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 (1,695 Responses)
  1. Soldier

    RIP, warriors. You earned it.

    March 11, 2011 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  2. Dindy

    Great videos.

    March 11, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. andrew

    hmmm....maybe at his patriotic moment we should quote Barbara Bush at this junction, whose husband started the war:

    "Why should we hear about body bags and deaths," Barbara Bush said on ABC's "Good Morning America" on March 18, 2003. "Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

    March 11, 2011 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. Sparrow Six-Five!

    Thank you all so much for your service and for paying the ultimate price for my freedoms and liberties! RIP Great American Warriors....I salute you all! Hugs & Prayers! "America's Warriors have always stepped up to the plate for our freedoms and liberties and many have paid the ultimate sacrifice and some have survived to endure worse. HONOR THEM, RESPECT THEM, LOVE THEM & NEVER FORGET THEM! I salute you all!" Sparrow Six-Five!

    March 11, 2011 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    I had just gotten out of the Army in OCT 2009 and was actually in the same Military Police Company as Wilfahrt. I had gotten out before he got stationed in HI, but i know the Men and Women he served with. And knew that it didn't matter if you were black, white, blue, green, straight, gay, married, or single everyone is a family. I've talked to a few of my buddys since he made the greatest sacrafice a soldier could make for his country and family, and they have nothing but great things to say about CPL Wilfahrt. So first hand I know he was around people that cared for him as family. Mr. Wilfahrt our thoughts and prayers go out to your family. The Peacekeeper family just lost a true AMERICAN HERO!!

    March 11, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Wilfahrt

      Mike, thank you.
      Andrew's father, Jeff

      March 11, 2011 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. ALYSON KIRKLAND

    HOW TRUE!!!! MY HUSBAND IS SERVING OUR COUNTRY IN AFGHANISTAN AT THIS VERY MOMENT ALONG WITH THOUSANDS OF OTHER SOLDIERS!!!!!!!!!!! THEY ARE THE ONES WHO SHOULD BE THE MAIN TOPIC IN OUR MEDIA COVERAGE NOT THE HOLLYWOOD GOSSIP!!!!!!!! GOD SHOULD BE THANKED EVERYDAY FOR GIVING OUR COUNTRY SUCH DEDICATED MEN & WOMEN TOGETHER WITH THE SPOUSES AND CHILDREN WHO ARE LEFT BEHIND DURING THEIR TIME OF SERVICE. TRUST ME – I SPEAK FOR MANY WHO ARE LEFT TO WORRY ABOUT THEIR SOLDIER ON A DAILY BASIS AND STILL MUST BE STRONG AND KEEP THE FAMILY IN HIGH SPIRITS EVEN WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN'T GO ANOTHER DAY.
    *** IF IT WAS NOT FOR MY BEST FRIEND FOR LIFE WHOSE SHOULDER I CRY ON – I WOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO COPE WITH ALL THAT IS DEALT TO ME DURING DEPLOYMENTS!! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE - YOU ARE A TRUE BLESSING!!!!
    I SEND THIS OUT IN THE HONOR OF MY HUSBAND AND ALL THE OTHERS – STAY SAFE AND HURRY HOME!!
    **A WORD FOR MY BABY – I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART!! I AM VERY HONORED TO BE YOUR ARMY WIFE - YOU ARE MY LIFE!!

    March 11, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Alyson – I am an american tax-payer, but respect Yacobi as she is telling the truth. She is not ignorant. Visit http://www.rawa.org to understand. US military are killing innocent people.

      March 13, 2011 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
      • Alyson Kirkland

        To end my participation in this blog – we will just have to agree to disagree. However, we are American Taxpayers also. AS STATED BEFORE – MY HUSBAND IS A US ARMY SOLDIER AND AN AMERICAN HERO AND I AM DAMN PROUD OF HIM.

        March 24, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. tomek

    I would not complain about the amount of coverage the fallen soldiers have received. Last week, the US military killed 9 Afghan children in one clean sweep. Unlike soldiers, kids are not expected to die in war, so why there has been no uproar about this in the US? CNN devoted more coverage to some drunk who drowned in Spain than to those poor kids. Go figure.

    March 11, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. lvsteve

    Face it – the stories about Sheen are much more interesting than reading about fallen soldiers. You cant deny it, people. I dont want to read about fallen soldiers everyday...

