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Senior Airman James Arthur Hansen


This week’s American Hero is United States Air Force Senior Airman James A. Hansen of Athens, Michigan.

According to The Daily Reporter

James graduated from Athens High School in 2003, attended Kellogg Community College and Central Michigan University. He continued his education while in the Air Force through CMU’s College of Extended Learning and was working toward his Bachelor’s degree. He began his service in the U. S. Air Force in May 2008 and was Senior Airman specializing in air field management. He was stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. and deployed to Iraq in 2010. James was a member of the Athens golf team in high school as well as the National Honor Society and a member of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity while at CMU. He enjoyed playing the drums and running.

Judi Henckel, a teacher at Athens high school had many things to say about James and his family:

It really is just hard to believe it’s really true but the family is so strong. I’m so impressed by how strong they are for each other. The thing I will remember most about Jimmy is his smile. You could tell he genuinely meant it when he said he was glad to see you. Whatever he did, he gave 100 percent of what he had and you can’t say that about every kid. I think he was sort of searching for the right thing and I think he thought he found it in the Air Force. I know he was happy.

According to a Pentagon report, Hansen died of wounds suffered during a controlled detonation at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, on September 15th, 2010. He was assigned to the 46th Operations Support Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, FL.

Hansen’s family and friends recalled him as the type who befriended those who were either less fortunate or rarely had the opportunity to have a friend like James. He genuinely cared about the welfare of those around him and shared his passion for life and his happiness with everyone he encountered.

As stated by those stationed with Hansen, he embodied the very spirit the United States Air Force needs and promotes. The family has also asked that memorial contributions be made to the Jimmy Hansen Memorial Scholarship through the Athens Area Community Foundation, which can be found by clicking HERE.

Today, James lies in rest at Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, Michigan. Though he is remembered as a son, a brother and a friend, we ask that you forever remember him as an American Hero.




Specialist Daryl A. Davis

Davis-1-e1280681370390This week’s American Hero is United States Army Specialist Daryl A. (Double D) Davis from Orlando, Florida.

Daryl was assigned to the 144th Transportation Company, Florida Army National Guard, Marianna, FL.

He was killed in action on Nov. 29, 2004, while on Patrol in Kut, Iraq.

According to Daryl’s family, he graduated high school in 2002 and was a basketball coach and mentor to youth at a local YMCA. He was described as a passionate young man and cared about the welfare of the kids in his community. He was a selfless individual, which is evident by his decision to serve his state and country.

His mother, Dana Davis, wrote a poem she dedicated to her son. The final line quotes: “Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there. I did not die.” She said she would like for her son to be remembered with a beer, though he was not old enough to drink.

Daryl is also survived by two younger brothers who have been devastated by the loss of their role model. They described him as someone to always look up to who was always there for them and they love him and miss him every day of their lives.

Today, Daryl lies in rest at Riverside Cemetery in Spencer, Iowa. Although his family remembers him as a ladies man, a fun loving guy and a mentor, we encourage our nation to remember him always as an American Hero.

Lance Cpl. Holly A. Charette

This week’s American Hero is United States Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Holly A. Charette of Cranston, Rhode Island. The 2001 graduate of Cranston High School East was based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and assigned to Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force.

Holly was killed in action on June 23rd, 2005, In Fallujah, Iraq. According to a press release from the Pentagon, a  suicide bomber struck Charette’s convoy as she and a group of Marines returned to their base. At least four Marines, including Charette, were killed. Sadly, Holly was the very first female Marine killed in the war in  Iraq.

Holly’s aunt, Charlene Wheetman, stated:

“She wanted to become a Marine after 9-11. She wanted to do something for her country. She was a very proud Marine. Holly was a happy girl and loved by all of us and everyone that she knew.  Holly always looked at the positive side of everything. We are all missing a part of our hearts without her here.”

Her friend, Jaime Caniglia, stated:

“She was an awesome, awesome girl. I can definitely see her (joining the Marines). She was always ready to help anyone out.”

Her brother in arms, Thomas Strube of Wrightstown, NJ, wrote the following:

Hey girl, I really don’t know where I would start, except I miss you… I remember meeting you in Fallujah after you arrived at ECP 6, you saw I was a K9 handler and immediately approached to pet the dog, I thought you had a great smile, but was amazed to see your personality was just as good. You were such a positive person, and as the days gone by you became a friend… I miss you. Well, I’ll give you an update, I married in 2006 and my wife Rebecca had my son Jacob in 2008. After that deployment, I served another 2 tours, 2006, 2007 in Iraq, then got out in 2010 after my 2nd term. Became a contractor, deployed to Afghan(istan) in 2010, 2011, and now in back in Iraq 2011 and 2012… but all is well and the troops pulled out, crazy to think that considering we all never could really see the end any time back in 2005, but I guess that was 7 years ago… Anyways, your one of my HEROs and are among some others that I know… God bless… Semper Fidelis “devil dog”…

Sgt Shannon Phillips of MCB CL Jacksonville, NC wrote the following for Holly:

Hey Holly…I was just thinking about you and all you’ve done. I miss you and want you to know how much I thank you for your sacrifice. My thoughts are crowded today with images of you and your smiles. I want to cry but you know how it is…in uniform, you gotta hold your bearing. Sometimes, you just can’t help it. I love you so much and I miss you. Until one day…xoxo.

Today, Holly lies in rest at Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island. Her memory is without a doubt still very much alive in the hearts and memories of everyone who knew her. She will always be a United States Marine, but she will now forever be an American Hero.

