Fallen Heroes of Operation Enduring Freedom

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

Air Force Staff Sgt. Thomas A. Walkup, Jr.

25, of Millville, New Jersey.
Walkup died in an MH-53M helicopter accident in Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 20th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida. Died on November 23, 2003.

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"Tom...last Wednesday would have been 17 years time in service for you. I can still recall the day you found me during my last few days of basic training...seems like yesterday. I miss you buddy! There were a lot of great times spent in Arizona...some crazy times!! You were like a brother to me! RIP...you will never be forgotten."
Clint of Abilene, TX

"Tom....today is April 6, 2013. You would have turned 35 today. As I write this your family and friends (too include me) are on our way to Arlington cemetary. We will continue to celebrate your life, deeds and memory. You may be gone but you are never forgotten and you are always loved!"
Shawn O'Donnell of Alexandria VA

"I worked with Tommy at Acme in Seaville. I also went with him to his Junior prom at Millville High. Tommy always had a way of putting a smile on my face and making me laugh. Not a day goes by that I do not think of him or his family. I have many memories of Tommy and his family. This country lost an amazing man."
Julie Seddon of Hedgesville WV

"I flew with Tom. We were "stick buddies" at Kirtland AFB. We were good friends. It literally floored me when I was told about his death and the other friends we had on that crew. I was supposed to have been on that deployment with him. He is missed."
Zack Shortes of Austin, Tx

"To the family of:Thomas A.Walkup
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 went to High School with Tommy and he and I were friends for a bit through 10th and 11th grade... We drifted apart as friends do and I eventually joined the Army in 2003. It was when I came home to Millville that Thanksgiving when my Mom told me that Tommy died in a Helicopter crash in Afghanistan... Ever since, I have worn a memorial bracelet in and out of Uniform to serve as a constant reminder of his sacrifice. I can't believe its been 6 years already. Let us never forget! We miss ya, Tommy."
Jason Heney of Monterey, CA

"I knew Tom back when he used to go to St. Cecilia's School. We were in the same class before he moved away. I remember playing with him during recess. He was so funny, and he made me laugh a lot as kids. I was so sad when I heard of his passing shortly after moving to Cumberland County. He was a great person."
Susan of Millville, NJ

"i just today seen the messages left and I appreciate all the support and people remembering my brother. Thank you. My email is sj7730@aol.com"
Susan M. Walkup-Justis

"To the family of SSgt Walkup: My name is Stephanie Purser, wife of SSG John Purser, who was also on board the aircraft with SSgt Walkup. I posted a message on here a few years ago and received kind messages from some of the family members of the fallen. It's hard to believe that almost 6 years have gone by since the crash and that event is still surrounded by so much mystery for me. In late August 2008, I finally managed to visit their grave markers at Arlington National Cemetery to pay my respects. I realize that these lists of fallen heroes have not been updated since 2 November 2006 but I decided to post a more recent message to let the family members know that I still think about those 5 men every single day."
Stephanie Purser, purserstephanie@yahoo.com of East Central Alabama

I don't know If you remember me, My name is Jennifer Blessing. I lost my brother Jay about a week before Tom's crash. Somehow you found me to tell me that Tom had known and Respected Jay. I just want to thank you and tell you how much your emails ment to me. I remember thinking that here is someone who's life has been forever changed yet is telling me to hang on. So I guess what I am trying to say is that Tom and Jay are Heroes but I just wanted you to know that you are my hero too. My Parents are going to be in D.C. Next week and they are laying flowers for me for Tom in Arlington. Please know that you are forever in my prayers."

"I'm TSgt Hines. Although you don't know me, I too grew up in Millville, NJ, and I too am here at Bagram AF. I don't know how familiar you are with Camp Cunningham, but residing there is a glass picture frame, encasing the names of Air Force members who have given their lives in support of OEF. That's how I found you. My heart swelled with pride as I started counting the years between us...thinking that, just maybe, we know eachother. Then it occured to me that it doesn't matter if "I knew you when"...because I know you now. I know you as an AF NCO. I know you as an American who was willing to do your absolute best regardless of what obstacles were set before you. I also know that, few are loved as you are, without first giving that love. You are a hero SSgt Walkup...as are your loved ones who bear the weight of your absence. I honor your sacrifices by remaining an AF member...by always doing my absolute best no matter what obstacles are set before me, and by loving greatly. You won't be forgotten."
TSgt Hines of Bagram AF 06MAR09

"November 26, 2007
To the family of Staff Sgt. Thomas A. Walkup, Jr.:
Thomas 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

"Just wanted you to know Tom that you guys are still in our thoughts.. Once a Hornet.. always a Hornet.
SSgt Seth Meashey of 6th SOS

I would like to say thank you to you and the other men who were killed in that '53 crash 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

