Brandon Cuillet Towle was killed on 08-30-2012

Many to gather tonight to honor life of DHS grad and young soldier By MICHELLE KINGSTON Friday, August 31, 2012 DOVER — A lantern ceremony will be held at Dover High School tonight to honor the life of Brandon Cullen-Towle. Friends, family, teachers, neighbors and all those who knew the Dover High School 2005 graduate will gather in the football field to share photographs, stories and memories. The 25-year-old was killed in a motorcycle accident in Spring Lake, N.C., last week. Danna Fortier, a friend of Cullen-Towle, has asked the public to bring pictures to share to make a photobook. "There will also be about 30 lanterns for people to sign and write memories on," she said. "Once it is dark, we will set them off." Fortier said there was an event posted on Facebook earlier this week notifying friends about the ceremony. There are more than 200 people who have said they will attend. "There are people coming from North Carolina, friends and family in Dover, New Hampshire residents and at least one teacher," she said. Cullen-Towle graduated from Dover High School in 2005. After some time at the University of New Hampshire, he enlisted in the United States Air Force. He was assigned as a Tactical Air Control Party Member in the 14 ASOS, Pope Field, N.C. in December of 2007. In 2012, SSgt. Cullen-Towle joined an elite group of TACPs when he was specifically selected to serve as a Special Operations Forces TACP in the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Field, N.C. SSgt Cullen-Towle is a decorated combat veteran, serving three tours in Afghanistan, supporting the 1-4 INF, 1-61 CAV, and 1-72 INF with life saving Close Air Support. For his actions both stateside and in combat, SSgt Cullen-Towle has been awarded three Army Commendation Medals, an Air Force Commendation Medal, The Order of the Purple Heart, and been personally recognized by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the President of the United States. Fortier said the gathering at the football field will begin at 6:30 p.m

Walter Gray killed 08-08-2012

Walter , Major, 38, of Conyers, Ga., died Aug. 8 from injuries suffered during a suicide bomb attack in Kunar province, Afghanistan, announced the Pentagon. Gray was assigned to the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron at Fort Carson, Colo. "Major Gray's ultimate sacrifice is a tragic loss for the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing family," said Col.Samuel Milam, commander of the Moody AFB, Ga., wing, which is the 13th ASOS' parent unit. Milan added, "[Gray] was a tremendous officer and leader. Our most heartfelt sympathies are with the Gray family and the airmen of the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron during this difficult time."

Fallen major praised as ‘epitome’ of true ALO
By Brian Everstine - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Aug 9, 2012 17:49:00 EDT
Ever since he began his Air Force career, Maj. Walter “Dave” Gray was someone to look up to. During his first time at the tactical air control party schoolhouse, classmates would go to Gray for help. “He took a lot of us under his wing,” said Master Sgt. David Bickel, the superintendent of operations at the joint tactical air control advanced instructor course who went through technical school with Gray in 1995. So it wasn’t a surprise that, more than a decade after his commissioning as an officer, Gray went back through TACP school and was a leader in the first class of air liaison officers — known as 13 Limas because of their Air Force Specialty Code. Gray, who was assigned to the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron out of Fort Carson, Colo., was killed Wednesday when a suicide bomber attacked his vehicle in Kunar province, Afghanistan. Gray, 38, is survived by his wife and three children. “He was what a TACP officer should be,” Bickel said. “We’ve been wanting TACP officers. We want guys who have been through the training and bled in the field. He was the epitome of what a 13 Lima should be.” Gray received his commission in 1997 through the ROTC after serving as an enlisted airman. He served for several years as an airfield operations officer before becoming one of the first air liaison officers as part of “Raptor 01,” the first TACP class to include 13Ls. Tech. Sgt. Israel Del Toro, a tactical air control party instructor at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, said he had known Gray for 12 years, and was an instructor when Gray went through TACP school as an officer. Even though Gray had been through it before, Del Toro joked with him while he was training with the younger airmen, saying “you better keep up, dude.” “He liked to joke around, he was a joker,” Del Toro said. “He was very good for his buddies.” His peers and friends said everyone who served with Gray respected him. It was a respect that did not just come from the bars or oak leaves he wore, but from his actions and words. “Once he became an officer, he realized his job was to lead guys into battle,” Bickel said. “He was very confident, and he led by example, and the guys loved him.” Gray was one of the highest-ranking ALOs in the Air Force, and his comrades looked forward to him being a leader in the new career field. “I’d follow him into a firefight, because I know he’d never lead us wrong,” Bickel said.

