NEWS TYPE ARTICLES
|From The Times-Tribune thetimes-tribune.com
Websites pay tribute to the fallen and help survivors of war
KEVIN O'NEILL / STAFF ARTISTPublished: May 23, 2015
Five years ago, on Memorial Day weekend, I wrote my first Insites column. It was about VirtualWall.org, a website that served as an online version of the Vietnam War Memorial.
At the time, we had already been at war in Afghanistan for almost nine years, and in Iraq for over seven. Despite early government claims of “mission accomplished,” and troop drawdowns accompanied by official proclamations of the end of combat operations, our troops are still risking their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq today.
It will be a long time before Washington erects a memorial in honor of those who lost their lives serving in these conflicts. What would they call it? Neither war is an official one; they’re both part of the ill-defined “War on Terror.”
The Commemorative Works Act of 1997 prohibits authorizing a memorial until 10 years after a war ends. This allows time for historical perspective. But what do you do in the case of a war that may never end? When the enemy and the battlefields are constantly changing, it’s hard to know when to declare it’s over.
Some state and local governments around the country have erected memorials honoring the troops who have lost their lives in the War on Terror. And there are individuals and veterans organizations lobbying the federal government to take action, but it’s likely to take a while. The Greatest Generation didn’t get its World War II memorial until 60 years after the war ended.
Fortunately, the virtual world is much more nimble than the government. While searching for a contemporary version of the Virtual Wall, I came across several grassroots efforts to honor our fallen warriors. There are video tributes and Facebook pages dedicated to those who didn’t make it back from the wars. Legacy.com, an international site that hosts obituaries, including those from The Times-Tribune, has a section devoted to casualties of the wars.
Honoring the dead
There are two sites I came across that merit further mention. They are a study in contrasts.
The first site, IraqWarHeroes.org, is one man’s homemade tribute to all of the service members lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. This site will never win any awards for its design, but it’s mission is to honor the fallen, not to look good.
The website is basically a roster of all the men and women in uniform who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan. Its home page features an alphabetical list of over 7,000 names as of April 23 of this year. Clicking on a name opens a page with information on the deceased. Their hometown, date of death, age at the time of death, the branch of service they were in, rank and unit are listed. There are also details of where and how they were killed. Many also have a photograph, and some have photo galleries or other tributes, such as letters or links to websites.
Iraq War Heroes is a heartfelt labor of love created by a man who goes by the name Q Madp (pronounced madpay). He travels extensively around the northwest United States attending and photographing military funeral services. He gives the pictures to the families for free. When he’s not on the road, he’s updating the website.
In addition to the roster of American casualties, the site also has a section with coalition and civilian names, a blog and links to resources for post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide prevention sites and other resources. You also can make donations to help Mr. Madp with his honorable mission.
Helping the living
The second site, IAVA.org, doesn’t honor the dead; instead it provides resources for surviving veterans. It was created by a group of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who wanted to help their comrades in arms with the many challenges they face after coming home from war.
IAVA, which stands for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, is a slickly designed site with lots of good information. Its mission is to help vets with healthcare, employment and education, and to raise awareness of veterans’ needs and abilities. The organization is a lobbying voice in Washington, D.C., and a conduit for many needed services for veterans.
I don’t know that five years is a long time to be writing a column, but I do know it’s a long time for our troops to still be fighting a war.
|From Voice of the Valley voiceofthevalley.com
Serving those who have served
By Cary Collins | Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 10:35 pm
An entire day can pass with him sitting virtually glued to his computer screen. Checking casualty lists, contacting families, preparing itineraries, processing pictures, and updating his website, IraqWarHeroes.org. Other days are spent with him behind the wheel of his tan 2001 Buick Century, driving to the funeral of an American military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the wars in either Afghanistan or Iraq. He attends those services regularly and those of other veterans as well. Compiled from each is a memorial gallery of hundreds of pictures that he burns to compact discs and sends to family members. With the family’s permission, a sampling of the images is posted online. His is a remarkable example of dedication and love. He donates his time, money, and expertise to an outreach that has come to be his life work. Motoring up Interstate-5 from his home in Portland, he is a frequent visitor to Tahoma National Cemetery. He comes armed with a single purpose: to serve, during the time of their greatest need, the families of those who have served in the American military.
His name is Q Madp (pronounced MAD-pay) and he has amassed what might be the most extensive online tribute site for fallen veterans in the nation. But it is not an undertaking that he could have envisioned for himself. Rather, it grew out of the most heartrending of circumstances and his deeply felt sense of duty and loyalty to those who put it all on the line for others without regard for their own personal safety.
On July 2, 2003, Travis J. Bradach-Nall, a 21-year-old Marine corporal from northeast Portland who had been among the first of the American military to enter Iraq, was killed in action carrying out a mine-clearing operation near Karbala southwest of Baghdad. Q had a friend who worked at the funeral home that was in charge of the young Marine’s services. The mortician informed Q that Bradach-Nall’s mother was looking for someone to take pictures of her son’s funeral. Possessing a formidable background in photography, and already running online tribute sites for Vietnam War veterans and Iraq and Afghanistan service members, Q agreed to help.
It was from that first funeral that IraqWarHeroes.org was launched in its current form, documenting in pictures what Q describes as “the last physical journey” of America’s fallen. “In general, I didn’t think enough attention was being given to our Heroes,” Q explains as his motivation for becoming involved, “and technology allowed me to do it. The commitment I made back in 2003 was that we were going to remember each man and woman from the first to the last.”
It was a solemn conviction from which he has never wavered. Q stopped counting a couple years ago, but he estimates that he has photographed over 1,000 military funerals, which he calls “missions.” The majority of those have been in the Pacific Northwest, although IraqWarHeroes.org is a national site honoring all American military personnel who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Over the past decade, in assisting veterans and their families in the manner that he does, Q has logged hundreds of thousands of miles, consumed a small refinery in fuel, and worn out four vehicles. One eight-month period is typical. He went through 1,352 gallons of gasoline and 11 oil changes in rolling up 32,462 odometer miles.
Nine cameras and a like number of lenses have been replaced in shooting over a million frames. Processing those images and housing the 12 tribute websites that Q maintains, including IraqWarHeroes.org, has been accomplished with three desktop and two laptop computers.
Completing his missions has exposed him to all kinds of conditions. In terms of weather, he has endured 113-degree summer heat, arctic winter cold, and everything falling in between. Once, during a driving rainstorm, he slipped into a large puddle of mud that coated his clothes. Somehow he managed to shield his camera and finish the shoot.
Automotive breakdowns have posed some of his toughest challenges. Driving to a funeral in San Bruno, California, for example, Q’s car gave out 50 miles from the cemetery. It required a tow truck to get him off the freeway, followed by a ride in a police car taking him to the bus station, a bus ride from there to the railway terminal, a transit ride into San Bruno, and he had to hoof it the final distance to the cemetery. He got there 30 minutes before the funeral began and it took him two more days to get back home. Through it all, as he always does, he mustered the strength to keep going.
His lack of budget and the array of expenses that go into carrying out each mission demand economy on Q’s part. If he doesn’t have the money, or can’t find an inexpensive room or a friend’s couch, he sleeps in his car. When he is on the road, his regular fare is fast food—for all meals.
The hours can be long and grueling. In some weeks, he shoots almost one funeral per day. Sometimes having to leave his house in the middle of the night for his destination, he travels across states. Arriving early, he stays until the last friend and family member has departed.
For his services he never accepts money. Instead he relies on donations made through his website, but mostly his own personal contributions. “I am always operating in the red,” he laments.
His presence during funerals is virtually imperceptible. And that is the way he wants it. His practice is to blend in and be as inconspicuous as he can be. “I try to interact with the families as little as possible,” Q explains. “And also the closer I get” to them, “the harder it is to just do it.”
But no matter how taxing it can be on him emotionally or physically, Q remains relentless in his pursuit to create a visual record for every funeral that he is capable of getting to. He acknowledges the importance of what he does. “The way I look at it,” he says, is “if I don’t come, is anybody?”
Finalizing funeral arrangements is among the most chaotic and stressful of responsibilities and Q understands the overwhelming grief that is engulfing families as they struggle to make pressing decisions. With that as his guide, he attempts to gain permission to take photographs in the days leading up to each service. But that is not always possible. In those cases, he drives to the funeral home, church, or cemetery in the hope of making contact with the family after he gets there.
