TEAM DARKHORSE

about that deployment...

The steep casualties did not destroy the Marines' resolve. Patrols into dangerous areas continued.  In addition, Marines no longer shot warning shots.  They kept fighting until the enemy was killed or driven off.  The insurgents were not used to this response to their attacks.  The 3/5 was willing to go on the offensive where other coalition forces had not.  If the insurgents massed in areas just outside the safety zone to make a foray into the safety zone, 3/5 Marines came after them in force, inflicting many casualties.  This happened only a few times before the insurgents stopped gathering in such large numbers.  Ambushes were not as frequent, and civilians felt less intimidated...


about that deployment...

In the first three weeks of the deployment, 3/5 Marines were engaged in over 100 firefights, and had sustained 62 casualties, including more than a dozen deaths.  High headquarters encouraged 3/5’s superior officers to have the battalion withdraw from Sangin.  The casualties must surely be overwhelming these Marines.  Those officers rejected this, saying the Marines of 3/5 wanted to finish what they had started, and that, in fact, it would be even more demoralizing to pull out in the middle of this intense struggle...


lcpl kenneth a. corzine

May 4, 1987 - December 24, 2010

Lance Corporal Kenneth A. Corzine was born in Woodriver, Madison County, Illinois  on May 4,  1987.     Following his graduation from Civic Memorial High School in Bethalto, Illinois, he enlisted in the Marine Corps on August 17, 2007.   He graduated boot camp on December 7, 2007 and reported to School of Infantry - West.  On March 5, 2008 he graduated as a 0311, Rifleman.    He was then assigned to 3d Battalion 5th Marines.  Lance Corporal Corzine deployed to Okinawa, Japan with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.  During the deployment he traveled to Thailand, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia.  He completed a winter package at Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, California and Enhanced Mojave Viper Training in advance of his deployment to Afghanistan in September 2010.   He served as a rifleman in 1st squad, 3d Platoon, Company L.   Lance Corporal Corzine’s personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action
Ribbon.   

He is survived by his parents, Kenneth and Carla Corzine, his Grandmother Sharon Collins, and his Aunt Diane & Uncle J Allen Corzine who misses his “little buddy.”

sgt jason d. peto

January 28, 1979 - December 7, 2010

Sergeant JASON D. PETO was born on 28 January 1979 in Montebello, California.  He graduated from Mount View High School in Vancouver, Washington in June 1997. He was a member of FFA in high school, and enjoyed hunting, fishing and motorcycling.

In September 2004 he enlisted in the Marine Corps and attended Recruit Training in San Diego.  Upon graduation from the School of Infantry – West, Sergeant Peto received the military occupational specialty of rifleman.  In March 2005 he was assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, where he served as a Fire Team Leader, Squad Leader, and Company Police Sergeant.  In April 2008 Sergeant Peto transferred to 1st Marine Division Schools, where he served as an Urban Leaders Course instructor.  In May 2010 he trans-ferred to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, where he served as Squad Leader.  He was deployed to Afghanistan in September 2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  Sergeant Peto’s personal awards include the Purple Heart with one gold star, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with one gold star, and Combat Action Ribbon with one gold star, and Certificate of Commendation. 

In 2005 Sgt Peto was wounded while deployed in Iraq, and he redeployed there in 2007.  In 2010 he volunteered for deployment to Afghanistan.

He is survived by his wife Tiffany, parents Ernest and Jane Peto, and brothers, Darin, Gary and Mike.

cpl brandon w. pearson

February 2, 1989 - November 2010,

Corporal BRANDON W. PEARSON was born on 2 February 1989 in Arvada, Colorado.  He attended Ralston Valley High School, enlisted in the Marine Corps two days after Christmas in 2006, and left for recruit training on 4 September 2007.  As Private Pearson, he graduated from Recruit Training in November 2007 and then checked into School of Infantry – West.  He became a rifleman and was promoted to Private First Class, assigned to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.  On 1 November 2008 he was promoted to Lance Corporal.  While assigned to Company L, he completed a summer and winter package at Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California, as well as completing Mojave Viper Training at 29 Palms, California in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan.  Lance Corporal Pearson was deployed to Okinawa, Japan with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, where he participated in partnered bilateral training with Thailand, South Korea, Philippines, and Australia.  He served as the 1st team leader, 2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Free-dom.  Corporal Pearson’s personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon. 

