Sgt. William P. Rudd

WILLIAM PATRICK RUDD

1981 to October 5, 2008

Eight tours in service to his country

better-photo.jpg Sgt. William Patrick Rudd, 27, an Army Ranger who planned to go hunting with his father when he flew home to Madisonville, Kentucky for Thanksgiving, died Oct. 5th from wounds sustained while on combat patrol in northern Iraq. It was Patrick’s eighth deployment in support of the War on Terror – his sixth in Iraq. Two previous tours were spent in Afghanistan.

The one thing that sustains his father, William E. Rudd, a Madisonville real estate broker, is that his son loved his job. “When someone loves something so much and something bad happens, we’re at peace with it,” said Bill Rudd, who has been buoyed by “the love and prayers” of his community. “Through God’s strength, we’re able to celebrate his life.”

A lanky young man with the sunny disposition

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David Nunez

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DAVID NUNEZ

June 16, 1980 to May 29, 2008


Flawed like the rest of us

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following message, posted originally in Spanish by a woman named Gloria, was in reaction to a Los Angeles Times obituary devoted to Sgt. 1st Class David Nunez, 27, of Los Angeles, a member of the U.S. Army’s elite Green Berets, who died as a result of small arms fire on May 29, 2008 in Shewan, Afghanistan.  More than anything else, the poignancy of the response rests in the first sentence, which stands as one of the most memorable (if not the most memorable) tributes to a young man who, while flawed like the rest of us, so loved his country that he made the ultimate sacrifice.

A womanizer, liar, and drinker

nunez-4.jpgYou were a womanizer, liar, and drinker. But this does not take away your good qualities. You were human, and like all humans you made errors. Nobody knows about me or about our love, and they never will know in reality what happened with us. It made me sad to see you buried and your death in this way. But my comfort is my memories of you and the time we lived together. We were very happy in that time. What I do know is that your only and true love was your work. You died doing what you wanted most in life. In reality I never understood what it was that you did but just hearing you talk about it was enough to know that you enjoyed it. Now you can rest, you did your part in this battle. You will always live in my heart. Gloria”

Into his third deployment

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Faoa L. Apineru

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FAOA L. APINERU

1976 to 2007 to August 3, 2008

Semper Fi

Considerably after the fact

apineru.jpgIt’s strange how one Marine’s death can affect so many – especially when it is acknowledged considerably after the fact. Such is the case with Faoa L. Apineru, 31, of Yorba Linda, a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve, who died on July 2, 2007, two years after suffering massive brain injuries due to a roadside bomb attack in Anbar province, west of Baghdad. Yet, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) did not officially recognize his death as resulting from the Iraq war until August 3, 2008.

Just how did the DOD explain the cause of death of the strapping Samoan, formerly a black belt in karate and marathon runner, who was confined for over two years in the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in Palo Alto, his brain so traumatized with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he had to relearn how to walk, talk and drive? Perhaps the DOD viewed Apineru’s loss of memory, his inability to distinguish nightmares from reality, his tendency to attack anyone who resembled a “jihadist” (his term for the enemy, said his brother, Selemaea Apineru of Colorado) as some sort of a chemical imbalance.  The Department of Defense isn’t saying.

Reliving the attack in recurring nightmares

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Corporal Joseph C. McCarthy, USMC

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CORPORAL JOSEPH C. MCCARTHY

March 21, 1983 to Sept. 6, 2004

[EDITOR’S NOTE: On this Memorial Day 2008, a U.S. Marine is remembered for his sweet heart and belief in future generations, a belief his family gives voice to through a foundation bearing their fallen hero’s name.]

“Hearts and minds, gents”

Lance Cpl. Joseph C. McCarthy, 21, would kneel down and clown around with Iraqi children, dispensing fistfuls of candy (which he always carried), even in dangerous situations. “Hearts and minds, gents,” he would quip, leveling a frisky grin at fellow Marines concerned for his safety.  McCarthy’s sweet-dispensing ways won him the nickname “Willie Wonka.”

Joe’s mother, Rhonda McCarthy of St. John’s, AZ, said her son believed Iraqi children “were going to change the world.”  On Easter Sunday in 2004, she said, he handed out candy to youngsters at a military checkpoint west of Fallujah while strangers, who could have been insurgents, looked on. “He did it because he loved kids,” Rhonda McCarthy said. “Joe was the peacemaker that day, and they were all laughing and joking within minutes.”

Couldn’t wait to…get in the corps

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Sgt. Timothy Smith, U.S. Army

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TIMOTHY MICHAEL SMITH

Sept. 20, 1982 to April 7, 2008

Stop-Loss

Stop-Loss orders suspend discharges so that experienced members of the military can continue to serve at a time of national crisis. Hollywood made a movie about it. The reality ordered Sergeant Timothy Michael Smith back to duty last year. He died April 7th when his Humvee struck an improvised explosive device in the streets of Baghdad. He was 25 years old.

Known to family and friends in his hometown of South Lake Tahoe as “Timmy,” the newly-married sergeant had already served one tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2006 and should have been released from the Army last November. Instead, he was redeployed to Iraq as part of the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Polk, Louisiana.

Pretty gung-ho

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