In Tribute |

U.S. troops who have died in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and Iraq.

EDITOR'S NOTE: These tributes, published in alphabetical order, were supplied by The Associated Press.

Marine 1st Lt. Nicholas Madrazo

Nicholas Madrazo told his family about the joy he found in giving candy to Afghan children. Later, after learning about the lack of dental care, he worried about the children getting cavities and started giving them pens, pencils and paper.

“He cared about the people there,” said Jenny Madrazo, his mother. “The kids were really excited to see Nic.”

Madrazo, 25, of Bothell, Wash., was killed Sept. 9 by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan's Parwan province. He was assigned to Okinawa, Japan.

Army Chaplain (Col.)

Sidney Marceaux Jr.

Sidney Marceaux Jr. had been set for retirement at the end of 2007, but because of a shortage of Catholic priests in the Army, requested one more active-duty tour.

The assignment that lured him back was ministering to troops in combat. “I was able to exercise my priesthood in a way I couldn't in a diocese,” Marceaux said. “I was able to help them face death daily. They knew they had to go out and they knew they may not come back.”

Marceaux, 69, of Beaumont, Texas, died Sept. 14 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after being evacuated from Kuwait with a noncombat-related illness.

Navy Senior Chief

Petty Officer

Wayne Marcum

Wayne Marcum was destined to go into the military, according to one of his high school administrators. The two had many conversations about his chosen career path.

“He wanted to have some active role in some branch of the military,” said Archie Bailey. “I believe it offered something that met his needs. He was a patriot.”

Marcum, 34, of Flushing, Mich., died Sept. 12 after being shot in battle. He was temporarily forward deployed from his assignment at Naval Special Warfare Development Group.

Army Lt. Col.

Ralph Marino

A well-behaved high school student, Ralph Marino didn't call attention to himself, but he was crucial to the team's success, said his former basketball said.

“If you had a son, that's how you wanted him to grow up to be,” said Gary Popiolkowski. “He wasn't a starter, but he was one of the guys you needed on your team.”

Marino, 46, of Houston, Pa., died Sept. 14 at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, after a noncombat-related incident. He was assigned to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

Army Pfc. Patrick May

Patrick May's smile kept coming up when friends remembered him.

“Patrick could make anyone smile,” wrote Silver Cunningham in tribute. “It was so amazing, that no matter how bad of a day you were having, he would make it better. I miss when he would give me a high five in the morning, and always reminded me to smile.'

May, 22, of Jamestown, N.Y., died Sept. 2 in Baghdad of injuries from a noncombat incident. He was assigned to Fort Drum, N.Y.

Army Sgt.

Kenneth Mayne

Among Kenneth Mayne's last wishes were these: Everyone wears Hawaiian shirts to his memorial service. No one wears black. And someone plays Jimmy Buffet, preferably “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”

“That's his one last laugh at all of us,” said his cousin Josh Mayne.

Mayne, 29, of Fort Benning, Ga., was killed Sept. 4 by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. He was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.

Army Capt.

Michael Medders

Michael Medders was a standout on his high school football squad. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound defensive lineman was All-Ohio and first-team All-Southwestern Conference.

His football coach, Dave Dlugosz, said Medders was equally impressive off the field. “He was kind and caring to the younger players. They could go to him. And he had an outstanding sense of humor,” Dlugosz said.

Medders, 25, of Elyria, Ohio, died Sept. 24 in Jisr Naft, Iraq, of wounds suffered in a suicide bombing. He was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.

Marine Capt.

Jesse Melton III

After attending attended boot camp at Parris Island, Jesse Melton III's family instantly saw a change.

“It literally changed his life,” said his younger sister, Jenine Melton, a captain in the U.S. Army. “He used to be very messy — the way, most of the time, boys' rooms aren't so neat. But when I went to see him in Parris Island, you could bounce a quarter off his bed.”

Melton, 29, of Randallstown, Md., was killed Sept. 9 during combat operations in Afghanistan's Parwan province. He was assigned to Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Army 1st Lt.

Mohsin Naqvi

Those who knew Mohsin Naqvi said he hoped his Muslim faith and heritage could help bridge cultural divides but he often struggled against people who questioned his patriotism.

“We were really proud of him joining the forces,” said Aziz Ahsan. “He's the most patriotic person I've known, and he sacrificed his life for all Americans, not just Muslim Americans.”

Naqvi, 26, of Newburgh, N.Y., was killed Sept. 17 by a roadside bomb in Gerdia Seria, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Fort Benning, Ga.

He fought in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and re-enlisted for a tour of Afghanistan. Army Pvt. Tan Ngo

One of Tan Ngo's hobbies was cooking. He could turn anything, even potatoes and eggs, into a meal as long as it was super spicy, said his brother.

