Tonight we honor the memories of three men who gave their lives for our country. The first is a man who spent nearly 20 years of his life in the Navy and was a devoted husband and father.
On Wednesday, the Department of Defense made the following announcement:
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a sailor who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Petty Officer 1st Class Vincent A. Filpi III, 41, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., died as a result of a non-combat related incident. Filpi was assigned to USS Enterprise as an aviation ordnanceman. Enterprise is currently deployed to the Fifth Fleet area of responsibility conducting operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Navy Times reports that Petty Officer 1st Class Vincent A. Filpi III joined the Navy in 1992. He attended Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and then he was assigned to the carrier Saratoga.Two years later he was assigned to the Kitty Hawk.
He would later head to the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit and Strike Fighter Squadron 37, both in Lemoore, Calif. His career also included tours in Sigonella, Sicily; Oceana, Va.; and Norfolk, Va. He served aboard the carrier Theodore Roosevelt before being assigned to the Enterprise in May 2009.
Filpi was an aviation ordnanceman, and he served as the Safety Department's leading petty officer on the Enterprise. In that role, he warned the sailors about complacency and made sure that they were following appropriate safety procedures.
“Complacency is considered an underlying condition or failure that can affect performance and contribute to human error," he said in a September [Navy news] release.
On Jan. 17, he was quoted again after the Enterprise successfully completed an under way replenishment of supplies. He said the process presents many dangers, from the shot-line being thrown across to the cables that bring on supplies such as jet fuel and ammunition.
“One of our biggest safety concerns is snapback; the force generated when a line breaks can cause serious injury or even death,” he said.~source
During his time in the Navy, Filpi received a Meritorious Unit Commendation and two Good Conduct Medals.
Filpi was also a devoted family man who leaves behind a wife, Erica Bruder-Filpi, a son, Tony, and five step-children: : Aleksandra, Nicholai, Brianna, Davan and Taelin.
His wife said that:
Vince loved his country and paid the ultimate price to ensure our continued freedom.... While our grief is immense we will forever thank him and all other military members.
Vince was a fantastic father who was completely devoted to our children...I can’t say enough nice things about Vincent.
Petty Officer Filpi is also survived by his parents, Vincent Filpi II and Donna Filpi.
The following tributes were written by Sandy on Signal.
Staff Sgt. Mecolus C. McDaniel, 33, of Fort Hood, Texas, died March 19 in Khowst province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device and small arms fire. He was assigned to the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Knox, Ky.
There is very little personal information available on SSGT McDaniel at this time; however, as more comes out, we will up date this tribute.
Staff Sgt. Mecolus McDaniel joined the Army in 1996 stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. He served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, one in the Balkans and one in Korea. His medals and decorations include:
Afghanistan Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and the Army Service Ribbon.
He has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart posthumously.
In honor of SSGT McDaniel's sacrifice, Governor Beshears of Kentucky issued the following press release:
FRANKFORT, Ky.– Gov. Steve Beshear today recognized the sacrifice of a Fort Knox soldier who died while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
According to the Department of Defense, Staff Sgt. Mecolus C. McDaniel, 33, of Fort Hood, Texas, died March 19 in Khowst province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device and small arms fire. He was assigned to the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Knox, Ky.
The Governor will order that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset on the day of Staff Sgt. McDaniel’s interment for which arrangements are still pending.
Staff Sgt. James M. Malachowski, 25, of Westminster, Md., died March 20 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
He always wanted to protect his family and country.
Staff Sgt. Malachowski came from a military family. His mother was a Marine and he wanted to follow in her footsteps. The day after high school graduation in June of 2003, James Malachowski joined the Marine Corps.
The Marines have always been known for their demanding physical fitness routines, so James spent as much time as possible working out to stay in shape. His mother told the Baltimore Sun:
"He has challenged himself and the Marine Corps has challenged him over the last six years. He's done very, very, very, very well at it, too, I must say. We're really proud of our little boy."
Staff Sgt. Malachowski served four tours of duty with the Marines. Three tours in Iraq and this one in Afghanistan. He was a superb rifleman and taught over 50,000 Marine Recruits marksmanship. He never bragged to his family or friends about his accomplishments, so they are now finding out what a first class Marine he was. His mother told the Baltimore Sun a story about his first tour in Iraq:
His mother recalled asking him, "Just what do you all do over there?"
His reply: "We do what everyone else can't or won't do. That's when they call us."
One of his fellow Marines, Gregory Pedrick, told the Carroll County Times
He told of another incident when the enemy fired 18 mortar rounds at the Marines guarding a checkpoint. Seventeen of the rounds exploded. The one that didn't landed right in front of Malachowski.
Johnson said he believes Malachowski always recognized the chances of his own mortality. While he didn't discuss specifics, his letters often talked about the realities of war, Johnson said.
Poppies are the universal symbols of remembrance. May we always honor the service and sacrifice of these three brave men.
The purpose of the I Got the News Today series is to honor service members who have died as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; its title is a reminder that almost every day a military family gets the terrible news about a loved one.
Click here to see the series, which was begun by i dunno, and is currently maintained by Sandy on Signal, monkeybiz, noweasels, blue jersey mom, Chacounne, twilight falling, joyful, roses, SisTwo, a girl in MI, Spam Nunn, JeNoCo, Janos Nation, True Blue Majority, CalNM, Wide Awake in KY, maggiejean, racheltracks, and Jax Dem.
Please bear in mind that these diaries are read by friends and family of the service members chronicled here. May all of our remembrances be full of compassion rather than politics.