Viral post pits coverage of Sheen, fallen soldiers
From left, Army Spc. Rudolph Hizon, Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt, Staff Sgt. Chauncy Mays, and Spc. Brian Tabada.
March 10th, 2011
03:19 PM ET

Viral post pits coverage of Sheen, fallen soldiers

By Wayne Drash, CNN

It started with a Facebook status update. Upset at the media's coverage of Charlie Sheen, someone took up for American soldiers dying in Afghanistan.

"Charlie Sheen is all over the news because he's a celebrity drug addict," it said, "while Andrew Wilfahrt 31, Brian Tabada 21, Rudolph Hizon 22, Chauncy Mays 25, are soldiers who gave their lives this week with no media mention. Please honor them by posting this as your status for a little while."

The status update has since gone viral, shared by tens of thousands on Facebook. An abbreviated version is on Twitter.

When a friend of mine posted the message on her Facebook page, it was a sobering reminder of the news media’s failings of covering the Afghanistan war. I kept returning to the names of the four soldiers. Who were these men? What’s their story?

I started by calling the father of Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt (pronounced WILL-fort) in Rosemount, Minnesota.

“I think it’s spot on,” Jeff Wilfahrt said of the viral post.

His 31-year-old son was killed while on foot patrol outside Kandahar on February 27, around the same day the Sheen media blitz kicked into high gear.

“From the Charlie Sheens to Lindsay Lohans, who are these people and what good have they done in society?” Jeff Wilfahrt said. “What are we collectively doing as a society? How do you wake people up?

“In part, sir,” he said, “I blame the press.”

Andrew Wilfahrt was a Renaissance man with an infectious laugh. In his obituary, his parents described him as “compassionate, smart and witty. He was an admirer, composer and player of music who believed deeply in art and humanity. Andrew was fascinated by math, palindromes, maps, patterns, mashed potatoes and the absurd.”

He was also anti-war - part of a “strong family of lefties” from Minnesota, his father said. Andrew stunned everyone when he announced two years ago he was joining the Army.

“He didn’t have a child and a wife,” Jeff Wilfahrt said. “In a way, he went over so that somebody with a young family wouldn’t die.”

The grieving father added, “He was a gay soldier.”

His son agonized over the decision to join the military because Andrew knew he’d have to keep his sexuality a secret. He kept quiet when he first signed up, but his fellow soldiers knew.

“Andrew told me one of the reasons he wanted to enlist was that he felt guilty as a civilian when so many men with wives and children were separated from their families," one of his comrades posted on Facebook. "He joined the fight so that guys like me didn’t have to. He is my hero, my friend, and I miss him. Sleep well, buddy. You earned it.”

Andrew’s younger sister, Martha, said the “least interesting thing” about her brother was his sexuality.

“Quite frankly,” the father said, “nobody gave a s*** he was gay. He was a good soldier.”

His mother, Lori Wilfahrt, told Minnesota Public Radio her son was an “interesting, wonderful young man” who joined the service because he was “looking for a purpose.” Andrew wanted to be with a “group of people that would be working together toward something.”

In a recent letter home, he told his mother that “everybody knows … [and] nobody cares” about his homosexuality. In combat, he rode with two other soldiers. One was African-American, the other from Hawaii. The unit called them "Team Minority."

“He was a gentle soul and he was very kind and compassionate,” said Lori Wilfahrt.

As Sheen’s every comment was dissected on TV and plastered across the internet, the Wilfahrts quietly buried their son.

“In exchange for a son, we got a flag and a bunch of medals,” his dad said. “That’s a helluva tradeoff.”

He’s torn by all that’s happened. Jeff Wilfahrt said he’s always been a peace activist and staunch opponent of war, yet he added, “I’m so proud of him and his service.”

His voice breaks. It’s likely his son is among the first gay soldiers to die in combat since Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed in December. “I’d do anything to honor my son.”

'Truly an American hero'

From Texas to Nevada to California, three other families mourned loved ones mentioned in the viral post. I was unable to reach those families, but I pieced together these snapshots from local reports and Army news releases.

Spc. Brian Tabada was the youngest soldier honored in the Facebook status update. A fire support specialist with the 101st Airborne, he was killed February 27 in northeastern Afghanistan when his patrol was ambushed by insurgents using small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

He joined the Army in 2008 and quickly earned an array of medals, including the Army Achievement Medal.

His mother met his flag-draped coffin at Dover Air Force Base and escorted her son’s body home to Las Vegas. Nevada’s governor ordered flags at half-staff.

