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Dan
10-30-2009, 04:50
http://news.soc.mil/releases/News%20Archive/2009/October/091029-03.html

RELEASE NUMBER: 091029-03
DATE POSTED: OCTOBER 29, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: USASOC Soldiers killed in Helicopter Crash
U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Oct. 29, 2009) — Seven U.S. Army Special Operations Command Soldiers died Oct. 26, 2009 in western Afghanistan.

All the Soldiers died as a result of injuries received when the MH-47 Chinook helicopter they were flying in crashed.

Two of the Soldiers were assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Fort Bragg, N.C. They are:

Sgt. 1st Class David E. Metzger, 32, native of San Diego, Calif., was a Special Forces communications sergeant.

Staff Sgt. Keith R. Bishop, 28, native of Smithtown, N.Y., was a Special Forces weapons sergeant.

Metzger is survived by his sons David and Grant, who reside in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He is also survived by his parents David Metzger and Lisandra Holstein, as well as his grandmother Dolores of San Diego, Calif.

Bishop is survived by his wife Margaret of Flager Beach, Fla. and parents Robert and Suzan Bishop, of Carlisle Penn.

The remaining Soldiers were assigned to 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) headquartered at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. They are:

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael P. Montgomery, 36, native of Redmond, Wash., was a pilot and electronic warfare officer.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Niall D. Lyons, 40, native of Spokane, Wash., was a pilot and tactical operations officer.

Staff Sgt. Shawn H. McNabb, 24, native of Terrell, Texas, was an emergency care sergeant.

Sgt. Josue E. Hernandez-Chavez, 23, native of Las Vegas, Nev., was a flight engineer.

Spc. Nickolas A. Mueller, 26, native of Little Chute, Wis., was a flight engineer.

Montgomery is survived by his wife and son, Anita and Riley Montgomery, of Savannah, Ga; and his mother, Mary Montgomery, of Redmond, Wash.

Lyons is survived by his son John of Dothan, Ala.; his parents, John and Nuala Lyons, of Spokane, Wash.; and his brother, Kevin Lyons, also of Spokane, Wash.


McNabb is survived by his parents, David and Ann McNabb, of Terrell, Texas.

Hernandez-Chavez is survived by his father, Pedro Hernandez; his mother, Eustolia Hernandez, of Las Vegas, Nev.; and his two sisters, Cristina and Mayra Hernandez, both of Las Vegas, Nev.

Mueller is survived by his parents, Larry and Sharon Mueller, of Little Chute, Wis.

The incident is still under investigation to determine the cause of the crash. Names of the injured have not been released.
For further information, media should contact the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office during duty hours at 910-432-6005 or continue to visit this website (http://news.soc.mil) for updates.

--usasoc--

Dan
10-30-2009, 04:56
Sgt. 1st Class David E. Metzger, 32, died on Oct. 26 when the helicopter he was aboard crashed while conducting a combat mission in the Afghan city of Darreh-Ye Bum, Afghanistan while serving with Company B, 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

He deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom July 2009 as a member of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan. This was his third deployment to Afghanistan in support of the War on Terror.
Metzger, born in San Diego, California, enlisted in September 1996 as an Ammunitions Specialist. He later attended the SF Qualification Course, graduating in 2007, as an 18E Special Forces Communications Sergeant and was assigned to 3rd BN, 7th SFG(A).

Metzger’s military education includes the Warrior Leader Course, Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course, Advanced Non-Commissioned Officer Course, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course, SF Communications Sergeant Course, Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course, Air Movement Operations Course, Basic Airborne Course and Jumpmaster Course.
His awards and Decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, Army Superior Unit Award, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Ribbon, NATO Medal.

Metzger also earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Parachutist Badge, and the Special Forces Tab.

Metzger is survived by his sons, David and Grant, who reside in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He is also survived by his parents David Metzger and Lisandra Holstein, as well as his grandmother Dolores of San Diego, Calif.

- DE OPPRESSO LIBER -

Dan
10-30-2009, 04:57
Staff Sgt. Keith R. Bishop, 28, died on Oct. 26, when the helicopter he was aboard crashed while conducting a combat mission in the Afghan city of Darreh-Ye Bum, Afghanistan while serving with Company B, 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

He deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom July 2009 as a member of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan. This was his second deployment in support of the War on Terror.

