Fallen Heroes of Operation Enduring Freedom

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

Air Force Lt. Col. John Stein

39, of Bardolph, Illinois.
Stein died in an HH-60 Pave Hawk accident in Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 41st Rescue Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Died on March 23, 2003.

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"My fiancée, Tammy, was his copilot that day. Before we left, I remember seeing all of his children, one by one, playing piano at the Moody talent show, where Tammy’s 3yr old son also performed with his CDC class. During the deployment, on a stop through K2 to ferry the HH-60 crews, I sat in a debriefing led by him as we had just done helicopter air refueling with him (and it was a chance to spend more time with Tammy. On another visit he learned we were engaged and considering an attempt to get married on the deployment, so he took it on himself to provide pre-marriage counseling. It’s somewhat surreal to think I am older now than he was at that time."
Casey Moores of Albuquerque, NM

"Memorial Day weekend, 2017 - John was an Army ROTC classmate of mine at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Always a professional, even at that early stage, he set an example in conduct and standards. We didn't always see eye-to-eye as our leadership styles were different, but oddly we rubbed off on one another, him adopting some of my techniques like taking care of your subordinates and his of demanding more of our peers to bring out the best in them. John was good enough to fly helicopters for the Army, but later transferred to the Air Force so he could continue to fly. It's a shame we lost him, but he was doing what he wanted to, where he wanted to, helping those around him."
CJ Wallington of Fairfax Station, VA

"Never forgotten"
Robbie of Tecumseh, ON. Canada

"I picked Lt. Col. John Stein's name at a SGI Buddhist meeting in San Francisco in 2003. His name with his title and how and when he passed was pasted on a card I pulled from a basket of names of people who have given their lives in the name of Kosen-rufu and world peace. This card has been at my alter where I pray for world peace ever since. I take his name, as I did this morning, and look at it and think about his sacrifice. Honoring him reminds me that I'm blessed with the freedoms I have because of Lt. Col. John Stein and others like him."
Mark F. Kenny of San Francisco, CA U.S.A.

"I was assigned to the 55th SOS in 1992 and worked with Lt Col Stein there. He was a wonderful person to work with, but the greatest thing he did was come to my house and pray with me after my daughter passed away. I have never forgotten that or him. I am truly sorry for his family."
of Casa Grande, AZ

"Today is my brother's birthday. Lt. Col. John Stein was born on July 8, 1963. He would have been 52 today.

I miss him dearly, but know that he lived God's Grace as a Servant Leader. Just as Jesus Christ taught the Disciples to lead, one must first serve -- as He showed Them by washing Their feet at The Last Supper.

My brother, John, knew it required relentless and bold service to effectively lead -- even if the price was the ultimate one to pay.

I struggle daily to be more like Him and my brother John. You and Your Crews set a challenging high-bar example for the rest of us to strive for.

Let us always remember the origin of Servant Leadership. May we recognize it when we receive it, and practice-to-learn-to-practice it faithfully:

JOHN 13:1-17 King James Version (KJV)


1. Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;

3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;

4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?

7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.

8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.

9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.

11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?

13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.

14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.

15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
Andrew of St. Charles, IL USA

"It's been 12 years today since Komodo 11 launched out & didn't return that night from a humanitarian mission to provide aid to 2 children in Afghanistan. And still, as always, we remember the 6 crew members and their sacrifice. I don't know for sure if my USAF career ever crossed paths with any of these heroes, but I would be most honored if it had, as would any of us be so honored. May God continue to Bless these 6 fallen Airmen, their families, and members of all the US Armed Forces branches & our allied Services who continue on with the mission, "That Others May Live". In the end, that's what all of the US military missions boil down to. That this nation and all our allies and like minded peoples around the world may continue to enjoy the inalienable blessings of freedom & liberty. "These Things We Do That Others May Live."