A memorable instance of a mission coming together in that way was the funeral of Corporal Joseph Phillip Bier of Centralia. CPL Bier, 22, was killed in action on December 7, 2005, during an attack on his convoy in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. Q, having been unable to connect with CPL Bier’s parents, drove to Centralia on the morning of the funeral. Walking into the church with his camera in hand before the scheduled 10 o’clock start of services, Q noted the large contingent of Marine brothers all around as he set out to secure approval to take pictures. Locating a captain who appeared to be in charge, Q handed the officer his card, explaining why he was there.
The captain listened to him and then stepped into a private room where family members were gathered. Moments later, he reappeared, informing Q that CPL Bier’s father wanted to speak with him. When they met, Q greeted Wayne Bier with a handshake and an offer of his services. Mr. Bier responded with what seemed a sense of relief: “We didn’t get a photographer today,” he said, informing Q that his willingness to perform that role was “a blessing from god.” Q fully documented CPL Bier’s funeral services that day, both in Centralia and at Tahoma National Cemetery.
Considering the challenges and obligations that come with managing a website as comprehensive as IraqWarHeroes.org, one might wonder how one person, no matter the level of their passion and dedication, can possibly do all that is required to keep it running. Q offers insight into how he does it. “I’ve made changes to my life,” he says. “There are a lot of things in life that normal people do that I don’t do.”
It is that embracement of sacrifice that sets Q apart and has earned him the lasting gratitude, respect, and friendship of those who know him and whose lives he has touched so profoundly.
Although ever-reluctant to talk about himself, Q is keenly aware that he is preserving for families images that will be there for them especially as very young children grow older and begin seeking out ways of remembering a father or mother who died in the service of our country. “I know I have made a lasting impression,” Q reflects, “and lasting history.”
That he has done, in selfless service to others.
“Don’t let the memory of them drift away” is the longstanding motto—and plea—of IraqWarHeroes.org, referring to the American service members whose lives are memorialized there. As long as there are such giving individuals as Q Madp ready and willing to act on their behalf, their memory most assuredly never will.
|From Times News Twin Falls, Idaho magicvalley.com
Photographer shoots NW military funerals for free
A guy named Q
By Nate Poppino - Times-News writer | Posted: Saturday, November 21, 2009 1:20 am
Q Madp takes photos of military funerals he says to help families. He attended the funeral of Chief Warrant Officer Mathew Heffelfinger who died in a helicopter crash in Iraq.
There were plenty of pictures taken Friday at the funeral of Army Chief Warrant Officer Mathew C. Heffelfinger.
But one photographer’s work may stand out most to Heffelfinger’s family — that of Q Madp, a Portland resident who for years has photographed soldiers’ funerals as favors to their families.
Madp started a tribute site to fallen soldiers when the Iraq War began in March 2003. His funeral service photography became an offshoot of that a couple of months later, when a friend at a mortuary asked him to consider taking pictures at one.
Seeing the effect he had on the grateful family moved him to expand on the work, and he now attends as many services as possible in the Pacific Northwest — and not just for Iraqi veterans.
Though he’s also visited funerals in California, Arizona and Minnesota, he said, he usually tries to stay within driving distance of home. As of Nov. 12 — before Heffelfinger’s and several other services held this week — Madp’s Web site tallied more than 400 funerals he has attended, taking time off from his job as a computer repairman.
He’s developed a system to keep track of them all. The site is updated with U.S. Department of Defense news releases daily when Madp is home. Each time he reads about a soldier from the Northwest, he said, he first tries to find the family in the phone book. If they’re not listed, he’ll try to go through the military’s casualty assistance officer or the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of motorcycle riders who attend military funerals across the country.
If Madp still can’t get in touch with a family, he’ll sometimes just show up and offer his services on the day of the service. He usually only does that when the funeral is held somewhere close by, he said. But for Heffelfinger — born in Portland — he made an exception, traveling to Twin Falls even though he didn’t receive permission to shoot until Friday morning.
Unlike arranging his visits, actually photographing the funerals hasn’t become routine — especially when they occur close together. Following Friday’s burial ceremony, he quickly left Twin Falls to be in Portland in enough time for a funeral today.
One of his hardest “missions,” as he refers to them, was a funeral for a Washington soldier who died in a burn unit. A few months later, he said, he found himself taking pictures for the family of a soldier who had pulled the burned man out of a vehicle.
“I was just totally whacked, overwhelmed,” Madp said.
The generosity of some families has touched him, as well. Once, on a trip to San Francisco, his car broke down 50 miles from the funeral. With the help of strangers — a tow-truck driver who dropped him at a hotel, a policeman who drove him to a bus station — Madp made it to the event 15 minutes ahead of time. Still without a car, the soldier’s family offered Madp a ride in their limousine and hosted him at their house for a few hours until traffic conditions were better.
It’s not easy for the Oregon resident to travel as much as he does — a link on his site even asks for help with gas, food and other expenses. But his services are worth the cost, he said. Grieving family members, for example, are too busy to take pictures and won’t remember all the details of a ceremony.
“Kids won’t remember, but the pictures will,” Madp concluded.
|From Salem-News.com salem-news.com
Salem-News.com (Jan-19-2009 00:25)
Oregonians Turn Out for Service of Major Thomas Egan
Tim King Salem-News.com
Thomas Egan had been living alone and without a roof over his head when
he died. He had friends and at least one distant relative, but this vet
passed away as a forgotten man.
Memorial for Maj. Thomas L. Egan ret.
(EUGENE, Ore.) - Maj Thomas L. Egan was a retired Oregon National Guard
officer who the world seemed to forget, and then remember, but just a
little too late. The 60-year old veteran was found in mid-December
frozen to death on a Eugene, Oregon sidewalk, near the corner of West
First Avenue and Blair Boulevard.
This veteran was remembered and honored Saturday at the Oregon Guard
Armory in Eugene at 1:30 PM. One of the people sure to attend events
like this is Q. Madp of IraqWarHeroes.org.
Long before this site that documents every life lost in Iraq and
Afghanistan, Q began founded VietnamWarHeroes.org. This site documents
the lives of those who served during the Vietnam War.
He says he counted 53 people in attendance for Major Thomas L. Egan's
memorial service. He said there were also 23 members of the Patriot
Guard Riders, a group that makes a point of honoring those who served.
Based on what is known, Thomas Egan had been living alone and without a
roof over his head when he died. He did have friends and at least one
distant relative, but this soldier slipped through the cracks as all too
many veterans do in this age, Madp says.
"You know, he had no family, so we all came as a family to honor
him. He had a couple of friends who attended and also a couple of people
who served with him."
He continued, "We spend billions of dollars helping people in far
away places who don't like us, but we have veterans freezing to death in
Madp says it is a bad situation and more outreach needs to take place
for American veterans, many of whom are stricken with Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder as a result of their military service and contribution
to their country.
Regarding Thomas Egan's homelessness and reported alcohol problem, Madp
said, "It almost sounds like they're trying to make it his fault,
and maybe it is, but we the people should have helped him."
At least two retired Oregon Guard general officers attended the event
Saturday; underscoring the care that does exist for people like Major
"We should not forget and neglect our veterans, yet it takes place
all too often," Madp said.
I asked Q if he believes this case to be isolated.
"Hell no" he answered. "This one people are hearing about
because his friends who cared pushed it into the media. If people hadn't
pushed it the way they did, I think his death would have just gone to
Eugene's KVAL TV news and other organizations did take the time to cover
the memorial for Major Egan. It is a sad loss and a sad story, but there
was respect for him in the end.
For more images from the service, please visit Q Madp's
Turn Out for Service of Major Thomas Egan (VIDEO)
Salem-News.com (Mar-24-2008 19:05)
Oregonian Travels Thousands of Miles to Honor our War Dead
Tim King Salem-News.com
Photographer spends his life honoring fallen heroes and documenting their sacrifice, but he needs like minded individuals to help his effort.
Funeral images by Q. Madp of IraqWarHeroes.org
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - As a nation we recently heard about the number of American casualties in Iraq passing 4,000. We are also fighting a war in Afghanistan and the number of casualties from that theater has increased in recent months.
