Memorial Day weekend is upon us, which means it’s time to honor the people who died while selflessly serving our country.

Although many people use this weekend as time to “celebrate,” this is a sullen and somber day for many in our community.

As Norman Schwarzkopf said, “It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.”

According to the Library of Congress, Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic designated May 30 as memorial day through issuing General Order Number 11.

He dedicated this day, “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land,” the Library of Congress said on its website.

As some of us cook up summertime food, letting smoke billow from our grills, let’s take a moment to give honor to those who are no longer with us.

Since the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan, over 50 Nevadans have died in combat or are listed in Nevada’s Book of Fallen Heroes.

We want to dedicate this post to the individuals who risked and sacrificed their lives to ensure the safety and freedom of ours. Both of the wars listed above have ended, but the effects can still be felt in our own state.

According to the Nevada Department of Veteran Services, a fallen hero is defined as a “Nevadan serving in the military . . . who becomes a casualty ‘in action,‘ as a direct result of hostile action, or is the victim of a terrorist activity (see below for definition of In-Action and Nevadan).”

We send healing and honor to the families of those who’ve fallen, and we wish gratitude as Memorial Day comes upon us.

Below are the names of local heroes who died in combat or died “as a result of a combat theater-related injury or disease within one year of returning from theater.”

  • LCPL Donald Cline - 21 years old

    • Served in the United States Marine Corps
    • From Washoe, Nevada
    • Died March 23, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
    • Read more about Cline’s story here.
  • 2LT Frederick Pokorney - 31 years old

    • Served in the United States Marine Corps
    • From Tonopah, Nevada
    • Died March 23, 2003 in action near Nasiriyah, Iraq
    • Read more about Pokorney’s story here
  • CPL William Salazar - 26 years old

    • Served in the United States Marine Corps
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died October, 15, 2004 of wounds sustained due to enemy action in Anbar province, Iraq
    • Read more about Salazar’s story here
  • PFC John Lukac - 19 years old

    • Served in the United States Marine Corps
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died October, 30, 2004 by enemy action in Anbar province, Iraq
    • Read more about Lukac’s story here
  • LCPL Nicholas H. Anderson - 19 years old

    • Served in the United States Marine Corps
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died November 12, 2004 in a vehicle incident while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq
    • Read more about Anderson’s story here
  • PFC Daniel Guastaferro - 27 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died January 7, 2005 in a vehicle incident in Ramadi, Iraq
    • Read more about Guastaferro’s story here
  • LCPL Richard Perez - 19 years old

    • Served in the United States Marine Corps
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died February 10, 2005 in Anbar province, Iraq
    • Read more about Perez’s story here
  • SGT Eric Morris - 31 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Sparks, Nevada
    • Died April 28, 2005 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Stryker military vehicle in Tal Afar, Iraq
    • Read more about Morris’ story here
  • CPL Stanley Lapinski - 35 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died June 11, 2005 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his military vehicle in Baghdad
    • Read more about Lapinski’s story here
  • CPL Jesse Jaime - 22 years old

    • Served in the United States Marine Corps
    • From Henderson, Nevada
    • Died June 15, 2005 when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device while he was conducting combat operations near Ramadi, Iraq
    • Read more about Jaime’s story here
  • SPC Anthony Cometa - 21 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Henderson, Nevada
    • Died June 16, 2005 when his Humvee rolled over in Safwan, Kuwait.
    • Read more about Cometa’s story here
  • 2LT James Cathey - 24 years old