    March 11, 2011 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Anthony

      Then you should start reading about these fallen soldiers instead of focusing on a drug addict.

      March 28, 2011 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  9. Cary

    I blame the media! It's television, it's religion!

    It's you and you're well aware. Try learning something. Maybe this country could have a little more humility.

    March 11, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  10. SW

    Everyone keeps saying they're going to pray for these families, blah blah blah. But what good is that going to do? If you want to help these families – if you care about these soldiers – do something to end these ridiculous neverending wars that do nothing but line the pockets of military contractors. Stage a massive walkout or work stoppage. Boycott the purchase of anything produced with petroleum except gas to go to work, and get everyone you know to do the same. Demand better for these young people who are dying for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. If you respect their lives, sacrifice something of your own comfort to save them from a meaningless death. Bleating slogans like "freedom isn't free" won't give their deaths meaning. Newsflash – we are not in danger from Afghanistan. Bin Laden and the gang were from Saudi Arabia, and it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to make Afghanistan a place where terrorists couldn't hide out if they wanted, simply because of the topography. These young people are there for NOTHING. Unless we are really going to argue that maintaining the profits of military contractors is really worth the lives of our children. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of children who have died in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan over the last 10 years. The whole situation is just disgusting, and as a nation we should be outraged that the owners of this country are willing to throw our children away like so much garbage in the street.

    March 11, 2011 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  11. LMD

    BRAVO!!! This is a little late. For the past few weeks since Sheen has been on his rants military families have been posting about this through various means,including CNN. At one point during the roll Sheen was on,3 service members were killed and not one paper,news sight any where posted anything about it. Yeah,we are all "warred" out,but for thousands of families,we are waiting for word from our loved ones,waiting for them to return home,hoping every day they will okay. The news has become so focused on Lohan,Sheen,etc. and the soldiers have long been forgotten about by them. Charlie Sheen has not made any real contribution to this world,yet our soldiers have been maimed,killed,doing 2,3,4 tours,and not a word is uttered. So while this article may be a good one,it is a little late,and will be gone tomorrow when the idiots in Hollyweird act up again

    March 11, 2011 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  12. George Bush

    This is not George Bush. Don't be suckered. People are taking advantages and shouldn't with this story.

    March 11, 2011 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  13. ficheye

    I feel for the people who have lost children and friends. I really do. But when all of the folks here that feel so badly for the fallen start questioning why we are really there... then, and only then, will these deaths stop happening. We need to end that war. Tomorrow. And from all accounts we are not 'winning' the war, either. You can insult me if you want, get mad, whatever, but I think people are finally waking up to the fact that we shouldn't be there at all. And now, after billions and billions spent on Iraq and several thousand lives lost... we know that we should not have gone there either. I feel sad for the human casualties, but even worse for the ignorance that causes this country to do it over and over again.

    March 11, 2011 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  14. Csheen

    Your son had true #tigerblood and he was much more of a #winning tiger than I'd ever be. Do the math. Duh.

    March 11, 2011 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  15. John

    The Newshour on PBS shows pictures of the fallen every broadcast. Too bad more people don't tune in. Just goes to show news for profit will sink to the lowest common denominator (i.e. Sheen, Lohan, Hilton and the rest)

    March 11, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  16. Dindy

    Beautiful song. Very meaningful. ..and true..!!! May God be with our troops!!

    March 11, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  17. Gratel Rogers

    My prayers goes out to their family. I'm in 42nd MP BDE and we just recently loss two soldiers within a week. 170th MP Co is currently deploy in Afghanistan and it is sad to hear that they loss PFC Fahey and SPC Weaver....R.I.P. Gone but not forgotten. :'-((

    March 11, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  18. Ann Arrmstrong

    Eric Blehm, the Award Winning Author of The Only Thing Worth Dying For was up close and personal with our Special Forces, Green Berets stationed in Afghanistan. This is a MUST READ book for all Americans to understand what our Soldiers have to endure on a daily basis. They lay their lives on the line without hesitation so that we can remain the land of the Free. I too feel that our Soldiers need much more recognition than they are getting.

