that he always had a plan. She says those plans were tragically cut short.

Wynbrant, who taught Seals for four years at Porter High School, told the media that, “It’s a nightmare….I’m so sad for his family. He’s got a loving family. He’s got brothers, a mom, a dad, who always stood behind him and care for him. I’m sure this is one of their worst days.  He was genuine and kind, you know. Always thinking of others. Quiet, just a nice kid.”

Described as respectful and together, Seals joined the military, following in his family’s footsteps.  Specialist Seals was buried at the Greenwood Cemetery in Porter.
He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and five other service medals.

NEWS UPDATE>>>8/25/2011

EDMOND, Oklahoma — Family members celebrated the life of 1st Lt. Damon T. Leehan and thanked those who have supported them in various ways.

Leehan, of Moore, was killed during combat operations in Afghanistan on Aug. 14. A platoon leader with Company A, 1st Battalion, 179 Infantry Regiment of the Edmond-based 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Leehan was killed when a military vehicle he was riding in struck an improvised explosive device. His unit was conducting operations in the Alingar District of Laghman Province at the time.

He worked at Integris Southwest Medical Center and leaves behind a wife and two young children. He graduated from Edmond North High School.

The family requested that members of the media not be present during the service Thursday morning at Henderson Hills Baptist Church. The family thanked supporters via the program for the service.

“Audrey, Emma, Ethan and the rest of the family would like to express their gratitude to all who have carried them in prayer over these past days. The thousands of calls, e-mails and Facebook posts have been such a strength as we have traveled together to this day. Please know that you have been a source of strength and comfort during this difficult time.

“We give thanks to God for the unspeakable peace and comfort that He has afforded us during this journey. Enduring this type of devastating loss without His guiding hand would not have been possible. Please continue to keep Damon’s family in your thoughts and prayers during the weeks and months to come, as we try to learn how to adjust to life without him.”

In the funeral service program, Leehan was remembered as someone who loved his life as a soldier, but he was fiercely protective of his family. He did the utmost to ensure that the values he and his wife Audrey shared would be instilled in their children.

“Their shared faith in God was the foundation of their home,” family members stated in the program.

Once again, a handful of protesters from an independent Baptist church based in Topeka, Kan., came to picket the funeral. They were stationed at the Interstate 35-Second Street interchange, where an officer with the Edmond Police Department was on hand for traffic control.

A large number of Patriot Guard Riders and members of other military clubs assembled at the church.  Among them was Heath Partin, of Edmond, a member of The Horsemen and an active duty Marine. Partin said military service members share a bond, and he was there to support the fallen soldier and his family.

Donations to the Leehan family may be sent to: The Leehan Family Fund, P.O. Box 31812, Edmond, OK 73003-0031, or via PayPal to LeehanFamilyFund@gmail.com. The family also has a Web site at LeehanFamilyFund.com.

NEWS UPDATE>>>8/23/2011

KINGSTON, Oklahoma — A memorial service for Oklahoma Army National Guard 2nd Lt. Joe L. Cunningham will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church in Madill.

Cunningham, 27, of Kingston, died Aug. 13 in Afghanistan from injuries suffered in a noncombat incident in Laghman province, the Department of Defense reported.

Visitation is from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at Watts, Bryant Funeral Home in Madill.

Cunningham was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Oklahoma Army National Guard based in Stillwater. He previously deployed to Iraq in 2005 and 2006 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 2010.

Cunningham’s awards include the Iraq Campaign Medal, Overseas Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M device, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal.

Burial will be in Kingston Cemetery.

NEWS UPDATE>>>8/20/2011

Family, friends, and neighbors are grieving together Saturday over fallen soldier, Army Spc. Jordan Morris assigned to 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.  His funeral was Saturday (Aug. 20)  in Stillwater.

“It’s our duty to be here,” says Rusty Rex, a supporter sanding along Boomer Road with his family, holding American flags, waiting for the Morris family to drive by them with Spc. Morris’s casket.

American flags blanket the sidewalks. Thousands in the Stillwater community, big and small, are paying respect to their fallen hero.

“I think the family has had a tremendous loss, and I just can’t imagine if it was one of my children, and they just need to know we share their loss, and we want to support them in this,” says Rex.

“He was one of my mom’s friends,” says a young boy, holding up a patriotic sign, with his family.

“We are here to support our troops, and to show these guys we appreciate what they do for us,” says mom, Necia Kimber.

23-year-old Specialist Jordan Morris was killed August 11th in the Kandahar province when explosives detonated by his vehicle. Morris was one of five who died from injuries in that explosion.

“It’s emotional, but it’s a good emotion, but it’s a healing type thing,” says Patriot Guard Ride Captain David Priest.

Priest has to choke back tears.

“We are here for this soldier he gave his life,” says Priest.

Priest says, he will always do what’s right by the families in the military.

‘It’s very hard, it’s my third one this week, we did Sapulpa, Claremore, and we have another one in Porter next week,” explains Priest. “It’s draining. It drains you it really does; emotionally, mentally, physically, it just flat takes it out of you.”

As draining as it is, Stillwater’s patriotism is worth it to be here for Specialist Morris, whether they knew him or not.

“They talk about all his accomplishments in school, his honors,’ says Priest.

“I know he was a good kid and well respected in the community as his parents are,” says Kimber, who has worked with his father.

‘He was a happy-go-lucky-guy, would do anything for anybody,” adds Priest.

Specialist Morris is one of eight Oklahoma soldiers to die this month while on active duty.

