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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Fallen DynCorp employees honored with Defense of Freedom medals

Earlier this month, DynCorp held a ceremony at the Gaylord National Harbor just outside of Washington to honor 17 employees who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Families of the 17 received the Defense Department’s Defense of Freedom medal, which is the civilian equivalent of the Purple Heart.

The DynCorp employees were killed between 2004 and 2011, and were working on State Department contracts providing police training, according to a company press release.

“There about 17,000 DynCorp personnel serving in a combat theater today. They are serving alongside our warfighters and protecting our freedom. Bottom line - contractor personnel and all they do remains vital to our nation. We depend on them, we rely on them, and they are extraordinary for their execution of the mission,” said Lt. Gen. William N. Phillips, who represented the DOD at the event.

In the photo above, Lt. Gen. William N. Phillips presents the Defense of Freedom medal to Ranger Studie, grandson of Mike Dawes, a DynCorp employee killed while working on a State Department contract.

The death of contractors has been underreported, including here at Washington Technology. The most recent data I could find was that, through the first quarter of 2012, contractors killed in Iraq and Afghanistan numbered 2,994.

According to research by Steven Schooner of George Washington University, contractor deaths as a proportion of all of those killed has risen. Early in the wars, they were less than 10 percent, but in 2011 contractor deaths represented more than half of all U.S. deaths.

As part of DynCorp’s ceremony, the State Department announced that it was creating a memorial to honor civilians, including contractors, who were killed during police training missions.

“On the thirteenth of May this year, with the support, assistance and my personal gratitude to Under Secretary [Patrick] Kennedy, I hope we will unveil and dedicate a memorial to all those civilian police personnel who have given their lives up in overseas operations,” said Ambassador William R. Brownfield, who along with Kennedy represented the State Department at the event.

In addition to DynCorp, I know that Lockheed Martin has created a memorial to honor five of its employees killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m sure other contractors also are recognizing their dead.

Now that Afghanistan is winding down, I imagine will see more being done to honor contractors who have died in warzones. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have seen an unprecedented level of contractor support at the front lines.

It’s right and appropriate that their sacrifices, and the sacrifices of their families, be recognized.

DynCorp’s chairman and CEO, Steve Gaffney, said it well: “We often talk about their bravery and strength. But I also want to highlight the bravery and strength of those family members who are here tonight, and who continue to share the stories of their loved ones.”

Too often I think I’m guilty of just focusing on the business of government contracting: who’s winning, who’s buying, who’s hiring. After all, that is what you read WT for. But it is important to remember that these are people’s lives, and contractors have risked and lost their lives protecting the rest of us.

I know an executive whose son served at least one tour in Afghanistan. I heard him speak about the gratitude he felt for the other contractors who built the information and communications systems that his son and his platoon touched every day -- systems that helped them do their jobs and helped protect and preserve lives.

That’s a legacy far beyond dollars and cents that contractors should be proud of.

The Defense of Freedom medal went to the families of the following DynCorp employees killed in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Roland Carroll Barvels of Aberdeen, S.D.

Brett Patrick Benton of Dry Ridge, Ky.

Brian Morgan Brian of Camden, Ark.

Michael Wayne Butler of Rembert, S.C.

Mike Dawes of Stilwell, Okla.

Arsenio Ducusin Domingo of Wadmalaw Island, S.C.

Richard Thomas Hickman of Cave Springs, Ga.

Leon Vincent Kimbrell of Boiling Springs, S.C.

Deborah Dawn Klecker of Redman, Ore.

Rudy Guerrero Mesa of Maxwell, Texas

William Lawrence Juneau of Orange County, Calif.

Douglas Stephen Thomas of Lexington, S.C.

Robert McDonald Timmann of Tallahassee, Fla.

Donald Bruce Tow of Lake Havasu, Ariz.

Darrell Leroy Wetherbee of Raymond, Maine

Gary Wayne Willard of Resaca, Ga.

Ronald Austin Zimmerman of Glenwood, Ind.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 28, 2013 at 9:03 AM

Reader Comments

Fri, Aug 22, 2014 Habib Sroosh Afghanistan

I worked with Dyn Corps for 2 years in Afghanistan. I was working under direction of Mr Deav who was working in the talk office of main office in kabul during 2005 . I am looking for his Address now. if anyone has his address of USA please let me know. Mr Deav is from USA.

