3rd Squadron, 17thCav
In Vietnam yesterday....back from Afghanistan today...
Flying Slick.Gif


Valorous Unit Ribbon
Valorous Unit Ribbon

Defense of Saigon & Long Binh - 1968 TET
Cambodia Incursion - 1970
Operation Iraqi Freedom - May 07 - Aug 08



Page updated: 7 October 2015

Notice: This is an unofficial 3-17th Cavalry "Lighthorse" Regiment Support Page
hosted by Vietnam veterans of the 3/17th Air Cavalry "Redhorse" Squadron
for the Troopers serving our nation today!

© 2003 - 2017 Northwest Veterans Newsletter

[Page cleaned of broken DoD links on 12 Oct 2017]


We Support Our Troops



Slideshow produced by Vietnam Silver Spurs in honor of those 3-17th Troopers serving our country today...


Here's to the Heroes: A Military Tribute


God's Own Lunatics by Joe Galloway

God's Own Lunatics by Joe Galloway which I put to pictures by the Silver Spurs, A Troop, 3/17th Air Cavalry, Vietnam '67-'72.

We had the honor of having Joe Galloway as our keynote speaker for our 2008 Silver Spur reunion. He will return to be our speaker once again in April 2010. Joe is a true friend of all military veterans and those who serve our beloved nation today...

Roger "Bear" Young
Spur scout platoon crew chief, '69-'70
Spur webmaster



Page Directory:

Tributes Honoring fallen Troopers, Casualty Reports - Updated 17 Mar 13

Update Important Notices & Updates - Updated 7 Oct 15

Security Issues & Posting Policies

Organizations Supporting the 3-17th - Updated 12 Dec 08

Pictures from Earlier 3-17th Deployments - 2004-2008

Care Package Information - Updated 23 Jan 10

Articles/Forums - Updated 18 Dec 10

3-17th Active-duty Sites - Links updated 30 Jun 09

VA Programs to assist the survivors of military personnel who die on active duty

Read Personal Messages for the 3-17th Cav!





Some Gave All...



"Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lakes, from the hills,
From the skies,
All is well, safely rest.
God is nigh"


CW2 Brian D. Hazelgrove, 3-17th
OH-58D pilot KIA 23 Jan 04
In support of Operation Iraqi Freedom

CW2 Hazelgrove
CW2 Brian Hazelgrove
Courtesy of CNN


CW3 Patrick D. Dorff, 3-17th
OH-58D pilot - Non-hostile Casualty
[formerly Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown with 1st Lt. Adam G. Mooney]
In support of Operation Iraqi Freedom

CW2 Dorff
CW3 Patrick Dorff
Courtesy of CNN

the Dorff family
Patrick Dorff with wife Yamira (Jamie) & 3-yr-old daughter, Brisa
Photo courtesy of Star Tribune


1st Lt. Adam G. Mooney, 3-17th
OH-58D pilot - Non-hostile Casualty
[formerly DUSTWUN with CW3 Dorff]
In support of Operation Iraqi Freedom

1Lt Adam G. Mooney
1LT Adam Mooney
Courtesy of CNN


Sgt. Christopher A. Wagener
C Company, 10th Aviation Regt,
TF 3-17 Cav

Helicopter mechanic
Killed when his convoy vehicle hit a land mine in Mosul, Iraq, on July 1, 2004

In support of Operation Iraqi Freedom



Killed on 11 March 2013 - Afghanistan - UH-60 Crash
Attached to Taskforce Lighthorse, Operation Enduring Freedom

Staff Sgt. Steven P. Blass, 27, of Estherville, Iowa. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Henderson, 27, of Franklin, La. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

Capt. Sara M. Knutson, 27, of Eldersburg, Md. She was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

Staff Sgt. Marc A. Scialdo, 31, of Naples, Fla. He was assigned to the 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

Spc. Zachary L. Shannon, 21, of Dunedin, Fla. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.


Killed on 16 March 2013 - Afghanistan - OH-58D Crash
3-17th Cavalry Lighthorse, Operation Enduring Freedom

Chief Warrant Officer James E. Groves III, 37, of Kettering, Ohio, died March 16 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

Kettering pilot was near end of final tour by Terry Morris - 18 March 2013



Our profound condolences to these Trooper's families...
and their comrades...


Fiddler's Green

"..No trooper ever gets to Hell

Ere he's emptied his canteen.

And so rides back to drink again

With friends at Fiddlers' Green..."





Web pages from the 3-17th front lines!

3/17th LightHorse patch

U.S. Central Command - Official CENTCOM site

Direct links to the 3-17th Cav have been removed by the DoD - Apr 2015


Current A Troop, 3-17th Cav

Previously known as C Company, 1-10 Attack Diamondbacks, they changed their designation in November 2004. The Diamondbacks were attached to Task Force 3-17 in Iraq.

Prior to this designation change, young troopers of A Troop, 3-17th Cav served our nation with honor in Afghanistan. See: March 2004 VFW article on Apache Troop

Apache Troop was deactivated shortly after their return to the States, and the Diamondbacks were then redesignated A Troop and have resumed the use of the Silver Spurs as their call-sign, which is a great honor for all who served with the Silver Spurs so many years ago.

Roger "Bear" Young - Silver Spur webmaster





Important Notices & Updates



7 Oct 15 - 1-3 Reflags as 3-17th at Hunter Army Airfield:


2 Sep 15 - 3-17th to Fly Again:

3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division (3 CAB, 3 ID) writes on 1 Sept 2015:

"Thank you to all who supported 3-17 over the years and attended today's ceremony. Although they cased their colors today and the Kiowa's are retired, 3-17 will live on when 1-3 is reflagged as 3-17 next month. Stay tuned for details."

In short, the 3-17th will be back and armed with Apache helicopters.

Roger "Bear" Young

27 Aug 15:

Attention all 3/17th Cav Troopers, the unit is to be deactivated on September 1, 2015 at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, GA. The RSVP date was yesterday (very late notice) but just wanted to inform all it is the end of an era for all of us that served with the 3/17th Cav.