Q. Madp of IraqWarHeroes.orgWhile some people wave flags and others protest the war one Oregonian, Q. Madp of iraqwarheroes.org spends his life paying respects at these somber events and he records those visual images that only an experienced world class photographer can take.
His point is to give the families a record of that tragic day that they laid their loved one to rest. He refuses to take money from the families for his service, and he only shares photos with the media when the family specifically agrees to it.
The hardest part for Q. is finding regular support to fuel his efforts to recognize our fallen. It is a shame and I occasionally report breakthroughs like a company agreeing to put up a billboard for Q., or another when a company donates a car to him, but these generous acts need more company and as Americans and Oregonians, we should feel obligated to help him take care of this most basic need.
Every casualty from the war is listed on IraqWarHeroes.org. It is the only place anyone knows of that so accurately and carefully spends maximum effort honoring our war dead. Regardless of your politics, this is an important job Q. Madp has taken on.
The funeral coverage is mixed with the upkeep of the Website. When more soldiers and servicemembers died overseas Q. travels more. In recent days Q. completed what becomes a full tour covering our fallen.
"It’s been a very long week. 5 trips up north and back. On my 3rd trip to the Fort Lewis area, my odometer went over 100,000. I got this car last July 10th, 8 months ago and have since put on it 32,462 miles for missions for our heroes."
He tirelessly pushes on, and he performs a role that brings great solace to American families who have lost a loved one.
"I’ve had at least 11 oil changes in the last 8 months and consumed over 1352 Gallons of gasoline. My gas card is maxed out again and I can’t find any local companies to donate a transmission and radiator flush."
He says he recognizes that the very few people that try and help are struggling themselves. "I managed to get on two more local radio shows again asking for help. No takers," Madp said.
"I did receive 1 letter, postmarked March 19 and it came from Knoxville TN. The hand written note on the card reads: 'Your work can compete with nature and take a person’s breath away. Thank you and bless you for all you do.'"
Here is one of Q's mission reports, which gives you an idea how much time and mileage goes into this unique role:
Mission Report for PFC Joshua Young KIA 01/28/08 Mosul, Iraq
02/05/08 Start: 0430 End: 1923 Away Time: 14 Hours and 57 Minutes Miles Traveled: 549 (Escort Mission from North Bend)
02/07/08 Start: 0600 End: 1918 Away Time: 13 Hours and 18 Minutes Miles Traveled: 400 (Memorial & Funeral Services)
TOTAL AWAY TIME: 28 Hours and 15 Minutes. Total Miles Traveled: 948
At home working on photos: 22 Hours. Total photos for family: 1320 Total posted for public: 218 pics.
He also reports that he just did 5 back to back up in Washington. They were for:
PO2 Christopher Strom 03/16/08 service in Shelton WA
Sgt Phillip Anderson 03/20/08 service in Spanaway WA and Kent WA
Cpl Jose Paniagua-Morales 03/17/08 service in Tacoma WA
Beyond the photographs included here, you can see the photos he has posted for the public at iraqwarheroes.org/youngjar.htm. Just visiting iraqwarheroes.org and making a donation can make a big difference for maintaining our history and the respect required for those who have died at war.Contact:Q MadpPO Box 86888Portland OR 97286-0888Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Awayiraqwarheroes.orgmyspace.com/qfocal
Mayoral Veteran's Ball
Salem Mayor Janet Taylor and the Board of Directors for the Oregon War Veterans Association (OWVA) are hosting the first Mayoral Veteran’s Ball and Awards Dinner Friday, November 16th, at the Salem Convention Center.
This formal event is open to the public, and will celebrate Oregon’s US Military Veterans and members of Oregon’s Military. Several awards will be presented to 12 Oregonians for military leadership, citizenship and veteran services.
Congresswoman Darlene Hooley will be presented the OWVA Citizenship Award, for her service to Oregon’s Veterans. Other Citizenship awards will be presented to Salem Mayor, Janet Taylor, State Representatives- Donna Nelson, Jeff Barker and Former Speaker Karen Minnis. Q Madp, from IraqWarHeroes.org will also receive the citizenship award for his incredible work for the families of fallen members of Oregon’s military family.
Brigadier General Mike Caldwell and Brigadier General Doug Pritt will receive the OWVA Military Leadership Awards, for their dedication and service, which has affected the positive morale of the Oregon National Guard.
The OWVA Veteran Service Awards will be presented to Veteran Lobbyist, H.A. “Mac” MacDonald and Oregon Department of Veteran’s Affairs Director Jim Willis.
OWVA’s highest award- the OWVA DeShazer Award, will be presented to Mr. Del Smith, from Evergreen Aviation, and to VFW Member Dennis Guthrie, from Redmond. “The DeShazer Award” honors Oregonian Jake DeShazer (WWII Doolittle Raider) who was a POW in Japan, and after the war returned to Japan as a minister to help General MacArthur in the post-war reconciliation effort. DeShazer Awardees are combat veterans who devote a large part of their civilian lives to humanitarian or charitable endeavors.
OWVA- Mayoral Veteran’s Ball
Time: 7 PM Dinner and Awards. 8 PM Veteran’s Ball.
Place: Salem Convention Center, 200 Commercial St, Salem- Willamette Ballroom
Attire: Formal/ Semi Formal
Cost: Free for Military and Veterans; Families of vets or military: $15.00 at the door; Others: $25.00 at the door.
A Special VIP reception is also being held at 6 PM; Cost $250.00 charitable contribution to OWVA
Please RSVP by Tuesday- November 13th, 2007
Salem-News.com (Oct-23-2007 05:07)
Founder of IraqWarHeroes.org Honored by Washington VA
Tim King Salem-News.com
For his side of it, Q Madp says the recognition is great, and it shows him that his efforts are not going unnoticed.
Q Madp of IraqWarHeroes.org
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - A man who has dedicated his life to the honor of those lost in war received a special honor of his own this week. Q Madp of IraqWarHeroes.org, was honored as one of Washington's 2007 Outstanding Veteran Volunteers for service to veterans.
Q Madp of IraqWarHeroes.orgMadp is a resident of Portland who constantly travels to photograph military funerals and memorial services in Washington, Oregon and other states.
He doesn't make money at it, and Q only releases photos to organizations like Salem-News.com when the families authorize it.
His presence has been received well at most of the events but there have been some rough spots. Over time though people seem to increasingly understand that he is only an advocate for the families and those who died serving their country.
The Washington state Veteran's Affairs office believes Madp's efforts are worthy of honor.
It reads: "This certificate is but a small measure of appreciation for your constantly outstanding efforts on behalf of veterans and family members of this state.Your contributions have made their lives more meaningful and and reflect great credit on you."
For his side of it, Q Madp says the recognition is great, and it shows him that his efforts are not going unnoticed.
Washington's recognition of the extraordinary efforts ofQ Madp of IraqWarHeroes.org for his work with veterans"It was an honor to receive this and to know they they know I'm out here. It was even more of an honor having received this on the same day as Lt Murphy received his Medal of Honor. I hope that this will draw more attention to our heroes that gave their all for this country!"
Learn more about Q and his projects that benefit the legacy of veterans at IraqWarHeroes.org
Man Who Honors Fallen Receives Increasing Coverage
Q. Madp of iraqwarheroes.org has dedicated his life to honoring those who have fallen in service to their country.
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Q Madp is relentless in his quest to honor our war dead. For years, he has traveled to funerals of NW soldiers to photograph the somber events for the family. He never charges, and every family is provided a set of photos.
Q. says that as he has learned to polish his approach to this unique way of bestowing honor, he learned that there are many unanticipated costs associated with it. Now to Q. Madp's benefit, his work is also attracting a growing amount of media attention.
He recently received a 2002 automobile from an Oregon car dealership in The Dalles to help him carry on his mission.
Another example is a donated billboard in the state of Washington. Sue Rothwell, the owner of Gerties restaurant in Lakewood, Washington, donated the space to Q. because she believes in what he is doing.
She met the busy photographer when needed a place to park his car, during a soldier's memorial procession that was going to cross the Freedom Bridge which is nearby.
Now the story of the donation is showing up in places like the Oregonian Newspaper, Lars Larson's radio show and the NW Cable News Network. Their recent story on Q. is below courtesy of NW Cable News and YouTube.
His Website iraqwarheroes.org features the name of almost every soldier who has died in Afghanistan and Iraq.
|From The Oregonian 07/19/07:
Q gets an A for his project to honor our military casualties
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Q uite a few people read about Q Madp in this column on July 1 and liked what they read.
