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Sabres honor local fallen soldiers on Hometown Heroes warmup jerseys

Each player will wear a custom military warmup jersey featuring the name of a fallen soldier

by Buffalo Sabres @BuffaloSabres / Sabres.com

During pregame warmups tonight, the names of fallen local soldiers will adorn the special jerseys worn by Buffalo Sabres players.

Each player will wear a custom military warmup jersey featuring the name of a fallen soldier as part of Hometown Heroes Night presented by New Wave Energy. Military members, first responders and frontline workers will be honored throughout the evening.

The jerseys will be given to the families of each soldier after the game.

A biography of each soldier was presented to the player on a card in his dressing room stall. The Buffalo Sabres are proud to share portions of those stories here.

Video: Hometown Heroes warmup jerseys

 

CPT Robert Bager // #24 Dylan Cozens

Robert Bager served in the First Armored Division, 1st Cavalry Regiment, Blackhawks Squadron, based in Buedingen, Germany. 

He served one tour of duty in Iraq from 2003-2004 and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal with one Bronze Service Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, and the Overseas Service Ribbon for his service. 

Bager was an ROTC graduate of SUNY Brockport with a BS in History. He died on September 21, 2005, following a training incident in Germany. 

In his honor, his family started bobbysvalentines.org, a 501(c)(3) non-profit in his memory where over 1,000 Valentine's Day treat bags filled with homemade valentines from local school children have been handed out to veterans, thanking them for their service. Bager's birthday was February 14.

 

Sgt. Brian K. Baker // #33 Colin Miller

Brian Baker grew up in Springville, N.Y. and began his military career on November 6, 1996. 

He met his wife Amy while serving and moved his family to Ft. Drum, Texas in December 2003 while continuing to serve in the Army. In the summer of 2004, they announced they were expecting identical twin girls to be born in January 2005.

Baker's battalion was providing security for the Bagdad airport in Iraq when just one day into his ninth year of service in the Armed Forces, an enemy improvised explosive device (IED) took his life at age 27. 

Amy gave birth to their girls, Emily and Cadence the following month on December 28, 2004.

The pride the family has in all that Brian accomplished in his short lifetime is as overwhelming as the grief they all share to this day.

Baker was awarded the Weapons Qualification Badge (M16 Expert), the Combat Infantryman Badge, the NATO Medal Kosovo, the Kosovo Campaign Medal with Star, the Overseas Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Iraq Campaign Medal with Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Ribbon, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal (2nd Award), the Army Achievement Medal (3rd Award), the Army Commendation Medal, the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

 

SSG Aram Bass // #89 Alex Tuch

Aram joined the Marine Corps in 1999 and was in security forces until his honorable discharge in 2003. That same year, he joined the Army and went to the 101st Airborne as a Sargent. He made Staff Sargent shortly afterwards. 

He was killed in action on November 23, 2005, just after his 25th birthday.


SFC Max Besch // #8 Robert Hagg

Max Besch truly loved hockey and the Army. He was a Sergeant First Class, an Army Ranger, an Army Sniper, and a Senior Drill Sergeant, but also a father and husband. He served for eight years and had just signed up for another six years before his passing. 

He played goalie for the St. Francis Prep team all four years of high school, where he wore the number 31 and was the winning goalie at the Scotty Bowman Showcase. 

He continued to play junior hockey for the Wheatfield Blades and the Welland Junior Canadiens. For that team, he never lost a game in goal.

 
Maj. Steven Brothers // #31 Dustin Tokarski

Steven Brothers was born in Potsdam, N.Y. on July 26, 1976 and grew up in Massena, N.Y. and Bloomington, Indiana, where he played hockey. While in college at Indiana University, he worked as a part-time shift supervisor at the ice arena and also volunteered at a homeless shelter.

During a prestigious military career that began in May of 1998 when he was commissioned into the U.S. Army as a 2nd Lieutenant, Brothers was selected by the Army Human Resources Command to attend Harvard University in the fall of 2009. Upon completion of his graduate work, Steve graduated in May 2011 with a Masters in Middle East Studies and was assigned to the U.S. Embassy Doha, Qatar to work as the Deputy Chief of the Office of Military Cooperation.