Bishop a native of Smithtown, N.Y., enlisted into the U.S. Army in April 2003 as an Infantryman. He was assigned to 1st Bn., 506th Infantry Regiment, Camp Grieves, Korea. He later served with 1st Bn., 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division before deciding to pursue the goal of becoming a Special Forces Soldier in 2007 by attending the Special Forces Selection and Assessment. He completed the Special Forces Qualification Course Oct. 2008 and earned the coveted “Green Beret” as a Special Forces weapons sergeant. He was then assigned to 3rd Bn., 7th SFG (A).

Bishop’s military education includes the Warrior Leader’s Course, Basic NCO Course, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course, Basic Airborne Course, Air Assault Course and Special Forces Qualification Course.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal for Valor, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Air Assault Badge, Parachutist Badge, and the Special Forces Tab.

Bishop is survived by his wife Margaret of Flager Beach, Fla. and parents Robert and Suzan Bishop, of Carlisle Penn.

- DE OPPRESSO LIBER –

Dan
10-30-2009, 04:58
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael P. Montgomery, 36, died Oct. 26, 2009, when his MH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed while conducting military operations in western Afghanistan.

Montgomery was a native of Redmond, Wash., and volunteered for Army service in October 1991. After serving four years in the Army National Guard as an enlisted Soldier, Montgomery was accepted into the Army Warrant Officer Program at Fort Rucker, Ala., in 1995. Upon graduation from flight school in 1996, Montgomery was assigned to 1st Battalion, 185th Aviation Regiment at Camp Murray, Wash., as an aviation life support equipment officer (ALSE) and instructor pilot. In 2003, he was assigned to 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation Regiment as the ALSE and tactical operations officer. In October 2004, he was assigned to the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site (WAATS) in Arizona as a senior instructor pilot and instrument flight examiner. After a successful assessment in 2006, Montgomery was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) in Savannah, Ga., as an electronic warfare officer. Montgomery earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in 2002.
He was a combat veteran with seven deployments, two in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and five in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

His military training includes the Warrant Officer Candidate School, the Aviation Warrant Officer Basic Course, the Aviation Warrant Officer Advanced Course, the Aviation Tactical Operations Course, U. S. Air Force Survival Service Training Course, the UH-60 Aviator Qualification Course, the OH-58 and CH-47 Instructor Pilot Courses, the Rotary Wing Instructor Flight Examiner course, the Aviation Safety Officers Course, the Warrant Officer Orientation Course, the Total Army Instructor Training Course and the Action Officer Development Course. Montgomery’s awards include the Air Medal, two Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, four Army Reserve Component Achievement Medals, two National Defense Service Medals, Afghanistan Campaign Medal-Campaign Star, Iraqi Campaign Medal-Campaign Star, Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, and Senior Aviator Badge.

Montgomery is survived by his wife and son, Anita and Riley Montgomery, of Savannah, Ga; and his mother, Mary Montgomery, of Redmond, Wash.

Dan
10-30-2009, 05:00
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Niall D. Lyons, 40, died Oct. 26, 2009, when his MH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed while conducting military operations in western Afghanistan.

Lyons was a native of Spokane, Wash., and volunteered for Army service in October 1994. After serving three years in the Army as an enlisted Soldier, Lyons was accepted into the Army Warrant Officer Program at Fort Rucker, Ala., in 1998. Upon graduation from flight school in 1999, Lyons was assigned to 1st Squadron, 17th Calvary Regiment at Fort Bragg, N.C., as a tactical operations officer. In 2003, while stationed at Fort Rucker, he was assigned to 1-14th Aviation Battalion as an instructor pilot followed by an assignment with 1-145th Aviation Battalion as an Aviation Warrant Officer Basic Course small group leader. In 2006, he was assigned to 3rd Squadron, 17th Calvary Regiment at Fort Drum, N.Y., as an instructor pilot and instrument examiner. After a successful assessment in 2009, Lyons was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) in Savannah, Ga. Lyons earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Geography from Eastern Washington University in 1995.