From a retired USAF NCO and original member (plank holder) of the 512th SOS/RQS, The Rescue Schoolhouse, KAFB, NM"
F111ECM of Rio Rancho NM

"To the family and friends of Lt Col John Stein. On this day, Memorial Day 2013, I want you to know you are in our families thoughts and prayers. I had the pleasure to serve with him at the 56 RQS. Great man, Great solider, Great teacher, Great pilot. Your ultimate sacrifice will always be in our hearts."
Jaymie Oliver of Kittanning Pa

"I had the privilege to fly with Capt. John Stein (Capt.at that time)while stationed with the 55 SOS in Florida.Deployed on many trips overseas and around the country. Not only was he great person also a great pilot that always took the time to passed a lot of knowledge about the Blackhawk and the systems."
Keenan Hall, USAF Ret. of Maty Esther, FL

"John flew a lot as my co-pilot on test flights when he was a new Army LT. In germany and was a lot of fun to fly with and teach about the Blackhawk. John has been missed since we parted ways in Germany and I was really sorry to hear about him. Happy to see he is being remembered in this way"
Jerry M. CW4, retired of Springfield, MO

"Recently, our high school class held a reunion. John Stein was our classmate and friend, and we honored him and our other classmates who have passed in our reunion booklet. We thank him for his years of service and thank Barb (whom we also went to school with) and their children for sharing John with the world."
Cathy Chenoweth Onion of Macomb, IL/USA

"Gone, but never, EVER forgotten... THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE !!"
Tom Brothers of Ft Walton Bch, FL

"On this Memorial Day, 2010, I remember and honor Lt Col John Stein and his brave crew members that lost their lives during the fatal flight supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

I write to the family to let them know that their husband and dad is not forgotten and that he remains in my mind continually. He was a thoughtful person who out-performed his fellow servicemen and women in knowledge and charity.

John still flies today in ways we can only imagine as he had/has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

God bless you John for your dedication to country, family and fellow service members.

Your monuments still remain in the hearts and minds of those who are left behind."
Doug Stubbs, USAF, MSgt Ret (Walks on Clouds) of Great Falls, Montana U.S.A.

"Seven years later - still remembering John and his family this Memorial Day weekend! Best wishes and prayers."
Lt Col Cheryl Schramm of Toledo, Ohio

"To the family and friends of LTC John Stein in grateful appreciation for your sacrifice and in honor of a great man for his sacrificial service. I had the privilege of knowing John at RIT ROTC from 1983-1985 when I was a cadet and he was my Cadet Battalion Commander. I learned a great deal about the Army and about being in the position of leadership from him. As a member of the pledging class for Scabbard and Blade the year he graduated we were required to do something special for our initiation and my group chose to kidnap John from his apartment (Barbara was gracious to go along with our prank) but it was John who willingly submitted to our plan and comply with our antics in order for us to earn the right to pledge. I will never forget those years in ROTC, with Scabbard and Blade and with the Ranger program and I will never forget John Stein. God Bless the Stein family. My thoughts and prayers are with you this Memorial Day."
LTC(Ret) Kevin A. Gregory of Lillington, NC

"To the family and friends of LTC Stein: LTC Stein, you were an inspiration to me as a cadet when I was at RIT Army ROTC--you always showed me the right path to take, and you showed me what leadership was about. You brought out the best in me. I also speak for my fellow RIT cadets of yesteryear and officers of today whose lives you touched in the same way. May God Bless you and your family always!"
COL Ruben Garcia of Vienna, VA

"To all that have written I want to thank you. It has meant more than you can know especially the stories about John."
Barbara Stein of Colchester IL

"Our Father. O Lord be with Our Soldiers as they leave their homes and their families to serve our nation. Guide them as they plant the seeds of peace, for these are the seeds that will forever keep America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. Bless them O Lord, and Bless their Families, for they are the heroes of American Freedom. Their sacrifice for us will not be forgotten."
William D. Taylor Jr. of Bonita Springs, Fl.

"Just remembering....and wondering how you are doing. email is familyforhim7@gmail.com Lynne"
Lynne Helms of niceville florida

"I was stationed with you in Iceland and again at Moody. You'll never be forgotten. I think of your family a lot and how they must miss you. A true believer! Until we meet again friend...."So that others may live"."
Kristi (Jenson) Rogers of Lackland AFB TX

"To The Family and Friends of Lt Col John Stein:

I am an Air Force ROTC cadet and Miami University of Ohio. I am currently in my junior year. Recently I recieved a metallic KIA band with Lt Col Stein's name on it honoring his passing. I did not know him, but when I recieved the band, I began to research his name. I now wear this band every day in honor of him and all of those that have fallen. I wish the best of luck to all of those close to John. My heart goes out to all of you."
Bryan Dukes of Oxford, Ohio

"May 28, 2007 (Memorial Day)
To the family of John Stein. John 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 Childers of Carson City, NV

