Bagram service bids farewell to helicopter victims
By Sgt. Tara Teel
April 20, 2005













Service members bow their heads during a prayer at a memorial service for those who died in a helicopter crash April 6. More than 700 troops and civilians attended the service April 15.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Army News Service, April 20, 2005) -- Hundreds of service members and civilian workers attended a memorial service April 15 to pay their respects to fallen comrades who lost their lives in an April 6 helicopter crash.

In memorial to the lost, mourners came with heads hung low, some fighting back tears. Others braved the touching ceremony with stiff lips and long stares. From the lowest enlisted to the senior officers, nearly everyone who attended wrangled with emotions during the eulogies.

Fourteen Soldiers, a Marine, and three civilians were killed near Ghazni, Afghanistan, when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed. Their deaths were recognized with a display of 18 pairs of boots, 15 rifles, 15 helmets, three flack vests and a 21-gun salute.

Soldiers saluted who died in the accident were:

  • Maj. Edward J. Murphy, 36, of South Carolina. Murphy was assigned to the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Camp Ederle, Italy.
  • Chief Warrant Officer David Ayala, 24, of New York, N.Y. Ayala was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, 12th Aviation Brigade, Giebelstadt, Germany.
  • Chief Warrant Officer Clint J. Prather, 32, of Cheney, Wash. Prather was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, 12th Aviation Brigade, Giebelstadt, Germany.
  • Master Sgt. Edwin A. Matoscolon, 42, of Juana Diaz, P.R. Matoscolon was assigned to Division Artillery, 25th Infantry Division (Light), Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
  • Staff Sgt. Charles R. Sanders Jr., 29, of Charleston, Mo. Sanders was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, 12th Aviation Brigade, Giebelstadt, Germany.
  • Spc. Daniel J. Freeman, 20, of Cincinnati, Ohio. Freeman was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, Camp Ederle, Italy.
  • Spc. Chrystal G. Stout, 23, of Travelers Rest, S.C. Stout was assigned to the Army National Guard's 228th Signal Brigade, Spartanburg, S.C.
  • Spc. Pendelton L. Sykes II, 25, of Chesapeake, Va. Sykes was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, 12th Aviation Brigade, Giebelstadt, Germany.

Six Soldiers were unaccounted for after the accident. The Department of Defense lists them as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown. They are:

  • Capt. David S. Connolly, 37, of Boston, Mass. Connolly is assigned to the Army Reserve’s 1173rd Transportation Terminal Battalion, Brockton, Mass.
  • Sgt. Maj. Barbaralien Banks, 41, of Harvey, La. Banks is assigned to Division Artillery, 25th Infantry Division (Light), Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
  • Staff Sgt. Romanes L. Woodard, 30, of Hertford, N.C. Woodard is assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, Camp Ederle, Italy.
  • Sgt. Stephen C. High, 45, of Spartanburg, S.C. High is assigned to the Army National Guard's 228th Signal Brigade, Spartanburg, S.C.
  • Spc. Michael K. Spivey, 21, of Fayetteville, N.C. Spivey is assigned to the 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, 12th Aviation Brigade, Giebelstadt, Germany.
  • Spc. Sascha Struble, 20, of Philadelphia, N.Y. Struble is assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, Camp Ederle, Italy.

At the service, seven speakers, representing the units of the fallen, talked about the lives of those they lost – who they were, and what they stood for.

“We are better today because of those we honor, but their absence leaves a void that cannot be filled except with a firm assurance that their deaths were not in vain,” said Chaplain Maj. Claude Crisp.

“Today we salute and honor our fallen comrades who were lost serving in this noble cause of eliminating terrorism and bring peace, hope and freedom to the people of Afghanistan,” said Lt. Col. Tim McGuire, commander of the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry. “Each of our fallen comrades have left a mark on all of us, changed us for the better, and made us a better team.”

During the ceremony, Combined Joint Task Force-76 Command Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua Savusa read from scripture and then offered his condolences on behalf of the command to all of the family and friends who lost loved ones in the crash.

Attending the ceremony were Lt. Gen. David Barno, the senior U.S. commander in the country, Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, the CJTF-76 commander, and a representative from the U.S. Embassy, Dick Christenson.

“The best we can do is remember them as they lived, bringing life, love and joy to those who knew them and pride to those who knew of the personal sacrifices in wearing the Army uniform,” said Maj. Craig Wilhelm, commander of Company F, 159th Aviation Regiment, who lost five crew members from his unit.

The service came to an end with “Amazing Grace” on bag pipes, a 21-gun salute, and lastly taps. Photos of each individual were displayed on screens while the long line of service members and civilians paid their last respects.

“When the sun sets tonight off this Afghan landscape, and we remember these young Americans, all of them, let us not forget their great life stories,” Wilhelm said. “Let us never forget them.”

Department of Defense announced today the death of eight Soldiers and the identity of six Soldiers listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN) who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

(Editor’s note: Sgt. Tara Teel serves with CJTF-76 Public Affairs.)






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