He was a combat veteran with two deployments; one in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and one in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

His military training includes the Warrant Officer Candidate School, the Aviation Warrant Officer Basic Course, the Aviation Warrant Officer Advanced Course, the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course, the CH-47 Aircraft Qualification Course, the OH-58D Warrior Instructor Pilot Course, the Rotary Wing Instrument Flight Examiner course, the Basic Instructor Training Course, the System Administrator Course, the Air Movement Operators Course.
Lyons’s awards include two Air Medals, four Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, the Army Good Conduct Medal, two National Defense Service Medals, Iraqi Campaign Medal-Campaign Star, Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Combat Action Badge and Senior Aviator Badge.

Montgomery is survived by his son John of Dothan, Ala.; his parents, John and Nuala Lyons; his brothers, Sean and Kevin Lyons; and his sister, Burnadette Buck, all of Spokane, Wash.

Dan
10-30-2009, 05:01
Staff Sgt. Shawn H. McNabb, 24, died Oct. 26, 2009, when his MH-47 helicopter crashed while conducting military operations in western Afghanistan.

McNabb was a native of Terrell, Tex., and volunteered for Army service in July 2003. Following basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., and advanced individual training at Fort Sam Houston, Tex., McNabb served with the 702nd Combat Support Medical Company at Camp Casey, South Korea, as a health care specialist. In October 2005 he was assigned to the 57th Air Medical Ambulance Company at Fort Bragg, N.C., as a flight medic. In 2008 he successfully assessed with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) as an emergency care sergeant. McNabb arrived to 3rd Battalion, 160th SOAR (A), in Savannah, Ga., in July 2008.

He was a combat veteran with five deployments, all in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

His military training includes the Warrior Leader Course, Special Operations Training Course, the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course, the Special Operations Combat Medic Course, the Advanced Cardiac Life Support Course, Advance Trauma Life Support Course, the Flight Medic Course, the Emergency Medical Technician Ambulance Course, and Airborne School. McNabb’s awards include the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal for Valor, the Army Commendation Medal, three Army Achievement Medals, the Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal, two Army Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal-Campaign Star, the Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Basic Aviation Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.

McNabb is survived by his parents, David and Ann McNabb, of Terrell, Tex.

Dan
10-30-2009, 05:02
Sgt. Josue E. Hernandez-Chavez, 23, died Oct. 26, 2009, when his MH-47 helicopter crashed while conducting military operations in western Afghanistan.

Hernandez-Chavez was a native of Las Vegas, Nev., and volunteered for Army service in February 2005. Following basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and advanced individual training at Fort Eustis, Va., Hernandez-Chavez successfully assessed with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) as a medium helicopter repairer and was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 160th SOAR (A), at Savannah, Ga. In August 2006 Hernandez-Chavez was re-designated as a flight engineer.

He was a combat veteran with six deployments, all in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

His military training includes the Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course, Warrior Leader Course, Special Operations Training Course, the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course, the Aviation Life Support Supervisors Course, the Field Sanitation Team Certification Course, and Airborne School. Hernandez-Chavez’s awards include two Army Commendation Medals, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal-Campaign Star, the Iraqi Campaign Medal-Campaign Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, two Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbons, the Army Service Ribbon, the Combat Action Badge, the Basic Aviation Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.

Hernandez-Chavez is survived by his father, Pedro Hernandez; his mother, Eustolia Hernandez, of Las Vegas, Nev.; and his two sisters, Cristina and Mayra Hernandez, both of Las Vegas, Nev.

Dan
10-30-2009, 05:03
Sgt. Nickolas A. Mueller, 26, died Oct. 26, 2009, when his MH-47 helicopter crashed while conducting military operations in western Afghanistan.

Mueller was a native of Little Chute, Wis., and volunteered for Army service in June 2004. Following basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and advanced individual training at Fort Eustis, Va., Mueller served with the 2-52nd Aviation Battalion at Camp Humphries, South Korea, as a medium helicopter repairer. In 2007 he successfully assessed with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) and assigned to 3rd Battalion, 160th SOAR (A), in Savannah, Ga., where he served as a flight engineer.

He was a combat veteran with three deployments, all in support of the Operation Enduring Freedom.

His military training includes the Warrior Leader Course, Special Operations Training Course, and the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course. Mueller’s awards include the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, and the Basic Aviation Badge.