"I logged numerous hours with John as did BoB McGuirk serving with him at Hurlburt and deploying with him to several locations overseas. I served with the 55th SOS from 1994-1999; a wonderful unit. Most memorable was a miserable deployment to Jordon in, I believe, 1995 or 96. During that deployment we slept in a hangar, in our helicopters, at King Faisal Airbase, in 100+ degree weather. I remember John walking up the road from a command briefing with every pocket stuffed full of water bottles that he had taken from the General's hooch. We hadn't seen cold water for about a month so you can only imagine the greeting we gave him! He didn't give out any of the water to us (the aircrew) but rather went around to the maintainers and handed out the water to them. Witnessing that, and having been a former maintainer, I understood where he was coming from. He wanted to ensure that those individuals taking care of our aircraft were taken care of themselves.
I flew numerous missions with John over the years. In Jordon I remember a particular mission where we flew over the lost city of Petra and had some problems programming our IFF prior to take-off. We were intercepted by some Israeli fighters from about 40 miles out and rather than concede our intrusion on the Israeli border we raced back into Jordon, blamed the whole problem on the Army, and laughed until we cried.
In 1999 I was lucky to work with him again when we met up in Hawaii for the flight manual rewrite for the
MH-60 and have the opportunity to spend some more time with him. We spent a week rewriting the manual and culminated our trip meeting outside a BBQ place not far from Hickam AFB, Hawaii. I remember as I left giving John a hug and telling him to fly safe; a standard way to say goodbye to an aviator.
John could quote darn near anything verbatim from the flight manual and would really take the time to explain how systems operated or things worked on the aircraft. I never observed him losing his temper, cussing, or acting in an unprofessional manner. John was a true officer and a gentleman and we as a country have lost a proponent for doing the right thing regardless of the cost. He believed in it and paid the ultimate price. Hero?, I believe so.""
Chad Bloom of Nashville, TN.

"the Helms'-Niceville, FL--Barbara, Erin, Douglas, Timothy--I just stumbled upon this website after having read about the Marine who was given the Medal of Honor. How would you know that you have all been on my mind this week? The kids and I were stunned to hear about John's accident, but our RBBC was in praise for his life. John exemplified service-whether to his family,church, AWANA and the kids, Grand Prix racing, homeschool outings to the farm in Crestview-I always saw a man who loved his family, and wasn't afraid to show it. Please contact familyforhim@cox.net and we can send you some photos. I hope that you all remember your dad and husband fondly and with warm memories. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made for myself and my family towards our freedom."
L Helms, Joy, Michael and Jonathan of Niceville, FL

"To Mrs Stein and your sons - you are not forgotten and neither is your husband's sacrifice. May God bless you."
Maj Cheryl Schramm of St Petersburg, FL

""Memorial Day" 2006
Ellen Thomas of Burbank, IL


"My name is Cameron Schilling and I have started “Portrait of a Soldier” which donates a portrait sketch of every Illinois soldier who has fallen in Iraq or Afghanistan. All 122 sketches will be on display for a Memorial Day Presentation in Chicago, Illinois on May 26-31 at the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. After the ceremony the sketches will be given to the immediate families of the Illinois soldiers. I would invite any friends or family members to come and honor these men and women from Illinois who have given their lives to our country. For more information please contact OperationHomeFront.org at 866-417-8889 which is an organization headed by the Lt. Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois who is in charge of the Memorial Day Presentation. Thank You.

Please check out www.portraitofasoldier.org
To contact Cameron email cameronschilling84@hotmail.com
To contact Operation Home Front call 866-417-8889"
Cameron Schilling of Charleston, Illinois

""Nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness". - Meister Eckhart
Pausing today in stillness... in the memory of Air Force Lt. Col. John Stein."
Jane Stein of Columbus, OH

"My name is Cameron Schilling. I am a college student from central Illinois. I am the first generation of my family not to serve his country. I am extremely grateful for the sacrifice you and your loved one has given for the United States. I am disappointed by the way the news media has covered this war and the deaths of our youth. The media has stopped listing the names of the soldiers killed in Iraq and people only talk about the soldiers when we reach a specific milestone in deaths. If you just started watching the news today you would not even know there is a war going on. Partisan politics have replaced coverage of our young generation who have traveled to a foreign land in the name of the United States. Whether you believe the war in Iraq is wrong, right, justified or not everyone should pay even just a little more attention to what these young men and women are sacrificing. This is what I would like to do. I want to do my part in honoring these soldiers and their memories. Along with being a college student I am also a budding artist. I draw pencil portraits of local people in my community. I want to offer a pencil portrait sketch to the immediate family of every Illinois soldier killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Please contact me at cameronschilling84@hotmail.com."
Cameron of Illinois

