US troops killed in Afghanistan and Africa

Army Spc. Anthony M. Lightfoot

Anthony M. Lightfoot could always be spotted glued to a television set, playing video games.

He beat the Super Mario Bros. game at when he was 4, and from there his passion for gaming, animation and drawing blossomed.

“Ever since then, you couldn’t move him from the TV,” said his brother, Steven Lightfoot, 29. “Everything he touched he tried to master, and that was an awesome quality about him.”

Lightfoot, 20, of Riverdale, Ga., died July 20 when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in Wardak province. He was assigned to Fort Drum.

Lightfoot was familiar with the military at an early age — he was born in Germany while his mother, Lyvonne Lightfoot, was stationed there. He grew to love his own role in the army, and a sergeant told his family Anthony was “really loved by his unit.”

“He felt so good about himself and so good about his mission and so good about his life,” Steven Lightfoot said. “He was happy and valorous about his service.”

He still wanted to develop a career, though. Anthony Lightfoot’s family said he loved to draw and hoped to one day design a video game.

He is survived by his mother, brother and a sister, Nija.

Army Sgt. Terry J. Lynch

Terry Lynch, determined and serious about serving his country, had a handshake so firm one friend called it “bone-crushing.”

Mark Johnson also said Lynch was fun-loving and modest.

“I was struck by how modest Terry was, as he told about his promotion to sergeant, his new responsibilities and duties and how he looked forward to being these young men’s boss,” Johnson said.

Lynch, 22, was killed June 29 by a bomb that detonated near his vehicle in Wardak Province. He was based in Form Drum, N.Y.

A funeral procession through Shepherd, Mont., the small town Lynch called home, passed farmland and a high school before reaching the town’s graveyard, where he was buried in a grave next to his mother, Robyn, and older brother, David.

Lynch graduated from Shepherd High School in 2005 and joined the Army at age 18.

“I wanted to give back to my country,” he said told the Billings Gazette newspaper before leaving for basic training.

He is survived by his father, Charlie, and his sister, Kristin, and her husband, Frank.

“We as a family, we as a community, and we as a nation are forever grateful,” Johnson said.

Air Force Capt. Mark R. McDowell

Mark McDowell was a 4.0 student, the MVP on his high school soccer team and the usual winner in the golf games he played against his brother.

When he decided he wanted to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy, he was accepted and graduated in 2005 with a degree in physics.

“He was always good at everything,” said his wife, Katie McDowell. “If we did something, he always learned quickly, or was always better at it than everyone.”

Mark McDowell, 26, of Mooresville, N.C., died July 17 when the F-15 he was piloting went down near Ghazni Province. He was based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C.

“He loved flying. He loved being a part of the community that was doing what they’re doing,” his wife said.

The couple met while attending the Air Force Academy. Katie McDowell was deployed to Iraq in June.

Mark McDowell graduated from South Iredell County High School in Statesville, N.C.

He is survived by his wife; stepfather and mother, Bill and Barbara Thomas; father and stepmother, Stan and Karen McDowell; and brothers Joseph McDowell and Bill Thomas.

“He was a great brother. I always looked up to him. He used to push me around a lot, but then I got to be bigger than him,” Joseph McDowell said.

Army Spc. Gregory J. Missman

Gregory J. Missman’s 4-year-old son, Jack, doesn’t quite understand the significance of his dad’s death.

Yet his words are mature: “Dad was a strong soldier,” Jack said as he ran into the arms of his mother, Brooke. “He loved us. We loved him.”

Missman was wounded by a roadside bomb and was awarded the Purple Heart before he died of his injuries July 8. He enlisted in the Army after graduating from Amelia High School in 1993, serving for more than three years. He then worked as a computer consultant before re-enlisting. He was assigned to Fort Carson.

“I don’t know who I’m going to get to fix my computer,” said his father, Jim.

The soldier was a hero to his family long before his death.

“He’s always been a hero of our family,” said his sister Dawn Waggoner. “I remember several Thanksgivings we spent together where he was down volunteering in homeless shelters, feeding people who had no place to go or eat.”

He is survived by his father, Jim; his mother, Donna Missman Turner; his son; a brother, Michael Missman; and a stepsister, Dawn Puccini.

