Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Army CWO Keith R. Mariotti

39, of Texas.
Mariotti died near Taji, Iraq, when his AH-64D Apache helicopter crashed. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Died on June 27, 2005.

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"Brother, you will never be forgotten as long as I draw air into my lungs."
Rich Eppler, CW4 (Ret) of Fort Bragg, NC

"I went through WOEC and Flight School with Keith at Mother Rucker. I think of him often. Good man and a great loss."
CW4 Huff, Larry N. (Ret) of Hattiesburg, MS.

"Thinking of you Brother.

Your WNA Family."
Greg Shade of McKinney TX

"Many years ago, in high school, memories of driving around with Keith and my brother, great times full of laughs with a great guy. The last time I saw him, he stopped in to say hi in his flight suit and I couldn't believe he was training to fly helicopters with the Army. I was so proud to call him my friend. That was my last memory of him and then I heard he gave the ultimate sacrifice so many years later...I went numb. I think of you often especially when flags fly on Memorial Day. Thank you my friend."
Lorie Foster of Earleville, MD

"I think of you every day, Son.
Love, Dad"
LTC Dilio Mariotti of Washington, NC

"Veteran's Day - Nov 11, 2015
To Keith's family and friends. We will never forget the sacrifice your family gave to this great country. Our prayers go out to you as we honor Keith's memory. May God Bless you and give you peace."
Janet DiEnna of Edmond, OK

"I just found this. AJ, as he was then called, was my room mate at St Mary's College in 1985. When he joined, we talked about reasons etc. We stayed in contact for a while after basic and A school and as a result, I joined also in 1986. He has had a profound influence on my life, all positive. A Patriotic crazy daredevil protected by a SP Chaplain was just what I needed to get my life in order. AJ taught me that there are more important things than me. I have thought of you often. Thanks AJ."
Ross Gauld of Houston, Texas

"Dear Keith,
It's been 9 years since we lost you. You are always with me and with your brother, Karl. We love you and honor your memory."
Dad & Sue of Washington, NC

"I'm watching the history channel about Apache chopper pilots. I have the honor to have worked with you and your dad. with the covered bridge theater and emmaus"
mike brown of aberdeen proving ground, maryland

"My Dear Son: It has been more than 8 years since that fateful day in 2005. Not a day goes by that I don't think of you with love and fondness. --Dad"
Chaplain, LTC Dilio Mariotti of Washington, NC

"Thank you for your sacrifice. I am sorry we could not protect you we tried and failed. You helped save my squad by your actions. God bless you. You are the HERO and will not be forgotten EVER!"

"7 years today...There isn't a day that passes the I don't think of you and Steve.
You are a great American!"
CW4 Scott McBride of Fort Rucker, AL

"Keith, I think about you not just on these Memorial Days (this one in 2012), but many days between. I was proud to have shared the same sky with you. God Bless you and your family. Rob"
LTC Rob Willis of US Army here and there

"I went to west nottingham academy with Keith , we called him spaz, but he is a hero and will be missed, GOD BLESS YA Brother"
Ken Johnson of Washington,D.C.

"Keith will be missed. I was his girlfriend in high school in Elkton, MD. He was such a fun person. To his mom, dad and brother - I'm truly sorry for your loss. I looked him up on facebook and saw this page. Truly sorry. My son is now preparing to join the army. I'm proud of my son for wanting to protect his country, as I'm sure you were proud of Keith."
Melissa of Delaware

"I went to school with Keith at West Nottingham Academy. I actually just learned of his death. He was a good guy and a good friend. I will raise a toast to him in March when our WNA family meets in WDC."
Greg Shade. Sgt/USMC 86-92 of Texas

"I'll always have fond memories of sitting with Keith in the mud of Elbonia while he led us in singing silly songs between missions. So long buddy, you were a great guy and always kept our spirits up!"
Paddy Quinn. 2-6 Cav of Germany

"”Honor and Remember” - “Project Compassion” We love our Soldiers! We love our country and we cannot express enough love and compassion to the families of our fallen heroes. War does not discriminate – It breaks our hearts to see the faces of the fallen. We want to give this gift to you. We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization! Over 1,550 portraits have been completed and shipped to the parents and or spouse - at no cost as this is a gift from one American to another!
Contact us directly at Projectcompassion@manti.com or go to www.heropaintings.com . If you have already had a portrait completed, we pray that you are enjoying the portrait and God Bless You.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Kenna"
Kenna - Project Compassion of Manti, Ut USA

"I was assigned to 3rd battallion attack when Mr. Mariotti died. I remember thinking that these kind of things only happens in movies... he was a great mentor and pilot and will always be missed...."

"I was a retired USAF NCO working as a Radio Shack manager in Elkton, MD, and this skinny kid walks in the door and says 'I need a job.' There was something about him that made me recommend him to the DM. Keith was very conscientious and as honest as the day is long and he and I got along very good. When he came back from aviation training (at I believe, Fort Rucker) he was changed forever. For one thing, he was no longer skinny but muscular and had the air of a confidant person who was now sure of what he wanted to do in life. I moved on to Wyoming and lost track of Keith and just found out of his death, 3 years after-the-fact, from another former Radio Shack manager. So sorry to hear this but I have a feeling he was a fine, dedicated officer who will never be forgotten. R.I.P."
Harry Meekins of Riverton, WY

"June 24, 2008
To the family of CWO Keith R. Mariotti:
Keith gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
www.IraqWarHeroes.org"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"I grew up living across the street from Keith in Colora Md. He was a great friend and I will never forget him."
Brian M. Jackson of Bear, DE

