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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Taking Chance

I'm at a loss for words on this - forwarded by Seamus:

Taking Chance
Chance Phelps was wearing his Saint Christopher medal when he was killed on Good Friday. Eight days later, I handed the medallion to his mother. I didn’t know Chance before he died. Today, I miss him.

Over a year ago, I volunteered to escort the remains of Marines killed in Iraq should the need arise. The military provides a uniformed escort for all casualties to ensure they are delivered safely to the next of kin and are treated with dignity and respect along the way.

Thankfully, I hadn’t been called on to be an escort since Operation Iraqi Freedom began. The first few weeks of April, however, had been a tough month for the Marines. On the Monday after Easter I was reviewing Department of Defense press releases when I saw that a Private First Class Chance Phelps was killed in action outside of Baghdad. The press release listed his hometown—the same town I’m from. I notified our Battalion adjutant and told him that, should the duty to escort PFC Phelps fall to our Battalion, I would take him.

I didn’t hear back the rest of Monday and all day Tuesday until 1800. The Battalion duty NCO called my cell phone and said I needed to be ready to leave for Dover Air Force Base at 1900 in order to escort the remains of PFC Phelps.

Before leaving for Dover I called the major who had the task of informing Phelps’s parents of his death. The major said the funeral was going to be in Dubois, Wyoming. (It turned out that PFC Phelps only lived in my hometown for his senior year of high school.) I had never been to Wyoming and had never heard of Dubois.

With two other escorts from Quantico, I got to Dover AFB at 2330 on Tuesday night. First thing on Wednesday we reported to the mortuary at the base. In the escort lounge there were about half a dozen Army soldiers and about an equal number of Marines waiting to meet up with “their” remains for departure. PFC Phelps was not ready, however, and I was told to come back on Thursday. Now, at Dover with nothing to do and a solemn mission ahead, I began to get depressed.

I was wondering about Chance Phelps. I didn’t know anything about him; not even what he looked like. I wondered about his family and what it would be like to meet them. I did pushups in my room until I couldn’t do any more.

On Thursday morning I reported back to the mortuary. This time there was a new group of Army escorts and a couple of the Marines who had been there Wednesday. There was also an Air Force captain there to escort his brother home to San Diego.

We received a brief covering our duties, the proper handling of the remains, the procedures for draping a flag over a casket, and of course, the paperwork attendant to our task. We were shown pictures of the shipping container and told that each one contained, in addition to the casket, a flag. I was given an extra flag since Phelps’s parents were divorced. This way they would each get one. I didn’t like the idea of stuffing the flag into my luggage but I couldn’t see carrying a large flag, folded for presentation to the next of kin, through an airport while in my Alpha uniform. It barely fit into my suitcase.

It turned out that I was the last escort to leave on Thursday. This meant that I repeatedly got to participate in the small ceremonies that mark all departures from the Dover AFB mortuary.

Most of the remains are taken from Dover AFB by hearse to the airport in Philadelphia for air transport to their final destination. When the remains of a service member are loaded onto a hearse and ready to leave the Dover mortuary, there is an announcement made over the building’s intercom system. With the announcement, all service members working at the mortuary, regardless of service branch, stop work and form up along the driveway to render a slow ceremonial salute as the hearse departs. Escorts also participated in each formation until it was their time to leave.

On this day there were some civilian workers doing construction on the mortuary grounds. As each hearse passed, they would stop working and place their hard hats over their hearts. This was my first sign that my mission with PFC Phelps was larger than the Marine Corps and that his family and friends were not grieving alone.

Eventually I was the last escort remaining in the lounge. The Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant in charge of the Marine liaison there came to see me. He had Chance Phelps’s personal effects. He removed each item; a large watch, a wooden cross with a lanyard, two loose dog tags, two dog tags on a chain, and a Saint Christopher medal on a silver chain. Although we had been briefed that we might be carrying some personal effects of the deceased, this set me aback. Holding his personal effects, I was starting to get to know Chance Phelps.

Finally we were ready. I grabbed my bags and went outside. I was somewhat startled when I saw the shipping container, loaded three-quarters of the way in to the back of a black Chevy Suburban that had been modified to carry such cargo. This was the first time I saw my “cargo” and I was surprised at how large the shipping container was. The Master Gunnery Sergeant and I verified that the name on the container was Phelps’s then they pushed him the rest of the way in and we left. Now it was PFC Chance Phelps’s turn to receive the military—and construction workers’—honors. He was finally moving towards home.

As I chatted with the driver on the hour-long trip to Philadelphia, it became clear that he considered it an honor to be able to contribute in getting Chance home. He offered his sympathy to the family. I was glad to finally be moving yet apprehensive about what things would be like at the airport. I didn’t want this package to be treated like ordinary cargo, but I knew that the simple logistics of moving around a box this large would have to overrule my preferences.

When we got to the Northwest Airlines cargo terminal at the Philadelphia airport, the cargo handler and hearse driver pulled the shipping container onto a loading bay while I stood to the side and executed a slow salute. Once Chance was safely in the cargo area, and I was satisfied that he would be treated with due care and respect, the hearse driver drove me over to the passenger terminal and dropped me off.

As I walked up to the ticketing counter in my uniform, a Northwest employee started to ask me if I knew how to use the automated boarding pass dispenser. Before she could finish another ticketing agent interrupted her. He told me to go straight to the counter then explained to the woman that I was a military escort. She seemed embarrassed. The woman behind the counter already had tears in her eyes as I was pulling out my government travel voucher. She struggled to find words but managed to express her sympathy for the family and thank me for my service. She upgraded my ticket to first class.

After clearing security, I was met by another Northwest Airline employee at the gate. She told me a representative from cargo would be up to take me down to the tarmac to observe the movement and loading of PFC Phelps. I hadn’t really told any of them what my mission was but they all knew.

When the man from the cargo crew met me, he, too, struggled for words. On the tarmac, he told me stories of his childhood as a military brat and repeatedly told me that he was sorry for my loss. I was starting to understand that, even here in Philadelphia, far away from Chance’s hometown, people were mourning with his family.

On the tarmac, the cargo crew was silent except for occasional instructions to each other. I stood to the side and saluted as the conveyor moved Chance to the aircraft. I was relieved when he was finally settled into place. The rest of the bags were loaded and I watched them shut the cargo bay door before heading back up to board the aircraft.

One of the pilots had taken my carry-on bag himself and had it stored next to the cockpit door so he could watch it while I was on the tarmac. As I boarded the plane, I could tell immediately that the flight attendants had already been informed of my mission. They seemed a little choked up as they led me to my seat.