“Tabada made the ultimate sacrifice and we are forever grateful,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a written statement. “I believe it is right to honor his life, service and his sacrifice.”

Spc. Rudolph Hizon, a 22-year-old Los Angeles native, was killed when insurgents attacked his brigade with the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan’s eastern Logar province.

A Bronze Star recipient, Hizon was best known for his radiant smile and love of life. Hizon enlisted with the Army in January 2009 and was deployed to Afghanistan last October.

“I will always think of him as the happy and cheerful person he was,” Spc. Joshua Gonzales told Task Force Patriot public affairs. “I’m going to miss him dearly.”

“He is truly an American hero,” Tito Pong wrote on a Los Angeles Times obituary tribute page. “We are very proud of him and we are very much going to miss him.” Added Pfc. Lorien Rilate, “You had such a big heart and you always knew how to make someone feel better.”

In the eastern corner of Texas, residents in the town of Cookville honored Staff Sgt. Chauncy Mays, a father of two young girls. Mays, a member of the 10th Mountain Division, was killed February 28 in eastern Afghanistan’s Wardak province.

A highly decorated soldier, Mays worked as an explosives ordnance disposal technician; the Army credits him with saving countless lives for disarming hidden bombs in the region.

“He was a leader who led from the front,” Army Sgt. Chandara Hak told Task Force Patriot public affairs. “He was always careful, but never fearful. I will do my best to follow in his example.”

Army Capt. Aaron Teller said Mays epitomized the best of the American soldier. “He would give you the shirt off his back without hesitation.”

Those were traits Mays displayed even in high school. "He cared about people and worked hard to encourage them," his teacher, Josh Stegall, said at a memorial service. "He lived to serve."

Since February 26, when the Sheen story began dominating headlines, at least 13 U.S. troops have died in support of the Afghanistan war. Besides the four honored in the Facebook post, seven others were Sgt. Kristopher Gould, 25; Spc Christopher Stark, 22; Pfc. David Fahey, 23; Spc. Jason Weaver, 22; Cpl. Jordan Stanton, 20; Staff Sgt. Mark Wells, 31; and Pfc. Kalin Johnson, 19.

Senior Airman Nicholas Alden, 25, and Airman Zachary Cuddeback were killed in a March 2 attack on troops at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany.

Italian Lt. Massimo Ranzani, 36, and British Lance Cpl. Liam Richard Tasker were also killed in Afghanistan in late February and early March. Another British soldier whose name has not been released was killed Wednesday.

As I looked at the names of those who’ve died in the last two weeks, I thought about my phone conversation with Jeff Wilfahrt.

“Get this on the front headlines,” he said, “and make people aware of what’s going on.

“That’s what I’d do if I was king. But I'm just an unemployed 58-year-old man in Minnesota who misses his son.”

Check out CNN.com’s Home and Away special dedicated to fallen troops


Filed under: Casualties • Kandahar • Troops
soundoff (1,694 Responses)
  1. J_Anderson

    I agree that we should be honoring our fallen and not hollywoods degenerates. After every important update on the struggle in Libya or Wisconsin which make us pause and think, we're almost immediately bombarded with mindless updates on a Hollywood thief or drug abuser. Where do our priorities lie? Stop giving these Hollywood children attention and let us direct our attention to those who honor us and in turn let's honor them with recognition, alive or dead

    March 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jay

    Thank you for finally focusing attention on something that matters! I don't give a damn about Charlie Sheen, Lady Gaga, or anyone els in show business. I care about the real heroes and real issues – thanks for bringing this to our attention.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. nora

    Screw Charlie Sheen.. the dude is an idiot and its a shame that the media is giving him MORE attention than those of our fallen soldiers..... he deserves nothing as he has done nothing.

    To SPC Loren Buffalo who died this week while serving in Afghanistan...and to the others who died serving our country.. you are all American Heroes to all of us. You have done all of us, your family, and you country proud. RIP Loren!

    March 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Scott

    I salute these brave men. All tragic losses. Bless the USA.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    Right on!

    March 10, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Michelle

    LOVE this article. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    March 10, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. PaulBython

    I really feel as though we all need to take a moment to realize the gravity of this story. These men were sons, grandsons, and brothers. Can't we, as humans, go beyond our selfish political ideals to extend our thoughts to the families of these brave men or is that the unpopular opinion of the moment?