Q is an occasional freelance computer repairman whose repair work is more occasional than ever lately.
That's because Q spends most of his time and his dollars supporting his passion: running Web sites that list and commemorate all the people who've served in Iraq and Afghanistan, who died abroad or after they came home to the United States (http://iraqwarheroes.org).
That's not all he does. Q also has taken it on himself to preserve moments of great grief for Northwest families who've lost someone they love in this war.
In the past few years, Q has driven his ancient Mercury from central California to the Canadian border, so he can photograph the memorial services of fallen military personnel. He also takes pictures of the disembarkation of their caskets from military and commercial planes as they arrive home for the last time.
Afterward, he gives the families the photos for free.
He makes no money from his Web sites, either, although he's happy to accept donations to cover the cost of Web servers and gasoline to get to funerals.
And there have been so many funerals. Especially lately.
In the column, Q mentioned that both his camera and his car were on their last legs.
David Griffith read Q's story and "it tugged on my heart," he says. Right away David knew he wanted to help Q. "I'm in the car business," he says. An employee at Griffith Motors (http://griffithmotors.com) in The Dalles "just got back, thankfully, from his National Guard duty in Afghanistan. He was in a noncombatant job, working as a mechanic in a motor pool, but as we all know now, you can be the most noncombatant worker over there and still get killed."
David decided he wanted to give Q a better car than the barely drivable junker he'd been nursing around the Northwest.
He picked out a brown 2002 Buick Century for Q, called me for Q's contact information and then called Q with the news.
Q was amazed. He had friends drive him to The Dalles July 10. As they pulled up to Griffith Motors, Q spotted the Century and, without even being told, "I knew what car it was. It talked to me."
Q took it out for a test drive. "It rode fine," he says.
David threw in a new set of tires, a full tank of gas and paid for the Oregon vehicle registration. "I'd been worried how I was going to come up with the money to register the vehicle," Q says.
The car, Q adds, "was nice and clean. I couldn't even see dirt in the doorjambs. This guy did it right."
The next day Q had planned to take the car out for a ride, "to get acquainted with it. But at 7 a.m., I got a phone call telling me a (fallen) Marine was coming into Coos Bay. I logged over 600 miles, escorting that Marine. Since then I've had three back-to-back missions," he said Tuesday. "And tomorrow I have another one.
"It's definitely already getting a lot of miles."
Having a car he can count on "takes one of the things that worried me off my shoulders," Q says.
That's just what David Griffith had in mind. He didn't do this to promote his business -- he had to be persuaded to let me write about his gift to Q. "You're embarrassing me," he says when I thank him for making the gift.
"When I do things like this," he says, "it's not for recognition. But if you do them, you can make a difference in a small way."
It feels like a big difference to Q.
And who knows? Maybe now a new camera will fall out of the sky.
Margie Boule: ; marboule[at]aol.com
|From The Oregonian 07/01/07:
America's Q Branch: Remembering those who shouldn't be forgotten
Sunday, July 01, 2007
The Oregonian by Margie Boule'
H is name is not the only unusual thing about Q Madp.
Yes, that's the name he goes by: Q, with no period after the letter, and Madp, pronounced "MAD-pay."
Beyond his name, beyond the fact he's been telling people he's "about 49" for several years, is the man. He's more than an occasional freelance computer repairman.
Someone called him a "hero to heroes."
Of course, you'd never catch him saying that.
For the last five years, Q has dedicated every spare moment -- and a lot of hours he's stolen from work and home -- to pay tribute to fallen soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen.
He's spent every penny he could lay hands on, paying for gas to attend military funerals from Northern California to the Canadian border, to take photographs he's given the families of victims of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Most of those photographs are too private to be shared. Mothers and fathers weep; wives embrace folded flags; caskets are gently lifted from military planes by men in uniforms, their faces stricken.
Q gives those images to the families, on CD; he will not release anything so personal to the media. He charges the families nothing. "It's a small price for me to pay," he says, "considering the price they've paid in the loss of a son or daughter."
Still, it's a price that keeps increasing. He needs a new camera. His car is old. Gas prices have gone up. There are more funerals than ever to get to.
Q has no wife or children. But he's not lonely. He's been drawn into an extended family of survivors of military casualties. They see him at the funerals; they appreciate his gifts.
It started in 2000 with a single Web site, which spawned others that thrive today. Q believes he's the only person in the U.S. to maintain sites honoring those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, who died during or after their service.
His first site preceded those wars, of course. It was dedicated to people who served in Vietnam and died in-country or after they came home. The site, vietnamwarheroes.org, "continues to be an ongoing project. That site has over 3,000 photos shot by grunts" in Vietnam.
The technology was in place when the Iraq war began in 2003; Q knew before the first bombs hit that he would create a Web site to direct attention to that war (031903.com). He filled the site with daily updates, some from Arab news sources.
"Then a couple days into the war, I officially started the Iraq War Heroes Web site (iraqwarheroes.org)," he says. On it he created individual Web pages for each man and woman killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan).
"I didn't want them to be forgotten," Q says.
Q gets official data from the Department of Defense and has worked hard to get photographs of nearly all of the 3,975 victims listed on his site. Often pages include descriptions of the fallen fighters sent by family members or friends. Some have accounts of combat deaths, written by witnesses. A few even include journal entries or letters written by the deceased.
The late Spc. Brian Alex Vaughn wrote his family a letter they were to be sent if he was killed. One of his greatest fears, he wrote before he died, "is that no one will really know how much I love them. . . . There are no words for what my heart wants to say."
From the beginning, Q says, "I wanted the site to be non-political and non-commercial. There are no click-on banners. I find things like that totally inappropriate for a memorial site. It would be like going out and finding a McDonald's ad on your buddy's tombstone."
And he's tried to keep the site apolitical. "Most of these men and women join (the military) to serve this country. They don't start the wars, they don't pick the wars. They just do as they're told," Q says. So when they lose their lives, he believes, "they died defending this country. They died for you."
The fallen become much more than just numbers, as you click name after name on his Web site, see the faces and read the stories.
You also begin to get a better understanding of the war than you get from news reports.
". . . struck by sniper fire while he was in a guard tower . . ."
". . . the very last picture, taken 45 minutes before he was killed. The flowers he is holding were given to him by Iraqi children, for his kindness. He is just beaming with joy . . ."
From a fellow soldier: "You can never know the depth of his heroism that day."
And over and over: ". . . killed when an improvised explosive device detonated . . ."
After the Web site came the photography.
In 2003 a friend of Q's who works in a mortuary called him and "asked if I was willing to photograph a memorial service for a guy killed in Iraq."
Q began asking for permission to photograph other military funerals. Over time he began to be recognized by military clergy and officers, who explained his presence to family members wary of the media.
Lately Q has been "run ragged," trying to get to as many funerals as possible, driving across entire states in a day to get to services. "Over the last year we've had so many casualties in the Northwest," he says.
Exposure has not made him tougher. "It gets intense a lot. Sometimes I cry before I get there, sometimes afterwards."
Then when he gets home to Portland, "it starts all over again," as he crops and corrects photos for the families. It's like reliving the grief "frame by frame," he says. "A picture tells you a lot."
When he's done, he returns to the work of his Web sites, creating and adding to pages honoring the dead.
"It's my mission," he says, "to remind people who our fallen heroes are." If that means he has to give up the rest of his life, Q says, "it's worth it."
At least he knows his work is appreciated. The uncle of a victim of war sent Q a $50 gift card for gasoline and a note: "Your many postings and pictures are . . . presented with such dignity and compassion. I truly respect and thank you."
Because of Q, the numbers have names, and the names have faces and stories to tell.
Whether you mourn the loss of Americans who died in a war you oppose, or a war you support, the names, faces and stories that fill the pages of Q Madp's Web sites are worth remembering.
Margie Boule marboule[at]aol.com
|From Salem-News.com 06/12/07
Oregon Website Honoring War Dead has New Freeway Billboard in Washington
Tim King Salem-News.com
Galloping Gerties restaurant helps a man on a mission.
