A Tribute To Our Fallen Airborne Signal Soldiers
Major Edward J. Murphy, a Signal Officer serving in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, died on April 6, 2005, when the CH-47 helicopter in which he was riding crashed in Ghanzi, Afghanistan. 17 other Soldiers were killed in the same crash.
At the time of his death, MAJ Murphy was assigned as the Deputy J-6 for the Southern European Task Force (SETAF), based at Caserma Ederle, Vincenza, Italy. He had previously served with the 82nd Airborne at Ft. Bragg, NC, and with the Ranger Training Brigade at Ft. Benning.
MAJ Murphy’s awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal with 1OLC, Humanitarian Service Medal, Overseas Service Medal, NATO Medal, Army Service Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Master Parachutist Badge, and the Ranger Tab. MAJ Murphy also held Italian Jump Wings.
MAJ Murphy had previously deployed in support of Operation JOINT FORGE (Bosnia-Herzegovina), and Joint Task Force Liberia. He was a graduate of the University of South Carolina, Command General Staff College, and held a Master of Arts in Military History.
The Vicenza Chapter of the Signal Corps Regimental Association (SCRA) is named in honor of MAJ Murphy, and his high school (Wando High School, Mount Pleasant, SC) dedicated their Fallen Warrior Memorial in his name. His college has also established an Army ROTC Scholarship in his honor (MAJ Murphy is the only alumnus of the University of South Carolina Army ROTC program to be killed in the line of duty).
MAJ Murphy is survived by his widow, Barclay Randall Murphy, and his children Eddie, Elly and Luke.
Staff Sgt. Tony B. Olaes
11/13/1973 – 09/20/2004
OEF 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne)
Staff Sgt. Tony B. Olaes, 30, was a Special Forces medical sergeant assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, N.C.
He was killed in action while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom on Sept. 20, 2004, during a combat patrol near the town of Shkin in Afghanistan’s Paktika province when his vehicle came under fire from enemy forces.
A native of Walhalla, S.C., Olaes enlisted in the South Carolina Army National Guard in 1992 and trained to be a man-portable air-defense system crewmember. He left the military in May 1998 and in 1999 he re-entered the Army on active duty. Olaes trained at Fort Jackson, S.C., to be a multi-channel transmissions system operator-maintainer as was assigned to the 35th Signal Brigade (Airborne) at Fort Bragg.
He graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2001 and was then assigned to the 3rd SFG.
Olaes’ military education includes the Special Forces Qualification Course, Advanced Special Operations Techniques Course, Jumpmaster Course, Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course and the Basic Airborne Course.
Olaes’ awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, the Combat Medical Badge, Parachutist Badge and the Special Forces Tab.
Olaes is survived by his wife, Tammy, and their children, Maverick, McKenzie and Alec.
MAJ Michael Donahue
United States Army
November 20, 1972 – September 16, 2014
Major J. Michael Donahue was born on November 20, 1972, in Columbus, Ohio and raised in Whitman, Massachusetts, where he graduated from Whitman-Hanson Regional High School in 1990.
Major Donahue enlisted in the Army in 1995 as a Military Police Officer in 1995 serving at the 447th Military Police Company, Columbus, Ohio. From there he was stationed in Kentucky, South Korea and Fort Benning, Georgia.
In April of 2000, In 2000, he graduated from Army Officer Candidate School receiving his commission as a Signal Corps 2nd Lieutenant.
He attended the Signal Officer Basic Course at Fort Gordon, Georgia and in October 2000 was assigned to C Co, 82nd Signal Battalion, Fort Bragg, North Carolina as a Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) Platoon Leader for 18 months. Michael then entered the U.S. Army Degree Completion Program in March 2002 and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Campbell University in July 2003. In May 2004, after completing the Signal Captains Career Course, he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division as the Battalion Signal Officer for 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. In March of 2005, Michael deployed with Task Force Devil to Eastern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
In April 2006, Michael took command of C Company, 1BSTB (1BCT, 82nd Airborne Division) where, in June 2007, he led his company with Task Force Devil to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During that time, Donahue was responsible for a Combat Outpost conducting Full Spectrum Operations with two Route Security Platoons and one Quick Reaction Platoon. In addition to managing the planning and integration of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets; as well as attack aviation, demolitions, counter surveillance, and 120mm and 60mm mortar fire support, his mission also focused on Counter Insurgency operations along 80 miles of Main Supply Route and Civil Military Operation amongst 8 Iraqi tribes and within 14 local villages.
