Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

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

Army Staff Sgt. Darren J. Cunningham

40, of Groton, Massachusetts.
Cunningham died in Baghdad, Iraq, when his unit came under mortar attack. He was assigned to the 89th Military Police Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas. Died on September 30, 2004.

Please send information, photos, and corrections for Army Staff Sgt. Darren J. Cunningham.


Contributions to the Families of the Fallen


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

Please report inappropriate messages

"SSGT Cunningham, we never knew each other, but I want you to know your sacrifice means everything. I have a K.I.A bracelett with your name on it, and I have been wearing this bracelette almost every day since 2005. Rest in peace."
James waldron of Brockton ma

"It's your birthday today. Another one passes, and we're not together. We are, in memories, and in spirit. Makes me hate my own. No phone call out of the blue. No strawberry shortcake or Kimball's to celebrate. No beers, or pool. Just silence. I miss you more than words can ever express. A hole in our lives where you once brought laughter, and joy can never be filled. Wish you were here. Wishing on your star, because I know you follow me wherever I go. You shine brightly in the sky, and in our memories. Love you forever Darren. My life isn't the same with you gone. But on days like today, I celebrate you. Everything you ever meant to me, did for me, and just the fact that I was able to be your sister for 38 years was pretty awesome. Love now, and forever. Kel"
Kelly Cunningham of USA

"RIP SSG Cunningham. I served with you for many years in the 545th MP Co and you are a great leader and true American hero. Every Memorial day is hard remembering the heroes that have fallen."
Sgt Brad Jacobs of Lake Havasu City, AZ

"I remember that morning like it was yesterday. I remember what I heard, what I felt, and how everyone reacted to help you that morning. I was a part of the fire dept. that lived across the street from you. What a horrific morning. Although I didn't know you personally, I feel that you will be with me for the rest of my life and I will continue to think of you and your family."
Brandy of Newark, Ohio

"I never had the privilege of meeting Darren; but, I did know his sister, Kel. We were in contact during many deployments. Kel was truly a blessing and a rock for me. As I read through many of these posts, I see it to be a family trait. I wished I had met Darren, but I'm thankful to have experienced his spirit. I know the Cunningham family continues to bare a great pain by losing Darren; rest assured, there's a part of him who lives within you.

Feel free to contact me at:

God Bless you all!!!"
Mike Boots Shaw of NJ

"The nearest thing to hell, was losing you. The worst part now, is knowing the truth and knowing that there are those that turned a blind eye and have caused us this life we didn't have to have. The truth is stranger than fiction, but when told by many, it has become fact. Your bracelet shows 11 years of wear, but I haven't found the courage to remove it, for it is what I have left, a piece of metal, and memories. Miss you Dares, and someday we will be together again."
Your Ltl Sis of USA

"Time passes, but the memories of you remain so clearly etched in our minds and hearts. Our kids are old enough to make us grandparents now...yikes. It seems like yesterday you were hugging me so tight and it is that memory that forever burns bright in my mind. I miss you today, forever and always. Your voice, your smile, your laughter, your words of encouragement and you, the brother that I was blessed with. Dearly missed."
Kel of Home is where the heart is


"When we were attacked that morning I had never heard of you , but after that morning I never forgot you!! I wish there was more we could have done for you!! We tried our best to save you!! But we couldn't!! Please forgive us!! R.I.P ... Pfc. Juan Baires A co. 57th Sig. Bn... IRAQ 04-05"
Juan Baires of Lewisville, Tx.

"I think of you often and your life. I had the pleasure of working and being friends with you at the 545th MP CO and will miss you always. Take care brother. 1/02/14"
James Loney of Little Elm, TX

"To the "Average American"...no Darren did not attend college in Miami during this time. He was a young soldier then serving the US Army. A soldier that we all miss dearly on any given day. A father, a son, a brother, a soldier...so many of us to honor you, remember you, and think of what you meant to those of us that had the honor to know you. A brother that meant the world to me...I miss sharing the milestones with you. Love ya big guy."
Kelly Cunningham of The Great Ole USA

"SSG Cunningham, I was there that night...I think of you every day. I wish that I had been able to do something."
SSG Shanna Culotta of Ft Lee, VA