IraqWarHeroes.org billboard in Washington
Photo courtesy: Q. Madp/IraqWarHeroes.org
(LAKEWOOD, Wash.) - A new site is greeting freeway drivers on I-5 in the Lakewood/Tacoma, Washington area. A billboard for IraqWarheroes.org means promotion for a Website that honors those who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
IraqWarHeroes.org was started by Q. Madp of Portland as an effort to place an image and a few brief facts online about every person who paid the ultimate price.
Memories of Jane Fonda and spitting protesters during the Vietnam era haunt Q. and others like him he says, and this was his way of honoring our war dead.
Q. takes it one step further as the only person in the northwest who travels to almost every single military memorial and funeral service to photograph the event for the families.
He works by invitation, and he gives the family all of the photos and charges them nothing.
And now this hero for the fallen has a full sized billboard thanks to Sue Rothwell, the owner of Gerties restaurant.
She met Q. Madp when the busy photographer needed a place to park his car, during a soldier's memorial procession that was going to cross the Freedom Bridge.
"I was going to the freedom bridge to intercept another escort mission for one of our fallen heroes," he said.
The restaurant owner agreed to let Q. park there, and asked him, "Do you have any thoughts on who could use that billboard out there?"
"Yeah, me," Q. answered.
Rothwell then checked out the IraqWarHeroes.org Website. She emailed Q., asking if it was it OK to put his business card on it?
"I was thrilled" he said.
Galloping Gerties wasted no time in getting the artwork ready, and the massive message was created from the image on Q.'s business card.
"She said she was so moved with what I do, it was the perfect thing to put up there."
He says he was amazed at how fluid the generous donation of space really was, "They took my card and photo shopped it and got this done a month early."
He says it is fantastic, as the billboard is right along I-5. It may not be in every driver's line of view, but a KING-5 TV truck crew saw it today, and they stopped to videotape this new bit if freeway scenery.
"I've already gotten 15 emails over it, I think this is really going to help bring the site good awareness and exposure."
That tells Q. that it won't take long before hundreds and thousands of people have seen it, and the promotion will be good.
Q. works relentlessly on his mission as he calls it, he misses a lot of sleep and he spends a lot of cash on gasoline.
Q. Madp of IraqWarheroes.orgWe have reached a point in this country where a man who dedicates himself to the honor of fallen military heroes struggles to buy the fuel needed to go from event to event.
Our hearts ache over the treatment of returning Vietnam vets, and here is something that provides the most opposite possible effect.
An Oregon car dealership should put their patriotic ambitions to the test and provide Q. Madp a car that will allow him to economically make it to these important events.
It is vitally important that Q. continues his mission. He needs a vehicle and gas and probably a part or two for his camera.
His awesome photographic work is in the northwest but his Website honors all Americans and people of other nations when Q. is provided the information.
The same holds true for the images and names of military contractors which Q. is happy to include on the site.
This billboard should help Q. and people reading this article should also, please begin by sending an email to:
It is a common site since 2003, to find people with American flags lining what is now known as the Freedom Bridge.
Q. says it is a heck of a good place to go; and Galloping Gerties too of course, "I am just so thankful, Sue is wonderful and the fact that she believes in what I am doing means everything."
Galloping Gerties is a historic establishment Q. says, dating back to 1952 that has always catered to local soldiers.
Salem, Oregon Honors War Dead on Memorial Day (VIDEO)
Tim King Salem-News.com
"It’s a really exclusive club that you don’t want to belong to." - Clay Kesterson, Gold Star Father
Memorial Day event, Salem, Oregon 52807
All video and photos by: Tim King
(SALEM, Ore.) - A Memorial Day ceremony in Salem at the newly built Afghan-Iraq Freedom Memorial drew hundreds Monday, hundreds who gathered to pay their respects for the people who have given their all, and for all who served.
The Patriot Guard Motorcycle Club showed en masse, with riders from all over Oregon on all kinds of motorcycles, many bearing American flags.
Construction contractor Bill McMichael is a former Marine. He’s one of the people who brought the memorial project together.
I asked him if it was a grand moment, after laboring so hard to bring the memorial from a drawing, to reality.
Bill McMichael says it took three years to pull it off, to put it all together.
"This is an $800,000 memorial built out of in kind donations and labor. What was real impressive, I was told so many times that, ‘there’s no way you’re going to be able to do this in eight weeks.’"
But contractors from all over Oregon chipped in and pulled together and labored day and night to complete the first war memorial ever built during the war it honors. Bill smiles as he reflects on what led to the finished tribute.
Clay and M.J. Kesterson, founders of theAfghan-Iraq Freedom Memorial"The people that told me it couldn’t be done in eight weeks run big projects and they’re experts at what they do, and when we had the dedication on November 11th, they just came up and said, 'I would have never believed it.'"
The memorial exists for thousands, but it was inspired by the loss of Erik Kesterson. His parents, Clay and M.J. Kesterson, led the drive to build this tribute, the first of its type anywhere in the nation.
Clay Kesterson says it has been helpful to have such an important goal to stay focused on.
"It keeps you going, being involved in something like this. I mean the pain and the grief never goes away obviously, but this gives us something to do every day, keep involved with the other Gold Star families, try to keep them together and support them."
Memorial Day ceremonies in like this one took place all over Oregon. And while large numbers gathered today to pay their respects, some, like the Patriot Guard Motorcycle Club riders, try to make the act of honoring those who die in war a regular part of their lives.
Q. Madp of Iraqwarheroes.org And it has become a part of daily part of life for others, like Q Madp of IraqWarHeroes.org. He is the only American who has taken the time to create a Website dedicated exclusively to honoring the fallen from Iraq and Afghanistan, by listing each of their names.
"I have been on over 200 missions and 150 confirmed funerals alone."
He considers his work almost military in nature; each mission he refers to was a trip to some part of the northwest to photograph a funeral or memorial service for a grieving family at no cost, as long as he is invited. Q is a veteran himself, though he draws no attention to that.
Helicopter fly-by during event"For the last four plus years, what I have been concentrating on is making sure our fallen heroes get listed and make sure that people are reminded who they are. And today is even a little bit more intense, because most of these families, I was at the funerals of their loved ones."
Q. needsd ongoing support for travel and fuel costs. Please visit IraqWarHeroes.org and make sure his unusual and important mission continues. On this day, it strikes me that few do as much as Q. to make sure the nation never again sees veterans belittled in public like they were during Vietnam.
Speakers at today’s event talked about the fallen from so many wars, saying it is important to remember them all.
Clay Kesterson says being part of a Gold Star family is nothing people volunteer for.
"It’s a really exclusive club that you don’t want to belong to."
This was my first national tribute event since returning from Afghanistan a few months ago, where I was embedded as a reporter with the Oregon National Guard for two months. Covering the war and getting to know those who lost friends in both Afghanistan and Iraq only deepened my personal respect for all who serve, particularly in combat zones.
It is sadly true that many people will really never appreciate the immensity that the loss of these individuals represents for their families, but we can hope that events like this and the creation of a beautiful and heartfelt memorial in Oregon, and a special Website that is a tribute to each and every soldier killed in the wars, will help. Supporting and loving those who serve is never a matter of politics.
Lake Tahoe Bonanza 05/27/07
Many reminded of purpose of Memorial Day
Click to Enlarge
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Jesse Bensinger, 7, of Carson City, helps arrange American flags on gravesites of Veterans at the Lone Mountain Cemetery on Friday afternoon.
by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer, (Unknown address)
May 27, 2007
For the families of 30 Nevada National Guard airmen who returned from a tour in Iraq on Friday, the Memorial Day weekend will be joyous. But for many others in the region, this day of remembrance will be more painful than they ever imagined.
"This Memorial Day will be different in that the pain is still so raw. It would be unbearable to attend special services," said Sue Ruhl, of Gardnerville. Ruhl's grandson, Marine Cpl. Christopher D. Leon, 20, of Los Angeles, was killed June 20 while conducting combat operations in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq.
"When I think that there are more than 3,850 other families going through the same sense of grief, pain and suffering, it becomes overwhelming," she said.
Knowing what the pain felt like, Ruhl reached out to the South Lake Tahoe family of Army Pfc. Phillip Brandon Williams, when Williams lost his life in Iraq on Oct. 10.
"May God grant you peace and the knowledge that Brandon was a true American hero and that he will never be forgotten, but will live on in your memories forever," Ruhl wrote on an Internet message board - one of the dozens that chronicle the lives of servicemembers who have died in recent conflicts and have sprung up in the four years since the War on Terror began.