He is survived by his parents, Michael and Wendy Pearson, and his sister Ashley.

cpl tevan l. nguyen

June 20, 1989 - December 28, 2010

Corporal TEVAN L. NGUYEN was born in Hutto, Texas on 20 June 1989.  In 2007 he graduated from Hutto High School, having enlisted the previous July at Round Rock, Texas.  Immediately following graduation he attended Recruit Training in San Diego, where he was promoted to Private First Class.  After graduation from boot camp, he attended the School of Infantry – West, graduating as a rifleman.  In November 2008 he attended Basic Security Guard School training in Norfolk, Virginia, subsequently receiving the military occupational specialty of Marine Corps Security Force Guard and being promoted to Lance Corporal.  Corporal Nguyen was then transferred to Marine Security Force Battalion in Bangor, Washington where he served as a Security Force Guard instructor.  He was promoted to Corporal in July 2009 and in May 2010 transfer-red to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines where he served as a team leader.  Corporal Nguyen deployed to Afghanistan in September 2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  His personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon.  He is survived by his parents Tam and Amy Nguyen, his sister Tamara, and his son Tevan Jr.

l cpl joseph c. lopez-pratti


May 1, 1984 - October 14, 2010

Lance Corporal JOSEPH C. LOPEZ-PRATTI was born in Tarzana, California, on 1 May 1984.  He graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in Rosamond, California in 2002.  In March 2009 he enlisted in the Marine Corps and attended recruit training in San Diego.  Upon graduation from School of Infantry – West, Lance Corporal Lopez received the military occupational specialty of rifleman.  In September 2009 he was promoted to Private First Class and assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, where he served as a Fire Team Leader.  He was promoted to Lance Corporal on 1 May 2010.  Lance Corporal Lopez’s personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon.  He is survived by his parents, Arthur and Tracy Pratti, and his brothers, Richard, Christopher, Arthur Jr., and Anthony Lopez.

1st lt william j. donnely iv


March 29, 1983 - November 25, 2010

First Lieutenant WILLIAM J. DONNELLY IV was born in Frederick, Maryland on 29 March 1983.  He graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy with a BS degree in marine engineering in June 2008 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant.  He then attended Basic School and Infantry Officer course in Quantico, Virginia.  In 2009 First Lieutenant Donnelly was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, where he served as a rifle platoon commander.  In September 2010 he was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  First Lieutenant Donnelly’s personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon.  He is survived by his wife Linsey, his parents William and Vicki Donnelly, and his sisters Rebecca Donnelly and Melissa Weed (US Navy Lt JG).

Enlisted in USMC Reserve in 2003 and served in an assault amphibian battalion in Gulfport, Mississippi.  He then transferred to US Navy and was a midshipman regimental commander. 

cpl matthew j. broehm

September 1, 1988 - November 4, 2010

Corporal MATTHEW J. BROEHM was born on 1 September 1988 in Williams, Arizona.  He attended high school at Sherwood Academy, enlisted in the Marine Corps in July 2007, and left for recruit training that September.  He graduated as Private First Class on 30 November and then reported to School of Infantry – West, where he graduated in March 2008 as a rifleman.  He was assigned to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines and promoted to Lance Corporal in July 2008. 

While assigned to Company L, Lance Corpor-al Broehm completed a summer and winter package at Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California, as well as completing Enhanced Mojave Viper Training at 29 Palms, California in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan.  He was deployed to Okinawa, Japan with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, where he participated in partnered bilateral training with Thailand, South Korea, Philippines, and Australia. 

Lance Corporal Broehm served as the 2nd team leader, 2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  He was post-humously promoted to Corporal in November 2010.  Corporal Broehm’s personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon.  He is survived by his wife Liana Renee, his parents Douglas and Christine Broehm, and siblings Robert, Alicia and Jessie.