"SSG. Cunningham, I will always remember serving with you in the 545TH MP Co, 1st Cav. Div. You were a great NCO to me. You are missed everyday. RIP Brother."
Fmr SPC Yvanronex "Rex" Disla of Houston Texas

"You and your family will always be in my prayers Darren, I was proud to serve with you in OIF2. Every Veterans Day you will be saluted an honored for your ultimate sacrifice for your country.
SGT. Jamie L. Cote of Austin, TX

"Many years have gone by, but I still remember the day I last saw you and never forget that had I not spent the night at my boyfriends that morning, I may not be here... Miss you neighbor... RIP"
SGT Hutch of Fort Hood, Texas, USA

"Another year, another scholarship. A time of showing you honor and making sure you are not forgotten. It is with pride we are able to help out these young people in your name. Miss you!"
Tracey of Harrington DE

"Memorial day 2011, Missing You Cuz. My son now serves the same great country that you died for. Your Service will never be forgotten."
J.Potts of Lakeland, Florida

"Question: Did the late Darren Cunningham ever attend college in the Miami, Florida area in the mid 1980s? (He would have also coached girls softball in 1986 in Mass.) If so, a number of people knew him. Thanks to anyone who can clarify if this is indeed the same Darren Cunningham."
an average american of USA

"Thinking of you as we close on Memorial Day, 2011...rest softly, Darren...."
1SG Munyon (USA, Ret.) of Fort Huachuca, Az

"I was involved in that very accident, SSG Cunningham was a well known person in the 89th. An excellent NCO, top notch! He gave me a lot of advice as a young NCO. The memory of that early morning has plagued my memory every day of my life. I'm now out of the military because of the injuries sustained but still I feel why not me. Or why me. To his family ( of whom he talked about every second of every day ) I take my hat off to you knowing you lost a very very good person and I want to offer my condolences to you all. He loved his country and I do too! So thank you "Sarge", for your service, dedication and sacrifice, you are missed and remembered........"
SGT Gray, Joseph of South Carolina

"To our friend, May 2, 2011- We think of you often but today we woke up to the news of Bin Laden's death and immediatley thought of you and your family. You were a great friend and soldier and you made today possible. May today's news bring some Peace to Kaitlyn and the rest of your family. God Bless America."
Doug and Jennifer Sheehan formerly of 545th MP Co / Canton, NC

"To the family of:Darren J.Cunningham
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"4-2-11"

"Dear Darren;
another year goneby, and still my children think of you at Christmas time with memories of dinausor books, and footbal on the front lawn, and things only Uncle Darren could do. You are remembered with love and admiration for teaching accountability and responsibility to my children. Your photo as a young enlisted man sits on all of our dressers - you will never be forgotten. Thank you for your protection and the baton."
Patricia of Minnesota

"Hey Cuz... I feel bad that I was the one who made it back, and you didn't. But, always remember why we did it. It wasn't for fame and glory, it was for our nation and our way of life.

It's been six years, and, I still remember how crazy we were before we went in. Those were the times of our lives. All the people, times, and places may have changed, or moved on, but, those memories will live with me forever.

So, here at West Point, I stand here, and I salute you, my cousin. You lived the life you chose, nobody chose it for you.

One day, WE WILL MEET AGAIN!!! Save me a seat next to the fire!!!"
Chris O'Brien of West Point, NY

"How time has flown...the kids have all graduated high school. You would be proud of them. They carry on knowing without a doubt that you loved them... your son, your daughter, your nephews, your nieces. They are proud to speak of you and to now pass your legacy on to the next generation who carry on the name Cunningham...Landon Taft Darren, Bryscon, and Seamus. To be followed by many more who will without a doubt understand the man you were to us all, family and friends...you truly knew no stranger. I miss you dearly as the tear I wipe away once again...as time passes on, I do know I was given the gift of having you as my brother, confidant, teacher and friend. Love without end my brother...you are missed."
Kelly Cunningham of The Great USA

"SSG Cunningham, not a day goes by that I don't remember the guidance you gave me while I was assigned to the TAI office. I'll never forget the day I heard what happened. My thoughts and prayers will always go out to your family"
SSG Kyle R. Kuta of Cookeville, TN

