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Fallen Soldier Battle Cross

This image is known as the Fallen Soldier Battle Cross or the Battlefield Cross and sometimes simply Helmet Rifle Boots.  Made up of the soldier’s rifle with bayonet attached and stuck into the ground with dog tags hanging, helmet on top and the boots of the fallen soldier beneath.  The tradition began during the American Civil War as a means of identifying the bodies on the battlefield.  Today it is used to show respect for the fallen and as a means to allow fellow troop members to mourn as attending a funeral or memorial service is not always possible for soldiers still in the fight.

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Honoring and Remembering:
Master Sgt. Jamal H. Bowers
Cpl. Brandon S. Hocking

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I Got The News Today (IGTNT) , which is one of the oldest continuous series on Daily Kos,  provides members of this community a venue to pay their respects to those who have died as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.   The IGTNT  title is a reminder that nearly every day  the family of an active duty service member receives the terrible news that their beloved has died.  

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Since 2003 we have suffered the loss of 4441 American lives and a total of 4759 Coalition Forces in Iraq.

Since 2001 we have suffered the loss of 1512 American lives and a total of 2379 Coalition Forces in Afghanistan.
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Master Sgt. Jamal H. Bowers, 41 of Raleigh, North Carolina

Master Sgt. Jamal H. Bowers, 41, of Raleigh, N.C., died March 18 at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, as a result of a non-combat related incident.  He was assigned to the 6th Battalion, 4th Military Information Support Group, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Mark Schulz, a spokesman for Camp Lemonier said that Master Sgt Bowers was found dead Friday at the camp.  Bowers had been feeling ill the day before and had been sent home and the death appeared to be medical in nature.

Jamal Bowers had previously been a U.S. Marine and joined the Army in 1999 as a combat engineer. In 2001, he was qualified in psychological operations, and he had worked as an instructor at the psychological operations qualification course at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center.

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension  Last summer Fort Bragg's newspaper, Paraglide, published an article featuring Master Sgt Bowers and his son, Private 1st Class Jamal Bowers II who participated in an airborne operation supported by 4th POG as a bonding experience. Jamal II was the second jumper out the aircraft followed by his father. They floated down together just yards from each other and shared the long walk off the drop zone. This jumped marked over 40 jumps total for Jamal I and it was Jamal II’s eighth jump since completing Airborne School in April of 2009.

“It was an awesome moment,” Jamal I said. “Once in a lifetime moment for me.”

In February of 2006, then Staff Sgt Bowers was one of 11 African American servicemembers honored at a reception hosted as part of the DoD National African American History Month observance.

Army Staff Sgt. Jamal H. Bowers was cited as a tactical psychological operations team chief in Fallujah, Iraq. Bowers was recognized for leading his team during many days under direct fire from enemy forces in Fallujah, the citation stated. "After his platoon was ambushed, he immediately led an attack on the enemy and provided for the evacuation of three wounded Marines," the citation noted. "His tactical skills and courage under fire were essential to destroying the enemy and saving the lives of his wounded comrades.

Master Sgt. Jamal H. Bowers' awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, a posthumous Meritorious Service Medal, a Navy Achievement Medal with Valor, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal and Global War on Terrorism Medal.

Jamal is survived by his parents, Leroy and Mary Bowers; wife, Kawana King-Bowers; son, Jamal; daughter, Surita; and stepdaughters, Clarice and Denise Kimp.

A memorial service is being planned for Friday at 3 p.m. at the JFK Memorial Chapel on Fort Bragg.

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Cpl. Brandon S. Hocking, 24 of Seattle, Washington

Cpl. Brandon S. Hocking, 24, of Seattle, Wash., died March 21 in As Samawah, Iraq, when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Brandon S. Hocking grew up in Federal Way, Washington and attended Sacajawea Middle School and Decatur High School. He joined the Army in November 2005, according to Army records. This deployment was his second overseas deployment.

Cpl. Hocking was working in July with a unit  that was taking on more responsibility by starting up mobile teams that would be charged with supporting soldiers at various bases.  This is what he told an Army public affairs writer at that time:

My favorite part about this job is learning different weapons systems. There’s always something new to learn so I can be better at my job.

Brianna Hocking, Brandon's sister, exchanged messages with her brother on Facebook just two weeks ago.

"I told him to stay safe, and he told me, "Don't worry. I love you, and I will be home soon."

Brandon Hocking was the eldest of six children and enjoyed fixing up old cars, sketching and playing the acoustic and electric guitar.

His grandmother, Delores Pitts said:

He could strum just about anything.

Friends and family said Cpl. Hocking joined the military after high school in an effort to improve his life.

Mike Davis, a childhood friend said:

I think it probably made him a stronger man.

Cpl. Brandon S. Hocking was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and also the Bronze Star, which is awarded for acts of combat heroism, according to an Army spokeswoman at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

Brandon is survived by his wife, Havalah; a 4 year old son, Sebastian; a 3 year old daughter, Gwen; mother, Christine Dansereau; father, Kevin Hocking; sister Britney Hocking; sister Brooke Hocking; sister Gracie Dansereau; grandmother Myrna Hocking; grandmother Delores Pitts and grandfather Gary Pitts.

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About the IGTNT series:

"I Got the News Today" is a diary series intended to honor, respect, and remind us of the sacrifice of our US troops. Click here to see the series, which was begun by i dunno, and which is maintained by Sandy on Signal, noweasels,  monkeybiz, blue jersey mom, Chacounne, twilight falling, joyful, roses, SisTwo, SpamNunn, TrueBlueMajority, CalNM, Wide Awake in Kentucky, maggiejean, racheltracks, Kestrel9000 and me, JaxDem. These diaries are heartbreaking to write, but are an important service to those who have died, and show our community’s respect for them.

Fallen service members whose names have been released by the US Department of Defense will usually be diarized two days after the official announcement on the DoD website. This allows the IGTNT team to cover each person more fully, but still in a timely manner.


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POW/MIA: Afghanistan & Iraq

Two U.S. soldiers are currently listed as captured or Duty Status -- Whereabouts Unknown as of December 1, 2009.

Spc. Ahmed K. Altaie 41
and
Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl 23

Never forgotten - please keep good thoughts and prayers for these two men.

On December 8th new photos were published of Pfc Bowe R. Bergdahl in captivity.  The article and images can be seen  here.

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Helping Our Troops

There would be no finer way to honor the fallen than to contribute to programs that assist our active duty military.  Here are a few suggestions:
Evan Ashcraft Foundation - This foundation was established to assist soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan to adjust to civilian life.  In particular this foundation's emphasis is on PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.
Fisher House - Provides a "home away from home" for military families to be close to a loved one during hospitilization for an illness, disease or injury.
Netroots For The Troops -  raises money for the assembly, mailing and delivery of care packages to American military in war zones, and to provide assistance to military families in the United States.
Veterans Green Jobs - Our recently returned veterans need jobs and VGJ is now hiring for positions and filling training sessions. VGJ corps retrains veterans as leaders in natural resource conservation, green construction, and energy efficient upgrades of homes in rural areas.
Welcome Back Veterans -  created to inspire Americans to give back to our returning veterans and their families and assist in particular with PTSD.
Wounded Warrior Project -  To raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service service members, to help injured service members aid and assist each other and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.
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Please bear in mind that these diaries are read by friends and family of the service members mentioned here. May all of our remembrances be full of compassion rather than politics.

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