His desire was to become a youth pastor after his military service.


sgt jason g. amores

June 26, 1981 - January 20, 2011

Sergeant JASON G. AMORES was born 26 June 1981 in Naples, Florida.  He graduated from Lehigh Senior High School in 1999.  His hobbies included reloading ammunition, shooting, hunting, fishing, cooking, and relaxing on the couch.  In 2004 he left his job in the construction industry to enlist in the Marine Corps, and reported to the Recruit Depot at Parris Island.  After that he trained as a rifleman at the School of Infantry – East.  In May 2005 Sergeant Amores reported to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines and was trained as a squad automatic rifleman.  
He deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in September 2005.  In the spring of 2006 he returned to the U.S. and then redeployed in March 2007, again to Fallujah, as a Team Leader.  That fall he returned to the U.S. and was meritoriously promoted to Sergeant in May 2008. Sergeant Amores then deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit that August as a Squad Leader attached to Combined Task Force 151, where he participated in counter-piracy operations.  In June 2009 he was transferred to Company L,3rd Battalion, 5th Marines serving as a Squad Leader.  He completed a winter package at Bridgeport, California, as well as completing Enhanced Mojave Viper Training at 29 Palms.  Sergeant Amores deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan in September 2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  His personal awards include the Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with two gold stars, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal and Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and Combat Action Ribbon with one gold star. 
He is survived by his wife, Jennifer; son Korbin; daughter Violet; father Jay; mother Beverly Middleton; and siblings Joshua, Jeremiah, Shoshana, and Emrald Folk; and sisters Rebecca and Samantha Middleton.

Sergeant Amores deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan in September 2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sgt matthew t. abbate 

Sept 10, 1984 - Dec 4, 2010

Sgt. Matthew T. Abbate of Honolulu, Hawaii, formerly of Fresno, California, attended Buchanan High School in Clovis before graduating from Sierra Charter School in Clovis.  He enlisted in the Marine Corps on February 1, 2006 and was serving his second combat deployment.  His awards include the Navy Cross, Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy and Marine Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
He leaves his wife, Stacie; a son, Carson; his mother and stepfather, Karen and James Binion; his father and stepmother, Sal Abbate, and Jane Whitfield; three sisters, Dominica Abbate, Valerie Binion and Kelly Binion; and a brother, Elliott Abbate.  
He died at age 26 while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.  Sgt Abbate has been approved for a posthumous Navy Cross, the second highest medal for valor in combat.  He was recognized for his actions on October 14, 2010 responding to a complex enemy attack involving multiple improvised explosive devices that wounded several Marines.


“Over 6,000 have died since 9/11, and we their families are sentenced to a life of dealing with their loss for the rest of our lives. Thousands more have suffered wounds since it all started, but like anyone who loses life or limb while serving others, they are not victims, as they knew what they were about, and were doing what they wanted to do. The “chattering class” wants to make them and us, their families, out to be victims, but they miss the point. Those who chose to serve willingly, and the families who supported them, will have none of that. Those with less of a sense of service to the nation will never understand it when men and women of character step forward and look danger and adversity straight in the eye, and refuse to blink or give ground even to their own deaths. The protected can’t begin to understand the price paid so they and their families can sleep safe and free at night. What they are missing, what they will also never understand, is the sense of commitment, joy, and honor of serving one’s country in uniform. Every service member does, as do we their families who support them, and fear for them, and, yes, will mourn for them the rest of our lives.”  