    • Served in the United States Marine Corps
    • From Reno, Nevada
    • Died August 21, 2005 by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations near Al Karmah, Iraq
    • Read more about Cathey’s story here
  • CPL Joseph Martinez - 21 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died August 27, 2005 when his dismounted patrol was engaged by enemy forces using small-arms fire in Tal Afar, Iraq
    • Read more about Martinez’s story here
  • PFC Thomas Siekert - 20 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Lovelock, Nevada
    • Died December 6, 2005 from non-combat related injuries in Bayji, Iraq
    • Read more about Siekert’s story here
  • PVT Joshua Morberg - 20 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Sparks, Nevada
    • Died December 27, 2005 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his dismounted patrol in Baghdad
    • Read more about Morberg’s story here
  • SGT Gordon Misner II - 23 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Sparks, Nevada
    • Died February 22, 2006 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Bradley fighting vehicle near Balad, Iraq
    • Read more about Misner’s story here
  • CPL Shawn Lasswell Jr. - 21 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Reno, Nevada
    • Died April 23, 2006 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Taji, Iraq
    • Read more about Lasswell’s story here
  • SPC Teodoro Torres - 29 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died May 5, 2006 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Baghdad
    • Read more about Torres’ story here
  • 1SG Carlos Saenz - 46 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died May 5, 2006 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Baghdad
    • Read more about Saenz’s story here
  • SSG Emmanuel Legaspi - 38 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died May 7, 2006 of injuries sustained when his unit came under enemy small arms fire during combat operations in Tal Afar, Iraq
    • Read more about Legaspi’s story here
  • PFC David Crombie - 19 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Winnemucca, Nevada
    • Died June 7, 2006 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq
    • Read more about Crombie’s story here
  • SPC Ignacio Ramirez - 22 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Henderson, Nevada
    • Died August 9, 2006 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq
    • Read more about Ramirez’s story here
  • LCPL Jeremy Long - 18 years old

    • Served in the United States Marine Corps
    • From Sun Valley, Nevada
    • Died August 10, 2006 while conducting combat operations in Zella, Iraq
    • Read more about Long’s story here
  • PFC Phillip Williams - 21 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Gardnerville, Nevada
    • Died October 9, 2006 from injuries sustained from enemy contact during combat operations in Baghdad
    • Read more about Williams’ story here
  • SGT Kenneth Bostic - 21 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Hawthorne, Nevada
    • Died October 30, 2006 from injuries sustained from contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during check point operations in Baghdad
    • Read more about Bostic’s story here
  • 1LT Nathan Krissoff - 25 years old

    • Served in the United States Marine Corps
    • From Reno, Nevada
    • Died December 9, 2006 from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq
    • Read more about Krissoff’s story here
  • LCPL Raul Bravo - 21 years old

    • Served in the United States Marine Corps
    • From Elko, Nevada
    • Died March 3, 2007 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq
    • Read more about Bravo’s story here
  • SGT Anthony Schober - 23 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Reno, Nevada
    • Died March 12, 2007 of wounds sustained when his patrol was attacked by enemy forces using automatic fire and explosives in Al Taqa, Iraq
    • Read more about Schober’s story here
  • PFC Alexander Varela - 19 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Fernley, Nevada
    • Died March 19, 2007 of wounds sustained when his patrol was attacked by enemy forces using automatic fire and explosives in Al Taqa, Iraq
    • Read more about Varela’s story here
  • PFC Joshua Modgling - 22 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died June 19, 2007 of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Muhammad al Ali, Iraq
    • Read more about Modgling’s story here
  • SPC Travis Virgadamo - 19 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died August 30, 2007 in a non-combat-related incident in Taji, Iraq
    • Read more about Virgadamo’s story here
  • SSG Michael Townes - 19 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died September 16, 2007 from a non-combat-related illness in Balad, Iraq
    • Read more about Townes’ story here
  • SSG Alfred Paredez - 32 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died November 20, 2007 from wounds sustained when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Baghdad
    • Read more about Paredez’s story here
  • SSG Sean Gaul - 29 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Reno, Nevada
    • Died January 9, 2008 of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated during combat operations in Sinsil, Iraq
    • Read more about Gaul’s story here
  • Nevada’s Fallen Heroes – Afghanistan

    “The War in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) began in October 2001 in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. America withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021, bringing to a close America’s longest war in its history,” The Nevada Department of Veterans Services said on its website.