"It's that time of the year again. Another GDRSS student will be receiving a $500.00 scholarship in your name to help them with college. Joel Michaud donate also to the MSLF to help out with the college fund for Dean and Katie also other MA children who have lost a parent.
As always your missed! Love you!!!"
Tracey of Harrington DE

"Yes, Darren you are still missed so much everyday. Brian has told me so many stories of you and him and the trouble you two would always get into (but somehow always got out of it). I know I only met you once but I could tell you were a true friend to everyone you knew. We made a second trip to Arlington to honor my uncle (retired military) who was also laid to rest in Arlington cemetery. On our way to the site I asked Brian where you were and no sooner had I asked he motioned for me to look and there you were. Brian made a joke that you and my uncle would be watching out for each other. How odd that you and Uncle Iggy would be so close? It seemed to help Brian to be able to talk to you again. We all miss you and love you."
Shelia Holland of Fort Hood, Texas

"I never got the pleasure and honor of meeting SSG Cunningham, however, this past week I was in PHQ witht the Iraqis and was able to shoot on their indoor range. When I looked up and saw who that range was dedicated to I saw his name, and once I got back on base I dediced to google his name and I arrived here. So out of respect and love for a fallen brother I decided to leave this note. It is because of people like SSG Cunningham who gave the ultimate sacrifice that Iraq is progressing towards a brighter future. My love and supprt goes out to his family and friends."
SPC Vega of Camp Liberty, Iraq

"Because of the loss of my friend and comrad, SSG Darren Cunnigham, I have re-entered the army and am now in Iraq. Our unit will be one of a few who will help close all this out. Darren was one of the ones who help open it up and just so you know it wasn't in vain, I, in memory of my Brother, came back to help close it out. I love you and miss you my very dear friend. I am honored to have served with you, and was blessed enough to have you as one of my very best friends. I miss you Brother and Ill be home in August 2010.
Everything all these people have written are all true about Darren, but we could write words all day and still never explain the joy and happiness he brought to everyone he ever met rather it be for a moment or a lifetime, he definitely touched your heart. Katie, I hope your doing fine, I know your dad is proud of you."
SPC Tammie Smith of FOB Warhorse, Iraq

"Darren, stars abound and shine from all who knew you.

Never forgotten, bless all that serve!"
PC of MN

"Dearest Darren,

Another year has gone by, without you being in my children, your nieces and nephew's lives. I speak to you often during the day and ask repeatedly for some of your strength to get through day after day of pain and worry.

I pray that you help to repair the wrongs and emotional damage perpetrated upon my family, as survivors of abuse.

Your eldest niece is a well recognized scientist now, married, and enjoying all that awaits her, and remembers you fondly.

Your nephew is lost in so many ways, and he pines for you in the Fall most of all. Your bright star dimmed 24 hours after his 14th birthday - the same day our family vehicle was repossessed at your brother's request. I have often wondered how he must have felt, and feel very sorry for him.

The terrible news of your passing more than blunted seeing repo men taking away our family car.

You will always be remembered by him as what he desired as a father figure;and is so proud to be your godchild.

Kat is a young woman who recognizes your sacrifice. She looks and feels your youth through the living room photo of you, and tales you told she and her brother about growing up.

Morgaine, Glenn James and Katherine remember playing hoops with you, going to the movies with you, chasing you down the road because you threatened to leave if they misbehaved . . . and the awe and respect they felt for you, I know you feel now.

Fond, warm memories of Uncle Darren who loved to be with children and never really seemed to realize the impact your larger than life image had on young ones (nor your stories!).

You are in my prayers daily. I also selfishly ask for some of your strength in facing multiple surgeries, in asking for protection and yes,retribution for my children and me and the rendering of justice where it is due. Not so terrible of me , as you maintained the same philosophy . . .

I will always remember your last visit to our home Darren, as will your nieces and nephew -larger than life, demanding respect and obedience. How did you manage to make your 'orders' golden and beyond reproach?