 - Lieutenant General John Kelly, father of 1st Lt Robert A. Kelly, KIA November 9, 2010 in Sangin, to his fellow Gold Star parents February 2012


cpl derek a. wyatt

October 6, 1985 - December 6, 2010

Corporal DEREK A. WYATT was born on 6 October 1985 in Canton, Ohio.  He grew up in Akron, where he attended Seiberling Elementary School and Goodyear Middle School.  In June 2004 Corporal Wyatt graduated from Akron East High School and enlisted in the Marine Corps two months later.  He attended Recruit Training in Parris Island, South Carolina and subsequently attended the School of Infantry – East, where he graduated as a rifleman.  Corporal Wyatt then attended Basic Security Guard School in Chesapeake Bay, Virginia.  After graduation he was assigned to Marine Corps Barracks 8th & I in Washington, D.C.  Shortly thereafter he served at the White House Communications Agency.  In July 2007 he was transferred to the Headquarters and Service Battalion, 3rd Marine Division in Okinawa, Japan.  In February 2009 he was transferred to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, where he deployed as part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to Okinawa.  He was part of the 1st Platoon and held the billet of Team Leader.  Corporal Wyatt’s personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon. 

He is survived by his wife Katherine, son Michael, mother Lolita Storey, and brothers Andrew, Josh, Dwight, and Scott.

Phillip believed that, “The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing.” This is how Phillip lived his life every day.  “He loved working with younger kids trying to bring them up and playing football with kids in the neighborhood because he was always looking for leadership roles,” said family friend Robert Palmer.
Phillip did not take his service in the Marines lightly. He readily and knowingly accepted that, as it came to pass, by serving our country he might have to make the ultimate sacrifice. Without hesitation, Phillip was willing to do this.  He was on his first combat deployment when he was killed along with three other Marines. Phillip deployed to Afghanistan on September 27, 2010 and died 16 days later.
Please remember, “When you look upon Heaven’s scene, you will see the streets are guarded by United States Marines,” and one of those Marines is LCpl Phillip Vinnedge.

l cpl colton w. rusk

September 23, 1990 - December 6, 2010

Lance Corporal COLTON W. RUSK was born on 23 September 1990 in Corpus Christi, Texas and grew up in Orange Grove, Texas.  He was an avid hunter who enjoyed the outdoors.  In high school, Lance Corporal Rusk lettered in baseball and football – and was voted all-district lineman.  He joined the Marine Corps immediately after graduating from high school.  He stepped on the yellow footprints at San Diego in November 2009 and attended the School of Infantry – West, where he graduated as a machine gunner.  Lance Corporal Rusk was assigned to Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines to be part of Combined Anti-Armor Team 2.
He was selected to be an improvised explosive device dog handler and was trained as a bomb dog handler in South Carolina.  In September 2010 he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  
He was posthumously promoted to Lance Corporal in December 2010.  His personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon. 

Lance Corporal Rusk is survived by his parents Darrell and Kathy Rusk, and brothers Cody and Brady, and USMC (ret) Eli, the black lab assigned to Lance Corporal Rusk.

l cpl jose l. maldonado

??? - December 17, 2010

Lance Corporal JOSE L. MALDONADO was born in Falfurrias, Texas in 1989.  He grew up with his siblings in Mont Belvieu, Texas where he was active in sports, including baseball and football.  Lance Corporal Maldonado joined the Marine Corps in September 2007, attending Recruit Training in San Diego.  He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines in March 2008 and deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.  During this deployment he served in Japan, Thailand, Korea, Philippines, and Australia.  He attended the Tactical Site Exploitation Course and Combat Life Saver Course, as well as participating in cold weather training in Bridgeport, California and Enhanced Mojave Viper training in 29 Palms.  Lance Corporal Maldonado deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  His personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon. 

He is survived by his wife Jackie, mother Oralia Maldonado, aunt Alicia Williams, stepfather Eriberto Vera, and sisters Emilia Vera and Darlynna Mejia.

Lcpl irvin m. ceniceros

August 29, 1989 - October 14, 2010

Lance Corporal IRVIN M. CENICEROS was born in Tampa Bay, Florida on 29 August 1989.  He attended Clarksville High School, graduating in May 2007.  He worked at Coast to Coast Carports until enlisting in the Marine Corps that September.  Following graduation from basic training, Lance Corporal Ceniceros reported to the School of Infantry – West.  As a machine gunner, he reported for duty to 1st Battalion, 1st Marines.  He completed a deployment with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit as Machinegun Team Leader.  Corporal Ceniceros was transferred to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines in March 2010.  In September he was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  His personal awards include the Silver Star, the Purple Heart, and Combat Action Ribbon.  Lance Corporal Ceniceros is survived by his parents, Ignacio and Maria, and siblings Ignacio, Abraham, and Maria.

