NEWS | May 5, 2011

Memorial honors fallen warriors

By Staff Sgt. Justin Weaver , 438th Air Expeditionary Wing

KABUL, Afghanistan (May 5, 2011) — Hundreds of military and civilian personnel packed a dimly-lit hangar April 30 to pay their final respects to eight U.S. Air Force Airmen and one retired Army civilian contractor killed April 27 when a gunman opened fire during a meeting with NATO trainers.

“We come together to mourn the loss of nine brave Americans; to share the grief we all feel, and perhaps in that sharing, to find the strength to bear our sorrow and the courage to look for the seeds of hope in our efforts here in Afghanistan,” said Brig. Gen. David Allvin, commanding general, NATO Air Training Command - Afghanistan, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, and Commander, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing. “To those left behind – the mothers, fathers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, friends and coworkers and yes; especially the children – we can take comfort in knowing that America, our coalition partners and the good people of Afghanistan all stand beside us in our time of sorrow.”

Killed were:

Maj. Philip D. Ambard, 44, of Edmonds, Wash. He was assigned to the 460th Space Communications Squadron, Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. 

Maj. Jeffrey O. Ausborn, 41, of Gadsden, Ala. He was assigned to the 99th Flying Training Squadron, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. 

Maj. David L. Brodeur, 34, of Auburn, Mass. He was assigned to the 11th Air Force, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. 

Master Sgt. Tara R. Brown, 33, of Deltona, Fla. She was assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Joint Base Andrews, Md. 

Lt. Col. Frank D. Bryant Jr., 37, of Knoxville, Tenn. He was assigned to the 56th Operations Group, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. 

Maj. Raymond G. Estelle II, 40, of New Haven, Conn. He was assigned to Headquarters Air Combat Command, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. 

Capt. Nathan J. Nylander, 35, of Hockley, Texas. He was assigned to the 25th Operational Weather Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. 

Capt. Charles A. Ransom, 31, of Midlothian, Va. He was assigned to the 83rd Network Operations Squadron, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.

Jim McLaughlin, 55, of Santa Rosa, Calif., worked as a civilian contractor in Afghanistan. He was also a retired Army lieutenant colonel. 

As the memorial ceremony came to a close, the ritual roll call of the deceased names echoed across the hangar as those in attendance solemnly bowed their heads in remembrance of those killed. A 21-gun salute broke the silence followed by the single lone tune of a bugler playing Taps to conclude the ceremony.

Amazing Grace played out on a bagpipe as personnel lined up to pay their final respects to the symbolic displays of combat boots, inverted rifles, combat helmets and dog tags placed next to the photo of each warrior killed that day.

“We will all be better for knowing these nine warriors and I know that they will all continue to live on within our hearts and minds,” said Lt. Col. Mark Reents, NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan advisor. “We bid you goodbye, but we will never forget you. Your families, your friends, your service and your country deeply mourn your passing. May God bless you all and give you comfort in this difficult time.”