The kids loved you then, think of you often now, and wish you were here to talk to for direction. They will never forget you, always respect you, and your memory for evermore. September and November are especially difficult for us. A new flag in your memory September 30th. Glenn James keeps all of your flags.

Because of you, they have a clear understanding and respect of commitment, honor and responsibility, and salute all who serve their country.

You rose above the rest, in more ways than anyone can grasp Darren. Your memory and essence have seen me through trying times.

Darren, you are never forgotten, always there. Wish our families were closer.

Don't drill the Angels too much!

Much love to you!

Patricia Charland (fka Cunningham)
Glenn James (IV)
Patricia Charland of Willmar Minnesota USA

"It hardly seems like five years has passed already. For Darren's family, it is as though it was yesterday. Mom frantically wanted to not be home the morning of the anniversary...those memories still sharp and vivid in her mind of opening the front door.

Darren's mom was a huge part of why he was the man he was. He loved her like I've never known a man to love and care about their mother. That fateful day, he had called to tell her "Mom, I'll be home in 33 days". It was music to her ears, but it wasn't to be. She still mourns deeply for the son that brought much joy in her life, and sheds tears when she talks of him and his children. Someday maybe they'll both sit with her and let her share the memories and photos that she has, plentiful and humorous of a father that was indeed proud of both of his children and who had an abundance of love for both of them.

Not a day goes by that I don't think of my brother and miss what an incredible friend he was to me...those phone calls out of the blue...so sorely missed...that laughter...that smile forever taken from all of us much too soon...

Dakota and I stopped in Arlington to visit with you on our way home from Texas last month, so many of your brothers and sisters have joined you. As always, we left you something...and for all of those that have visited...it doesn't go unnoticed or unappreciated, Darren certainly had many family and friends that loved him when he was alive and still to this day.

You Little Sis,"
Kelly Cunningham of Austin Tx & Groton, MA

"Amazing how fast time goes by. It's been five years but seems like only yesterday we heard the news. Your friends continue to say wonderful things about you. It's always so great to read. I know how much your family misses you. They talk about you with great affection and pride as only a family can. Your son has grown into a wonderful young man. You would have great pride in him as only a father could have in his son. Our lives go on but you still remain a very large part of them Miss you!"
Cat of USA

"I hope this message finds the family of Darren Cunningham in good health and spirits. I Know Darren is proud of his family for the Love and the strength you have all shown him. May god Bless You all. We will keep Darren's Memory alive and well here in Texas."
Carl Smith of Houston,Texas

"Hey bubba, it’s coming up on 5 years and there’s not a day goes by that I don’t look at the picture of you on my desk and smile. I think back of the deployments, the adventures, the memories good and bad, the vacations and all the times we cut loose through the years. Sitting on the back porch drinking beer and shooting those nasty black birds . Those endless days and nights in the deserts and how when our soldiers got into it, they would hear your voice over the radio and KNEW they would be ok! I think back at the lives you saved those 2 days in Johnson City and outside of Burnet just by being the right man in the right place at the right time. Sitting in the middle of no where listening to you talk about Dean and Katie and how proud they made you even when you couldn’t be with them as often as you wanted. The day we were ACAP’ing and you got the stop loss call and I laughed at what you said about Luck of the Irish and cussing about it all the way back to the jeep only for me to get the same call. Hope you got the coin I left, it was one the ones you and I got when that MG ask for a sit rep and you asked him if he wanted the “Bullshit answer or the truth” and he said he wished he had more soldiers like you on his staff that weren’t afraid of telling the truth!

They say the measure of a man can be judged by the lives the he has touched, my brother you have touched many!