LCPL alec e. catherwood

May 6, 1991 - October 14, 2010

Lance Corporal ALEC E. CATHERWOOD was born in Heilbronn, Germany on 6 May 1991.  He graduated from Byron High School in Byron, Illinois in May 2009.  The following month he attended recruit training in San Diego, after which he was promoted to Private First Class.  Upon graduation from School of Infantry – West, Lance Corporal Catherwood received the military occupational specialty of rifleman.  In November 2009 he was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, serving as an automatic rifleman.  He was promoted to Lance Corporal in March 2010 and deployed to Afghanis-tan that September in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  Lance Corporal Catherwood’s personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon.  He is survived by his parents, Kirk and Gretchen Catherwood, sister Mikaela Montgomery, and a fiancée, Hailey Patrick.

In high school, he was a sentry in FFA, a Boy Scout, and earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  


He is survived by his wife, Jennifer; son Korbin; daughter Violet; father Jay; mother Beverly Middleton; and siblings Joshua, Jeremiah, Shoshana, and Emrald Folk; and sisters Rebecca and Samantha Middleton.

the 25 fallen


The Banners Up! project is our way to honor the 25 Marines who were killed in action during what is known as the Fall 2010 deployment to Sangin, Afghanistan.  The Darkhorse Marines sustained the largest number of casualties of any unit during the 10-year war.


The sense of loss was felt deeply throughout the Marine Corps.  Of course the families of these fallen heroes felt it as well.  We asked them to provide us pictures of their loved ones to give you a glimpse of what they knew so well...

laguna hills' support group for marine battalion 3/5

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L cpl john t. sparks

October 3, 1987 - October 8, 2010

Lance Corporal JOHN T. SPARKS was born on 3 October 1987 in Chicago, Illinois.  He received varsity letters in football and wrestling while attending Paul Robeson High School.  After high school, Lance Corporal Sparks attended Westwood College where he received an Associate’s Degree in criminal justice.  Upon graduation, he worked for the U.S. Postal Service.  Lance Corporal Sparks joined the Marine Corps on 20 February 2008.  After completing basic training in San Diego, he reported to School of Infantry – West, where he was assigned the military occupational specialty of machine gunner.  On 5 September 2008 Lance Corporal Sparks was assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.  In August 2009, he completed a deployment with 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in Okinawa, Japan. 

In September 2010, Lance Corporal Sparks was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. 

His personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon.  He is survived by his parents, William Alexander and Lenora Sparks, and his brother Ronald.

Sgt ian m. tawney

December 3, 1984 - October 16, 2010

Sergeant IAN M. TAWNEY was born on 3 December 1984 in Salem, Oregon.  While attending Dallas High School, he played soccer and spent a year in Argentina as a foreign exchange student.  After graduation, he moved to Corvallis, Oregon.  He was an avid Oregon State Beavers fan.  Sergeant Tawney entered the Marine Corps on 14 March 2005 and graduated basic training in San Diego that June.  He then reported to the School of Infantry – West, successfully completing training as a rifleman.  Sergeant Tawney was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, where he participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom, deployed to Okinawa, Japan in support of the Unit Deployment Program, and deployed with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.  He joined 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines in March 2010 and was assigned as a Squad Leader for 1st Platoon, Company L.  In September 2010 Sergeant Tawney was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  His personal awards include the Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and Combat Action Ribbon. 

Besides being a Beavers fan, he enjoyed snowboarding, hunting and motorcycling.  He graduated at the top of his squad leader course, and in addition to being a squad leader, was a firearms and martial arts instructor.  The September 2010 deployment was his fifth overseas deployment.