After his promotion to Major, Steve was assigned to the U.S. Embassy Rabat, Morocco. While his primary duty was to travel extensively throughout North Africa and the Gulf region, he earned the Joint Service Achievement Medal and the Joint Meritorious Unit Award for leading, planning, and coordinating the largest bilateral joint military land exercise on the African continent. 

Shortly after being assigned as Deputy Chief of the Office of Military Cooperation, U.S. Embassy Doha, Qatar in January 2012, Brothers was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He succumbed to a secondary infection during Phase II of his chemotherapy treatment only weeks after going into remission. He passed away on May 30, 2012.

He is survived by his wife Margaret and other family members. 

Brothers' family established a scholarship through the Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana) Foundation in memory of Steven. The Major Steven T. Brothers' Leadership Scholarship is awarded yearly to an Army ROTC cadet.


Cpl. Alan C. Brown // #26 Rasmus Dahlin

The youngest of four siblings, Alan Brown signed up to join the United State Marine Corps when he was 17 and after he graduated from Ellicottville Central School in 2009, he immediately went to Paris Island, S.C. for basic training with the United States Marine Corps. 

He served in two combat tours in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, where he specialized in combat logistic support, including HVAC. He was awarded the Navy Commendation Award for his "over the top" service and expertise.

He finished his service to the Corps in September of 2013. He had a job in HVAC, a girlfriend, and plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh for Mechanical Engineering to utilize his Veteran Yellow Ribbon Benefit.

Brown passed away in May 2014 due to his suicide. From the posts he left on Facebook, his family says he was dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and had trouble adjusting to society upon his return from active duty.


SFC Ethan C. Carpenter // #45 Casey Fitzgerald

Ethan Carpenter was affectionately referred to as the "moral compass" of the men he served with due to his strong faith in God and his presence as a fierce warrior who set the bar for all to achieve.

He was killed in training March 15,2019 during night flight free fall training.

"He was an exemplary soldier and ranger leader and a dedicated husband and father. He did the toughest jobs well and was the consummate team member when it counted the most, both in garrisoned training and in deployed combat," Col. Joseph Ewers, commander of the Regimental Special Troops Battalion, told the Ithaca Journal in 2019.

A fan of the New York Rangers, Carpenter is survived by his loving wife, an 8-year-old daughter who loves to draw, and collect rocks and feathers, and six siblings.


CPT Bruce Clark // #53 Jeff Skinner

Bruce Clark's wife says when they started dating in Minnesota, he kept a pair of ice skates in the trunk of his car because he never wanted to miss an opportunity to play a game of ice hockey on the lake. 

They moved to New York after they were married, where Clark graduated from SUNY Brockport with a B.S. in nursing. In the fall of the same year, he joined the United States Army Medical Corps and was initially stationed at Trippler Army Medical Center at Fort Shafter in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

He said that he would only join the Army if he could live in Hawaii for his first duty station. During the time he wasn't doing military things, he and his wife were on the beach and he was snorkeling. He loved life, and always reminded me to not take it for granted. 

While there, he worked on the telemetry floor and later as Nurse in Charge of the Allergy and Immunology, Endocrinology, Neurology and Dermatology clinics. He went on to complete the critical care nursing course in San Antonio, Texas and then was stationed at William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss as a critical care nurse.

Clark was deployed to Afghanistan with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force and was assigned as Chief Nurse of the Forward Surgical Element in Tarin Kowt. 

His awards and medals include: the Army Commendation Medal with an oak leaf cluster, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with a bronze service star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Medal, and the AMEDD (Army Medical Department) Regimental Crest. 

He was a loving husband and father of two daughters, Camille and Catherine, whom he carved pumpkins, built forts and sand castles, hiked and went sledding with. To this day, his family laughs when they sled and remember how he used to put surfing wax on the bottom of the sleds so that they could go extremely fast. 


SSG Shawn Michael Clemens // #96 Anders Bjork

Shawn Clemens was the first soldier from Allegany, N.Y. to sacrifice his life while serving his country in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

He joined the Army on January 24, 1996, and graduated from Infantry Basic Training and US Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Upon graduation, he was stationed at Hunter Army Air Force Base in Savanna, Georgia and assigned to the 1st Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment.