Roger "Bear" Young

13 May 15:

The final flight of the OH-58D with the 3-17th:

Posted 16 Apr 15:

From the 3-17th Facebook post: On April 6-9th, Scout Weapons Teams from A Troop "Silver Spurs" conducted the final OH-58D Kiowa Warrior live fire exercise for 3rd Squadron 17th Cavalry Regiment in support of 1st Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment. The event marked the last time Kiowa's were in direct support of ground forces conducting live fire exercises in the 3rd Infantry Division's history. SILVER SPURS! OUT FRONT! [End]

Posted 17 May 13:

Military Vet Returning Home? Here's Help With the Transition

Posted 17 Apr 13:

Returning Troops & the Transition Back to School -

Posted 17 Mar 13:

More tragic news:

Friends and Family of Lighthorse,

Today we said good-bye to a Lighthorse hero who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our great nation on March 16, 2013.

On behalf of the entire Lighthorse Family, I extend my deepest condolences to the family, friends and fellow Soldiers of our fallen.

Words can't describe what we are feeling at this time, but I will say that we were all honored to serve alongside of this hero. Our task force will once again come together to comfort one another and continue the mission to honor his life.

We ask that you pray for the other crewmember that has undergone surgery and is still being closely monitored. Our home detachment and family readiness group are absolutely committed to the care and support to the family of the fallen and the injured Soldier. We are incredibly fortunate to have a great team at home to support.

We will remain resolute in our mission here to support the ground forces to honor and show respect for our hero and all the fallen Soldiers.

LTC Michael Demirjian

March 17, 2013

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Chief Warrant Officer James E. Groves III, 37, of Kettering, Ohio, died March 16 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. This incident is under investigation.

For more information please contact the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Public Affairs Office at 912-210-9375.


Posted 13 Mar 13:

Tragic news in from LTC von Eschenbach, please keep all these young Troopers, their families and fellow Troopers in your prayers. The chopper went down near Kandahar city according to early reports.

I've reopened this 3-17th Support page on our Spur site in their honor.

God bless our fallen Troopers - Bear

"Bear-wanted to let you know that the 5 fatalities from the recent UH-60 crash in Afghanistan were from TF Lighthorse. Bravo Company 4-3 AVN was the assault company that was attached to the Squadron Taskforce for their current deployment to RC-South. Keep them in your prayers and wanted to see if you can send a note out to the Spurs and others."

March 16, 2013

The Department of Defense announced today the death of five soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

They died March 11, in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The incident is under investigation. Killed were:

Staff Sgt. Steven P. Blass, 27, of Estherville, Iowa. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Henderson, 27, of Franklin, La. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

Capt. Sara M. Knutson, 27, of Eldersburg, Md. She was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

Staff Sgt. Marc A. Scialdo, 31, of Naples, Fla. He was assigned to the 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

Spc. Zachary L. Shannon, 21, of Dunedin, Fla. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

For more information, media may contact the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Public Affairs Office at 912-210-9375.


13 May 12:

Videos posted: 3-17th Cav in Afghanistan


29 Oct 11:

Task Force Lighthorse Awarded Meritorious Unit Commendation


22 Jun 2011 - Change of Command on 15 Jun 11:


Col. Galli recently (15 June) turned over command of the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade to Col. Pepi. Galli is married to the daughter of a guy I flew with in the 119th in 1965, Bill Staubach. He sent me this. If you look closely, you can see the red & white guidon of the Silver Spurs.

Chuck Oualline, Spur 3

3rd CAB changes command - WTOC - 15 Jun 11


1 Apr 2011 - Change of Command speech by COL Galli on 15 Feb 2011:


Preface: Col. Galli is married to the daughter of a guy I flew with in 1965 in the 119th Aviation, Bill Staubach, and Bill sent me this. Col. Galli, LTC von Eschenbach's superior, delivered this speech (in Office Word) when von Eschenbach passed command of the Silver Spurs to LTC Demirjian. Task Force Lighthorse was the larger force of which A Troop 3/17 Cavalry was a member during their recent deployment to Afghanistan.

Chuck Oualline, Spur 3

Transcript of COL Galli's Speech

COL Hughes, CSM and Mrs. Stidley, Distinguished guests, fellow commanders, family and friends, and most of all, Troopers of 3-17 CAV - Out Front!

Good morning and welcome to today's change of command ceremony.

I'd like to extend a special welcome to the families of LTC von Eschenbach and LTC Demirjian. It is tremendous to have all of you here with us today. Thank you for joining us.

To the Division band and Battalion Color Guard, you add a special touch to the ceremony and Army tradition. You make us all proud.

CSM Lemke - the Troopers standing in formation today look great! Your leadership is evident and very much appreciated. Please join me in a round of applause for these great Soldiers! (Applause)

Today, we bid farewell to LTC Tom von Eschenbach, his wife Melissa, and their 3 boys, Joshua, Jacob and Jackson. You have served selflessly and answered the Nation's call time and again. Thank you for all you have done for our Nation, this Brigade, and especially the Troopers of Lighthorse. Tom, I want to personally thank you for your leadership and dedication to this Task Force and the Brigade. (PAUSE…….)

In 1969, Armor Magazine published an article entitled: "What is a Cavalryman?" This, in part, is what it said: [A] Cavalryman is confusion with profanity on his tongue … experience with three Purple Hearts on his chest … imagination with a slice of C4 in his mouth … and faith with body armor on his back. He isn't much for . . . RPGs, AK-47s . . . Kool-Aid, powdered eggs . . .walking, or waiting in line. A cavalryman is a fabulous creature . . . You can frustrate his desires, but you can't frustrate his drive. You can top his jokes, but you can't top his combat record. He's your conscience, your shadow, your second set of eyes, your psychiatrist, . . . and your despair. But when the chips are down and the bullets ricochet off the [aircraft] he's your pride and joy . . . a slashing, hard-charging bundle of nerve and sheer guts."

That is precisely what Tom and the Lighthorse team have been to the Marne Air Brigade.

Tom is a remarkable warrior, aviator, and leader. He is both well respected and well-liked. That combination is rare. Tom leads from the front. He's a Cavalryman.

Tom's unit is close-knit. The Troopers have a great affection for him and he for them. I felt that bond when I was with them on the battlefield. I can still feel it as I walk with them today . . . They are all Cavalrymen.

Throughout our deployment to Afghanistan, I spoke about seven immutable principles. I can assure you that Task Force Lighthorse lived and breathed all of those principles. But they honored three above all others. First, their aircrews NEVER left troops in contact. Second, they ALWAYS took extraordinary measures to save the lives of American Soldiers. Third, they ruthlessly pursued the enemy and defeated them.

Lighthorse was operating in what can truly be called "the rooftop of the world." They flew in the highest mountains, the deepest valleys, in the most challenging weather, and against the toughest enemy imaginable. Direct fire, troops in contact and enemy presence failed to provide a deterrent to the brave aircrews of Lighthorse. Their professionalism and skill were on display every day.