About 45 minutes into our flight I still hadn’t spoken to anyone except to tell the first class flight attendant that I would prefer water. I was surprised when the flight attendant from the back of the plane suddenly appeared and leaned down to grab my hands. She said, “I want you to have this” as she pushed a small gold crucifix, with a relief of Jesus, into my hand. It was her lapel pin and it looked somewhat worn. I suspected it had been hers for quite some time. That was the only thing she said to me the entire flight.

When we landed in Minneapolis, I was the first one off the plane. The pilot himself escorted me straight down the side stairs of the exit tunnel to the tarmac. The cargo crew there already knew what was on this plane. They were unloading some of the luggage when an Army sergeant, a fellow escort who had left Dover earlier that day, appeared next to me. His “cargo” was going to be loaded onto my plane for its continuing leg. We stood side by side in the dark and executed a slow salute as Chance was removed from the plane. The cargo crew at Minneapolis kept Phelps’s shipping case separate from all the other luggage as they waited to take us to the cargo area. I waited with the soldier and we saluted together as his fallen comrade was loaded onto the plane.

My trip with Chance was going to be somewhat unusual in that we were going to have an overnight stopover. We had a late start out of Dover and there was just too much traveling ahead of us to continue on that day. (We still had a flight from Minneapolis to Billings, Montana, then a five-hour drive to the funeral home. That was to be followed by a 90-minute drive to Chance’s hometown.)

I was concerned about leaving him overnight in the Minneapolis cargo area. My ten-minute ride from the tarmac to the cargo holding area eased my apprehension. Just as in Philadelphia, the cargo guys in Minneapolis were extremely respectful and seemed honored to do their part. While talking with them, I learned that the cargo supervisor for Northwest Airlines at the Minneapolis airport is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves. They called him for me and let me talk to him.

Once I was satisfied that all would be okay for the night, I asked one of the cargo crew if he would take me back to the terminal so that I could catch my hotel’s shuttle. Instead, he drove me straight to the hotel himself. At the hotel, the Lieutenant Colonel called me and said he would personally pick me up in the morning and bring me back to the cargo area.

Before leaving the airport, I had told the cargo crew that I wanted to come back to the cargo area in the morning rather than go straight to the passenger terminal. I felt bad for leaving Chance overnight and wanted to see the shipping container where I had left it for the night. It was fine.

The Lieutenant Colonel made a few phone calls then drove me around to the passenger terminal. I was met again by a man from the cargo crew and escorted down to the tarmac. The pilot of the plane joined me as I waited for them to bring Chance from the cargo area. The pilot and I talked of his service in the Air Force and how he missed it.

I saluted as Chance was moved up the conveyor and onto the plane. It was to be a while before the luggage was to be loaded so the pilot took me up to the board the plane where I could watch the tarmac from a window. With no other passengers yet on board, I talked with the flight attendants and one of the cargo guys. He had been in the Navy and one of the attendants had been in the Air Force. Everywhere I went, people were continuing to tell me their relationship to the military. After all the baggage was aboard, I went back down to the tarmac, inspected the cargo bay, and watched them secure the door.

When we arrived at Billings, I was again the first off the plane. This time Chance’s shipping container was the first item out of the cargo hold. The funeral director had driven five hours up from Riverton, Wyoming to meet us. He shook my hand as if I had personally lost a brother.

We moved Chance to a secluded cargo area. Now it was time for me to remove the shipping container and drape the flag over the casket. I had predicted that this would choke me up but I found I was more concerned with proper flag etiquette than the solemnity of the moment. Once the flag was in place, I stood by and saluted as Chance was loaded onto the van from the funeral home. I was thankful that we were in a small airport and the event seemed to go mostly unnoticed. I picked up my rental car and followed Chance for five hours until we reached Riverton. During the long trip I imagined how my meeting with Chance’s parents would go. I was very nervous about that.

When we finally arrived at the funeral home, I had my first face to face meeting with the Casualty Assistance Call Officer. It had been his duty to inform the family of Chance’s death. He was on the Inspector/Instructor staff of an infantry company in Salt Lake City, Utah and I knew he had had a difficult week.

Inside I gave the funeral director some of the paperwork from Dover and discussed the plan for the next day. The service was to be at 1400 in the high school gymnasium up in Dubois, population about 900, some 90 miles away. Eventually, we had covered everything. The CACO had some items that the family wanted to be inserted into the casket and I felt I needed to inspect Chance’s uniform to ensure everything was proper. Although it was going to be a closed casket funeral, I still wanted to ensure his uniform was squared away.

Earlier in the day I wasn’t sure how I’d handle this moment. Suddenly, the casket was open and I got my first look at Chance Phelps. His uniform was immaculate—a tribute to the professionalism of the Marines at Dover. I noticed that he wore six ribbons over his marksmanship badge; the senior one was his Purple Heart. I had been in the Corps for over 17 years, including a combat tour, and was wearing eight ribbons. This Private First Class, with less than a year in the Corps, had already earned six.

The next morning, I wore my dress blues and followed the hearse for the trip up to Dubois. This was the most difficult leg of our trip for me. I was bracing for the moment when I would meet his parents and hoping I would find the right words as I presented them with Chance’s personal effects.

We got to the high school gym about four hours before the service was to begin. The gym floor was covered with folding chairs neatly lined in rows. There were a few townspeople making final preparations when I stood next to the hearse and saluted as Chance was moved out of the hearse. The sight of a flag-draped coffin was overwhelming to some of the ladies.

We moved Chance into the gym to the place of honor. A Marine sergeant, the command representative from Chance’s battalion, met me at the gym. His eyes were watery as he relieved me of watching Chance so that I could go eat lunch and find my hotel.

At the restaurant, the table had a flier announcing Chance’s service. Dubois High School gym; two o’ clock. It also said that the family would be accepting donations so that they could buy flak vests to send to troops in Iraq.

I drove back to the gym at a quarter after one. I could’ve walked—you could walk to just about anywhere in Dubois in ten minutes. I had planned to find a quiet room where I could take his things out of their pouch and untangle the chain of the Saint Christopher medal from the dog tag chains and arrange everything before his parents came in. I had twice before removed the items from the pouch to ensure they were all there—even though there was no chance anything could’ve fallen out. Each time, the two chains had been quite tangled. I didn’t want to be fumbling around trying to untangle them in front of his parents. Our meeting, however, didn’t go as expected.

