Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Forrest N Leamon

Woodbridge, New Jersey

October 26, 2009

Age

Position

Unit/Location
37 SA

Drug Enforcement Administration

Washington, D.C.

 Killed in helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

DEA News Release:

DEA Mourns the Loss of Three DEA Special Agents in Afghanistan

OCT 26 - WASHINGTON, DC –

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) today confirmed that three Special Agents were killed during a counternarcotics mission in Afghanistan.

Today, the Drug Enforcement Administration mourns the tragic loss of three DEA Special Agents and seven U.S. service members killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, said Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. The incident occurred during the early morning hours of October 26, when these heroic individuals were returning from a completed, joint counternarcotics mission.

We are all saddened by this tragic event. DEA is an extremely tight family, and the death of these three brave agents is a devastating loss for us. No expressions of grief can adequately convey the depth of the collective sorrow that we feel for their loved ones.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family members of our fallen heroes. We owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid and we will forever carry their memories in our hearts.

Special Agents Leamon and Michael were members of DEA’s FAST (Foreign-deployed Advisory and Support Teams); and Special Agent Weston was assigned to DEA’s Kabul Country Office. 

From The Washington Post washingtonpost.com 10/28/09:

3 D.C. area agents, 7 others die in helicopter crash in Afghanistan

By Christian Davenport
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Forrest N. Leamon had just celebrated his one-year wedding anniversary this month, and the special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration was due home from Afghanistan in January, just in time for the birth of his first child.

But Leamon, 37, of Woodbridge, was killed in a helicopter crash Monday in Afghanistan along with two other agents with ties to the D.C. area who were working with the U.S. military to fight drug trafficking in the region.

Also killed in the crash were agents Chad L. Michael, 30, of Quantico, and Michael E. Weston, 37, of the District, and seven U.S. troops. Another helicopter crash Monday claimed the lives of four U.S. service members, making Monday one of the deadliest for U.S. forces in Afghanistan since military operations began nearly eight years ago.

U.S. officials said no enemy attack was involved in either crash, but a Taliban spokesman claimed that insurgents had shot down a helicopter in the western province of Badghis, an assertion that could not be verified.

Michael was a go-getter who wanted to serve his country, said Kim Parnofiello-Windell, an old friend. He started out working for a sheriff's department in South Florida and worked his way up to the SWAT team and narcotics. But he still wanted more, she said.

"He was young and ambitious," she said. And while he enjoyed local law enforcement, "I don't think that was enough," she said. "He wanted something bigger."

So he applied to the DEA and finally got his wish to serve overseas.

"He pursued exactly what he wanted to do, and that was to make a difference," she said.

Leamon felt the same way. He grew up in Northern California, and served in the Navy before joining the DEA. He was tall and fit, an avid outdoorsman who loved to fish and rock climb, said his sister, Heather Leamon.

His family was concerned when he shipped out to Afghanistan, especially because he was married with a child on the way. He didn't say there was no danger. But he felt ready and well-trained and said he'd be taken care of.

"He was really looking forward to that new chapter in his life," Heather Leamon said.

In a statement, DEA Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said the agency was saddened by the deaths.

"No expressions of grief can adequately convey the depth of the collective sorrow that we feel for their loved ones," she said.

Staff writers Pamela Constable and Joshua Partlow and researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report. 

From Newsweek newsweek.com 10/26/11:

DEA Agents Die in Afghanistan Helicopter Crash
by Michael IsikoffOctober 26, 2009

Three U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents were killed on a U.S. military helicopter that crashed in western Afghanistan yesterday during a counternarcotics mission, according to two law-enforcement sources who asked not to be identified.

The deaths of the three federal drug agents—along with seven U.S. members of the military on the flight—underscored the sharp escalation in the DEA's presence in Afghanistan in recent months as NATO forces make fighting the drug trade a major focus in their war against the Taliban.

The three agents were the first from DEA to lose their lives in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion. All three were described as veteran agents; their identities won't be released until officials have a chance to notify the families. "This is tough," said one DEA veteran. "It's a small agency that's like a close-knit family."

The deaths—on what turned out to be an exceptionally bloody day for U.S. forces, with 14 people killed overall on Sunday—are also certain to highlight the mounting risks in the U.S. fight in Afghanistan. The DEA agents were accompanied by U.S. Marine and U.S. Army special forces. Their chopper went down after a firefight, but one source said the crash appears to have been unrelated to hostile fire.

U.S. officials say they have found growing evidence of connections between the Taliban and the heroin trade, causing the U.S. military—working closely with the DEA—to step up raids on drug trafficking sites. DEA officials recently confirmed that the agency's own presence in Afghanistan has increased sharply, from 13 agents to about 80.

From FOX Washington D.C. myfoxdc.com 10/28/09:

Three DEA Agents Killed in Afghanistan
The three men died in a helicopter crash

Updated: Wednesday, 28 Oct 2009, 12:21 AM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 27 Oct 2009, 5:08 PM EDT

VIDEO STORY BY TOM FITZGERALD and BOB BARNARD/myfoxdc

WASHINGTON - The Drug Enforcement Administration has identified the three agents killed Monday in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, the agency's first fatalities in its counter-narcotics operations in that country. All three man are from the D.C. Region.

They were Special Agent Forrest Leamon, Special Agent Chad Michael and Special Agent Michael Weston. The men were assigned to the agency's fight against the opium trade in Afghanistan, which often funds insurgent activity.

DEA employees learned the names of the men in an email that went out Tuesday.

The DEA began operations there in 2005, but in the past year launched plans to greatly expand the effort, from about a dozen agents to nearly 80.

The three men died in a helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of seven U.S. service members. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Michael, 30, of Quantico, Va., had been working at the DEA's office in Miami until August, when he transferred to Afghanistan.

The head of the Miami office, Mark Trouville, remembered Michael as an accomplished agent who had done undercover work, including the takedown of a major Colombian heroin smuggling operation.

"He was a hard-charging case maker. He wanted to go and do this. He wanted to make a difference," Trouville said Tuesday. "He was a young man with a lot of energy and a lot of talents."

Leamon, 37, of Woodbridge, Va., had been working in Afghanistan since 2007. Weston, 37, of Washington, had worked until August at the Richmond, Va., office.

The deaths of agents Leamon, Michael and Weston are the first DEA fatalities since the war began even though the DEA has been operating in Afghanistan since 2005.

Their mission was part of a stepped up effort in recent months by the U.S. to disrupt drug trafficking that is thought to fund Taliban insurgents. 

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