Sat, May 25, 2013 KE

Im a former Marine (0331) 10 years as a LEO and spent 2 years in Afghanistan as a police advisor mostly embedded with Marines in Helmand Province. I understand your comments Nick, but do you honestly think we were randomly picked off the street and sent down range with no training. I have 3x more training the average service member has. Yes, some contractors hired are polished terds.Most contracts with dyncorp require prior military exp. Alot of contractors and service members never even fire their rifles while in country. I think your comment made little sense, but keep this in mind. Have faith in the fact that "civilians" have the courage to step up to the plate and do whatever they can to help us ALL get home.

Sun, Apr 7, 2013 Ed

I am also retired from the US Military and a retired police officer. I spent two tours in Viet Nam as a military member and have been a Civilian Contractor since 2005. I served in Afghanistan as a police advisor/mentor with some of the most dedicated and bravest men that I have ever known. We are all volunteers who know the risk and accept that risk because we believe in what we are doing. You retired Air Force Officer are typical of the uninformed and ignorant of who we are and why we do what we do. Please sir do not apologize for the patriot's sacrifice; do not sully their honor by such dribble. We are proud to serve our country and some of us, Ron Zimmerman for one, made the ultimate sacrifice in his job to make the world a better place. REMF will never understand!

Mon, Mar 25, 2013 eric Phoenix, AZ

I am writing this as I am glad to see a formalized recognition for all fallen civilian contract employees who have lost their life’s in active war zones… This has special meaning to me as I and others who were serving together in the U.S. INL Police Advisor program in Afghanistan in 2006, when our convoy was struck by a Suicide VBIED… This incident immediately took the life of INL Police Advisor Ronald Zimmerman on 05-18-2006, 0905 am (Afghanistan time) who had just joined our team out of the ANP Regional Training Center Herat, Afghanistan. As on many days the convoy drove along an endangered 60 mile Islam-Qala highway between Herat, Afghanistan border in western Afghanistan to the Iranian border called Islam-Qala to assist and train ANP Special Border police with narcotics interdiction and criminal investigation training… When the incident occurred not only did we loose Ron immediately in a planned VBIED attack, simultaneously our convoy undertook a hail of small arms fire from an elevated position… As we stood our ground (5) veteran U.S. police officers from different parts of the U.S. and our security support group, I realized why we were their, so did the others that were their on that day and survived. Although asked to leave by a DynCorp INL commander who was not on the scene, and not to collect our fallen INL Officer and partner, (Ron) we decided to stay until a rescue force from a near by ISAF base Camp Arena and some U.S. Army units from Camp Stone assisted us and stabilized the situation. We did bring Ron back with us so his body would have not been carried away by the insurgents; we owed that to his family, Ron and our country. To those that were their on that day,(Al, Rob L, Rob) and all others who have had similar events, who were/are faithful law enforcement officers and gave all they could both on the home front and abroad it will be with us forever. To Ron Zimmerman and his wife and daughter God will hold you and him (Ron the faithfully departed), in special favor and light. To those who made the awarding of the Department of Defense Freedom Medal thank you, from a grateful proud U.S. citizen and law enforcement officer… Regards, Eric Stall (former DYNCORP INL Police Advisor (2006 Afghanistan), current active duty AZ law enforcement officer.)

Sat, Mar 2, 2013 Retired Army Afghanistan

I am writing this as an Army retiree from the enlisted ranks of 24 years and two combat tours. I am now a contractor and have been for the last 5 yrs in Afghanistan and Iraq and most of us contractors are former or retired military with a lot of combat experience. We are also volunteers serving in a war zone just not in the uniform but still taking care of our brothers in arms. Over the last ten to fifteen years I have seen the military change to the point of guns down range and let the contractors do everything else so the brother in arms can concentrate on the mission outside of the fence. If you want the military to take back the jobs that the contractors do, then the military has to be structured and trained like it was before 2003 when NCO's knew what the mission was and trained them and to do in their specialty jobs but all of the OLD SCHOOL NCO’s are gone and it will take the military years take those contractor missions back. In referenced to the Retired Air Force Officer’s comment “Its one thing to be in harms way as a military member, but allowing civilians to be exposed to the war is wrong.” Sir, most of the contractors that I work with talked about what they have seen on the battlefield during their deployments in uniform and it actually has helped us bond as a team knowing that that we have each others back. Sorry sir but you are way out of line on the contractor serving in Combat.

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