    March 10, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. anna

    Looks like the Nobel Peace Prize didn't work. The soldiers are still dying.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Stella

    Charlie Sheen is a nothing who only cares about himself and his money. These men are everything and should never be forgotten along with all the other men and women who have fought for freedom.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jamie

    Staff Sgt. Mays was not forgotten in Texas. The local news in Dallas/Fort Worth covered his passing from the day it was announced to the coverage of his body returning home. We are proud of soldiers in Texas and I would like say I am sorry for all the families who have lost a loved one in combat. Our prayers are with you.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Army_mom_daughter_wife

    To all of those families who have lost someone in this or any war..I salute you. Those who do not, or will not, serve cannot understand those who do. Eventually that much hatred will begin to eat at your soul and you will become as bitter as your words.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. PaulBython

    Thank you, CNN, for taking a break from your usual less-than-readable stories to post something meaningful. The United States and the world is in an uproar right now. I believe that we as a society need to take a break from living vicariously through, or reviling in the downfall of, celebrities who contribute little or nothing to society. We, as a species, are capable of such great acts of bravery and heroism. Conversely, we're equally capable of acts of cowardice and greed. Save the celebrity horror stories for the thousands of other popular websites dedicated to that very subject. News media, this corporation in particular, has the ability to reach around the world for stories affecting the lives of millions of people, yet they choose to report on what will temporarily satiate the media-crazy masses. Maybe thinking in terms of newsworthiness over popularity isn't the popular suggestion, nor is it a suggestion that will be taken seriously by anyone. Still, at this point in history, maybe it's time to stop worrying about popularity and turn our concerns to what matters over what looks good.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Theresa Williams

    It truly saddens me that in my country in the frightful state it is in tonight -with all the sadness & hardship we are experiencing ...there are those amongst us that would use this platform to do anything other than comfort a father who has lost his son in combat. I am truly ashamed of you few & proud of the many.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Army Wife of a deployed soldier

    Admittedly, I didn't read all the comments. I feel the need to point out that Salerno is probably at Salerno now, and he's probably a little unhappy being deployed. So, while whatever he's said is probably inappropriate let's remember he is most certainly in a war zone, possibly for the first time and may not be coping well.

    Aside from that, I wanted to include this:

    http://abclocal.go.com/wjrt/story?section=news%2Flocal&id=7988212

    Local story covering another soldier that gave his life and no one outside the local areas of Fort Knox and his home in Michigan heard about. The memorial service for Sgt. Gould will be tomorrow.

    My heart goes out to his family.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tim

    i love charlie sheen's stupidity! it helps to make me seem normal and to appreciate the great things these young military members have done and to love them for their sacrifice.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  16. justsomedude

    What kind of headline is this? leave Sheen alone and try to understand war is never the answer.. I'm ashamed of my own country for putting families like these in this situation.. bring em home already

    March 10, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  17. anna

    Nothing but lip service. After this, you all will go back to your reality shows and sitcoms.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Mike

    I completely agree. Our news media has been driven on reporting the ignorance of celebrities professional athletes. These celebrities and pro athletes who should be roll models, but choose not to be and end up breaking the law and become glorified in the news instead of being tested like the common overpaid criminals that they are. We fail to support our military and police who have sacrificed countless holidays, birthdays, etc away from their families many becoming permanently injured or killed during their attempt to protect Americans from evil. Yet often we villify and Monday morning quarterback them and their decisions. We need to change our priorities and realize who and what is important to America.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Sandra Garrett

    These soldiers and many others lost their lives...they should be honored and this forum should not be used for hate mongering, bigotry and idiocy. You can say they died representing American Ideals...which includes Freedom of Speech...but how about showing respect and honoring them and their families for their sacrifices. Go spout off somewhere else. May God bless these families and may He give them strength during this difficult time.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  20. charlie

    um...why are these guys overseas anyway? Its not like they are winning a war or capturing Bin Laden (the reason we went there). Perhaps they are just dying because the US wants to test new weapons and medical procedures – quite an expensive operation and what have we gained in 10 years? NOTHING! They switched generals a year or so ago and want to start from square one...that is some progress!! And where is the money going?!!

    Politicians always use the "support our soldiers" as a reason to keep spending on the military, little of which is going to compensate the troops. In fact, according to the GAO the money cannot be accounted for...so it really sounds like these kids are over there so a few people can take milliions/billions of dollars without having to account for the money...and the government keeps handing it out!!