    http://www.onlythingworhdyingfor.com

    As I posted on Entertainment Tonight and Inside Edition, there are way to many "drama queens" in the media with their dysfunctional lives. As Charlie stated today in his latest video, he has captured television. He is thriving on all of this attention. Put him in rehab before it is to late. Don't enable him with all of the media coverage. If ONLY our SOLDIERS could receive this constant wide spread media attention and remind all Americans just how many lives have been lost, These are the people IMHO that deserve, and I repeat DESERVE the media coverage

    March 10, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      Eric Blehm's website for The Only Thing Worth Dying For, the Award Winning book should read:

      http://www.onlythingworthdyingfor.com

      Mr. Blehm was up close and personal with these Soldiers who lay their lives on the line every day for us. A must read book to appreciate our Freedom

      March 11, 2011 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  19. Ann Arrmstrong

    Eric Blehm, the Award Winning Author of The Only Thing Worth Dying For was up close and personal with our Special Forces, Green Berets stationed in Afghanistan. This is a MUST READ book for all Americans to understand what our Soldiers have to endure on a daily basis. They lay their lives on the line without hesitation so that we can remain the land of the Free. I too feel that our Soldiers need much more recognition than they are getting.

    http://www.onlythingworhdyingfor.com

    As I posted on Entertainment Tonight and Inside Edition, there are way to many "drama queens" in the media with their dysfunctional lives. As Charlie stated today in his latest video, he has captured television. He is thriving on all of this attention. Put him in rehab before it is to late. Don't enable him with all of the media coverage. If ONLY our SOLDIERS could receive this constant wide spread media attention and remind all Americans just how many lives have been lost, These are the people IMHO that deserve, and I repeat DESERVE the media coverage.

    March 10, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Land of free? you idiot. Is the Switzerland not free without sending soldiers to kill children in Afghanistan ?

      March 11, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Noodle Goat

    There is cheese in my nose.

    March 10, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Jennifer C

    Profound thanks for taking the time to honor these heroes.

    March 10, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  22. fancynancy

    Is the media and journalist being paid off by someone? There is real news out there and we are not getting
    it. Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan, really? They live in a bubble, pay $50,000 for a dog, or $4,000 for jeans, and
    their lifestyle is unheard of and who cares? They drink, do drugs to the max and just think of themselves and their millions and how to get more millions (like every hollywood star does) These are not real Americans anyways.This shows one how like most "actors" are with money, they just keep it for themselves and dont help others its all about them, while these soldiers give themselves and dont get recognize at all...its sick. Anyone who is a newscaster, news reporter for all this nonsense "news" should be ashamed and how do you sleep at night. Where is the real news and how come Americans are not getting it? Thank you for this Facebook post.

    March 10, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Steven

    Mr Wilfahrt,

    I am in your son's unit in Kandahar right now, and I'm sorry for your loss. But Andrew was a great soldier, and there are a very select few who have the impact on those around him like your son did. It was an honor to know him.

    March 10, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Wilfahrt

      Steven, as you know Andrew was due home this Monday, the 6th for leave. If he were here now there would be music in this house, it would float through the walls and the air. He would stay up all night composing. He is missed here, and more-so there in theater. We have grown used to his absence, to the soldiers of the 3rd platoon his absence is much, much more real. I ache more when I think of the members of the 3rd platoon than I do for his immediate family.
      Do something good for another today, he would have, it was his way, his path, his Tao.
      Jeff, Andrew's father.

      March 11, 2011 at 5:24 am | Report abuse |
      • HeitmannM

        Wilfahrt Family,

        Your story has hit the nation. Mission complete. My thoughts and prayers to your family. I am a soldier's wife. I cannot fathom your loss but can feel your saddness. You have made your son's story affect people across the world. Charlie who? THANK YOU.

        March 11, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  24. Donna Padilla

    I have been humbled greatly in the past few days; we lost our son in law last weekend due to an IED in Afghanistan. This war needs to stop; we now have a grieving daughter who has to raise her two year old son and her yet unborn daughter due to arrive in a few weeks. Charlie Sheen – who really cares??

    March 10, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Wilfahrt

      Donna, I second that motion. This war has got to stop.
      Andrew's father, Jeff

      March 11, 2011 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
  25. ColoradoDude

    I see the focus has moved from the 4 soldiers who died to some guy(s) who calls himself Salerno...and the article was about Sheen getting all the attention in the first place. Sheen, Salerno. Already we've forgotten the point, America. Is there any hope?

