US troops who have died while serving in Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa

Marine Master Sgt. Daniel L. Fedder

Daniel Fedder wasn't the most talented guy on his high school wrestling squad, but, at least as coach Wayne Hansmann remembers it, he became the most improved and eventually the team captain.

"He just had this attitude that when he got into something, he went into it gung-ho," Hansmann said. "He jumped in with both feet. It looks like he did the same thing with his military career. He didn't sit around the edges."

The 34-year-old highly decorated bomb disposal technician from Pine City, Minn., died Aug. 27 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Camp Pendleton and had deployed to Iraq in 2004 and 2006.

Pine City High School principal George Johnson recalled Fedder as a hardworking, reserved and personable kid and an intense wrestler.

Fedder's grandmother, Florence Fedder, said he had stayed out of trouble, seemed to get good grades and wanted to have a military career. He enlisted in the Marines in 1994.

His aunt, Lori Fedder, said Fedder wanted to see the world and believed in serving his country.

Fedder had two young children, Storm and Danielle.


Marine Pfc. Vincent E. Gammone

Vincent Gammone knew everyone needed a friend.

"I remember when we were in school ... if you didn't have a friend, he was the one that would run up to you and be your friend and talk to you even if everyone else was ignoring you," said Krista Felts, who grew up with Gammone and attended school with him.

Friends and family described Gammone as a kind-hearted young man who enjoyed playing trombone in the school band and working with the Junior ROTC.

The 19-year-old from Christiana, Tenn., was killed Aug. 7 in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune. Gammone was killed by a prisoner who tried to escape from a Marine convoy.

"We were told that Vincent was one of the first to go to the aid of another Marine who had been wounded by the escaped prisoner, who was able to arm himself during his attempted escape," said Jessica West, Gammone's fiancee.

Gammone graduated from Eagleville High School in 2008. West said he hoped to one day become a police officer and raise a family with her.

"I'll remember his kind heart," West said. "He was very forgiving and very loving. I'll remember his love and passion for band and the Marine Corps and his love for me, his family and everyone he met."


Army Capt. Dale A. Goetz

Dale Goetz, an Army chaplain, was open about his faith and happy to share it, according to his friends and partners in ministry.

"He was definitely very passionate about his job, and the reason he became a chaplain is because he wanted to see soldiers trust in Jesus Christ," said the Rev. Jason Parker of High Country Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, near where Goetz was based at Fort Carson.

The 43-year-old Goetz died Aug. 30 in the Arghandab River Valley of wounds from an improvised explosive device. He was the first Army clergyman killed in action since the Vietnam War, the military said.

He and his wife, Christy, were 1995 graduates of Maranatha Baptist Bible College in Wisconsin. He completed his Master of Divinity degree at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Minneapolis.

Goetz listed his hometown as White, S.D., where he'd been pastor of First Baptist Church. He was an energetic leader who helped come up with new programs there before training to be a chaplain, church trustee David Lucas said.

Goetz previously deployed to Iraq in 2004 and had been in Afghanistan since July 25.

He is survived by his three young sons, Landon, Caleb and Joel.


Marine Cpl. Kristopher D. Greer

Kristopher Greer — better known by his middle name, Daniel — was an outspoken fellow who "didn't mind letting you know what was on his mind," his boss said.

Greer had worked for five years with the Ashland City fire department in Tennessee and was beloved by Fire Chief Chuck Walker and his fellow firefighters alike.

"Not only were we shift partners, but everyday we were off, we went hunting or fishing," said fellow firefighter Dustin Shadowens. "He was a real good hunting or fishing partner. We were always doing something together."

Greer, 25, was killed Aug. 8 in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was a Marine Corps reservist whose unit was based in Knoxville, Tenn.

Greer joined the fire department as a volunteer in 2005 and was a full-time employee within two years.

Sam Waldron, who got to know Greer when the two worked in a 911 dispatch center together, said the Marine would do anything for his friends in a heartbeat. But he also was a jokester.

"We liked to be goofy and do completely random stuff. It was always like that with Daniel," Waldron said.

However, as much as he loved being a firefighter, the fire chief said nothing came before Greer's family: his wife, Stacy, and young son, Ethan.


Army Staff Sgt. Casey J. Grochowiak

Casey Grochowiak grew up a beach kid who liked surfing in the waters off Southern California.

The son of a retired Navy officer, Grochowiak was inspired to enlist in the Army because of his father's service and the large military presence in San Diego, where he grew up.

"He loved doing what he did. He was made to be in the Army," longtime friend Dan Hernandez told the Santa Maria Times. "He was that guy who always protected the underdog when he was growing up. That's just Casey ... Knowing him was definitely an honor."

Grochowiak, a 34-year-old Army Ranger, died in Malajat on Aug. 30 of wounds suffered in an attack on his unit.

His hometown was listed as Lompoc, Calif. He was assigned to Fort Carson.

"He was a great soldier," said Grochowiak's brother Erik Grochowiak of San Diego. "He chose the Army because he wanted to make a difference."

He had deployed to Iraq twice before and Afghanistan once. He was eager to deploy again to look after younger soldiers, his brother told the Times.

