Fallen Heroes of Operation Enduring Freedom

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

Army Master Sgt. James W. Ponder III

36, of Franklin, Tennessee.
Ponder died while conducting combat operations when the MH-47 helicopter that he was aboard crashed in the vicinity of Asadabad, Afghanistan in Kumar Province. He was was assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Died on June 28, 2005.

Please send information, photos, and corrections for Army Master Sgt. James W. Ponder III.


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Leave a message in memory of this servicemember, and/or to the loved ones left behind.

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"I don't remember much about Uncle Tre but, that I always wanted to hear about the guns that he had shot. See you in heaven!"
Luke Miller of Memphis, TN

"A deep appreciation for your sacrifice on this day of remembrance ."
Leimbach-Glass family of Central City , NE.

"You are my hero and you will forever live in our thoughts, RIP."
Jose L Sanchez of San Diego, cal U.S.A

"Thank you for your service.
We will never forget you."
Peddy family of San Francisco CA

"Hello miss ponder, i saw the commercial and was touched by your story, your husband was brave for serving his country. You stay strong and remember he died a hero and he will have a reward in heaven. God bless you and America!"
Steve of Cartersville ga usa

"I have read your name countless times for it has been on the wall of my room for years along with the names of the other men who died that day and not until recently I realized that you are the father of a girl in my grade. The names are written under the big words REMEMBER… 28 JUNE 2005. Thank you for your courage and sacrifice Ponder family. You will never be forgotten.

Stay strong Elizabeth!"
Cole W. Cooper of Franklin, Tn

"Thanks for all u did daddy! U will always be remembered!!!!!!"
Elizabeth of Franklin, TN

"One of the best men I've ever had the honor to have served alongside crewing our beloved Chinook. I miss you Tre."
Jim Thomson of Camp Taji, Iraq

I am writing to introduce you to a national campaign recognizing the sacrifice of our military fallen men and women. Honor and Remember, Inc. is a 501 ( c) (3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the establishment of a national remembrance flag. www.HonorandRemember.org

I am a volunteer with Honor and Remember, founded by George Lutz who lost his son to a sniper’s bullet in Iraq on December 29, 2005. In May 2008, Mr. Lutz unveiled the Honor and Remember Flag and began a national campaign to bring tribute to all of our fallen heroes.

The Honor and Remember Flag recognizes all individuals from all wars or conflicts involving the United States who died while serving our nation, not only those killed in action, but all who have died in the line of duty. The flag serves as a symbol of national gratitude for the hundreds of thousands of American men and women who bravely made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedoms we enjoy today.

Our goals are as follows:

· To gain congressional and military approval of the flag as an official permanent symbol to fly continuously in eternal honor and remembrance of fallen military men and women.

· To educate the nation about the flag’s existence and symbolism,

· To provide Gold Star families with an individually personalized tribute

This is an historic movement that reaches out to America which will collectively honor all fallen military heroes, with a tangible emblem recognizing their sacrifice more than two days a year. On February 12, 2009 Congressman Randy Forbes introduced H.R.1034 in support of this important mission.

There are many ways your organization can help including awareness and sponsorship. Would you please provide me the appropriate name and contact information within your company. Our Development Director would like to contact them to discuss in detail how you can partner with us and the benefits they will receive from that partnership.

Thank you for your help and I look forward to hearing from you.

Michael Gordon

www. HonorandRemember.org
Sign the Petition - Share the Vision - Fly the Flag
Support the Military - Honor and Remember the Fallen
Support H. R. 1034 designating the flag as a national symbol"
Mike Gordon of Norfolk Va

"I just watched your introduction on the cma awards. I still have tears rolling down my check. My husband is deployed and has been gone for 4 months now and i feel like my world is on hold. I couldn't imagine going through what you went through. You are a very strong woman and i just wanted to thank your Husband James for fighting for our great country. I just know his reward in heaven will be amazing."
Kay of Norman, Oklahoma

i saw you on the CMA awards introducing Carrie Underwood *I was gone when it was aird live and first got to see it today*. Your an AMAZING person. My fiance is deploying to go back to Iraq in July. I can only praise you for your bravery.
I'm sure your husband was an amazing man as are all people in the military.
Happy Holidays"
Sarah of Two Rivers, WI

