Kunar Province, Afghanistan – Soldiers held a memorial service for six fallen U.S. Soldiers from Task Force No Slack at Forward Operating Base Joyce in eastern Afghanistan April 9th.
The U.S. Army Soldiers, all from 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, died during combat operations in Barawolo Kalay and Sarowbay in Kunar Province’s Marawara District March 29th.
The deceased included: U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Ofren Arrechaga, from Hialeah, FL; Staff Sgt. Frank E. Adamski, from Moosup, CT; Staff Sgt. Bryan A. Burgess, from Cleburne, Texas; Spc. Dustin J. Feldhaus, from Glendale, AZ; Spc. Jameson L. Lindskog, from Pleasanton, CA; and Pfc. Jeremy P. Faulkner, from Griffin, GA.Task Force No Slack commander, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Joel B. Vowell, a native of Birmingham, AL, said the Soldiers’ sacrifices were not in vain.
“Our enemy had grown too large, too bold, too capable to ignore any longer,” said Vowell. “Task Force No Slack met that challenge and we destroyed and killed over 130 insurgent fighters and wounded scores of others in our biggest battle since Vietnam.”
The operation lasted more than a week and exemplified the type of strength these Soldiers are best remembered for, said Vowell.
“Strength matters here and always has,” Vowell added. “The strength of our Soldiers and our leaders has no better example than these six heroes depicted before you.”
Vowell said the sacrifices made by the Soldiers and their families will not be forgotten. Then he spoke about each Soldier individually.
Arrechaga, an infantry platoon sergeant who is survived by his wife, Seana, daughter, Tristian, and son, Alston, was felled by a series of bullets in a close ambush while he was trying to help a fallen Soldier.
“He was a fireball squad leader and platoon sergeant whose discipline, combined with his good nature and heart, marked him as a great senior noncommissioned officer,” said Vowell.
Arrechaga was best remembered by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gregory Miller, a squad leader.
“AC was the rock of 3rd Platoon, the one person you could always find strength and assurance in,” said Miller. “No matter how bad it got, he would never lose his smile.”
Miller also said Arrechaga set the example of what a husband and a father should truly be. Many of the other wives in Co. A would scold their husbands for not being more like Arrechaga.
Arrechaga, born December 22nd, 1982, in Havana, Cuba, joined the Army in 2001. His major awards and decorations include the Ranger Tab, Combat Infantry Badge, Expert Infantry Badge, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Bronze Star Medal (two oak leaf clusters), Purple Heart, and Meritorious Service Medal.
Vowell continued with another Soldier, Adamski, and said everyone respected him.
“Adamski was leading the effort when an ambush came,” said Vowell. “He demanded that he not only shared the risks, but led his men through all of them.”
Adamski, an infantry squad leader, is survived by his wife, Danielle, and daughter, Victoria Grace.
Adamski was best remembered by his battle buddy, U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua Frappier.
“He was a family man and his wife, Danielle, and beautiful baby, Victoria, meant the world to him,” said Frappier. “He was a person you could look up to and turn to for any problems. He was my mentor and I looked up to him.”
Frappier added Adamski was always a happy and upbeat person who put others before himself.
Adamski, born March 30th, 1984, joined the Army in 2005. His major awards and decorations include the Combat Infantry Badge, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Bronze Star Medal (two oak leaf clusters) and Purple Heart.
Vowell said another Soldier, Burgess, was an immediate impact player who could shoot, move and communicate with the best of them.
Burgess, an infantry squad leader, is survived by his wife, Tiffany, daughter, Makya Renee, and son, Zander Allan.
He is best remembered by his friend, U.S. Army Sgt. Tyler Schmidt.
“He had a Superman tattoo on his right arm,” said Schmidt. “It was fitting because he was strong; really, scary strong. I didn’t like playing games with him because I was afraid I would make him mad and he would Spartan kick me into the Kunar River or something.”
Schmidt said Burgess would do anything for his fellow Soldiers even if that meant sacrificing his time and energy. But Burgess had a way of replenishing his always-present energy.
“I believed that the ‘Sesame Street’ character Cookie Monster was based off of him. He loved cookies,” said Schmidt. “No cookies were safe, even if a cookie was on the way to your mouth, he’d take it. Even first sergeant cookies weren’t safe.”
Burgess, born April 23rd, 1981, joined the Army in 2003. His major awards and decorations include the Combat Infantry Badge, Air Assault Badge, Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.
Vowell talked about another, quieter Soldier, Feldhaus, who gave his life ensuring his buddies were safe and able to accomplish the mission.
Feldhaus, an infantryman, is survived by his father, Bernard Mahajevic, and mother, Nichol Etchells.
U.S. Army Pfc. Bryan Smith remembered his friend, Feldhaus, as a patriot who was proud of what he was doing.
“I saw a young man that never gave up, no matter the circumstances. No matter how tough situations got, he never complained,” said Smith. “He defined No Slack in everything he did—checking and rechecking his gear, equipment or weapon, then going on to check the other Soldiers’ weapons.”
Feldhaus, born October 2nd, 1990, joined the Army in 2009. His major awards and decorations include the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.
Vowell said that Lindskog, a quiet medic, performed so well on previous operations, they moved him into a line unit. After Lindskog was mortally wounded, he was still working on other wounded Soldiers and giving them urgent care as he lay dying.
Lindskog, a combat medic, is survived by his father, Curtis Lindskog, and mother, Donna Walker.
He is best remembered by his battle buddy, Cpl. Danny Hughes, as a peculiar guy who loved technology.
“I remember Lindskog as a brother-in-arms, a medic and as a friend,” said Hughes. “I’ll miss him for our battles in ‘Call of Duty’ and brief conversations of how to treat a casualty. I’ve felt like I’ve lost a brother, a member of my family and a brother-in-arms.”
Lindskog, born May 25th, 1987, joined the Army in 2008. His major awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.
Vowell said he gave a hard time to the Soldier with a famous author’s last name, Faulkner.
“I used to kid him and ask him when he was going to write the next great American novel, and he came back to me with, ‘I’m going to make history, sir, not write about it,'” said Vowell. “Typical Jeremy; very competent and confident and wouldn’t put up with any guff.”
Faulkner, an infantryman, is survived by his mother, Julia Berry.
His close friend, U.S. Army Pfc. Alex Paull, said a few words about Faulkner.
“He had a way of lighting up the room and you knew when he entered,” said Paull. “He had the ability to make an excuse almost convincing enough to get him out of trouble, but in the end he would just end up getting smoked for about an hour.”
Paull said Faulkner was always concerned about how his fellow Soldiers were doing, and he could make the best out of bad situations.
Faulkner, born May 5th, 1987, joined the Army in 2009. His major awards and decorations include the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.
Leaders from Combined Joint Task Force – 101 paid tribute to these heroes with a final salute and a prayer before leaving personal memorabilia.
Vowell added these Soldiers did something extraordinary for their country and their families made a terrific sacrifice.
He said, “These Soldiers did only what heroes can do — going above and beyond as only heroes can.”