KUNAR PROVENCE, AFGHANISTAN (WACH)- A graduate of Charleston Southern University was killed in Afghanistan. Maj. Walter Gray was an Air Liaison Officer and flight commander attached to Fort Carson through the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia. He was commissioned as an officer in October of 1997. He was previously an enlisted Airman and was one of the Air Force's first career Air Liaison Officers. Gray earned a Bachelor of Technology degree from Charleston Southern. He was a member of Air Force ROTC Detachment 772 at the college. “The Charleston Southern University family is grieving the loss of one of our own today,” said President Jairy C. Hunter, Jr. “Our thoughts and prayers are with David’s family.” According to the United States Defense Department, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, the senior enlisted soldier of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson, Colorado and Army Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, 35, of West Point, New York were also killed in the attack. "On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I have sent my deepest condolences … to the entire U.S. Mission in Afghanistan," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a written statement released late Thursday. Gray is a native of Conyers, Georgia. He is survived by his wife, Heather (a 2002 graduate of Charleston Southern University), and three children.

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Attack in Asadabad Suicide bomb leaves command sgt. major, two officers dead
By Michelle Tan and Joe Gould - Staff writers
Posted : Friday Aug 10, 2012 6:17:13 EDT
A brigade command sergeant major and two officers were killed Aug. 8 in a deadly suicide bomb attack that also claimed the life of an American civilian. Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, 45, was the senior enlisted soldier for 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, of Fort Carson, Colo., and the first command sergeant major to be killed in combat in Afghanistan, according to Army Times records. The brigade deployed in March to Afghanistan’s Regional Command-East and is serving along the Pakistani border, in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman and Nuristan provinces. Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, 35, the brigade’s fire support coordinator, and Air Force Maj. Walter D. Gray, 38, of the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron at Fort Carson, were killed, as was Ragaei Abdelfattah, who was on his second voluntary tour with the U.S. Agency for International Development. Kennedy joined the unit late and had been in Afghanistan only three weeks. The brigade commander, Col. James J. Mingus, was present during the attack but was unharmed, despite initial media reports that he was badly wounded, brigade spokesman Maj. Christopher Thomas wrote on the unit’s Facebook page. “There were, however, other leaders and soldiers harmed in the attack, which is a favored [tactic, technique and procedure] of an enemy who cares little about who he harms in the pursuit of his goals,” Thomas wrote. No further information was available as of Aug. 10 about how many soldiers were wounded or the nature of their wounds. The attack in Asadabad, the capitol of Kunar province, was one in a string of recent deadly attacks across the country. On Aug. 10, at least six service members were killed, including three by a man wearing an Afghan uniform. The day before the suicide bomber struck, another service member was killed when two individuals wearing Afghan National Army uniforms turned their weapons against coalition troops in eastern Afghanistan. However, the attack in Asadabad stands out because of the loss of Griffin, who as a brigade command sergeant major was half of the unit’s command team and responsible for the welfare of the 3,500 soldiers in the brigade. The last time a command sergeant major was killed in combat was Nov. 21, 2006, when one died from injuries from a roadside bomb in Iraq, according to Army Times records. Since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, 21 Army E-9s have died; 14 of them were command sergeants major. Of the CSMs, seven died from non-combat related injuries. In Afghanistan, in addition to Griffin, two other command sergeants major have died but from non-combat related causes, according to Army Times records. TRUE PROFESSIONAL Griffin joined the Army in 1988 and had served three deployments to Iraq, one to the Balkans, and a tour in Kuwait before deploying to Afghanistan in March. Griffin was a true professional, said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Deliberti, who has known Griffin for 14 years and is now the equal opportunity advisor for 4th BCT. “He was not only a great mentor but an outstanding [noncommissioned officer], somebody I looked up to for his professionalism,” Deliberti said. “He’s a great man. I’m honored that me and him were actually friends.” Griffin and Deliberti first met when both were assigned to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, back when the regiment was based at Fort Carson. This was the second time the men were assigned to the same unit, and this time Griffin was Deliberti’s first line supervisor. “I’d go in [his office] and me and him would just sit there and talk for 30 to 40 minutes,” Deliberti said. “He was a tanker just like I was. He pushed me. He’d always tell me to be the NCO you know you can be. His words just stick in my head. It’s hard right now, but I keep driving through because I know he’d be telling me, ‘Sgt. D, keep pushing.’” Griffin made it a habit to regularly visit his soldiers and check on them, Deliberti said. “There isn’t a [forward operating base] or [combat outpost] or anything we have in our sector that he didn’t go to,” Deliberti said. “Honestly, I don’t know if he ever did [sleep]. He had a room, but I never saw him go to it.” The soldiers in the brigade are taking Griffin’s death — and the loss of the others — hard, Deliberti said. “The last few days, there have been a lot of droopy heads, sad, no joking around,” he said. “It took a big toll on our unit, and with my job, I try to be there for the soldiers. I try to comfort them, I try to talk to them.” Deliberti, who is on his fourth deployment, said he’s still trying to cope with the loss of his friend. “I’m trying to keep my head in the game and do my job,” he said. “When I go to the chow hall I would see him with his cup of iced tea. Now I sit in the chow hall and I expect him to come in … It’s going to take a while for this unit to get over losing a person like him.” Deliberti said he wants others to know Griffin was what an Army command sergeant major should be. “He was hard but he was fair,” he said. “He was a guy who had feelings. He loved his soldiers. He loved his job and his family.” SECURITY ISSUES Retired Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Schloesser, the former commander of 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Regional Command-East in 2008, said it was “absolutely critical” that coalition commanders and their civilian counterparts continue to engage Afghan leaders face-to-face, while addressing the security risk. “If we abandon those types of admittedly risky meetings, I don’t believe we have any hope of success outside of Afghanistan, especially outside of the major cities,” Schloesser said. Judging by the makeup of the group, Schloesser speculated that the meeting was with a high-level provincial government official or a group of Afghan elders. In such a group, the command team’s personal security detail was not likely to have been extensive. As with the 2009 suicide attack at FOB Chapman that killed seven CIA agents, there may be a calculated decision to forgo pat-downs and physical security checks to demonstrate trust, he said. However, coalition forces must insist on tighter security for such meetings now, he said, and said human intelligence is always vital. “In this case, obviously, human intelligence failed, and it’s extremely hard to get advance notice of the intents of these types of folks,” he said. “It’s not clear whether this was an insider or an insurgent who was able to insert themselves into this.” Such engagements are of particular value in Kunar province, a region of strategic and operational importance due to its proximity to some of the most trafficked routes between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the potential for conflict or cooperation with Pakistani forces, and the related political sensitivities. “There’s no doubt that a brigade combat team assigned to that area has very difficult geography,” Schloesser said. “If you’re looking for a extremely difficult area to be placed in charge of, Kunar is certainly one.” A dispatch posted by Mingus and Griffin to the Mountain Warriors’ website in May said the brigade’s role in eastern Afghanistan was to aid the transition to Afghan security forces. The message says the brigade was at a “crucial point in the fight,” as Afghan forces are poised to take the lead. In southern Kunar, the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, “Lethal Warriors,” were working with Afghan forces to fight the enemy in their support zones along the Kunar river valley. The unit is on FOB Michigan, fewer than 25 miles from Asadabad. In northern Kunar and southern Nuristan, the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, “Red Warriors,” were doing the same with their partnered security forces, “in some of the most remote and challenging terrain in the world.” Just days before the attack, Pakistani and U.S. officials met to discuss joint counterterrorism campaigns that would target the Haqqani militant group along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to a Wall Street Journal report. During the high-level meetings, Pakistani officials reportedly asked the U.S. to target Pakistani Taliban operatives based in Nuristan and Kunar provinces, who Pakistan says have carried out dozens of cross-border attacks against its soldiers. In 2011, the U.S. military began scaling back its operations in remote parts of Nuristan and Kunar to focus on southern Afghanistan as part of its population-centric counterinsurgency strategy. The Taliban, al-Qaida, and associated networks have used the Kunar border to “project lethal aid” into the Pech river valley following the coalition force realignment, according to a Defense Department report published in April. Taliban senior leaders in Nangarhar, Kunar and Nuristan increased coordination for attacks against ANSF-ISAF fixed sites and patrols, the report states