I Love my brother and will see ya soon!"
Your other Brother. of Texas

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your dad. He was a great guy and I feel blessed to say that he was my friend.
Your dad and I ran into each other several times over the years, and each time that we ran into each other he never failed to render me with stories of you. I remember his booming laugh when he told me about a time when you parked your pink Barbie jeep next to his jeep in the driveway then told him that he needed to learn how to park. He had so many stories of all the things that ya'll would do together - off-roading, street hockey, camping, jet skiing.
The last time that I ran into your dad he mentioned that you had become a junior black belt in tae kwon do. Thinking back on that visit, I can honestly say that I have never seen a parent beam with such pride for a child. I could tell that he loved life, and that he was teaching you how to do the same. That was something that I really admired about him.
I just want you to know that his time with you was far too short. But, the love and devotion that he had for you will last a lifetime. God Bless you and your family."
Scott of TX

I knew your dad when you were first born. We were stationed together in the 545th at Fort Hood. He was so happy to have a son. He was a great soilder and I learned a lot from him. I'm sorry for your loss. I'll never forget Darren and the pride on his face when he brought you to the barracks to show you off. You were just a few days old. He sure was a proud new dad."
Ronnie Glenny of Broadview, MT

Your Dad was one of the best. I had the privilege to serve with him in the 545th MP CO. I was a platoon leader at the time and while he was not in my platoon, he would always take the time to assist if I needed his advice on anything. His tactical knowledge was always sought out by the platoon leaders in the company. A few things stick out when I think of him. The first is his constant smile and his ability to always stay positive. Secondly, was his love for you and his Soldiers.

I was a company commander in OIF I and ran into your dad just as they were getting set up. He was happy, he was in his element. Just seeing him made me happy and brought a smile to my face. We talked for a long time, my unit was redeploying shortly so again, we discussed what was going on, Yankees red sox and so on. It wasn't long after I got home that I found out. It was truly devastating, still is and I still think of him all the time. When I look at my daughter, I think of him and you.

Just know, which I'm sure you do, that your dad loved you more than anything, and was truly one of the best Soldiers I've ever served with.


Maj Matt Allison"
Matt Allison

"Darren had a son? I never knew this, he always used to talk about his daughter-all the time! I spent lots of time with him in Korea, RIP SSG Cunningham!"
PFC Boyles (Korea 2001) of Chico, CA

"We still miss him so much. Darren's son has grown into a great young man.
Darren would be so proud. Thank you to everyone for all your kind thoughts and words."

"Darren Cunningham was truly a gifted soldier, continually diligent in his duty to his unit and any mission he faced. His being a soldier, however, was definitely not his greatest contribution during his all too short time on Earth; Darren’s sole focus, and dedication was to his beloved daughter, Kaitlyn. In Darren’s eyes, the sun rose and set upon her. His influence in her is quite evident to those who know Katie today; she is poised, eloquent, strong, considerate of others and generous in spirit. She honors her father every day through her character. Darren IS so very proud of her, I have no doubt. May we ALL honor him through our words and actions with the same strength of character exhibited by both Darren and Katie."
Tonna of Minnesota

"I not only loved my dad but am immensely proud of his service to the Army and our country. It brings great joy to my heart to know that so many of his friends and co-worker felt the same way about him. To all of you, I say 'Thank You!'"
Kaitlyn of TX

"" It hurts my heart to find out about the lost of a great soldier". I had the honor of serving with SSG Cunningham in Korea in 2001. He was a good soldier and a even better man. My sincere condolences to the family"
Terrence Wilson of Augusta, GA

"To the family of:Darren J. Cunningham I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief. He died a hero defending freedom and we are so grateful for anyone defending our freedom.
Know that I am praying for the peace of God that surpasses all understanding for you and that one day we will all meet in Heaven where we will rest in the arms of Jesus.
If you need someone to talk to or someone to pray with please call my Pastor at Gateway Community Church, Reverand John Pearrell 11677 Brown Bridge Rd Covington Ga. 30016 Phone 770- 787- 1015 (fax)770-787-8215.Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew"

"I was thinking of you today Darren as I was watching Sgt. York on the TV I remember the times that we all played in the fields behind the house and being put in the pig crates as a POW seems like yesterday but it was so long ago. Time seems to be flying by like smoke though a keyhole. I think the last time I saw Darren was in 84 I remember talking to him before I joined the army in 89 Wow that seems like another lifetime To. Well i'm blabiling know just wanted to say Love you will always think of you and miss you. With all my love and respect to the family Joel Michaud "POE" ( Remember fishing for the catfish out of the septic tank near the fields LOL."
Joel Michaud of Kingston Ma

