Remembering fallen heroes

Published 5:16 pm Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pendelton L. Skyes, of Chesapeake, enlisted into the U.S. Army in May 2003, nearly two years after the War on Terror began. His life ended all too early on April 6, 2005, when the helicopter he and 16 others were in crashed near Ghazni, Afghanistan.

As a member of the 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, 12th Aviation Brigade, Skyes was one of the soldiers helping provide security for then-first lady Laura Bush as she toured facilities and met with troops in Afghanistan.

Just four months before his death, in December 2004, Skyes had the chance to return home for a visit with friends and family, including his wife and high school sweetheart, Gina.

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On a Web site dedicated to honoring those men and women lost during the War on Terror or Operation Iraqi Freedom, Skyes was described as a “quiet, generous man, quick to protect his mother and would dive headfirst into the engine block of a friend’s jalopy.”

Skyes, is just one of well over 800 U.S. service personnel who have died during the war in Afghanistan. And as yet another anniversary of the terror attacks of Sept. 11 comes around, he and his fallen colleagues are remembered for their effort in helping the United States search for and confront those responsible for those attacks.

A reported 22 Virginia residents have been killed in action in Afghanistan, some in hostile attacks, others in non-hostile, but no less tragic, incidents. The crash in which Skyes was killed was listed as non-hostile.

Those killed have held ranks from private first class to lieutenant, from those who have months in the service to those who were nearing the end to honorable careers.

The number of U.S. casualties has increased in recent months as the administration and military’s strategy have changed, putting more emphasis — and as a result, more troops — in Afghanistan to seek out and either kill or capture the organizers of the Sept. 11 attack.

June and July of this year rank as the top two deadliest months for those serving in Afghanistan. In June 76 American troops were killed, while 77 were killed in July.

Visit for more messages left and information on many of those killed during their service in Iraq and Afghanistan.