Families ID Troops Killed in Chopper Crash

A few soldiers' families have spoken about the death of their loved ones

Family members and friends have identified a few of the fallen soldiers from the deadly helicopter crash in Afghanistan over the weekend. The Department of Defense has yet to formally release the names of those who died. The Pentagon announced that the remains will be brought to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Tuesday.

Nearly two dozen Navy SEALs are among the 30 Americans who died in action when a Taliban fighter with a rocket-propelled grenade reportedly fired on the chopper. It was the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the decade-long war.

Many of the SEALs lived in Coronado for several months during their initial training.

John Kelsall, a 33-year-old lieutenant commander for the Navy, was a member of SEAL Team Seven. He is survived by his wife and father, who is the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce CEO and president, reported Beachcomber. Kelsall trained in Basic Underwater Demolition in San Diego after enlisting. He leaves behind his wife and father.

A close friend of Kelsall's since high school, Robert James Reeves was another killed in the crash. He also trained in San Diego and became a SEAL more than 10 years ago, according to Shrevport Times. Reeves had previously been awarded four Bronze Stars.

Michael Strange, 25, decided to join the military when he was still in high school, and had been in the Navy for about six years, first stationed in Hawaii and for the last two in Virginia Beach, where he became a SEAL about two years ago, his mother, Elizabeth Strange, told The Associated Press.

John Brown, an Air Force technical sergeant, was described by his mother Elizabeth Newlun as a "gentle giant." The airman was a paramedic and ready to attend to the medical needs of anyone who was rescued, his mother said.

Matt Mills, a 36-year-old SEAL, also died in the crash.

"He fought for what was right and loved to do it." his brother, Michael Mills, told Wavy. "He loved his job, he loved his family, he loved America."

Patrick Hamburger was a 30-year-old sergeant from Grand Island, Neb., who planned on proposing to his girlfriend when he returned to the U.S. He is survived by his 2-year-old daughter and parents.

Kraig Vickers, a Navy Bomb Disposal Team member would have turned 37 on Thursday, his father Robert Vickers told Maui News. He lived in Virginia Beach and is survived by his wife, Nani, who was pregnant, and their three children.

Jon Tumilson, 35, was another SEAL aboard the chopper. He was an avid runner, who competed in marathons and triathlons.

Brian Bill had plans for when he finished his military service. He wanted to return to graduate school and hoped one day to become an astronaut.

Jason Workman, 32, of Blanding, Utah, cited 9/11 as his motivation to join the special forces, childhood friend Tate Bennett told The Deseret News. He completed his Mormon mission to Brazil and Philadelphia, attended college, then joined the Navy with the specific goal of becoming a SEAL.

"Not making it just wasn't an option," Bennett said of his friend, who leaves behind a wife and 21-month-old son.

Vaughn was a member of SEAL Team Six, according to the Today Show.

“Aaron was an amazing father, and I’m proud that I will get to carry on his legacy through our children,” Vaughn’s wife Kimberly told the Today Show. The couple had two children.

He had always wanted to serve, Vaughn’s father told the Today Show.

“After 9/11, Aaron told me and his mother he wanted to be a SEAL, and he said he wanted to ever since he was a little boy,’’ his father told Today. “He felt, and so did the other members of his team, that the very existence of our republic is at stake, and because of that, Aaron was willing to give his life.’’

President Barack Obama commended the troops Monday morning during a speech.

"These men and women put their lives on the line for the values of our nation," he said. "No matter what differences they had, they served this nation as a team."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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