US soldiers killed in Afghanistan Helmand attack Three US soldiers have been killed and one injured by a gunman wearing uniform in Helmand province, Nato has said. Afghan officials told the BBC that the three were special forces members shot in the Sangin area late on Thursday. The exact circumstances are unclear. Nato says it is the latest in a series of "green-on-blue" attacks, where men wearing Afghan army uniforms turn their guns on coalition troops. But local officials say the three were killed by an elder they were meeting. The elder said he wanted to join the police but in reality was a Taliban infiltrator, the officials told the BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul. Green on blue A Nato spokeswoman told the Reuters news agency that it was too early to say whether it was a "rogue shooting or due to insurgent infiltration". "All we know is that they were killed by an Afghan in a uniform of some sort," the spokeswoman said. Throughout 2012 there has been a dramatic jump in "green-on-blue" killings, amounting to an average of one a week. On Tuesday a US Nato soldier was killed by two gunmen wearing Afghan army uniform in eastern Afghanistan. The attacks have led to a serious erosion of trust between Nato and Afghan forces. In a separate incident on Friday, a roadside bomb killed at least six civilians - including women and children - in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province, local police chief Farid Ahmad Farhang told the BBC. Also on Friday, the US government identified four Americans who died on Wednesday in an attack by two men wearing suicide vests in eastern Afghanistan. Air Force Maj Walter Gray from the state of Georgia, Army Major Thomas Kennedy from New York, and Command Sgt Maj Kevin Griffin of Wyoming were named by the Department of Defense. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the fourth victim was Ragaei Abdelfattah of the US Agency for International Development. Her statement said three coalition service members and an Afghan civilian were also killed, and a state department diplomat was hurt. Mrs Clinton condemned the attack, which the Taliban said they had carried out.

