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Paying Tribute

On Memorial Day we pay a debt that binds us in perpetuity

The blood shed in our Civil War was barely dry when we paid the first installment on this great debt of remembrance. But the losses were fresh and sharp, like amputations that cut away limbs, that would have been sent into the future by families, neighborhoods, communities, counties, states and our divided government. New estimates suggest 720,000 died fighting that war.
    Our grandparents visited cemeteries and decorated graves with flowers. Beneath the flowers and the dirt laid the bodies of people they knew in the flesh. These lost men and boys were torn from the body of living, suffering families, villages, towns and cities.
    War has followed war, and we’ve learned to compress every distance but the unpassable distance between the living and the dead. Since 2001, more than 6,000 American service men and women have lost their lives in the War on Terror. Citizens of the global village, we may not have known the young pilot from Huntingtown, the sergeant from Rose Haven, the sailor from Edgewater. The medic from Severn may have been someone else’s son, husband and father, but Chesapeake Country is home to all, and they are all our dead.
    Of those 6,000-plus, here you meet 19 who lived in the places Bay Weekly meets its weekly readers. Death caught up with them in Iraq, Afghanistan and, in one case, Africa. The youngest will be forever 20, the oldest forever 52. On a fateful day between 2003 and 2012, each of them passed out of life and into history.
    In these pages, we honor the debt of memory that we owe them.

–Sandra Olivetti Martin, Bay Weekly editor and publisher


Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Gibbons

31, Huntingtown
U.S. Army
January 30, 2003: Afghanistan
Crash of the Black Hawk helicopter he was co-piloting


Specialist Jason Ford

21, Bowie
U.S. Army
March 13, 2004: Iraq
Improvised explosive device


Sgt. 1st Class James Stoddard Jr.

29, Crofton
U.S. Army
September 30, 2005: Afghanistan
Vehicle rollover


Cpl. Justin Watts

20, Crownsville
U.S. Marine Corps
January 14, 2006: Iraq
Non-hostile gunshot wound


Staff Sgt. Heathe Craig

28, Severn
U.S. Army: Forward Support MEDEVAC Team NCO
June 21, 2006: Afghanistan
Malfunction of
helicopter hoist in an attempted evacuation


Staff Sgt. Christopher Swanson