"NOV 2008

"I had the honor of sitting with Darren’s sister Tracey on the anniversary of his loss. We had a toast for him and I heard stories of their childhood into adulthood. He is very much missed. I only wish I got to meet him."
Michael of Shirley, Ma

"Four years have past seems like just yesterday. Your missed very much and loved.
Your "older"sister"
Tracey of Lowell

"August 2, 2008
To the family of Staff Sgt. Darren J. Cunningham:
Darren 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 served with SSG Cunningham in Iraq '04', I was just a PFC still very brand new to the ARMY. I'll never forget the first day that I met him. SSG Cunningham was riding in my truck and I was the gunner and he asked me if I knew anything about Kentucky Windage, I had no clue. I guess he could see how nervous I was so he said If I have to fire my weapon just look at where my bullets are hitting and adjust. I was scared but I knew he was confident so it helped. And nothing happened that day.

SSG Cunningham was always hanging out with us soldiers playing XBOX, or shooting pool, ping pong, didn't matter he always put us on the same level but wouldn't hesitate to put us in line when it came to the mission. Toward the end of the deployment I was switched to a different security team and didn't get to hang out with SSG Cunningham as much.

I did have the pleasure of eating lunch with him the day before he died he was so happy, I miss him deeply.

SSG Cunningham as I am sure you know Ricky Williams died and I hope that he is up there with you right now and you two are looking over us. I love you and miss you, it was a honor to serve with you.

SGT April E. York, ARMY Reserves of Austin, TX

"I served with SSg Cunningham when he was SPC Cunningham at Fort Riley, KS. He was assigned to be the LT's driver to quote "Keep him out of trouble". His up beat attitude was always appreciated by his peers. I was saddened to hear of his passing. I never though he would stay in, but I guess he found his place in the Army. After reading some of the posts, I'm glad his presence was felt by so many others. My thoughts are with his family, he was a great man."
Byron Brownfield of Fountain, CO

"Darren-As it gets to be time to chose another scholarship receipent I come back to read all the wonderful things people have had to say. The joy you brought to many and the joy you still bring to those who have received of your scholarship. I miss you very much.
Love you---dragonfly63@gmail.com"
Tracey Cunningham of Chelmsford MA

"as i sit here in iraq . all i can do is remember you big "D" god bless you."
sgt Toure 169th mp( former 89 ilo mp 2004) of anbar . iraq

"I'll never forget the way SSG Cunningham used to say my last name whenever he would see me (he'd make this goofy face and say it with a funny accent). It was an honor serving with him as a member of the 545th MP Company, and during LEO operations when he went to the 89th. RIP SSG Cunningham."
Myonghwan "Eazy" Eiselstein of Alexandria, Virginia

"I am sorry for his loss, God bless the military!"
a supporter

"7 Jan 2008: I too just found out about Darren, I also served with him at Ft. Hood. For what I feel and what I want to say could easily take a dozrn pages here... Let me just say I am sad and hope that says it all."
a friend

"I served with Darren in Desert storm. I just found out abouth this on 23 Dec. 2007, so it feels like it just happened. I wish I had known sooner... God bless our soldiers. God bless the Cunningham family..."
Kevin of Illinois

"My family knew Darren, as a beloved Uncle to my three children Morgaine Charland, Glenn James and Katherine Cunningham. The children knew Darren as a big Teddy Bear ready for a game of football or a wrestling match, and for his great sense of humor and relentless teasing. He holds a very deep place in our hearts, we think of him so often, and honor him particulalry at this time of year. I remember him especially for his love of children and as a great Brother-in-Law."
Patricia Charland of Willmar, Minnesota, USA

"This is a belated condolence message to the family of Darren Cunningham. I was in elementary school with Darren in Groton where I grew up. He and I were in Ms Debbie Snow's third grade class (her first year of teaching.) I remember being spoken to by her after some small infraction, Darren by my side. I cannot express the sadness I felt when I heard of Darren's death, he was a part of my childhood at Groton Elementary. God Bless his family and friends."
Elise bolger ruggles of Topsfield, MA, USA

"12 June 2007 - It has been about twenty years since I served with Darren. At that time, there was a small group of us, all Specialists and Corporals… a small, but dependable group. We bounced ideas off of each other regularly. We were the inheritors, builders and maintainers of a great unit. If I remember nothing else, I remember Darren as being “one of the boys”… “one of us”.