Sergeant Tawney is survived by his wife Ashley, daughter Claire (born after Sgt Tawney died), his parents John and Theda Tawney, and siblings Stacy Barham, Karin Lamberton, Jacob Tawney, Karla Cowan and Shayne Chandler.

l cpl james b. stack

July 11, 1990 - November 10, 2010

Lance Corporal JAMES B. STACK was born on 11 July 1990 in Arlington Heights, Illinois.  He was on the local shooting team for all four years of high school, where he competed in state and national shooting matches.  In 2008 he earned a gold medal in the men’s USA National Pistol match, as well as being state champion all four years.  He was also on the track and field teams, where he competed in discus and high jump. 

Lance Corporal Stack graduated from high school in 2008 and enlisted in the Marine Corps.  In spring 2009 he attended Recruit Training in San Diego.  That July he attended School of Infantry – West, where he graduated as a rifleman.  Upon graduation he was assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.  He completed cold weather training in Bridgeport, California, and Enhanced Mohave Viper training at 29 Palms.  Lance Corporal Stack was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  His personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon. 

Lance Corporal was killed in action on the 235th birthday of the Marine Corps.  He is survived by his wife Katelyn, his daughter Mikayla, his parents Robert and Linda Stack, and his sister Megan.

L cpl joseph e. rodewald

October 19, 1988 - October 13, 2010

Lance Corporal JOSEPH E. RODEWALD was born in Eugene, Oregon, on 19 October 1988.  At age seven he moved from there to Albany, Oregon with his family.  He attended Sunrise Elementary, Calapooia Middle School, and South Albany High School.  He participated in football, wrestling, and track.  As a sophomore he earned a varsity letter, and went on to earn a Second Team All Conference award and the football team’s inspirational award.  Lance Corporal Rodewald graduated from high school in 2007. Within six months he enlisted in the Marine Corps, leaving for boot camp on 5 November.  After graduation he attended School of Infantry – West, earning the military occupational specialty of machine gunner.  He then received orders to Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.  He deployed on the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, during which he helped train military personnel from southwest Asia, Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, and Australia.  In Sep-tember 2010, Lance Corporal Rodewald deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  His personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon.  He is survived by his father, John P. Rodewald; mother, Jacqueline R. Brotherton; brother, Josiah H. Rodewald; stepmother, Barbara G. Rodewald; step-brothers Robert and Brian Jacobson, and a fiancée.

about that deployment...

Just days after 3/5 Marines arrived in Sangin, within a four-day period in October 2010, nine Marines from 3/5 were killed.  The Taliban was fierce, engaging in an unprecedented number of firefights and using confounding tactics.  The Taliban had changed things up.  Previously, they would fight “toe-to-toe” for a few days, then disperse, relying on IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and small hit-and-run ambushes between major forays.  Now, the Taliban attacked in large numbers, and rather than dispersing, would regroup for counter-attacks...


l cpl victor a. dew

June 8, 1990 - October 13, 2010

Victor Dew was born in Hayward, CA, and grew up to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming an infantryman in the United States Marine Corps.  After moving to Granite Bay in 2002, Victor attended Olympus Jr. High School and graduated from Granite Bay High School in 2008.  While in school, Victor earned his 1st degree Black Belt in Zen Bodukai Aiki Ju-jitsi, played high school football and worked part time.  Prior to entering the Marine Corps in 2009, Victor earned his 2nd degree Black Belt. While honored at being offered the opportunity of serving on the Marine Presidential Honor Guard, Victor held onto his conviction of protecting America's freedom and borders and became an Anti-Tank Missileman. In this billet, he was responsible for employing the M220E4 TOW Weapon System and M98A1 Javelin Weapons System.  Victor’s first deployment in the heavily contested Sangin Valley of Afghanistan was to be his last as he and three of his brother Marines were killed when their MATV was struck by an IED during Operation Enduring Freedom. Promoted posthumously to Lance Corporal, October 13, 2010, marks the day Victor Dew became the first graduate of Granite Bay High School killed in action while serving his country.