I practically bumped into Chance’s step-mom accidentally and our introductions began in the noisy hallway outside the gym. In short order I had met Chance’s step-mom and father followed by his step-dad and, at last, his mom. I didn’t know how to express to these people my sympathy for their loss and my gratitude for their sacrifice. Now, however, they were repeatedly thanking me for bringing their son home and for my service. I was humbled beyond words.

I told them that I had some of Chance’s things and asked if we could try to find a quiet place. The five of us ended up in what appeared to be a computer lab—not what I had envisioned for this occasion.

After we had arranged five chairs around a small table, I told them about our trip. I told them how, at every step, Chance was treated with respect, dignity, and honor. I told them about the staff at Dover and all the folks at Northwest Airlines. I tried to convey how the entire Nation, from Dover to Philadelphia, to Minneapolis, to Billings, and Riverton expressed grief and sympathy over their loss.

Finally, it was time to open the pouch. The first item I happened to pull out was Chance’s large watch. It was still set to Baghdad time. Next were the lanyard and the wooden cross. Then the dog tags and the Saint Christopher medal. This time the chains were not tangled. Once all of his items were laid out on the table, I told his mom that I had one other item to give them. I retrieved the flight attendant’s crucifix from my pocket and told its story. I set that on the table and excused myself. When I next saw Chance’s mom, she was wearing the crucifix on her lapel.

By 1400 most of the seats on the gym floor were filled and people were finding seats in the fixed bleachers high above the gym floor. There were a surprising number of people in military uniform. Many Marines had come up from Salt Lake City. Men from various VFW posts and the Marine Corps League occupied multiple rows of folding chairs. We all stood as Chance’s family took their seats in the front.

It turned out that Chance’s sister, a Petty Officer in the Navy, worked for a Rear Admiral—the Chief of Naval Intelligence—at the Pentagon. The Admiral had brought many of the sailors on his staff with him to Dubois pay respects to Chance and support his sister. After a few songs and some words from a Navy Chaplain, the Admiral took the microphone and told us how Chance had died.

Chance was an artillery cannoneer and his unit was acting as provisional military police outside of Baghdad. Chance had volunteered to man a .50 caliber machine gun in the turret of the leading vehicle in a convoy. The convoy came under intense fire but Chance stayed true to his post and returned fire with the big gun, covering the rest of the convoy, until he was fatally wounded.

Then the commander of the local VFW post read some of the letters Chance had written home. In letters to his mom he talked of the mosquitoes and the heat. In letters to his stepfather he told of the dangers of convoy operations and of receiving fire.

The service was a fitting tribute to this hero. When it was over, we stood as the casket was wheeled out with the family following. The casket was placed onto a horse-drawn carriage for the mile-long trip from the gym, down the main street, then up the steep hill to the cemetery. I stood alone and saluted as the carriage departed the high school. I found my car and joined Chance’s convoy.

The town seemingly went from the gym to the street. All along the route, the people had lined the street and were waving small American flags. The flags that were otherwise posted were all at half-staff. For the last quarter mile up the hill, local boy scouts, spaced about 20 feet apart, all in uniform, held large flags. At the foot of the hill, I could look up and back and see the enormity of our procession. I wondered how many people would be at this funeral if it were in, say, Detroit or Los Angeles—probably not as many as were here in little Dubois, Wyoming.

The carriage stopped about 15 yards from the grave and the military pall bearers and the family waited until the men of the VFW and Marine Corps league were formed up and school busses had arrived carrying many of the people from the procession route. Once the entire crowd was in place, the pallbearers came to attention and began to remove the casket from the caisson. As I had done all week, I came to attention and executed a slow ceremonial salute as Chance was being transferred from one mode of transport to another.

From Dover to Philadelphia; Philadelphia to Minneapolis; Minneapolis to Billings; Billings to Riverton; and Riverton to Dubois we had been together. Now, as I watched them carry him the final 15 yards, I was choking up. I felt that, as long as he was still moving, he was somehow still alive.

Then they put him down above his grave. He had stopped moving.

Although my mission had been officially complete once I turned him over to the funeral director at the Billings airport, it was his placement at his grave that really concluded it in my mind. Now, he was home to stay and I suddenly felt at once sad, relieved, and useless.

The chaplain said some words that I couldn’t hear and two Marines removed the flag from the casket and slowly folded it for presentation to his mother. When the ceremony was over, Chance’s father placed a ribbon from his service in Vietnam on Chance’s casket. His mother approached the casket and took something from her blouse and put it on the casket. I later saw that it was the flight attendant’s crucifix. Eventually friends of Chance’s moved closer to the grave. A young man put a can of Copenhagen on the casket and many others left flowers.

Finally, we all went back to the gym for a reception. There was enough food to feed the entire population for a few days. In one corner of the gym there was a table set up with lots of pictures of Chance and some of his sports awards. People were continually approaching me and the other Marines to thank us for our service. Almost all of them had some story to tell about their connection to the military. About an hour into the reception, I had the impression that every man in Wyoming had, at one time or another, been in the service.

. It seemed like every time I saw Chance’s mom she was hugging a different well wisher. As time passed, I began to hear people laughing. We were starting to heal.

After a few hours at the gym, I went back to the hotel to change out of my dress blues. The local VFW post had invited everyone over to “celebrate Chance’s life.” The Post was on the other end of town from my hotel and the drive took less than two minutes. The crowd was somewhat smaller than what had been at the gym but the Post was packed.

Marines were playing pool at the two tables near the entrance and most of the VFW members were at the bar or around the tables in the bar area. The largest room in the Post was a banquet/dinning/dancing area and it was now called “The Chance Phelps Room.” Above the entry were two items: a large portrait of Chance in his dress blues and the Eagle, Globe, & Anchor. In one corner of the room there was another memorial to Chance. There were candles burning around another picture of him in his blues. On the table surrounding his photo were his Purple Heart citation and his Purple Heart medal. There was also a framed copy of an excerpt from the Congressional Record. This was an elegant tribute to Chance Phelps delivered on the floor of the United States House of Representatives by Congressman Scott McInnis of Colorado. Above it all was a television that was playing a photo montage of Chance’s life from small boy to proud Marine.

I did not buy a drink that night. As had been happening all day, indeed all week, people were thanking me for my service and for bringing Chance home. Now, in addition to words and handshakes, they were thanking me with beer. I fell in with the men who had handled the horses and horse-drawn carriage. I learned that they had worked through the night to groom and prepare the horses for Chance’s last ride. They were all very grateful that they were able to contribute.