I remember very few people from that time but the people that I do remember are burned in my mind for a reason. Darren was one of those people who will always be burned in my mind.

I hope that his family and friends live with the knowledge that Darren was not only a fine soldier and leader, but he is a man who will live in the fond memories of all who knew him.

To those of us who knew Darren, we are better for it.

To Darren’s family, my heart goes out to you. We will never truly know how much of a sacrifice you have made.

As I said in the beginning… It has been about twenty years since I served with Darren… and yet he will never be forgotten."
Scott Ervin of CPL, 545th MP Company, 1986 to 1989

"On April 27, 2007, my wife and I walked into a new mexican grill around the corner from our house in Humble, Texas. The name on the place was "hero's". I didn't think much of it at first, but when I entered the place I was impressed. The owner of the grill was working behind the counter and greeted us. As I walked around the place I saw pictures of american soldiers from past and present on the wall, and a huge American flag in the center of the room. I immediately thought of Darren, and asked the owner about placing a picture of big dog on the wall with a brief synopsis of his story. The owner was very receptive to this idea, and I told him I would return with it at a later date. I left the place with Darren on my mind, and immediately went home and pulled pictures out. I felt like it was a small thing to do for such a great man. none the less there is now a picture of my friend on this wall, I feel it is my duty and the duty of every American to keep Darren's memory alive, as well as the other great men and women that made the same sacrice as Darren. I hope that his family finds peace and comfort in god, and I promise that as a friend and a follow veteran, I will not let this warriors life go unnoticed, or be forgotten as long as I am alive. Rest in peace Darren....."
Carl Smith of Humble, Texas

"SSG Cunningham,
I often think of the times I would go to the TV room in the palace to hide and get away and there you would be... On the couch that I was so looking forward to passing out on for a few. You always bet me there. The stories over dinner and waiting for you guys to get back off a mission so I could take in your weapons. I remember how some of the guys would take their sweet time to turn in their weapon. I would get so mad because I couldn't do anything until they came. But, not to fear. I knew who to tell... With in minutes of complaining to you I'd be damned if the boys weren't at my arms room door. I will never forget ten till 0500 hours on September 30, 2004. It’s been over two years now and on that day for the past two years I've woke up at ten till 0500 to the memory of you and the events that went on. I'll never forget you. I had the honor of cleaning your rifle for your memorial ceremony, and I tell you what SSG C... that was the cleanest damn rifle in Iraq that day. Not to worry... I left you zero adjustments on the inside of the pistol grip... You're deeply missed. To SSG Cunningham’s family... I'll never know the pain you as a family feel for the loss of this great man, but please know that my heart weeps and then is felled with joy of memories I'll always have.
SPC Summer N. Heidleberg of Garland, TX (Former 89th MP BDE soldier)

"To the family of SSG Darren Cunningham,
My condolences to you for the lost of your loved one. I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Darren. I served in Giessen Germany with SSG Cunningham and will remember him most for his pleasant smile and wonderful sense of humor. He was a great NCO and a good friend. You will be missed my friend."
SFC (Ret) Robert David of Chester Virginia

"Having found out so late doesn't soften the blow if this incident. I had the honor of serving with SSG Cunningham in Korea. He always had a big brother personality even when he chewed me out for doing something stupid. He was always in high spirits and willing to help out any way he could. My Condolences and prayers are with his family."
C.J. Cameron of Camp Blanding Military Police

