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Serving our country

Sgt. Ben Burks

U.S. Marine Corps

Decatur native, graduated from Decatur High School, 1994.

Served two tours in Iraq in 2005 and 2007, where he has helped with convoy security and now does heavy equipment work in Fallujah.

Parents: Lynn Christofferson, mother, of Mallard Creek; Jim Burks, father, of Guntersville.

Other Family: Brandi Burks, wife.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Tony M. Van Duynhoven

U.S. Army

Serving in Iraq with the 317th Air Cavalry.

Flies attack helicopters in the Baghdad area.

Parents: Willie and Deb Van Duynhoven of Trinity.

Other Family: Chastity Van Duynhoven of Hinesville, Ga.; Jacob and Isaac Van Duynhoven, sons; Shawn Van Duynhoven, John Van Duynhoven, brothers; Amanda Van Duynhoven, sister.

Cpl. Jeff Kyker

U.S. Marine Corps

Hartselle native, 2001 Hartselle High graduate.

Served two tours in Iraq, January-July 2003, and March through September 2005.

GSE Mechanic with MALS-29 and HMM 162.

Received the Let Freedom Ring Medal from Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and the Alabama Legislature, for his service in Iraq.

Parents: Jerry and Mary Kyker of Hartselle.

Other Family: Joey Kyker of Hartselle, brother; Andrea Kyker of Hartselle, sister; Eleanore Prince of Hartselle, grandmother.

Cpl. Curtis A. Bishop

U.S. Marine Corps

Trinity native, 2003 West Morgan graduate.

Serving second tour in Iraq, with the Combat Engineer Battalion, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Parents: Rhonda Bishop and James Bishop.

Other Family: Lara Bishop, wife; Kristyn and Madisyn Bishop, daughters; Kasey Bishop, sister; Dana and David Anderson, parents-in-law.

Spc. Jeff Michael

U.S. Army

Decatur native, 2004 Austin High graduate.

Serving in Afghanistan through August 2008.

Army medic for troops in Alpha Company, 173rd Airborne, and also for Afghani citizens in Nangahar.

Parents: Terrie and Ray Michael of Decatur.

Pfc. Christopher Edwards

U.S. Army

Eva native, attended Brewer High School.

Serving a 15-month deployment in Iraq as a tanker with the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade, Fort Stewart, Georgia.

Parents: Dona Benner of Vinemont; Bill Edwards of Frederick Md.

Other Family: Lorra Edwards of Hartselle, wife; Jordan Edwards, Fredricksburg, Va.

Lance Cpl. Tamara Shea Shears

U.S. Marine Corps

Falkville native, 2004 Falkville High School graduate.

Stationed in Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif. Will deploy to Iraq in March as an electrician.

Parents: Karen and Dale Shears of Falkville.

Other Family: Audrey Anderson, daughter; Billy and Mary McDonald of Hartselle, grandparents; David and Doris Shears of Ohatchee, grandparents; Tory Ford of Falkville, sister; Toni Marsh of Cullman, sister.

Sgt. Jantzen Frazier

U.S. Army

Hartselle native, 2003 Hartselle High graduate.

Serving in Iraq through February 2008 as a sniper and mechanic.

Parents: Murrell and Debbie Frazier of Hartselle.

Other Family: Margaret Higginbotham, grandmother; Betty Blackwood, grandmother.

Spc. Kellen Brown

U.S. Army Reserve

Florette native, 2005 Brewer High School graduate.

Serving in Iraq since July.

PLL/Maintenance Supply Clerk and QRF Gun Truck driver.

Parents: Terry Brown and Alodie Brown of Florette.

Other Family: Sisters Shannon Brown of Hartselle and Lauren Brown of Decatur. Grandparents: Anne White of Priceville, Lenard and Annelle Brown of Florette, the late E.V. “Plug” White.

Spc. Nicolas Simon

U.S. Army

Decatur native.

Served in Iraq where he works in Operations to provide troops with up-to-date intelligence and tracks the movement of all CLPs for his battalion.

Parents: Bridget and Gary Keown.

Other Family: Ashley Simon, sister; Trent Simon, brother; Mary Gibbs, grandmother; Charlie Gibbs, uncle.

Sgt. 1st Class Harold Pearson

U.S. Army National Guard

Decatur native, 1970 West Morgan High School graduate.

Deployed to Mosul, Iraq, for 12 months, in support of Operation Freedom II, with 115th Signal Battalion, Florence.

Family: Gloria Pearson, wife.

Sgt. Maj. Chuckie G. Brackins

U.S. Army

Moulton native, 1979 graduate of Lawrence County High School.

Served two tours in Iraq and now lives in Killeen, Texas.

Parents: Mildred Brackins Lee, mother.

Other Family: Angelica Brackins, wife; Daniel Brackins, son.

Pfc. Andy McGee

U.S. Army National Guard

Moulton native, 2005 graduate of East Lawrence High School.

Deployed to Iraq for 12 months.

Family: Chelsea Terry, fiancée.

Spc. Megan Gillespie

U.S. Army

Decatur native, 2003 Austin High School graduate.

Served in Iraq from August 2006 through October 2007.

Rescued downed helicopter pilots.

Parents: Randy and Carol Gillespie.

Other Family: Kris Gillespie, brother; Shelley Gillespie, Elizabeth Gillespie, sisters.

Cpl. George Merritt

U.S. Marine Corps

2001 graduate of Austin High School.

Will deploy to Iraq in November 2007.

Parents: George and Kathleen Merritt of Virginia Beach, Va., formerly of Decatur.

Other Family: Matt Merritt, Ben Merritt, brothers.

Sgt. Ian Sean Winsett

U.S. Marine Corps

Falkville native, 1996 Falkville High School graduate.

Served in Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, February through September 2004.

Now stationed at Parris Island, S.C.

Parents: Phil Winsett of Trinity; Linda Winsett of Miamisburg, Ohio.

Other Family: Mazie Winsett of Hartselle, grandmother.

2nd Lt. Todd Eaves

U.S. Army

Decatur native, 2002 Austin High School graduate.

Served in Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, February through September 2004.

Deployed to Iraq.

Parents: Donna and Larry Eaves of Georgia.

Other Family: Jenifer Eaves, wife; Kieth and Helen Dunn of Hartselle.

1st Sgt. John W. Black

U.S. Army

Trinity native, 1984 West Morgan High School graduate.

Served in Kuwait and Iraq 2007-2008.

Parents: Gertrude Black of Decatur, the late W.H. Black.

Other Family: Sabrina Black of Cullman, wife; Haleigh and Elizabeth Black of Cullman, daughters.

Sgt. Maj. Gary L. Payne

U.S. Army

Decatur native, 1973 Decatur High School graduate.

Serving in Operation Enduring Freedom in South America through June 2008. Also served in Desert Storm, 1991; Afghanistan, 2002-03.

Awarded the Bronze Star, 2003.

Family: Jeanne Payne of Decatur; Adam and Blake Payne, sons, of Decatur.

Cpl. Jay Winton Jr.

U.S. Marine Corps

East Lawrence native, 2005 East Lawrence High School graduate.

Deployed to Iraq from March through October 2007.

He works in the Armory.

Parents: Deanna and Mike Morgan of Hillsboro and the late James Winton Sr.

Other Family: Sommer Liles of Caddo, sister; Bradley Lies of Caddo, brother-in-law; Hannah Dial of Hillsboro, sister; Adam Dial and Austin Dial, both of Hillsboro, brothers; Madison and Jaylee Liles of Caddo, nieces.


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