After a while we all gathered in the Chance Phelps room for the formal dedication. The Post commander told us of how Chance had been so looking forward to becoming a Life Member of the VFW. Now, in the Chance Phelps Room of the Dubois, Wyoming post, he would be an eternal member. We all raised our beers and the Chance Phelps room was christened.

Later, as I was walking toward the pool tables, a Staff Sergeant from the Reserve unit in Salt Lake grabbed me and said, “Sir, you gotta hear this.” There were two other Marines with him and he told the younger one, a Lance Corporal, to tell me his story. The Staff Sergeant said the Lance Corporal was normally too shy and modest to tell it but now he’d had enough beer to overcome his usual tendencies.

As the Lance Corporal started to talk, an older man joined our circle. He wore a baseball cap that indicated he had been with the 1st Marine Division in Korea. Earlier in the evening he had told me about one of his former commanding officers; a Colonel Puller.

So, there I was, standing in a circle with three Marines recently returned from fighting with the 1st Marine Division in Iraq and one not so recently returned from fighting with the 1st Marine Division in Korea. I, who had fought with the 1st Marine Division in Kuwait, was about to gain a new insight into our Corps.

The young Lance Corporal began to tell us his story. At that moment, in this circle of current and former Marines, the differences in our ages and ranks dissipated—we were all simply Marines.

His squad had been on a patrol through a city street. They had taken small arms fire and had literally dodged an RPG round that sailed between two Marines. At one point they received fire from behind a wall and had neutralized the sniper with a SMAW round. The back blast of the SMAW, however, kicked up a substantial rock that hammered the Lance Corporal in the thigh; only missing his groin because he had reflexively turned his body sideways at the shot.

Their squad had suffered some wounded and was receiving more sniper fire when suddenly he was hit in the head by an AK-47 round. I was stunned as he told us how he felt like a baseball bat had been slammed into his head. He had spun around and fell unconscious. When he came to, he had a severe scalp wound but his Kevlar helmet had saved his life. He continued with his unit for a few days before realizing he was suffering the effects of a severe concussion.

As I stood there in the circle with the old man and the other Marines, the Staff Sergeant finished the story. He told of how this Lance Corporal had begged and pleaded with the Battalion surgeon to let him stay with his unit. In the end, the doctor said there was just no way—he had suffered a severe and traumatic head wound and would have to be med’evaced.

The Marine Corps is a special fraternity. There are moments when we are reminded of this. Interestingly, those moments don’t always happen at awards ceremonies or in dress blues at Birthday Balls. I have found, rather, that they occur at unexpected times and places: next to a loaded moving van at Camp Lejeune’s base housing, in a dirty CP tent in northern Saudi Arabia, and in a smoky VFW post in western Wyoming.

After the story was done, the Lance Corporal stepped over to the old man, put his arm over the man’s shoulder and told him that he, the Korean War vet, was his hero. The two of them stood there with their arms over each other’s shoulders and we were all silent for a moment. When they let go, I told the Lance Corporal that there were recruits down on the yellow footprints tonight that would soon be learning his story.

I was finished drinking beer and telling stories. I found Chance’s father and shook his hand one more time. Chance’s mom had already left and I deeply regretted not being able to tell her goodbye.

I left Dubois in the morning before sunrise for my long drive back to Billings. It had been my honor to take Chance Phelps to his final post. Now he was on the high ground overlooking his town.

I miss him.


LtCol Strobl

Also from Seamus, this is written by LCpl Phelps' brother-in-law:

Chance's Story
Unfortunately, I only knew Chance for a short period of time, and desperately wish that we had developed our relationship as brothers. Often, I think of the possibilities if he was still here. We’ve all heard the question, “If someone wrote a story about you’re life, would anyone want to read it?” The answer to that question would be an emphatic ‘Yes!’ when it comes to Chance. If this story, about only what I knew of him, doesn’t accomplish that, then it only means I haven’t done him justice.

I first met Chance in the summer of 2002. I was dating his Sister, Kelley. To prep you for my first encounter with Chance, you have to understand the fundamental differences between Kelley’s background and mine. Kelley is from the most isolated town in the lower 48 states: Dubois, Wyoming. Her father was an outfitter, belonged to a group of people called the ‘Buck Skinners’, and once, incidentally, ran the police out of town. Kelley’s reminiscent stories of her childhood spent at ‘Rendezvous’- reenactments of the 1830’s Indian trade fairs - gave me the realization that their upbringing was not like most children’s, and that her family was dramatically different than mine. I, on the other hand, come from the concrete jungle of New Joy-sie, and for a time, ‘ran with the bulls’ in mid-town Manhattan: a self-confessed city boy.

Kelley and I were stationed in Colorado Springs and had been dating for about 3 months when she decided it was time to meet the parents. On the 8-plus hour drive through the most desolate country I had ever seen, I had time to contemplate my meeting with her father; visions of shotguns danced in my head. But, when I arrived, he was an absolute gentleman and my fears where quickly calmed, that is, until Chance showed up.

We were all still outside talking when Chance barreled up the dirt driveway in his 1970’s, brown, beat-to-hell, dirty old Ford pick-up truck, rolling in with a dust cloud close behind as he ground to a stop. Out jumped a boy who looked younger, but was much bigger, than me. He had no shirt on, dirty pants, and a huge lip packed with snuff. He walked up and said, “Well -- how the hell are ya?” I played along and maintained my manly composure, but was worried that I be woken in the middle of the night to go “cow-tippin”. In the end, Chance was just playing it up and having a lot of fun. He had assessed that situation, and planned it all out based on who he thought I was, before he ever met me – he was right, and that was Chance.


Because of Chances age, compared to mine, I had the natural tendency to be paternal towards him. At the time, I had 9 Soldiers in my own Squad who were around his age, which I constantly mentored, trained, and took care of. In my mind, he naturally fell into that same category; it was the incorrect place for him to be. I had assumed this because my Soldiers seek direction and guidance, but Chance did not. In fact, he was surer of what he wanted than I.

Kelley’s family, and some of her friends from work, all got together to celebrate a holiday weekend. We all traveled out to Kelley’s bosses house (who was really her surrogate parent when Kelley first got to ‘The Springs’) and stayed there for the weekend playing games, sipping beer, having snowball fights and generally having a good time. It seems that the most prevalent conversation during that weekend was why Chance shouldn’t join the Marines. Not that we were a bunch of liberal winos, but because we worried about his fate in this more than hardcore aspect of serving your country. Almost everyone there that weekend was serving, or had served, in the military. I was preaching Army Special Forces if he wanted to be ‘elite’ and possibly get sniper training; his ultimate goal when serving with the Marines. Dale, Kelley’s boss, was certain about the Air Force, while Kelley and Karen, her other co-worker, were enlightening us about the Navy. And while we all sat preaching from atop our high horses, and spouting off to almost the point of nonsense, Chance said not a word, thus proving who was really far superior - just like a Marine. I always thought it was a Marines training that did this; now I know the Marines attracts those types of people.

