The Fallen Heroes
Brigadier General Thomas Carroll, USA
September 4, 1948 – November 12, 1992
“Love Lives On”
Written by Bonnie Carroll
With Richie McDonald, Frank Myers & Jimmy Nichols
“We shared five years together and that wasn't long enough
But I swear they were the best years of my life
And on the days your memory is tearing at my heart
You always find a way to let me know we're not apart”
Brig. Gen. Thomas C. Carroll, a lifelong Alaskan and commander of the Alaska Army National Guard, lost his life at age 44 when his National Guard plane crashed on the Chilkat Peninsula en route to Juneau. Gen. Carroll enlisted in the U.S. Army at just 19 years old. Upon graduation from Officers Candidate School, he received his commission as a second lieutenant. He was also a U.S. Army War College and the Command and General Staff College graduate and earned his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of New York. His military career was highlighted by highly decorated combat service in Vietnam. He was inducted into the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, GA and upon the nomination of President George Bush, Gen. Carroll earned his stars as a General Officer--Brigadier General. Gen. Carroll was also awarded the Legion of Merit posthumously, the highest peacetime military honor.
TAPS Founder & President
Tom left behind his wife, Bonnie Carroll, who struggled to find comfort and support with her heart wrenching grief. Bonnie pointed her grief toward helping the other families who lost their military heroes in that crash. With the funds from her husband’s life insurance, Bonnie founded TAPS, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, so that no one would walk alone after the death of a military loved one. Since the organization’s formation 25 years ago, more than 90,000 military survivors have received care and resources from TAPS. Bonnie is a military veteran who retired as a Major in the Air Force Reserve following 30 years of service (her career included service as Chief, Casualty Operations, HQ USAF). Recognized for her impassioned work, Bonnie was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.
Inscribed on Tom’s tombstone are the words “Love Lives On.”
story behind the song
"Love lives ON" official Lyric Video
Major Ian C. Brinkley, USMC
June 5, 1974 – October 30, 2016
“Isn’t it Amazing”
Written by Dawn Brinkley
With Billy Montana & Keni Thomas
“You Always Promised That Your Wings
Would Never Let Me Down
As Far As I Have Fallen, I Have Never Hit The Ground”
Ian C. Brinkley, “Moto,” was a Major in the United States Marine Corps when he succumbed to cancer at just 42 years of age.
Moto, (which was his call sign, also known as, Master of the Obvious) earned a full-ride athletic/academic scholarship to attend Catawba College in Salisbury, NC. Major Brinkley was commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps in 1997 and reported to Pensacola, FL where he earned his Naval Aviator wings and graduated No. 1 in his class to join the HMLA/369 Gun Fighters. An instructor pilot at HMT/303, Major Brinkley was called to serve when GUN SHOT 66 went down in November 2005. He also served several tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Major Brinkley’s service was commended many times over. He was recognized with the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal Strike/Flight
(6 times), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon,
NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan and Certificate of Commendation.
Moto is survived by his widow, Dawn Brinkley and their two sons, Marcus and Gavin.
story behind the song
"isn't it amazing" official Lyric Video
Specialist Wyatt Joseph Martin, USA
October 25, 1992 – December 12, 2014
“People Need to Know”
Written by Brian & Beth Martin
With Larry Gatlin & Paul Overstreet
“You might believe that freedom just comes free
But that ain’t the way the world goes
People need to know”
United States Army Specialist Wyatt Joseph Martin was a native of Mesa, Arizona. He entered the United States Army in August 2012 and was assigned to 2nd Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, TX. In June 2013, Wyatt joined the combat engineers assigned to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood and later deployed to Afghanistan with his unit. While supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Parwan Province, Afghanistan, SPC Martin’s vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device;
Wyatt and a fellow soldier were killed.
Wyatt’s Family & His Remembrance
Wyatt is survived by his parents (Brian and Julie) and two sisters (Katie and Beth). Julie and Brian are retired schoolteachers; Katie is a mother of two children; Beth is a newlywed and a hair and make-up artist. Hunting and fishing were Wyatt’s greatest passions; his ambition was to become a Wildlife Officer. He is remembered by family and friends as a young man with “bigger than life” personality, character and charm. He told his parents, "If something happens to me, know that I went happy.'
story behind the song
"People need to know" official Lyric Video
Sgt. Joshua Ryan Ashley USMC
May 27, 1989 – July 19, 2012
Written By Tammie & Jordan Tyler Ashley
With Greg Friia & Wood Newton
“On night patrol that fateful day
They came to a stream along the way
Josh picked up his best friend and threw him across
Just a few steps later one life was saved, One life was lost”
Sgt. Joshua Ashley grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. His dream was to become a police officer; he joined the Marines immediately following his graduation from Etiwanda High School with the hope to quickly achieve his goal. Joshua became a Military Police Officer and later an Official K9 Handler. He and his partner, “Sirius,” a four-year old Military Working K9, were assigned to Special Forces MARSOC in Afghanistan. The evening of Josh’s death, he and Sirius led a patrol in an "Explosive Battleground " where Josh gave his life; he was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). The lives of many others were spared including Sirius.