    Sorry 95% of America...we're losers and the powerful remain the winners.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Christopher brown

    The news media in this country is horrible.we talk about a crackhead everyday.we have these young men who gives their lives for this country & no mention about these soldiers.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  22. SLY 1

    I think anyone that watch's Shi-–Sheen should get their freaking head on stright, the freak is nothing but a damn crack head, this SOB belongs locked in a padded cell.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Sean Barton

    Thank you for writing this overdue and important article. I appreciate your honoring these brave souls and pointing out a growing problem within our society.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Kerry Berger

    Again, I would rather the Media pay greater attention to all the men and women serving in our nation's military rather than wasting time on a third-rate egotistical and greedy actor with a drug and alcohol problem. Sheen is a disgrace as a celebrity and deserves to be shunned by the public.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Global Person

    One of the reason, I stopped watching nonsense news media with garbage coverage!

    God bless our soldiers and their families! You need a big heart to let your son/daughter/brother/sister to go on the frontlines and risk their lives. Only brave hearts can endure that.

    Just remember to thank you all those sacrificing their lives so that we all can continue the freedom we so cherish and take for granted.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Mitchell

    I think a lot of you are missing the point that celebrities are reported on so heavily to intentionally distract us from things like this.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Bill

    Americans pay somebody who makes them laugh millions and they pay those who die for them lip service.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Scottie

    As much as i respect our men in uniform, I don't really have an issue with this. When in American history did the press highlight deceased soldiers? It is too depressing to watch day and day out and that is sad to say but the truth. More importantly it comes down to ratings, the owner of this blog should know that. Ratings, money, viewership make this go round and round. Without the flavor of the month; Sheen, Lohan, Rihana, and Paris Hilton there would nothing to talk about in Hollywood. Damn, at lunch at work I'd rather look at TMZ, then a site who lists the recent deaths of soldiers. Who wouldn't? Again I respect our men in uniform and this is an unbiased view.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  29. thankfulBoy

    thank you, verterans, families, and especially to the fallen. there are no words to express what you have sacrificed for the rest of us.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  30. mystereo

    Sheen is a loser. These guys are the real heroes.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  31. john houston

    the charlie sheen's of the hollywood world are totally insignificant.why we as a society even devotes so much as a second to these highly paid drug addicts/morons is beyond belief.this does not boid well for our future as a society.and our youth

    March 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Don

    First I would like to express my condolence's for the loss of your son.
    He gave his life in an effort to save someone elses. He sounds like a
    very principled young man.

    Second, I find it disgusting that the information about these brave you
    Americans has to be posted on facebook in order for this nation to be aware of their sacrife. I remember the day when there were real journalists working to bring out the truth and let Americans know what is really happening in the world. Now they are all just corporate talking heads who spout out whatever they think will attract ratings.

    Who care's about Sheen, or anyone of these losers in Hollywood?

    March 10, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Bill

    It says something about America that a drug addict gets 1.8 million per week, a soldier dies for $1200 per month.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  34. NIGHT HAWK

    I GUESS THE CENSOR DIDNT LIKE MY LAST POST ABOUT – THE D.P.S.S. OFFICE C.P.S. DEPT – USEING – SERVICE RECORDS AGAINST VETERAN PARENTS IN "CLASSIFIED" NON DISCLOSURE – -PSYICIATRIC PHSYCOLOGICAL EVALUATIONS – TO DETERMINE WEATHER WAR TIME RELATED EVENTS IN THE SERVICE TO YOUR COUNTRY CAN COUNT AGAINST YOU IF YOU HAVE AN OPEN CASE AGAINST YOU -AND CANT SPECK ABOUT YOUR SERVICE – IT WAS DONE ALLREADY IN CALIFORNIA – JUST CHECK THE CASE OF STSGT JOSEPH ALBERT LAVERTY JR – DEORATED VIET NAM VET 7TH GROUP GREEN BERRETS PURPLE HERATS AND PRESIDENTENTIAL UNIT CITATIONS -INCLUDED – YEP HE ISNT THE BEST DAD IN THE WORLD BUT IVE SEEN NOTHING SAYING HES AS BAD AS THEY CRUSIFIED HIM TO BE – AND AGAIN THEY USED HIS OWN COMBATEEXPERIENCE AGAINST HIM -TEN YEARS RUNNING NOW – THE D.A HAS MESSED WITH HIM SUPPORTING HIMSELF IN CHILD SUPPORT AND -ALSO HE HAS BEEN DECLARED 100 PERCENT DOISABLED BY SSDI AND ALSO HES DISABLED THROUGH THE V.A. – MY ADVICE TRY HELPING OUR VETERANS INSTEAD OF HURTING THEM AND THERE FAMILYS WHEN THEY HAVE PROBLEMS AND NNED HELP – IM A VET AND HAVE HELPED MY BROTHER IN ARMS FOR A DECADE – – SO YEP – I AM ASHAMED OF WHAT CALIFORNIAS SYSTEMS DO TO OUR VETERANS AND ALSO HOMELESS VETERANS . – IM ANGRY WITH REASON- -ANY WAYS – TO OUR FALLEN HEROS " – MAY YOU REST IN PEACE AND THANK YOU YOU AND YOUR FAMILYS . GOD BLESS YOU AND GOD KEEP YOU .

