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Christopher A. Golby Four dead in copter are from Ft. Carson By Dick Foster and Brian D. Crecente, Rocky Mountain News January 9, 2004 COLORADO SPRINGS — On a day draped with reminders of Iraq’s heavy casualty toll on Fort Carson, the Army confirmed Friday night that the cost had gone higher. The bright sunny day and a celebration of heroism could not banish the somber anxiousness that engulfed the post as it braced for expected news that its soldiers were among nine killed Thursday when a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down near Fallujah. On Friday afternoon, Fort Carson awarded Bronze Stars to four soldiers and Purple Hearts to 14 others who survived attacks in Iraq. Earlier, it held a memorial service for one who did not. But Friday’s services and honors were overshadowed by a mood of anticipation of the inevitable news about Thursday’s attack. The confirmation came early Friday evening. Four of the nine killed were from Fort Carson’s 571st Medical Company, which operates Medevac helicopters in Iraq. The Army identified them as Spec. Michael A. Diraimondo, 22, of Simi Valley, Calif.; Spec. Christopher A. Golby, 26, of Johnstown, Pa.; Chief Warrant Officer Philip A. Johnson Jr., 31, of Alabama; and Chief Warrant Officer Ian D. Manuel, 23, of Florida. They were members of the Black Hawk crew that was transporting wounded soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, the 1st Cavalry Division and other units not from Fort Carson. Diraimondo’s father, Anthony, said his son, who had been in Iraq since April 10, was preparing to return to Fort Carson. "His unit had started doing some preliminary packing," Anthony Diraimondo said Friday night from his home in Simi Valley. "He thought he would be back home in six to eight weeks." Diraimondo joined the Army when he was 20 and he recently joined the medical company as a medic, a job he loved. "He was so happy with it and was so at peace with himself and what he was doing," his father said. "He told me stories about soldiers whose lives he saved, who clearly would not have lived without his help. "It would not surprise me if he had decided to stay in the Army. He was so proud of the work he was doing." Anthony Diraimondo said he read about the downed helicopter in the news and became increasingly concerned when he heard that it was a Black Hawk used for medical evacuations. About six hours later a soldier showed up at his door, he said, and he knew his son was gone. Anthony Diraimondo described his son as a great human being whose purpose in life was to help others. "One thing he told his mother: ‘Don’t let people tell you differently. We are making a difference over here. We are making a positive difference.’ That meant a lot. He felt it was the right thing to do." Golby’s mother, Dawn, said her son joined the Army in 1996 and loved everything about the helicopters he flew. "He could fly the helicopter, he could tear it down, put it back together again," Dawn Golby said from her home in Johnstown Friday. "He died doing exactly what he wanted." Dawn Golby said her son had been Iraq for nearly a year. He was due to return to Fort Carson in March. "He was a very fun-loving, devoted father," she said. "He was a great son." Christopher Golby moved to Fort Carson with his wife, Sonya, and two sons; Dylon, 4, and Sean, 9, about six months ago. Dawn Golby said she got a chance to see and talk to her son by computer Sunday. "He had a camera on the computer and we set up the camera here at home so I got to see him," she said. On Wednesday, Golby sent his mother a quick e-mail saying he was OK after his base was shelled. "He said he would e-mail me later," she said. The casualties dealt another blow to a post already hard-hit by the war. Thirty-four of its soldiers had died in Iraq before Thursday’s attack. As soldiers at the post quietly prepared for the news Friday, reminders of Iraq’s costs were all around. A morning memorial service honored 40-year-old Staff Sgt. Tony Bertolino of Escondido, Calif., a platoon leader and father of four who was killed in November when his convoy was ambushed in Haditha. Lt. Ryan Davis wrote of the good-natured 6-foot, 6-inch Bertolino to the sergeant’s widow, Susan. "He is a hero. His actions saved my life and the life of a gunner," Davis said. The Purple Heart ceremony Friday afternoon gave more testimony to the war’s growing roll of casualties. Among the 14 medal recipients, one stood with a cane and another sat in a wheelchair. A third rolled up his right sleeve to reveal two long, meandering scars that ran from his wrist to his elbow. "I want to thank the doctors in Germany. They saved my arm," said Staff Sgt. Aurelio Dudley, who was wounded when an Iraqi rocket shot down the Chinook helicopter carrying him home on leave last Nov. 2. Sixteen soldiers were killed in the crash and 26 were wounded. Spec. Omar Lopez, who also was aboard the Chinook, received his Purple Heart in a wheelchair. When the copter crashed, he suffered a broken neck and injuries to his hips, an arm and a foot. "I just give God thanks that I’m alive and here to receive a medal," Lopez said. Spec. Shawn Walker stood with a cane cradling his infant daughter who was born after he came home last month. A bullet had pierced his back and tore away his hip during an attack at a roadside checkpoint in Fallujah on May 27 that killed two soldiers and wounded others. "They said I’d never walk again," said Walker. "Just to say I can, I proved them wrong. You work at it and you learn how to walk again." It was Fallujah, again this week, that held the worst of fates for American soldiers. That is where a rocket attack brought down the Black Hawk. "As many of you know, yesterday the Army lost a helicopter in Iraq," Maj. Jay Jacobs told the hushed crowd of 400 who watched the award ceremony. "Let us mourn the loss of these great soldiers. But let us also recognize and rejoice in the great patriotism of these great Americans before us today." fosterd@RockyMountainNews.com or 719-633-4442 God bless them every one...
Angels wings have opened for yet another who so unfalilingly gave his life so we can have the freedoms we know. Dont waite to mend the broken fences. God give me and all others who will yet know this anguish the strength to accept it .Peace to all who read this in the memory of SGT Christopher Golby 51st Medical Dort Carlson Colorado.
Lesley Gene Benter USN Rank RMC. He served his country from 1957-1977. He retired from Naval Training Center, San Diego where he taught Radio B school. The fist ship he served on was the USS Oriskany. The last one was USS Paul Revere. He loved the Navy. After his retirement, he worked as an telephony maintainance instructor for Northern Telecom in Raleigh, North Carolina, Danville, California, and Sacramento, California. Deceased July 15, 1993. Honey, I still love and miss you. Rose (Jan. 26, 2004)
Army Spc.Thomas John Dostie, age 20from Somerville, Maine. Member of the 133rd Engineer Battalion , lost his life in Mosul, Iraq on December 21, 2004. One of our own true heros. Thoughts and prayers for all our soldiers of the past, present and future.