08 September 2006

Remembering Fallen Shipmates - Part I (N3N5)

Eternal Father, strong to save,

Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who biddest the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

CAPT Gerry Decanto, USN, Navy Captain Gerald F. DeConto of Alexandria, Va., was killed during the terrorist attack on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11. He was 44. Captain DeConto was born in Halifax. He graduated from Sandwich High School in 1975, where he was an outstanding soccer and basketball player. He was also active in the Boy Scouts. In 1979, he graduated from the US Naval Academy with a bachelor's degree in physics. Upon receiving his commission, he attended the Surface Warfare Officer School in San Diego before reporting to the USS Excel as a damage control assistant. From 1982 to 1984, he served on the USS Fresno as an operations officer. He earned a master's of science degree in mechanical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., in 1986. He was assigned to the USS Hewitt, where he served as chief engineer from December 1986 to July 1989. He also served as executive officer of the USS Lake Erie and commanding officer of the USS Simpson. He also was chief of staff for Standing Naval Force Mediterranean from April 2000 to May 2001. Captain DeConto was assigned as director of current operations and plans branch for the Navy Command Center at the Pentagon in June 2001. In addition to his extensive Navy activities, Captain DeConto enjoyed spending time with his family and friends, sailing, biking, shellfishing, skiing, and running with his dogs. He leaves his mother, Patricia L. of Sandwich; two sisters, Dale K. Choate of Mashpee and Marie DeConto-Thomas of Forestdale; and two brothers, David J. of Sandwich and Raymond E. of East Lynne, Conn.

CAPT Larry Getzfred, USN, 57, of Elgin, Nebraska, an officer in the Navy command center at the Pentagon, U.S. Navy. Capt Getzfred's family was presented with a plaque from the American Legion, honoring 100 years of service in the Armed Forces by members of the Getzfred family.

CDR Rob Schlegel, USN, Though he contemplated a career in journalism, Cmdr. Robert Allan Schlegel, 38, of Alexandria, Va., followed his father and two brothers into the Navy and was recently promoted to commander. It was the highest ranking received in his family--which has 60 years of naval experience--and earned the 15-year veteran a new office at the Pentagon. There, on the second floor, he scheduled and assigned the cruise routes and dates for Navy ships, according to his sister-in-law, Debbie Schlegel, who has known him since they attended Gray-New Gloucester High School together in Maine. His office was believed to be at the point of impact where the jetliner crashed into the Pentagon, said his family. "He'd always come over and play with our kids, getting that `uncle' time in when [his brother David] was out at sea," Debbie Schlegel said. "He was an all-around great kid." After high school, Schlegel left Maine to attend Washington and Lee University in Virginia, where he majored in journalism and minored in French. He worked as a reporter at the Lewiston Sun Journal in Maine but changed careers and trained to be an officer in the Navy. In 1996 he was named the commanding officer of the Atlantic Tomahawk Afloat Planning System. Before he moved to the Pentagon last year, he was executive officer for the destroyer USS Radford. An avid sports fan, Schlegel loved to play hockey, watch football and compete with his brothers and nephew at video games.

CAPT Jack Punches, USN-Ret., 51, of Clifton, Virginia, a civilian employee with the U.S. Navy.