    March 10, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Wilfahrt

      Spot on ColoradoDude, you're reading the waters perfectly.
      Andrew's father, Jeff

      March 11, 2011 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
  26. John Smith

    no one cares about some random tard that either needed money, a health plan, or someone who ougtha be shot anyways for being dumb enough to enlist....the only people that care are those close to them, and well.. blame the economy or their parent for failing at giving out good genes.. QQ TT

    as for our more magnificent overlord, the amazing Charlie Sheen, there is not enough coverage of his awesomeness, winningness and all of my beautiful self. That said, cnn needs to create an entire section just for him.

    March 10, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeitmannM

      AHHHH, John Smith...perhaps you shall join him in treatment. It is people like you that keep this world from peace. I feel sorry for your lonely, empty heart. #LOSING

      March 11, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  27. DisGruntled Marine

    It's amazing CNN is even covering this... (not that fox is any better) My old battalion (3/5, 3rd Battalion 5th Marines) is in Sangin Afghanistan and have lost over 26 Good guys.. not a single mention of any of them. If this is CNN trying to cover them because it's a good story or are they covering this to make some good conversation and debate. Shame. To all other vets and active duty members of the military semper fi!

    Grunt Marine

    March 10, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  28. dylee

    please share this article, as these AMERICAN HEROES need to be recognized by all of us. NEVER FORGET!!!

    March 10, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Rich39

    As long as some politicans and people in the USA love war we will have wars. If the USA was not in Iraq
    and Afghanistan we would have attacked Libya.
    Since 1785 the USA has been in around 215 wars, battles, conflicts, CIA involvement, police actions etc.
    The ONLY war where we had to defend the USA was WW II.
    I'm tired of loaning our troops out to other nations and fighting their wars. It's got to end one day.

    March 10, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  30. ColoradoDude

    I too was touched reading this article. I was further moved by most of the hundreds of comments. It was like seeing some sort of American Community coming together regardless of politics red or blue over the tragedy of losing these extraordinary men. We CAN come together, respect each other and cherish our freedom. Encouraging! Yes, I do believe the media just publishes what sells ads, as others have said above. And someone's reading that bunk or it wouldn't work out. Sheen and others, football, whatever, is a distraction from an upsetting reality that we seem to have a hard time looking at square in the eye. This article brings our eyes back to what needs our focus. Thank you to our soldiers so we can even talk openly and publicly about stuff that does matter.

    March 10, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Fellow Soldier

    Charlie who?? America is built on entertainment and are affixed to celebrities that make movies...why?? I will never understand why an actor or actress is more important to most people than the real life sacrifices and services done by our American heroes.

    March 10, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  32. R Mitchell

    Dear Mr. & Mrs. Wilfahrt, and the other Service Families,
    Thank you for each of your children and what they done for thier country. It is an honor to serve in the armed forces of the USA. Reading this story brought a tear to my eye with an emense feeling of respect and pride to each solider noted. For what they have protected, every citizen reaps the benefits; Freedom.

    I am "family" and the proud father of two children. I hope I do as good of a job raising my kids as you have all done with yours. Personally Mr. Wilfahrt your son is an inspiration. Thank you for allowing me and the rest of the readers the brief opportunity to learn of him. May their souls all rest in peace with honor and respect. God Bless

    March 10, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Jay

    So many soldiers have died and it's sad. To complain that a few isn't getting coverage due to Charlie Sheen is absurd. They probably weren't going to do a story anyway but since Sheen's name was used.. someone did. Thanks Charlie Sheen for having these brave soldier's stories told.

    March 10, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  34. DerpDerp

    Aren't Michelle Bachman and The Republican controlled house working to cut veteran benefits in 2011-2012?...Just like they did when Bush was in office? It's all Hollywood's fault. RIIIIIIIIGHT!

    March 10, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  35. bridget

    These are our children, our sons, our daughters, our brothers,our sisters. Please pray for them and the families, and for everyone fighting for our country. God bless America.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  36. SoldierGirl

    I am currently in Kandahar and one of these Soldiers was in my Battalion. Thank you Wayne Drash for writing something that really matters in the real world rather than Hollywood trash!!

    March 10, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Really matters ? to be a baby killer ? We are disgusted by US military.

      March 11, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  37. James Savik

    celebrity worship is a symptom of the decadence gripping the country.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Mark

    This is a microcosm of just how far our society has fallen.

