Memorial Day occurs each year on the last Monday in May and this year it lands on Monday, May 28. Memorial Day is a federal holiday marked to honor American men and women who served our country and died in military action. Many people use the day to spend time with friends and family hanging out by the pool or starting up the grill or just relaxing. However you plan to spend Memorial Day, take the time to pause and remember the heroes who make our freedoms possible in this great country.
Here are five fallen American heroes to remember on Memorial Day:
Many people have heard of Pat Tillman, the man who went to Arizona State University to play college football and led the school to the 1997 Rose Bowl during an undefeated season. Tillman went on to be drafted by The Arizona Cardinals in the seventh round of the 1998 NFL Draft. After the attacks on 9/11, Tillman was inspired to place his NFL career on hold and join the U.S. Army along with his brother Kevin.
According to the Pat Tillman Foundation website, “Pat and Kevin joined the U.S. Army that July, committing to a three-year term. They were assigned to the second battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment in Fort Lewis, Washington. They served tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2004. On the evening of April 22, 2004, Pat’s unit was ambushed as it traveled through the rugged, canyon terrain of eastern Afghanistan. His heroic efforts to provide cover for fellow soldiers as they escaped from the canyon led to his untimely and tragic death via fratricide.”
LT. Michael P. Murphy
LT. Michael P. Murphy, also known as “Murph,” was the officer-in-charge of a Navy SEAL team that was in Afghanistan in 2005. He was killed in action on June 28, 2005. He was credited with risking his own life to save his teammates and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on Oct. 22, 2007.
The Summary of Action provided by the Navy talks about a firefight that broke out between the SEAL team and more than 50 anti-coalition militia and says, “Murphy, intent on making contact with headquarters, but realizing this would be impossible in the extreme terrain where they were fighting, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life moved into the open, where he could gain a better position to transmit a call to get help for his men.”
The Summary of Action continues to detail the heroic movements of Murphy, “Moving away from the protective mountain rocks, he knowingly exposed himself to increased enemy gunfire. This deliberate and heroic act deprived him of cover and made him a target for the enemy. While continuing to be fired upon, Murphy made contact with the SOF Quick Reaction Force at Bagram Air Base and requested assistance. He calmly provided his unit’s location and the size of the enemy force while requesting immediate support for his team. At one point he was shot in the back causing him to drop the transmitter. Murphy picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the enemy who was closing in. Severely wounded, Lt. Murphy returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.”
If you follow Crossfit, you’ve likely heard of Crossfit “Hero” WODS (Workout of the Day) that are meant to be very intense in their physical programming in honor of fallen heroes. “Don’t think of yourself. Instead think about the Hero that has given his all for our freedom,” says the Crossfit Hardcore Hero WODs website. Listed below on the website is a hero workout entitled MURPH in honor of Murphy. The “Murph” is a workout which entails a 1-mile run followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats and a 1-mile run to the finish, all while wearing a 20-pound weighted vest.
In the official capacity, The Murph Challenge is the annual fundraiser of the LT. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation and takes place each year on Memorial Day.
1st Lt. Ashley I. White Stumpf
1st Lt. Ashley White Stumpf of the U.S. Army was killed during combat operations in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan on Oct. 22, 2011. The assault force that she was supporting triggered an improvised explosive device.
“Ashley was assigned to the 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, North Carolina National Guard, Goldsboro, NC and served as a member of a Cultural Support Team attached to a Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan. As a Cultural Support Team Member on her first deployment to Afghanistan, White selflessly served,” says a website set up in her honor.
Ashley White had volunteered to be a part of a Cultural Support Team and took on a mission in which, “she traveled with a Ranger unit in Kandahar province and met and talked to local Afghan women, something local customs bar male U.S. troops from doing,” according to TIME.
“Her awards and decorations include the Parachutists Badge, the Ohio Faithful Service Ribbon, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Army Reserve Achievement Medal and the National Defense Service Medal. Ashley was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and the Combat Action Badge,” according to AshleyWhiteStumpf.com.
Pfc. Lori Piestewa
Pfc. Lori Piestewa, 23, of Tuba City, Arizona, was the first female soldier in the Iraq War to die and the first American Indian woman to die in combat on foreign soil.
“Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa, 23, Spc. Shoshana Johnson and Pfc. Jessica Lynch were among members of the 507th Maintenance Company from Fort Bliss ambushed near Nasiriyah, Iraq, on March 23, 2003. Lynch, Johnson and others were taken prisoner. Nine Soldiers, including Piestewa, were killed in action. She was posthumously promoted to Spc. Piestewa,” according to an Army article.
An Indian Country Today article spoke about Piestewa and how she is well-known for her service. “Her heart, spirit, and undaunted courage made her an icon for Indians and non-Indians alike,” said the article.
In 2008 a 2,610 ft. mountain in Phoenix, Arizona, the second tallest mountain in the Phoenix Mountains was named Piestewa Peak in honor of Piestewa.
USAF Staff Sgt. Timothy P. Davis
Air Force Staff Sgt. Timothy P. Davis died on Feb. 20, 2009, while he was assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron. He died of wounds when his vehicle came upon an improvised explosive device in the Oruzgan province of Afghanistan. Born in Montesano, Washington, Davis was 28 years old.
“Timothy Davis had just turned 28 and would have been married for five years next month. He met his wife, Meagan, while training at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane. The couple had a 1-year-old son, Timmy Jr.,” according to Military Times.
His military decorations included the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Force Commendation Medal and the Air Force Achievement Medal, U.S. Air Force reported.
“Davis was a member of the Air Force’s Special Tactics team, an elite group with only 300 members. At least 80 team members, in scarlet berets, came to pay their final respects,” said an article by the Fallen Heroes Project.
Who will you honor on Memorial Day? Take time to reflect and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to this great country.
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