SPC Luis G. Ayala

This week’s American Hero is United States Army Specialist Luis G. Ayala of South Gate, California.

According to the Department of Defense, SPC Ayala died in Taji, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit while on combat patrol on December 28th, 2006.

According to a press release from Ayala’s family, he was one of three sons raised by a single mother, an immigrant from the Mexican state of Michoacan. For Luis, the Army seemed like a path to a better life and a way to pay for college.

One day, after meeting with recruiters at his high school, he came home with dreams of the money he would make by enlisting. Shortly after graduating in 2003, he joined the Army. After basic training in Georgia, Ayala was sent to Germany. After serving a year in Iraq in 2004, he returned to the war in October of 2006. After basic training in Georgia, Ayala was sent to Germany.

On his free time, he and another soldier frequented a park near the base. It was there that Ayala met a German girl named Deniz. In May of the same year, the couple had a son, Miguel Luis Ayala. The three of them lived for a while at Ft. Hood, and then were transferred back to Germany, as Luis again prepared to go to war.

From Germany, Luis wrote to an immigration judge to say it was unfair that he should be fighting for the United States while the government denied his mother legal residency. The judge agreed and gave his mother her legal papers. He left behind a German wife and son that his mother has never met.

At the time of this writing, it is unconfirmed where Luis lies in rest. His burial information has not been reachable, however, his family states he is buried in South Gate.

Luis’ story is one of sacrifice and courage. He fought a battle to bring his mother to the land of the free and continued to fight for the United States throughout the battle. We ask that you remember him always as a fighter, a patriot and an American Hero.

SSGT. Matthew H. Stiltz

This week’s American Hero is United States Army SSGT. Matthew H. Stiltz of Spokane, Washington. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas.

At the time of this writing, Matthew was killed in action just 11 days ago, November 12th, 2012. According to the Department of Defense, his unit came under indirect fire from insurgents in Zerok, Afghanistan. At the time of his death, Matthew held the rank of SGT. He has since been posthumously promoted to the rank of SSGT.

Matthew grew up in Spokane, Washington where he attended and graduated from Shadle Park High School in 2005. He was a member of the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) where he placed 5th of 71 teams in a national competition. Matthew was also a trumpet player in the pep band.

By all accounts, Matthew had the biggest heart of anyone his friends or family had ever met. He had an indescribable ability to connect with and mentor children of all ages. It was his big heart and love to match that would capture the attention of Brooke Keller. She became his wife on June 19, 2009.

Matthew is survived by his wife, his parents, Mark and Terri, a brother, Jeff, and a sister, Kristin. According to his family:

Matt was a dedicated soldier and placed his unit and his country number one. He would want everyone to remember and support the troops still fighting for protection of our freedoms.

According to a press release, in lieu of flowers, Matt and his family would appreciate contributions to the following organizations which are of great comfort and assistance to military personnel and their families: The Fisher House Program, the Wounded Warrior Project and the USO.

At the time of this writing, Matthew will lie in eternal rest tomorrow, November 24th, 2012, in Greenwood Memorial Terrace Cemetery in Spokane, Washington.

We ask that you remember Matthew for his selfless dedication to his country, his unit and his family. We also ask that you forever remember him as an American Hero.


Petty Officer 3rd Class John T. Fralish

This week’s American Hero is United States Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John T. Fralish of New Kingstown, Pennsylvania.

John was stationed with the 3rd Marine Division Detachment, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe, Hawaii.

According to his family, John graduated high school in 1994 from Cumberland Valley High. Rugby peaked his interest, however, his heart belonged to surfing.

John joined the United States Navy in February of 2002. He had previously completed two tours of duty in Iraq before he was deployed to Afghanistan. His third deployment would sadly be his last.

According to the Department of Defense, Petty Officer Fralish was killed when enemy forces opened fire on his patrol just northwest of Methar Lam in Laghman Province, Afghanistan, on February 6th, 2006.

John was unique to his unit. He was known to be a jack of all trades and was more commonly known by his nickname, Captain America. The Devil Dogs of 3rd Marine loved and appreciated their Corpsman and were heavily impacted by the loss of their brother.

Having served honorably in the United States Navy, John’s decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, The National Defense Service Medal, The Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for service, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Marine Corps Device and the Combat Action Ribbon.

Today, John lies in rest at Cumberland Valley Memorial Gardens in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

He’ll always be remembered as Captain America and a Devil Dog. Now, he’ll be remembered as an American Hero.


Master Sgt. Travis W. Riddick

This week’s American Hero is United States Marine Corps Master Sgt. Travis W. Riddick of Centerville, Iowa.

Riddick was assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363, Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Tragically, he was killed Jan. 19 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, when his CH-53D helicopter crashed.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa wrote the following upon Riddick’s death:

Mr. President, I rise to pay tribute to a fallen son of Iowa, MSgt. Travis Riddick. Master Sergeant Riddick joined the Marine Corps after graduating from high school in Centerville, IA. In doing so, he was following in a laudable family tradition of patriotic service. His father and grandfather were marines, as well as his uncle and cousins. His twin brother recently retired after 21 years in the Navy. Travis Riddick certainly did his family, his State, and his country proud. He was awarded six Air Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, four Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, seven Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals, two National Defense Service Medals, the Southwest Asia Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Armed Forces Service Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the NATO Medal, the NATO ISAF Medal, and the Kuwait Liberation Medal.

Master Sgt Riddick is remembered as a son, brother, husband and father. Today, we introduce him and forever remember him as an American Hero.