    Is it no wonder that the exceptionalism of America is no more.

    We are an uneducated, fat, lazy, and corrupt bunch.

    Pathetic.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  39. mpmomok

    I am one of the many that posted this. We have power. That was proven today. We were heard. I am a proud Army Mom. And it is wonder to see all the support for our Warriors Thank you..

    March 10, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      The more you support, the more they die.

      March 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  40. nola

    My prayers to all of families of the fallen brave men & women. Everytime an entertainer hogs the headlines for a little while, people start with the same Facebook status post.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  41. 13 Year Old Girl (seemingly smarter than grown men)

    SHUT THE HECK UP! Who cares what this salerno guy says, he is obviously retarded. PRAISE GOD for the soldiers who make it home and thank God for the ones who dont but put in good work and helped to make this country safe to sleep in everynight! GET OVER YOUR SELF SALERNO! NO ONE GIVEs A CRAP WHAT INCONSEQUENTIAL HOT AIR YOUR EGOTISTICAL MOUTH HAS TO SPEWW!

    March 10, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      13 year – Egotistical ? I don't want people kill anyone and die. If you like this, it is sad.

      March 11, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  42. spc tamra kurth

    I've been in the army for almost 7 years and the media is always more focused on the celebrities instead of the silent heroes and heroines. We fight for our country but very few care to put it on the news cuz it doesn't affect them but Wat have the stars done for them... not a Damn thing. Let them go fight on the frontlines and the soldiers can stay with our families for a while longer

    March 10, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  43. John Tomlinson

    I believe that each newscast should start and end with a minute of silence and pictures of those who have most recently made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. We all should shoulder the losses of these brave t men and women.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  44. albert

    God bless our troop!<3

    March 10, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Greg Temke

    Americans need heroes who serve the cause of freedom, and family. Overpaid, ungrateful celebrities do not help cause of freedom. They DO NOT represent mainstream america. They are a group of elitists who give honor to each other, and they do not represent the American dream. They bring dishonor to what it means to be an American. Thank you CNN for running this story.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  46. susanna

    Hate the war, but not those who gave the last full measure of devotion. Like Vietnam, you forget why we are there and just what is going on. And to see the loss of such fine young people once again in my lifetime is just heart wrenching. The only difference 40 years has made is this time those lucky enough to return aren't being spit on and called baby killers, no this time they are just forgotten. No draft, it's an all volunteer army this time, so if you don't have to go, why should you? It takes a very special individual to say, "Take Me, I'll go". "I'll go and do for you what you can't or won't do, it's my privilege, it's the price I am willing to pay to live in freedom, to enable others to live in freedom."
    Yup, while we sit in our cozy homes debating the relevance of an all too long war, the media shoving wayward "stars" antics down our throats and what to do with ourselves over the weekend, we have fine young men and women putting their lives on the line because we the people asked them to do so in our name. They represent the best and the worst in us. And for many of us we can only shake our heads and not understand why they would volunteer to go into service at such a time. But they have and we should be very grateful. Pray for them, hope reason prevails and they can come home. Do your part, thank a veteran, support your troops in some tangible way, visit a veterans hospital, volunteer in your community. Then perhaps in some small way we can earn and deserve the gift of freedom these young men bought for us with their lives.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      My freedom does not depend from these soldiers . They are just criminal baby killers.

      March 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Jarrett

    I for one watch CNN for important news and our honorable solders are important, alive or fallen. It seems that after every important update on Libya, Wisconsin, or alike, there is a mind numbing drible about a hyped up Hollywood thief or drug addict. Where are our priorities and our harts? Are they with our honrable young men fighting or Hollywood degenerates? The news media as a whole should stop feeding these egomaniact with coverage and reports what is thought provoking and more important

    March 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Patrick

    As someone who will be an Army officer in less than 2 years, with many friends who are already serving in our Armed Forces, it infuriates me when I see soldiers who paid the ultimate price are ignored by the media so the media can talk about supposedly more interesting stories, like which celebrity was arrested for something stupid. And although it took a status on Facebook to get this article written I still appreciate it Mr. Drash. Hopefully more journalists will start talking about the true American heroes, not the fake ones like Charlie Sheen and Lindsey Lohan.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  49. William Barbosa