Army Sgt. Raymundo P. Morales

Everyone knew Raymundo P. Morales’ smile.

“As soon as you seen him, whether he was down or not, he always had that smile no matter what,” said his aunt, Maria Vicencio, adding that the man known as “Ray” had an infectious laugh and sense of humor.

Morales, 34, of Dalton, Ga., was killed July 21 when the Humvee he was riding in rolled over in Methar Lam. He was assigned to Cedartown, Ga.

The sergeant graduated from Murray County High School in 1992. He had only been in Afghanistan for about a month, but his family says he was doing what he enjoyed most.

“He was always trying to help people. He says he loved the Army, that’s why he joined,” said his uncle, Jorge Vicencio.

The Georgia National Guardsman planned to be in the military for the rest of his career, said his brother, Tommy Morales.

“He said, ‘Daddy, if I don’t who will? You know, who will protect us and our country?’ So that’s what he did,” Morales said.

Morales is survived by four children, his parents and a brother and sister.

Army Spc. Randy L.J. Neff Jr.

Randy Neff had an ability to put the people around him at ease and make his comrades laugh until their sides ached.

“He would flash his trademark grin, and everyone around him would feel better,” Capt. David Cuthbertson said.

Neff, 22, of Blackfoot, Idaho, died July 22 when a bomb exploded near his convoy. He was based in Fort Carson, Colo.

The bomb also killed Sgt. Joshua Rimer. Both Neff and Rimer were combat engineers who helped clear roadside bombs.

“They chose the only job in the Army that starts with the word ‘combat,'” said Lt. Col. Craig Simonsgaard.

Neff graduated from Blackfoot High School in 2006. Shop teacher Peter Golinveaux said Neff was laid back in high school, but appeared to change after enlisting and the military helped him overcome hardships he faced growing up.

“He talked to my son a couple of days before he left and said he was excited about going to Afghanistan and serving his time,” Golinveaux said.

Neff is survived by his wife, Madelyn. The couple lived in Colorado Springs, Colo., before Neff was deployed to Afghanistan.

“He was a strong-hearted kid; he’d be the first one up ready to go,” said Neff’s friend Spec. Steven Speilbauer.

Army Sgt. Gregory Owens Jr.

Gregory Owens Jr. had an attitude of thinking of others first. When his sister had her appendix removed one summer, he kept her company for an entire week.

And instead of taking his scheduled leave from duty in Afghanistan in July, he swapped shifts with another soldier so that he’d be home in mid-October as a surprise for his father’s 50th birthday.

Owens, 24, of Garland, Texas, died July 20 in Wardak province when his vehicle was hit with a roadside bomb and enemy fire. He was based in Fort Drum, N.Y.

“He always put others before himself,” said his mother, LaDonna Owens. “He made time to spend with other people and to listen to them.”

He was born in Germany during his father’s military service and had followed in those footsteps by joining the Army in 2007. He had graduated with honors in 2002 from Hillcrest High School, where he kept a full schedule but still managed to find time to roughhouse with his younger brothers and play sports with them.

“He did everything to keep my mom busy 24/7: band, Boy Scouts, church,” said his sister, Shelena.

Owens is survived by his parents, sister and younger brothers, Lamar and Jonathan.

Army Pfc. Dennis J. Pratt

Dennis J. Pratt was a third-generation soldier and 34-year-old father of three who was called “the old man” among comrades in his unit.

“He had found his niche in life in the military,” said his mother, Sinnamon Pratt.

Dennis Pratt, of Duncan, Okla., was killed July 20 when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in Wardak province, days before he was scheduled to head home for two weeks of down time.

“Dennis wasn’t supposed to be at that place at that time, but he always told us that the Army and serving his country was where he wanted to be,” his mother said.

He had graduated high school in Southington, Conn., and was assigned to Fort Drum, N.Y.

His calls home to Oklahoma always ended with him saying, “I’ve got your back. You can sleep in peace,” his mother said.

He is survived by his three children; his wife, Michelle; his parents; and two brothers.

Duncan residents stood along the road with American flags to honor their hometown hero as his family drove to the funeral at Fort Sill. Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, who attended the services, praised Pratt as “a beloved son” of Duncan.