"To the families of those who perished in and to those who survived this crash. My daughter, Sgt. Diane Gilliam, survived this crash, and yet the survivors of the crash are not receiving fair treatment by the army. You assistance is needed in making sure that all of the survivors receive fair treatment. Also, if there is a witness to Spc Gary Craig's saving of Jonathan Purser we need for you to come forward so that Gary can receive his proper accommodation for his actions

Anita Coyoli-Cullen

Proud Army Mom of Diane Gilliam
Survivor of Helicopter Crash in Afghanistan
Anita Coyoli-Cullen of Huntington Beach, Ca 92649

"To the loved ones of Staff Sergeant Walkup-My name is Stephanie Purser, wife of Army Ranger SSG Johnathan Purser. John was also on board the same helicopter. He barely survived and was cut free from his harness at the last minute by a Specialist also from 10th Mountain. He received 3rd degree burns on his face and upper body and does not remember most of the crash. I did not know Staff Sergeant Walkup but I wanted you to know that not a day goes by that I don't pause to reflect on his life and the lives of the four other service members who died that day."
Stephanie Purser of FT Benning, GA purserstephanie@yahoo.com

"Dear Patty & Susan, I know as Tommy's Birthday approaches it is so difficult for you. Tommy was a great kid and grew up to be an honorable man. He made such an impression on so many people, especiallly to make people laugh and smile. What a gift that is. We remember Tommy with sadness and laughter (especially whenever we see bike ramps or skate boards with human lifts!)You and Tom are always in our thoughts and prayers everyday. Love, Patti and Chalie"
Patti & Chalie of Huntingdon Valley, PA

"I only knew Tom for a short while. But in that time he touched my life like no other. I loved him for the person he was and what he stood for. He was a remarkable man with his charming ways and tender touch. He had such a drive and persistence in everything he did. I loved him and admired him at the same time. He had such charisma and I only wish that more people could be like him. I just only recently became aware of his passing. My condolences go out to all his family and friends, and I am sorry for your loss. Tom was a wonderful man and I know he will never be forgotten. Even though I knew that we were not going to be together; and the time that I had with him was limited, he will always be in my heart. I love you Tom I hope you believed that. So much will always remind me of you, I know where ever you are you are making someone smile."
MEM of Albuquerque, NM USA

"I only knew Tom for a short while. But in that time he touched my life like no other. I loved him for the person he was and what he stood for. He was a remarkable man with his charming ways and tender touch. He had such a drive and persistence in everything he did. I loved him and admired him at the same time. He had such charisma and I only wish that more people could be like him. I just only recently became aware of his passing. My condolences go out to all his family and friends, and I am sorry for your loss. Tom was a wonderful man and I know he will never be forgotten. Even though I knew that we were not going to be together; and the time that I had with him was limited, he will always be in my heart. I love you Tom I hope you believed that. So much will always remind me of you, I know where ever you are you are making someone smile."
MEM of Albuquerque, NM USA

"Tom, it's been a year ago today. I have to admit it hasn't gotten much easier. You were such a great friend to Mike and myself. I have not and will not be able to go bowling without thinking of you or mentioning you. We miss your outgoing nature and ability to make the world smile and melt under your sweet talking ways. 1 thing I will always remember about you is that you gave the best hugs. Mike loved that he finally found someone that was just as crazy as him and talked of how much fun you guys had. You will always be in our hearts and I know you are watching over Mike when he is up doing what he does best. To his family and friends, we can only be so lucky to have someone like Tom watching over us and he was so lucky to have such a wonderful support group. I hope you are all doing well and get through this sad anniversary with thoughts of pride and happy memories. Take care."
Mike and Tamara Gordon of RAF Mildenhall, England

"Dear Pat and Family,

It has almost been a year since I got on the phone and placed that call to you. For two days we gave each other hope. I know that the days don't get any easier and I know there are times where it is really tough. Each time a helicopter goes over the house I look up and the thoughts come back. The little boys are funny and will say things that I would never think of. I have to tell you a story that I was thinking about last night.
My mom died right after Billy got his wings. He was so proud of those wings. I guess he had them for about a week and went everywhere with them. Well when he showed up at the funeral home he had his dress uniform on with those wings over his heart all glowing and bright. We went in as a family to say are good buys and then we went in one at a time. When he came out his wings were gone. He was the last one to go in but the next day at the visitation she was there with the wings over her heart. I asked him later why he did that and this is what he said, "I wanted to make sure she flew up to heaven with the best escort available. That way I knew she wouldn't have any problems."
Well I guess for us when the time comes it is going to be a safe journey because we will have the best of the best looking out over us.
Take care and stay in touch.

Love Ken"
Ken Kerwood of Chesterfield, Mo.

