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Col. Stephen K. Scott

This week’s American Hero is United States Army Col. Stephen K. Scott of New Market, Alaska.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Scott was stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad overseeing the transition of security forces to the Iraqi government. The newspaper also reported that Scott was exercising in the protected Green Zone when the building was struck by mortar fire and he was killed on April 6th, 2008.

According to the Department of Defense, Scott received the Bronze Star in 2003 for his service as a battalion commander during a previous tour in Iraq.

The Birmingham News reported the following obituary upon Scott’s death:

Col. Stephen K. Scott died Sunday at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Safe now on his final tour of duty, he has entered his heavenly home, where his father welcomed him with open arms. He was preceded in death by his father, Kenneth Scott. Survivors include his mother, Patricia Scott; brother, Mark Scott; sister, Kathleen King; daughters, Rachel Regot and Rebekah Scott; grandchildren, Zachary, Makaylah, and Dylan; uncle and aunt, Emory and Johannah Brady; nieces and nephews, Sarah Golden and husband Christopher, Jonathan Scott, Stephanie Wakley and husband Wesley, and Kenneth King; great-niece, Alyssa; and great-nephew, Andrew. A friend to everyone he met, a mentor to many, and the proud protector and defender of our country, he had many military friends and buddies. Col. Scott died doing what he believed in. Visitation will be held from 2 to 9 p.m. Sunday from the Stygar Mid Rivers Funeral Home in St. Charles, Mo., and from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Monday at First Baptist Church of Harvester, Mo. Funeral services will follow at 11 a.m. Interment will be in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. Memorial donations may be made to the U.S.O. or First Baptist Church of Harvester Mission Fund.

Today, Col. Scott lies in rest at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. The people of Iraq knew him as a friend. We will forever remember him as an American Hero.


Pfc. Dylan Jeffrey Johnson

This week’s American Hero is United States Army Private First Class Dylan Jeffrey Johnson of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Jenks High School. According to his unit, he had only been in Iraq less than a month with the 9th Calvary Regiment when he was killed on June 26th, 2011, in Diyala province, Iraq.

Jenks High School teacher, Ron Acebo, said in a statement to Fox 23 in Tulsa:

“Dylan possessed a kind spirit and was a bit reserved in my World Literature class. We all ache for the loss of this young life and grieve with his family.  As teachers, we all hold hopes and dreams for our students.  We do not know what he could have achieved but we are humbled that he had made the supreme sacrifice for his country….and that is how he will be remembered.”

Supreme is defined as highest in degree or quality. Sacrifice is defined as destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else.

In Pfc. Johnson’s case, he surrendered his life, high in degree or quality, for the sake of his family, his country and freedom for the oppressed.

According to reports, Johnson was driving an MRAP (mine resistant ambush protected) vehicle when an insurgent threw an armor-piercing grenade at the windshield. The explosion instantly killed the Pfc. and a Sergeant.

According to the Tulsa World’s interview with Johnson’s father, Jeff Johnson:

“I had thought the glass on those were bulletproof, but I guess the grenade hit at just the right angle,” he said.

Johnson said his son was a scout and was working with other soldiers to shut down U.S. bases in Iraq and turn them over to the Iraqis after the pullout of all U.S. combat troops.

He said his son had driven some dignitaries to northern Iraq and was returning to his base when the attack occurred.

“I’ve been chatting with the guys in his platoon all day, and they all described him as one of the funniest guys they ever met,” Johnson said Monday. “He was that way – a natural comedian.”

Johnson said his son loved music and sports and “was a great marksman.”

Jeff Johnson said Dylan Johnson went to Jenks High School and decided to join the Army in 2009, largely inspired by the men on both sides of his family who served with the military during World War II and Korea.

Johnson said his son completed his basic training at Fort Knox, Ky., and then was assigned to Fort Hood, where he remained until he deployed to Iraq.

The 46-year-old Johnson, who called Dylan Johnson his “best friend,” said he last saw his son in March.

“He knew they were going to Iraq, but he didn’t know when. He was really excited about going over there,” Johnson said.

He and his son communicated through Facebook while Dylan Johnson was in Iraq.

Today, Pfc. Johnson lies in rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. To rest eternally in our nation’s most hallowed ground is an honor in and of itself. No honor is greater than the one we bestow on Dylan Johnson. The honor of American Hero.


Staff Sgt. Gregory T. Copes

This week’s American Hero is United States Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Gregory Copes of Altavista, Virginia.

