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Spc Clarence Williams III - www.OurWarHeroes.org

Clarence Williams III

Brooksville, Florida

July 8, 2012

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
23 Army Spc

978th Military Police Company, 93rd Military Police Battalion

Fort Bliss, Texas

 Killed when enemy forces attacked their unit in Maidan Shahr, Wardak province, Afghanistan, with an improvised explosive device.

Spc Clarence Williams III - www.OurWarHeroes.org Spc Clarence Williams III - www.OurWarHeroes.org Spc Clarence Williams III - www.OurWarHeroes.org

Army Spc. Clarence Williams III honored in dignified transfer July 12
Spc Clarence Williams III - www.OurWarHeroes.org
7/12/2012 - A U.S. Army carry team transfers the remains of Army Spc. Clarence Williams III of Brooksville, Fla., at Dover Air Force Base, Del., July 12, 2012. Williams was assigned to the 978th Military Police Company, 93rd Police Battalion, Fort Bliss, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Adrian R. Rowan)

Spc. Clarence Williams III, 23, of Brooksville, Fla., died July 8, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit in Maidan Shahr, Wardak province, Afghanistan, with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 978th Military Police Company, 93rd Military Police Battalion, Fort Bliss, Texas. On July 8,2012 E-4 Specialist Clarence Williams III was killed in AFGHANISTAN on Sunday July 8,2012 (Afghanistan date 7-9-2012) E-4 Specialist Clarence Williams III memories and legacy will live in the hearts of many. His parents, Clarence Williams Jr., and Talisa Patterson Williams. Sisters: Samantha Williams and Abrill Edwards, Grandparents: Cora Mitchell, Chester Mitchell. Aunts/uncles, Chester Mitchell, Betty Herring, Bernice Jenkins, Frank Booker, Alphonso Williams, Junita Dukes, Mytrice Johnson, Shirley Roberts, Carla Woods, Carlette Gordon, Carlene Crawford, Barbara Evans, Cecil Jamerson. A host of great aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. 

Clarence Williams III, a 23 yrs E-4 Specialist was known to many as easy going, full of laughter, laid back, spiritual, and compassionate. He graduated from Hernando High School class of 2008. He wanted to see more of the world, so he enlisted in the army March 2009 and became a military police officer. On Sunday, July 8, 2012 E-4 Specialist Clarence Williams III was killed in Afghanistan (Afghanistan date 7-9-2012). He leaves to cherish his love and memories in the lives of many, his parents: Clarence Williams Jr., Talisa Patterson Williams both of Brooksville, Fl. sisters: Samantha Williams and Abrill Edwards (Terrell) of Orlando FL, grandparents: Cora Mitchell, Chester Mitchell. Aunts/ uncles Chester Mitchell, Orange Lake, FL, Betty Herring, Bernice Jenkins, Frank Booker, Alphonso Williams (Daphina) Juanita Dukes, Orange Lake Mytrice Johnson (Marvin) Daytona Beach FL, Shirley Roberts (Michael) Orange Lake FL. Carla Woods Orange Lake FL, Carlette Gordon (Keith) Orange Lake Carlene Crawford (Curtis) Ocala FL, Barbara Evans (Fondale) Orange Lake, FL, Cecil Jamerson (Ethol) Orange Lake FL. A host of great aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. 

Service of Love and memories will be held on Saturday, July 21, 2012 at Living Waters Worship Center (3801 US 441 Ocala, Florida 34475) @ 12 Noon. Visitation will be held at Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church (600 Wood drive Brooksville, FL) on Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 6pm.

Services are under the Direction of Carnegie Funeral Home 217 SE 4th Ave. Chiefland Florida. You may visit the online condolences @www.carnegiefuneralhome.com

Published in Gainesville Sun from July 19 to July 20, 2012
From The Tampa Bay Times tampabay.com 07/18/12

Rain-soaked crowds honor fallen Brooksville soldier Army Spc. Clarence Williams III

By Danny Valentine and Tony Marrero, Times Staff Writers
Wednesday, July 18, 2012 1:29pm

Evan Alexandre stood near the curb on Jefferson Street and waved two small American flags as the rain steadily fell on his head.

The 9-year-old boy knew exactly why it was important to be out there Wednesday morning, as he was joined by rows of people lining either side of the road downtown.

