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November 21st, 2009
BBN Staff /

Giving Thanks To Our Service Members

Giving Thanks To Our Service Members

Mike Bengochea, First Lieutenant in the Marines, has been serving in the USMC since graduating from UGA in May 2006. He had a seven-month deployment to Iraq last year and has just returned from a deployment to Afghanistan. He is currently stationed in Hawaii. In April he will return to Atlanta to serve as an Officer Recruiter. He is the son of Chuck and Laurie Bengochea of Roswell, who said of him, “Mike is an infantry officer and his job is to fight the enemy of the United States.  He was trained to lead marines into combat and he is doing it with excellence.” They even created a webpage dedicated to him at

Marianna Davidovich Brashear: The daughter of Russian immigrants, Marianna has served for six years of active duty for the U.S. Air Force Intelligence as a Russian linguist and adjunct faculty instructor under the Air Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency.  She currently resides in Sandy Springs where she is a fulltime graduate student studying for her MBA in Finance, and has two children at Woodland Elementary School, where she serves on the governance board. Marianna also serves as Homeschool Program Coordinator for the Sandy Springs Parks and Recreation Department, where she teaches gymnastics and dance.

Chris Cunningham, First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, is a Platoon Leader in the 375th Engineer Company, 7th Engineer Battalion, assigned to Camp Adder, adjacent to Talil Air Force Base in southern Iraq. He deployed in May 2009 and will return in April 2010. Chris resides in Marietta with his wife, Kim.

J. Dexter Edge III has served in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Naval Reserve for the last 20 years. He began his career flying the S-3 Viking with VS-30 off the USS Saratoga and USS Enterprise, and was a Landing Signal Officer.  He later transitioned to fly the F/A-18 and served as an Instructor Pilot and Training LSO in VFA-106 at NAS Cecil Field, FL until he left active duty.  He is currently a Drilling Reservist with the Fleet Logistics Support Wing at NAS Jacksonville, FL. His father, J. Dexter Edge Jr. (also a Milton resident), was a Naval Officer during the Vietnam War, flying over 200 combat missions in the F-4 Phantom off USS Coral Sea and USS Constellation.  His father, Julian D. Edge (shown on right), was also a Naval Officer during WWII where he served as an engineer.

Daniel P. Flynn, cCptain, graduated from Roswell High School in 1999. He graduated from The Citadel in 2004 with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army National Guard. Daniel was stationed in Iraq until September 2009, where he served as a captain in the aviation unit with responsibilities as Battle Captain and Blackhawk Pilot. In addition to his service in the Army National Guard, Daniel serves as a police officer with the City of Charlotte, NC Police Department. Daniel is the son of Tom and Jennifer Flynn and the brother of Matthew and Rebecca. The Flynns have been residents of Roswell since 1994.

Les Gable, lt commander, call sign “Burner,” graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1970 with B.S. degrees in Physics and Electrical Engineering and later an M.S. degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He attended flight school in Pensacola, Florida earning his “wings of gold.” He was assigned to the “fighter” community flying the F-4J with VF-31 (U.S.S. Saratoga) for a WestPac deployment and with VF-84 (U.S.S. Independence) in the Mediterranean. He is a graduate of the Navy Fighters Weapons School (Top Gun) and served as a flight instructor for the Navy’s Advanced Jet Syllabus flying the TA-4J. He also served as Officer-in-Charge of the Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, the inspiration for the movie “Officer and a Gentleman.” Retired, “Burner” currently volunteers as a Naval Academy Field Admissions Officer working with motivated high school students seeking appointment to one of the service academies.

Kyung Grant is a U.S. Army Ranger currently serving in Afghanistan as a part of the 1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment of Hunter Army Air Field, GA. Kyung is a graduate of Centennial High School, class of 2002, and is the son of Jim & Pat Grant of Lawrenceville, and nephew of Jim & Cindy Rahm of Roswell.

Chandler W. Harms of Johns Creek is a First Classman at the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. He serves in the Navy Reserve while attending the Academy and will serve as an officer in the U.S. Air Force upon graduation next June. He presently is Regimental Emergency Services Executive Officer at the Academy and also volunteers with the Vigilant Fire Department Rescue Unit in Great Neck, NY. He is a graduate of Northview High School, and an Eagle Scout from Troop 2000 of Duluth.

Clayton Heyward is the son of Jemille Williams of Roswell and Kin Heyward of Johns Creek and the protege of former Top Gun, Lt Cmdr Les Gable (see previous page), USN - (Ret.).  He is a Lt. JG in the Navy based in Lemoore, California.  Currently he is aboard the USS Stennis out of San Diego.  He is an Eagle Scout from Troop 2000.  His Eagle Project was building and mounting bat houses at the Autrey Mill Nature Preserve.  He won a Grand Prize for his Science Fair Project about wilderness water filtration. Clayton competed on the JROTC Ranger and Cross Country teams and graduated with many honors in 2002 from Chattahoochee High School and received his Bachelors Degree in Systems Engineering in 2006 from the U.S. Naval Academy.  He was awarded a scholarship to receive his Paratroopers wings at Fort Benning.  He recently completed the demanding POW training in the California desert.  He has achieved his life-long goal of moving up through the ranks to fly the F/A-18F.

