Friday, August 31, 2007

Memorial for the Fallen

Family & Friends,

We had our memorial service today for MSG Ball, SGT Argonish and MAJ Henry Oficier.

"Hank" was the third US Soldier who was killed in that ambush. He also worked out of Camp Faez, with our LT Joe Mitchell and MSG Kevin Bittenbender, as the chief of the Provincial Police Mentoring Team. He leaves behind his grieving family in Guam and a fiancee in Georgia.

I did not know him very well, but others -- including LT Mitchell -- spoke highly about him. In addition, CPT Pat Pellegrino paid a tribute to his friend Scott, and CPL Robert Gerrity honored his good friend Jan. I said a few remarks about Scott and Jan, which are below. Words just don't suffice though...

It was a wonderful ceremony, and the 5th Kandak team led by MAJ Rob Jorgensen truly honored our fallen friends. It was a typical hot, humid August day here so our tears mixed with sweat, and there was a lot of both.

Naturally, everyone from "Team America" (that was the name Jan gave us) is in mourning, but grief is a process, and we all seem to be grieving in a healthy way.

We were very fortunate to be able to get everyone (with the exception of LT Green) from the team together too. LT Gallagher arrived at Bagram last night from leave. As I mentioned, LT Green is not here because he just arrived home for his leave. He plans to attend all of the services as our Unit Representative.

Please keep Leslie, Tyler, Allie, Jakub and Talia in your prayers. I know that many of you have plans to attend some of the services, and I speak on behalf of the team when I thank you for honoring our fallen.

Team Leader/Senior Mentor
1st Brigade, 201st Corps (ANA ETT)


Simple words can not be used to describe MSG Scott Ball and SGT Jan Argonish. You really had to know them like we knew them—serving with them, living with them, and sharing with them—to understand what extraordinary men they were. We are fortunate to have had that opportunity.

They were of different temperaments, but their legacies are much the same: they leave loving families, they had many, many friends who admired them, and they demonstrated that they were willing to die for what they believed in.

They recognized that this war is our war, and they answered the call to duty. The fact that they served in the Army in the first place is more than what most people have done. On this mission, they were a part of something greater than most things one can experience in any lifetime—they (and us) have been liberating an oppressed people, an entire country, and they were helping to create the army of a democratic nation so that they can protect their freedom.

In 11 days, this war -- our war -- will be six years on. We have to accept the fact that our war is not going to be like former wars. It is clear that this is going to be a long tough struggle.

They died the way we all said we wanted to go if it was our time; they went down fighting. They made their sacrifice so that Tyler, Jakub, and Allie would not have to carry on the fight. And I am certain because of their efforts that our Nates, Sophias and Evans won’t have to either.

To have something so precious as was our relationships with these two extraordinary men and then to have it suddenly taken away, is painful. The pain is inevitable, our suffering is optional. They would be the first to remind us that the job is not done. We have an army to build, we have more fights ahead of us, and we have to get the rest of us home to our loved ones.

Scott, Jan, I am heart broken that you are gone, but I am a better man for having known you both. I thank you for the examples that you gave us, and I want you to know that Team America is going to pick up where you left off. We’ll carry-on.

1 comment:

Michael Mussio said...


I hope this message can get to you. I have just recently heard the news. My thoughts and prayers are with Argo and MSG Ball's families. Please send on my deepest sympathies and affection to all the members of 1/201st and specifically the Easyriders.

I will be forever grateful for the time I was able to serve with them. Knowing them was a priceless gift, both of friendship and humor, and as an example of how great men live their lives. I may miss the bar, but will forever carry them in my heart as standard bearers, both professionally and personally.

Never forgotten.

I pray daily for all of your safe returns.

Easy Riders for life. Love, respect and honor to our fallen brothers. Till we see them again.

CPT Michael "Moose" Mussio