    March 10, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  35. ED

    PLEASE check out "Support Adam M. Malson Elementary" on Facebook. It is an initiative to rename a school in my hometown after a Soldier who was killed by a suicide bomber while saving Iraqi civilians from a burning bus in Baghdad in 2005. This is a way to honor a local hero that died protecting the newly granted freedom of people being hunted by their countrymen, because of sectarian differences. This Soldier died helping innocent victims, something that didn't make the news. Anyone who has the time to read these comments, please take another minute to visit the fb page!! Thank you for your support!

    Staff Sergeant Ed Nowicki
    US Army

    March 10, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  36. tiax

    I couldnt care les about the empire, or its hired goons and mercs. Keep draining our treasure and think that you are making a difference.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Reg

    The wars the US is still waging gets no news coverage in the corporate media, including CNN. The public is weary of war, so there's little profit in its coverage. Celebrities cull far better ratings. Its sad for the men and women who are grist for the military industrial complex, and truly believe they are protecting America from some unnamed enemy. That's why more and more people are turning to the Internet – and to sites such as http://tvnewslies.org – to read about the losses among the 'NATO' casualties. There are no more American deaths. A rose by any other name.....

    March 10, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Shawna

    Your family and your son have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom in America and most people want to know what going on with Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan. I refuse to read or watch anything more on these pathetic people in Hollywood. If you want to make a difference in the the world, you don't need to have tiger blood, you just need to be a proud American like your son and be willing to give your life for our freedoms we live with everyday.

    Bless your family and son for the ultimate gift of freedom for all
    Americans.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  39. wylie

    The names of these American soldiers are etched upon my heart. I look at their faces and wonder about what else they could have contributed to our world besides dying for their country so young. It's truly appreciated, and a considerable loss. All fine men and women. All of them!

    March 10, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  40. me

    Charles rocks!!!....well, i wonder how many rich kids are fighting for this country...NO ONE. ....GO CHALES YOU ROCKS MAN...

    March 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Darlis Morrison- Crow

    As a mother of Two U.S. Army Soldiers I SEND MY DEEPEST CONDOLENCES TO ALL THE FAMILIES who lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. To honor those who sacrificed their lives for this Country would be the greatest memorial and honor bestowed on our Soldiers. To cover a person like Charlie Sheen who thrives on Drama is a slap in the face and is a disgrace to the memory of our soldiers. Shame on you Charlie. Check in some where and get help.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Basil

    Some don't understand but this is capitalism gone to the extreme. Talking about Charlie Sheen saves news networks money. And the news network bosses support the wars more than the public, so they don't want reports on dying soldiers. It's a money game. Charlie Sheen makes them money because they have less to report on, then, if they talk about him a lot. That's what America has become. Why? Because the networks hate our democracy and our need for decent news to be informed citizens.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  43. DMan

    As a disabled veteran, it is a shame that the political influence would rather focus on over paid actors and how they can spend millions of dollars being above the law while our family members give th eultimate sacrafice. I feel that our country and the media would rather everyone forget about the real world and the conflicts we are ingauged in, both known and the secret..

    To all those who have lost a faimily member, friend, or known anyone who has... I tip my hat to those who feel for our freedome and for those who have given the ultimate! God bless and "HU_RAA!" 57h med – dustoff

    March 10, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Mike

    Our soldiers are engaged in a noble cause over there to help the afghan people fight against tyranny. However, awful the situation is for the afghans, I must reject the mission. It is not worth the lives of our troops. Please bring them home. RIP to those heroes.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dindy

      Mike.they will not return till the mission is accomplished. After sacrificing many lives we need something good out it. At least the end of Taliban regime and the Bin"s head . (Devil"s head)

      March 11, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  45. discountperks@gmail.com

    http://www.facebook.com/sincitylv – Posted there too

    March 10, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  46. mike

    wow. very powerful article. i would like to see CNN step up and stop the unnessary coverage of Sheen and put more articles like this in their coverage. it helps me appreciate life, my wife and my kids all the more. sorry for your loss Mr. Wilfahrt. sounds like you had a great kid.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Lorna

    I thank you Mr Wilfahrt for your son's bravery, and sacrifice, please ignore the idiot who's posting all of the bs above, true Americans are proud of people like you and your son, the rest of them, should travel back over the border.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Yellow Ribbon

    God Bless our Troops! My heart and prayers goes out to the families of these young men.