    To Mr. Wilfahrt.
    I am admittedly an avid 15 year-old user of facebook and grow weary of the news of Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan. My thoughts and prayers are with you. To honor your son and the thousands of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, the least I can do is thank them for their service to the United States. It makes me proud to be an American and proud of these men and women who have us in their hearts and thoughts. I wish you the best. Do not let stupid or ignorant people's comments dampen your mood and add to your grief. I too will put this as my status on facebook, as that may be the only sacrifice I can make. But that is nothing compared to what your son did. He is a hero who deserves full honors. Honestly I could never be as selfless and dedicated as your son was. Thank you

    March 10, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Name*Mr Ed

    Thank you for sharing this. It does put what's important into perspective. It's an inditement on our sensationalistic press
    And those of us who loose focus on what truly matters

    March 10, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Jonny

    Yes. The media is the central reason most Americans are completely clueless politically, most especially middle class Republicans.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  52. J_Anderson

    I for one watch CNN for important news and our honorable solders are important, alive or fallen. It seems that after every important update on Libya, Wisconsin, or alike, there is a mind numbing drible about a hyped up Hollywood thief or drug addict. Where are our priorities and our harts? Are they with our honrable young men fighting or Hollywood degenerates? The news media as a whole should stop feeding these egomaniact with coverage and reports what is thought provoking and more important.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  53. noemi

    I am greatful for all the men ,women fighting for what we call freedom.my husband,brother r vets . The war they fought was as wrong as this bush war.they my husband,brother were'nt allowed to wear there uniforms home due to U proud americans spitting,throwing everything,anything @ them.I'm sorry for these familys loss.I hope this generation of men,women won't be for nothing.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Brittany TX

    I too have suffered loss in this "war"....My husband was killed Dec. 2005....I wish more Americans would wake up and realize what this country is REALLY about.....FREEDOM ISN'T FREE!!!

    March 10, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Joe Clark

    The press should be reporting the serious issues that really challenge this nations future. The needless sacrifice of our youth in Iraq and Afghanistan; the political systemic problems that allow these wars to continue; growing unemployment of the middle class; tax breaks for the rich if that makes any sense at all, or they can cover the tabloid toilet issues the grab the attention of the public eager to read the latest gossip on the front pages of their newspapers and thus increase circulation for each new edition. Manifest greed on display at the expense of the patriotic thing to do. Shame on the executive editors of the major news agencies for their misguided behavior. Keep it up guys. Eventually it will come back to bit you when you least expect it. Hopefully pick slips will be tendered to all of you by leaders with "integrity" and free air travel to Siberia supplied to each and every one of you.. You can truly chill out for awhile and ponder your sins which are many.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Sodom and Gamora

    We have created all of this actors, by watching their movies, shows and listening to their music. We have contributed to this madness...To all of our soldiers and family members God Bless You All.....And I say to you brothers and sisters one day we are all going to be old and who shall take care of us the creep of bullies we are raising....Think about it.... Repent you all have been warned.....You no longer have an excuse

    March 10, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  57. Name*Sera

    There is nothing honourable about sacrifice. Everyone knows that. Tell us the honest reason why and what we are ip against so at least these soldiers can have some respect. Otherwise people will just keep tuning into Charlie sheens antics. And soldiers will get fed up. Oh but we must be politically correct to Muslims right?

    March 10, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  58. Tim

    With all due respect to the soldiers I would much rather hear about Charlie Sheen in the media than their deaths because Charlie Sheen doesn't matter. I'll pay my respects and learn their personal stories at a more legit location than the media outlets on TV and the internet. The museums and memorials dedicated to their service.

    All you people complaining can just not click on Charlie Sheen links anyway.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  59. sherri

    Thank you so much for writing this article about our soldiers in Afghanistan. It is absolutley insane that our media polays to these "celebs" who I truly could not giv a s-t about. We have America's finest losing their lives with honor and our nes media thinks it is improtant that we know about Charlie Sheen!!! Come on!

    March 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  60. sammy

    HEY CNN DID SOMEONE HAD TO REMIND YA THERE WAS A WAR..... & NOT JUST POLITICS AND CELEBRITIES.... THANK FOR HONORING THEM AND GIVE THEM MORE COVERAGE DAILY.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  61. jared

    Hey CNN, thanks for reminding us that at least someone is doing your job.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  62. Joe Kirchner

    Thank you for CNN for putting on some meaningful reporting

    March 10, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  63. AYKM!