Lc cpl arden j. buenagua


December 27, 1990 - November 24, 2010

Lance Corporal ARDEN J. BUENAGUA was born on 27 December 1990 in San Jose, California.  He joined the Marine Corps in July 2009 and attended Recruit Training in San Diego.  After graduation he attended Marine Combat Training and the basic Combat Engineer School in North Carolina.  In March 2010 Lance Corporal Buenagua was assigned to Company C, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion.  He participated in cold weather and mountain warfare training in Bridgeport, California and in Enhanced Mojave Viper training in 29 Palms.  Additionally, he completed Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection and defeat training.  In September 2010 Lance Corporal Buenagua deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  His personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon. 

He is survived by his mother and stepfather, Veronica and Raymond Trinidad, brother Justin Buenagua, and stepbrother Bryan Trinidad.


about that deployment...

"As a new unit coming in, you are at a distinct disadvantage because the Taliban have been fighting here for years, have established fighting positions and have laid the ground with a ton of IEDs.  You have to evolve quickly because you have no other choice."   -  Lt Col Jason Morris, 3/5 commander during the Sangin deployment...


cpl justin j. cain

September 5, 1988 - October 13, 2010

Corporal JUSTIN J. CAIN was born in Manitowoc, Wisconsin on 5 September 1988.  In 2007 he graduated from Lincoln High School and almost immediately enlisted in the Marine Corps.  He shipped out to the Recruit Depot on 19 June.  After graduation Corporal Cain was sent to the School of Infantry – West, where he became a machine gunner.  He was then sent to Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines and was part of the Battalion Landing Team for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit from August 2009 to Jan-uary 2010.  Corporal Cain was then transferred to Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.  He deployed with Combined Anti-Armor Team I, 1st Section, to Sangin District in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  His personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon.  Corporal Cain is survived by his parents, James Cain and Judith Luckow, and his sisters Jolene Cain-Garcia and Jeanne Cain.


about that deployment...

In the Fall of 2010, the 950 Marines of 3/5 were deployed to Sangin, a lush river valley in the southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.  They were charged with taking out Taliban forces from one of their last sanctuaries in Helmand.  The Taliban in the Sangin district were actively processing opium – a major source of funding for the insurgency.
In addition, Sangin was a crossroads where drugs, weapons and fighters were funneled throughout the Helmand province, as well as neighboring Kandahar province...


1st lt robert a. kelly


September 5, 1981 - November 9, 2010

First Lieutenant ROBERT M. KELLY was born in Bethesda, Maryland on 5 September 1981.  He graduated from Garfield Senior High School in Woodbridge, Virginia.  After graduating from Florida State University with a B.A. in history, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in September 2003.  He graduated basic training that December and checked into the School of Infantry – East, where he graduated in January 2004 as an assaultman.  As a Private First Class, Kelly was assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, serving as an anti-tank assault man.  During his tour he participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and 2006.  He also participated in Special Marine Air Ground Task Force Katrina Hurricane Relief Operations in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Having been promoted to Corporal, Kelly reported to Combat Instructor Company, The Basic School in October 2007 and served in Weapons Platoon.  He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in December 2008 after graduating from Officer Candidate School.  After graduating from Infantry Officer Course in September 2009, he was assigned to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.  Lieutenant Kelly completed a winter package at Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California, as well as completing Enhanced Mohave Viper Training at 29 Palms, California. 

He served as 1st Platoon commander for Company L.  In September 2010 Kelly deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  He was posthumously promoted to First Lieutenant in November 2010.  First Lieutenant Kelly’s personal awards include the Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat V, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and Combat Action Ribbon with one gold star. 

He is survived by his wife, Heather; his parents, Lieutenant General John and Karen Kelly; his brother, Captain John Kelly; and his sister Kathleen.

about that deployment...

Dark Horse Marines had been deployed to what was considered the most dangerous area of Afghanistan.  Taliban influence was everywhere, and the local people lived in constant fear of them as they closed down schools, roads, markets and more in their effort to exert controlThe Taliban was put on notice that Dark Horse Marines had arrived, and their mission was to eliminate key Taliban leaders and rout the terrorists from strongholds, allowing the people of the valley to live their lives in safety...