Mueller is survived by his parents, Larry and Sharon Mueller, of Little Chute, Wis.

Abu Jack
10-30-2009, 05:03
Rest In Peace

Richard
10-30-2009, 05:34
RIP all.

Tatonka316
10-30-2009, 06:13
Rest in Peace, warriors and brothers. Thank you for your service to our country. You will always be missed and NEVER forgotten.

molon labe

MeC86
10-30-2009, 06:14
RIP

jbour13
10-30-2009, 06:18
RIP

Stras
10-30-2009, 06:23
RIP

LongWire
10-30-2009, 06:40
Rest Easy Brothers.......Blue Skies...........

longrange1947
10-30-2009, 06:57
Rest in Peace.

Matsonian
10-30-2009, 07:26
Rest in peace guy's My thoughts and prayers with your families at this time.

SF_BHT
10-30-2009, 07:49
Rest in Peace Brothers you will be missed by all........

lonewolf726
10-30-2009, 08:05
Rest in Peace

Enigma0122
10-30-2009, 08:58
Rest in Peace All, God bless each of you and your families.

The Reaper
10-30-2009, 08:58
RIP, hermanos.

Thank you for your service, and your sacrifice.

You will not be forgotten.

TR

koz
10-30-2009, 09:05
Rest in Peace -

FILO
10-30-2009, 09:18
RIP

Penn
10-30-2009, 09:21
Rest in Peace all, May God Bless your families

wet dog
10-30-2009, 09:29
Rest in Peace Warriors, thank you for your service

Red Flag 1
10-30-2009, 09:48
Rest In Peace All!!

bluebb
10-30-2009, 10:05
Thank you for your service, RIP.

1stindoor
10-30-2009, 10:07
RIP my brothers. Metz, was in my old company. So was Bishop, but he got there well after I left.

Dan
10-30-2009, 12:26
http://news.soc.mil/Memorial%20Wall/Bios/Commander's%20Statement.pdf

MEDIA ADVISORY
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
Maj. Brandon Bissell at (270) 798-6298

Statement from 160th SOAR (A) Commander, Colonel Clayton M. Hutmacher

HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, GA – October 30, 2009 – During the past week the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), working alongside fellow special operations units, suffered the loss of an exemplary group of Soldiers in two very tragic accidents. On October 22, a Blackhawk helicopter crashed during a training mission off the coast of Virginia and on October 26, a Chinook helicopter crashed while conducting a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Every night, the uniquely skilled and highly trained Night Stalker aviators and crew members perform the most challenging and dangerous training and missions in support of our Special Operations brothers. It is with a very heavy heart that we recognize the loss of our six Night Stalkers, two Special Forces brethren and three DEA agents. Our thoughts and prayers are with our surviving but seriously wounded Night Stalkers and Special Operations Forces injured in each accident.

Both aircraft were flown by exceptionally qualified and professional crews. At this time it is unclear as to what caused the aircraft to crash and while it’s important that we investigate and determine what caused these tragic events; our immediate and lasting concern is for the families and friends of these extraordinary men who served their country with distinction, made the ultimate sacrifice, and who lived by the motto: “Night Stalkers Don’t Quit.”

-end-

Hognose
10-30-2009, 12:38
These are the soldiers whose remains were welcomed back by BG Repass and CSM Vigil this week.

Oh yeah, some politician showed up, too.

Mike792
10-30-2009, 12:53
Rest In Peace.

csquare
10-30-2009, 13:23
Rest in Peace.

Calrngr
10-30-2009, 16:26
RIP.

rwd
10-31-2009, 05:44
SSG Keith Bishop.

