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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

Mon, Sep 21, 2015

Air Force office who,apologized to us (civilian contractors) it,is,evident you have never known any of us or you would know how ridiculous your words are! To me. A retired military person, with two tours in Vietnam Nam, retired police officer and a former civilian contractor with 9 years in Afghanistan and the Middle East as a police advisor/mentor I first resented your remarks for belittling my fellow contractors, for besmirching the names of the fallen, and listening to your misplaced pity. However after a time I understood that it was only your arrogance and ignorance causing you to make a 4 legged hybrid of yourself! You,should,have taken the time to know,us before you began braying out your uneducated hot air.

Ed out

Mon, Sep 21, 2015

We contractors are a special breed of people. Most of us have been I. Combat as military members, served our communities as police officers, and have a deep sense of duty, honor, and loyalty! I served 22 years in the US armed forces that included to combat tours in Vietnam Nam and some other hot spots around the world. I served as a civilian police office and deputy sheriff for 17 years and as a police advisor, mentor and trainer in Afgqhinstan and Middle East for nine years. Like most of my brother and sister contractors I applied for the position after 9/1/1 when I saw the attack on our country and saw the Towers fall! I wanted to serve my country and assist in stopping the treat my country and its citizens faced. I did not know what the pay was nor did I care and every contractor in the police field I worked with had the same motivations. We left no team member alone on the battlefield and gave everything to get the task done some gave life itself.
I am proud to,have served along some of the greatest men and women I have ever known! We all knew what we were getting to. It we had the best training available by our companies. That with,our,military background and police experience made us,the best on the ground for the jobs we did or any other job for that matter. Thanks guys! Ron Z as long as I,love you live!

Ed out

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!

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