    So glad someone made notice of this celebrities get too much attention sometimes.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  49. 3rd acr vet

    I am glad to say I was a part of the Facebook posting and I a m also glad this has gotten the coverage.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Ginger

    I have to admit that I watch some gossip every now and then on shows like E!. I don't like turning on the news( local or nation wide) and seeing what some over paid, drug using actor is doing. This is the first time in a long time that I've visited this site and didn't read about someone who isn't on television. We need more of the untold stories of the men and women who are giving up there lives for us!

    March 10, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Karen

    I wept when I read the story of Andrew. It is totally ridiculous that something as shallow as the "Sheen" stories should get so much air time when there are stories of people making a genuine difference which are literally buried. The media talk about "another sheen story" and yet they have to take responsibility for fueling an interest in shallow news stories. I feel sorry for Sheen, but as a teacher it's the story of Andrew and his legacy I'll share with my high school students. To Andrew's family, thank you.
    Karen, Brit in Miami.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  52. RedMarker

    "But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States as well as in the Federal Government." - Andrew Jackson, Farewell Address, March 4, 1837

    March 10, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Bubsee

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you Mr Drash. I'm glad someone at CNN sees that there's something much much more important to bring to our attention than the rantings of yet another worthless celebrity.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  54. J

    Thank you for writing on this. We as a country should do more to honor these men, these are the heros I want my son looking up to.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  55. James Hale

    we must never for get that the Value of Life, and living will always outweigh the waste of one!

    March 10, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  56. LP80

    I'd rather hear about Sheen, at least he's not murdering women and children in an illegal war.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  57. terry

    god bless all of those who have sacrificied their lives for our way of life and to those that are will in the future preserving it.freedom comes at a very high cost.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  58. Wedidit

    I know it's good to be able to point fingers. I do it all the time myself. But, I think it's important to recognize the the media, in part, reports what we are interested in as a whole. War is not a popular topic to the majority. As a country we seek entertainment and maybe comfort in the pains of public figures. Heck, I laugh at the Sheen jokes. And that is part of the problem, yep I admit I'm at fault. It does not lessen the loss of anyone, soldier or not. But, I appologise for my role in the general insincitivity and complacent mindframe of Americans.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  59. F.Duval

    I enjoy Charlie Sheen's antics, although his is a tragic case. I don't think it is reasonable or responsible to compare his popularity with that of soldiers dying in Afghanistan. The author of his piece does a disservice to the public by "stirring the pot" on a very touchy subject.

    Of course we love our troops. Of course we support them, regardless of our personal views on the war(s). I, for one, support the decisions made by our Commanders and believe that we are accomplishing goals in these foreign lands. Better we fight the enemy of our country "over there" than experience IEDs and bombs in our own streets and neighborhoods. Islam is a peaceful religion that has been corrupted by evil men, with ulterior purposes. The Taliban must be eradicated....and the cost will be high. Thank God we have such brave Americans that step forward and undertake these dangerous missions. God Bless The USA.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  60. al

    I'm sorry for loss of true great Americans. I wish more people would show the respect they deserve. People like Charlie Sheen wouldn't make a pimple on there rear ends

    March 10, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Someone

    Look, people are still complaining about the type of recognition the soldiers get while all these celebs get a lot more attention. It all has to do with the liberals owning the media and not giving all the stations the freedom to report what they want. If they report something that is helpful to the well-being of the country, then it probably won't be aired. On the flip-side, if they report something that is completely mindless and has no efect, then they will allow it to be aired. It is all politics and we have no control over it. What we do have control over is the fact that we have people like freelance reporters and some good people in society just like the person who started the facebook post. Brian Tabada was my girlfriend's ex-boyfriend. They dated for a year or so before we got together. She misses him dearly and I don't blame her. I didn't get the honor to know him, but I wish I did. All these men truly are heroes. Just as all the men and women that are serving our country. I want to thank all of you for serving our country and giving us the freedom that we have today.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  62. Brb

    I plan on boycotting all Sheen TV shows and movies. We can choose the people we support and those we don't. I care much more about our servicemen and women than any celebrity.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  63. John Goddard

    Great blog post! Awesome recognition of the real heros!
    and "#%*&" Charlie Sheen! He's such a tool.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  64. Klaark

