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CAPT. JOHN SPAGNOLA



Published: Wed, September 11, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



CAPT. JOHN SPAGNOLA

Age: 34.

Hometown: Grew up on Youngstown's South Side; lives in Poland.

High school: Cardinal Mooney, graduated in 1985.

College: Youngstown State University.

Family: Wife, Jenelle; daughter, Anna; parents, John and Elizabeth Spagnola of New Middletown.

Military status: Army National Guard for 17 years, operations officer, 1/73rd Troop Command.

Operation Noble Eagle assignment: Now home, he was deployed Sept. 23, 2001, to May 31, 2002. Stationed two months at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Columbus, where he was in charge of Military Police security protecting the Army personnel and equipment. On Oct. 1, he was named operations officer of the newly formed Task Force 1-73 S-3, assigned to protect Ohio's six largest commercial airports (Cleveland Hopkins, Port Columbus, Toledo, Dayton, Canton-Akron and Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna). He then spent six months at Youngstown-Warren Regional, where he oversaw the security screening checkpoint where the soldiers were positioned, conducted weekly security training and coordinated with the airport director and FAA.

Civilian job: Director of safety for P.A.M. Transportation in North Jackson.

Quotes:

"I am so glad that I had the opportunity to help my country in time of crisis. It is very rewarding knowing that I did all I can to help out."

"I was touched by the great effort and dedication of all the firefighters, rescue workers, police and volunteers who assisted with the World Trade Center effort."

CHIEF MASTER SGT.

TROY K. RHOADES

Age: 37.

Hometown: Grew up in Andover; lives in Canfield.

High school: Pymatuning Valley, 1983.

College: YSU, bachelor's degree in business administration.

Family: Wife, Christine; parents, Keith and Donna Rhoades of Andover.

Military status: Air Force Reserve, 18 years, 910th AirLift Wing's Security Forces Squadron manager.

Operation Enduring Freedom

assignment: Now home, Rhoades was deployed to Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar on the Persian Gulf from March through June 2002, where he was security forces manager responsible for 260 troops and day-to-day operations as part of the 379th Expeditionary Unit. The base's primary mission was to refuel planes going to Afghanistan.

Civilian job: FirstEnergy, marketing manager in Fairlawn office.

Quotes:

"I've always been a very patriotic person, ... that's why I've been in the military for as long as I have."

"We're not as invincible as we thought we were. Because of American arrogance, for lack of a better word ... we truly believe this is the best country, and why would anybody want to harm us."

"What's really changed [because of Sept. 11] not so much for the military, but from a civilian standpoint, is that people now have a better appreciation for the military and police and fire and other civil servants who are willing to risk their lives."

LT. COL. EMMETT SHAFFER

Age: 43.

Hometown: Grew up in Brookfield, stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., lives in Clarksville, Tenn.

High school: Brookfield, 1977.

College: YSU, 1981.

Family: Wife, Patricia; son, Emmett IV; daughter, Megan; mother, Florence L. Shaffer of Vienna; father, Emmett C. Jr., died May 6.

Military status: Army for 20 years; deputy commander of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

Operation Enduring Freedom

assignment: The 160th is the Army's Special Operations Rotary Wing Force, and its aircraft were the first to touch down in enemy soil and are still operating today. The area in which he was stationed is classified.

Quotes:

"Shortly after the attacks on the towers we were approached by Mike Low, father of Sara Elizabeth Low, a flight attendant who died on American Airlines Flight 11. He asked if we would carry a set of attendant wings into combat in honor of his daughter. We did so. ... One of our crew chiefs wore them on numerous combat missions ... and then at a later date in a small ceremony at our compound we returned the wings to her father. It was very emotional."

The most satisfying thing about his deployment duty is "watching America's team kick butt ... watching young soldiers walk with pride, knowing that they are making a difference ... seeing children and women in Afghanistan smile again."

LT. COL. DONALD L. SHAFFER

Age: 38.