NEWS UPDATE>>>8/13/2011

CLAREMORE, Oklahoma —   Funeral service for Sgt. Anthony Del Mar Peterson will be 10 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 16, at First Baptist Church of Claremore with Rev. Bobby Wisdom officiating. A graveside service with military honors by the U.S. Army will be held at 2 p.m. at Ft. Gibson National Cemetery. Visitation will be held at the Chelsea Funeral Home & Crematory Monday 1-8 p.m.

Peterson died Aug. 4, 2011, while serving our country in Afghanistan. He was 24 years old.

The son of Garth Edward and Terra Lynn (Marusbashi) Peterson was born Dec. 8, 1986, in Sacramento, Calif. Anthony graduated from Chelsea High School in 2005, and continued his education at Rogers State University. He was active in Campus Crusade for Christ, Baptist Collegiate, Rescue (Outreach Program), and Stop Child Trafficking (OATH). Anthony was currently serving in the U.S. Army on his second tour in Afghanistan.

He enjoyed hiking, camping, canoeing, hunting, and spending time with his family and friends. The most important things in his life were: God, family, and his country. Anthony’s favorite quote was, “Come home with your shield-or on it.”

Anthony is survived by his son, Dakota Justice Peterson of Owasso; parents, Garth and Terra Peterson of Owasso; siblings: Robert Edward Peterson, and Brittany Nicole Louise Peterson both of Owasso; grandparents: Ed and Gail Peterson of Chelsea, Paula and Richard Jones of Post Falls, ID, Les Marubashi of Chelsea, and Toni and Frank Trejo of Coquille, Ore.; nephew, Carter Myles Thomas of Owasso; and numerous extended family members who loved him.

Memorial contributions may be made to Stop Child Trafficking Now, SCTNow, 414 W. 51st Street, Lower Level, New York, N.Y. 10019, or http://www.sctnow.org.

Leave your memories of Anthony and view his tribute online at http://www.mmsfuneralhomes.com

NEWS UPDATE>>>8/15/2011

SAPULPA, Oklahoma — Family and friends of a Sapulpa soldier killed in Afghanistan paid tribute to his life Thursday, August 4, 2011. Sergeant Kirk Owen died while on patrol.

He was a member of the 45th Infantry, a scout platoon leader. He was leading his men on a mission, sweeping for mines, when an IED exploded under his vehicle.

Sergeant Kirk Owen was born and raised in Sapulpa. He spent much of his life at the First Baptist Church.

“Kirk is a man of incredible integrity,” said Pastor Doyle Pryor of First Baptist Church of Sapulpa.  Pryor has known Sergeant Owen for more than a decade. He’s now mourning the loss of his friend.

Sergeant Owen was 37 years old. It was his second tour of duty.

“It wasn’t a surprise to anybody that he put himself in the most vulnerable spot on the scout team because that’s the kind of guy he was, he was taking responsibility for his men,” Pryor said.

Sergeant Owen was a chaplain’s assistant. It was his job to protect chaplains on the field of battle.  “He was a man who just had an incredible sense of duty and that wasn’t just to his country, it was a loss to his God, to his family,” his pastor said.

Faith was very important to Sergeant Owen. He taught Sunday school classes here for adults at the First Baptist Church of Sapulpa, and on Wednesdays he was a teacher in the children’s program.

Sergeant Owen is the third Oklahoma soldier to lose his life in Afghanistan in the past week. Lt. Jered Ewy from Edmond and Specialist Augy Vicari from Broken Arrow died last Friday.

Owen’s funeral was held at 2 p.m. Monday (August 15th) at First Baptist Church in Sapulpa.

Owen died of wounds he suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device in Paktia province on Aug. 2. The 37-year-old Owen was a scout with the 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Oklahoma National Guard.

NEWS UPDATE>>>8/07/2011

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma –The Oklahoma National Guard has released the times and locations of funeral services for two Soldiers killed in Afghanistan on July 29.

The funeral for 2nd Lt. Jered W. Ewy, of Edmond, will be held at Henderson Hills Baptist Church, on Thursday, August 11, at 10:00 a.m. The church is located at 1200 East I-35 Frontage Road in Edmond.

The funeral for Private 1st Class Augustus J. Vicari, of Broken Arrow, will be held at Holy Name Church in Lowell, Ind., on Tuesday, August 9, at 1:00 p.m. Holy Name Church is located at 11000 West 133rd Ave. Cedar Lake, Ind.

Both of the Oklahoma Army National Guard Soldiers died from wounds inflicted by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Janak Kheyl, Afghanistan, the Defense Department reported.

NEWS UPDATE>>>7/31/2011

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma–Two Oklahoma Army National Guard Soldiers died from wounds inflicted by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Janak Kheyl, Afghanistan Friday the Defense Department reported.

Second Lt. Jered W. Ewy, 33, of Edmond, and Spc. Augustus J. Vicari, 22, of Broken Arrow, died July 29, while conducting a dismounted patrol.

Two additional Oklahoma soldiers and an attached Mississippi Air National Guardsman were injured by the same explosive device and are currently hospitalized.

Ewy was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Vinita, Okla., and Vicari was a member of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Sand Springs, Okla.

Maj. Gen. Myles L. Deering, adjutant general for Oklahoma, said, “This loss of life has shaken every member of the Oklahoma National Guard to their core. We have lost two very brave men who once raised their hands and took an oath to defend our nation. They courageously gave everything they had to ensure our freedom and safety and their sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

The 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry is made up of approximately 500 Oklahoma Guardsmen. They mobilized with the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in March and left for duty in Afghanistan in June.

About American Legion Post #142

Authors the weekly article "News from the Hut", about local American Legion Post #142 in Hominy, OK. Read his weekly articles in the "Hominy News Progress".
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