A few weeks later I was still adamant about Chance not joining the Marines. I feared him getting rushed training and also Army hand-me-down gear, especially in the beginning phases of the war. Late one night, I called him on the phone with the goal of getting him to reconsider joining the Army under a new program where they recruit Special Forces ‘off the street’, instead of ‘in-house.’ I was loaded with ammo: I had Army recruitment material strewn about my desk, Army websites pulled up on my computer and printouts of Army Military Occupational Specialty descriptions in hand. We were on the phone for several hours and the outcome was almost successful – for him. He nearly had me convinced I should transfer out of the Army to join Marine Force Recon. I hung up the phone that night reading far more about the Marines than he did about the Army. Only afterwards did I think it hadn’t gone as planned. That was Chance.


The last time I saw Chance was at his Boot Camp graduation. Kelley and I flew to Sand Diego California to attend at the Marine Corp Recruit Depot. The base was buzzing with fresh Marines and I could feel the pride in the air. We first saw Chance running with his company on their morning Physical Training “Fun Run.” All kinds of memories flooded back from my days at basic training: sergeants yelling, cadence being called and people marching. I felt back in my element, and surprising enough, so did Chance. Most people I encounter after their initial training, either boot or basic, are still “new jacks.” They have that fresh look on their face of someone with a lot to learn. Chance looked like, and acted like, he was AOK. As expected, the Marines fit him like a glove.

Later that day, the families sat on the bleachers as they watch all the new recruits conduct the final act which makes them a Marine: the pinning of the Eagle, Globe and Anchor atop their headgear. I saw Chance cry. It was a manly cry, with just a few tears rolling down his face while standing at perfect attention. A cry that signified the beginning of something, not the end; they were all Marines now. After this, the new Marines were all released for family time. Chance walked us around the base and showed us places where different things had happened during his stay. Even though his Mom, his Stepfather, and Kelley hadn’t seen him for just as long as I had, he walked and talked with me. I was honored. We traded funny stories about things that happened during each of our own training. As the day came to a close, we had to leave Chance so he could check out of his unit. He said his goodbyes to his family and hugged them all. I said my goodbye to Chance with a firm handshake and I still remember the very last thing I said to him: “When you get over there, to the big sand box, NEVER let your guard down.”


Kelley and I woke up on the morning of April 10th, 2004. The week prior had been a really bad one for the Marines in Iraq, and also a few American Contractors. The only thing out of the ordinary that morning was Kelley’s mom had called before we got up. We lived in Maryland and she lived in Colorado, so with the time difference she would have had to call extremely early, indicating something was wrong. Neither Kelley nor I wanted to mention the most likely possibility for the call. I think we just came to the conclusion that ‘it was weird, maybe something was wrong.’ We delayed calling her back. We went to the store to get breakfast foods and I remember the conversation on the way home: our first-born son should be named Chance, because I liked that name.

When we got home, I was making breakfast while Kelley called her Mom. I never want to hear that scream again.

Details at that point were still unclear, we only new that he was Killed in Action. I needed to make sure, I had to, that he was not killed while searching a car, or sitting at gate guard; he had to be engaged against the enemy. I always thought, and still do, that the most horrible way to go is when you don’t see it coming. The enemy has won that engagement and is laughing the whole way home. I knew Chance would never get caught by surprise, and give them this satisfaction. He didn’t. That was Chance.

My hope for this story is to convey the essence of Chance. He was wise beyond his years, not by the things he said, but by his actions. He purposefully allowed you to underestimate him. Having the patience of someone much older, he showed you in time, in the most gentlemanly way, a new way to see things.

Marines' Hymn
From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli,
We fight our country's battles in the air, on land and sea.
First to fight for right and freedom, and to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title of United States Marine.

Our flag's unfurled to every breeze from dawn to setting sun.
We have fought in every clime and place, where we could take a gun.
In the snow of far off northern lands and in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job,The United States Marines.

Here's health to you and to our Corps which we are proud to serve.
In many a strife we've fought for life and never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy ever look on Heaven's scenes,
they will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.

A Request for Help...

Received via email:

Our son, David C------- is in the British army, doing his second tour of duty in Iraq. He is stationed at Basra airbase. We believe he appeared on ITV in Britain giving a Christmas message on or around about the 25th December. Apparently the news item started with some young ladies dressed in Santa suits and David was standing initially with his back to the camera, adjusting the decorations on the tree. He then turned around and sent a message to his family and friends back in Germany.

Please could you assist me with the web address so that we can try and view it. We are living in South Africa.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Laurel Nixon
David C------'s mom

Can you help? If so, email me for details on how to contact Laurel.
by Staff Sgt. Julie Nicolov
January 3, 2006
A U.S. Army Soldier greets two boys near a checkpoint in Ramadi, Al Anbar Province, Iraq, Dec. 28, 2005.

Talking With Heroes


TALKING WITH HEROES: America's Newest Talk Show

Colorado Springs, Colorado, January 2, 2006 - YoungHeroes.US announces the guest list for the January 8, 2006 Talking with Heroes Talk Show. Talking with Heroes is not about politics. It is about honoring and supporting our men and women serving our country and their families.

Talking with Heroes guests are men and women talking about their experiences while serving and helping the people in Iraq, Afghanistan and in other areas of the world. Guests include leaders from military support groups who send hundreds of packages to our deployed men and women as well as helping them and their families here in America. Guests include companies, entertainers and others who help and support our troops.

The guests on the Jan 8, 2006 {5pm PST} Show are:

SFC Darrin M Domko, Currently Stationed at Ft Carson Army Base.
SFC Domko was part of the Information Operations for 1st Brigade where he spent countless hours on the streets of Baghdad passing out newspapers and fliers to the Iraqis to keep them informed on the current issues the US was trying to help with. He also befriended a special family that he personally took care of during his deployment.

Emery McClendon Amateur Radio Military Appreciation Day/ ARMAD
Emery McClendon, a Former Air Force Sergeant, is the founder of ARMAD, a series of events that allow the public to send messages of thanks and appreciation to those that serve, and our veterans over Amateur Radio, in a LIVE format. ARMAD organizes Amateur Radio Operators worldwide at public locations to show support to those that serve.