“He could put anything together and make it taste good,” Timmy Ngo said.

Ngo, 20, of Beaverton, Ore., was killed Aug. 27 by small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire in Afghanistan's Zabul province. He was assigned to Hohenfels, Germany.

Navy 3rd Class

Petty Officer

Matthew J. O'Bryant

Matthew O'Bryant was known for his ability to make people smile.

“He was the nicest person you'd ever know. He got along with everybody. He was friendly, he was a real good person,” said Roger O'Bryant, Matthew's uncle.

O'Bryant, 22, of Duluth, Ga., died Sept. 20 in a bombing in Islamabad, Pakistan. He was assigned to Fort Meade, Fla.

Army 1st Sgt.

Julio Ordoñez

Julio Ordoñez was known as someone who was quiet, respectful and down-to-earth, a first sergeant who always was last – by design.

Sgt. Tom Rios said most first sergeants go to Iraq first to get things arranged for their units, but Ordoñez did the opposite. “He stayed back to make sure that everybody back there was taken care of before they moved forward. He came with the last group of guys.”

Ordoñez, 54, of San Antonio, was killed Sept. 18 when his helicopter went down near Tallil, Iraq. He was assigned to Grand Prairie, Texas.

Army Staff Sgt.

Ronald Phillips Jr.

Wanda Phillips said a moment with a South African pastor during her son's high school days was his first nudge toward service.

“God said, ‘If you serve me, I'm going to take you places,'” she said, reading from the family's written account of what Ronald Phillips Jr. was told that day. “You're going to be able to run with young people and go with teams. You're going to countries in the world.”

“All Ron heard out of that was he was going to lead teams,” said his father, Ronald Phillips Sr. “Well, he was a basketball player and said, ‘Oh, Daddy, I'm going overseas to play basketball.' I said, ‘Boy, that ain't what that means.'”

Phillips, 33, of Conway, S.C., died Sept. 25 in Bahbahani, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle struck an explosive. He was assigned to Fort Stewart, Ga.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Rodriguez

Gregory Rodriguez was a former football player and wrestler who sought to keep order both before joining the Army and while he was in it, said his sister.

“My brother liked to be the law,” said Lisa Dombrowski. “He liked justice. If it wasn't right, he made it right.”

Rodriguez, 35, died Sept. 2 of wounds suffered in Ana Kalay, Afghanistan, when his mounted patrol came under small-arms fire. He was assigned to Ansbach, Germany.

Air Force Maj.

Rodolfo Rodriguez

Rodolfo Rodriguez was the son of immigrant parents and earned selection to the Air Force Academy. He was proud of going from a child who learned English as his second language to being commissioned an officer.

The wide range of experiences meant Rodriguez could relate to airmen of any rank. “He wasn't afraid to get his boots dirty,” said Maj. Andrew Sheehan.

Rodriguez, 34, of El Paso, Texas, killed by a terrorist bomb in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Sept. 20. A civil engineering officer, he was assigned to Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Army Chief

Warrant Officer

Brady Rudolf

Roger Northcutt, Brady Rudolf's cousin, said people who met him were lucky. Rudolf took the time to care about people.

“If you look at his photograph, you'll see a sparkle in his eyes,” Northcutt said. “It's actually not a sparkle, but in reality, it's the brightest, and hottest white light that man has created on this earth — it's the light of freedom.”

Rudolf, 37, of Oklahoma City, was killed Sept. 18 when his helicopter went down near Tallil, Iraq. He was assigned to Lexington, Okla.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Sexton

Daniel Sexton joined the Army in 1988, when he was 33. His wife said he had regretted not going into the military during the Vietnam War.

“He told me he felt guilty about missing Vietnam,” Tori Sexton said.

Sexton, 53, of Wentzville, Mo., died Sept. 10 at Joint Base Balad in Iraq of injuries from a noncombat incident. He was assigned to the 164th Military Police Company, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

Army Chief

Warrant Officer

Michael Slebodnik

Michael Slebodnik was a loving father and a voracious eater, but first and foremost he was a soldier.

“He's been in almost 22 years, and he could have easily gotten out,” said his wife, Tanja. “He never chose that option. It's like a complete mission — you don't leave until your mission is complete.”

Slebodnik, 39, of Gibsonia, Pa., died Sept. 11 after the aircraft he was piloting received enemy fire near Forward Operating Base Nagil in Afghanistan. He was assigned to Fort Campbell, Tenn.

Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Taylor

Capt. Ryan Woolf recalled Matthew Taylor as an always-smiling practical joker but also an accomplished leader.

“At the age of 23, he was my youngest and best squad leader,” said Woolf. “He was my go-to guy.”

Taylor, 25, of Charleston, died Sept. 21 in Baghdad of wounds suffered from small-arms fire. He was assigned to Fort Polk, La.