Navy Petty Officer Second Class Tony Michael Randolph

Tony Michael Randolph was tough. He was a three-year starter, all-district lineman on Henryetta High School’s football team and was involved in champion-class power lifting.

Randolph was so determined that he once refused to stop running around the track because he didn’t want to say “yes, sir” when football coach Kenny Speer asked whether he’d had enough. Randolph finally said those two words — but in Spanish.

“You’re not going to find a kid that would work harder than he worked,” Speer said. “He knew what direction he wanted his life to go toward.”

Randolph, 22, of Henryetta, Okla., died July 6 after the vehicle he was riding in struck a roadside bomb in northern Afghanistan. The demolitions expert was based at Sigonella, Sicily.

He graduated in 2005 and joined the Navy the following year. The Rev. Jim Paslay, who officiated at his funeral, said he’d recently read the Navy’s creed, and three words — honor, courage and commitment — stood out.

“That’s what the Navy is all about,” Paslay said, “and that’s what Tony was all about.”

Randolph is survived by his parents, Fred and Peggy Randolph of Weleetka, along with two stepbrothers and two stepsisters.

Army Sgt. Joshua J. Rimer

Joshua J. Rimer read to his new wife every night and took care of her when she was sick. When it snowed, he always drove his mother-in-law to and from work.

“He is amazing. I mean he was amazing,” said his widow, Annalisa. “People just love Joshua.”

Rimer, 24, of Rochester, Pa., was killed July 22 by an improvised explosive in Zabul province. He was a 2003 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Carson.

Rimer, who played the trumpet and was in band and chorus, joined the military right after graduation and spent three years in Iraq on his first tour. He received a Purple Heart after receiving shrapnel wounds to the neck.

“Everyone was saying, ‘You got the Purple Heart, you can come home now,'” said Amy Nichols, his cousin. “But he said, ‘This is what I do. This is me.'”

His family said Rimer was a good leader who constantly drilled his men and was respected for his knowledge and loved for his outgoing personality.

“I remember my brother as being a fun-loving person who had the best personality you’d ever meet,” said Shannon Rimer. “He was always the center of attention. That’s who Joshua was.”

Army Spc. Andrew J. Roughton

Andrew J. Roughton was known by his friends as “Tuna,” and for good reason.

“Whenever he went to a friend’s house, he would leave an unopened can of tuna fish behind, sometimes in a closet, sometimes in a bathroom,” said his father, Mark Roughton. “I have no idea why, it was just sort of his signature.”

Roughton, 21, of Houston, died July 20 in Wardak province when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle. He was assigned to Fort Drum, N.Y.

He was an athlete at Spring Woods High School and graduated in 2006 with dreams of proving that a small guard could make it on the college gridiron. But he put that dream aside, left a scholarship at Trinity Valley Community College and joined the Army to support his young wife, Heather, when she became pregnant. Despite a miscarriage, he didn’t second-guess the decision, his father said.

Friends say Roughton always tried to be positive and keep people smiling.

“If you knew Andrew, he was a cutup,” his father said. “If you didn’t know Andrew, he’d make you his friend.”

He is survived by his wife, his father and a stepbrother.

Marine Sgt. Michael C. Roy

Michael C. Roy enlisted in the Marines just two weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, hoping he could stop al-Qaida and Osama Bin Laden.

“He wanted to protect his country and wanted his children to grow up without war,” said Julie England, a longtime neighbor whose children befriended Roy.

Roy, 25, of North Fort Myers, Fla., was killed by a sniper in Nimroz province. He graduated from Academy High School in 2001 and was assigned to Camp Lejeune.

“You couldn’t ask for a better leader as your sergeant,” said Cpl. John Wood, 23, a Marine stationed in Parris Island who served under Roy for his first two tours in Iraq. “You couldn’t ask for a better person. If there was anything you needed, he would take care of you.”

Roy’s father, Sgt. Michael Roy of Punta Gorda, Fla., said his son knew from an early age he wanted to serve in the military.

“It was a privilege to serve with him because of his dedication and the way he treated his Marines,” Wood said. “It didn’t matter that he was the same age as us he was our leader.”

Roy is survived by his wife, Amy, and three young children: Olivia, Mikey and Landon.