Michael was an assistant professor of military science for Liberty University’s Army ROTC program from August 2008 to July 2010, during which time he completed his master’s degree in education and most of his Ed.D.
On September 16th, 2014, Michael was serving as an operations support officer with C Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, XVIII Airborne Corps when he died after sustaining wounds when his convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber outside of a coalition base in Kabul, Afghanistan. The attack also wounded 13 civilians and killed another fellow US Soldier and one Polish Soldier.
Michael was a huge baseball fan and flew the Red Sox nation flag while on deployment and brought along his tattered Red Sox cap.
“Mike was really just an amazing officer and an amazing man in every way — spiritually, physically, and intellectually,” his friend Bob Foy said. “He was always positive, always there for the students. He had a huge impact on the students in the program.”
Michael was also a devoted runner, participating in the trail runners’ club that runs the Liberty Mountain trails each Wednesday.
Michael is buried at the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, the Iraq Campaign Medal with one campaign star, the Korean Defense Service Medal, the Combat Action Badge and the Senior Parachutist Badge.
The Global War on Terrorism Memorial was dedicated October 16, 2017. Donahue’s service and sacrifice will be forever remembered on this sacred memorial. Donations to the National Infantry Museum Foundation will allow for annual rededications of the memorial to include the names of service members who’ve recently given their lives in the fight. The 2018 rededication took place on September 8. Your donation will help ensure they’re never forgotten, and that the monument remains worthy of their sacrifice.
Sgt. Adam D. Quinn,
United States Army
7 Jun 1985 - 6 Oct 2007
KIA - Afghanistan
Sgt. Adam D. Quinn, 22, of Orange City, Fla., died Oct. 6 at Forward Operating Base Phoenix, near Bagram, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.
Quinn was survived by his wife, Faye Quinn of Guthrie, Ok, and his parents Charles and Sherri Quin, both from Orange City, Fl
Sgt. Adam D. Quinn, 22, of Orange City, Fla., was an automation
specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 82nd Abn. Div.
“We went everywhere together,” said Specialist. Derrick Rice, an infantryman with HHC and one of Quinn’s best friend here.
“He was definitely a good guy, very likeable,” he said. “We used to
joke that he was my voice because I couldn’t really talk to people. He was really good at talking to people; he was a real people person.” Quinn’s charismatic and outgoing personality was noted by both his leaders and friends.
"Sgt. Quinn was extremely popular and respected by his peers and
superiors alike,” said Capt. Eric Von Fischer-Benzon, HHC company commander. “To him, nothing was a bother and helping out a fellow Soldier or civilian was a genuine pleasure for him."
"Adam loved to joke around and just have fun. It didn’t seem like much
ever got him down,” said Specialist Shawn Dempsey, a friend of Quinn. “If he saw you down, he knew just what to say to get you back in a good mood."
Sgt. Maj. Curtis Regan, the operations sergeant major for the 82nd
Airborne Division, noted Quinn’ s contribution to the Army. Sgt. Quinn was the kind of Soldier that made you look forward to coming to work each morning,” Regan said. “There was something about him and the expression on his face that made you feel good about being a Soldier yourself, and as a leader, left you feeling that the institutional soul of the Army was in good hands. He had that impact on everyone around him, and he will be sorely missed.”
Quinn joined the Army in August 2003. He completed Basic Combat
Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., in October 2003, Advanced Individual Training at Fort Gordon, Ga., in April 2004, and the Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Ga., in May 2004.
Sgt Marshall L. Edgerton
4 Sep 76 - 11 Dec 2003
Co A, 82nd Signal Battalion,
82nd Airborne Division
RAMADI, Iraq — Sgt Marshall Lane Edgerton, Alpha Company, 82nd Signal Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division (Combined Joint Task Force 7) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom was killed by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) on December 11, 2003.
Sgt Marshall Lane Edgerton hopped aboard the pickup without hesitation, cheerfully stepping in for a U.S. Army comrade who hadn’t finished his chow. Other guards had already conducted a standard search of the vehicle and its two occupants. Now it was a routine escort at the heavily barricaded command center of the 82nd Airborne Division -- until fellow paratroopers heard Edgerton shouting. And then a massive explosion -
Months later, it is still unclear whether Edgerton’s shouts were a plea for help, cries of warning or some desperate combination of the two. But many soldiers have contemplated the split second of dread that must have consumed the popular 27-year-old, who loved hunting, fishing, football and Jesus.