Lighthorse supported Mountain Warrior, Bastogne, and Coalition Forces. They brought reconnaissance, firepower, and supplies to the fight . . . often at great risk to themselves. They conducted 55 deliberate air assaults. They flew the Kiowa Warrior at altitudes never reached before in combat. Everybody said it couldn't be done. . . then Lighthorse did it . . . they are Cavalrymen.

They were based at Jalalabad, but their influence on the battlefield was felt throughout the Konar Valley, the Pesh-Korengal-Wagal Valleys, and the Waynot Valley, in villages and towns named Chapadara, Tan Teal, Watarpour, and Narwan, all the way to the infamous Tora Bora Mountains to their south. They flew in support of missions such as Operations Barge Matal, Strong Eagle, Bulldog Bite and Mountain Descent.

Across Lighthorse's area of operation, over 900 troops were stationed in small, mountain-top or valley outposts that were inaccessible by vehicle. These outposts were well-known because of the constant fighting that occurred in and around them: Restrepo, Michigan, Mace, Hammerhead, Able Main. The Soldiers at those outposts were reliant on Lighthorse's Chinooks and Blackhawks for essential equipment and supplies. Again, nobody believed it could be done. Lighthorse did it . . . they are Cavalrymen.

When the decision was made to pull troops out of the Korengal, everyone said it couldn't be done without significant loss of lives and equipment. Lighthorse did it . . . under red illum and in the darkness of night. No shots were fired. No one was lost.

That's not all they did. Lighthorse's Kiowa Warriors and Apaches secured coalition forces. They completed more than 1,000 missions as urgent response to troops in contact. They provided life-saving close-combat attacks, often within danger close range, and destroyed enemy forces. On Lighthorse's watch, no friendly Combat Outposts or Forward Operating Bases were overrun by the enemy. That's an incredible record of reconnaissance and security.

I had the tremendous honor to fly with them. I can tell you first-hand that each and every one of the aircrews demonstrated their fearlessness in the face of the enemy. They embody what it means to be Cavalrymen.

But don't just take my word for it. Listen to what others said about them.

COL Randy George, Commander of TF Mountain Warrior: "You and your pilots are consistently selfless and courageous team players . . . My thanks to Lighthorse for the incredible things you do every day."

LTC Brian Pearl, 2-12 Infantry Commander - "Phenomenal teamwork across the board . . . literally dealt a blow to the [insurgents] . . . the Taliban have never been dealt a serious blow like that - EVER."

And finally, BG Warren Phipps, DCG, 101st Airborne Division, "Task Force Falcon makes the remarkable look routine." He was inspired to say those words after watching an air assault in which Lighthorse made LZs that didn't previously exist - high in the Hindu Kush.

I could go on, but in short, when everyone said something was impossible, Lighthorse said "get out of my way" . . . And they got it done. That's because they are Cavalrymen.

The Lighthorse team at home was equally exceptional. I'd like to recognize and thank the incredible families for their devotion to these Soldiers and their dedicated service to our Nation.

Melissa, I offer a personal and heartfelt thanks to you. It was a long and difficult deployment for us. Your support of Tom and to the families of this Squadron made it easier to endure. Thank you.

And now, it's my pleasure to welcome LTC Mike Demirjian to the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade and 3/17 CAV. LTC Demirjian joins us from his latest assignment at the 82nd Airborne Division.

Mike, I welcome you, your wife Courtney and daughters Hannah and Kendall to the 3rd CAB. We are fortunate to have all of you as part of our team. I look forward to serving with you.

Troopers of 3/17 CAV - From now on, if someone ever asks me "What is a Cavalryman?", I won't need words . . . I will simply point them in the direction of 3/17 CAV Squadron.

You are incredible.

"Out Front! Marne Air! Rock of the Marne!"

Thank you. [End]


2 Mar 2011 - Change of Command speech by LTC Thomas von Eschenbach on 15 Feb 2011:


Lt. Col. Thomas von Eschenbach, Commander, 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry


Command Sgt. Maj. Richard B. Lemke, Command Sergeant Major, 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry


MG and Mrs. Cucolo----- COL and Mrs. Hughes----COL and Mrs. Galli

CSM Ashmen----CSM and Mrs. Stidley

Fellow Commanders, Command Sergeants Major

Family and friends

Thank you for attending today's ceremony.

Troopers of TF Lighthorse you look great today. As we close the book on another chapter in the history of the 17th Cavalry Regiment, know that each and every one of you played a part in adding an impressive list of accomplishments to an already storied unit.

Before I begin my comments I would like to thank a few people for their efforts in not only getting me here but in also in sharing in the ride during the past two years.

To my entire family for their tireless and unwavering support; Mom, Dad, Melissa, Jacob, Josh, and Jack-you are the cornerstone of my life and make me who I am. You gracefully share the burden of today's military service and keep my chin up during the bad times and my feet grounded during the good times.

Melissa, I couldn't have made it here without you. You continue to amaze me with your ability to take on every challenge and still have the composure to look for the good in anything and still smile about it.

To my boys, I hope you guys can one day understand that although my job often comes at a price to you, freedom is not free and service to your fellow man, in any form, is a noble cause. Thanks in advance for your continued patience as we will soon again embark on yet another journey together.

To my Mom and Dad-thanks for always being there and allowing me to choose my own path in life; your support and admiration means more than words can say.

To COL Galli-thank you for allowing me an amazing amount of latitude to command my formation and a never ending trust in my abilities. We have come a long way since our days in PCC together.

To my fellow battalion commanders-I couldn't have asked for a better team of warriors and friends to command next to. Thanks for your humor, advice, and ear.

To my battle buddy and the best Command Sergeant Major I have ever served with. Fate put us together and I was fortunate to have you by my side. I never felt alone in commanding the unit as you were the action to my ideas and the energy behind my vision. Your passion is what made this good unit a great one. You embody the aggressive spirit of a Cavalryman and always take care of the Soldier first. What you have accomplished is truly amazing.

During today's change of command ceremony you watched a time honored tradition of the passing of colors. Although much changes in a unit over time, it is the colors and the legacy of those that have served under those colors that always remains. I often challenged Lighthorse to understand the responsibility of maintaining that legacy. I reminded them that no matter how large the obstacle or how difficult the mission; success was the only option. I made only one promise to our supported ground force commanders during our deployment to the N2KL. A promise that TF Lighthorse would bring every capability we had to bear against a persistent and highly dedicated enemy force. I knew that, much like many of our Cavalry brothers from the past, we were called to perform our duty during a crucial period of time, as the outcome of our efforts heavily influenced and shaped the future of Afghanistan that hung in the balance.