  • LTC Karen Wagner - 40 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • 1984 graduate of the ROTC program at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas
    • Died during the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon
    • Read more about Wagner’s story here
  • SPC Jason Disney - 21 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Fallon, Nevada
    • Died February 13, 2002 in a heavy equipment accident, on Feb. 13, 2002 at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan
    • Read more about Disney’s story here
  • SSG Kerry Frith - 37 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Jamesville, Nevada
    • Died February 22, 2002 in an MH-47E crash during a training exercise, on Feb. 22, 2002 in the Philippines
    • Read more about Frith’s story here
  • PFC Matthew Commons - 21 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Boulder City, Nevada
    • Died March 4, 2002 during a rescue mission during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan
    • Read more about Commons’ story here
  • PO2 Eric Patton- 22 years old

    • Served in the United States Navy
    • From Boulder City, Nevada
    • Died June 28, 2005 while conducting combat operations when the helicopter that he was aboard crashed in the vicinity of Asadabad, Afghanistan
    • Read more about Patton’s story here
  • SGT Patrick Stewart - 35 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Fernley, Nevada
    • Died September 25, 2005 when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down and crashed southwest of Deh Chopan, Afghanistan
    • Read more about Stewart’s story here
  • CWO John Flynn Army - 36 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Sparks, Nevada
    • Died September 25, 2005 when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down and crashed southwest of Deh Chopan, Afghanistan
    • Read more about Flynn’s story here
  • SGT John Griffith - 33 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died May 5, 2006 when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter he was traveling on crashed during combat operations east of Abad, Afghanistan
    • Read more about Griffith’s story here 
  • SGT Robert Kassin - 29 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died July 16, 2006 when his platoon encountered enemy forces small-arms fire during combat operations at Larzab Base, Afghanistan
    • Read more about Kassin’s story here
  • CWO Joshua Rodgers - 29 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Carson City, Nevada
    • Died May 30, 2007  when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed apparently due to enemy fire in Upper Sangin Valley, Afghanistan
    • Read more about Rodgers’ story here
  • SGT David Drakulich - 22 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Reno, Nevada
    • Died January 9, 2008 of wounds sustained when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Chagali, Afghanistan
    • Read more about Drakulich’s story here 
  • PFC Willington Rhoad - 23 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died July 16, 2008 of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident in Bagram, Afghanistan
    • Read more about Rhoad’s story here
  • SPC Ezra Dawson - 31 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died January 17, 2009 when the Chinook helicopter he was in made a hard landing under combat conditions in Konar Province
    • Read more about Dawson’s story here 
  • PFC Kevin Thomson - 22 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Reno, Nevada
    • Died October 3, 2009 of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his contingency outpost with small arms, rocket-propelled grenade and indirect fires in Nurestan Province, Afghanistan 
    • Read more about Dawson’s story here 
  • SGT Josue Chavez - 23 years

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Reno, Nevada
    • Died October 26, 2009 of wounds suffered when the MH-47 helicopter he was aboard crashed in Darreh-ye Bum, Afghanistan
    • Read more about Chavez’s story here
  • SPC Matthew Hennigan - 20 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died June 30, 2010 when enemy forces attacked his unit with machine gun fire in Tangi Valley, Afghanistan
    • Read more about Hennigan’s story here 
  • SGT Frank Zaehringer III - 23 years old

    • Served in the United States Marine Corps
    • From Reno, Nevada
    • Died October 11, 2010 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan
    • Read more about Zaehringer’s story here
  • SPC Brian Tabada - 21 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Died February 27, 2011 of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using small-arms fire and a rocket-propelled grenade in Konar province, Afghanistan
    • Read more about Tabada’s story here
  • SGT Timothy Sayne - 31 years old

    • Served in the United States Army
    • From Reno, Nevada
    • Died December 18, 2011 of injuries suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device  in Shah Wali Kot, Kandahar province, Afghanistan
    • Read more about Sayne’s story here