Missouri National Guardsmen among 130 recognized
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Service members from Missouri who have died from wounds suffered in a war zone since Sept. 11, 2001, were recognized Sunday during the opening of Remembering Our Fallen at the state capitol rotunda.
Remembering Our Fallen is a touring display made up of photos of 130 Service members from Missouri who made the ultimate sacrifice, which includes ten members of the Missouri National Guard.
Several Families of those Guardsmen attended the event, including the Family of Sgt. Robert Wayne Crow, who lived in Kansas City. A Missouri Guardsmen with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 203rd Engineer Battalion of Joplin, Crow was killed July 10, 2010, after the vehicle he was in was struck by an improvised explosive device in Paktika, Afghanistan.
Although it was mentioned during the ceremony that 95 percent of Americans were not directly impacted by the deaths of these Service members, Crow’s wife, Beverly, said there was still plenty of reason for them to come see the display.
“They should see it so they understand our loss – what we gave up for their freedom,” said Beverly. “I want the word out – I want them to know about my husband even though he’s gone. Everything about him was special – he was the glue for our Family and the goofball of our Family.”
During the ceremony, a roll call of each service member’s name was read aloud by a Family member or a member of American Legion Roscoe Enloe Post 5 of Jefferson City.
Just before the explosion that killed Crow, Beverly said her husband was telling the people in the vehicle with him that he had just learned he was going to be a grandfather for the 13th time at the age of 42. That grandchild, Ireland Kern, was in attendance at the ceremony and was held by her mother, Gretchen Grimes, who read her father-in-law’s name during the roll call.
“He was talking about Ireland the moment he died – he had just found out she was a girl,” said Beverly, who lives in Kansas City.
Beverly said it had always been her husband’s dream to serve in the military, but he didn’t enlist until he was 38.
“This was his last tour,” Beverly said. “He had 60 days left and he was coming home to retire.”
Beverly said the display and ceremony were beautiful.
“I’m all for anything they want to do like this,” she said. “Especially to have it in here at the capitol rotunda – that made it something else,” she said. “I think it’s really special that they honored everyone from Missouri.”
Katherine Williams was honored to read her brother’s name, Sgt. Matthew Straughter, a Missouri Guardsmen with the 1138th Engineer Company (Sapper) of Farmington, who was killed Jan. 31, 2008, by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq.
“I’m very happy that they’ve done this,” said Williams, who lives in Nashville, Ill. “I think anything to honor and remember our fallen men and women, it’s definitely important because that’s what makes people remember what is going on.”
Perry Vinson, Straughter’s father, said the display was a nice tribute to his son and the other Service members.
“I think it’s great,” said Vinson, who also resides in Nashville. “As a Veteran of that war myself, and the fact that both of my sons served over there, I think it’s great that they remember the fallen.”
A husband and father of five, Straughter was born in St. Louis. He enlisted in the Guard while living in Saint Charles and lived in Belleville, Ill., at the time of his deployment.
Being in the military is a family institution for Vinson and his Family. Vinson is a retired gunnery sergeant who served 22 years in the Marine Corps. Williams was a sergeant who served four years in the Marines and two years in both the Missouri and Illinois Army National Guard. Vinson’s other son, Spc. Andrew Straughter, is currently serving in the active Army with the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N.C.
For various memorial tributes to his son, Vinson said he and his Family have traveled as far as Fort Hood, Texas, the home to the 4th Infantry Division, who Straughter was assigned to when he was killed.
What made this memorial special was that the orchestrators contacted the Families for pictures of their loved ones.
“I thought that was really awesome because some of the pictures that have been used in the past of my brother are not good ones,” Williams said. “It meant more to us that we got to be more involved.”
Although memorials by state, local and military organizations are nice tributes, Williams wonders when her brother and the thousands of other Service members who have been killed since 9/11 will get a national monument.
“It’s disappointing that the federal government hasn’t really issued anything for these men and women at this point,” Williams said. “There’s nothing like the Vietnam Wall. I definitely think that if these men and women are dying for their country, then their country should be honoring them and not just their state, base or unit.”
Several Missouri National Guardsmen also attended the ceremony to show their support, including Col. Gary Gilmore, the state chaplain, and Capt. Steven Toft, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 35th Engineer Brigade, at Fort Leonard Wood.
Toft had ties to a pair of Missouri Guard engineers represented in the display – Staff Sgt. Bradley Skelton and Sgt. Denis Kisseloff.
“I think everybody who supports the Families of Fallen Comrades wants to be involved, even after the fact,” said Toft, who lives in Buckhorn. “You get to know the Families pretty well and get to know the fallen Soldiers through their Families.”
The display will remain at the capitol until Friday, Aug. 5. On Saturday, Aug. 6, it will begin traveling to communities throughout Missouri, starting in Elsberry.
The schedule for the touring display, which is updated weekly, can be found at www.rememberingourfallen.org.
Anyone who would like to schedule the display should contact Bill Williams at 402-612-0210 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Missouri National Guardsmen who were recognized by
Remembering Our Fallen
Rank, Name, Hometown Date/location of passing Unit of Assignment
SPC Joshua Neusche, Montreal, Mo. July 12, 2003, Iraq 203rd Engineer Battalion
PFC Alva Gaylord, Carroll, Mo. May 5, 2006, Iraq 110th Engineer Battalion
SFC Michael Fuga, Kansas City, Mo. Sep. 9, 2006, Afghanistan 35th Special Troops Battalion
SSG Lawrence Parrish, Lebanon, Mo. Oct. 7, 2006, Iraq 110th Engineer Battalion
SGT Matthew Straughter, Belleville, Ill. Jan. 31, 2008, Iraq 1138th Engineer Company (Sapper)
SSG Bradley Skelton, Gordonville, Mo. Feb. 6, 2008, Iraq 1138th Engineer Company (Sapper)
SSG Paul F. Brooks, Carl Junction, Mo. May 21, 2009, Iraq HHC, 1/252nd Combined Arms Bn, 30th Heavy Bde Combat Team NCNG
SGT Denis Kisseloff, St. Charles, Mo. May 14, 2010, Iraq 1141st Engineer Company (Sapper)
SGT Robert Wayne Crow, Kansas City, Mo. July 10, 2010, Afghanistan 203rd Engineer Battalion
SFC Robert Wayne Pharris, Seymour, Mo. Jan. 5, 2011, Afghanistan Agri-Business Development Team IV
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please visit www.moguard.com and our social media sites:
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