"Tom was an amazing man. He is forever in my heart. There was never a dull moment with him around. He had a dream from the moment I met him. He knew exactly what he wanted and what he had to do. He was determined. Tom did it! He got his dream! I am so proud of him! He will be very missed and NEVER forgotten."
Jennifer Weiss of Hampton, VA

"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"

"Words can not express how much I will miss Tom. I loved him with all my heart, but was too scared to let him know. His loss is one that the whole nation should mourn, not only because he was a soldier but because he was an extraordinary person who touched the hearts of so many. I wish every person who knew him was able to see him the way I did, a true light in his eyes because he was always so excited and proud to be serving his country and pursuing his dream by flying on a 53. Although he is at rest now, he still lives on through the veins of all of us who mourn his loss and because of that he will live on forever.
TOM: I am proud of you, I love you, and I know you will forever be watching over us all."

"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

"Tom was the best friend any one could ever have imagined of having. He made sure in any way possible he was there for you. You knew when he was around you were sure going to have a good time. I miss you buddy. You were like a brother to me. You are not forgotten."
SSgt Clinton Weiss of Hampton, Va

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

"Thank you all for sharing your memories of Tommy. It is difficult for all of us these past months and espicially difficult for me his mother. But it is comforting to know how much he was loved and how he touched so many lives, by his laughter and his ability to make people laugh, his loyalty to his family, friends and country. He knows just how much he is loved and missed, and to all of his friends, I thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Pat Walkup of Millville, NJ.

"I remember having a few beers with you at the "Cantina". I will always remember that night with Tom and Scooter, we had a blast and I left a week later. I was better for having known you, although the time was short. Thank you for your service and sacrifice for our country. God Bless you and your family. You will be missed."
MSgt Eddie Pena of 20th SOS

Your memory and sacrafice forever live with each of us who share your shoes. You will not be forgotten. Rest in peace."
SSgt Seth Meashey of 20 SOS

"To all the wonderful people who wrote about Thomas A. Walkup, Jr.
Tommy was my brother and it has been a very difficult time for me to accept his loss, but the way everyone has remembered him helps. I miss him, and I have to accept the fact that he is a hero and died for all of us. Thanks again for the support and memories you have all shared."
Susan Walkup-Justis of millville, NJ

"To the Walkup Family,
I worked with Tom and he was a great guy. He trained me. He inspired me. He lifted me. I just know that Tom didn't die for nothing. Tom beleived in what he was doing. He new what was at risk and never had fear. I admire Tom. I will truly miss him. He passed with honor. He passed for you, me, and every single American. He will not be forgotten. He will always be in our prayers."
Richard Ingram of Misawa AB, Japan

"Tom, we miss you buddy. You will always be remembered.

20th FE"

""He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." The risk Thomas took for his country will never be forgotten. He will always be remembered as a hero who risked his life for a whole nation and for that I am eternally grateful. To the family and friends: I am so sorry for your loss and know that alll Americans grieve with you during this difficult time. Thomas: Thank You for being a brave soldier. God Bless."
Jessica of Rio Vista,CA

""People say you are a fallen soldier. I say you have risen to be a hero."
My name is Tonya. Tommy and I grew up together. We were "partners in crime", as Pat would say. We had to do everything the same. We would catch frogs down the shore, put on hilarious skits, and somethimes, just sit down and have a heart to heart talk. He was an amazing person, and stillis in my eyes. As we grew older, he always talked about going into the Air Force, and he fulfilled his dream by doing so. As years went by, we lost contact, and I regret every minute of that. When I heard that he had gotten married, I was so happy for him. I never forgot about him while he was away, and I never will. Tommy, you were my best friend, and I will never forget about all the wonderful times we had together. You will always be in my heart, and you will never be forgotten. You will always be a hero to me. I MISS YOU!"
Tonya Heppard of Cinnaminson, New Jersey

"My family and I had met the Walkups about 15 years ago at a camping resort. We spent many summers, and even took vacations together. Tommy was about 9 years old, and a typical boy. He always kept his mother, Pat, on her toes with the goofy things he did. But the things he did would always make you laugh. Pat said to me, because I had two girls, "You just wait, one day, one of your girls will have a boy, and you'll see what it's like!". Well, I now have 2 grandsons, and I or anyone else that has boys would be very lucky and proud to have them grow up to be like Thomas Walkup Jr.. We kind of lost touch with the Walkup family, but we would see Pat a couple of times a year, and she would tell me of Tommys many accomplishments. He had a gentle soul, could always make you laugh, was a good friend, and go out of his way to help you. At his funeral, I went up to his wife and told her I knew Tommy as a boy and teen, but never really had the pleasure to know him as an adult. She told me that he was still that little boy that we knew and loved, and I thanked her. As I walked away, I chuckled and thought that even at this saddest of times, Tommy could still made me smile. He will always be our hero and friend, and be missed bt all."
Debra Heppard of Cinnaminson, New Jersey