Hometown: Grew up in Brookfield; stationed at Charleston Air Force Base, Charleston, S.C.; lives in Summerville, S.C.

High school: Brookfield, 1982.

College: Air Force Academy, 1987.

Family: Wife, Debbie; children, Leah and Kurt; mother, Florence L. Shaffer of Vienna.

Military status: Active duty. Commander of the 17th AirLift Squadron (C-17s), Charleston Air Force Base, and commander of the 817th Expeditionary AirLift Squadron, Rhein Main Air Base, Germany. He also flew C-141s at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., was a T-38 instructor pilot at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., and served at the Pentagon from 1997-99. He is deployed to Germany and other locations that are classified.

Operation Enduring Freedom

assignment: Shaffer's unit is one of only six operational C-17 flying squadrons in the Air Force. The aircraft is capable of carrying tanks, helicopters, Humvees and nearly every other large piece of military equipment, and has been the primary means of transporting units (such as his brother Emmett's unit) into Afghanistan."

Quotes:

"We operate the Air Force's newest and most technologically advanced airlift aircraft. We fly around the clock day and night into airfields that no other large aircraft can get into. We routinely land a 500,000 pound aircraft on a 90-foot wide, blacked out runway."

"I'm absolutely ecstatic about being the commander of a C-17 squadron. This has been a goal of mine since I entered the Air Force Academy in 1983. Being the commander of the first-ever forward deployed C-17 combat unit is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

"What moved me about 9/11? Answering my 5-year-old son's question about why someone would "crash an airplane into a building on purpose to kill all those people -- and not knowing the answer. Also, the first officer on the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania was a classmate of mine at the Air Force Academy."

"The hardest part is being away from home -- missing my son's first day of school and my daughter's first cheerleading practice. The most satisfying is watching our guys pull off what everyone said couldn't be done ... seeing a small Afghan girl smile as she eats from a Humanitarian Daily Ration that we dropped from a C-17 on Day One of the war.

CAPT. ROBERT MARX, D.O.

Age: 49.

Hometown: Grew up in St. Louis, Mo.; lives in Liberty.

High school: Desmet Jesuit, St. Louis.

College: Westminster College, Fulton, Mo.; University of Missouri, Columbia; Northeast Missouri State, Kirksville; and Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Family: Wife, Becky; daughter, Anna.

Military status: Army Reserve Medical Corps, 11 years, general surgeon.

Operation Enduring Freedom

assignment: Still serving as a general surgeon attached to the 947th Forward Surgical Team in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. He is expected home soon.

Civilian job: General surgeon, office in Boardman; practices at Forum Health Northside Medical Center, St. Elizabeth Health Center, Specialty Hospital of Mahoning Valley, Austintown Ambulatory Surgery Center and Surgery Center at Southwoods.

This is a paraphrase of excerpts

from letters written by Marx to his

wife, Becky. He is in an area without

good electronic or telephone

contact:

At first, Marx believed the military should go in, capture Osama bin Laden and the other Al-Qaida leaders, break up the terrorist networks and come home. However, after seeing the condition of the people, their government, their almost nonexistent medical system, the lack of education, the incredible poverty and the effects of the infighting among the warlords, he has come to believe that the United States will need to stay in Afghanistan to provide humanitarian aid, and help the people rebuild their country and establish a stable government. Otherwise, we will have accomplished nothing in the long run.

He understands that his presence is necessary, especially because the military has such a shortage of surgeons.

Becky Marx:

"We do a lot of things together. We cook, garden and take care of the house and yard, and we work together in his practice. His absence has created so many empty spaces in my life. Doing all those things by myself is just not the same -- and not nearly as fun."

"This is the longest time Bob and I have been apart in the 27 years we've know each other. I had no idea it was possible to miss anyone as much as I miss him. He writes often, and he has called several times via satellite phone. I am so excited every time he calls, and I can't wait until he's home and I can hear his voice and see him every day."

TECHNICAL SGT.

