Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 29, 2014

When state said, thanks


Kokomo Tribune

---- — With about 20 members of the late Sgt. Bradley Atwell’s family in attendance at a meeting of the Kokomo Common Council, state Reps. Mike Karickhoff and Heath VanNatter presented a joint resolution of the Indiana General Assembly, honoring the Marine’s sacrifice of Sept. 14, 2012, in Afghanistan.

On that day, 15 insurgents dressed in U.S. Army uniforms infiltrated Camp Bastion in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. Sgt. Atwell died in the firefight, protecting his fellow warriors and the base’s aircraft and refueling stations.

Like funerals such ceremonies, as the one a year ago this week, are earnest, sacred and beautiful. They’re a time for family, friends and community to grieve their loss, celebrate a life and thank God for arranging our relationship with loved ones.

In recognizing Sgt. Atwell’s commitment to his country, the Indiana General Assembly invited all Hoosiers to continue honoring our servicemen’s sacrifices.

Sgt. Atwell was the last of nine Kokomo area soldiers and Marines killed since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

His cousin, Danielle Brewster, told us he always intended to serve in the military. It’s a statement we’ve heard many times from family members of the area’s lost sons.

“He was always very dead-set on joining,” Brewster said of her cousin. “He never thought twice about doing it.”

And he didn’t think twice about running into danger when the insurgents attacked Camp Bastion.

“Sgt. Atwell, at the sound of enemy fire, ran and beat down doors screaming at the top of his lungs, ‘Grab your gear, Marines, and let’s go,’” said Staff Sgt. Jimbo Montemayor at Atwell’s funeral service.

Sgt. Atwell, like every other person who was born and raised here, was more than just a young man from Kokomo. He was taught in our schools. He was friends with our children. He knew many of us.

Then he joined the Air Force after briefly attending the University of Evansville and enlisted in the Marines Oct. 17, 2005. He was deployed to Afghanistan in February 2012 and was set to permanently return to the U.S. eight months later.

About 8,000 Howard County residents are military veterans, according to the local Disabled American Veterans chapter. We thank all our neighbors who served in the U.S. military.

In particular, we thank Sgt. Atwell and our other young men killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11: Army National Guard Spc. Brian Michael Clemens of Kokomo, Army Pvt. Robert McKinley of Kokomo, Army Sgt. Jarrod Black of Peru, Marine Cpl. Lance Thompson of Marion, Marine Lance Cpl. James Swain of Kokomo, Army Spc. Nathan J. Frigo of Kokomo, Army Sgt. Rickey Jones of Kokomo and Army Pfc. David Neil Simmons.