Marine Lance Cpl. Charles S. Sharp

Charles S. Sharp — better known by his middle name, Seth — had a strange request on his Christmas list last year: a coloring book and crayons.

“He said it wasn’t for him but for the children he’d met in Iraq,” said his father, Rick Sharp. “He was just that kind of kid. He was proud to be a Marine and be called a Marine.”

Sharp, 20, of Adairsville, Ga., was shot and killed July 2 as his unit pushed into Taliban-controlled Helmand province. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The former cub scout who spent many a day hunting in the hills of Georgia with family was determined to join the Marine Corps. He put those skills to good use, graduating from boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., at the top of his class in marksmanship.

“Seth really loved the water and the beach. I said, ‘You love the water. How about the Coast Guard?'” said his mother, Angela Sharp Preston. “He was kind of headstrong about the Marine division.”

He and his fiancee, Katie McMahan, had thought about moving to Florida so he could start college, Preston said.

Sharp is survived by his parents and his stepmother, Tiffany Sharp.

Army National Guard Pvt. Gerrick D. Smith

Gerrick D. Smith knew even before he graduated from high school in 2008 that he wanted to be in the military. He joined the Illinois Army National Guard in his junior year.

“If you needed someone to have your back, Gerrick was that guy,” longtime friend and fellow soldier Tyler Craven said. “He would stand up with you to the bitter end.”

Smith, 19, of Sullivan, Ill., died July 29 of a noncombat-related injury in Herat. His death is under investigation.

He was based in Marion, Ill. It was the first deployment for the former football and soccer player and choir singer from Sullivan High School.

Friends described him as an energetic performer who tried to make people laugh by occasionally goofing off — even once putting on a girl’s dress — and occasionally drew tattoos on friends during study hall.

Sullivan police chief John Love said he saw a change when Smith returned to town with a deep pride about serving his country.

“He left here as a kid and came back as a soldier,” Love said.

Smith is survived by his parents, Marilyn Smith and David Jones, a sister and a half-brother.

Army National Guard Spc. Christopher M. Talbert

Christopher M. Talbert enjoyed his work with the Illinois Army National Guard, so much that he volunteered outside of his home unit to deploy overseas.

“He loved Afghanistan,” said friend Ashley Lamb.

Talbert, 24, of Galesburg, Ill. died July 7 in Shindad, Afghanistan, of wounds caused when a bomb detonated. He was based in Marion, Ill.

He graduated from Galesburg Christian School in 2003 and joined the National Guard four years later as a combat medic. He had worked at Galesburg Cottage Hospital and completed training as an emergency medical technician.

It was serious work, but he found ways to laugh.

“He had a great sense of humor and enjoyed practical jokes and working on automobiles with his friends,” said Elisa Cecil, a family friend.

Another friend, Susan Powell, said he loved children and was “Uncle Chris” to her young daughter. She said Talbert didn’t answer when she asked why he wanted to join the Army, but believed he did it to “show everyone that he could do it. He wanted to turn his life around, and make his parents proud.”

He is survived by his parents, Terry and Amanda, and two brothers.

Navy Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Darren Ethan Tate

Darren Ethan Tate was a bodybuilder, a cook and an aspiring pilot rolled into one friendly guy.

“We clowned around a lot,” said his uncle, Wayne Tate. “Just had a great time. He was one terrific young man.”

He said his nephew had wanted to go to Afghanistan in place of another man who’d recently become a father.

“It broke my heart, but I was proud that he was man enough to take on the responsibility he volunteered for,” Wayne Tate said. “He was willing to take on the danger himself.”

Darren Tate, 21, of Canyon, Texas, died of pneumonia July 8 at Bagram Air Base. He had joined the Navy in 2006 after graduating from Canyon High School and was assigned to the USS Iwo Jima.

“You can tell by the size of this crowd that he was loved,” said another uncle, John Stratton, who officiated at Tate’s funeral in Texas.

He was born in California, and that was his nickname when he worked at the Skate Plex in Amarillo, where he also worked and trained at a tae kwon do institute.

He is survived by his parents, Larry and Barbara; a brother, Keith; and a sister, Sarah.

Marine Pfc. Donald W. Vincent

Donald W. Vincent — better known by his middle name, Wayne — had to work a few odd jobs before everything really fell into place.