"I went to school with Keith at west nottingham , a good bud, will be missed.GOD BLESS"
Ken Johnson of falls church Virginia

"Such a tremendous loss....I am so very sorry and my heart aches for your loss. I had the honor of introducing Keith to West Nottingham Academy and attending school with he and his brother Karl. Thank you for raising a man who put others before himself, who did not shutter in the face of danger and who so unselfishly believed in his country. I cherish the thought that my four children may live in a world knowing freedom and limitless opportunities because of Keith's and your sacrifice....I am proud to say that I knew such a hero!"
Sean Collins of Vail, Arizona/USA

"The war never truely hits home until someone you know has made the ultimate sacrifice. It was a pleasure and an honor working with Mr. Mariotti. You will never be forgotten."
SGT Mike Mercier of Lincoln, Nebraska

"I met Keith while we were stationed together at 1-6 Cav, Camp Eagle, South Korea. We spent many evenings talking together and he really made an impression on my wife as "one of the guys she approved of". I looked up to Keith and he was one of the first people I made contact with once I found out that I was going to be assigned to the 1-229th at Fort Bragg, NC. Keith was also assigned there and our friendship continued to grow, even though we didn't end up in the same company. Once we arrived in Taji, Iraq I would always be sure to sit down with him every chance I got to learn more about being a better aviator. Keith was one of the guys that got it, why we were there. Keith instilled in me a great respect for the ground units we supported and I terribly miss just chatting with him. To say he was a mentor won't do it justice, he was my friend. This past Memorial Day we visited Keith, Steve Sheppard, and Cpt Joe Lusks' memorial trees at Fort Stewart. I was filled with dread as we approached his tree and I tried to stay away. At that moments my almost 3 year old son asked me if I knew this person. He and I bent down at he placed a flag into the ground at the base of this tree and I began to try and explain to my very aware son how much this man meant to me. "Son, this man was my good friend Mr Keith. He died not only protecting you and Mommy but also the little boys and girls in Iraq. If there was ever a hero in the world it was Mr Keith. I have so many memories of Keith, he was my sons first Santa Clause, the only one at that time that my son would approach. I hope that my son will always remember men like Keith and I hope that I can always make Keith proud.

Fiddler's Green my brother in arms. We pray for you and your family every day.

Wayne"
CW2 Wayne McCullough of Savannah, Ga

"To the family of:Keith R. Mariotti. I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully, we will meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor: Rev. John Pearrell, Gateway Community Church, 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ,"
Polly Ballew of Covington,Ga

"Keith was one of the best pilots I ever flew with. He was a true patriot and I would never have hesitated to be his front-seater. Keith will be missed but never forgotten.

To his family: I am sorry for your loss. I will never forget Keith's smile, may that image comfort you when you miss him most. It was my honor to have served with him and to call him my friend. "Tigersharks""
Dan Legereit of Fort Irwin, CA

"I flew with Keith at Ft. Bragg and in Bosnia. I am sorry for your loss. Keith now lives on amoung the bravest that have made and will continue to make our nation great."
Matt Mendenhall of Tucson, AZ

"Dear Keith's Family and Friends, I wish to extend my sincere condolence on your loss of Keith. Keith is a true American Hero who will always be remembered and honored by our country. May God Bless you all and know that Keith is safe and at peace with God right now."
Mary Ghaney of Brooklyn, New York

"To Keith's Family: I just want to say that Keith was heroic in everyday life, too. Flying was his first passion, his first love, his first dedication...this is true. But Keith was heroic in the way he approached life, the way he interacted with people. He will be sorely missed and he will be remembered. Keith - you made a difference."
David W. Strauss of Abingdon, MD/USA

"Gone but not forgotten..... Bless the family of this hero and may his memory live in the hearts of every man, woman and child that enjoys their freedom!
(Nancy, be proud of your son!- We are!)"
Patti Ayers of Elkton, Maryland

"I want you to know that our hearts go out to you and that Keith will be missed very much! A hero in all of our eyes! God Bless!"
Shannon Rincon of Ft. Bragg, NC

"We are deeply sorry for your loss. America will forever honor your Hero.
The Courage, Honor, and Valor that your Hero showed will always be remembered.
We are grateful for the sacrifice that was made and we will NEVER FORGET.
God Bless your family and please know that you are not alone.
All of our prayers are with you"
Jennifer and SSGT Larry Mays of Massillon, Ohio

"We Will NEVER FORGET !"
Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Keith will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you ALWAYS. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"To Keith's Family and Friends:

On behalf of the Blanco-Caldas family, we send our sincerest condolences. We share the same loss ... the same pain. Our prayers are with you in this most difficult time and we thank you for your soldier's bravery and sacrifice as we mourn the loss of yet another of Texas' sons. Our boys are truly heroes!

By His Grace,

Gloria Caldas
Proud Mother of Fallen Hero
Capt. Ernesto M. Blanco-Caldas
"The Big Ern", 82nd Airborne
KIA Iraq 12/28/2003.
San Antonio, Texas
gcaldas48@aol.com"

"To Keith's Family:
There are no words to describe the sorrow we feel for your loss. May God bless you and help you through this time."
Dan and Meg Manninen of San Antonio, Texas

"Thank you Keith Mariotti, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"To the family and friends of Chief Warrant Officer Keith Mariotti:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Keith for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Chief Warrant Officer Keith Mariotti:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Keith, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on