Later, Clemens was transferred to Ft. Drum, N.Y. as part of the 10th Mountain Infantry Division. He was assigned to Bravo Company 2nd of the 14th Infantry Battalion where he served as an infantry team and Squad Leader. While assigned to the 2/14 Shawn would complete Jungle Expert training as well as graduate from the US ARMY Sniper School.

After a six month deployment to Kosovo, he was promoted to Staff Sergeant. In 2003, Clemens volunteered for deployment to Afghanistan. 

He became a squad leader for a sniper reconnaissance unit with the 2nd Battalion 87th Infantry Headquarters Company. He deployed to the Ghazni Province in Afghanistan, where he would conduct night operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

While out on a patrol, Clemens' unit recovered a large weapons cache in the village of Dehe Hendu in the Ghazni province of Afghanistan. While securing the cache, Shawn sustained injuries as a result of an explosion. He and seven other soldiers, plus one interpreter, made the ultimate sacrifice that day. He passed away on January 29, 2004 as a result of his injuries.


MSgt. John Colpoys // #37 Casey Mittelstadt

John Colpoys served as a Transient Alert Section Chief with the 31st Maintenance Squadron at Aviano Air Force Base and in Afghanistan. 

Colpoys dedicated his life in the Air Force from 1994 until 2014.


LT Patrick Kelly Connor // #28 Zemgus Girgensons

Patrick Connor died in February1991 when his aircraft, an A-6 Intruder, was shot down over the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm. At the time of his death, he was serving as navigator.

He was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy following his graduation from college in 1989 and received his wings as a Naval Flight officer upon completing flight school in Pensacola, Florida.

During his 14 th combat mission, he was tasked to interdict Iraqi surface craft of Kuwait City on February 2, 1991. The aircraft carrying Connor and LCDT Barry Cooke was lost to hostile fire. They were declared missing in action. On Easter Sunday 1991, Connor's earthly remains were discovered and he was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.  


Sgt. Trevor Cook // #78 Jacob Bryson

Trevor Cook grew up Lyndonville, N.Y. and could be found at the river on the jet ski, fishing, hunting, and playing any sport imaginable with friends. 

Upon graduating from Lyndonville Central School District, Trevor joined the United States Marine Corps, where he had signed up for early entry his junior year. The events of 9/11 deeply affected Trevor and he felt a great need to serve his country. 

He served for seven years, achieving the rank of sergeant. Trevor was a decorated crew chief, who was handpicked to train and fly in the newest UH-1Y "Yankee" helicopters with the 369th Light Attack Helicopter Squadron, affectionately known as The Gunfighters, based out of Camp Pendleton, California.

He was involved in combat in two tours, the last being Operation Enduring Freedom in the Republic of Afghanistan. He was involved in several hundred missions, many of which involved very heavy fire fights and suppression of heavy Taliban forces, while assisting ground troops under heavy duress.

Trevor passed in July of 2011 during a helicopter crash, where he was teaching young Marines the protocol of the aircraft. His family remembers him for his warm, loving smile, his mischievous nature, and as a friend to all.


Bert Cratsley // #4 Will Butcher

When Bert Cratsley was born in his home on November 18, 1949, his parents did not think he would survive the night and placed him in a box near the wood stove in their farmhouse. He was soon recognized as a strong survivor. His mom passed when he 11 years old and is father raised him.  

He enlisted in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, specializing in demolition and dynamite. 

At the completion of his first tour in Vietnam his commanding officer wanted to place him on a ship. Cratsley, who always found humor in life, responded by saying that he could not drink enough water since he didn't know how to swim. He instead served a second tourn in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971.

At age 66, Cratsley developed lung cancer from Agent Orange that was used in Vietnam. He passed on April 2, 2017 at the age of 67. He is survived by his wife, Jen; one foster daughter, Michelle; three daughters, Annette, Vicki, and Megan; and two sons, Eddie and Jonathan, along with fur babies, 11 grandchildren, and many friends.


Sgt. Cari Gasiewicz // #22 Jack Quinn

Cari Gasiewicz lived life to the fullest, from parachuting to mountain climbing to scuba diving and found her true calling in the U.S. Army. Following two tours of duty as a Military Intelligence Agent in South Korea, she brought home a rescue puppy she named Sabre, after her favorite hockey team. 