"Leslie Ponder,
One of the best women I have ever worked with is a military wife, she is currently stationed in Fort Collins, Kentucky. Your story really touched me.The American people do not know the sacrifice of both the soldiers and their families. Your bravery and sacrifice have brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for being a hero. I am extraordinarily grateful to live in America with women like you who are so brave, we have our freedom because of brave men like your husband. It is an honor to be an American. May God bless you and your beautiful children with all of the joy that you so deserve. Thank you for being on the CMA's. You are an inspiration."
Guinevere of Palos Verdes, CA

"TO Leslie Ponder,
Thank you for your bravery. How can someone adequately thank you for your sacrifice of you husband for all of us in the USA? I watched you on The CMA awards. I was touched by Carrie's song. I feel certain one day you will wake up from "the dream", at the end of your Life's Journey, to be united forever in Heaven with James. To you and your family, rest in God's arms. God Bless."
Donna V of Austin, Texas USA

"As I watched the CMA's for the second time today I still felt chills and such admiration for you! I thank you for the dedication you have had to have towards your husband and our Country...and I thank you for your service towards our Country as the spouse! Although, I do not know your husband I am sure that he must have been proud of you as he watched you stand before all of us! I pray for you and your family! THANK YOU!"
Jamie of Wauchula, Fl

"Ms. Ponder, you are so much more then even an inspiration. Thank you for changing my life for the better!"
Robin of Rio Rancho, NM

"Thank you!"
Joe of Eau Claire, WI

"Mrs. Ponder stole the show and the usa owes her a debt that cant be repaid. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom." The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume VIII, "Letter to Mrs. Lydia Bixby" (November 21, 1864), pp. 116-117."
of texas

"May God Bless you and your Family. I hope you know he did not die in vain, but for all of us, still alive, in part due to his great sacrifice.

You and Carrie Underwood brought me to tears at the CMAS. It was a great moment and very important to honor the great sacrifice that men and women give to us every single day."
Theresa of Saratoga NY

"Dear Leslie-- I am so sorry for your loss. Your introduction to Carrie Underwood's song Just a Dream at the CMAs gave me chills, and made me cry-- but mostly because I was so proud of you and your husband, for your bravery. It was a wonderful song and a wonderful moment-- and I am glad you were selected to introduce it.

Please know that he did not die in vain, and that we honor him every day that we live Free in this country. May God Bless you and your family.

-Allison, Buffalo NY"
Allison of Buffalo NY

"I wanted to express my condolences for all the lost and injured war heroes, and to their families. I pray for everyone's families that someone higher provides hope, strength and future blessings. As we dwell on economic hardship, let's not lose sight of real loss and life. God bless everyone today and grant the world freedom to live and enjoy every minute, hour, day with loved ones and families."
JJ of New York City

"God bless Tre and his family for their sacrifice so that we can enjoy our freedoms. Leslie, you did a great job; what a challenge that was for you. We were all praying for the strength and courage you would need not only to get on stage but also to deal with the loss of your best friend and husband and in raising your children. Please continue reminding us all of what special people it takes to defend us as well as the family members of those courageous people."
Sandra Kieschnick of Vernon, Texas

"Hi Leslie I just needed to share this with you. I was watching part of the CMAs Wednesday night with my son Trey who by the way was born on June 28th 2005. I'm not a big fan of country music and don't normally watch award shows but for some reason I happened to be watching at that time. The world works in mysterious ways sometimes. Your family will always be in our hearts."
Amy Crisman of Syracuse, NY