    Poor widdle wich, dwug addicted,cwazy,cwacked out chawie sheen.Hims can't help hims so stupid. The media is playing right into his nasty,crack smoking,coke snorting,boozing hands. Lets try this, put the attention on the important stuff like our heros in Afghanistan,around the world and at home. F@#k Charlie Shi#tas$% Sheen and Loser Lohan and all the spoiled,inconsiderate,stupid,drug addicted Hollywood a@#holes. Put them all in Alcatraz with all the drugs they can do and let them off themselves. Problem solved.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  64. Tom from San Diego

    I fought in Vietnam as a marine. Tet Offensive. Most Americans do not have a clue about war. The sacrifice these men made can never be repaid. Charlie Sheen epitomizes a nation in decline.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  65. ronnie

    eh, you call out a lot of things. how's haiti doing? chile? post tsunami asia? it's nothing to get worked up over..... it is what it will always be. the whole, "our young men and women are dying" thing actually gets a lot of attention.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  66. Ronnie

    What the heck does one have to do with the other? If you like reading about dead troops I am sure their are websites that the republican tea terrorist run out there so they can gloat over the murders of our troops ! sickos

    March 10, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Steve

    The selfless service of our service members and their familiies on behalf of those of us in the United States leaves me eternally grateful for their service to our country. I will keep them in my prayers and thoughts. It is very important that we never forget our service members and their families.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  68. Sid

    Lip service, lip service, lip service. Nothing but lip service.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  69. Name*Sera

    I absolutely agree that the news is very confusing. it's very sad when something extremely tragic is less of a priority than superficial news. It divides America and makes soldiers wonder why they are even fighting. But if you broadcast the news it's called biased, so we can't know why America is fighting, in case we upset some Muslims. If we knew why then people would have much more respect for soldiers.
    Also, celebrities are like magicians. They distract. There is something awfully empty of reason for sacrifice. No matter how much honour it is given. To me, sacrifice is a terrible thing and there is no national pride in it.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Brian

    You know... I haven't payed any attention to Charlie Sheen on the news but there's a greater issue here than him or anyone else being reported on over Afghanistan, Iraq and soldiers dieing. Its the people that post this type of tirade... They are for the most part the ones that agreed with the Bush administration that said reporting on all the gory details of war was tasteless and it didn't serve the American people. Typically the people that post about the dead soldiers are the ones that voted for that administration, the ones that said, 'Go shopping', the same ones that didn't want us to see all the details, they are mostly the ones that said, 'Hell yeah, get me a Coors and lets go to Afghanistan and Iraq.' Now that they have what they wished for it's not good enough. In the end it sucks that anyone had to die, it sucks that Charlie is mucking up the news but it is what the American people want. Instead of ranting about it why don't you write your congressman and ask him/her to bring our people home and put an end to this. Start going around publicly voice your concern about this, make our government hear that we are done with this. Its up to you and me to honor these people by bringing everyone else home.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  71. Crazy

    truth is no body cares about the troops dieing. they knew what they were getting into when they joined....what did they think it was like the commercials?....not like they were forced to join the military!

    March 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  72. teri

    just posted it as my fb status. May they RIP

    March 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  73. Crazy

    Truth is nobody cares about the troops dieing....they volunteered and knew what they were getting into..did they think it was gonna be a field day?....not like they were forced to join the military!

    March 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anthony

      You BETTER care about their deaths. These men are dead, and instead of honoring them, you bring this lie on hear. Many of the people here still care about these men.

      March 28, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  74. Michael

    Jeez, the kids on left and right ends look like friends I would've had in high school. It hurts to see that these men lost their lives so early.

    March 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  75. 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 |
  76. 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 |
  77. 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 |
  78. Scott

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

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

    Right on!

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

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

    March 10, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  81. 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 |
  82. anna

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

    March 10, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  83. 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 |
  84. 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 |
  85. 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 |
  86. 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 |
  87. 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 |
  88. 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 |
  89. 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 |
  90. 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 |
  91. 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 |
  92. 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 |
  93. 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 |
  94. 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 |
  95. 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 |
  96. 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 |
  97. 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 |
  98. 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 |
  99. 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 |
  100. 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 |
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