LHS Graduate Killed in Afghanistan Had Distinguished Military Career Maj. Walter “David” Gray was the victim of one of three deadly strikes in Afghanistan this week, the latest one just today. Gray, 38, a 1992 Loganville High School graduate, died on Aug. 8, 2012, as a result of a suicide attack in Kunar province that left five people dead, three of them U. S. military members. Moody Air Force Base in Georgia issued a press release following the announcement of Gray’s death. “Maj. Gray’s ultimate sacrifice is a tragic loss for the 93d Air Ground Operations Wing family,” said Col. Samuel Milam, wing commander. “He was a tremendous officer and leader. Our most heartfelt sympathies are with the Gray family and the Airmen of the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron during this difficult time.” Gray was assigned to the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron at Fort Carson, Colo. He was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and his unit was responsible for integrating combat airpower into ground operations, according to the release from Moody AFB. Gray enlisted first as an airman and was commissioned in October 1997 through the Reserve Office Training Corps. After serving for several years as an Airfield Operations Officer, Gray went on to become one of the Air Force’s first career Air Liaison Officer. He was currently the Air Liaison's second-highest ranking officer. Gray, whose home is listed as Conyers, Ga., leaves a wife and three children. According to a story on CNN.com, the attack that killed Gray happened as the troops were exiting a military vehicle and were preparing to enter a compound. An aid worker and an Afghan civilian were killed in the same attack. The two other U.S. military members who died in the attack were Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, the senior enlisted soldier of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson, Color. and Army Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, 35, of West Point, NY. Members of the LHS Class of 1992 are currently working on plans to honor their fallen classmate, according to Patch columnist Jeff Allen who graduated with Gray. Chief Public Affairs Officer 1st Lt. Meredith Kirchoff at Moody AFB said details are not yet known about final arrangements for Gray. "We will have to coordinate with the Army. Although he was a member of the Air Force, he was assigned to the Army at Fort Carson," Kirchoff said, adding that Gray's immediate family lives in Colorado, so it is not known at this time where his funeral will be held. Details of the return of Gray's body to the U.S. and funeral arrangments will be published as soon as they are made known.

Ever since he began his Air Force career, Maj. Walter "Dave" Gray was someone to look up to. During his first time at the tactical air control party schoolhouse, classmates would go to Gray for help. "He took a lot of us under his wing," said Master Sgt. David Bickel, the superintendent of operations at the joint tactical air control advanced instructor course who went through technical school with Gray in 1995. So it wasn't a surprise that, more than a decade after his commissioning as an officer, Gray went back through TACP school and was a leader in the first class of air liaison officers - known as 13 Limas because of their Air Force Specialty Code. Gray, who was assigned to the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron out of Fort Carson, Colo., was killed Wednesday when a suicide bomber attacked his vehicle in Kunar province, Afghanistan. Gray, 38, is survived by his wife and three children. "He was what a TACP officer should be," Bickel said. "We've been wanting TACP officers. We want guys who have been through the training and bled in the field. He was the epitome of what a 13 Lima should be." Gray received his commission in 1997 through the ROTC after serving as an enlisted airman. He served for several years as an airfield operations officer before becoming one of the first air liaison officers as part of "Raptor 01," the first TACP class to include 13Ls. Tech. Sgt. Israel Del Toro, a tactical air control party instructor at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, said he had known Gray for 12 years, and was an instructor when Gray went through TACP school as an officer. Even though Gray had been through it before, Del Toro joked with him while he was training with the younger airmen, saying "you better keep up, dude." "He liked to joke around, he was a joker," Del Toro said. "He was very good for his buddies." His peers and friends said everyone who served with Gray respected him. It was a respect that did not just come from the bars or oak leaves he wore, but from his actions and words. "Once he became an officer, he realized his job was to lead guys into battle," Bickel said. "He was very confident, and he led by example, and the guys loved him." Gray was one of the highest-ranking ALOs in the Air Force, and his comrades looked forward to him being a leader in the new career field. "I'd follow him into a firefight, because I know he'd never lead us wrong," Bickel said