"This man is really kind to protect the U.S.A.," Evan said.

The man of whom he spoke was Army Spc. Clarence Williams III, the 23-year-old Brooksville soldier who was killed by a roadside bomb earlier this month in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, his body arrived at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

Dozens of people, shrugging off the persistent rain, stood along Hernando County roads on the processional route to honor the return of the fallen soldier.

They waved small flags and wore red, white and blue. They saluted or covered their heart with their hand. They fought back tears and murmured prayers softly as the hearse passed, on its way to Carnegie Funeral Home in Chiefland.

Williams, a 2008 Hernando High School graduate, was killed July 8, along with five other members of his battalion, when their armored vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device. Among them was another Tampa Bay-area soldier, 31-year-old Staff Sgt. Ricardo Seija of Tampa.

Sandra Alexandre took her son, Evan, and 16-year-old daughter to pay their respect.

But it was more than that. Alexandre has two daughters and two sons-in-law serving in the Air Force.

"I thought it would be nice for my son and daughter to come out here and honor (Williams), as I would hope people who do with my child," she said. "We wanted to show Mr. Williams' family that we felt for them, that we understand that their children are serving our country."

It's a message that resonated throughout the crowd.

"We just feel it's our duty to come out and show our respect for a fellow who gave his life for us," said Richard Origon, a volunteer with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

There was a large Sheriff's Office contingent downtown, standing in a line wearing matching yellow rain slickers.

In high school, Williams joined the Hernando Sheriff's Office Explorer post, a volunteer program designed to give teens a firsthand look at law enforcement. He also had dreams of one day becoming a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, like his father, Clarence Jr.

A short distance from the main crowd downtown, 22 children from Ellie's Day Care in Brooksville gathered along the road, some covering themselves in towels to ward off the rain.

The day care had taken the morning to teach the kids about freedom and paying respect. The kids talked about their own heroes.

Rita Robinson, the center's owner, said Williams' mother, Talisa, worked there in the late 1990s.

"It weighs heavy on your heart," Robinson said, holding a large umbrella.

Several dozen people lined Jefferson near its intersection with Broad Street, on the east end of downtown.

As the procession passed, Gillian Clark leaned over her daughter, Liberty. The red-headed 4-year-old wanted to know what was happening. Her mother explained again.

"That's the soldier that died," Clark said. "Remember I told you?"

Clark, a 28-year-old Brooksville native, met Williams a few times over the years.

Watching the hearse roll by also evoked a sad sense of deja vu. Clark graduated in 2002 with her close friend Lea Mills, a Masarkytown resident who was killed in the war in Iraq in 2006.

"I think that's the hardest part for me," Clark said. "Reliving it all."

Clark gave her daughter the middle name Lea in honor of her friend.

Katie Bechtelheimer also showed up Wednesday. The 2007 Hernando High graduate went to school with Williams and remembers him as the kind of student who transcended cliques. "He was just the person who talked to everybody," said Bechtelheimer, a graduate student at the University of South Florida. "I'm just glad I was here."

After the hearse passed, Bechtelheimer walked the few steps to her mother's shop, Westover's Flowers and Gifts. The store put together centerpieces for Williams' wake, which will take place this evening.

Wrapped in a camouflage base, the centerpieces include two American flags, a wooden cross, a picture of Williams and a single red rose.

Tonda Wells of Brooksville, a friend of the Williams family, was pleased and touched to see all of the people who came out Wednesday. "It's a blessing," the 41-year-old Wells said. "That's what it's all about — showing love."
From NBC WFLA 8 wfla.com 07/18/12

One soldier laid to rest; another returns home for funeral

Posted: Jul 18, 2012 6:51 AM PDT
Updated: Dec 29, 2012 7:30 PM PST
By Tbo.com
After the rifle volleys were fired, after taps was played and after releasing a white dove to honor her fallen son, Ignacia Seija walked back to the shelter at Florida National Cemetery, to the silver coffin.

“Ricky. Ricky,” she cried, buckling at the knees. “No.”

A short while later, Staff Sgt. Ricardo Seija, 31, was buried in Plot 68, Section 321.

The afternoon ceremony culminated a long day of sorrow for two local families.

At 9 a.m., the body of Spc. Clarence Williams III, 23, of Brooksville, arrived on a rainy morning at MacDill Air Force Base for an honor transfer and escort to a funeral home in Chiefland.

