We honor loved ones who have been in military service and are no longer with us.
Share and read stories where we pay tribute to those we've lost.

The Air Force Six

Air Force Office of Special Investigations and USAF Security Forces

Submitted by Trent Van Dyke

On December 21st 2015 in Afghanistan’s Parwan Province a Taliban suicide bomber riding a motorcycle loaded with explosives crashed into a joint NATO-Afghanistan foot patrol while it was traveling through a village near Bagram Air Base. Six American Air Force service members were killed -four OSI agents and two Security Forces members with two other Americans and an Afghani being injured.

Maj. Adrianna M. Vorderbruggen, 36, with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, 9th Field Investigations Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

Staff Sgt. Michael A. Cinco, 28, with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, 11th Field Investigations Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas.

Staff Sgt. Peter W. Taub, 30, with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Detachment 816, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota.

Staff Sgt. Chester J. McBride, 30, with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Detachment 405, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Tech Sgt. Joseph G. Lemm, 45, with the 105th Security Forces Squadron at Stewart Air National Guard Base, New York.

Staff Sgt. Louis M. Bonacasa, 31, with the 105th Security Forces Squadron at Stewart Air National Guard Base, New York.



SFC Edward W. Nelson
511 MP, CO
Submitted by Mary C Nelson

My SFC Nelson was a true hero, a great SOLDIER, husband and father. 12/16/2006, RIP.

Low Nom Chan
China Theater, World War II
Submitted by Elaine Chan

My father was so proud to be a vet. Even though he was American, he could speak and read and write Chinese, so in WW2, he was part of the OSS in China, and worked on disrupting communication. I know that for a time he was in Kunming. He talked about jumping out of an airplane, riding horses in the cavalry, taking exacting care of his equipment. He was part of a war where US soldiers were totally supported, during and after service. After he returned, he was able to go to college on the GI bill , and had a civilian life as a businessman. He died in 1977. I still remember the flag being presented to my mom.

CW2 Matt Laskowsi
US 4/3 ACR, Ft Carson, CO
Submitted by Adrineh Gouloomian

Matt was a talented aviator, a dedicated husband and father, and a loyal friend. He died in Iraq two weeks shy of coming home. Not a day goes by that I don't think of him. Until we meet again on the Fiddler's Green....



Richard William Bartel
US Air Force, World War II
Gratefully submitted by Cathy Edgett

I think of my father. During World War II, he was a pilot of a B-17 shot down over Austria on the border of Germany. He parachuted out of a burning plane and landed in an apple tree. The village people had no choice but to turn him over to the SS where he was put on a train and sent to a POW camp in the north of Germany. Years later, I visited the village where he landed, met people who saw him fall and who fed him. They wanted me to know they had no choice but to hand him over. At the time, the village contained women, and the males were either young or old. Those who met my father all those years before came running when they heard my husband and I were in the village. My presence meant my father had lived. I never think of it without tears. They kept saying how handsome my father was, handsome and tall. Yes, his father was of German ancestry. He, too, was related to this land.



Major Rick Gannon
US Marine Corps
Submitted by Quentin Finney

Rick and I were in the same platoon at The Basic School, a six month initial training course for new Marine officers. He had attended Cornell on a full ride scholarship and could have done anything but felt drawn to serve in the Corps. Cerebral, coupled with a marathon runner's endurance and a deep sense of duty, his Marines called him "tough as a $2 steak," and he emboldened them by making damn sure they knew he'd never leave them behind. On April 17, 2004, one of his patrols was ambushed in the Anbar province, and Rick died living up to that promise, earning a silver star for heroism while leading reinforcements to bring them all home.

A Marine saying reads: "as Marines, we are the first to speak for peace, because no one can hate war more than the people who must fight it." Once, I listened to Colonel Myron Harrington talk at The Citadel about the battle for Hue City in Vietnam, where as a young Marine captain he won the Navy Cross in 1968, and he told of sitting on a bridge afterwards weeping over the deaths of his radio operator and others under his charge. On Memorial Day, we weep again for our absent brothers and sisters, remembering those like Rick who made the ultimate sacrifice, and we never forget why we are free. We never, ever forget.

Arnold Duplantier
ARMY, Baghdad Iraq

SGT Arnold Duplantier was KIA June 22 2005, a day i will NEVER forget. In the truest sence he was a great Soldier. Squared away, a leader without trying to be. I strived to be the Soldier he was. SGT Arnold Duplantier left behind a Beautiful daughter and wife. They say the good die young. In this case, it is sadly true. Never forgotten and always loved, Revealed and remembered by the people that were fortunate enough to know this great man/soldier.