Some of our military will call in on our talk show LIVE from Iraq.

Linda Spurlin-Dominik: Their mission is to locate, interview, and monitor temporary caring and loving foster homes for our soon to be deployed and/or deployed military service members who have been unable to locate a foster home for their beloved pet(s). They feel very strongly that our men and women deserve the support of the American people.

All Talking with Heroes talk shows can be listened to in our past show archives 24 hours a day/7 days a week, from anywhere in the world where there is access to the internet.

For More Information:

Bob Calvert, Talk Show Host
Washington, D.C. (Jan. 3, 2006) – The Honorable, Dr. Donald C. Winter takes the oath of office as the 74th Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) in a ceremony held in the SECNAV’s office at the Pentagon. Deputy Secretary of Defense (acting), the Honorable, Gordon England, left, administered the oath accompanied by Secretary Winter's wife Linda. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Journalist Craig P. Strawser

New Year's Greetings

from Willie of Soldiers' Angels Germany

New Year greetings to our American friends

Dear Soldiers and Friends,

I am proud of the work that you are doing. I know this was a choice you made to help a people that could not overcome the oppression alone. When I see joy in the children's eyes, I know it is there because of the hard work and sacrifices each of you have made.

So many young men and women have been wounded in the war against the terrorism in the last years. They all fought for more freedom in our world and to make our world a better place for all humanity. I am grateful that they do, but I am sad that some of them paid such a high price for our freedom. I am thankful that they fought against terrorism. I am very proud of them!

I am glad that the Americans have done so many good things for us Germans since WWII. I remember that my grandmother told me so often that our family was so glad to receive care packages from our American friends. Our great luck was that we were born in West Germany. The Americans have brought us freedom and they have helped us to rebuild our country. In the last 60 years the Americans protected our lives in the time as it was necessary. Over the years our countries have forged bonds of friendship.

Why shouldn't I give something return, if a friend needs me. I am glad that I have the great opportunity to work together with the Soldiers Angels Foundation (, the founder Patti Patton-Bader (she is the great niece from General Patton) and the Fisher House Landstuhl, Kathy Gregory.

I met Patti in 2003 as I was looking in the internet for information about the Iraq war. A good friend of mine from Forth Biehler, Wiesbaden, Germany went in May 2003 to Iraq to help the Iraqi people to rebuild their country, so I was looking for a way to help. For me a great transatlantic teamwork started, and let you tell you, to build up a new German-American partnership or other friendship around the world is the best.

I am thankful for the opportunity through the Soldiers Angels to support our American friends and soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan with care packages and the wounded soldiers here in Germany, US Hospital Landstuhl with transitional backpacks ( They all have given so much for other peoples' freedom.

A great thank you to the Soldiers Angels Foundation and to all my friends here in Germany, Europe and in the United States who give me the great opportunity to do this. I am always glad if I can do anything for my friends.

I will wish all you at home or on a very - unusual place - a prosperous Happy New Year 2006.

God Bless you and keep watch over you.

Our prayers are with you. Keep the faith!!

Very Respectfully

Wilhelmine (Willie) Aufmkolk
International President - Soldiers Angels Foundation

"May No Soldier Go Unloved -
Soldiers' Angels Germany blog

FIELD SEARCH — U.S. Army soldiers, along with the Iraqi police, search a field during sweeps on a farm in the Zafaraniya district of Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 29, 2005. The soldiers are assigned to the 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. William Servinski II

In Today's News - Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Quote of the Day
"Bravery is believing in yourself, and that thing nobody can teach you."
-- El Cordobes, Spanish Matador (b.1936)

News of Note
Only One Survived
Pa. Mine Rescuers Lament Situation
Fast Facts: Trapped Miners Identified
Bush Monitors, Feds Assist Rescue
West Virginia mine plagued with safety problems
Miner's Body Discovered
Heartbreaking Discovery
What Caused the Mine Blast?
West Virginia Governor on FNC
Photo Essay: West Virginia Miners

Operation Iraqi Freedom
F-14s bomb Iraqi building, kill 7
School wonders how to punish boy who went to Iraq
Teen Who Went to Iraq Skips His Own Press Conference
U.S. Airstrike Kills 7, Iraqi Police Say
Suicide Blast Kills at Least 30 in Iraq
Iraqi V.P. Says No New Gov't Until April
Book: CIA ignored info Iraq had no WMD

Operation Enduring Freedom
Suspected Taliban rebels behead Afghan teacher

Homeland Security / War on Terror
London train bombings cost only $2,000
Bush pushes for Patriot Act renewal Video
Intelligence panel had clue about spying
Homeland Security agency to require cities to compete for funds
Man sues government over ring lost at airport security

Supporting Our Heroes
Teen's Goal: 2.6 Million Thanks

Abramoff Strikes Plea Deal
Big-time lobbyist's plea deal casts shadow over Congress
Close-up: Scandal has GOP soul-searching
Prosecutors decry DeLay's court procedures
Abramoff plea agreement's impact on DeLay weighed
Maine Democratic legislator bolts party

Maybe you shouldn't answer a stolen phone..
Animals know stupid when they see it
Missing work excuse No. 103: We got married
Our trash is Dumpster diver's $2,000 in treasure
Fancy a little farming? Mini cattle come in handy
Two-for-one snake sale?
Kids' soccer teams, swingers share hotel

Other News of Note
Ruler of Dubai Dies While in Australia

Fox News
Penn State Prevails in 3 OT
Rink Disaster Death Toll at 12
Russia, Ukraine Cut Gas Deal
Iran Challenges Free Press
Bodies Found in Flooded Indonesian Village
Gulf Coast Handles Post-Katrina Puppy Boom
Palestinian Gunmen Occupy Election Office in Gaza
'Baby Noor' Preps for Surgery
Dozens Feared Dead in Indonesian Landslide
Family Found in Burning Home With Throats Slashed
World's Largest Known Prime Number Discovered
Stocks to Watch: Merix Corp

Reuters: Top News
Intelligence report says Iran seeks nuclear bomb: paper
2006 consumer electronics sales seen up 8 pct
Next raises profit forecast after Christmas sales
UK's BowLeven shares plunge on Cameroon gas failure
Bang & Olufsen shares up on rush for flat screens
Citigroup upgrade sends Orco shares to new high
Last year deadliest for journalists since 1995-RSF Video
Trash mounts as California cleans up from floods
Shamed South Korea scientist coerced women for eggs: TV
China water company wins Yellow River pollution suit
XM Satellite to debut two portable players
Expo-Studios announce next-generation DVD titles
Pakistani Kashmir eyes tourists in quake recovery
GW wins US okay for pivotal cannabis drug study
Women who cut dietary fat lose weight: study