RENEE L. NOEL

Age: 35.

Hometown: Grew up in Mineral Ridge, lives in Niles.

High school: Mineral Ridge, 1985, played softball, golf and basketball.

College: YSU, associate and bachelor's degrees in criminal justice, working toward master's degree.

Family: Mother, Sandra Noel of Niles; sister, Tina Schmidt.

Military status: Air Force, four years active duty; Air Force Reserve, 11 years, assigned to the 910th AirLift Wing's Security Forces Squadron; providing training for all base security force members. Activated one year for Operation Noble Eagle, and expects to be activated for a second year.

Operation Noble Eagle assignment: Now home, she was activated in November 2001, provided security at Youngstown Air Reserve Station and MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Fla.

Civilian job: Letter carrier, U.S. Postal Service, Northside Post Office in Youngstown.

Quote: "I felt a sense of pride and honor because I was given a chance to repay this country for all the things it has given me."

"The item that sticks out the most is the overwhelming support from the citizens. When you have people approach you on the streets and thank you for belonging to the military; when they are aware that you had to leave your family, friends, civilian job [basically putting your life on hold], in order to support Operation Enduring Freedom, whether it be going temporarily to other state-side bases or by going abroad. It's just nice to be recognized and reassured that it's all worth it."

"I appreciate more now the past 34 years of my life where I never had to worry about terrorism, where my biggest concern was more on the lines of what to wear or where to shop. And now, whenever my family and I go, I am forced to wonder, will we be safe?"

STAFF SGT. DAVID L. HALL II

Age: 39.

Hometown: Grew up in East Liverpool; now lives at Fort Campbell, Ky.

High school: East Liverpool.

Family: Wife, Katharine Mangano Hall; children, Lauren, David III, Benjamin, Matthew; parents, David and Deloris Hall of East Liverpool.

Military status: Active duty in the Army for 12 years. He is a unit supply sergeant.

Operation Enduring Freedom

assignment: Recently returned home, Hall was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, four times between January and July 2002, where his unit, HQ/A 626 FSB, was responsible for all the things that the task force used for its missions, such as food, water, ammunition and equipment.

Quote: "Most of the soldiers lived in tents without air conditioners. When we first got in we had to build our own latrines and burn the waste every day. I lived in a mud hut, where my office was. When we first got there, it was nice and cool day and night. As the temperature went up, the place was not so nice. The three-foot mud walls got hot in the heat and it was like living in a pizza oven all the time."

AVIATION STOREKEEPER 3RD

CLASS DEAN CERNY

Age: 24.

Hometown: Grew up in McDonald; now lives in Coupeville on Whidbey Island in Washington state.

High school: Attended McDonald.

Family: Wife, Cynthia, and son, Trystan; parents, David and Barb Cerny of McDonald.

Military history: Active duty, joined the Navy in January 1998. Now home, he is on shore duty working in material control in an EA6B Prowler Squadron called VAQ-129.

Operation Enduring Freedom

assignment: He was a shop supervisor in the S-8 division on the USS Carl Vinson, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier sailing in the North Arabian Sea on Sept. 11.

Quote: "Operation Enduring Freedom was really scary to a lot of people, but when we learned of 9/11, we all knew that we had a job to do."

"It was a lot of hard work, but after we pulled in to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, it was all worth it. People we didn't even know were standing on the pier thanking us for what we had done. They said it was the largest homecoming since World War II in that area.

"But, the best of all is I got to see my 3-month-old son [born Oct. 17, 2001] for the first time."

SECOND LT. PAUL HOERIG

Age: 36.

Hometown: Grew up in Newton Falls; lives in Howland.

High school: Newton Falls, 1984.

College: YSU, bachelor of science degree in business administration, 1989; Community College of the Air Force, associate degree in criminal justice, 2000.

Family: Wife, Anne; children, Stephen and Cody.

Military status: Air Force Reserve, nine years. Security Forces Squadron deputy commander, 910th AirLift Wing. Previously spent 10 years with the Ohio Army National Guard's 324th Military Police Co. in Austintown, and served in Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia.