  • I prayed I would not know any of the victims on that fateful day as the events unfolded. The horror of the events will remain with us forever and your memory as well. You will personalize this event to our family. Our sons played baseball together in Little League and high school. Jack, like my husband, often assisted in coaching. Jack was a devoted father and a gentle man. My prayers go out to his family. -- Aurora White, neighbor and friend
  • To a fine American who dedicated his adult life to the defense of freedom; to a friend who is missed; to an aviator who chose to live a life of consequence. Thanks Jack -- it was an honor and a pleasure to know you. -- Allen Efraimson, colleague
LCDR Eric Cranford, USN, 32, of Drexel, N.C., had worked under the chief of naval operations in the Pentagon since April 1999 and was in the building when American Airlines Flight 77 struck it. Cranford graduated from East Burke High School in Drexel, a town of 2,000. Cranford, a naval aviator, was commissioned at the University of North Carolina in 1992 and obtained the rank of lieutenant in 1996. He served in a helicopter squadron in Mayport, Fla., and on the USS Gettysburg, USS McInerney and USS Carr. He had been awarded nine service medals.
  • Your faith and wonderful smile were a blessing to all of us who were fortunate to know you. You were one of God's children, and we give thanks that you are with him this day. -- J. Christopher Leonard, friend
LCDR Rob Elseth, USN,37, passed away on September 11, 2001 at the Navy Command Center in the Pentagon. He is survived by his wife Annette, daughter Faith, parents Berta and Curtis Elseth, brothers Jim and Harlan, and sister Nancy. Bob was a 1987 graduate of The Ohio State University. He served 10 years on active duty with the United States Navy, serving on the USS CLAUDE V. RICKETTS (DDG -5), USS DONALD B. BEARY (FF-1085), and the USS JOHN RODGERS (DD-983) and served as an Instructor at the Surface Warfare Officer School in Newport, RI. While at Surface Warfare Officer School, Bob was recognized as the Junior Officer of the Year for Newport Naval Ashore Commands. Bob was active in his church as a Sunday School teacher for first grades, and also coached Girls Soccer. Along with friends, Bob was a founding partner of Delta Resources, Inc. a defense consulting firm. He continued to served the Navy as an Officer in the Naval Reserve in a number of units including his most recent service in the Naval Command Center. He will be remembered by all as a loving son, a caring brother, a devoted husband, a friends to all , and a father like no other.

LCDR Pat Murphy, USNR, Flossmoor native Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Jude Murphy had served on nuclear submarines and had recently moved to New Jersey with his wife and two children. He was a reserve officer who was at the Pentagon Tuesday when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the building, said his godfather, William Slavin, who shared a Chicago Heights dental practice with Murphy's father. Murphy, 38, grew up in Flossmoor and graduated from Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights in 1981.

LCDR Ron Vaulk, USN, On September 11, 2001; RONALD JAMES, LIEUTENANT COMMANDER U.S.N.R. died at the Pentagon while serving as a Watch Commander at the Navel Command Center. Beloved husband of Jennifer M. Vauk (nee Mooney) of Mt. Airy, MD; devoted father of 3 year old Liam and yet to be born baby; devoted son of Hubert and Dorothy Vauk of Nampa, ID; brother of Charles, David, Gary, Dennis Vauk, Teri Masterson, Celia Shikuma, Lynne Caba, and Patricia Vauk; son-in-law of Carol and Patrick Mooney, brother-in-law of Alissa and Chris DeBoy. Ron is also survived by 18 nieces and nephew

LT Scott Lamana, USN, Mike and Wendy Lamana left Baton Rouge less than 12 hours after American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon Tuesday. They were driving to where their son, Michael Scott "Scotty" Lamana, had surely died, though there was no body. Lamana, 31, was a U.S. Navy lieutenant who worked in the Pentagon. He had been a 1992 graduate of Louisiana State University and then joined the military. By Tuesday afternoon, as the Pentagon remained engulfed in flames and rescue workers publicly admitted that no survivors seemed likely to be found, Lamana's parents hopped in their car, bound for Washington D.C., according to relative Ronnie Chatelain. They were sure their son hadn't survived, Chatelain said, because authorities had told them he was unaccounted for, and they knew Lamana would call to reassure them if he could.

ITC Gregg Smallwood, USN, Gregg Harold Smallwood, 44, of Overland Park, Kansas, a chief information systems technician in the U.S. Navy.

ITC Don Young, USN, In high school, Donald McArthur Young was the football player who got the scholarship to college, the "cool guy" whom all the girls liked, remembered his football coach George Miller. "He was a good kid, really dedicated not only to athletics but academics as well," Miller said. He joined the ROTC at WilliamFleming High School in Roanoke, Va., and stayed involved, even while he played football on a scholarship at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. After graduating, Young joined the Navy because he felt it was his duty to work for his country, Miller said. The 41-year-old Young was working as an information systems technician in the Pentagon when he was killed. "It was important for him to do what he could for his country," Miller said. "I think his wife (Felicia) wanted him to quit, but he didn't. He loved America that much. And he wound up dying for his country."

IT1 Johnnie Doctor, USN, 32, of Jacksonville, Florida, an information systems technician first class in the U.S. Navy.

ET1 Ron Hemenway, USN, 37, of Shawnee, Kansas, an electronics technician first class of the U.S. Navy.