The Soldiers you see on the tarmac in front of you range in age from as old as 50 to as young as 19. They represent the true melting pot of America hailing from many parts of the United States and the world. They had no choice in where they were born, but they did choose to serve as Soldiers. They were brought together as very different people with unique skills and experiences. However, they were transformed under the stresses of combat--forged together as one with a common focus on accomplishing an important mission. I could talk for hours about the hours we flew, the cargo and Soldiers we air assaulted, the ammo we shot and the enemy we killed. I could read from a long list of individual achievements and demonstrations of bravery. But I often said that there are those that do and those that talk about it, and we are the doers. I could tell a hundred stories about our heroic actions in places like Mara Wara, Chapa Dara, Barge-e-Matal, the Pech, Korengal, Shuryak. I could proudly talk of the amazing feats of our Soldiers at Jbad, Abad, Blessing, OP Mace, Hill 1311, the Ghaki Pass, Sherzad, Ranger Rock, the KOP. Although those names mean little to most people, they mean everything to us. Those are where we shed blood, sweat, and tears in some of the most extreme terrain in the world. Those are the places that I often saw firsthand what I referred to as the "Lighthorse Spirit". A spirit that never turned away from danger and took on every task with an attitude that no mission was too difficult; no cost too great.

Service to our Nation can be challenging and involves significant costs in many forms, but one of the many returns on our investment is the fact that these Soldiers are outstanding worldly ambassadors of our American values, ideals, and standards. I believe those Soldiers that stand out in front of you today factor largely in the formula that makes the United States of America the greatest Nation on this Earth. I am proud to simply walk amongst them and be in the company of such fine citizens and Soldiers. After one our many missions Lighthorse 7 famously wrote that

"The amount of blood, sweat, tears, and energy put into today's extremely high risk mission would not fit into any earthly container. The heart of an American Soldier is the only thing big enough. I am honored to be part of the whole, for the whole will risk all for the part."

I too am honored to be part of the whole and was honored for those Soldiers to call me their Commander.

It was a great ride and I am confident the Lighthorse will continue do great things under the leadership of LTC Mike Demirjian. Mike, you and Courtney have a great team. Show them the way and they will surely take you to new heights and places you never thought possible.

Out Front!
Marne Air!
Rock of the Marne!

Lt. Col. Michael E. Demirjian
New Commander
3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry


15 Feb 2011 - Change of Command:

My buddy from the 119th Aviation Company, Bill Staubach, phoned me today from Alabama. One of his daughters is married to Col. Galli, the Brigade CO at Hunter.

Today the 3-17 had a change of command ceremony for LTC Thomas von Eschenbach. The new Squadron CO, as of 15 February, is LTC Demergen. I am told that Col. Galli gave a great speech praising "the Cav." Am trying to get a copy of it.

Chuck Oualline


20 Dec 2010 - Message from the webmaster:

I want to express my personal thanks to LTC Thomas von Eschenbach for his unprecedented communications to keep us informed during their 2009-2010 deployment to Afghanistan.

It is clear from the 25 pictures and updates below that their missions were conducted in extremely difficult & challenging terrain without a loss of one Trooper. This is indeed a credit to their leadership, the pilots, aircrews & maintenance personnel who kept the aircraft flying. Truly a team effort led by Lighthorse 6.

I know that all the Troopers who served with the 3/17th Cav in Vietnam are extremely proud of these young men & women serving our country today! Welcome Home and enjoy the holidays with your families & friends!


Roger "Bear" Young
Spur Scout Crewchief, '69-'70


20 Dec 2010 - Welcome Home Celebration:

Colors Uncased

Presenting Formation


Uncasing Colors

Welcome Home Poster


19 Dec 2010:

Thought you might enjoy these, flying into the Kamdesh Valley.

LTC Tom von Eschenbach
Commander, TF Lighthorse


18 Dec 2010:

In from Lighthorse 6:

3rd Combat Aviation Brigade Soldiers return at Thanksgiving - U.S. Army

"...Words don't express how proud I feel,' said Col. Galli, as he tearfully began to speak about the 240 Soldiers from the 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, the second to last group of Task Force Falcon Soldiers to return from Afghanistan after a one-year deployment..."

AU grad leads troops in Afghanistan Modern-day cavalry - Montgomery Advertiser - 15 Dec 10

24 Nov 2010 - Return of the Silver Spurs::

A buddy of mine from my first tour has a daughter married to a commander based at Hunter Army Airfield. Today my buddy attended a welcome home ceremony/party there for the 3rd Squadron 17th Cavalry, including our A Troop. They are back home, with no losses. He said they wore Cav hats and spurs in the formation.

Chuck Oualline, Spur 3

27 Oct 2010 - The Hard Work From The Ground

I usually send some pics from the air. These are taken from the ground by an Infantry unit we supported on a operation a couple of weeks ago.

LTC Tom von Eschenbach
Commander, TF Lighthorse
FOB Fenty

19 Oct 2010

A link to a article on what we have been up to lately. Has been a busy month as we were heavily involved with the attempts to find and rescue the kidnapped British aid worker Linda Norgrove. Will be handing the mission over to a unit from Fort Drum, NY next month. Thanks for everyone's support.

'Al Qaeda associate' killed during Kunar operation By Bill Roggio

LTC Tom von Eschenbach
Commander, TF Lighthorse
FOB Fenty

29 Sep 2010

Following link for an article posted by the Long War Journal on a recent operation we conducted.

ISAF, Afghan forces kill 30 Taliban in air assault in eastern Afghanistan

LTC Tom von Eschenbach
Commander, TF Lighthorse
FOB Fenty

24 Sep 2010

Below are three links to a recent three-part series done for the Stars & Stripes. It is a documentary of a battle that was fought here in the Konar Valley in June that had support from TF Lighthorse. Although we aren't mentioned by name and the story leaves out of details of our involvement, I am sure you can fill in the blanks of our role in this battle. Hope you enjoy.