Keith came to my sniper section from Korea the same time as we began a week long, intensive sniper skills sustainment range and competition. I had a strong section of motivated studs and I told him, getting to lead these guys would require work. What did Keith do? In typical fashion, hardly even knowing the soldiers, as soon as one mouthed off over a particular shot, Keith placed his weapon on safe and shoulder tackled the sniper, balling him up into submission. Thus cementing himself as the sniper team leader.
Later, long after we decided to go to Selection together, Keith awoke, ankle sore and suffering from a serious cold (thank you Scuba Road). I looked at his face that morning and thought, "Damn, Keith is done.". He was emaciated and weak, and the medic told him he was pulling him to the rear for evaluation. Dustin, my other sniper I'd brought to Selection asked me if I thought he was done. There was no doubt. No doubt as I watched Keith drive away in the back of a pick-up, that he would be back and I was right. He came back, finished the STAR course and we hugged at graduation, making fun of the guys crying to the Barry Sadler song.
I was there as his Wife embarrassed him, making him stand in his Class A's as she played "The Ballad of the Green Berets." Keith Bishop was a warrior, one of us and may God have mercy on his soul.

I love you brother.

mojaveman
10-31-2009, 10:45
Ut fortis proeliator

To the brave warriors...

echoes
10-31-2009, 10:49
Rest-In-Peace.

Your service and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Holly

Rogue
10-31-2009, 18:47
Rest in Peace

Richard
11-04-2009, 23:19
North Texas welcomed home a fallen hero on Wednesday.
4 Nov 2009

The body of Army Staff Sgt. Shawn McNabb arrived at the Greenville Municipal Airport at noon, with units from several area fire departments on hand to provide an honorary cascade of water as the plane taxiied to a waiting hearse.

McNabb's body was then escorted by military vehicles to Terrell.

Sgt. McNabb was one of 14 Americans killed in helicopter crashes in Afghanistan last month. His hometown is Poetry, Texas.

Visitation is scheduled for Thursday evening in Terrell . A funeral service with full military honors will be held on Fridayat DFW National Cemetery.

McNabb's father is a retired Greenville firefighter. Forney, Greenville and Terrell firefighters were all involved in honoring McNabb and his family.

JJ_BPK
11-05-2009, 04:07
RIP Brothers, Vaya con Dios..

pgrtop
11-05-2009, 09:12
The Funeral Service and Interment for SSG McNabb are scheduled for tomorrow, November 6th. The Funeral Service will be held at the First Baptist Church of Terrell, Texas at 10 AM with Interment to follow at DFW National Cemetery.

The Patriot Guard Riders were honored with an invitation to attend this grieving family and will "Stand Tall and Silent" in honor of SSG McNabb's sacrifice.

Top
Ride Captain
Patriot Guard Riders of Texas

Richard
11-05-2009, 11:55
Medford Soldier's Body Returns To LI
5 Nov 2009

Julie Quappe had never met Staff Sgt. Keith Bishop, who died in Afghanistan last week. But as Bishop's body arrived at MacArthur Airport Thursday morning, Quappe and dozens of her co-workers at GE Aviation lined the street in front of their building, a few blocks from the airport, to watch the soldier's procession go by.

"He gave his life for our country," said Quappe, a supervisor from Patchogue. "It's just respect."

Bishop, 28, a Green Beret, died Oct. 26 from wounds suffered when the MH-47 helicopter he was aboard crashed just after takeoff in northwestern Afghanistan.

Assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group out of Fort Bragg, N.C., Bishop was one of 10 Americans killed after a nighttime drug and arms interdiction mission.

Bishop, who graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School in 1999, joined the Army in 2002 and lived near Fort Bragg with his wife, Maggie.

He had been a member of a Special Operations team working to stem the heroin-producing opium trade that helps finance the anti-U.S. insurgency.

As the hearse bearing his body drove by Thursday morning, a hush fell over the crowd, and they spread out along the street to watch as the procession traveled under two giant flags hoisted by firetrucks.

connections
Barack Obama Taliban Abdullah Abdullah United Nations White House "I think it's great they're doing this," said Al Roman, a software maintenance employee at the Federal Aviation Administration building on Johnson Avenue.

Mike Mark, a GE Aviation maintenance technician from Central Islip, shook his head and said, "This is sad."

greenberetTFS
11-05-2009, 14:11
Rest in Peace, Warriors .....................:(

Big Teddy

Richard
02-14-2010, 13:41
Today's LA Times.

Richard

Sgt. 1st Class David E. Metzger dies in Afghanistan at 32
Patrick J. McDonnell, LA Times, 14 Feb 2010

David E. Metzger seemed destined to be a soldier.

"He always had a kind of passion for the military," said his longtime friend, Rob Casillas, who recalled mock childhood battles in the suburbs of southern San Diego County. "We'd play little war games in the fields near the Mexican border."