AW1 Joseph Pycior, USN, Joseph John Pycior Jr. was a Navy man through and through, the son, grandson and nephew of Navy veterans. He spent almost 20 years in the service, served on the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and was a veteran of Desert Storm. He also happened to really like playing with Legos. "He really was a big kid," said his widow, Terri Pycior. Mr. Pycior, a Carlstadt native, was working at the Pentagon on Sept. 11 when a hijacked plane crashed into the building. The aviation warfare systems operator first class, just months away from his Navy retirement, was killed. Mr. Pycior, 39, was looking forward to starting a new career as a middle school teacher, focusing on his favorite subject, history. The Civil War buff had completed correspondence courses at Thomas Edison State College in May and was supposed to collect his bachelor of arts degree in history during a ceremony in Trenton on Oct. 13. Instead, his wife and two sons, Joey III, 10, and Robbie, 8, came from their home in Landover, Md., and accepted the degree for him. From his youngest days, Mr. Pycior wanted to join the Navy, said his mother, Arlene Pycior. He was in the Navy Brigade as a boy and entered the Navy Junior ROTC at East Rutherford's Becton Regional High School, where he met Terri. A week after graduating from high school, Mr. Pycior enlisted in the Navy. He served in the Persian Gulf twice, on P-3 airplanes and in the recruiting field in Philadelphia. He began working at the Pentagon in 1999. "With any job he was given, he was very conscientious with his job," his mother said. "He was a good father, a good husband and a good son." Mr. Pycior also loved being Webelos den leader of his older son's Cub Scout pack and motivating the young boys, Terri Pycior said. "He was like the life of the party," she said. During Labor Day weekend, the couple went to the Cherry Hill area and talked with real estate agents about houses. They wanted to settle down, get a dog. They promised the boys it would be their last move. Mr. Pycior was looking for a house with a basement. He was going to make a special room with no carpeting, where he and sons could build huge models, made of Legos. Along with his mother, his wife and his two sons, Mr. Pycior is survived by his father, Joseph J. Pycior. He was predeceased by a brother, Gregory.

IT1 Marsha Ratchford, USN, For her nearly 15 years in the Navy, Marsha Ratchford traveled wherever her orders sent her. There was Hawaii and Guam and Japan and Seattle and California. Washington D.C.--the Pentagon--was to be her family's last stop. "She was retiring after this," said her husband, Rodney Ratchford, Friday night. Asked to describe his wife, Rodney Ratchford didn't even pause: "The main thing about her," he said, "is that she was just the most loving mother." The Ratchfords, who have been married 13 years, have three children: a son who is 11, a daughter who is 8, and another daughter who is barely 18 months.

OS2 Nehamon Lyons, USN, When Nehamon Lyons IV visited relatives in Alabama over the 4th of July, he was full of talk about how much he loved working in the U.S. Navy and living in Washington, D.C. "He was very happy, very high-spirited, excited," said his cousin, Latrice Racy. The 30-year-old operations specialist second class had a fairly new posting at the Pentagon. He was there when the plane crashed Tuesday. "He was kind of shy, a very giving person, very hard-working and dedicated," Racy said. Lyons planned to make a career in the service.

DM2 Michael Noeth, USN, 30, of Jackson Heights, New York, an illustrator/draftsman second class with the U.S. Navy.

SK3 Jamie Fallon, USN

  • My name is Teresa Fallon, I lost my sister at the Pentagon in the September 11th attack. Our family is dealing with Jamie's death the best way we know how, which isn't easy. Jamie left behind a wonderful son, named Kahleb. Kahleb is a wonderful, 9-month old boy, with the same big grin that Jamie wore on her face everyday. My thought and prayers are with every family memeber that lost a loved one in this terrible act of hatred. -- Teresa Fallon, sister

  • Jamie was my best friend of 11 years. We met in high school and have been friends ever since. She was the most fun, caring and loving person I have ever known. I miss her and love her very much. -- LeAnda Garrison, friend
Mr. Julian Cooper, 39, of Springdale, Maryland, a Navy contractor

Ms. Judith Jones, 53, of Woodbridge, Virginia, a civilian employee with the U.S. Navy.

Mr. James Lynch, Manassas, Virginia, a civilian employee with the U.S. Navy.

Mr. Khang Nguyen, 41, of Fairfax, Virginia, a Navy contractor.