The soldiers were comrades, two of six killed in the same attack.

The lumbering armored vehicle, known as an MRAP – mine resistant, ambush protected – rolled out of Forward Operating Base Airborne in the mountains of Wardak Province, Afghanistan, on Sunday, July 8.

Their mission, according to Lt. Col. Richard Ball, commander of the 93rd Military Police Battalion, was to help the Afghan National Army and the Afghan police learn about the rules of law.

“Things we take for granted,” said Ball, standing outside the Gonzalez Funeral Home on N. Dale Mabry Highway shortly before Seija’s funeral Wednesday morning.

Seija was the highest ranking soldier on board, said Ball. Williams was being groomed for promotion to non-commissioned officer.

There were four other soldiers from the 978th Military Police Company – part of the 93rd MP Battalion - on the armored vehicle. All six died when an improvised explosive device blew up.

It was the battalion’s worst disaster since being re-formed in 2007, said Ball, who flew in from Fort Bliss, Texas, to attend Seija’s funeral.

One day after Seija’s remains arrived at MacDill, the body of Williams, a 2008 graduate of Hernando High who wanted to be Florida Highway Patrol trooper like his father, arrived in a coffin.

Unlike the previous arrival, when the sun beat down on the flight line, those waiting for Williams had to seek shelter from a driving rainstorm inside a hangar.

It was eerily silent.

As the jet taxied to a stop and Williams’ flag-draped coffin was taken off, the precipitation let up enough for Williams’ loved ones to walk out and greet the flag-draped coffin and pay their respects.

Those who came out to greet Williams returned to the hangar. Soldiers slowly carried the coffin to the waiting hearse.

As it was loaded into the black vehicle to begin the long honor escort from MacDill to the Carnegie Funeral Home in Chiefland, Williams’ mother, Talisa Williams, mouthed a sad farewell.

“Bye, baby,” she said, moving her lips but speaking no words.

As Williams’ motorcade made its way to Chiefland, men and women, many carrying flags, began showing up at the Gonzalez Funeral Home.

More than an hour before Seija’s funeral, they stood in the rain, waiting.

Inside the funeral home, a short distance from Leto High School, where Seija graduated in 1999, his coffin rested in the front of the sanctuary, under a wooden cross. On either side was easel with his picture.

Shortly before the funeral, Sunny Seija, his wife, was comforted by a group of women who know what it is like to mourn.

“She looked at us and said, ‘I am not ready for this,” said Toni Gross of American Gold Star Mothers Inc. Her son, Army Cpl. Frank Gross, was killed in Afghanistan on July 16, 2011.

“None of us are ready for this,” Gross told Sunny Seija.

During the funeral, Ricardo Seija was remembered as a happy, friendly man who liked to push the envelope and had no shortage of quirks.

He was known for his suspenders. For cargo pants with pockets that were always full.

He and his older brothers, Jose and Eduardo, were known as “tres amigos,” said Bernard H. Lieving, Jr., a retired Army colonel who helped officiate at the funeral.

Seija was also remembered for his bravery.

His family received five medals Seija earned for his service, including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

Tuesday night, Seija’s 8-year-old son Ricardo - who everyone calls “Little Ricky” - expressed pride in his father.

“My daddy is a hero,” Little Ricky told the pastor.

From The Fort Bliss Bugle fortblissbugle.com 

MPs say goodbye: Family, friends pay final respects to fallen warriors

Staff Sgt. Casey J. McGeorge and Sgt. Erik Thurman,
15th Sustainment Bde. Public Affairs:
Soldiers, civilians, family members and friends paid their final respects to six fallen military police Soldiers from the 978th Military Police Company, 93rd MP Battalion, in a memorial ceremony at the 1st Armored Division Chapel Aug. 8.
Staff Sgt. Ricardo Seija, Spc. Trevor B. Adkins, Spc. Erica P. Alecksen, Spc. Alejandro J. Pardo, Spc. Cameron J. Stambaugh and Spc. Clarence Williams III all died of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit in Maidan Shahr, Wardak province, Afghanistan, with an improvised explosive device July 8.