Ryan Homire is a 1st Class Midshipman at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Ryan will graduate from the Academy in June of 2010 with a degree in Marine Transportation and will be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. Ryan has received a Marine Corps Aviation slot and plans on pursuing a career as a Marine Corps pilot. During the past four years at the Academy, he has spent 317 days at sea aboard the following vessels: a 900 foot containership called the SS Matson Kaui, a ConocoPhillips tanker named the M/T Polar Discovery, and a Military Sealift Command vessel called the M/V American Tern. He will graduate having received a Merchant Marine Ship’s Officer Third Mates license for unlimited tonnage vessels and has earned a Tankerman Person In-Charge endorsement. This past summer Ryan attended USMC Officer Candidates School in Quantico, VA. After graduation from the Academy, Ryan will report for duty to attend The Basic School for six months in Quantico, VA. Following graduation from the USMC’s The Basic School, he will report to Pensacola for primary flight training.

Ben Kopacka, a graduate of Blessed Trinity, is currently attending Air Force academy training where he is a Cadet 3rd Class in Squadron 11. He is studying Civil Engineering and is a member of the Air Force’s Falcons football team. While at Blessed Trinity, Ben played on the school football team, the Titans.

John D. McRae II, captain, is an Atlanta native and attended college at North Georgia College and State University, receiving a Bachelors degree in Business Marketing and participating in the university’s ROTC program. At graduation in 2004, he was commissioned as an officer into the U.S. Army. From 2005-2006, John was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq where he received the Bronze Star award. In October 2008, he married Kala Gulledge of Cumming, Ga. at Alpharetta First United Methodist Church. The couple reside in Milton with their dogs, Auggie and Bella. John is a Captain stationed at Fort McPherson and is currently attending Airborne training in Columbus, GA at Fort Benning. He completed the Airborne course on Friday, receiving his wings.
John is a wine enthusiast and enjoys baseball, traveling abroad, reading, and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets!

Russell “Rusty” Scarce, Private First Class, graduated from USMC boot camp at Parris Island on  April 3, 2009.  He then went to Camp Lejeune, NC for his combat engineer training and is now stationed at the Marine airbase in Beaufort, SC.
He is the son of Mike and Peggy Scarce, of Martins Landing.

Lamont Stevenson, Jr., Airman First Class, graduated from Centennial High School May 2007.  He immediately enlisted in the U.S. Air Force graduating from basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas on November 16, 2007.  After training at Ft Leonard Wood Missouri and Arkansas Air Force Base, AFC Stevenson is now based at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait driving convoys into Iraq. He is the son of Phyllis Stevenson, who said of him and his service: …I was doing what was asked of us, as parents, when they graduated from basic training. They asked us to: Pray for them while they serve, Encourage them every time we speak to them, Promote their efforts as soldiers while they protect our country, but most of all, Be very proud of the ultimate sacrifice that they unselfishly give every day of their enlistment.

Manuel “Manny” Smith is a Milton High School graduate and is currently a sophomore at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. He hopes to one day become a fighter pilot or systems engineer. Manny is a member of the Men’s Varsity Track Team.

Stephanie Thompson, Specialist, serves in the U.S. Army, joining in August of 2000, a full year before 9/11; she joined to serve her country, learn a trade and to get money for college. Stephanie continues to re-enlist because most days she likes both the Army and what she does. Serving a little over 9 years, she has been deployed to both Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and has always been stationed over 1000 miles from home. Finally, after 9 years, Stephanie is stationed at Fort McPhereson, Ga., where she works in the Pharmacy. She will be working there for the next two years or until they fully close the base. She is glad to be so close to home (for now). “I’m not sure where I will be going next, but… I am ready for anything the Army may have in store for me.”

Aaron M. Kenefick, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan; died Sept. 8 while supporting combat operations in Kunar province, Afghanistan. Also killed were Gunnery Sgt. Edwin W. Johnson Jr. and 1st Lt. Michael E. Johnson. A few years ago on Thanksgiving, Marine Gunnery Sgt, Aaron M. Kenefick asked his mom what time dinner would be served. He wanted to make sure he’d have time to visit patients at the Veterans Administration hospital. “That’s where the true heroes are,” Kenefick told his mother, Susan Price. “I just smiled and said, ‘That’s why I love you so much,’ ” Price recalled telling her son. This was just the way he was, she said, recalling the earnestness of Aaron, 6’‘3’ with movie-star good looks. When stationed overseas, he attended bible studies every week with his fellow officers. He was the quarterback of Roswell High’s football team and, one day after practice, he found a wallet on the ground. With an honesty that pervaded his life, Aaron went to the police department and turned over the wallet. When asked why he was handing in a wallet stuffed with money, he replied, “I saw there was money, but my mother told me that just isn’t the way you do things.” “­He was a big part of our young athletic program, and our coaches viewed him as a leader, so I’m not surprised he took that role of leadership as a Marine,” said Kevin Lester, the athletic director at Williamsville South High School in New York. Kenefick went to school there for two years. Kenefick himself was the recipient of a Purple Heart after he was wounded by shrapnel in Afghanistan. A fellow Marine died next to him; a sandbag saved Kenefick’s life, said his sister, Jade Myszka.    Two days later on Sept. 8, the 30-year-old from Roswell was killed in an ambush in Kunar province. He had been stationed in Okinawa. He enlisted in the Marines immediately after high school. He was twice named Marine of the Year during his 12-year military career. Kenefick is survived by his mother and father; two sisters; his girlfriend; and his young daughter, Landon.

New Army Enlistees from North Fulton

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