    Sheesh, death, death, death. Dead soldiers, here, dead soldiers there. So much coverage on this, I think they're trying to turn us against the war. They're bias.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  65. Brb

    May God bless all our servicemen and women all over the US and keep them safe. While I don't anyone stationed outside of the US personally, I certainly think of you all and your families here at home often. What you do is not forgotten. You are trying your best to put a good face to America and we appreciate. Its sad that the press covers politics more than you, and certainly far sadder that the coverage of celebrities is so widespread. Perhaps if the press focused on the good stories of the good people in America that sacrifice time, effort, money and love for those in need, to the stories of the heroic, and stories of good people giving their all, the world would have a different opinion of Americans. Priorities are not where they should be when Sheen or other celebrities are googled more than our own homegrown heroes. If even 1 of 10 Americans boycotted all media coverage about celebrities and wrote a letter to someone overseas as opposed to watching TV, perhaps it would have an effect.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  66. m808miller

    I have five big fingers I would love to introduce to your hideous face via my fist.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Elizabeth

    So does this prove that social media is more realistic than the news?

    March 10, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  68. bajalocom

    OH MY GOD Latinos dying for this country??? That is something Repukkkes will never understand!

    March 10, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  69. Michael C

    This brought a tear to my eye. From brother to brother, R.I.P.

    March 10, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Kathy

    Thank God we have true Hero's in America who are fighting for us all. These are our Hero's and we should all be their fans.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  71. ronnieam

    I look at Sheen as a form of entrainment but I depend on our troops !! Sheen will be out of the news soon but our troops will always be in the news and rightfully so !! GO Navy !!

    March 10, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Turok

    So, drop the constant Charlie Sheen posts, CNN. You're as guilty as the rest of the media, probably more than most. Instead, Have a daily feature about soldiers if you like. Whats the problem?

    March 10, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  73. Ange

    God bless America,we die for peace and secuty

    March 10, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  74. nothern lights

    Be it actors or famous athelets, they feel they are more important than everyone else. But we also enable this through our obsession with them as echoed by the rediculous media coverage. It makes a mockery of this country and all the good men and women who serve it via the military and all other forms of service. If only we all could muster the strength and reject the falseness of those who put themselves so high above their fellow man and really focus on what and who are important. My greatest respect and sympathy for those who serve and for the families who have lost their loved ones. In the meantime, I am turning off my TV.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  75. MediaIsBusiness

    I support our troops 100% but what a lot of you are forgetting is that the media is a business. A business's goal is to make the greatest profit that they can. Yes it is sad that troops die, but few people would sit and watch the news if they continually reported on each causality. I agree that the troops who give the greatest sacrifice should get air time, but from a business prospective it wouldn't make much sense to report on each causality continuously throughout the day. People wouldn't watch not because they don't respect our troops but because it is truly saddening. Whereas, Sheen's dilemma is almost comical. Again I support our troops and hate seeing them lose their lives, but media is a business and they are going to follow what people will watch continuously throughout the day. Most of you probably hate seeing Sheen on TV, understandable, but obviously there are plenty of people out there that are watching it.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  76. I Know!

    To: All deployed service personnel- thank you 4 your sacrifices! To: Salerno- what is the rate of exchange from Afghan currency to the U.S. dollar? To: Charlie Sheen- I pray 4 your return from the terrestrial octogon soon. XXOOO

    March 10, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  77. Chris

    Sir first off. I am very sorry for your loss. How lucky we are as Americans to have people like your son on our side is why regardless of the struggles here, people like your son remind us that during these times once a war starts we are all brothers and sisters.. No race, No status matters.. I'm not trying to start an argument, and i'm as guilty as everyone else that catches themselves spending a couple hours a day reading about someone that was on a tv show, a singer etc. When our news should be covering the struggles we are having here and adding a story for every brother and sister that have fallen. When i see this it makes me realize how lost we are.. How people can complain that they don't make enough money when they are already getting millions (NFL) and the people that go half way across the world ask for very little so we can remember that this country was established with great idea, and they are the ones making sure those idea's and dreams never die, and nobody can take it away from us. If there isn't a site for each fallen brother or sister. There should be.. with a biography about themselves, explained by you sir the parents.... We need to stop drowning ourselves in what we call Entertainment, and wake up to whats really important.. Keeping this country dream alive, and making sure our True hero's are never forgotten, and if there isn't a site like that, there should be and if i could do anything to help, i'm all for it. Your son and others have fallen to keep our dreams alive, and instead of putting their names on a wall at a certain location.. I personally would like to get to know as much as i can of the person who gave up their lives... When they fall we all fall... Again there is no race, no status.. We are Americans.. They fight half way across the world, lets fight to show them how much it means to us.. Thank you for your time sir.. Your son is a true HERO

    March 10, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  78. Marija

    Will we ever stop fighting here on Planet Earth?