LT Lillian Shimer Burke
U. S. Navy, 1st Gulf War
May 1990 – May 1998
Submitted by Lynn Oschmann

Lillian was a good friend and Navy ROTC buddy. She loved being a Naval officer and was honored for her skill and professionalism, last serving as the Precom Operations Officer of USS HIGGINS. She gave her best to everything she did, especially taking care of the sailors and officers who worked for her. I knew she would be a great ship’s CO one day (and I would be her annoying CO’s guest, hanging out in her chair on the bridge, asking the watch to get me coffee). She died too soon, leaving behind her husband Larry, her son Robert, her family, and friends. I honor her this Memorial Day, for her service and sacrifices for her country. Whenever I hear the Navy Hymn, I think of her. It was her favorite…

“Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!”

Sergeant Dick Huffman
Submitted by Matt Huffman

This is my Grandpa Dick Huffman. He served as an infantry sergeant in the Korean War. He was a rodeo cowboy when he got home and owned his own ranch for a time. He never shared with me about his time in war except to say that i should avoid being deployed to Korea. He passed about 15 years ago as a result of brain cancer. He knew he had cancer for 3 years and didnt tell any of us. I miss him and love him.

1st Lt. Michael Vega
U.S. ARMY, Baghdad Iraq
Submitted by Paige Jenkins

When 1st Lt. Michael Vega joined the California National Guard three years ago, he was following in the proud footsteps of his father and brothers, who had all served in the military.

Vega, 41, died on March 20, nine days after his military vehicle rolled on top of him during fighting with Iraqi insurgents in Diwaniyah.

“He believed in defending the country and was willing to do anything for it,” said his girlfriend, Marisol Vazquez, who lived with Vega in Lathrop, Calif. “He knew this is what he wanted to do, because he was a soldier at heart.”
She described Vega as “an upbeat person, outgoing, really happy. He could make anybody laugh.”

Vega, who was stationed with the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion in Sacramento, was a football star at Vallejo High School who enlisted in the Army after graduation. He served as a helicopter mechanic for three years, going on to earn a degree in aeronautics at Cal State-Hayward several years later.

MSGT Richard “Gus” Gustafson
May 1989 Navy - Dec 1993
July 2022 USAF - 14 May 2015
Metals earned
Numerous Awards and Decorations
Bronze Star USAF US Army Accommodations
Citations of Valor
Submitted by Melissa Gonzalez

Gus had a twisted sense of humor. I called him Dooley for a week before he really told me his real name was Gus. It was great in how he became my brother in such a short time. The talks we had gave me inspiration in my life as we both had struggles at the time. I honor the sacrifices you made for our Country and our brothers and sisters in arms. I stand strong for you.

Cindy Dang
US Navy 1999 - 2000
Submitted by Dyan Ferguson

Cindy Dang was a Navy veteran who served in the Persian Gulf regions, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Dubai, from November 1999 to December 2000. Cindy first attended a Veteran's PATH one-day event in 2011. She attended the annual women's retreat at Tassajara in 2012. Cindy was shy and tentative at times, but she was also one of the bravest people I know. I watched her climb to the top of a wall at Planet Granite, even though she was terrified, out of sheer determination! Cindy was determined to live the fullest life she was capable of, and approached every challenge with this perspective.

In 2013, Cindy was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. Cindy wasn't ready to die, and for the next 11 months, she faced the biggest challenge of her life. She was still determined to make the most of every day. She took road trips and spent time with friends between treatments, she spent time with her family, and she married her boyfriend, David Jones, in a beautiful wedding in the Palo Alto VA Rose Garden. She died on December 16th, 2013, surrounded by her husband and closest friends.


Ted Kiser
US Army 1966 - 1970
Submitted by Laurie Senauke

Ted Kiser was a wonderful husband to my good friend Kristine, father, grandfather, photographer, fine wood artisan, and veteran and community organizer.

I met him when he moved to Portland, Oregon in 1980. Since getting out of the army he had spent many, many years trying to "stay in the game," as his wife put it. Finally there was more and more public awareness of Post Traumatic Stress and as he became clear about what he had gone through, he gathered around him and was gathered into a large and loving circle of veterans, native Americans, and peace activists. He supported and helped a lot of people while he was getting the help he needed.  He died of cancer last March 2015, likely related to Agent Orange exposure.  He was loved, is deeply missed, and will be remembered by many.