On one such site, iraqwarheroes.org, created and maintained by an Oregon photographer known as Q Madp, he offers a suggestion for observing Memorial Day.
"This Memorial Day, no matter where you plan to be, please set an extra place setting at your table ... even if it's a picnic table. Add a glass or cup holding a small U.S. flag and a white rose or white carnation. Before you eat, have one person explain clearly to all present what this is for and tell them of our fallen heroes (who) paid the price for our freedom," he said.
Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service to the country.
First observed on May 30, 1868, to honor those who died in the Civil War, the focus changed after World War I to honoring those American servicemembers who died in any war.
Many argue that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in 1971 and the observance was changed to the last Monday in May, it made it easier for people to be distracted from its purpose.
"Memorial day should be more than shopping, hamburgers, steaks and stuff like that," Madp wrote on his Web site.
The Nevada Office of Veterans Affairs keeps track of those with ties to Nevada who have lost their lives in operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We do this so that the state knows how many actual Nevadans were killed," said DeeDra Cornelius, executive assistant to the director.
As of Friday, more than 58 names were on the list, including a 40-year-old female Army lieutenant colonel who attended college in Las Vegas and died in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001; married Sparks father-of-two Marine Lance Cpl. Donald J. Cline, who was the first Nevadan killed in Iraq; and the most recent losses of Army soldiers Sgt. Anthony Schober, who attended Douglas High School, and Army Pfc. Alejandro Varela of Fernley.
"We keep track of Nevada's fallen heroes," Cornelius said.
Brad Williams, father of Pfc. Williams, said he is unsure how he will spend Monday.
He said he may attend church and pray, or he might clean the gravestone of his son.
"It's going to be a little tough," Williams said.
May 29 would have marked the 22nd birthday for the younger Williams, whose ultimate goal had been to follow his father's footsteps into law enforcement.
Monday will be as any other day since word of Brandon's death.
"Every day has been Memorial Day," Brad Williams said.
Ruhl, the Gardnerville grandmother, echoed that sentiment.
"It is not only Memorial Day that we will remember Christopher's sacrifice, but every minute of every day," she said.
Proper etiquette for flying the American flag on Memorial Day
On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff.
Mourning is indicated by flying the flag at half-staff. You hoist it to the peak first, hold it there for an instant, then lower it to half-staff. One-half the distance between the top and the bottom of the staff.
|From The New
York Times April 16, 2007
Link by Link
Watching the War and Acknowledging the Dead
Article Tools Sponsored By
By NOAM COHEN
Published: April 16, 2007
ON Tuesday morning, Daniel K. Ropkin booted up his computer and confronted a list that was “getting longer,” he said by telephone from his home outside Sacramento. Mr. Ropkin operates “Spread the Word: Iraq-Nam” (iraqnam.blogspot.com), a Web site tracking military deaths in Iraq, and the Defense Department press releases that had accumulated over the last two days announced 18 new fatalities.
Skip to next paragraph
Lonni Sue Johnson
The Reach of War
Go to Complete Coverage »
“It’s kind of freaking me out,” he said.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the first with significant United States military casualties to take place in the Internet age. And while there have been debates over how much public attention to give members of the military who have been killed in combat, a string of Web sites has plunged ahead.
Mr. Ropkin’s self-appointed task involves “looking for the best story, the one that really tells that person’s life, finding a picture,” he said.
For Pfc. Walter Freeman Jr., it was an article from The Colorado Springs Gazette that said: “Three days before he died, 20-year-old Pfc. Walter Freeman Jr. sent a simple online message to the woman he considered his mother: ‘Mom, pray hard.’ ”
For Chief Petty Officer Gregory J. Billiter, from Villa Hills, Ky., it was the writeup in The Cincinnati Post, which ended: “He will be buried in Kentucky, his aunt said, but as of Monday evening, it wasn’t clear where. ‘As you can imagine, nobody has a grave for a 36-year-old man,’ she said.”
Using a few basic Web publishing tools and a broadband connection, sites like Mr. Ropkin’s can keep track of and recognize the dead with a depth that the Pentagon, with its billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of employees, hasn’t nearly matched at its Military Casualty Information page (siadapp.dior.whs.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/castop.htm.
Of a different purpose is the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count (icasualties.org), created by a database designer, Michael S. White, from Stone Mountain, Ga. His doggedness in tracking down the specific details of each death, using government press releases and news accounts, allows a visitor to analyze the material in complex and highly specific ways: for instance, how many service members from New York State over 50 have died in hostile actions in Iraq? (One: Sgt. First Class Ramon A. Acevedoaponte, 51, of Watertown, killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee in 2005.)
The site, which Mr. White spends 15 to 20 hours a week updating, often at the expense of time with his family, has one million to two million hits a week, he said, and is regularly used by journalists from The Associated Press, The New York Times and others.
He said some have complained that “it is not personal enough, it’s cold,” and have asked why there aren’t any pictures. “That’s what it is,” he says. “It’s cold, analytical,” adding, “it’s like you put gloves on and are going into an analytical room.”
The Iraq Page (iraq.pigstye.net) is the obsession of Tom Willett, a software developer from Bloomington, Ind. The site includes a single news account for each United States service member killed in combat, with a fluttering American flag next to a photograph, and room for comments. At last count, there were 3,579 individuals memorialized from the coalition forces, 3,313 from the United States.
“I copy most of the articles, because I know the articles won’t be there in a few months,” he said. “I don’t have the copyright. I steal it from everybody, and I don’t care who knows about it.” The site, which Mr. Willett said had 2,000 to 3,000 unique visitors a day and 20 to 30 new comments a day, has never been asked to take down an article.
There are few negative comments, he said. “I get about as much negative comments from liberals — ‘Why don’t you put the deaths of the civilians in Iraq?’ I said if you could give me the names, I would; and if you don’t like it the way I do it, you can do it yourself.”
The few “military supporters” who criticize, he said, accuse him “politicizing the deaths — I say, no, even someone who opposes the war can honor the dead.”
The creator of the Iraq War Heroes site (IraqWarHeroes.org) is from Portland, Ore., who goes by the name Q Madp and repairs computers. He said he created it “two days before the war started, to make sure all these guys are recognized — I don’t want them to be trashed like they were in Vietnam.”
Iraq War Heroes may be considered a local Web site, if that it isn’t an oxymoron. On either side of the names of the fallen are picture links that take a visitor to photographs made by Q Madp at funerals that he could drive to. So far that is more than 150 ceremonies, he said.
He said he works with the casualty assistance officer and always obtains the family’s permission in advance. He said the site costs him about $300 to $400 a month, not including his time. “I don’t get a lot of donations, but if I show up for a funeral, people help me cover my gas sometimes,” he said.
He said that recently at a military funeral he ran into the mother of a soldier whose funeral he had photographed three years earlier who had never contacted him about the photographs.
“Way back then she didn’t want the pictures,” he said. “Now she did.”
Leonard Wong, a research professor at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., who has studied the efforts of the United States military in recent years to recover the remains of service members killed in combat, said that the need to memorialize nationally, even globally, each and every service member is a relatively recent concern.
“The Vietnam memorial put every name on the wall,” he said. “I think with the Internet, it’s not just their name on a wall; we have a life.”
Recalling how inWorld Wars I and II soldiers were often buried near where they fell, Dr. Wong said: “We as a society, back then, were content to be more anonymous. We weren’t a global society. There was no expectation that you would be known beyond your town.” Now, he says, we hear the call, “Don’t forget me.”
February 8, 2007
Salem-News.com (Feb-08-2007 12:23)
Northwest Photographer Remembers Fallen Heroes Day In
And Day Out
Bonnie King, Salem-News.com
IraqWarHeroes.org is not operated by an
organization. It's just Q. The man behind the telephoto lens, who has
been present at nearly every funeral for northwest soldiers in the last
Q Madp photographing the commemoration of the Iraq-Afghan Heroes
Memorial in Salem, November 2006. Photo by: Bonnie King
All other photos courtesy of: iraqwarheroes.org
(SALEM) - His mission is sincere, and exact. A one-man
operation, Q Madp attends funerals and memorials for lost service
members in the Northwest whenever possible to pay his respects to the
fallen heroes. He photographs the services, then posts a limited amount
of them on the hero’s Tribute Page, and provides the other photos at
no cost to the immediate family member. No strings attached. It's a
Thank You for the sacrifice that they have made.