Her Military Intelligence background and excellent language skills brought her stateside, where she took Arabic classes at the Defense Language Institute in Presidio, California. 

She then served at the Abu Ghraib Prison in Baghdad, where she acted act as Military Police and obtained crucial and lifesaving information while walking among the prisoners - none of whom knew she understood or spoke several dialects of Arabic.

On the day she was driving back to Kuwait to come home for good, her convoy was attacked and the vehicle she was driving was hit by a pair of IEDs. She was instantly killed.

Gasiewicz was 28 when she passed away and was awarded the Purple Heart.


SPC Theodore Matthew Glende // #71 Victor Olofsson

Before he was Spc. Theodore M. Glende, his parents remember him as just Matt - a quick witted, smart and fun-loving guy. 

Upon graduating from McQuaid Jesuit High School, Matt attended Niagara University and received a full scholarship for the Army ROTC. During his senior year, the cadets were informed that many would become reservists so he left school to enlist and serve. 

Glende was sent to Fort Benning to finish his training as a Private. Having completed his training as an Airborne Infantryman, he was sent to Vicenza, Italy where he served with the 503d Infantry/173d Airborne Brigade for about a year before deploying to Afghanistan, Kherwar, Logar Providence in June 2012. On his pre-deployment leave in April, he married his wife.

Glende was the SAW gunner and headed out on July 27, 2012 to do some practice rounds before going on duty when his combat outpost came under fire. Seeing one of his fellow soldiers go down with a leg injury. Matt followed the medic to give cover and help with aid. Two other soldiers joined them as they all took cover in a conge.

While protecting the medic and wounded soldier, their shelter was hit by a RPG killing Glende, which protected the others from major injury. One soldier was uninjured. Glende, at age 23, was the only fatality in his company while they were in Afghanistan. 

His parents were able to meet the men he served with and hear firsthand what happened that day, calling it a devesting day for all. They say his call to duty, while heartbreaking to those left behind, was unwavering and inspiring to all who knew him.


SSG Dennis Hansen // #74 Rasmus Asplund

Dennis Hansen served eight-and-a-half years in the Marine Corps before joining the Army, where he served at Fort Drum as an infantryman in the 1-32 CHOSIN Battalion. His deployments throughout his career include serving in Africa, Kosovo, Japan, Panama, Cuba and Iraq, as well as two tours in Afghanistan. 

His awards include the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf, the Purple Heart, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (1*), the Army Achievement Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (2*), the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Letter of Appreciation twice, the Certificate of Commendation and the Rifle Expert Badge Fourth Award.
 
Dennis was 31 years old when he died on December 7, 2009 in Landstuhl, Germany after suffering from injuries sustained in Logar Province, Afghanistan on December 3, 2009.


SPC Jason Hasenauer // #17 Mark Jankowski

Jason Hasenauer grew up in Hilton New York, the oldest of four brothers. He graduated from Hilton High School in 2003 and was a member of the Hilton Fire Department. He joined the Army in 2004 because he wanted to do more and to serve. He felt joining the military was the right thing to do.

As Army PFC, Hasenauer, he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. While serving at Fort Bragg, he joined the West Area Fire Department in Charlotte, North Carolina.  

He was deployed to Afghanistan in April 2005 and looked forward to returning to the United States to marry his girlfriend, Colette. 

Hasenauer died on December 28, 2005 at the age of 21 while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom. He was sitting in a machine-gun turret when his Humvee was forced off the road and overturned outside Kandahar, Afghanistan. He died of head injuries. Jason was posthumously awarded the rank of SPC.

Hasenauer had been a father to his daughter Kayla for just four weeks at the time of his death. All three of his brothers followed him into service; one in the Army and two in the Air Force.


SPC Jason M. Johnston // #29 Vinnie Hinostroza

Jason Johnston earned a reputation as hardworking and responsible while serving in an explorers program at the volunteer fire department in Albion, N.Y. That reputation followed him when he joined the Army in 2006.

"Jason always wanted to be in the military," his family said in a statement after his passing. "He said he felt a strong sense of duty to serve. He had been planning to apply to Syracuse University after his term in the Army."

He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Johnston's second deployment to Afghanistan was delayed, but the infantry paratrooper was eager to rejoin his unit.