AP World News
Dozens Feared Dead in Indonesia Landslide
Palestinian Closed Border Crossing
Iran Orders Newspaper, Magazine to Close
Police Question Canadian Finance Minister
Argentina Repays $9.57 Billion Debt to IMF
Ukrainians Angry About Russia Gas Dispute
Roof Partially Collapses at Czech Store
Libyan Political Prisoners Start Strike
Peru Asks Chile to Extradite Fujimori
Sharon to Transfer Power During Surgery
Morales Aligns Himself With Castro, Chavez
Activist: China Releases Jailed Journalist

The Seattle Times
200 file new claims against archdiocese
Gay activists sue to protect gay marriage
Mixed reviews as new Medicare benefit kicks off
Landmark study shows fat isn't key factor in weight loss, gain
No proof statins prevent cancer, two studies conclude
Leaders of Bolivia, Venezuela leaders cement ties over fuel deal
France to call off state of emergency today
Two Christian colleges say their closets portal to "Narnia"
State legalizes medical marijuana
Mexico opens probe into border death

Chicago Sun-Times
Bears playoff tickets: 2-minute drill for fans
Atlanta overtakes O'Hare
Cheese lovers: lower-salt Stilton 'would be a crime'
Record 236 bank robberies pulled in Chicago area last year
Firm's failure allowed criminal into home, judge says
Computer problem delays United flights
CTA fare hike pinches commuters
Competitive plan approved by Congress could hurt Boeing
Pa. school board repeals plan to teach intelligent design
Cash crunch threatens Holocaust fund
Iran tells U.N. it will resume nuke research
4 bored teens planned to set fire to 27 stolen baby Jesus statues
Is it really Mozart's skull? Austria can tune in Sunday
For this 8-year-old, ain't no mountain high enough
Next Bolivian leader visits Venezuela, avoids U.S.

Boston Globe: World
Palestinian parties open parliament campaigns
16th-century synagogue is uncovered in Portugal
Palestinians fear future without Hussein
Boy's death spurs Bogota to confront a menace
U.S. Allies Valuable but Dwindling
Bush Frustrated by Patriot Act Resistance
Marines may Charge 65-Year-Old Private
Winter Sworn in as Secretary of the Navy
U.S. Military Calls Copter Report False
Rumsfeld Summons Top Brass for QDR Talks

Department of Defense
Troops 'Waging Peace' on Horn of Africa - Story
Airlifters Shoulder Heavy Burdens for Mission - Story
'Radar Scope' to Aid Troops in Urban Ops - Story

Medal of Honor Recipient Salutes U.S. Troops - Story
Marine Support Unit Improves Roads in Hit - Story

Kingpin Helps Manage Airpower Over Iraq

Deployed Marine Brothers Share Iraqi Skies - Story

CinC House Helps Military Women
Soldier Proposes During Halftime
Photos: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

U.S., Coalition Forces Detain 15
Bomb Kills 3 Iraqi Police Officers
Marines Unearth Tons of Weapons
Priorities: Secure Gains, Train Police
Four U.S. Contractors Die
Pace: 2005 Successful
Report: Strategy for Victory in Iraq
Iraq Daily Update
This Week in Iraq (pdf)
Multinational Force Iraq
Eye on Iraq Update (pdf)
State Dept. Weekly Iraq Report (pdf)
'Boots on the Ground' Audio Archive
Iraq Reconstruction

Border Police Open New Facility
Afghanistan Daily Update

2006 To Be 'Bad Year' for Enemies
Coalition Aircraft Fly Missions Jan. 2
Military Ready for Challenges
Aircrews Fly 50 Missions
The Foundation of Peace
Fact Sheet: War on Terror
Fact Sheet: Terror Plots Disrupted
Waging and Winning the War on Terror
Terrorism Timeline
Terrorism Knowledge Base

Top Employer Nominations Open
Bush Visits Wounded Troops
National Guard, Reserve Update

Al Azamiyah Al Basrah Al Hillah Al Karkh Al Kazimiyah Al Kut An Nasiriyah Baghdad Baqubah Mosul Najaf Nineveh Tall Kayf