A nervous night, then a brutal battle in unrelenting summer heat

'I don't know if discipline is something you can teach'

A tough lesson on who wants it more

LTC Tom von Eschenbach
Commander, TF Lighthorse
FOB Fenty

20 Sep 2010

Link below will take you to the CJTF-101 site that has an article on two Lighthorse aviators that were recently awarded the Broken Wing. All is well here as we are in our final 60 days. Working hard to keep the focus on the mission and not smelling the barn. Chris Downey and his 6-6 Shooters will start flowing in mid to late October. Could not have asked for a better Commander to hand this mission off to.

TF Falcon Soldiers receive Broken Wing award

LTC Tom von Eschenbach
Commander, TF Lighthorse
FOB Fenty


As a sidenote, the approximate cut-off date for Care Packages to the 3-17th would be 10 Oct 10 - Roger "Bear" Young, webmaster.

9 Sep 2010

Attached is a picture of the MEDEVAC section that is here at JAF with TF Lighthorse (of course that is CSM Lemke on the ground sneaking into the picture in the lower left hand corner). The MEDEVAC Company from the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade is spread all over Regional Command East in Afghanistan in order to support such a critical mission that is almost exclusively done by helicopter. At JAF the company placed a section of 3 x UH-60s with crews. Although, the section we had here was still assigned to the General Support Aviation Battalion and only under my operational control (OPCON), they wanted and we allowed them to wear the Stetson to signify that they were part of the Lighthorse team. One of the warrants, CW3 Jeff Roberts, pitched the proposal for them to wear the grey Stetson of Lighthorse Harry and General Robert E. Lee since they were part of Lighthorse and since they would be the only MEDEVAC section in the Army to wear Stetsons. Well the plan was approved and it took them no time to order their Stetsons and break them in Cav style. They wear them everywhere and I am extremely proud to have them as part of TF Lighthorse.

LTC Tom von Eschenbach
Commander, TF Lighthorse
FOB Fenty

7 Sep 2010


Like a proud father I would like to share with you a recent picture of Task Force Lighthorse in Afghanistan. Although the picture isn't the entire team due to the demands of 24/7 combat operations, like good Cavalrymen we did the best we could with what we had. What you do see in this picture is a Multi-Functional Aviation Task Force made with American Dog Face Marne Air Cavalrymen who not only do their Nations' bidding every day; they do it with phenomenal attitude, expertise, and pride. Combat deployments are challenging and have significant costs in many forms, but one of the many returns on our investment is the fact that American Soldiers are outstanding worldly ambassadors of our values, ideals, and standards. I believe with a little bit of pride and prejudice that our military servicemen, both past and present, factor largely in the formula that makes the United States of America the greatest Nation on this Earth. I am proud to simply walk amongst and be in the company of such fine citizens and Soldiers and have them call me their Commander.

LTC Tom von Eschenbach
Commander, TF Lighthorse
FOB Fenty

Task Force Light Horse, 3-17 Cav

24 Aug 2010

LTC von Eschenbach & CW2 Rankin

23 Aug 2010

The following two pictures are courtesy of CSM Lemke, 3-17th Air Cav:

Kiowa Flag

21 Aug 2010

Article in the upcoming issue of Men's Journal about Kiowa Warrior pilots. Pretty good read on what we do here. The units in this article is stationed south near Kandahar and are commanded by a good friend of mine that I went to flight school with, LTC Hank Taylor. They are out of Fort Campbell.

LTC Tom von Eschenbach
Commander, TF Lighthorse
FOB Fenty

PDF: America's New Cavalry by Michael Hastings

21 Jul 2010

US hunts wanted Taliban and al Qaeda commander in Kunar


30 Jun 2010

Agency to launch online voter registration assistant to ease registration process - U.S. Army - Posted 30 Jun 10


26 Apr 2010

We Will Never Leave A Fallen Comrade - The February 8th Lighthorse MEDEVAC Mission [2003 Microsoft Office document file] courtesy of LTC Tom von Eschenbach, Lighthorse 6.


CSM is flying our battle flag here in the
back of a Chinook
CSM flying 3-17th battle flag in the back of a Chinook
courtesy of LTC Tom von Eschenbach, Lighthorse 6


19 Apr 2010

Tip of the Spear - MSNBC Special Report

14 Apr 2010

Thanks to Sharon H. I learned today that the 3-17th is on Facebook. See: Lighthorse Inn

Roger "Bear" Young, Spur Trooper & webmaster


10 Mar 2010

Getting Ready to Fly
LTC Tom von Eschenbach & CW2 Vanduynhoven


5 Mar 2010

This February edition of the Falcon Flyer and three pictures just in from LTC Tom von Eschenbach, Lighhorse 6.

PDF: Falcon Flyer - Feb 2010 edition - Requires

Afghan helicopters coming in for fuel at our FARP
Afghan helicopters coming in for fuel at our FARP


Snap from the countryside as the SS flew a mission in the Konar Valley
Snap from the countryside as the SS flew a mission in the Konar Valley

Kunar Valley
Kunar Valley


26 Feb 2010

This Lighthorse newsletter just in from LTC Tom von Eschenbach, Lighthorse 6.

PDF: Lighthorse FRG Newsletter #3 - Requires


10 Feb 2010

Wanted to pass on a story to you and the guys about Lighthorse in Afghanistan.

Without getting into too much details in a story that would take an hour to tell, on Monday February 8th we sent aircraft in terrible weather into one of the highest threat areas in Afghanistan and picked up a wounded Soldier and flew him to Bagram Airfield. My most memorable moment of event was standing in the TOC looking at the faces of the aircrews and leaders as they were looking at me for a decision to go. We had already launched and turned around once but they wanted to try again. This time we were going to try with only an Apache and one MEDEVAC. I called the ground force to see how long a ground evac would take and was told 2 hours to get it going. The roads were bad and the Soldier was on a breathing apparatus and the bumping ride would make it very difficult to keep him stable. One of the pilots says to me, "Sir, we can do it. Let us try". The look of confidence on this face said it all. I still had to call the Brigade Commander for permission but told them. "OK, get to your aircraft, I'll tell COL Galli we are going." I called Falcon 6, who was aware of the previous attempt, and instead of asking told him that we were trying again. He approved and the rest is history. The Soldier is awake and responsive in the CSH at Bagram. Fate had it hands in many things that day. Below is the email my Command Sergeant Major sent out to the leaders that night. Pretty awesome stuff that will bring tears to your eyes.

"Today was one of the most humbling days of my 21 year adventure with the Army. Today we saved a life. The family of the Soldier that was snatched from the hands of death in the Pech Valley will never know. Rightfully so, it is not within our character to boast. They will never know that, we too, value their Son as if we were Family and so much more. We are him. We will never leave a fallen comrade. Thanking the enormous team involved in saving this Soldier would take a novel, so I will attempt to do it with brevity.