“Today, we assemble from various division and installation units in remembrance of fallen heroes,” said Lt. Col. Richard Ball, commander of the 93rd MP Bn. “For as we gather today, we are not separate units, but part of an Army family.
“In some ways we are weakened by these losses to our family,” continued Ball. “But in so many other ways we are strengthened by our memories of these fallen warriors, the things they accomplished, the people whose lives they enriched and their endearing service to our Army and our nation.”
Memories of the fallen were shared by those in attendance. Whether it was Stambaugh, who always had a smile on his face, all-night sessions playing the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 with Adkins, the prized Monte Carlo that Alecksen’s father restored for her, the jokes and pranks that Pardo would play on his platoon mates, Williams always pushing those around him to better themselves, or Seija driving up in his Mini Cooper with his hat pulled down to his eyes. Smiles as well as tears occurred during the remembrance in the chapel.
“These Soldiers gave everything to our nation because they believed in freedom,” said 1st Lt. Gina Thatcher, rear detachment commander of the 978th MP Co.
Thatcher’s remarks were on behalf of Capt. Jessica Johnson, commander of the 978th MP Co., who is still serving in Afghanistan.

“They knew their actions would provide freedom and security for not only their families back home but also for the families of countless Afghanis,” continued Thatcher. “These heroes fulfilled their oaths to our nation and they will never be forgotten.”
Although the 93rd MP Bn. mourned their fallen comrades, they know the mission must continue.
“The way ahead from here is given to us by President Lincoln at Gettysburg,” said Ball. “In his address, he told us nothing we can do will ever measure up to the sacrifice of a fallen Soldier. No memorial, no consecrated ground, no official ceremonies. … President Lincoln said the best we can do, and what we should do, is dedicate our own lives to the spirit of our fallen Soldiers’ service.”
“To honor the memories and sacrifice of our fallen heroes, know that we will not back down from the enemy that we face,” said Thatcher. “Although heavy-hearted, this unit has the discipline, toughness and fighting spirit to not only continue, but to exceed all expectations.”
From DVIDS dvidshub.net 

Deployed MPs honor fallen

Story by Master Sgt. Kap Kim

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – It’s been two years since six military policemen assigned to the 978th Military Police Company, 93rd MP Battalion, out of Fort Bliss, Texas, were killed when an improvised explosive device hit their vehicle in Maidan Shahr, the capitol of Wardak province.

Their combat brethren, who are now deployed to Regional Command-East with the 202nd Military Police Company, under the same battalion, have never forgotten their loss. 

In a way of remembering their memories, the 202nd MP Company members organized a 10k relay race in remembrance of the six fallen MPs at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, July 8, 2014. More than 250 others stationed at BAF ran the race.

For Sgt. Julio Diaz-Vidrio, a watch commander at the Joint Provost Marshal Office, with the 202nd MP Company, lost two close friends during that event. Two years ago, he was deployed in Regional Command-South, Afghanistan, where he was assigned to the 58th MP Co., out of Hawaii. 

“It hit me hard,” Diaz-Vidrio, of Las Vegas, said as he recalled. “I was looking through some stuff and was looking at a number (Spc. Clarence Williams III) had written.”

He wrote Williams an email about meeting up with him at Fort Bliss after their deployment. Soon after, Diaz-Vidrio would find out about his basic training buddy.

Through the healing process, the 202nd MPs wanted to hold the 10K relay run: one mile per team member that represented each of the six members killed.

The first mile was for Staff Sgt. Ricardo “Ricky” Seija, of Tampa, Florida; the second for Spc. Clarence Williams III, of Brooksville, Florida; third for Spc. Erica Alecksen, of Eatonton, Georgia; fourth for Pfc. Alejandro Pardo, of Porterville, California; fifth for Pfc. Cameron Stambaugh, of Spring Grove, Pennsylvania; and the last for Pfc. Trevor Adkins, of Spring Lake, North Carolina.
Spc. Timothy Hood, a RC-East Knowledge Management technician, from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, was on the winning relay team, and although they beat out the rest of the teams, his team understood the significance of the race. 

“I thought it was pretty special even with the substantial event that occurred during the race,” Hood said. 

As the first leg of the race was coming to an end, the runners were forced to nearby bunkers and buildings when Bagram Air Field took two rockets. The initial confusion sent runners off course and left many wondering if the race would continue. 