The bomb, crafted from four artillery shells weighing about 100 pounds each, shook the ground a mile away and blew out windows throughout the base. The payload had been concealed in the pickup’s gas tank, an investigation later showed. Sgt Edgerton's quick response was credited with having helped avert mass casualties at a dining facility.
On 11 Dec 2019, A ceremony was held on Fort Gordon by the 15th Signal Brigade memorializing SGT Edgerton on this somber day to honor his legacy as both a Soldier and son of Georgia. Members of SGT Edgerton’s immediate family attended as guests of honor, to include his son, SGT Marshall H. Edgerton (currently serving with the 82nd as his father did) and members of 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
A monument and Building 33806 honors the building’s namesake: Sgt. Marshall Lane Edgerton
Lt. Col. Stuart Allen Beckley
SSG (Ret) Travis Mills -
4th Combat Brigade Team, 82nd Airborne Division
Never ever give up. Never quit! That is the motto of Travis Mills, one of only five surviving quadruple-amputee soldiers from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I firmly believe and often preach that one person can make all the difference in the world. Travis is a shining example. What a story of perseverance! I was amazed at his positive outlook, humor, confidence and devotion to help people, especially disabled veterans and amputees.
Travis recently met me in Minneapolis for a coaching session. In some ways, I felt like I was the student. A good friend of mine, Jac Arbour, called and said he wanted to surprise me and bring a couple people to Minneapolis for a session on street smarts. The “surprise” was Travis and his father-in-law, Craig Buck, who is also his business manager.
U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills was serving with the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan during his third tour of duty. On the night of April 10, 2012 — four days before his 25th birthday — he was on patrol when he was critically injured from an improvised explosive device that blew off portions of both his legs and arms.
Travis thought he was going to die. Still, he asked the medic to treat two of his friends who suffered shrapnel injuries first.
He spent 19 months at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and went through 13 surgeries. At first, he was angry, embarrassed and upset. But he soon realized those feelings were selfish. He was determined not to just lie around.
Travis said: “It’s amazing what you can accomplish once you make that all-important decision to go forward. I could choose to quit. If I’d wanted, people would have spoon-fed me for the rest of my life. I could have stared at the ceiling for the next 60 years and spent the rest of my life angry, frustrated, grieving and dismayed. But I chose to heal. I was the same ‘me’ as I’d always been. I was a man with scars who chose to live life to the fullest and best.”
The key was believing he was going to get better. He said: “Keep going. Keep persevering. You’re going to get through tough times. Never give up. Never quit.”
Travis understands that attitude is extremely important. He knows that enthusiasm is contagious, and he wants to start an epidemic. Understanding that people need a bit of a push from time to time, doctors called on him regularly during his recovery to motivate others.
He said he was fortunate that he had a great support group, especially in his wife, Kelsey. He had a strong network of family and friends to lean on. These mentors let him know he could get better. He told me, “It’s amazing what good things can happen when somebody knows you’re cheering them on.”
I mentioned that Travis has a good sense of humor, and he doesn’t shy away from his past. For example, when we first met, he said we are going to have a BLAST. Since he knew I wrote the book “Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive,” he said that he was bitten by a shark. To put me at ease, he said he wanted to “disarm the situation” and looked at where his right arm should be. After we finished dinner that first night, Travis took off his prosthetic hand and quipped, “Let me lend you a hand.”
In September 2013, he founded the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit organization that assists wounded and injured veterans and their families get a new chance at a better life. Through the Travis Mills Group, he consults with and speaks to companies and organizations nationwide, inspiring all to overcome life’s challenges and adversity.
Travis’ main message is one that many people can relate to: “Hard times come to everybody. When hard times happen, we have a choice to make. We can become discouraged and bitter, or we can choose to never quit. When life gets hard, the key is just to keep pushing forward. Instead of saying, ‘It could be worse,’ the key is to say, ‘It’s going to get better!’ Then work with all your might toward that goal.”
Mackay’s Moral: Travis Mills is more than a war hero — he’s a life hero