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As Memorial Day approaches, Team Orlando News is honoring and celebrating the lives of some of Central Florida’s fallen servicemembers.
Since 9/11, nearly 7,000 servicemembers have been killed in action. Warfighters serving on the frontlines are not merely statistics, but people who lived and loved.
It is impossible to recognize each one of them, however the faces of these Central Florida hometown heroes stand to represent our fallen brave.
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe
35, from Sanford, Fla.
Company A, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division
While serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Sgt. 1st Class Cashe was killed in action in Daliaya, Iraq, on Nov. 8, 2004, from wounds suffered by an improvised explosive device.
Sgt. 1st Class Cashe was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for heroism in Iraq. After additional information became known, on November 10, 2020, Congress voted to upgrade his award to the Medal of Honor. On December 4, 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law H.R. 8276, which authorizes the President to posthumously award the Medal of Honor to Cashe. A measure to award Cashe the medal must still be submitted by the Defense Department and approved by the current president to finalize the award.
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Kenneth Conde Jr.
23, from Orlando, Fla.
2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
While serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Sgt. Conde was killed by enemy action in Anbar Province, Iraq, on Jul. 1, 2004.
Sgt. Conde was injured earlier in 2004, when his arm and shoulder was hit by enemy bullets in April that year. The injury was significant, because Conde was permitted to return from deployment due to the injury but made the decision to return to the frontline as soon as he was able. He was treated for his wounds and returned to the battlefield where he died in combat just 3 months later.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Trace W. Dossett
37, of Orlando, Fla.
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 14, Jacksonville, Fla.
While serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Petty Officer 2nd Class Dosset was killed by hostile fire on May 2, 2004, in Anbar Province, Iraq.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Dosset’s unit was not a combat unit. In fact, Dossett was part of the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion, serving there as part of Iraq’s reconstruction effort. In the months before his death, Dossett was rebuilding schools and helping restore water and electrical power to parts of Iraq. He lived in the Orlando, Fla. area and worked for the Middlesex Corp. of Leesburg, Fla.
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Nicole “Liz” Jacobson
21, of Orlando Fla.
17th Security Forces Squadron at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas
While serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Airman 1st Class Jacobson was killed Sept. 28, 2005, near Safwan, Iraq, when her vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device.
Airman 1st Class Jacobson was the first female U.S. airman killed in the line of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the first Air Force Security Forces member killed in conflict since the Vietnam War.
U.S. Army Specialist Brenden Salazar
20, of Chuluota, Fla.
1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy
While serving during Operation Enduring Freedom, Spec. Salazar died Jul. 22, 2012, of wounds caused by an improvised explosive device in Puli Alam, Afghanistan.
Spec. Salazar died just 10 days after his unit landed in the Afghanistan combat zone. His mother, Jovanna Nelson, and stepfather, Jim Nelson, serve military organizations in the Central Florida area. The U.S. Army Research Laboratory Operations Center was dedicated in Brenden’s honor on Nov. 16, 2017.
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith
33, of Tampa, Fla.
11th Engineer Battalion, Fort Stewart, Ga.
Sgt. 1st Class Smith died while leading a counterattack at the Baghdad Airport in Iraq on Apr. 4, 2003.
Sgt. 1st Class Smith is a Medal of Honor Recipient. He was awarded the medal after a review of his heroic actions as the soldier provided cover allowing his unit to return to safe positions while under fire. He fired 400 rounds from a turret weapon, saving many lives in his unit before receiving a fatal bullet wound. Central Florida’s Simulation Training and Technology Center in Orlando’s Research Park was renamed for Sgt. 1st Class Smith in honor of the fallen hero.
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