Staff Sgt. Copes was assigned to 3rd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Camp Lejeune, N.C. His deployment to Afghanistan began in January 2012, as he was expected to return to the United States in September. Tragically, Staff Sgt. Copes made the ultimate sacrifice on August 17th, in Farrah province, when an Afghani police officer shot and killed two Marines. Sadly, Greg was one of those them.

ABC13 reporter Parker Slaybaugh, of WSET-TV in Virginia, wrote about the Staff Sgt and his family:

His brothers say they had already began planning a get-together when their brother returned to the States. They say they hope their brother’s death causes people to realize that freedom comes with a price. “He knew it was dangerous, but it was part of what he did, and part of what he was,” said William Copes, Greg Copes’s younger brother.

“Freedom isn’t free, it does come with a price. I am thankful that men and women out there, like my brother, choose to serve, said Earl Copes, Greg Copes’ older brother.

Earl Copes works as a firefighter in Lynchburg and volunteers at a fire department in Altavista. Friday morning on his way to work, he heard about a shooting in Afghanistan on the radio.

“To myself I said a little prayer, hoping that he was safe and okay, not knowing that later on that day I would receive the call,” said Earl Copes.

Greg Copes graduated from Hargrave Military Academy in 1994 and Longwood University in 1999. He was an avid outdoorsman and also loved music and sports.

“He always loved to go out and throw the football and stuff,” said Earl Copes.

William Copes, much like his two older brothers, makes a living serving others. He says his brother knew from a young age that he wanted to serve in the military.

“Growing up we played Army running through the woods,” said William Copes.

The events of September 11, 2001 caused the staff sergeant to officially enlist in the Marine Corp. He served all over the world, including tours to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“He wanted me to come see him when he got home. He wanted to get together with everybody in the family. He was a great man and he will be greatly missed,” said William Copes as he recalled his last conversation with his brother.

Greg Copes also leaves behind a wife and four kids, ranging from six months to six years old.

Today, Staff Sgt Copes lies in eternal rest at Mount Hermon United Methodist Church Cemetery in Lynch Station, Virginia. We would also like to report that, having been survived by a wife and four small children, memorial contributions may be made to  “Greg Copes Family Fund”, c/o Navy Federal Credit Union or make checks payable to Tia M. Copes C/O Bank of the James, 1110 Main St., Altavista, VA 24517.

We ask that you remember his family through this difficult time. We also ask that you forever remember him as an American Hero.


Spc. Nathan R. Beyers

This week’s American Hero is United States Army Specialist Nathan R. Beyers of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He was assigned to the 116th Cavalry Heavy Brigade Combat Team based in Post Falls, Idaho.

According to The Spokesman-Review, “Beyers, 24, had spent several years in the Coeur d’Alene area, where his wife, Vanessa Beyers, and their infant daughter, still live, Idaho National Guard spokesman Col. Tim Marsano said. He previously lived in Littleton, CO.”

“Nathan was proud of his job and serving our country,” Vanessa Beyers said in a statement. “He died doing something he loved and was such a brave person. We just had our first child, and Nathan had a chance to visit us when he was home on leave in January. I told him I knew he was going to be a wonderful father. We are going to miss him.”

Newby’s mother and father released a statement, noting their son could play a variety of musical instruments, including guitar, bass guitar, saxophone and drums. According to his My Space profile, he started a punk rock band called Trip Wire when he was 15.

“Nick would do anything for anybody who needed his help,” they said. “He’d stick by his friends and never gave up on anybody. He had a great sense of humor, ever since he was a kid. For instance, once when he saw his pregnant mom drinking orange juice, he said, ‘Mom, you’re getting orange juice all over the baby!”’

They also said he enjoyed his truck. “He loved thrashing his truck and then fixing it; we recall digging him out of the snow and we all smiled through it. Nick loved his family, and everybody loved him.”

Newby wrote on My Space that he enlisted in the Army National Guard even before he graduated from the Bridge Academy in December 2008, and spent much of 2009 in basic training in South Carolina.

Tragically, Specialist Beyers was killed in action on July 7, 2011, after insurgents attacked his convoy with an improvised explosive device  in Baghdad, Iraq.

I was unable to locate information regarding the resting site of Nathan Beyers, however, we’re certain he remains close to his family. We, at the American Hero Project, would like to thank Nathan’s family for their sacrifice for our country. They’ll always remember him as a son, a husband and a father. We’ll always remember him as an American Hero.

Lt. Michael P Murphy

This week’s American Hero is United States Navy Lt. Michael Patrick Murphy of Smithtown, NY. Lt. Murphy’s story is unique in that the United States Navy recently commissioned a new destroyer in his honor.