"Hey Leslie...I am also a widow..my husband was KIA on 9-30-05 serving his 3rd deployment in Afghanistan. I just want to say you represented all the widows well at the CMA's!!! What a great introduction you did. Are you going to Snowball express this year??? God bless you and your girls!! Amy Stoddard Proud wife of James J Stoddard Jr KIA on 9-30-05 (amystoddard710@msn.com)"
Amy Stoddard of Crofton MD

"You're Strength and courage in the face of this horrible tragedy are inspiring. May God Bless you and your family and may your children always know that their daddy is and will always be a TRUE AMERICAN HERO. Thank you Trey, you gave all. God Bless."
Lisa of Auburn, Georgia

I sat amazed once again at how strong of a woman you are. Seeing you last night at the CMA's reminded me of how strong you were when helping me through my first deployment jitters. You were such a pillar of strength that I admired. I know Tray was certainly proud of you and the girls, because few things lit him up like the mere mention of you guys. Joey looked up to him, and I know that no matter how tough things are, God is all around. He has a special place for you guys."
Dawn Potter of Hopkinsville, KY

"I wanted to leave you a message to let you and your family know what a hero you are. Leslie I admire your courage for continuing his memory. My brother was killed in Iraq on June 1,2003 and left behind a wife and 2 year old daughter. It is still so hard to this day to wake up and realize that they are not coming back. Thank you for being a wonderful role model for many."
Misty Eaton Sister of Sgt. Jonathan W. Lambert kia Iraq June 1, 2003 of Booneville, MS

"Mrs. Ponder: I watched your introduction of Carrie Underwood last night on the CMA awards show. You show amazing strength and grace. As the mother of a soldier on the brink of his second deployment to Iraq, my heart goes out to you and your beautiful children. I am certain your husband was beaming as he watched you from above last night, and I know that he, too, must admire your strength and courage in facing the tough times. His sacrifice was not in vain, and he will always be remembered by me. My very best wishes to you and your beautiful girls. May God be with you and watch over you!"
Debbie of Amarillo, TX

I just found out about Trey's death thru the CMA awards last night. I served with Trey in 1990-1991 in Korea at Camp Humpries and have alot of fond memories about him and my good friend Scott Jamar that was also KIA. I have a couple of Pictures of Trey in his youth if your interested. We will miss him greatly."
Matt Mitchell (mmitchell5425@yahoo.com) of Climax, Georgia

I don't know you...but I do know your parents. I attended the CMA's last night knowing you were going to speak. I was so touched by your heart and your love for your husband. It blessed me to see that out of all of the applause last night...you and your husband the "real heroes" received the most of the night. May God continue to meet you right where you need Him most."
Kristee Dickson of Franklin,TN

"Great job tonight Leslie at the CMA. Jim is always watching over you, the kids and us."

"I would bet that Tre was smiling down on you as you stood on stage at the CMA Awards Show. I'm sure he's as proud of you as you are of him. The love you feel for your husband was evident and even though you were probably nervous (it didn't show) I just wanted you to know you did a great job. You touched my heart with all you said and I appreciate the sacrifices your husband made so that the rest of us can have our freedom. Clearly you are a strong woman, and every time I hear Carrie sing the song that has touched so many I'll think of you and all the others like you. God Speed to you and your girls."
Becky of South Carolina

"Leslie, I seen you on the CMA's tonight and have not stopped crying since, you did a great job and are doing our military a great service, we must keep it in the spotlight what our military still is trying to do, and giving their lives for when everyones focus has shifted for the economy. I do not know where you get your Strength, you are my hero. I am not an Army wife, but I AM a military wife, and my most gratitude to you and Im so sorry for your loss. Keep up the good work!

From Hickam Air Force Base with LOVE!"
Yvonne of Honolulu

"Leslie My name is Randy Clayton Ponder, My wife and I seen you on the cma awards lastnight.I am from texas and have alot of family there now. I'm wondering if we could be family? PLEASE contact Me! Your loss may be a gain for our families, yours and mine. There are not a lot of people with the last name Ponder. My father Gordon has done research of our family name in the past and hasn't gotten far, if you could help me/us please do, and maybe we inturn could help you. Us Ponders have to stick together, we are few and one less now and that I am gravely sorry for, your loss and ours!"
MrWeldit630@aol.com of stratford, ca.