Sgt. 1st Class Andrew James, who serves as the JPMO first sergeant, quickly got on the speaker, after the all-clear was sounded, to let the runners know the race would go on. 

The official race clock never stopped through the rocket attack. So, the runners ran and times had to be adjusted to account for the lapse. In the end, the time didn’t seem to matter to neither the runners nor the 202nd MP Company organizers. 

“It was not about the time … it was about remembering our brothers and sister in arms,” said James. 

The 202nd MP Company members plan on taking a collection of memorabilia from the run back to the families of the fallen when they return back to Fort Bliss. 

“We want them to know we never forget and that we will keep doing this to keep their memory alive,” Diaz-Vidrio said. “We’ll keep doing this … if not here, then somewhere in the states.”
From The Tampa Bay Times tampabay.com 07/10/12

Clarence Williams' sister recalls faith of Army soldier killed in Afghanistan

Tony MarreroTony Marrero, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 9:11pm

Williams, a 23-year-old Army soldier, was just two or three weeks away from the end of a six-month tour in the war-torn country.

"He told me how precious he knew life was, just being around a bunch of killing," Edwards, 22, recalled Tuesday. "He told me he read his Bible every day and he knew he was covered by God. He wasn't worried."

Hours later, Edwards, who lives in Orlando, got a call from her older sister, Samantha. She heard her mother, Talisa, screaming in the background.

Military officials had just visited their parents' ranch home off Yontz Road to inform them that Williams, a 2008 Hernando High School graduate, had been killed along with five other soldiers when their armored vehicle ran over a roadside bomb Sunday in Wardak province, just south of Kabul.

Coalition and Afghan forces are trying to secure areas of Wardak that insurgents use as a gateway to the Afghan capital, where they stage high-profile attacks on Afghan government and NATO targets.

As siblings growing up, Edwards said, she and her brother were like Frick and Frack. They graduated together at Hernando High. They were going to join the Army together, too, but Edwards changed her mind.

They called each other goofy names.

What's up, big head? Nothing, fat lip.

Sometimes, when he was bored, Williams suggested they take a drive up State Road 50. He would get behind the wheel and open up to his little sister, and she'd respond in kind.

I love you. You're like my best friend.

You're like my best friend, too. You are my best friend.

Now, Edwards is struggling with the reality that her brother, the middle child between, is never coming home to Brooksville.

There are moments when the tears come. Edwards recently learned that she is pregnant. When she told her brother, Williams said he knew he was going to have a nephew.

"He spoke as if he knew he wasn't going to be here," she said. "He said, 'You're going to say my brother told me you were going to have a boy.' "

The family's strong faith, Edwards said, is helping them cope. They know he's watching them.

"He's home," Edwards said as she stood in the shady front lawn of her parents' home, thunder booming overhead. "He's in heaven. That's better than this home."

Williams was an avid hog hunter and fisherman who was happiest in the woods or in the water. He played football at Hernando High and sang in the choir at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Brooksville.

Their father, Clarence Williams Jr., is a corporal with the Florida Highway Patrol who served in the Army and still is a reservist. Williams wanted to follow in his father's footsteps, and to experience some adventure beyond Brooksville, so he enlisted in 2009 for five years, with plans to become a military police officer.

He had earned an associate's degree in criminal justice and wasn't sure whether he was going to re-enlist, but definitely wanted to continue his education, his sister said.

He last saw his family in December, and left for Afghanistan in February. The siblings spoke often by webcam or phone. Williams was able to wish his sister a happy Independence Day last week.

Edwards said the reality of her brother's death will sink in when she sees his body. His remains are expected to arrive at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa in the coming days, and he will be interred at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell. As of Tuesday, funeral plans had not been set. The parents declined to talk at this time.

"He's in my heart and my spirit," Edwards said. "We've got the same blood running through our veins. He's not going anywhere. He's still here with me."
6 fallen MPs of Fort Bliss remembered
By Joe Gould
Staff writer

Of the Afghan children who would swarm Pfc. Cameron Stambaugh for candy, his favorite was a clever 4-year-old girl. From the turret of his vehicle, he put his eyes 100 feet away to show her where to be to catch the candy. She caught it, hid it in her backpack and ran so the boys could not steal it.

Later, Stambaugh slipped money to the girl’s father, probably because he was raised to be generous in the Pentecostal church. He gave money to a struggling soldier on his team, and he once gave $1,000 to his brother for a motorcycle. He never expected anything in return.