As told by Lt. Murphy’s Wikipedia page:

Lt. Michael Patrick Murphy was a United States Navy Seal and the first person to be awarded the military’s highest decoration, theMedal of Honor, for actions during the War in Afghanistan. He was also the first member of the U.S. Navy to receive the award since theVietnam War. His other posthumous awards included the Silver Star and Purple Heart.

Michael Murphy was born and raised in Suffolk County, New York. He graduated fromPennsylvania State University with honors and dual degrees in political science and psychology. After college he accepted a commission in the United States Navy and became a United States Navy SEAL in July 2002. After participating in several War on Terror missions, he was killed on June 28, 2005, after his team was compromised and surrounded by Taliban forces near Asadabad, Afghanistan.

Since his death, a United States Navy destroyer, a post office, a combat training pool at Naval Station Newport, and a park have been named in his honor.

Murphy was born May 7, 1976 in Smithtown, New York to Irish American parents Maureen and Daniel Murphy, a former assistant Suffolk County district attorney.[1] He was raised in Patchogue and as a boy attended Saxton Middle School where he played youth soccer and pee-wee football with his father as coach. In high school, he continued playing sports and took a summer job as a lifeguard at the Brookhaven town beach in Lake Ronkonkoma. He returned to the job every summer through his college years.

Murphy was known to his friends as “Murph” and he was known as “The Protector” in his high school years. In 8th grade he protected a special needs child who was being shoved into a locker by a group of boys. He also protected a homeless man who was collecting cans. He chased away the attackers and helped the man pick up his cans.

In 1994 Murphy graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School and left home to attend The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). He graduated from Penn State in 1998 with degrees in both political science and psychology.

After graduating from Penn State, Murphy was accepted to several law schools, but decided to attend SEAL mentoring sessions at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. In September 2000, he accepted an appointment to the U.S. Navy’s Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. On December 13 of that year, he was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy and began Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado, California in January 2001, eventually graduating with Class 236.

Upon graduation from BUD/S, he attended the United States Army Airborne SchoolSEAL Qualification Training and SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) school. Murphy earned his SEAL Trident and checked on board SDV Team ONE (SDVT-1) in Pearl HarborHawaii in July 2002. In October 2002, he deployed with Foxtrot Platoon to Jordan as the liaison officer for Exercise Early Victor. Following his tour with SDVT-1, Murphy was assigned to Special Operations Central Command (SOCCENT) inFlorida and deployed to Qatar in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After returning from Qatar, he was deployed to Djibouti to assist in the operational planning of future SDV missions.

In early 2005, Murphy was assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE as officer in charge of Alpha Platoon and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Operation Red Wings was a failed counter-insurgent mission in Kunar province, Afghanistan, involving four members of the United States Navy SEALs. Murphy and two other SEALs were killed in the fighting in addition to 16 American Special Operations Forces soldiers who were killed when their helicopter was shot down while attempting to extract the SEAL Team. Prior to a helicopter being shot down in 2011, it was both the largest loss of life for American forces since the invasion began and the largest loss for the SEALs since the Vietnam War. Marcus Luttrell was the only surviving American sailor from the squad; he was protected by local villagers who sent an emissary to the closest military base allowing a rescue team to locate him.

Murphy led the four-man reconnaissance team on a mission to kill or capture a top Taliban leader, Ahmad Shah (code name Ben Sharmak), who commanded a group of insurgents known as the “Mountain Tigers,” west of Asadabad. The group was dropped off by helicopter in a remote, mountainous area east of Asadabad in Kunar Province, near the Pakistan border. After an initially successful infiltration, local goat herders stumbled upon the SEALs’ hiding place. Unable to verify any hostile intent from the herders, Murphy asked the team what should be done with them. Matthew Axelson reportedly voted to kill the Afghans, and Danny Dietz did not offer an opinion, causing Murphy to state that he would vote the same as Marcus Luttrell, who said the herders should be set free. Hostile locals, possibly the goat herders they let pass, alerted 150 to 200 nearby Taliban forces, who surrounded and attacked the small group. After Murphy called for help, an MH-47 Chinook helicopter loaded with reinforcements was dispatched to rescue the team, but was shot down with an RPG, killing all 16 personnel aboard; eight SEALs and eight service members from the 160th SOAR.

By the end of the two-hour battle, an undisclosed number of Taliban soldiers, Murphy, Dietz, and Axelson were killed in the action. Luttrell was the only American survivor and was eventually rescued after several days of wandering the mountain and being protected by the people of an Afghanistan village. All three of Murphy’s men were awarded the Navy’s second-highest honor, the Navy Cross, for their part in the battle making theirs the most decorated Navy SEAL team in history.