"Your strength and your beauty are something that obviously drew your Tre to you. Your presence of compassion was truly felt by who saw you on CMA tonight. I logged onto the lyrics of Carrie Underwood's song to deep absorb their meaning after you gave a handsome face to their introduction.

I am deeply sorry for your loss and so immensely proud of our bravest both on the battlefield and at home. As I said at the beginning, Tre would have been proud. So very proud.

May you find something to make you smile everyday. I did. Thank you."
Stacey Jones of Benicia, CA

"Hey Leslie!
We are so proud of you!!! You looked beautiful tonight on the CMA show and we were misty-eyed seeing Tre's pictures and the girls again. I can't believe it's been 3 years already. What an honor to Tre and his love for you and the girls and for his country. I can't believe we have come such a long way from our youth group days as teenagers and now our kids are quickly filling the roles you and I had so many years ago in Memphis. Little did we know back then how our lives would change. Keep up your amazing work on behalf of our troops - we love you guys so much!!!"
Mindy of Memphis - now Flagstaff AZ

My husband is on his third deployment right now, and I am home with our two babies. The instant I heard the first note of Carrie's song tonight I turned into a puddle on the ground. I reflected on the strength that you must summon every day. Your tenacity is a tribute to your love for your husband. There is strong, and there is Army strong and then...THERE IS ARMY WIFE STRONG! May God bless you and your family."
M.B. of Ft. Bragg, NC

"Hey Tray, remember when you lit that dumpster on fire at CDV the day you left Auburn? The cops were looking for you, ha! Peace bro! I remember you and your brother from back then. I can't believe you went into the military! War Eagle!"
Chris of Auburn, AL

"Wow, I recognized your name right away, then your obvious resemblance to your mom was apparent. What a beautiful tribute to Trey. Your girls must be so proud of you and your strength.

God Bless."
Alicia Marshall of Franklin


I can't even tell you how proud I am to be an American. I want to thank your husband and others like him from the bottom of my heart for serving our country in the capacity he/they served. What a TRUE American H-E-R-O!! It is my hope that other spouses in your shoes are watching the CMA Awards and decide to Google your name and read these heart-warming messages. I believe God looked down, smiled on your spouse and the spouses of others and decided they needed to be His servants in Heaven and that he would enrich your life/lives in ways you've never seen before. Remember, God will not give you more than you can handle. God Bless You and others like you and for those true believers in freedom that paid the tab for the rest of us. They're the GREATEST!!!!!"
Mark Anthony of Oklahoma City

"My heart went out to you tonight. I am the wife and mother of soldiers who served in Iraq. I admired your bravery and I know that your husband, James is smiling down from Heaven. May God wrap his arms around you and your girls and provide you with the peace that only comes from Him."
Mary Jones of Wynne, AR

"When i saw you on the CMA Awards i knew immediately that your husband was one of those brave volunteers from that night in Afganistan: the worst day in the history of SpecOps. Words can not express the gratitude of our Nation. God Bless you and your girls."
Peter Stevenson of Dearborn, Michigan

"Here I am watching you on CMA and crying my eyes out for how brave you are. I could NEVER have done that in front of a national television audience without loosing it!"
Harry of MA

"From one Ponder to another are thought's and best wish are to all of you"
Lesley Ponder of Somerset UK

"October 13, 2007
To the family of Master Sgt. James W. Ponder, III:
James 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"
Peggy of Nevada

"I saw the hunting video with Leslie Ponder. What a feeling seeing her fulfill James' wish. Leslie, my prayers are with you and your girls."
Joe Taylor of shreveport,la.