“Wayne found he needed to get his life in focus,” said his father, Lee Vincent, a retired U.S. Navy Captain. “The Marines was a means to an end … he discovered abilities he didn’t know he had.”

Vincent, 26, of Gainesville, Fla., died July 25 after being wounded in combat in Helmand province. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune.

Family and friends recalled that Vincent’s experiences in the Marines gave him a different perspective on life, and that his skills in math and other areas developed with his training. He had worked as an electrician and at a couple of restaurants before deciding to join the military.

“The Marines helped him discover his confidence,” said friend Ian Walters.

Vincent, who loved to hunt, fish and scallop, was the oldest Marine in his unit, earning him the nickname “the old man,” said his mother, Betty Sue Vincent.

“He touched a lot of hearts,” Lee Vincent said. “People really loved him and they’re broken-hearted with us.”

Army Chief Warrant Officer Douglas M. Vose III

Doug Vose was described as a courageous Green Beret who was both confident on the battlefield and relaxed while enjoying a glass of fine red wine.

“That’s what made Doug so unique,” said Dave Takaki, a retired master sergeant who served with Vose.

Vose, 38, of Concrete, Wash., was based in Stuttgart, Germany. He spoke fluent German.

He was killed July 29 after insurgents attacked his unit in Kabul.

Vose is survived by his wife, Nicole, two sons, two daughters and mother, Paulette.

His late father was a Marine who instilled a strong work ethic in him, said Vicki Frank, the mother of a one of Vose’s best friends.

“He was the best citizen and had the sweetest temperament,” she said.

As a youth, Vose would split wood each day with his brother. Then, he would work a shift at Red Apple, a local market, Frank said.

After graduating from high school in 1988, Vose joined the Army. A decade later, he joined the Special Forces, and began rising through the ranks.

“The whole family is military, and that’s all Doug wanted to do,” Frank said. “He was a soldier first.”

Army National Guard 2nd Lt. Derwin I. Williams

Derwin Williams was a correctional officer and worked as a drill instructor in the Cook County Sheriff’s Boot Camp, a strict detention program based on military discipline in Chicago.

But he had a soft spot, not only for his own children but for some of the men in the program.

The boot camp’s executive director, John Harrington, said Williams often became a father figure for the inmates, some of whom never had relationships with their own fathers.

“His kindness and soft-spoken manner had a great impact on everyone here,” Sheriff Thomas Dart said. “He will be greatly missed.”

Williams, 41, of Glenwood, Ill., died July 6 when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. A member of the Illinois Army National Guard based in Dixon, Williams had served a yearlong tour in Iraq in 2004 and was slated to return from Afghanistan in August, his wife said.

Felicia Williams said her husband would often take three of his girls paintball shooting and to amusement parks. He also was nearby when homework help was needed.

“They talked to him a lot, they went to him for anything, they could talk to him about anything,” his wife said. “They were very close.”

Along with his wife, Williams is survived by two stepdaughters, ages 18 and 22; two daughters, who are 9 and 19; and an 8-year-old son.

Marine Cpl. Nicholas G. Xiarhos

At 6 feet, Nicholas G. Xiarhos was muscular and strong, but gentle at heart. After returning from service in Iraq, he changed battalions so he could be deployed to Afghanistan.

“He didn’t feel comfortable living an easy life,” said his mother, Lisa. “He just wanted to fight.”

Xiarhos, 21, of Yarmouth Port, Mass., was killed July 23 in a roadside bombing in Helmand province. He was a 2006 high school graduate and was assigned to Camp Lejeune.

Cpl. Matthew Madeux said Xiarhos was “one of the most phenomenal Marines” he ever met. At Camp Lejeune, he was always the first to make sure young Marines minded their manners around women, insisting they use the formal “ma’am.”

Paul Funk, Xiarhos’s high school football and baseball coach, remembered him as a motivated, selfless player. “I know he was doing something that he really believed in,” he said.

Rebecca M. Barbo, a close friends, remembered their drives around the Cape blasting classic rock. She said his peers voted to present him the “Does Most For Others” title their senior year.

“It was a no-brainer,” she said.

He also is survived by his father, Steven