    March 10, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  79. Mark

    Thanks to all US amry servicemen! God bless them. We need to shun Hollywood coverages cause they are not serving our country but only serving themselves!

    March 10, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  80. realizit

    am really sorry about these soldiers , but they were there for ? killing others and they were killed,.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  81. JABZ

    REST IN PEACE SOLDIERS, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE. OUR AMERICAN HEROES.....

    March 10, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  82. scott

    God bless those soldiers and their families.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  83. reason & Logic

    you are right davis. speaking of mouths, i love to put my mouth in un-orthodox places 😉

    March 10, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  84. Janice Mau

    Thank you for writing this article and remembering these fallen soldiers. Each of these men has made the ultimate sacrifice for our safety and freedom and have been honored for their sacrifice. Thank you to their families for all their sacrifices and supporting their sons in their decision to join the army. As an army wife I understand your sacrifice and am sorry for your loss.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  85. Jared M. Wait

    All I can say is it is about time. The likes of Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan, well lets just say their parents should have gone to sleep that night instead.

    USMC Retired

    March 10, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  86. Bob S

    four hero's !
    It is time for the press to spend less time focusing on celebrities and more on the strength and diversity of the real people of this country.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  87. Salerno's Mommy

    Bye Salerno. Time to get off the computer and do your home work. Time to grow up too.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  88. Tom Loeppke

    Finally – someone understands what is important and what is not. American society has diminished greatly since Actors and sports figures became the most important thing in our lives. All so called "news media" should be ashamed that social media provides more news than they do.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  89. Mary Sanders

    God bless our men and woman giving their life during their overseas mission.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  90. mark

    simple question: what has this evil twit charlie done for anyone but his own pathetic self? Those serving, those who served, and those who made a career of military service have my first priority of attention. A once great president once stated "ask not what your country can do for you but what can you do for your country. Hmmm..what have the "sheens" done for America (easy answer nothing). this twit does not even deserve the opportunity to lick the heel of any boot of any serviceman/woman faithfully serving America. The fact that media pays attention to this twisted indivdual and airing his stupidity is just amazing to me.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  91. Brian

    CNN, you are just as guilty as all other media outlets. Some days I wonder if I'm reading TMZ.com or CNN.com. Shame on all of you of giving that dope all this attention. God Bless our Troops! They are the ones that are WINNING!!

    March 10, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  92. clr

    AMEN to this article! My son deployed for the 3rd time this past week – after being critically wounded last year. Not even a local reporter there to report the farewells... but hundreds of articles on Sheen's drug ways. sad

    March 10, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  93. Salerno's Mommy

    Salerno, get a job or do something constructive. You have been spewing garbage for hours now. Go away little one...

    March 10, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  94. scott

    Salerno you need to eat a bullet!

    March 10, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  95. Matt

    Finally, a great story by CNN (when they're not competing with Rolling Stone to get senior military officers fired). It seems that this reporter has done a great job identifying the problem, now the hard part is going about fixing it. I don't have a lot of faith in your editors however, and think it's a matter of time before this story is replaced with one about the latest thing Lady GaGa's dress is made out of.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  96. NS1

    So CNN has figured out what the rest of us already knew. Its reporting is terrible.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  97. thies

    Charelie Sheen having a meltdown is funnier than those four dudes dying.

    prove me wrong!

    March 10, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  98. phillth

    awe son
    i miss you i love you be safe come home to us
    love dad

    March 10, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  99. Mark

    I'm just wondering why the terrorist attack in Germany, taking the lives of two American Airmen, disappeared out of the news in less than 24 hours. I heard we would have lost more lives, but the shooter's gun jammed. This was a TERRORIST ATTACK on a bus regularly used by US Soldiers. CNN....how about some coverage of this!!!

    March 10, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dindy

      Yes ..good question .

      March 11, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  100. Babs Farkasovsky

    Finally, Americans are seeing the real things that are important. I don't care about Charlie Sheen orLohan.. I care that young men and women are dying for my freedom.. I care that people are out of work, can't keep their homes, can't feed their families, pay their bills. I care that gas is $4.00 a gallon.. I care that collective bargaining is being taken away. These are important matters. Wake up America. If we turn our backs on the things that are not important, than maybe, just maybe our country will begin to see the light.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
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