I would like to say thank you to you and the other men who were on that Chinook with you for your service and sacrifice for our Country. When your fellow servicemen were in trouble, you didn't hesitate to go to their aid. And to your family, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.

"Night Stalkers Rule The Night"
160th SOAR Motto"

"To the Ponder family" 4th of july in Gatlinburg TN is the midnight parade and fireworks. many fallen families will be attending. To enter a float to honour our fallen and to ask American's to SUPPORT OUR TROOPS! James you have not died in vain! You are a military brother to our son as you had been to him. today you are both united together. An without such men and women like you. America would not be safe today from terrorism. An all of America should be grateful to you both and all that serve along side of you. For all you do, the reason why? Others in the world come to America freedom and liberty!"
leonard_wahl@hotmail.com of Spring Texas

"To the family of:James W Ponder I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief and you have my thoughts and prayers. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully we will all 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 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew Covington,Ga"

"I read about Trey in BASSMASTER magazine and can only imagine what it must have been like to have known him and named him as a friend. God bless him and the loved ones he left here on earht."
HM1(SW/FMF) Rich Clements of Virginia

"As a mom of five young children, I am so grateful for the sacrifice of this brave solder James W. Ponder III. You are loved by many. Words can not express the emotion. He payed the ultimate price for our freedom and the freedom of so many other people who suffered under the rule of Sadaam. May God be with his family in this time of sorrow and may you find comfort in the fact that we think about James's sacrifice for the love of his country. May we NEVER forget! Thank you!"
Jill Hughes of Houston, Tx

"Our deepest sympathies to Rebecca,Jim, Leslie and girls...I was so fortunate to have met you this past weekend. I wanted to talk with you all the day of the Memorial but with everything going on we didn't have too much time. You are all so very loving and kind. Although I didn't know Trey, I'm sure I can say that he was just as loving and as beautiful a person as you all. Please know that you're not alone and if you ever need to talk that I/we are here and understand. May God grant you peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with you always. -Family of SFC Marcus Muralles (mckenna_6968@yahoo.com)"
Cindy Swazay of Indianapolis,IN

"May God Bless Your Family"
Dan, Cindy, TIffany, Eric Dietz of Littleton, Colorado

May Gods grace lead you during these dark days. May you feel his warmth and loving touch when you need it most. Know that your in our prayers during this time. If you ever need anything don't hesitate to email me. work4kohls@comcast.net My sons dad was also killed in a helicotpor crash. So if you ever need a friend I will be there. God Bless,"
Brooke Willis of Franklin,Tn,USA

"To Rebecca, Jim, the Wife and two children, we send our heart felt love....We knew him as Trey!! We have known of him his whole life but only a few times did we have the opportunity to spend time with him... what a lasting impression he left with our family... Such a bright, cheerfull,and caring young man that no one could resist his charm (we wanted to take him home with us).... He had a warmth about him that will be everlasting and all that knew him will confirm.... we are family and a little prestigious.... He did his job well as a son, husband, father and for his country.... Our love and prayers... Jerry, Fran, Paulette,(Hampton) Lisa (Hampton-Pepe), Richard, Alli, Thomas (Pepe).."
Jerry Hampton & Family of Bostwick, Ga

"To the Family and Friends of James, I wish to send my deepest condolence, James will be in my prayers. He was a true American Hero who was fighting for all of us. We will never forget him. God Bless All of You"
Mary Ghaney of Brooklyn, New York


"To James' Family and Friends:

On behalf of the Blanco-Caldas family, we send our sincerest condolences. We share the same loss ... the same pain. Our son returned safely from Afghanistan, only to lose his life in Iraq. Our prayers are with you in this most difficult time and we thank you for your soldier's bravery and sacrifice. Our sons are true heroes!

By His Grace,

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

Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, James will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you ALWAYS. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"Thank you James Ponder III, 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 Master Sgt. James Ponder III:
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 James 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 Master Sgt. James Ponder III:
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 James, 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