May is Military Appreciation Month, a time to honor those who are currently serving in our great U.S. armed forces. On May 28, near the end of the month, we’ll observe Memorial Day — the day we honor those who gave their lives while serving our nation.
As I think we should honor our fallen every day, I believe this is a perfect time to remember some of our Fort Hood soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice during the War on Terror.
On Nov. 12, 2016, Staff Sgt. John W. Perry, 30, of Stockton, California, and Pfc. Tyler R. Iubelt, 20, of Tamaroa, Illinois, were killed when an improvised explosive device was detonated by a suicide bomber in Bagram, Afghanistan. Both were posthumously promoted to their current ranks and awarded the Purple Heart Medal, the Bronze Star Medal and the Combat Action Badge. Both were assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade.
Two American contractors also died in the explosion and 16 U.S. service members and one Polish soldier were wounded.
Perry was an only child born in Mission Viejo in 1986 to Stewart and Kathy Perry. His parents divorced when he was 6 years old and he spent time living with his father, a former Marine, in north Stockton, according to a Nov. 16, 2016, Stockton Record report. He graduated from Pleasant Valley High School in Chico in 2005, where he enjoyed running on the cross country team, and enlisted in the Army on Jan. 31, 2008, as a Test, Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment maintenance support specialist.
Perry’s father, Stewart Perry of Stockton, told the Stockton Record at the time that his son was an avid runner who was preparing to participate in a 5k run at the base in northeast Afghanistan as part of a post-Veteran’s Day activity to benefit disabled veterans.
Iubelt graduated from Tamaroa Grade School in 2011. Administrators said on the school’s Facebook page that Iubelt would be remembered for his quick wit and a twinkle in his eye.
One of Iubelt’s friends said that no one in the southern Illinois village of about 640 residents could believe that they would ever lose one of their own in such a manner.
Iubelt entered the Army on Nov. 23, 2015, as a motor transport operator. He was on his first deployment when he was killed.
While there have been far too many losses from Fort Hood since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began, I wanted to highlight these two heroes because I was there to write the story on the memorial held for them.
But rest easy, brothers. You will not be forgotten.
David A. BRYANT is an Army retiree and a military journalist for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7554.