Survivors include his wife, Celestina; 14-year-old daughter, Matia; 5-year-old son, Deegan; parents Edward and Barbara; brother Erik; and sister Kerry.

"Casey touched the lives of so many people. He was not only a war hero but a hero to a lot of people all over San Diego County," Hernandez said.


Army Pvt. Charles M. High IV

Charles High<s family remembers him as an accomplished violist who played with the Albuquerque Youth Orchestra.

He also could pick up a guitar and play songs by ear. In high school, he participated in orchestra, track and the Junior ROTC.

In 2007, he enlisted in the Army in 2007 after making a decision earlier in life that he wanted to serve his country.

On Aug. 17, High died in Kunar province where he was wounded when a roadside bomb caused a vehicle to roll over. He was 21 and assigned to Fort Campbell.

Better known as "Charlie" to his friends and family, High liked to camp. He also was a Boy Scout, according to an obituary, and looked forward each year to the organization's Pinewood Derby, a tradition that involves the racing of carved and painted toy cars.

He is survived by his mother, Kimberlea Johnston, and father and stepmother, Charles and Sherri High.


Army Capt. Jason E. Holbrook

A friend of Jason Holbrook's family recalls the Army Ranger as a quiet young man who loved to fish and had bursts of spontaneity.

"He would just do funny, outrageous things," such as once on a school bus when he suddenly started singing "I am Henery the Eighth, I Am," Charles Goble said.

The 28-year-old special forces team leader from the small town of Burnet, Texas, died July 29 at Tsagay, Afghanistan, after his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to Fort Bragg and previously had deployed to Iraq. He received a Purple Heart after being wounded there.

Holbrook was born at Fort Hood, Texas, and was mature even as a boy.

"He was the kind of kid who even at an early age, he could tell when something needed to be done without someone telling him," Goble said. "Jason was just exceptional."

Holbrook graduated from Burnet High School in 2000, then followed the military footsteps of his father, James, who was in the Air Force, and graduated from West Point in 2004 after studying environmental science.

He is survived by his wife, Heather; his parents; two sisters; and a brother.


Marine Gunnery Sgt. Floyd E.C. Holley

Floyd Holley was a ladies man — a high school football player and wrestler always popular with the girls. But no one caught his eye quite like Christen.

The two would eventually marry after he met her in Hawaii. She had a son and daughter from previous relationships, and she was expecting her first child with Holley in November.

"He was beyond being excited about being a father," said longtime friend Shawn Whitaker. "He was all about family and love."

Holley, 36, of Casselberry, Fla., was killed Aug. 29 in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Camp Pendleton. He graduated from Lyman High School in 1993 and then spent a year at Central Methodist College, running track and playing football.

Holley joined the Marines in 1997 and was on his third deployment overseas. He worked in ordnance disposal — clearing bombs from roads.

Whitaker said Holley enjoyed surfing and loved being on the beach. He said his friend — also known as "Flo" — gave his all to everything: Family, the Marines, life.

"When he did it, whether it was wrestling or football ... he did it all the way."


Army Staff Sgt. James R. Ide V

James Ide's life began and ended with the military, though it comprised much more, including the poetry he wrote, the motorcycles he enjoyed riding and his deep involvement with a Christian church in Germany.

Ide, the son of an airman, was born the day after Christmas at Nellis Air Force Base. Two decades later, he joined the Army.

"He knew the risk," said Diane Ortiz, his aunt. "He accepted it, but it didn't matter. He was doing what he loved. He wasn't out for glory or recognition."

Ide trained bomb-sniffing dogs and their handlers and was working with his own dog, a Belgian Malinois, when he was killed by small-arms fire Aug. 29 at Hyderabad, Afghanistan. The 32-year-old from Festus, Mo., was based in Sembach, Germany, and had served in Korea and twice in Iraq.

He entered the Army after graduating in 1997 from De Soto High School, where he had enjoyed wrestling.

Ide met his wife, Mandy, while he was stationed at Fort Hood. He loved playing with their two children, 7-year-old Trinity and 1-year-old James, and relaxing with friends.


Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Infante

Jesse Infante's relatives say when it came to the three biggest roles of his life, Infante was a standout.

"He was a great dad, he was a great son and he was a great soldier," Jesus Infante said of his son.

The younger Infante loved working in the Army and even hoped to convince one of his three younger brothers to join him, his stepmother, Nancy Infante, said.

The 30-year-old explosive ordnance specialist from Cypress, Texas, was one of five Fort Carson soldiers who died Aug. 30 in the Arghandab River Valley after a unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device.

Infante had deployed to Iraq in December 2005 for a year and then to Afghanistan on July 25.

He'd been anticipating returning home on leave in November for the birth of a son he planned to also name Jesse. He also had a 6-year-old daughter.

Infante, the oldest of five siblings, graduated in 1999 from Sam Houston High School, where he was in the Junior ROTC. He joined the Army the next year and hoped to become a drill sergeant, relatives said.


Army Sgt. Christopher N. Karch

Christopher Karch's father, an Army veteran, says he urged his son to enter the military so he'd start out on the right foot after high school.