There are 3457 U.S. troops listed on the DoD casualty
list at the time of this report. These men and women have given their
all in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Each has an individual
Tribute Page on IraqWarHeroes.org.
However, according to founder and photographer Q Madp,
there are more lost Americans than the list accounts for.
“I know I don't have them all. Despite what you hear
in the news about losing 3,000 Americans, please keep in mind they
exclude a lot of them in their reporting.”
Scrolling down the list of names on Q’s website
becomes its own moment of silence. Keep scrolling. The list is
surprisingly long. Opening page after page gives one an ominous sort of
feeling, a tangible sense of loss for the thousands named, one after
another. Too many.
Q would agree. As of 2/3/07, he had been to 119,
probably more services than any other one person. He’s not pro-war or
anti-war either. With Q, that’s beside the point. “I’m not into
the politics. We have to take care of our men and women in uniform. And
we have to give them respect, even after they’re gone. Besides that,
nothing matters. They’re there, so let’s do the right thing.”
“The CD I give to the family has snapshots of the
event. I try to cover as much as possible without being intrusive at
all. I take as many photos as I can, depending on the situation and
conditions. Usually, the next day I crop and size them, and create a
visual record that can be passed on to the next generation, especially
to the ones too young to know now.”
Families of our fallen heroes understand the gift from
Q. He does this out of the goodness of his heart, out of his sense of
duty, in appreciation of our soldiers’ sacrifice, and that of their
family and friends. He has been asked to attend services again and
again, where no media or public was allowed. “Sometimes they don’t
want any family members to be shown in pictures. I can respect that.
Those never show up anywhere but on their CD.” Q is a man of his word.
Nearly 30,000 pictures are posted to his site,
available for viewing and to attract attention to this important
project. IraqWarHeroes.org has made it to the top of the list of search
engines such as Google, MSN, Yahoo! and many others when searching for
Iraq War Heroes.
He updates his site daily, with very few exceptions,
with current releases of names from the Department of Defense and with
photos or other material mailed in by relatives, friends and others that
wish to add to the Tribute Page of one of the fallen heroes.
“I hope every day that I won't be adding more names
but I also know the reality of war and even when it's finally done, the
dying will continue and I will do my best to make sure every one of them
is not forgotten and any help in accomplishing this is always
Rarely does Q step from behind the camera; never does
he ask for thanks, and usually only gives his web address for
acknowledgment of his efforts. Donations, however, are gladly accepted.
“I’m looking for help in getting to all these
events. I’m not a rich man, but this is important, so anyone that
wants to help me with this project is welcome to contact me. Gas is a
big expense, and postage too. Anything helps.”
As of the first of January, Q had driven over 43,200
miles to over 120 funerals, of which 119 where photographed by him for
the families of the heroes.
With that many miles on the road, Q’s lifestyle is
that of a man on the move. “I don't do a lot of things
"normal" people do. I put most of my energy into this site.
I'm NOT a non-profit thing and I'm not a profit thing. I make no money
here. I get occasional donations of stamps and sometimes a donation to
help my gas costs when I head to a funeral.”
Traveling in itself entails risk. Icy roads, bad
drivers and car problems are challenges Q has had to deal with for over
two years, but he has never stopped going to services. “I get tired,
but not too tired. I’m always planning my next trip, trying to work it
financially, getting my car ready, which is a problem in itself. But the
feedback I get from the families make it all worth it. I’m happy to do
what I can.”
Not surprisingly, now and then he gets some negative
feedback as well. Sometimes people tell him the site is too political,
and even challenge their sacrifice. To that, Q says, “BULL! These men
and women volunteered to serve and protect our country in whatever
capacity that they are assigned.”
Mostly though, Q gets thanked. Thank you’s come from
families and friends, especially those whose funerals he photographed.
“It’s unbelievable the number of folks that have written me. It’s
really nice, I know I’m making a difference.”
Currently, Q’s WarHeroes web projects consist of
26,904 JPG Images, and 19,639 pages, of which over half belong to
IraqWarHeroes.org and AfghanistanWarheroes.org. His websites are not
automated. Q personally creates a Tribute Page for each new name added
to the list. The average time he spends a day on a project: 6.3 Hrs.
This is dedication.
An important issue Q is helping to bring into the
public eye is PTSD, what some consider the “other killer” of our
heroes. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder isn’t a new term for most of
us, but in times of war, it is especially critical that this condition
is flagged early. PTSD can strike immediately, or creep up later and too
often is fatal. For someone returning from battle, the war doesn't
necessarily stop for them at home.
If anyone serving in the United States Armed Forces
loses their life due to the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, regardless of
how they died, and no matter where or when they died, they are listed on
“This is something many people won’t talk about,
but we’ve lost a lot of people to PTSD after they’ve come home.
It’s not in the news much, but everyone needs to know about PTSD and
what affect is has on the person suffering, and what it does to the
people around them, so they will know how to get help,” Q said.
“If you know of a hero that died stateside after
having serving in Iraq or Afghanistan or both and they are not on my
list, please let me know. Many of our heroes when they die stateside
don't get reported through DoD releases,” he added.
“It is my mission to remind people of our fallen
heroes, to let people know who these men and women are. All of them. A
couple of hours, that’s not that much to give.”
For Q, the mission continues. When the time comes, on a
wing and a prayer, Q will be there. Joining the Patriot Guard and giving
reverence to the man or woman who has given their all, the photographic
images that follow are a humble reminder of the greatness of life.
With names being released almost daily of fallen
heroes, little time seems to pass between tragic announcements for
someone in a nearby town or city. Flags will drop to half-mast, and
people will bow their heads. And when it’s over, and the healing
begins, the photos of that day will document the celebration of life
that occurred, and how our nation gave it’s thanks to one of our own.
Thanks to Q.
October 16, 2006:
Salem-News.com (Oct-16-2006 14:16)
The Mission of a Man Named Q
Tim King Salem-News.com
For some, supporting the families of troops is a great notion. To others, like Q Madp of Portland, Oregon, it is a lifestyle.
Q Madp, military funeral photographer
Q Madp runs iraqwarheroes.org
(SALEM) - Q Madp is the only person I know or know of that has dedicated his life to preserving the integrity of those who have died fighting for their nation overseas.
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski & Gen. Raymond Reese attend a service for a fallen Oregon heroThis is a person who has wrapped his entire life around his efforts to preserve the legacies of people who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He doesn’t think their deaths should go unrecognized, and he is right.
Q is a photographer and he has his work cut out for him as the self-appointed unofficial photographer of NW military funerals. He travels to services and he is constantly on the move. When he isn’t driving or shooting pictures, Q spends his time researching combat statistics and adding names to the vast list that he hopes will eventually include every American lost in the combat theaters and every other allied soldier as well.
His Website is easy to remember, iraqwarheroes.org is a place of memories for thousands of families who have lost a loved one. Each time an Oregonian dies, and many from Washington and other states like Idaho and Northern California, Q jumps in his car and drives to the funeral/memorial service to take photographs for the family. He uses some photos for his Website, but only those that the family permits him to display. They are always very indebted to him.
Q Madp in actionThe thing is, even tough veteran photographers who were present for huge international news events decades ago, still have a difficult time concealing their humanity.
I first met Q at the service for Navy SEAL Mark Lee in Hood River, Oregon. Sadly, this effort to memorialize a local hero involved a visit from a hate group that hails from Topeka, Kansas.
I found out just who Q Madp was that day as the protestors attempted to sing mockeries of national hymns and Q and the others supporting the family drowned them out while reciting the pledge of allegiance.
Our nation is at war and our brother and sister Americans are dying overseas. While many of us have strong feelings about the way all of this happened, that has little bearing on the day-to-day life that our military forces are enduring.
Americans are in so many ways... the same. We disagree sometimes to a fault, but when confronted with protestors who seek to intentionally disrespect a family as they bury an American warrior, everybody rallies together on the same team.
These Marines, soldiers, sailors and others who have died in combat were serving in the military because they made a choice to do so, and that aspect of humanity should be respected.
There is no good reason for ever holding the messenger accountable for bad news, and the instruments of our military are people who are following orders and doing what is asked of them. It stands in stark contrast to the activities and lifestyles of many of their contemporaries.