From Colonel to Private.......

The amount of blood, sweat, tears, and energy put into today's extremely high risk MEDEVAC mission would not fit into any earthly container. The heart of an American Soldier is the only thing big enough. I am honored to be part of the whole, for the whole will risk all for the part. We have come a long way from beginning of the formation of Task Force Lighthorse at Fort Bliss, TX.

From the Commanders who deliberately agreed to trust their Troopers to the aircrews that wouldn't quit. From the NCO that busts his knuckles daily making sure our horses are fixed, fueled, and armed to the countless others that make sure the mission comes first, all the way down to the private on the radio.

7 for 1. Seven went into harm's way for one.

Nerve, guts, bravery, courage, gallantry, valor. Parts of the whole."

LTC Tom von Eschenbach
Commander, TF Lighthorse
FOB Fenty


9 Feb 2010

Thought you might enjoy

LTC Tom von Eschenbach
Commander, TF Lighthorse

Battle Flag
3-17th, Afghanistan, Feb 2010
"Blood Before Dishonor"


Lighthorse 6 pinning on combat patches
Lighthorse 6 pinning on combat patches


22 Jan 2010

Fellow Spurs,

I've posted a page on Pam's and my newsletter blog where you can view and post messages for the 3-17th Cav in the comment section. I had some problems with the password protection so have opened it up for all as of today so you can post your messages.

Please feel free to use it and show your support for the 3-17th Cav serving in Afghanistan today. You can view the page here.

Roger "Bear" Young


19 Jan 2010

As you know, this is Lighthorse's third deployment since the beginning of the "War on Terror". I don't know if you have kept up with the other Squadrons histories but three years ago, as the fight against the Taliban was expanded, an Aviation Task Force was formed in Jalalabad. It was no coincidence that a Cavalry Squadron was selected to perform full spectrum aviation operations in support of coalition forces in the toughest and most demanding region of Afghanistan. As the third unit in a line of 17th Cavalry Regiment units, (2-17 CAV was 2008-08, 7-17 CAV was 2008-08, and 3-17 will be 2009-10), I promised the ground force commander that we will bring every capability Army Aviation has to bear against a persistent and highly dedicated enemy force. Much like our Cavalry brothers in Vietnam, we are called again to perform our duty during a crucial period of time, the outcomes of our efforts will influence and shape not only the future of Afghanistan but possibly the future of the world. I say with a little bit of pride and prejudice that there is no better team than us to accomplish that task. Our Troopers take great pride in carrying on the legacy and reputation of those that served in the 17th Cavalry before us. It is what makes us so great. Thank you for forging the path for the present day Troopers.

I am attaching a picture of CSM Lemke and I uncasing the colors on 8 Dec in Afghanistan.

LTC Tom von Eschenbach
Commander, TF Lighthorse

Uncasing the Colors
Uncasing the Colors
Courtesy of LTC Tom von Eschenbach, Lighthorse 6

3-17th Squadron Colors
3-17th Squadron Colors
Courtesy of LTC Tom von Eschenbach, Lighthorse 6

Kiowa Warrior
Kiowa Warrior flying up the Konar Valley
Courtesy of LTC Tom von Eschenbach, Lighthorse 6

PDF: Falcon Flyer January 2010 Newsletter [Similar to our old "Hawk" newsletters]

PDF: Lighthorse FRG Newsletter #1

PDF: Lighthorse FRG Newsletter #2


18 Jan 2010

It is clear from the 3-17th site and their FRG page that the squadron is now in Afghanistan.

You can read a few updates from their FRG page [above].

Roger "Bear" Young, Spur trooper & webmaster

9 Nov 2009

I'm LTC Jim Ward - the former XO/S-3 for 3-17 Cav during our 2007-08 Iraq deployment. Thought you might be interested to know that 3-17 Cav was again awarded the Valorous Unit Award for OIF 07-09 (our rotation - May 07-Aug 08).

Best to Trapper and the others you are in contact with.

Hope all is well with you and all!


James E. Ward


VUA - 5 May 07 to 5 Aug 08

17th Cavalry Regiment, 3d Squadron, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop (to include subordinate units: Troop A, 3d Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment; Troop B, 3d Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment; Troop C, 3d Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment; Troop D, 3d Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment; Troop E, 3d Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment; Detachment, Company B, 277th Support Battalion)



19 Mar 2009

I'm glad to report that Chuck Oualline has heard directly from CPT Schildman, the A Troop Commander. Here's hoping this will lead to improved communications with the 3-17th.

Roger "Bear" Young - Spur webmaster


5 Nov 2008

With the move of the 3-17th from Ft. Drum, Chuck Oualline, LTC (Ret.) & Spur 3, will be our interim POC with the 3-17th. We thank Trapper and Sue for the years of being our POC with the 3-17th while they were stationed at Ft. Drum!


21 Oct 2008


On behalf of LTC Fowler and CSM Whitney, I would like to invite you and all the 17th Cavalry brothers and alumni to the casing of the Squadron Colors, our last formal military ceremony at Fort Drum.

Ceremony will be simple and short, and will be held at 1330 on 31 October 2008 in the Squadron Hangar at Fort Drum. The reviewer will be COL(P) Mangum, the Division-Rear Commander.

Please let me know if you will be able to make it, and how many people you think might be interested in coming up via your extensive Veteran network.


James E. Ward
S3, 3-17 Cavalry


Casing of the Colors ceremony, Ft. Drum
Casing of the Colors Ceremony at Ft. Drum on 31 Oct 08.
Photos courtesy of Al "Trapper" Kemes


Casing of the Colors ceremony, Ft. Drum
Attending left to right, Col. Kevin Mangum, David Russell Spur 6 70-71, Maj. David Essels 3/17th 70-71,
Al "Trapper" Kemes A Trp 3/17th Scouts 68-69, Sue Kemes, LTC Fowler, CSM Whitney

[Webmaster's note: The 3-17th is in the process of moving to be part of the 3rd Infantry Division in Georgia. Please see our 14 Jul 2008 update below. Roger "Bear" Young]


25 July 2008

According to information posted by the Ft. Drum PAO, HHT, 3-17th is scheduled to return on 31 Jul 08 (subject to change).

A warm "Welcome Home" to all the 3-17th Troopers and job well done !