LT Murphy was killed June 28, 2005 after exposing himself to enemy fire and knowingly leaving his position of cover to get a clear signal in order to communicate with his headquarters. He provided his unit’s location and requested immediate support for his element and then returned to his position to continue fighting until he died from his wounds.

On July 4, 2005 Murphy’s remains were found by a group of American soldiers during a combat search and rescue operation and returned to the United States. Later that month, Murphy was buried on Long Island in Calverton National CemeteryCalverton, New York, Section 67, Grave No. 3710.

The following was taken from Lt. Murphy’s Medal of Honor citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and above and beyond the call of duty as the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare task unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005.
While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan. On 28 June 2005, operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy’s team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 30 and 40 enemy fighters besieged his four member team. Demonstrating exceptional resolve, Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing fierce firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of the team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men. When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain, and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call. This deliberate, heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team. In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for his country and for the cause of freedom. By his selfless leadership, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

May he rest in peace and be forever remembered as an American Hero.

Sgt. Lakeshia M. Bailey

This week’s American Hero is United States Army Sgt. Lakeshia Bailey of Luverne, Alabama.

According to Sgt Bailey’s Find-A-Grave page:

Bailey of Columbus, Ga., and Ft. Mitchell, Alabama was the first born child of Tony and Phyliss Bailey. She was a 2004 graduate of William H. Spencer High School and a member of the Rock West Baptist Church in Greenville, AL. She spent most of her life traveling abroad with her parents during her fathers military career. She enjoyed helping others and this fueled her desire to join the U.S. Army in February 2006. Sgt. Bailey loved the U.S. Army and rose quickly through the ranks. “Sha” died March 8 north of Al Kut, Iraq, of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over. They were assigned to the 203rd Brigade Support Battalion, attached to the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.

According to the Military Times:

Sgt. 1st Class Allen Battle, who served with Bailey on her first deployment to Iraq in 2007, said she was fearless around what he called “Iraq’s worst criminals.” “When I say tough, she would take grown men down to the ground,” Battle said. “That’s how strong she was and that’s how committed she was to her job.”

Bailey’s love for the military grew while traveling around the world with her parents while her father was in the service. She enlisted in February 2006.

The woman known for flashing a white, wide smile was described as a little sister by her comrades.

“She had a way of lighting up a room when she walked in,” said Sgt. Brett Quinn. “It didn’t matter if everyone was in a bad mood or not, when Bailey walked in she was going to talk to everyone and she was going to make you talk to her.”

Bailey is survived by her husband, Harrison Bateman, parents and numerous other relatives.

Today, Lakeshia lies in rest at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery in Fort Mitchell, Alabama. Her family remembers her as their own silver lining. Her comrades remember her for her bravery and her happiness. We will forever remember her as an American Hero.


SGT Jason M Swindle

This week’s American Hero is United States Army Sgt. Jason Swindle of Cabot, Arkansas. Jason was killed in action on September 20th, 2012.

Today’s THV (11) in Little Rock, Arkansas reported his story:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark (KTHV)–A Cabot family is mourning the loss of their son. Sgt. Jason Swindle was killed while serving in Afghanistan. He was 24 years old and not only has he been on three tours over sees, he was also a husband and father. 

“Very outgoing, just very fun to be around,” Sam Swindle reflects on what he misses most about his younger brother.  “It’s hard not to smile around him; it’s just hard not to love him.” 24 year old Jason Swindle died  Thursday while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan Sam says the loss doesn’t seem real; “I’m still pretty numb ya know but I have a very strong family, I thank God for my family, every day.” Sgt. Swindle leaves behind an expecting wife and a one year old son.  The boy on the way will be named Jason Junior. “They had the best father in the world, the best man I know, God family country that’s the order, that’s what he cared about he was proud to serve.”

This was Swindle’s third tour overseas. This deployment was supposed to be a short one.  Sam says Jason left about a month ago and was expected to be home by Christmas. “He was very proud to serve; I know he went out fighting, fighting for us.”

The department of defense reports Swindle died from injuries from an enemy small arms fire. Jason is one of three military men in his family. His father is a marine and two of his brothers both followed Jason’s footsteps and joined the military. The family has yet to make funeral arrangements, but do say they plan to have services in Beebe where his wife lives.

We would like to extend our condolences to Jason’s family. It is an honor to feature him on the American Hero Project and we’ll update this story with the site of his resting place when the information becomes available. Please help us honor and remember our American Hero.