Operation Enduring Freedom

assignment: Deployed to a classified forward operating base as security forces commander. Responsibilities were air base ground defense and flight line security. He is home.

Civilian job: Records supervisor at Trumbull Correctional Institution.

Quote:

"Participating in Operation Enduring Freedom has reminded me how important the Reserves and National Guard are to our national defense."

"The thing that touched me the most has been seeing the poverty and lack of opportunity of people in other countries; men and women working all day, making just enough money to survive, with no real hope for improvement. It really makes you think how lucky we are to live in the United States."

MASTER SGT. CHARLES COOK

Age: 55.

Hometown: Grew up in Youngstown; lives in Hubbard.

High school: Attended The Rayen School, enlisted in the Marine Corps and was in boot camp at Parris Island when his class graduated. His brother was in Vietnam at the time, and he wanted to go find him.

College: YSU, studied engineering.

Family: Sons, Charles and Christopher.

Military status: Four years active duty in the Marine Corps, 1966-70; 16 years in the Air Force Reserve. He is an aircraft mechanic with the 910th Maintenance Squadron.

Operation Noble Eagle assignment: Now home, Cook spent Sept. 13-18 at ground zero in New York City before he was called back and ordered to a special assignment in Utah with the Reserve.

Civilian job: Operating Engineers Local 66.

Quotes: At ground zero, "there was no kind of laughter about anything, even the people working. They couldn't believe the attack and that those buildings would come down that easily."

"When we went in and out, people would hand you pictures of loved ones they were looking for. Most of us couldn't deal with that. We didn't know what to tell them. We pretty much knew there was no one left alive."

"The only thing I really think about is, this country has to think about its foreign policy if we're going to make enemies that crazy. What did we do to p--- people off that bad?"

"Everybody I talked to thought we were more secure. What bothered me and a lot people is, if I did my job that badly [as the U.S. intelligence community], I'd expect to get fired."

MASTER SGT. JOHN FALFAS

Age: 33.

Hometown: Warren.

High school: Howland, 1987.

Family: Wife, Melissa; children Garrett and Benjamin.

Military status: Air Force Reserve, 910th AirLift Wing's Security Forces Squadron.

Operation Enduring Freedom

assignment: Deployed as part of the Air Mobility Command Phoenix Raven Program, which performs close-in aircraft security. First assignment was to Scott Air Force Base, Ill., where he was a force protection staff officer; second assignment was to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to manage a Raven Stage, which had 16 Ravens assigned to deploy. He evaluated and provided security for aircraft and crew at forward locations. He is home.

Civilian job: Air Reserve technician, Air Force Reserve Station, Vienna.

Quote: "Unless you're on the inside and see how it worked, people might not think so ... but the military response to Sept. 11 was pretty efficient. The whole process, it worked."

"We are doing what we need to do and have always tried to make the right decision and will continue to help people in other countries."

PETTY OFFICER 1ST

CLASS PATRICK MYERS

Age: 33.

Hometown: Grew up in Flint, Mich.; lives in Austintown.

High school: Austintown Fitch, 1987.

Family: Wife, former Lisa Bagalieri; children, Natalie and Vincent.

Military status: Navy, active duty, 1987-98, submarine sonar technician/recruiter in Youngstown; Naval Reserve, information system technician.

Operation Enduring Freedom

assignment: In Bahrain since Dec. 1, 2001, assigned to the staff of the Commander of Naval Forces Central Command Detachment 109 as a watch supervisor in the automated information systems shop.

Civilian job: Electrician apprentice at Delphi Packard Electric.

Quotes: "Having served in the submarine fleet during the Cold War, the purpose of the missions weren't always as clear as now in the post Sept. 11 world. I have a great deal of pride knowing what I'm doing today will make the world a better place tomorrow."

Since Sept. 11, I've been touched by the closeness of the American people."




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