“Our mother, she raised us up through the church,” said Stambaugh’s brother, Pvt. Jeffrey Stambaugh, a military policeman at Fort Hood, Texas. “She always taught us to put God first, other people second and us last.”

Cameron Stambaugh, 20, was excited for an upcoming promotion to specialist, his brother said, and likely would have been made team leader.

He was one of six soldiers, all from the 978th Military Police Company, 93rd Military Police Battalion, of Fort Bliss, Texas, who were killed July 8 in a massive roadside blast in Maidan Shahr, the capital of Wardak province.

The blast occurred at 8 p.m. Afghanistan time. The improvised explosive device, reportedly estimated to contain more than 200 pounds of explosives, went off under their mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle. The Taliban have since taken credit for the attack, Stars and Stripes reported.

The soldiers’ deaths marked one of the most violent days in Afghanistan in months and the deadliest for Fort Bliss since nine soldiers from the 507th Maintenance Company were killed in Iraq in 2003.

The soldiers killed July 8 were on their first deployments:

* Spc. Trevor Adkins, 21, of Spring Lake, N.C.

* Spc. Erica Alecksen, 21, of Eatonton, Ga.

* Spc. Alejandro “A.J.” Pardo, 21, of Porterville, Calif.

* Staff Sgt. Ricardo “Ricky” Seija, 31, of Tampa, Fla.

* Spc. Cameron Stambaugh, 20, of Spring Grove, Pa.

* Spc. Clarence Williams III, 23, of Brooksville, Fla.

Cameron Stambaugh was promoted to specialist posthumously.

They fought together and died together. They helped each other and trusted each other.

“They rolled out on every mission together, and I’m sure they prayed together for safety,” said Jeffrey Stambaugh. “They were pretty much like brothers. When you’re down there, you’re thinking you might die every single day. You hold on to what you’ve got, and they were very close.”

There have been 23 MPs killed since the last memorial ceremony in September at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., home of the Army Military Police School.

“When I think of the loss of six in one day, what I focus on is the individual sacrifice of each soldier,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Inch, the school’s commandant and regimental commander. “Each made a sacrifice, [and that] is what we recognize, not the aggregate.”

Providing support for maneuver and mobility for troops who must move among the populace to conduct stability operations, MPs know they have a job that is important and dangerous.

“The soldiers at the school are with drill sergeants who have real-life experience,” Inch said. “I don’t think, to the soldiers, what they face is any surprise or mystery.”

‘Shot at every other day’

Just a short drive from Kabul, the city of Maidan Shahr was rife with violence and Taliban intimidation, according to press accounts. In recent months, girls had reportedly stopped attending a local high school. The Taliban were threatening shopkeepers to shut down local markets.

Like beat cops, the MP team would patrol the area. Their mission was to train and mentor local Afghan police who are themselves in peril. Ten local policemen were killed in a single roadside bomb attack in April.

Cameron Stambaugh told his father and his brother that he was being shot at every other day. A rocket-propelled grenade once flew past his vehicle, snapping off the rearview mirror, he told his brother.

“From Day One, it wasn’t good at all where they were at,” said Stambaugh’s father, Mitchell Stambaugh, of Spring Grove, Pa. “There was one [roadside bomb] three weeks ago, and he watched a truck in the convoy in front of him explode.”

Cameron Stambaugh’s best friend and main Xbox buddy was Adkins, whom he met in MP school, but the entire team was tight, Jeffrey Stambaugh said, because it had to be.

“They have to trust their battle buddy,” Jeffrey Stambaugh said. “Your team has to be looking 360 degrees, and you can’t be looking in your buddy’s sector. You have to trust him with your life — all six of them.”

Frequent roadside bomb attacks destroyed vehicles or worse. In May, a close call with a bomb left a gash in Cameron Stambaugh’s right forearm that required several stitches.

On June 27, a roadside bomb attack in Maidan Shahr killed two soldiers: 1st Lt. Stephen C. Prasnicki, 24, of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, in Bamberg, Germany, and Sgt. James L. Skalberg Jr., 25, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss, Texas.

Back home, Stambaugh’s mother, Pamela Smith, of Hanover, Pa., had recurring dreams of Cameron in his uniform or coming home. To her, it was a warning he would die.

