Page: http://blog.richardslowry.com/ Richard's Blog
Aug 14th, 2011 by Richard Lowry
Don’t forget my Dad

Bryan and Braydon Nichols

Last weekend, on August 6th, 2011, our nation lost thirty of its finest Soldiers, Airmen and Sailors in the single largest loss of life for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Thirty fathers, sons, husbands and brothers lost their lives in a horrific Special Operations helicopter crash in Afghanistan’s Tanji Valley. Eight brave Afghan soldiers were also killed in the crash.

It is believed that the helicopter was downed by a rocket-propelled grenade, fired by a Taliban insurgent while it was transporting elite Navy SEALs to the scene of an on-going fire fight. US Army Rangers had been searching for a Taliban leader when they came under fire and a gun battle ensued. The Rangers called for reinforcements and the CH-47 helicopter was shot down while bringing the SEALs in to thefight.

All week, we have heard story after story focusing on America’s most elite Special Operators – the Navy SEALs. But, a ten year old boy, Braydon Nichols, wanted to know why his father’s photo was not included with those we had been seeing all last week. His father was the pilot of the Chinook helicopter. His father was his hero. His father was a member of another elite American unit. His father was a member of the U.S. Army’s 158th Aviation Regiment – a unit which ferried Rangers and SEALs in and out of Harm’s way.

Of the 30 Americans lost, 17 were Navy SEALs and 15 of the 17 belonged to the top-secret unit that conducted the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Five were men with particular specialties who regularly worked with the SEALs. The other eight included three Air Force forward air controllers and five Army helicopter crew members, including the pilot of the aircraft, Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Nichols.

Bryan always wanted to be a solider. He enlisted in the military before he had graduated from high school and worked his way up through the ranks until he eventually had the opportunity to pilot the same type of helicopter his father flew in Vietnam – a Chinook.

Bryan’s son, Braydon, also dreamed of flying alongside his father one day. Let us honor this boy’s remembrance and never forget Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Nichols, United States Army – an American hero. And never forget the other twenty-nine brave Americans lost in that crash.

Thank you for your service to our nation –

Lieutenant Commander (SEAL) Jonas B. Kelsall, 32, of Shreveport, La.

Special Warfare Operator Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Louis J. Langlais, 44, of Santa Barbara, Calif.,

Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Thomas A. Ratzlaff, 34, of Green Forest, Ark.,

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Senior Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Kraig M. Vickers, 36, of Kokomo, Hawaii

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Brian R. Bill, 31, of Stamford, Conn.

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) John W. Faas, 31, of Minneapolis, Minn.,

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Kevin A. Houston, 35, of West Hyannisport, Mass.

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Matthew D. Mason, 37, of Kansas City, Mo.

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Stephen M. Mills, 35, of Fort Worth, Texas

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist/Diver) Nicholas H. Null, 30, of Washington, W.Va.

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Robert J. Reeves, 32, of Shreveport, La.

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Heath M. Robinson, 34, of Detroit, Mich.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Darrik C. Benson, 28, of Angwin, Calif.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Parachutist) Christopher G. Campbell, 36, of Jacksonville, N.C.

Information Systems Technician Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Jared W. Day, 28, of Taylorsville, Utah

Master-at-Arms Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) John Douangdara, 26, of South Sioux City, Neb.

Cryptologist Technician (Collection) Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) Michael J. Strange, 25, of Philadelphia, Pa.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist) Jon T. Tumilson, 35, of Rockford, Iowa

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Aaron C. Vaughn, 30, of Stuart, Fla.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jason R. Workman, 32, of Blanding, Utah

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jesse D. Pittman, 27, of Ukiah, Calif.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 2nd Class (SEAL) Nicholas P. Spehar, 24, of Saint Paul, Minn.

Chief Warrant Officer David R. Carter, 47, of Centennial, Colo.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Aurora, Colo.

Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Nichols, 31, of Hays, Kan.  He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kan.

Sergeant Patrick D. Hamburger, 30, of Lincoln, Neb.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Grand Island, Neb.

Sergeant Alexander J. Bennett, 24, of Tacoma, Wash.  He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kan.

Specialist Spencer C. Duncan, 21, of Olathe, Kan.  He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kan.

Technical Sergeant John W. Brown, 33, of Tallahassee, Fla.

Staff Sergeant Andrew W. Harvell, 26, of Long Beach, Calif.

and

Technical Sergeant Daniel L. Zerbe, 28, of York, Pa.

Braydon Nichols posted a photo of his father online, saying; “please don’t forget about my Dad.” Please reach out to the children of these men to let them know how much we all appreciate their dedication to our nation. Please let them know we will never forget their Dads.

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