Recognized for his bravery and heroism, Joshua earned a number of medals and awards including a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, “Marine Of The Year” and “The Jim Kallstrom Award.” Joshua is survived by his mother and father (Tammie and Jon), his older and younger brothers (Jon and Jordan) and his K9 partner, Sirius, who was adopted by his mom.
A Family Dedicated To Serve, Protect and To Remember
Josh comes from a law enforcement family that is tightly knit. Struck by the horrible events of 9/11 and his desire to become a police officer, Josh followed his heart to serve and protect.
“Josh was also a natural born leader; he was the team captain for every team he played for. He was funny and fun loving, and while extremely popular, Joshua was a humble person and many were drawn to him. We will spend every waking breath to assure he is remembered.”
story behind the song
"k9 brother" official Lyric Video
A DEDICATION TO LIFETIME COMRADES, BATTLE BUDDIES AND FOREVER FRIENDS
“Climb To Glory”
Written By Captain John Rhoten, USA
Battle Buddy & 2018 TAPS Military Mentor of the Year
With Brett Jones & Eddy Raven
“I’m one of those lucky ones
I made it home in one piece
Some of my buddies who had my back
weren’t as lucky as me
Ain’t a day goes by I don’t think bout them boys”
Captain Rhoten was selected by TAPS as a representative of all service members and veterans who have lost battle buddies. He wrote “Climb To Glory” in honor of his fellow soldiers who did not return from battle. “We signed up to lay our lives on the line for our country and for our brothers, and we live day by day. As an Infantryman, we live on the edge not knowing how far we’ll go in life. The love I have for my brothers lives on in me and I will not allow them to be forgotten.”
CPT John Rhoten is in the U.S. Army and currently serves in the 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. CPT Rhoten has deployed twice to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. Now, touching the lives of children who have lost a military loved one, CPT Rhoten volunteers as a Military Mentor in TAPS Good Grief Camp.
Capt. Rhoten’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal (7 Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Achievement Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Citation (1 Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Superior Unit Award, Army Good Conduct Medal (3 knots), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge and Expert Infantryman’s Badge. He was inducted into the Military District of Washington Sergeant Audie Murphy Club and the Order of Saint Maurice, and was recognized with the Knowlton Award.
story behind the song
"climb to glory" official Lyric Video
Colonel David D. Banholzer, USAF
August 22, 1969 - November 4, 2016
“New Set Of Wings”
Written By: Alison, Katherine & Caroline Banholzer, surviving spouse and daughters
With Rob Crosby, Dean Sams & Pam Tillis
I can’t begrudge you your new set of wings
Though the hurt is so hard and the truth is so mean
But my love for you like the sky never ends
And we’ll fly together again
With a new set of wings
Colonel David D. Banholzer was the 14th Presidential Pilot of the United States; he also served as Commander of the Presidential Airlift Group stationed at Joint Base Andrews, MD. As the Presidential Pilot, Col. Banholzer was the Aircraft Commander for the President of the United States aboard Air Force One.
Col. Banholzer earned his commission from the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Wisconsin and entered active duty in December 1992. He served in a variety of roles in the Air Force Air Mobility Command with a diverse operations background in Strategic Airlift, Air Refueling and VIP Special Air Missions. He was a Command Pilot with worldwide flight experience in the VC-25, C-32, C-5 and KC-135 aircraft.
He graduated with distinction from The Naval War College in Newport, RI and Squadron Officer School at Maxwell AFB, AL. Colonel Banholzer also held a Master of Arts Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies and a Master of Arts Degree in Management. David was recognized with the “Colonel Joseph B. Duckworth Award,” presented to the USAF unit or individual who has made the most significant contribution to the art and science of instrument flying.
While serving active duty, Col. Banholzer lost his battle and succumbed to Glioblastoma Multiforme.
THE FAMILY OF AN AIR FORCE ONE PILOT
Col Banholzer is survived by his wife of 19 years and two daughters, Alison, Katherine and Caroline. The family relocated seven times in 11 years before David landed his dream job in 2007--flying Air Force One. The four were based at Fairchild AFB, WA; Scott AFB, IL; Travis AFB, CA; Andrews AFB, MD; Naval War College in Newport, RI and Andrews AFB, MD. Alison currently owns and operates “Wear Your Spirit Warehouse” located in Southern Maryland. Taking pride in running a military and family-friendly business, Alison employs several military spouses and children.
“David will forever live in our hearts and thoughts of a host of brothers and sisters in arms who have enjoyed the honor of serving with him.”
story behind the song
"new set of wings" official Lyric Video
PFC Joshua Islam, USMC J
January 19, 1995 – January 13, 2014
Written by James & Donna Islam
With Phil O’Donnell & Buddy Owens
“He Was Swinging For The Moon
A Warrior's Heart From Day One
Fearless Like His Fathers Son”
Joshua Islam, a native of Gainesville, Florida, died in a training accident as a teenager at Camp Pendleton, CA. The nineteen-year-old, who readied for boot camp as a high school senior, was an honor student and accomplished athlete; he was a pitcher and outfielder for the state championship Weddington Warriors baseball team. Joshua was a runner-up for company Iron Man at boot camp and a top marksman at the USMC School of Infantry. Joshua was fearless, skilled with a fishing rod, a surprisingly good cook and determined to be the best of the best.