"He loved it," Patrick Karch said. "He was gung-ho over there."

The younger Karch became a paratrooper and even had wings tattooed on his back "to help protect him," his grandfather, Norman Karch, said.

The 23-year-old soldier from Indianapolis, died Aug. 11 in Arghandab Valley after insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire weeks before his second tour was set to end. He was assigned to Fort Bragg.

He joined the Army after graduating from Lawrence Central High School in 2005.

He enjoyed playing Frisbee golf and watching TV shows such as "Battlestar Galactica" and "Family Guy" and the movies "Boondock Saints" and "Shawshank Redemption," according to his Facebook profile.

"He was the life of the party," said Debbie Morris, whose son, Adam, was Karch's roommate. "He'd have you in stitches. And he had a heart of gold."

Morris' husband, Charles, said he smiles at memories of Karch and his son, including a muscle-building competition they once had.

Karch is also survived by his mother.


Army Staff Sgt. Kevin J. Kessler

Kevin Kessler loved to water ski, hike up mountains and listen to heavy metal music.

He also was passionate about his military career.

Kessler joined the Army in 2004, and was deployed twice to Iraq before being sent to Afghanistan in July.

"He was a happy-go-lucky, free-spirit guy," said his aunt, Jane Kmatz. "(But) he wanted to serve a purpose."

Kessler, 32, of Canton, Ohio, died Aug. 30 in Afghanistan's Arghandab River Valley after his unit was bombed. Family members said he was loyal to his unit, based at Fort Carson.

"If (his troops) were there, he wanted to be there with them," said his stepmother, Sue Kessler. "He wanted to watch their backs, like they would watch his."

Kessler was a 1996 graduate of East Canton High School, serving as class vice president.

His family threw him a party before he left for Afghanistan. It was a celebration of sorts; his wife, Adrian, had found out she was pregnant.

Kessler was eager to return home and be a father, said his uncle, Barney Kessler. "He was pretty excited," he said.


Army Sgt. Martin A. Lugo

Martin Lugo's mother remembers her son at age 3, saying his bedtime prayers and showing both his humor and faith in a question about Jesus.

"Is Jesus everywhere?" he asked.

"I said 'Yes, of course,' " Maria Marin remembered.

"And he said, 'Nuh-uh. If he's here, how come his car's not in the garage?' "

Marin's memory brought laughter to a Tucson, Ariz., church where hundreds remembered the 24-year-old Lugo, who died Aug. 19 in Puli Alam.

He was leading a team of Rangers in Logar province when he was mortally wounded in an attack on his unit. After being treated by a medical unit, he was evacuated to a treatment facility where he later died, said Col. Michael E. Kurilla, commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment, in a release.

Lugo, who was assigned to Hunter Army Air Field, had enlisted in 2004 after graduation from Tucson High Magnet School, according to the Arizona Daily Star. He had re-enlisted in the Army in February and was on his sixth combat deployment when he died. He had been assigned to Hunter Army Air Field.

"He had a need to do the right thing, always," his mother said.


Army Pfc. Alexis V. Maldonado

What Alexis Maldonado lacked in stature, he made up for in heart, Brig. Gen. Bryan Watson said, noting the soldier was proud to have a "Made in Texas" tattoo.

The military was where he wanted to be.

"Joining the service was his goal when he arrived here," said principal Gena Woodward of Harrell Accelerated Learning Center, where Maldonado earned his GED in 2008. "This was his purpose and he worked hard to achieve it."

The 20-year-old from Wichita Falls, Texas, died at Kandahar Air Field on Aug. 21 of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire in Zhari province. He was assigned to Fort Hood.

He worked hard to stay physically fit, so in his down time, comrades could find him weightlifting in the gym or bobbing his head to music. He also enjoyed wrestling and playing video games and was hoping to study at a Dallas technical institute to become a mechanic.

Loved ones said he spent all the time he could with his son, Isaiah, who had just turned 2.

Survivors include his parents, Jesse and Alicia, and their spouses; his fiancee, Baronica Chapa; two brothers, Brad and Sergio; and a sister, Aleksi Marie.


Army Staff Sgt. Conrad A. Mora

Conrad Mora's wife remembers that the last time they talked, they had a conversation about plans for their son's birthday party.

The hadn't seen each other in person since May, before Mora deployed to Afghanistan.

"He (said)' you are so beautiful. I miss you so much. I (am) coming home'; we really had a good talk before he left," his wife told the ABS-CBN North American News Bureau.

Mora, 24, of San Diego, and three other soldiers were killed in a July 24 attack on their unit in Qalat. All were assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Mora's job in the Army was to clear roads of explosives. He was on his second deployment to Afghanistan.

Mora's family and 1-year-old son were especially important to him, his brother-in-law Christian Lleva told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

During his career, Mora received six Army Achievement Medals and an Army Commendation Medal, said a public affairs officer with Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"Clearly, he was recognized by his leaders for something," the officer told the newspaper.

Mora's survivors include his wife, Ann; son, Christopher; father, Alejandrino Mora; and mother, Carmelita Mora.