LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Capt. Jason Merchant, the company commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Ironman from Dysart, Iowa, hands out cards Dec. (click for more)
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Lauren Hyman of Texarkana, Texas, armored vehicle driver for the 64th Military Police Company based at Combat Oupost Fortress, says hello to an (click for more)
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Taylor Gingrich, an infantry officer from Cedar Falls, Iowa, with Task Force Ironman, draws a smile from an Afghan boy as Gingrich (click for more)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Brian Stowe, a human resources specialist from Elkmont, Ala., with Task Force Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, sings a ballad he wrote and (click for more)
PAKTYA, Afghanistan – Servicemembers defend the wall after an improvised explosive device detonates on Forward Operating Base Lightning Dec. 5. (click for more)
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan and French military chiefs conduct a briefing before deployment during a security operation. Afghan National Security Forces and French Task Force Richelieu conducted Operation Montevideo (click for more)
PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Phil Compton, Doty, Wash., Panjshir PRT engineer, and PRT local Afghan engineer Abid Wardak check the structural integrity of the retaining (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An Afghan family looks at their new family member after she was delivered by the Polish Army medical team at Forward Operating Base Warrior Jan. 3. (click for more)
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, maneuver through Sabari District during patrols to disrupt insurgent activity in the (click for more)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. Shawn Fouste, Decatur, Ill., noncommissioned officer in charge of the Freedom Restoration Center with the 455th Expeditionary Wing, Task Force Med, plays with (click for more)
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Troop C, 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, paid last respects to two of their fallen Soldiers during a memorial ceremony Nov. 18 at Forward Operating Base Connolly.
Army Spc. Anthony Vargas, a radio telephone operator from Reading, Pa., and Army Spc. David C. Lutes, an infantryman from Westernport, Md., both died as the result of injuries suffered after an improvised explosive device while on patrol in a convoy Nov. 8 in the village of Wazir, Afghanistan.
Army Lt. Col. William B. Johnson, 1-61 Cav. commander and Task Force Panther, was the ceremony’s first speaker.
“When I spoke with Bobbi Lutes and Louisa Vargas about the loss of their respective husbands, what resonated from them both was a concern for you, their husband’s fellow Soldiers and comrades in arms,” said Johnson, a native of Clarksville, Tenn.
“Were they here, I think the message for you would be straightforward: keep the faith, take care of each other, and continue to take the fight to the enemy,” Johnson said. “Their concern for you, for all of us, was most humbling and a true testament to them, their faith and spirit.”
Johnson also gave guests in attendance some basic background on both Soldiers. Both Soldiers were married with children, and were veterans of more than 50 combat missions. This was Lutes’ second deployment to Afghanistan with the 101st Abn. Div. out of Fort Campbell, Ky.
A more personal look at both Soldiers was offered by their friends and fellow Soldiers in the troop, Army Spc. Jason Pehle, an infantryman from Union, Mo., and Army Spc. Michael Swift, an infantryman from Clark Mills, N.Y.
“If you asked anyone in our platoon to describe David Lutes, they’d all tell you three things,” Pehle said. “He loved his coffee, he loved his butterfly knife and he was always willing to help you.”
He said that his friend was a complex individual who had a gruff exterior, but a very kind heart.
“He kept three of everything, and I mean everything, just in case someone was missing something. Anytime someone asked him for help, you would always hear a fair amount of his brand of disgruntled cussing, despite that he would always help out no matter who it was,” Pehle said.
He said that Lutes read the Bible and had gone to college for chemistry and bio-engineering and “you were as likely to find him debating how medicine and genes worked as you were to hear him explaining the complete storyline of Tekken games.”
Swift followed Pehle with his recollections of his friend Vargas.
“Anthony was a loving husband, father and best friend,” Swift said. “He was always supportive of his friends and would help you out in any way he could. He loved his platoon and greatly admired his leaders.”
“He loved his protein, and was a hard worker and a great Soldier. Those of you who knew him well know that he was a good person, one of the best. He was a private person and enjoyed spending time with his family.”
Army Chaplain (Capt.) Robert Miller, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1-61 Cav., offered a little more insight on the Soldiers before reading the benediction.
“(Vargas) loved his battle buddies and noncommissioned officers as much as he loved physical training and Adobo spice,” Miller said.
Following the benediction, the ceremony concluded in military tradition, with Troop C’s first sergeant, U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Anthony Barnes, of Eden, N.C., calling the last roll call. The guests, made up mostly of cavalry Soldiers were welling with emotion as they heard the first sergeant yell out the familiar names of their friends and fellow Soldiers with no response. The firing squad fired three shots in salute of each fallen Soldier and Army Spc. Stuart McClaren, an infantryman from Dumfries, Scotland, also from Troop C, played “Taps,” on his bugle, ending the ceremony.
Both Soldiers’ decorations include the following: the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, and the Army Commendation Medal (all awarded posthumously to both Soldiers.) The Soldiers also have received the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge (awarded posthumously to Vargas.)
Lutes is survived by his wife Bobbi Jean and daughters Kya Margaret and Kaitlyn Elise. He is the son of Delia J. Ahern of Westernport, Md.
Vargas is survived by his wife Louisa Lane Vargas, sons Nathaniel Seth and Lucas Anthony and daughter Olivia Lane. He is the son of Maria and Julio Vargas.
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NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Task Force Bastogne, continued operations in the Sherzad District Jan. 8 clearing the village of Toto of insurgent fighters to reinforce a foundation of security in the area.
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