At Mar Vista Senior High School in Imperial Beach, Metzger wore his slacks freshly pressed and his shoes scuff-free, and was careful to stay in shape, his friend recalled.

"He always fit the profile of a soldier," Casillas said. "He wanted to be like a G.I. Joe, I guess. That was his favorite toy."

Sgt. 1st Class Metzger, 32, was one of seven Army Special Operations Command soldiers killed in Afghanistan Oct. 26 when the helicopter carrying them crashed in the western province of Badghis. Also killed were three Drug Enforcement Administration agents. Most of those on board, including U.S. and Afghan personnel, survived the crash.

The incident shed light on a side conflict of the Afghanistan war -- the battle against drug traffickers, whose profits provide a major source of funding for insurgents. Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium.

The helicopter crashed as it was extricating forces after a raid targeting a trafficking compound, authorities said. More than a dozen militants were killed in the firefight that preceded the crash, according to NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

U.S. officials called the crash an accident and said it was not the result of hostile fire. The cause remains under investigation but some reports have indicated that the helicopter's front rotor may have clipped a cliff in the predawn darkness.

Metzger was on his third deployment to Afghanistan. Fellow soldiers lauded his dedication and described him as a strapping, affable comrade who paid close attention to detail.

"He was someone you could count on," Master Sgt. Javier F. Martinez, the senior enlisted sergeant on Metzger's team, said by telephone from Afghanistan. "He was someone you'd want there in the heat of battle. You always knew he was watching your back."

Martinez, also a Californian, was not on the mission because he was away on emergency leave. Metzger assumed his responsibilities, including accounting for personnel and equipment during all phases of the operation.

"He was in the same spot I would have been in, exactly," said Martinez, who acknowledges a sense of survivor's guilt. "I would have been there."

Metzger was born in San Diego on April 7, 1977, and was reared there by his grandmother, Dolores Wallen.

Friends and family recall Metzger as a talented Little League pitcher (he aspired to be a professional baseball player before a knee injury), a skilled boxer and skateboarder, and a gifted artist who delighted in sketching birds that came to his family's patio for seeds. He and friends camped out, rode dirt bikes in Mexico and learned to surf.

He enlisted in 1996, in part to help support his wife Alicia, who grew up in the same neighborhood, and the couple's baby boy.

"I didn't want him to join, I wanted him to go to college," Wallen said, adding that her grandson called every week from wherever he was posted. "But it was his decision, and I respect that. I just gave him my blessing."

The Army helped Metzger fulfill his passion to see the world. Stationed for five years in Germany, he served in the Balkans peacekeeping mission. He also traveled throughout Europe on vacations with his family.

Transferred back to Ft. Bragg, N.C., Metzger joined the Army's elite special forces, graduating as a Green Beret in 2007. His wife worried about the danger but he assured her: "I was born to do this."

After Metzger's death, his loved ones noted the irony that he had succumbed in an accident after having survived so many hazardous deployments and flights across the globe. "My first thought was, 'Not Dave, he's invincible,' " said Alicia Metzger. "He was always escaping death."

The couple had divorced a few months before Metzger's death, Alicia said.

In late October, Metzger's remains were among those of 18 U.S. military personnel met by President Obama at Delaware's Dover Air Force Base. The media were allowed to witness the event, which was among the first such ceremonies to be open to reporters and photographers since the Pentagon lifted a nearly 20-year ban on coverage of returning war dead.

The president spent private time with Metzger's family, lauding him and leaving a profound impression.

"I didn't vote for Obama, but the way he spoke to my son and to me, he made it seem like he really did care," Alicia Metzger recalled. "It meant a lot to my son. Afterwards he said, 'I'm so proud of my dad.' "

Metzger was buried at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, after several services celebrating his life.

Survivors include Alicia Metzger and the couple's two sons, David Jr., 13, and Grant, 2, of Fort Bragg; and his grandmother Dolores Wallen and parents, David Metzger and Lisandra Holstein, of California.

"He died doing what he always wanted to do," said Wallen. "He wanted his boys to be proud of him."

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-metzger14-2010feb14,0,1215395.story?track=rss