I Got The News Today (IGTNT) is among the oldest continuous series on Daily Kos and 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.
Honoring and RememberingCpl Justin D. Ross
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 1514 American lives and a total of 2381 Coalition Forces in Afghanistan.
Spc. Justin D. Ross, 22, of Green Bay, Wis., died March 26 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by small arms fire. He was assigned to the 863rd Engineer Battalion, Wausau, Wis.
(Ross was posthumously promoted to Cpl)
A 2007 graduate of Bay Port High School, Justin Ross studied mechanics at a school in the Chicago area and did Army Reserve training once a month until being called up for active duty. He had been deployed since August and in Afghanistan since October. His unit was scheduled to return in August or September.
Lt. Col. Nathan Banks of the 364th Public Affairs Operations Center reported that while the investigation into Ross' death is ongoing, preliminary reports say his unit came under small arms fire from insurgents while on a route clearance mission. Ross was the only casualty, and the first of his unit.
(Route clearance) is a dangerous job soldiers do day in, day out. They clear obstacles for soldiers to get past and carry on their mission. These guys encounter fire every day.
Ross' unit had high praise for their fallen brother, Banks said:
He was an outstanding soldier. He loved to be in the Army and he loved what he did and he loved working with his follow soldiers. His unit is going to miss him.
Mike Lapacz, one of his close knit high school friends said:
He's a close friend of mine. I knew him for almost eight years and we were almost like brothers, so we had a lot of fun times together.
I didn't believe it at first, and then the next day I saw it online and it was real.
Real emotion is evident as friends recall his character.
Amy Staeven sighed then said:
He never, ever thought of himself. Just with family stuff and friends he was always there to encourage, never had anything bad to say about anybody.
Justin was the son of Debbie and Pastor Ron Ross, of New Freedom Church in Howard, Wisconsin.
Justin's father released this statement on Monday:
We really do not know that much yet. There is red tape that the Army has to go through here in Delaware to decide what honors Justin will receive for his ultimate sacrifice in combat. We wil know details more by midweek.
I did speak with Justin this past Wednesday and he was excited that after 6 months of doing 'route clearance' as a member of the 863rd Engineer Battalion, that he was doing 2-week-long missions with a remote platoon of the 101st Airborne. He was going to be doing 'dismounted patrol' which is where they leave their vehicles to clear routes on foot.
We suspect this is when he came under fire, but the Army will give us the official report soon.
He was a brave patriot who believed in what he was doing. He also told me last week that after meeting guys from the Afghan Army (the good guys) that he now understood why we were over there.
Debbie Ross describes her son Justin as a G.I. Joe-loving little boy who grew into a resolved young man. He made the decision at 17 he wanted to join the Army.
It's all he talked about, it's all he wanted to do, and we were just behind him, we supported him.
As Ron and Debbie prepare to bury their son at Arlington National Cemetery following services in Howard, they also prepare for a life without him.
You know, you plan on seeing him get married and have kids and doing those things for another 40 years, but it's not there.
But he's... he feels here, because there's lots of memories, lots of great memories.
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin released a statement Sunday saying:
Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Spc. Justin Ross who lost his life serving his country yesterday in Afghanistan. We hope that they are able to take some measure of comfort in knowing that he is a Wisconsin hero.
Funeral services are pending, but will take place at First Assembly Church of God on Shawano Avenue in Green Bay.
Ross will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
"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.
Two U.S. soldiers are currently listed as captured or Duty Status -- Whereabouts Unknown as of December 1, 2009.
Spc. Ahmed K. Altaie 41
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.
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.
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.