"He fought to get over here with us this time just so he could fight for his country again and to be with his brother in arms," his friend and fellow soldier Spc. Joshua Leeson wrote from Afghanistan.

He died on December 26, 2009 in Arghandab, Afghanistan of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

"Johnston was the type of guy that did the job with little complaint, comment or fanfare - but always did the job well," his commander, Capt. Adam Armstrong, said.


SPC Nicholas Koeppel // #41 Craig Anderson

Nicholas Koeppel served in the U.S. Army in the 4th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division from 2012 until he was medically discharged in 2014. Nicholas was deployed to Afghanistan in 2013 where he served alongside special forces. 

During that time, Nick ran many missions and was also in charge of guarding the fab. During one of his routine guard duties, he saved the lives of himself and two fellow soldiers by defusing a tense situation that could have led to casualties on both sides. Because of this, he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and also earned him the rank of Specialist. 

His family says that anyone who knew Koeppel loved him because he was an amazing son, brother, uncle, soldier and friend. 

While he helped others, he struggled silently with PTSD for years. He passed away on October 3, 2018 at the age of 25.


CPT John J. Levulis // #1 Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

A combat infantryman, John Levulis was an avid athlete and community leader. He was a varsity letterman in soccer, basketball and lacrosse at Eden Jr./Sr. High School and served as captain of the varsity lacrosse team. While in high school, Levulis was also an active member of student government, a duty he continued in college. 

Having majored in criminal justice, Levulis graduated from Niagara University in May 2012 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He served with the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division at Ft. Drum. 

As a platoon leader, Levulis completed a nine-month tour in Afghanistan from 2013-2014 earning a Bronze Star and a Combat Infantry Badge. 

In May 2015, while en route to training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, the Humvee Levulis was traveling in was struck by a civilian vehicle. Days later, he died from injuries suffered in the accident. 

In 2015, friends and family created The Captain John J. Levulis Memorial Foundation Inc., a 501(c)(3), to honor and celebrate John's through charitable giving and community-based action.


Sgt. Jonathan E. Lootens // #72 Tage Thompson

Jonathan Lootens joined the military in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. 

Lootens served on multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. He had been serving his second tour Iraq for two months when he was killed in action on October 15, 2006 due to injuries sustained after an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Kirkuk. 

Lootens' military awards include the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart.


Shawn McMullen // #21 Kyle Okposo

Shawn McMullen had an unmistakable sense of humor. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of movie quotes, ranging from "The Notebook" to Adam Sandler. He loved children. He was, in his mother's words, chivalrous and honorable. 

Perhaps most prominently, McMullen lived to help others. He enlisted in the United States Army, a 19 Delta Calvary Scout, out of a sense of duty. He helped tend to other injured veterans even after suffering his own injuries during active service. 

He passed away at 26 in 2015, but not without one last gift. McMullen wore a green bracelet for organ donation at the time of his death and his donations helped give life to five other individuals

Read more about McMullen's story here. 


SPC Joseph Nelk // #19 Peyton Krebs

Joseph Nelk knew in the beginning of 9th grade he wanted to enlist. His mother remembers him as "a sarcastic, humor-filled, loyal friend, son and brother who dreamed of making it on his own in the world. His journey was cut short, but his memory lives on in those that remember him with love and humor."

He was in Ukraine on a joint training mission to help train Ukrainian soldiers in 2017 when he passed away suddenly at the age of 21, possibly of an aneurysm. 

His twin siblings called him "the one we could always depend on and even in the hardest of times. You kept our morale up with your jokes and general positivity."

His proudest achievement was receiving his specialist rank right before he boarded the plane to go to Ukraine since there was a lot of tactical learning and physical training needed to earn that rank.


LCpl. Eric Orlowski // #57 Brett Murray

Eric Orlowski was a proud Marine, but above all he was a proud father of his daughter CamerynLee. 

"He was always there for his daughter, and he loved her more than anything," CamerynLee's mother Nicole Kross, who is also an Air Force Reservist, said.

Orlowski, a reservist assigned to a Marine tank battalion, died on his first deployment. He passed away on March 22, 2003 in an accidental discharge of a machine gun. 

Orlowski was separated from his wife, but their daughter kept them close. He sent Kross letters from overseas, the last saying he was headed for Iraq. CamerynLee was 3 when Orlowski died.

