Monday, August 8, 2011

Family, friends remember fallen soldiers as heroes

One relied on his deep faith. Another was planning a marriage proposal. And yet another would shoot baskets with his mom when they had something serious to discuss.
But the brothers, fathers, sons and uncles who died when a U.S. military helicopter was shot down in eastern Afghanistan all had something in common: a love of family and country, according to friends and family members. Those who knew them said the soldiers were aware of the dangers they faced but were dedicated to their mission — even if it meant giving their lives.
Here are the stories of some of the fallen:
Patrick Hamburger planned to propose to his girlfriend, but had a job to do first: a mission in Afghanistan.
The 30-year-old sergeant from Grand Island, Neb., had joined the Nebraska National Guard when he was a senior at Lincoln High School but had never been deployed, his brother Chris Hamburger told The Associated Press on Sunday.
"He didn't have to go, and he wanted to go because his group was getting deployed. He wanted to be there for them. That's him for you," Chris Hamburger said, adding that Patrick always looked out for his two younger brothers and friends.
He was also the kind of guy who helped his girlfriend raise her 13-year-old daughter from another relationship as well as the couple's own 2-year-old daughter, and planned to propose marriage when he got home, Chris Hamburger said.
Patrick Hamburger had been in Afghanistan less than two weeks and had arrived at Forward Operating Base Shank a few days before climbing aboard the helicopter with U.S. Navy SEALs and other troops to rush to the aid of a U.S. Army Ranger unit under fire from insurgents.
"It doesn't come as a total surprise that he was trying to help people and that's how it all ended up happening," Chris Hamburger said.
If someone was sad, Michael Strange tried to make them smile. He loved snowboarding, surfing, scuba diving, running, and shooting guns on the range.
"He loved his friends, his family, his country; he loved making people laugh. He was one of a kind," Strange's brother, Charles Strange III, 22, said Sunday outside the family's Philadelphia home, where American flags were planted throughout the neighborhood.
Strange, 25, decided to join the military when he was still in high school, and had been in the Navy for about six years, first stationed in Hawaii and for the last two in Virginia Beach, where he became a SEAL about two years ago, his mother, Elizabeth Strange, told The Associated Press.
But he always told his family not to worry.More...

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