"Col. Stein,
Sir, I would like to say thank you to you and your fellow crewmembers for your service and sacrifice for our Country. And to your family, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy."
Mike Casey of El Paso, Texas

"In 1983 I was on the cadre staff at RIT where John was an ROTC cadet...I will always remember him as an outstanding student and person. God Bless him!!!!!!!"
Major Bruce Knapp, retired of Raleigh, NC

"I have been thinking alot about John in the last several weeks. I only knew him for a short time when we worked together at HQ AFSOC/DOT and in that short time I gained a great respect for him. He always took the time to help me when I had questions that required his expertise.
As most of you, I also remember the day I received the information on the accident. Even today it is truly hard to believe that He's gone.
I'm retired now and I'm not sure why He's been on my mind lately but I'm glad I had the chance to share in his life. I know God has Blessed you John and I know I was Blessed by you."
Michael Stewart of Plano, Texas

"I met Lt Col Stein in Uzbekistan while on a visit for a communications upgrade. At first, he wanted nothing to do with our group, and questioned everything that we were attempting to provide him. I trained him on the new software, and completed several installs. When we arrived in Afghanistan, we encountered another division of his unit. There, again, we ran into the same problems.

Once I explained why the software was needed, and how it would assist him, he was all for the upgrades, and became more than accomodating to us.

I found out about the crash when I was in Qatar. Myself and the rest of the team were deeply affected by this.

I give my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Lt Col John Stein. He was a great leader and friend, and I am sure that he will always be missed."
Ian Kelly, SSgt, USAF of Stuttgart, Germany

"I remember John Stein as a good and honorable man. I loved flying with him, and attending church with the whole family at First Baptist Church Njardvik. A first class guy. May the Lord bless and keep his family.
"So that others may live""
Robert Bartee of Weatherford TX

"To the family and friends,

Our prayers are with you in this most difficult time and we thank you for your loved ones bravery and sacrifice. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. Your loved one is a hero. Greater love have no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13.

God bless you.

Home Front Ministries
Shepherd of the Hills Church
Porter Ranch, CA"

"Thanks for stepping forward when America needed you. To the family - Thank you for your contribution to our liberty and freedom. I'm sorry for your tremendous loss."
Ronald Carlson of Montrose, MN

"I flew alot of hours with then Capt Stein. He was a great pilot and a great leader. God bless you."
Bob McGuirk, MSgt, USAF (Ret) of Massachusetts

"Colonel Stein, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"Dear Stein Family: I am so very sorry for the loss of your loved one. I will NEVER forgot John and what he did for his family, friends, and AMERICA. He will ALWAYS be an AMERICAN HERO. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless. John: Thank You. May you rest in peace."
Jessica of Rio Vista,CA

"To the family of Stein who was the pilot on Komodo 11 that went down in Afghanistan. My heart goes out to you. My son, SSgt Jason Hicks, was on the same helicopter. It has been a year, a short year and a long year, a hard year, but God and time will help."
Theresa Hicks of Jefferson, SC

"We are so very grateful for the many years of outstanding and brave service that Col. Stein gave to this country. He was an exceptional man to have accomplished all he did. We can only give prayers of thanks to his family for what he did for all of us here in America."
The Estes Family of Phoenix, AZ

"Thank you John Stein, 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

"I met Lt Col John Stein at K2 in Uzbekistan. I was the Director of Public Works from 23 August 2002 to 3 June 2003. He was one of my customers and Commander of the Search And Rescue Detachment there. I was working with him on a new hangar and maintenance area that he wanted to improve his operations. I was in Mazzar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan when I heard that he had fallen in the line of duty. I was very saddened when I heard this. He and I first met and clashed briefly. He had a strong personality and knew what he wanted. I ended up respecting and liking him very much after our brief run-in. He cared about his soldiers, our country and the missions at hand. He is a great, courageous man and I will not forget him! He is a fallen HERO."
LTC Hans Drehsler, EN, USAR of Highlands Ranch, CO, USA

"To the family and friends of Lt. Col. John Stein:
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 John 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 Lt. Col. John Stein:
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 John, 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