Bost/Laskar Ghurian Herat Kabul Qandahar


Today in History
0274 - St Eutychian begins his reign as Catholic Pope
0871 - Battle at Reading Ethelred of Wessex beats Danish invasion army
1357 - Flemish Earl Louis & Luxembourg Duke Wenceslaus sign peace treaty
1493 - Columbus left new world on return from 1st voyage
1570 - Spanish viceroy Alva banishes Zutphen City's only physician, Joost Sweiter, "because he is a Jew"
1642 - King Charles I with 400 soldiers attacks the English parliament
1717 - Netherlands, England & France sign Triple Alliance
1725 - Benjamin Franklin arrives in London
1762 - England declares war on Spain & Naples
1780 - Snowstorm hits Washington's army at Morristown New Jersey
1781 - André Méchain discovers M80 (globular cluster in Scorpio)
1832 - Insurrection of Blacks in Trinidad
1861 - US Fort Morgan, Mobile, seized by Alabama
1862 - Battle of Fort Hindman, AR (Arkansas Post); Battle of Helena, AR; Romney Campaign-Stonewall Jackson occupies Bath
1863 - 4 wheeled roller skates patented by James Plimpton of NY
1884 - Last sighting of an eastern cougar (Ontario)
1885 - Dr. W.W. Grant of Iowa performs 1st appendectomy (on Mary Gartside, 22)
1887 - Thomas Stevens is 1st man to bicycle around the world (San Francisco-San Francisco); 21,700km
1893 - US President Harrison grants amnesty to Mormon polygamy
1894 - France ratifies Duple Alliance with Russia
1896 - Following Mormon abandonment of polygamy, Utah admitted as 45th state
1912 - Smallest earth-moon distance in the 20th century, 356,375 km center-to-center
1915 - 1st elected Jewish Governor, Moses Alexander, takes office in Idaho; Trans-Caucausus Russian defeat Turkish troops
1920 - 1st Black baseball league, the National Negro Baseball League, organizes
1923 - Lenin's "Political Testament" calls for removal of Stalin
1925 - French psychologist Emil Coué brings his self-esteem therapy to US "Every day in every way I am getting better & better"
1926 - Theodorus Pangalos resigns as Greek dictator
1932 - British East Indies Viceroy Willingdon arrests Gandhi & Nehru; State of siege proclaimed in Honduras
1935 - Fort Jefferson National Monument, Florida established; Bob Hope 1st heard on network radio as part of "The Intimate Revue"
1936 - Billboard magazine publishes its 1st music hit parade
1939 - Hermann Goering appoints Reinhard Heydrich head of Jewish Emigration
1941 - Resistance fighters counter d'Estienne d'Orves/Jan Doornik, 1st meet
1942 - Premier Churchill & General Marshall fly to Florida
1944 - Ralph Bunche appointed 1st Negro official in US State Department
1945 - Germans execute resistance fighters in Amsterdam; US jeep-aircraft carrier Ommaney Bay sinks after kamikaze attack
1948 - Britain grants independence to Burma
1951 - During Korean conflict, North Korean forces captured Seoul
1954 - Elvis Presley records a 10 minute demo in Nashville
1958 - Sputnik 1 reenters atmosphere & burns up
1959 - Luna 1 (Mechta) becomes 1st craft to leave Earth's gravity
1960 - European Free Trade Association forms in Stockholm
1961 - Longest recorded strike ends-33 years-Danish barbers' assistants
1962 - 1st automated (unmanned) subway train (New York City NY)
1963 - Soviet Luna (4) reaches Earth orbit but fails to reach Moon
1965 - LBJ's "Great Society" State of the Union Address
1968 - Duck hunter accidentally shoots endangered whooping crane in Texas
1969 - France begins arms embargo against Israel
1970 - Walter Cronkite ends hosting weekly documentary
1971 - Dr. Melvin H. Evans inaugurated as 1st elected Governor of Virgin Islands; Ohio agrees to pay $675,000 to relatives of Kent State victims; Philadelphia's Veteran Stadium dedicated; Congressional Black Caucus organizes
1974 - Nixon refuses to hand over tapes subpoenaed by Watergate Committee
1975 - Ice thickness measured at 4776 m, Wilkes Land, Antarctica; Ford Executive Order on CIA Activities within the US (No 11828)
1980 - President Carter announces US boycott of Moscow Olympics
1981 - British police arrest Peter Sutcliffe, the "Yorkshire Ripper"
1982 - Golden Gate Bridge closed for 3rd time by fierce storm
1989 - Vice President Bush is 1st since Vice President Van Buren to declare himself President; US F-14s shoot down 2 Libyan jet fighters over Mediterranean
1991 - AT&T workers in Newark accidentally snap a cable; Iraq agrees to send Aziz to Geneva to meet Baker on Jan 9th; Jan Krzystof Bielecki becomes premier of Poland
1995 - Newt Gingrich (R) becomes Speaker of the House

1334 - Amadeus VI [Green Earl], Earl of Savoye
1785 - Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm, German librarian (fairy tale collector)
1789 - Benjamin Lundy, philanthropist/abolitionist
1797 - Wilhelm Beer, German amateur astronomer (constructed 1st Moon map)
1809 - Louis Braille, developer (reading system for blind)
1813 - Alexander Freiherr von Bach, Austrian attorney/premier (1852-59); Louis L. Bonaparte, English/French linguist/senator
1821 - John James Peck, Union Major General
1822 - Joseph Jones Reynolds, Union Major General
1823 - Otto van Rees, Governor-General of Dutch-Indies (1884-88)
1823 - Peter Joseph Osterhaus, Union Major General
1838 - Charles Stratton, (General Tom Thumb - famous short person)
1890 - Alfred G. Jodl, German Wehrmacht General/Chief of Staff; Mosa Pijade, Yugoslavia, MP (communist)
1895 - Lourens G.M. Baas Becking, Dutch botanist/resistance fighter
1896 - Everett McKinley Dirkson (Senator-R-IL)
1903 - Ramón Ernesto Cruz Uclés Honduras President (1971-72); overthrown
1908 - Angela Maria "Geli" Raubal Austrian nude model/Hitler's lover
1913 - Malietoa Tanumafili II King of West-Samoa (1962- )
1914 - Jane Wyman, 1st Mrs. Ronald Reagan / actress; Mohammed Sahir shah (Afghanistan)
1920 - William Egan Colby, CIA director (Nixon)
1933 - Ed Jenkins (Representative-GA, 1977-1992)
1935 - Kenneth Money, Canadian-born astronaut (STS 42-alt)
1940 - Brian Josephson, British physicist (Nobel 1973)
1947 - J. Danforth Quayle (Senator-IN, 44th Vice President - 1989-1993)

0041 - Caligula, Roman emperor, murdered
1678 - Johan Maetsuyker, Dutch Governor-General of Ceylon (1653-78), dies at 71
1695 - Duke of Luxembourg, Luxembourg/French marshal, dies
1701 - Ernst R. Tarhemberg, Austrian field marshal, dies at 62
1707 - Louis Willem I, count of Baden-Baden, dies
1729 - Joseph de Montesquiou Earl d'Artagnan, French Lieutenant-General , dies at 77
1821 - Elizabeth Ann Seton, 1st native-born American saint, dies in Maryland
1877 - Cornelius Vanderbilt, US robber baron, dies at 82
1910 - Léon Delagrange, French aviation pioneer
1913 - Alfred von Schlieffen, Prussian General-field marshal, dies at 79
1957 - Theodor Körner von Siegringen, Austrian President (1951-57), dies at 84
1958 - Waverley John Anderson, Viscount/Governor of Bengal, dies at 75
1967 - Donald Campbell, boat racer, dies trying to break 300 mph on water
1968 - Joseph Pholien, Belgian PM (1950-52) / communist fighter, dies at 83
1985 - Brian Gwynne Horrocks, English Lieutenant-General (A Full Life), dies at 89
1990 - Alberto Lleras Camargo, President of Colombia (1945-46, 58-62)
1994 - Michiel P. "Michael" Gorsira, Governor of Curaçao (1951-67), dies at 80
1996 - Roy McKelvie, soldier/sports writer, dies at 83
1997 - Harry B. Helmsley, owner (Empire State Building), dies at 87

Reported Missing in Action
Minnich, Richard W., USN (PA); F8E shot down, remains recovered December, 1985

Lane, Mitchell S., USAF (NM); F100C disappeared while on mission

Neeld, Bobby G., USAF (NM); F100C disappeared while on mission

Johnston, Steven B., USAF (OK); F4D shot down, presumed Killed in ejection, body not recovered