"To the family of Tom Walkup: It was a pleasure to meet you at the Hurlburt Memorial Service. I am still having a hard time adjusting to not seeing and joking with Tom each time I go on a call with the Holley-Navarre Fire Dept. Tom always sat on the seat to the left of me. I miss his always smiling face, his jokes, and his contagious positive attitude. He was a special guy and we miss him so much at the Fire Dept. I can just picture him looking down at us, every time we go out on a call, and grinning his "Tom Walkup Grin". I will always keep Tom in my thoughts and you, his family, in my prayers."
Laurie Pinter of Navarre, Florida

"I was one of Tom's Instructors here in the schoolhouse at Kirtland AFB, and he was one of our best graduates. This is an extremely tough course to go through, and most do not make it. And every once in a while, we get someone who "has the gift" and does very well with no problems. Tom was one of those students. I thought he was a great guy personally and professionally. I was looking forward to flying with him. He was following his dream just as the rest of us do in Pave Low. It is unfortunate that something this terrible happened. I know that he did everything right that night, and there was nothing else he could have done better. Tom, you will never be forgotten."
SSgt Vince DePersio of KAFB, NM

"Every parent when they look at their kids sleeping at night, and we all do that, should think of men like Thomas Walkup.

Those kids sleep safer only due to men like him. He was their protector and made the world a better place for them to grow up in due to his service.

Thank you Sir."
The Estes Family of Phoenix, AZ

"All my condolences go out to the family. I wanted to say that it was a pleasure meeting you and your family. It's a terrible loss and words cannot begin to explain feelings. He did not die in vain and will never be forgotten. He will continue to be with all of us. My heart goes out to you and your family."
George Moore of Millville, NJ

"This message is for the family of a very courageous young man. My name is Jessica Crain a very good friend of Nancy S. Jones. Nancy has been one of my very best friends for the past 10 years. We used to hang out all of the time together before we both moved away from New Jersey to start the paths of our own lives. I have not gotten the chance to get to know Tom well however, Nancy has always talked higly of him and what a wonderful person he was. We used to take trips down the shore and Nanc would always talk about all of the wonderful times they had together and the close bond they shared as friends. She always spoke of how proud she was of him for all of his accomplishments and most of how brave he has always been. Nancy also spoke often of Toms family and said that they are all a close and very loving family. When Nancy called me very sadly with this news, I wanted to send my deepest condolences to you all. I am so sorry to hear about Tom. He was very loved by many and will always be remembered."
Jessica of Arkansas

"Even though I never met Walkup and the family I would like to say I am really sorry for your loss.My dad was in the same crash."They will never be forgotten"."
Kalie Walters of Hurlburt ,Florida

"I personally did not know Thomas, though he is from my hometown of Millville.My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends as they move forward in this difficult time.Tom, your bravery and sacrifice will not be forgotten.Thank you for defending our freedom."
Chris of Millville,NJ,USA

"My sincere condolensces to the family of Thomas A. Walkup Jr. Although I personally did not know him, he was a fellow airman and brother in arms. I was honored to be given the opportunity to render military funeral honors to him at Arlington National Cemetery where now he has taken his place amongst the fallen heroes of our great nation. He will not be forgotten."
RICHARD ROSITAS, SSgt of USAF Honor Guard, Washington, D.C.

"When I was stationed with Tom and Kit in Arizona they were good friends to me. Tom will be missed greatly, but I know he died doing what he loved, serving his country proudly. My prayers go out to Carissa and the rest of Tom's family."
SSgt Justin Johnson of Al Udeid AB, Qatar

"Thank you Thomas Walkup, Jr., 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 Walkup family, I am so sorry for your loss. I went to school with Tom at Millville High School. I will always remember his ability to make people laugh. He was a great person and will be desparately missed by so many people who knew him. My thoughts and prayers are with you, as are the prayers of many others. Tom was a hero in my eyes."
Jennifer Reeves of Millville, NJ

"I'm posting this message on belhaf of all of us here in Arizona that knew, spent time with and worked with Tom and Kit (Carissa). We had some good times together. My sincerest condolences go out to his familiy and friends. Rest in peace Tom, you will be missed!!"
Aleksandra, the Gee's and Jody of Phoenix, AZ

"To the family of SSgt Thomas Walkup,
I worked with Tom at Luke AFB, AZ (I am currently stationed here) He was a great person and he was very respected in this career field. He will be missed greatly by all of us who knew him. I am so sorry for your loss."
Rhonda Seamon of Luke AFB AZ

"To the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Thomas Walkup, Jr.:
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 Thomas 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 Staff Sgt. Thomas Walkup, Jr.:
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 Thomas, 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