“I believe that God prepared me so that I would have peace, knowing he was going home with the Lord,” she said.

After Mitchell Stambaugh heard six soldiers had been killed in eastern Afghanistan, he sent his son a Facebook message: “Please tell me you’re okay buddy.”
There was no answer, and when he arrived home from the third shift at the paper mill to find police cars in his driveway, he knew.

Spc. Trevor Adkins

In life, Pfc. Trevor Adkins didn’t want to be called a hero, but that is just how he will be known.

“People called him a hero,” his stepfather, Hartzell Haines, told WTVD-TV in Raleigh-Durham. “He said, ‘Dad, I’m no hero. I was just doing my job. It was my job. I was doing it so other people can live free.’”

Adkins, a graduate of Overhills High School in Spring Lake, N.C., joined the Army in 2010.

Carolyn Haines said her son Trevor died |living his dream.

“I was at peace knowing my baby was back home,” she told WTVD-TV. “I guess I know where is — he is back home. He is an American hero even though he doesn’t want to be called one, but he is and we in [this] country are free because of people like my son.”

Spc. Erica Alecksen

Crisp, stoic and matter-of-fact, Erica Alecksen, was almost waiting to become an MP as a child.

“If there was something she didn’t like, you never heard it from her,” said Alecksen’s grandfather, retired executive Harold Huggins. “If there was something she did like, she might say something but not dwell on it.”

From a young age, Alecksen and her younger brother Charles were assigned duties at her father’s repair shop where classic cars were restored from junk to their former glory.

Alecksen was smart but not college-bound, and there were few employment options in Eatonton, an hour north of Macon, Ga. She made a five-year commitment to the Army and planned to make it a career.

Inch, who spoke at Alecksen’s funeral, said they told a story there about how she chose to be an MP. She asked a retired general at her church for career advice. One job he told her about involved protecting soldiers and their families.

“That’s what I want to do,” she said. “I want to protect people.”

It turned out that the tough, dirty garage work made her mature and unflappable, perfectly prepared for the rigors of basic training. Toward the end of basic, her drill sergeant let her know how impressed he was.

Most girls, within the first couple of weeks and many times throughout this training, will cry, he told her. Yet she never did. Why?

“My father was a disciplinarian, and he was tough,” she explained. “He’d make a good drill sergeant, so the way you treated me was the way I was accustomed.”

Alecksen’s family was devastated. Her brother Charles, a JROTC student, idolized her, Huggins said.

Alecksen’s brother wrote in a Facebook message that although she cannot respond, he talks to her every day.

“I lost my brother in World War II, and I felt the same void,” Huggins said. “I’ve never felt anything like that in my entire life, and that was in 1945. This was like déjà vu. You can cry, and you do cry, but it doesn’t change anything.”

Spc. Alejandro “A.J.” Pardo

The Cubs are difficult team to love — even for Chicagoans. Nevertheless, Californian A.J. Pardo was a rabid fan.

It all stemmed from a two-week youth ministry trip to Chicago and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, said Monsignor Scott Daugherty of St. Anne’s Parish in Porterville, Calif. Pardo was one of only a few in the youth ministry to be invited.

Participants were taken to a Cubs game, and Pardo was hooked. He told people he planned to open a pizzeria in Chicago after he got out of the Army.

Pardo did not have a strong religious background when he became involved at St. Anne’s seven years ago, Daugherty said. Yet he was active from the start.

“He emerged as a leader, he asked all the right questions,” Daugherty said. “He really had a spirit of service about him. He wanted to be involved and go the extra mile.”

Pardo embraced spirituality training and Scripture, making all the sacraments, confirmation and Holy Communion among them.

“He had what I’d call a very prayerful attitude,” Daugherty said. “He was special that way, more than just a high school life.”

Pardo joined the Army in 2009, soon after graduating from Granite Hills High School. His brother is also a soldier.

“He said, ‘If we don’t, who will?’” Daugherty said of Pardo.

At St. Anne’s, parishioners departing for the armed forces receive a special blessing at Mass, and after Mass, everyone has the opportunity to place their hands on the person.

“That’s what happened for A.J. before he left,” Daugherty said. “A lot of people were aware of his deployment.”