21 July 2008

3-17th Main Body II was rescheduled to arrive home on 20 Jul 08 according to the Ft. Drum PAO. More news if/when posted by Ft. Drum.


14 July 2008

3-17th Main Body I Returns home:

Aviation brigade squadron to be welcomed home Sunday - Watertown Daily Times - 12 Jul 08

"...The soldiers from the 3-17 will be part of the switch that Col. Kevin W. Mangum announced at the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization annual meeting. The unit will consolidate and then move to Hunter Army Airfield at Fort Stewart, Ga. to become part of the 3rd Infantry Division. In return, an AH-64A Apache battalion will be reassigned to Wheeler-Sack and the 10th Mountain Division..."


9 July 2008

Greetings all,

[Some of] the Troops are back. Sue and I made it a point to go to Ft. Drum to see the advanced team home, they arrived at 03:00 3 July and even though most did not have much sleep it was a great feeling to see old friends back and out of harms way. We also plan to be there when the main force arrives.





3-17th Pilots Shot Down in Iraq Tell of Dramatic Escape
The Washington Post - 4 Jul 07




Silver Spurs Ride Again!
17 Nov 2004


I'm CPT Craig McNamara and until recently I have been the commander of C Company 1-10 AVN. For the past 15 months we have been attached to Task Force Light Horse here in Northern Iraq. The Squadron has reorganized under the new 10th Mountain Division Task Organization. Our company’s attachment has now been made permanent and we have been redesignated as A Troop 3-17th Cavalry. So once again in its history A Troop is an Air Cavalry Troop. It is with great pride and through the understanding of the experiences over the last year that I and all the troopers have chosen to adopt the Silver Spur call sign. We are returning to Fort Drum in the near future and would very much like to maintain our roots and remember those who have fought and served under our guidon. I hope this finds you and all our Silver Spur brothers in good health. We will be in touch. Cavalry!

CPT Craig McNamara
Silver Spur 6

New Silver Spur Patch
New Silver Spur patch courtesy of Trapper


19 Jul 2005

Dear sirs,

My name is SSG Patrick Allen, we had this picture taking just before our trip to Mosul, Iraq about an hour drive. Just wanted to let you see what the new Silver Spurs looked like a year ago. We are all crew chiefs and proud of what we are doing and always think of our comrads before us. We have decades between us but war will never change. Hope to see you brothers soon down the road. "Silver Spurs ride again"

P.S. "Welcome Home"

SSG Patrick Allen
A Troop 3-17th Cavalry "Silver Spurs"

Current 3-17th Silver Spurs
(L to R)
Spc Baker, Sgt Guarino, Spc Testruth, SSG Allen, Spc Cole,
Sgt Wells, Spc Lambert, Spc Cortes, SFC Williams, Sgt Quimby
(Photo courtesy of SSG Allen)




Updated: 7 Dec 04 - Security Issues & Posting Policies

1) This page will focus on honoring those 3-17th Troopers who have fallen while serving our country during these trying times, until the current 3-17th elects to take over this important duty.

2) Reports, such as troop homecomings, will only be reported after the fact.

3) Articles on the 3-17th that come to our attention will only be posted after that mission is completed and not before.

5) As of 1 June 04, no futher communiques from the current 3-17th will be posted that have not been sent to me directly, nor cleared by the Public Affairs Office. It will be the responsibility of the sender to have the information provided cleared by the PAO.

Gathering and sharing of information is and always has been a vital security concern for all of us involved with supporting the current 3-17th.

Please see: Loose Lips Still Sink Ships - Courtesy of

Roger "Bear" Young - Spur Trooper & webmaster



Helping Those Organizations That Have Supported the 3-17th

Postage is expensive for shipping the care packages. Perhaps you might consider contributing to one of the following organizations that have been so supportive of the 3-17th Cavalry. I've provided hyperlinks to these organizations solely for your personal consideration and for background information:

Those who could use help and have delivered packages to the 3-17th Cav:

The following outstanding organizations sent packages to the 3-17th during their 2007-2008 deployment to Iraq. Fellow Spur, Charlie Helms is our POC for the following groups:

SI Yellow Ribbon
Amy Oxford

Operation Military Pride
16439 W. Cottonwood St
Surprise, AZ 85374

Star Support Military Group
3735 Challenger Dr
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86406

Treats For Troops
14 Inverness Drive East, Suite F-148
Englewood, CO 80112

Smiles For Troops


Of course here are some other very worthy organizations They provide information in ways to help at:

Fisher House -- Helping Military Families - OUTSTANDING program! These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful time -- during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.

Wounded Warrior Hospital Fund - A connection to contribute directly to our wounded at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

Fallen Patriot Fund - Helping families and those seriously wounded and discharged from the military.

USO Home Page

Thank you,

Roger "Bear" Young - Spur webmaster





Pictures From Earlier Deployments

Task Force Lighthorse
Courtesy of 3-17th Trooper in Iraq, 2004


Silver Spurs in Iraq 2007
Silver Spurs in Iraq, 2007-2008
Via CPT Russ Corwin


Silver Spurs Flying in Iraq 2007
Silver Spurs Flying in Iraq, 2007-2008
Via CPT Russ Corwin


Silver Spurs Awarded Combat Action Badge
Silver Spurs Awarded Combat Action Badge [CAB] in Iraq, 2007
Via CPT Russ Corwin


Silver Spur Night Ops
Silver Spurs in Iraq, 2007
Via CPT Russ Corwin


Silver Spur Iraq Patch
Silver Spur Iraq Patch
Via Chuck Ouilline


Silver Spur Special Mission
Silver Spurs Flying Our Nation's Flag in the vicinity of Baghdad, Iraq - 4 Jul 2008
Via CW3 Michael Montoya Jr.


Silver Spurs meet Sharon Harrilchak at Cornell University
In Oct 2008, some of the Silver Spurs from Ft. Drum went to Cornell University
to meet Sharon Harrilchak (second from left) and her sisters Mary & Linda.
Sharon, her sisters and friends supported the Silver Spurs during their
2007-2008 deployment and kept us informed




CARE Package Information
Updated: 23 Jan 10


23 Jan 10: With the unit now deployed, you will need to contact Chuck Oualline, our POC, for the current APOs of the 3-17th Cav in Afghanistan. The APOs will NOT be publicly posted for security reasons!

Prohibited items:

Pornography, alcohol, weapons, ammunition, liquids, perishable food, aerosol cans.

Most wanted items:

Movies on DVD - these are a big hit.

