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

Vernon W Martin

Savannah, Georgia

October 3, 2009

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
25 Army SSG

3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division

Fort Carson, Colorado

 Killed in Kamdesh, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked their contingency outpost with small arms, rocket-propelled grenade and indirect fires.

Sgt. Vernon William Martin
Posthumously promoted to Staff Sgt. Vernon W. Martin

Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Army Commendation Medal with V device
Army Achievement Medal (2 awards)
Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Korean Defense Service Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star
Iraq Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon (2 awards)
NATO Medal
Combat Action Badge
Carson honors 15 killed in Afghanistan

By Dan Elliott
The Associated Press

FORT CARSON, Colo. — Fort Carson paid somber tribute Wednesday to 15 of its soldiers killed in Afghanistan last month, the worst single month for combat deaths the post has endured since the Vietnam War.

Eight soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division were killed in a single battle on Oct. 3, and seven soldiers from the 4th Engineer Battalion were killed in three separate incidents.

The 4th Infantry soldiers were honored at a service in the Soldiers’ Memorial Chapel at midday. A second service was scheduled later in the day for the others.

Chuckles rippled through the nearly full chapel as letters were read from soldiers still in Afghanistan recounting the fallen troops’ lives and praising their bravery and friendship.

“I would have followed that man straight to hell if he thought it was a good idea,” one letter said of Sgt. Joshua T. Kirk, 30, of South Portland, Maine.

Maj. Dan Chandler said each of the eight 4th Infantry soldiers enlisted after the terrorist Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “They were helping to make a difference when they were taken from us,” he said.

The others killed in that battle were Staff Sgt. Justin T. Gallegos, 27, of Tucson, Ariz.; Staff Sgt. Vernon W. Martin, 25, Savannah, Ga.; Sgt. Joshua M. Hardt, 24, Applegate, Calif.; Sgt. Michael P. Scusa, 22, Villas, N.J.; Spc. Christopher T. Griffin, 24, Kincheloe, Mich.; Spc. Stephan L. Mace, 21, Lovettsville, Va.; and Pfc. Kevin C. Thomson, 22, Reno, Nev.

Across the front of the chapel, each fallen soldier was represented in the Army tradition with his portrait, a pair of boots and an M-4 rifle, standing muzzle-down with a helmet resting atop it and dog tags dangling from the pistol grip. The boots had spurs with black straps, signifying the eight were members of a cavalry regiment.

A soldier sobbed quietly at the back of the chapel as Sgt. Major Leslie Frye called the roll, pausing silently after he twice called out the name of each man killed.

Outside the chapel, seven riflemen fired three volleys in a 21-gun salute, and a bugle played taps.

Army Secretary John McHugh attended the service but didn’t speak. He was also scheduled to attend the second service and then hold a news conference.

The 4th Engineer Battalion soldiers were Staff Sgt. Glen H. Stivison Jr., 34, of Blairsville, Pa.; Spc. Kevin O. Hill, 23, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Spc. Jesus O. Flores, 28, La Mirada, Calif.; Spc. Daniel C. Lawson, 33, of Deerfield Beach, Fla.; Spc. Eric N. Lembke, 25, Tampa, Fla.; Spc. Kimble A. Han, 30, Lehi, Utah; and Pfc. Brandon M. Styer, 19, Lancaster, Pa.

Fort Carson says 32 soldiers from the post have been killed in Afghanistan and 255 have been killed in Iraq. Officials said they did not know the exact month and year when the post had more soldiers killed in combat but said it was in Vietnam.

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