Q attended the recent service for PFC Dean Bright and as smoothly as things ran during this memorial service, he says it was one of the more stressful that he has attended.
A short time prior to this service, Q had attended the memorial for PFC Devon Gibbons, a young hero that suffered over 10 weeks with excessive burns and other wounds before dying at Brooke Army medical Center in Texas.
“As I was waiting for the Patriot Guard Riders to make their arrival, a couple came and introduced themselves to me. They are the parents of Pfc Devon Gibbons. They thanked me for the photos I did of their son's memorial and told me why they came down for this funeral.”
Q says PFC Dean Bright was one of 2 heroes that pulled their son Devon out of the wreckage of the vehicle that was blown on April 11th in Taji Iraq. Then Dean Bright was killed on October 4th, in the same place; Taji Iraq.
They had talked and written to Dean but had not had a chance to meet him in person.
M.J. Kesterson, the mom of fallen hero CWO Erik Kesterson was there also, along with others who always try to attend the solemn events and lend as much confort as possible to the grieving families.
In the High School, a young lady introduced herself to Q as the cousin of another hero, whose funeral he had attended, and she thanked him for being there.
The point is that the families of the fallen soldiers all know who Q is, yet he struggles hard to come up with the gasoline money to cruise from one funeral to the next. People and businesses of this state need to step forward and contribute to this one man cause that makes a bigger difference than anyone I know for the families that paid the ultimate price.
Q said that over 135 Patriot Guard Riders came to the High School to honor the Oregon hero named Dean Bright. "It makes me cry when I see them come in such force and everyone was watching them roll in, they held their hand over their hearts and looked on with amazement, with pride."
A few of the Patriot Guard Riders rode with the funeral procession to the cemetery and the rest came in force separately, the procession was over four miles long.
“One of the honor guard leaders came to me and handed me his card, stating that he has seen me at all the services they attended and asked for some pics.” At the end of the funeral service Q was approached by another woman, the mother of another fallen hero who made a statement about the pics he had given her: "I have received lots of photos from other people that came to my son’s funeral, but yours where the only ones that showed the emotions. " Q says in his world that was extremely rewarding.
“When I finally left and headed home, it all started to hit me like bricks and I couldn't even talk. I was drying my eyes constantly.”
Q Madp would never admit this about himself, but he is a hero too. I sure know some families that would tell you that is the case. Perhaps I relate to Q because I too believe in celebrating these fallen brothers, though my politics certainly try to jump in the way of any blind flag waving. I used to be a Marine and that certainly has something to do with it, but I believe our nation’s military is getting the short end of the stick.
This is measured in reduced services and inflated costs for veterans, and the equipment provided to our troops overseas is lacking. The administration make it illegal to send your kid body armor.
Those who have died in wars overseas are listed on Q's siteI have had to find my way through these feelings, groping in the absolute darkness much of the time. I hate knee jerk reactions and I hate people who breed fear, and I believe the administration blatantly disregarded the advice of the nation’s military leaders who said it would take far more soldiers to effectively win the war on terrorism.
The people who say you either support national policy or are against the troops, should be taken out back and re-educated. The time for that political game is behind us. Our military is strained and it needs our support. Other people need your support too, people like Q Madp. He has approached businesses very recently, and he is told time and time again that corporate America doesn’t support individuals, and while I am playing off the words, I see it as an unrelenting fact.
Q recently asked Chevron via email if they can donate some gas or credit his Chevron card for a small amount so he can pay the gasoline bills to make it to the funerals, “They said the same thing all other companies have told me. We don't help individuals.” Q included Chevron’s legal terminology.
"Because our guidelines restrict our contributions to nonprofit organizations, we do not provide product donations, fund individuals, travel expenses, or businesses.
We hope you will continue your efforts - another corporation or foundation may find that your objectives closely parallel theirs. Further inquiry and research may bring the support you seek."
So people that really want to help American troops and the rising number of Gold Star families who now live without their sons should visit Q’s Website and send him a donation. It doesn’t matter if you send $10 or $20 because anything helps. There is only one person who is doing the traveling and handling the expenses to make sure people are treated with respect and above all, remembered.
In my upcoming trip to cover the war in Afghanistan, I have been asked by Q to find a liaison with both the British and Canadian commands so that he can more effectively add the names of allied troops from those countries and contact the families of fallen soldiers. I told him I would gladly accept the mission, and that is how he looks at his life, as a series of missions to help, respect and honor the legacies of our fallen soldiers. I am more fortunate even as I prepare to go to a war, as the military people I will spend my time around are alive and well.
Logic is the greased pig in our 21st Century barnyard, and the best attempts to see Americans succeed in both Iraq and Afghanistan will only come from stronger support, from the highest levels and from ourselves.
I think it takes a toll on my friend Q to do what he does, and people who mean what they say about supporting American troops should get behind his Website, please go there right now, iraqwarheroes.org/help
The Mission of a Man Named Q
If there's a local funeral for U.S. soldiers, this
photographer is there. (Willamette
A few minutes after a recent memorial service in Gresham for a
Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan, a man dressed in black military
garb snapped dozens of photos of the 300 or so attendees. The
49-year-old photographer, Q Madp, then posted the photos from that
Aug. 27 service for Jeffrey Lucas on his site www.iraqwarheroes.com.
IMAGE: MATT WONG
The Lucas service was the latest of nearly 50 funerals and
memorial services Madp has attended since 2003-from Sacramento to
the Canadian border-for U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and
Madp says his goal is simple and strictly apolitical: to
digitally honor each one of those soldiers. After putting away his
digital camera, Madp, an "underemployed'' Portland freelance
computer technician who works a few hours each week to feed
himself and support his encyclopedically meticulous website,
talked with WW about his trips and running a military
tribute page in a town like Portland.
WW: Are services in cities different from ones in small
Q Madp: Oh, yeah. Imagine a good-sized high-school stadium
totally packed, standing room only. That was outside of Yakima.
When you get ready to go into a small town and they're giving
tribute, you know it the minute you hit that city limit: You see
flags, you see the marquees of businesses have names on them. In
Portland, I don't see people lining up like that.
Why are people more indifferent in Portland?
I don't know if it's politics, or people here just don't care.
I think in general, Portland is anti-this whole thing-it's more of
a Bush-hating thing. I think people are afraid that if they show
up at a funeral they're making a political statement.
You claim that your site's apolitical, but what do you say
to those who believe that honoring soldiers as heroes validates
Under my breath I'd probably say "F-off." Anyone who
enlists for the purpose of defending this country that dies is a
hero. I firmly believe that over 70 percent of those people
bitching and whining and moaning-they would never get up and join
if we had some country invading us. They'd be cowering in their
What about the Bush administration's media blackout on showing
coffins returning from Iraq?
I get kind of conflicted on this. Some family members believe
showing coffins on TV before they get to see their kid is
disrespectful. I can see that. On the other hand, I think they
were also doing this to keep us in the dark on how many of these
guys are being killed. We don't need that kind of censorship.
Could you see how your site could be called pro-war?
I'm not advocating war. I'm just honoring the men and women who
stood up and swore to defend this country in whatever capacity
they were assigned. I don't think the death of a soldier should be
considered a political statement.
Are there other personal reasons for your efforts?
Too many of my friends who were in Vietnam got totally trashed:
not by the Vietnamese, but by the people here when they returned.
They're still spitting on them-a lot of them are still being
treated like trash.
Are you a veteran?
I'm a Cold War veteran; I spent most of my time in the Army in
Europe taking pictures.
Do you support the war?
I'm a Republican, and, yes, I support the war.
How do you think the war is going?
Not quick enough. When I listen to guys over there that message
me, they're making lots of good progress; but when I have to
listen to the general news, there is no progress. So, how do I
think the war is going in general? I think it's good.
Has this progress meant you're going to fewer funerals?
In the Northwest, funerals have been slowing down. But no, I
don't use that as any sign of progress; I take a look at August
and, man, we lost a shitload of people. The more progress we are
making with the Iraqis, the more terrorist strikes we get.
After going to so many funerals, do they still affect you?
They do. I almost feel like I'm getting to know these guys. I
think as a society, we need to say "Thank you." How much
is it to take two or three hours out to attend one freakin'
funeral? Because this guy's got no more coming-that's it. And he
died for you.