"I don't think he was scared," Kross said. "The thing he feared most was leaving his daughter."


SSG Nicholas Reid // #47 Malcolm Subban

Nicholas Reid died while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2012. He served with the 53rd Ordnance Company of the 3rd Ordnance Battalion at Yakima Firing Range at Ft. Lewis in Washington.

Reid was clearing an area to ensure safe passage for Afghan children with his company and Speial Forces during his second tour of Afghanistan when an IED detonated. Reid was injured and later succumbed to his injuries at the army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.

A 2004 graduate of Brockport High School, Nicholas attended SUNY Brockport prior to joining the Army. Nicholas believed in this country, and felt it was duty to help protect it.


SPC Benjamin C. Schuster // #91 Drake Caggiula

Benjamin Schuster is remembered by his parents as a "fun and funny and very, very smart" son, brother, uncle and friend. He was killed in action on February 25, 2006 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Schuster joined the National Guard on October 30, 2003 and volunteered to be deployed after training as a Calvary Scot at Masten Armory. He was assigned to the 2nd Brigrade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. 

Schuster was an expert marksman and was awarded the National Defense Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

His dog tags are part of the Fallen Warrior Obelisk in Pennsylvania, where the wind passes through the structure, causing the ID tags move to create a subtle sound. 


LCpl. Zach Smith // #3 Mark Pysyk

Zach Smith met his wife, Anne, when they were attending the same small-town high school. He joined the United States Marine Corps after graduation, and they got married when he was 19 and she was 18. 

"We both knew that we are meant to be," she said in an essay written less than one week before he was killed in action in Afghanistan on July 25, 2009. They were only married for six months.

He died just 39 days into his first tour of Afghanistan on January 24, 2010 after an improvised explosive device exploded, killing Smith and three other Marines. 

U.S Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced legislation that renamed the Post Office in Hornell, N.Y. after Smith so that his legacy will forever live within the community. President Barack Obama and the US Marine Corps also posthumously awarded Smith with a Purple Heart.


SSG Joshua Daniel Thomas // #20 Cody Eakin

Joshua Thomas was born and raised in Jamestown, N.Y. and even though he had been all over the world, Western New York was the only place he ever wanted to call home. 

He was a "sapper" (a combat engineer) and served five tours overseas: one in Kosovo, two in Afghanistan and two in Iraq. Thomas was an excellent marksman and his family says he was proud to serve his country. He enjoyed spending time outdoors, hiking, canoeing, four wheeling, and being with friends and family. 

He loved spending time with his son John, whom, he always called his "cheeky fellow." John is now almost 9, and due to the face he was so young when his father passed, his only memory of him is from the last time they were together prior to his death. 

Thomas' family is very proud of him for his service and sacrifice.


SPC Teodoro Torres // #15 John Hayden

Teodoro Torres died on May 5, 2006 during Operation Iraqi Freedom when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Baghdad. The IED also killed two other soldiers. 

Torres, 29, was assigned to the 490th Civil Affairs Battalion, Army Reserve at Abilene, Texas and attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

 

SSG William R. "Billy" Wilson III // #10 Henri Jokiharju

Billy Wilson joined the Army in 2005 and is remembered as a truly a fearless man whose courage was countered by his sense of humility, selflessness, and genuinely caring for other people, particularly his family, friends, and teammates.

He was killed in action in Afghanistan on March 16, 2012. 

Wilson played lacrosse at Williamsville North High School and was named team captain as a senior.

His dedication, leadership, and overall sense of respect and care for others led to his rapid rise to the position of Staff Sergeant in the United States Army and to him being chosen as a Squad Leader in his unit in Afghanistan.

From his love for all things motorized, particularly his motorcycle and Camaro, to his need for adventure, be it snowboarding, bungee jumping, or jumping off any cliff in sight, Wilson's friends and family say he knew how to enjoy life, and knew how to get others to enjoy it with him. His love for fun and people, coupled with his desire for all around him to have as good a time as he was, led to him being the life of every party and room he entered.

He always cared for others above himself and was the first person to assist anyone in need in any way he possibly could. The SSG William R. Wilson III Memorial Foundation aims to help all those they can, while remembering Wilson, and all those who have served and have given their lives to our country.  
 

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