These bios were taken from USMC Memorial Ceremony program.  Additional info was available for some Marines, such as for Sgt Amores, which added a more detailed picture of this young man. If you are a Gold Star Loved One and would like to add to and/or personalize your Marine's bio, please contact info@teamdarkhorse.org.

501(C)(3) ID# 27-4526336

about that deployment...

Once the Taliban realized these Marines meant business, they requested permission to pull out of Sangin, and were denied.  Fighters from Pakistan and other Afghan provinces were sent in.  Whether they were poorly trained, or poorly motivated, these recruits were just not willing to engage the Marines as had happened when 3/5 first arrived.  After this, Taliban insurgents relied primarily on IEDs to harass the Marines...


about that deployment...

Those IEDs forced a fundamental change in the way the Marines patrolled.  The Taliban in Helmand Province prepared ambush zones by placing IEDs in places Marines were likely to shield themselves during an attack.  In addition, the threat of IEDs forced a reduction in the number of night patrols.  The Marines got smart about how the Taliban was using IEDs, and became aggressive about demolishing structures and roads that even suggested a threat...


about that deployment...

With the threats being steadily reduced, the Marines were able to build trust among the civilians.  Improved security led to the ability for the provincial government to negotiate a peace agreement with area tribes.  The remainder of this historic deployment was dedicated to maintaining a hard-fought for security and helping the local residents to rebuild.  Although the enemy still posed a threat, roads and buildings were rebuilt and children safely attended school.


l cpl phillip d. vinnedge

February 22, 1991 - October 13, 2010

Lance Corporal Phillip David Vinnedge died the way he lived, serving others. He was born February 22, 1991 in Spokane, Washington and died October 13, 2010 in Sangin Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He was 19 years old.   In 1996 Phillip and his family moved from Spokane to St. Charles, Missouri.
Phillip was always looking to try something new.  He was a high school wrestler, member of a trap shooting club, a sky diver, enjoyed many high adventure activities through scouting and was even the Easter bunny at the local shopping mall.
Phillip wanted to join the military since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and in September of 2009 his dream was fulfilled when he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He graduated from Francis Howell Central High School in 2009 while also attending Lewis & Clark Technical School for two years where he was selected as the welding program’s Student of the Year.
Phillip loved life, and he loved challenges. A couple of Phillip’s favorite quotes are, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible” and, “I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Phillip would keep trying until he accomplished whatever challenge was given to him. From simple childhood bets and dares, to personal goals and accomplishments, Phillip never backed down from a challenge. Despite his determination and frequent success, Phillip never sought accolades or recognition for his accomplishments, instead being content with reaching his own personal goals. 

l cpl james d. boelk

January 16, 1986 - October 15, 2010

Lance Corporal JAMES D. BOELK was born in Longview, Texas on 16 January 1986.  He enlisted in the Marine Corps in October 2008 and began recruit training in San Diego in March 2009.  Upon graduation from School of Infantry – West, Lance Corporal Boelk received the military occupational specialty of rifleman.  In September 2009 he was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, where he served as a radio operator.  He was promoted to Private First Class in September 2009 and to Lance Corporal in May 2010.  In September 2010 Lance Corporal Boelk was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  His personal awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon.  He is survived by his parents, David and Cilicia Boelk, and siblings Timothy, Charlynn, Oressa, Alyssia, Christina and Amanda.

L cpl Randy R. Braggs

March 4, 1989 - November 6, 2010

Lance Corporal RANDY R. BRAGGS was born in Ft. Lewis, Washington on 4 March 1989.  He graduated from Buena High School in Sierra Vista, Arizona in May 2008.  The following May he enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to recruit training in San Diego.  Upon graduation from School of Infantry – West, Lance Corporal Braggs receiv-ed the military occupational specialty of rifleman.  In September 2009 he was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, where he served as an automatic rifleman.  He was promoted to Private First Class in September 2009 and to Lance Corporal in May 2010.  That September he was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  Lance Corporal Braggs’s personal awards include the Purple Heart and Com-bat Action Ribbon.  He is survived by his parents, Randy and Tamrah Braggs, and sisters Talisha Braggs and Shauntay Smith.