TV shows on DVD or CD so we can watch on our computers - recent stuff is awesome (Network series that are ongoing, HBO series, etc)

Magazines (used is fine - sports, fishing, cars, Time, Newsweek, US News, etc),

Snacks - nuts, crackers, cookies, jerky, etc.

Coffee/coffee filters - any good kind of coffee! Ground or beans.

Webmaster & host of this page: Roger "Bear" Young






Articles/Forums & Misc


Kiowa enhancements to give aging warrior new life
U.S. Army - 28 Oct 10

Echo Troop, 3-17 Cav. 'Makes Mission Happen'
Courtesy of Troop Scoop submitted by fellow Spur, Gary Swartz

Submitted by Chuck Oualline, Spur 3

'Troops to Teachers' program turns veterans into teachers
Seattle Times - 6 Dec 09

VA Welcoming Vets Home with New Web Site, Blog
VA Press Release - 20 Apr 09

24 Feb 09: A new DoD support site for our troops, veterans & their
families linked to the efforts of the DCoE

3-17th Pilots Shot Down in Iraq Tell of Dramatic Escape
The Washington Post - 4 Jul 07

Commonly Requested Military Forms
Courtesy of



VA Benefits for Survivors of Military Personnel Involved in Operations Iraqi
Freedom and Enduring Freedom

17 Aug 04

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a variety of programs to assist the survivors of military personnel who die on active duty.

Summary of Benefits

Survivors receive certain payments or benefits regardless of whether the in-service death is due to combat, accident or disease, including:

* Burial benefits for the deceased service member, which include a gravesite in any VA national cemetery with available space, perpetual care of the grave at no cost to the family, a government headstone or marker, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate.

* Dependency and Indemnity Compensation at the monthly rate of $967 for a surviving spouse or more if there are dependent children.

* Life insurance, which most military members carry at the highest level, $250,000.

More information about how VA services apply in individual cases is available from veterans services representatives at 800-827-1000.

Casualty Assistance Program

VA has a Casualty Assistance Program to give personal attention to surviving family members after in-service deaths, and to help them with benefit information and applications. A casualty assistance officer is designated at each of VA's 57 regional offices. These VA officers work closely with military casualty officers to ensure timely assistance is available to beneficiaries.

Reservists and National Guard Eligibility

When a member of the Reserves or National Guard dies while federally activated or on inactive duty for training, the death is considered service-connected for VA death benefits. Activation of a National Guard unit by a governor alone in support of current security operations does not qualify unit members for these VA benefits, except life insurance.

Monthly Payments for Spouse and Children

When a service member dies while on active duty, the death is considered service-connected unless it was due to willful misconduct. VA pays at least $967 a month in Dependency and Indemnity Compensation to surviving spouses. In most cases, survivors' claims are processed within 48 hours.

In some cases VA can pay more than $967 a month, such as a $241 benefit for each dependent child who is unmarried and under age 18 or up to age 23 if studying at a VA-approved school. Payments are increased if the surviving spouse is housebound or needs a home aide. The basic rate for survivors is adjusted annually and payments continue generally until the death or remarriage of the spouse before age 57. Remarriage after age 57 does not affect benefits. Additional information about benefits for family members, to include low-income parents of the veteran, is available at .

Life Insurance

Most service members and reservists take VA's life insurance coverage, Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, though a few decline coverage. Most choose coverage at the highest levels and their designated beneficiary receives a payment of $250,000. VA has paid every claim related to Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom within 48 hours of receiving the necessary paperwork. VA also offers beneficiaries free, personalized financial planning through a financial services company. More information is available at .

Burial in a VA National Cemetery

Members of the armed forces and veterans, their spouses and dependent children may be buried in any of VA's national cemeteries with available space. There currently are 120 national cemeteries across the nation and 83 have available grave space. More information is available at .

Burial in a Non-VA Cemetery

Deaths of active-duty members are not covered by VA's financial burial allowance benefits, since the military services assist survivors with funeral expenses and the cost of burial in private cemeteries. If a family wishes to arrange burial in a non-VA cemetery, VA will provide a headstone or marker for the grave.

Burial in a State Veterans Cemetery

Although not a benefit provided by VA, burial in a state veterans cemetery is an option available in many states for those who die on active duty. Some states have residency requirements and may impose additional limitations.

Military Funeral Honors

Upon request, the Department of Defense will provide military funeral honors. This arrangement typically is made by the funeral director. At least two uniformed service members fold and present the flag and play "Taps" by a recording or a bugler. Additional information about funeral honors is available at .

Military Burial Flags

In the case of in-service deaths, the Defense Department provides a U.S. flag to drape the casket or to be presented at a memorial service. After the service, the flag is given to the next of kin.

Health Care

Health care benefits for the survivors of service members killed in action in Operations Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom are provided by the military. For more information, see .

Educational Assistance When an active-duty service member dies, VA's Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program generally provides up to 45 months of education benefits to the un-remarried surviving spouse for 10 years, or for children aged 18 to 26. Currently the rate is $788 a month for full-time attendance, with lesser amounts for part-time education. This benefit may be used to pursue secondary school programs; associate, bachelor or graduate degrees; technical or vocational training; apprenticeships; and other types of training, including work-study programs. More information is available at .

Refund of Service Member's Unused GI Bill Contribution

If the deceased service member had contributed to the Montgomery GI Bill education program, the designated life insurance beneficiary or surviving spouse is entitled to a refund of the money that was collected through payroll deduction but was not awarded in education benefits during the service member's lifetime. Most active-duty military members participate in this educational benefit program, which deducts $1,200 from their pay at $100 monthly during their first year of service.

Home Loans

Surviving spouses of military members may be eligible for a VA-guaranteed home loan from a private lender. The loan may be used to purchase, construct or improve a home, to refinance an existing mortgage or for certain other purposes. As with the program for veterans, VA guarantees part of the total loan, permitting the purchaser to obtain a mortgage with a competitive interest rate. Except for manufactured homes and other select cases, the surviving spouse may obtain a no-downpayment loan if the lender agrees.

Presidential Memorial Certificate Program

The service member's next of kin receives a Presidential Memorial Certificate. Additional certificates are available for other loved ones upon request to VA. The gold embossed parchment-style paper is inscribed with the service member's name and bears the president's signature. It expresses the nation's gratitude for the deceased person's military service.

People wishing to receive e-mail from VA with the latest news releases and updated fact sheets can subscribe at the following Internet address:



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