Staff Sgt. Ricardo Seija

“It was definitely thick because some of the things he would say, from the first phone call to the last phone call, [were] that things were getting worse and worse and worse,” said one of Ricardo’s older brothers, Eddie.

Ricardo Seija did not go into detail, but one of the last times they spoke, he started to tell his brother not to be mad at the Army if something happened to him.

“Before he could finish the sentence, I said, ‘You better shut the eff up, man up and watch over your troops,’” said Eddie Seija. He wanted his brother to focus on surviving, not dying.

“I know he loved his comrades, so if I told him to watch his troops, it would ease his mind,” Eddie Seija said.

Ricardo Seija was the squad leader.

He and his brothers were athletic in high school, all folkstyle wrestlers.

“We were the infamous Seija brothers,” said Yunis Seija.

A competitive cross-country runner, Ricardo Seija baffled his fellow soldiers by running six-minute miles even though he smoked a pack of Newports a day.

He was a shy, well-mannered kid who wore thick-framed glasses, then got tough as a wrestler, winning medals and tournaments, his brothers said. He joined the Army in 1999 and came home from a posting to South Korea too huge for his brothers to beat him.

He was good-natured, his brothers said. The younger soldiers kidded him, calling him “gramps.” He would let loose a low, goofy chuckle that everyone loved.
“Once you knew him and he knew you, you were opened up to his world — just his laugh, his jokes, his facial expressions,” Eddie Seija said.

Eddie Seija told his brother to get out of the Army and be a bodyguard in Hollywood, but he would just laugh.

“I said, ‘Dude, you should be working for Britney Spears or [Justin] Bieber,’” Eddie Seija said.

Seija’s brothers said the soldiers in his unit might be angry and want revenge on the Taliban. All the Seijas want is for them to stay focused on their jobs.

“Anybody who loved him,” Eddie Seija said, “be safe and come home.”

Spc. Cameron Stambaugh

Jeffrey Stambaugh was born 11 months after Cameron, but they were inseparable ever after.

They hunted for deer and fished together in the Tuscarora Mountains, and they worked together at a McDonald’s in Hanover through high school.

Cameron asked to be taken off the register to work the grill with his brother. From the back, they liked to crack up their co-workers or entertain them when they were down.

They loved their motorcycles. Cameron rode a Suzuki GSX-R750, and Jeffrey rode a Kawasaki Ninja 636.

Mitchell Stambaugh said the Suzuki went into his garage before his son left for Fort Bliss and was now outside, the center of a memorial where flowers have been piling up by the day.

Inspired by their grandfather’s and stepfather’s service in World War II and Desert Storm, respectively, the brothers made a pact to become military police and enter law enforcement afterward. They each signed up at 17 years old in deals with the Army to secure jobs as MPs.

Cameron, because he was first, told Jeffrey what to expect in MP school at Fort Leonard Wood and basic training before it, soothing his brother’s nerves.

“The drill sergeants make it like it’s hopeless, you’re all alone and you can’t do anything right,” Jeffrey said. “He told me I just have to get through it and be mentally strong, that it’s going to get better.”

Their stepfather, Arnold Smith, said he prepared the brothers for the service. As military police, he told them, he was 100 percent sure they would go to Afghanistan and face real danger.

“Just to enlist, they were very brave, because I didn’t pull any punches with them,” Smith said. “They joined knowing that. They made a brave decision.”

Spc. Clarence Williams III

The last time Abrill Edwards spoke to her older brother, Clarence Williams III, he shared with her how Afghanistan had reaffirmed his strong Christian faith, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

“He told me how precious he knew life was, just being around a bunch of killing,” Edwards told the newspaper. “He told me he read his Bible every day and he knew he was covered by God. He wasn’t worried.”

Hours later, the family received the news that he had been killed.

Williams was an avid hog hunter and fisherman who was happiest in the woods or in the water, the Times reported. He played football at Hernando High School and sang in the choir at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Brooksville.

Their father, Clarence Williams Jr., is a corporal with the Florida Highway Patrol who served in the Army and is still in the Reserve.

Williams wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and experience some adventure beyond Brooksville, so he enlisted in 2009 for five years.

The family's strong faith, Edwards said, is helping them cope. They know he’s watching them.

“He’s home,” Edwards told the newspaper, standing in her parents’ front yard. “He’s in heaven. That’s better than this home.”

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