Preparing to become a member of the elite Marine Corps Reconnaissance Force, Joshua lost his life. He wore a dog tag inscribed with the Bible verse given to him at birth that read “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. God is with you.” (Joshua 1:9)
Joshua comes from a big family of community servants, sports fans and American Patriots. He is survived by his mother and father (Donna and James), his three brothers (Jarrett, Levi and Devin), and sisters Shannon, Victoria, and Abigail.
story behind the song
"Joshua 1:9" official Lyric Video
Sgt. Nicholas Pansini, USMC
November 15, 1986 - July 22, 2010
Written by Angel, Shannon & Joe Pansini
With Danny Wells, Liz Hengber & Gary Baker
“Some wars ain’t fought in battle
Some wars you fight at home
Too proud to show you’re fragile
You faced your demons on your own”
Nick Pansini joined the Marine Corps in January 2006; he entered boot camp at MCRD San Diego. Following training, Nick was assigned to 5th Anglico as an 0861 (fire support). Less than three years later, Nick was promoted to Seargent. During his four short years of service he was stationed in Okinawa, Japan and deployed to Iraq twice. Sgt. Pansini was Honorably Discharged in January 2010.
He took his own life just six-and-a-half months later.
HIS SISTER'S RECOLLECTION
Twenty-one-year-old Angel Pansini is the surviving sister of Marine Corps Sgt. Nicholas Pansini. Following her brother’s death, the University of Colorado Denver Philosophy Student attended the 2010 TAPS National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp.
Through her involvement with TAPS, Angel has honored her brother as a living legacy. She has delivered speeches and written for TAPS Magazine and The Washington Post; she interned in the TAPS communications department and continues to serve as a mentor at Good Grief Camps.
Angela was presented The TAPS Senator Ted Stevens Leadership Award (2019); the annual award is presented to a surviving family member who lost a loved one serving in the Armed Forces; the award recognizes outstanding leadership on behalf of other military survivors.
“Nick loved the Marines; his handsome smile displayed his pride. Nick was a great hugger; his spine-cracking embrace carried the weight of a warzone and his love for home wrapped like a blanket into each one. Once, while I was shopping at outdoor mall, Nick snuck over and hugged me from behind. Startled, I dug my tiny nails into his hand. Those dime-sized nail marks will forever remain his most friendly scars, and that hug will remain the most shocking yet comforting I’ll ever recall. My brother was dedicated to his family and he was an avid Denver Broncos fan.”
story behind the song
"rebel wings" official Lyric Video
PFC Preston A. Brown, USA
June 3, 1990 – January 23, 2012
“Press On Preston”
Written by Stephanie Greene, Shandrea Houser & Clarence Houser, Jr.
With Greg Barnhill & Deborah Allen
“It was so unexpected the way you were taken
We were not prepared for how deeply we’d be shaken
See it was all so sudden, so out of the blue
We cried and we prayed, Lord please don’t let it be true”
PFC Preston Brown was deployed to Iraq in 2001. He spent down time playing the sport he loved--basketball. While on leave at home in El Paso, TX, 22-year-old PFC Brown skipped the game to meet with friends. He and his buddies were caught in the crossfire of a gunfight that erupted in a parking lot; PFC Brown was killed by a stray bullet. Members of his unit shared: “When you get off the plane, and bring your soldiers home safely, you breathe a sigh of relief. To lose one of our own, while on block leave, is one of the worst feelings ever.” Brown’s untimely and unfortunate death forever changed lives; his family donated his liver, kidneys, a lung and his heart
to strangers who were critically ill to create a forever bond in PFC Brown’s memory.
story behind the song
"press on preston" official Lyric Video
LT Florence Bacong Choe, USN
November 26, 1973 – March 27, 2009
"You Carry Me Too"
Written by Dr. (CMDR) Jay Choe, USN
With Marv Green, Angie Keilhauer & Wood Newton
“When you run, I see so much of her in you.
The way you lean into the pain
Keep pushing yourself through”
LT Florence Bacong Choe was killed in northern Afghanistan while on a morning run around the compound when an insurgent posing as an Afghan National Army soldier opened fire on U.S. troops. Choe was a Navy Medical Service Corps member and served as a medical administration and logistics mentor to the Afghan National Army. She left behind her husband, Dr (CMDR) Jay Choe, USN, and their 3-year old daughter, Kristin.
Dr. Jay Choe received the news of his wife’s untimely and tragic death in the midst of his surgical residency at the Naval Academy and Tulane Medical School. “That was the darkest time of my life,” Dr. Choe recalls. “My daughter, Kristin, who was just three, was my savior and my light. Kristin gave me the strength to carry on.” Today, Dr. Choe and Kristin jog together in their San Diego neighborhood; he is amazed at the woman his daughter has become.