"I was deployed to Iraq with SSG Cunningham with the 89th MP Bde. He was everything that all these people have said about him. He was like a big brother. I had the pleasure of being in the squad assigned to his security. I would have put my life on the line for that man any day. He was always quick to crack a joke on those hot summer days. He used to come and play Halo on the xbox so he could go home and beat his daughter. He was always the first to raise the mood. He helped me grow up. When I came to the Bde I was still a little new. I had been in Iraq for 5 months before that but still young and he was a great role model for me and everyone. I will always remember the way he was the day before the attack. He had just recently found out that his retirement was good and he was comming home early. So we took him by the market in the Green Zone and he bought stuff to take home to his kids and family. He had the biggest smile on his face. You would've thought he just won the lottery. I guess in his eyes he did. The mood carried over into the last time I saw him at dinner that night. Even almost 2 years he is still fresh in my mind and always will be. He is the reason I have decided to carry on in the military. So I can try to influence the soldiers anywhere close to where he has. He makes me proud to put on the uniform. I am proud to serve on my second tour in Iraq because of him. When I get up there you better have a beer and an xbox cause we're playing some Halo and puting down a few. SSG Cunningham and his family will always be in my prayers. If any of his family need anything. I mean anything. Dont hesitate to send me an email."
SPC Kyle Houseright kyle.houseright1@us.army.mil of Ft. Hood, Tx

"SSG Darren James Cunningham was and will always be my twin. Although not physically born on the same day, he was the big brother any little girl would ever want. I was his shadow, following him wherever he would go, and in return he was the voice to a shy little sister. Born two years, two days apart, we were bonded from the start.

The day he met with the recruiter at the high school, I was by his side. It was what he dreamed of doing, being in the Army. The day I graduated in 1984 and he took his leave so that he could see it. I'll never forget him coming over the rise of the hill in uniform, how I cried when I saw him. I missed him so much, but I was so damn proud of him too and how handsome he looked. When my name was called, Kelly Cunningham, the largest yell came from the crowd...I shook hands with the principal, turned to the crowd and yelled "I did it" and he whooped and hollered for me. I couldn't want for it to end. To be able to put my arms around him and hug him.

Throughout the years of his career, I missed him and worried about him, but he would always tell me, "I'm with you and I'll be fine". He always was. Darren has a son Dean, who looks and acts just like Darren did as a teenager, Dean is born on my birthday. Seemed like he was always keeping that bond with me. Then he had Katie, and I had Dakota, our kids are 7 days apart.

Darren and Katie came to visit all of us in MA while on leave in July Aug '04. For the first time, we sat together for lunch and he was quiet. He just kept looking at me, and I was scared. The man that I'd known since the day I was born was reflective of his life and his plans for his retirement. When he left my office that day, we stood in the hot July sun and hugged each other for the very last time in this life. He said "I love you Kel, keep looking over your shoulder". I hugged him fiercely, told him "I love you Dares, don't scare me like that". He smiled at me and said "Get back to work slacker". See, the first day he came to see me, I wasn't at my office, I'm a Realtor. So he called me on my phone, "Where are you", to which I replied, "Seven minutes from there, relax". Relax, ha! I get to my office and he's SURROUNDED by all the staff in the building and didn't even NOTICE that I walked in! He touched the lives of everyone he ever met.

No words can express the hole that is in my heart from losing him. Not a day goes by still nearly two years later that I don't shed tears over losing him. I go to Arlington often, to just find peace with it all. To all those at Ft. Hood, the honor that you've all bestowed on him, the naming of the 89th Mp Headquarter's to Cunningham Hall, to the 1st Cav placing his name on the Wall of Honor, thank you. To those that have left comments, you made a difference in his life. I will never forget him."
Kelly J Cunningham Darrenslitlsis@yahoo.com of Groton, MA

"SSG Cunningham, I can still remember your can-do attitude and sense of humor at the PMO, Ft. Hood. I am so honored to cross your path in life. I will always take a part of you with me and share taht love with others in keeping your spirit alive. We miss you..."
(CPT) Brian J. Luley of Dallas, Texas

"KAITLYN - We are doing a peace officer's memorial foundation motorcycle run on Sat May 13th and have added Darrian's name to the shirt that we will all be wearing. I have a shirt for you - please contact me at kathryn.weakley@us.army.mil and we'll mail it to you or arrange a time to meet.

Your Dad was very special to me - our prayers continue to be with you :-)"
Kathryn Weakley of Ft Hood, TX

"He was like a big brother to me and most of my squad members in Iraq , for me SGT Otis Dickerson , and SPC Kyle Houseright we kind of grew up in Iraq , we deployed as privates and came back junior NCO's ,we left as boys and came back men . He was always there if you had a problem or if you just wanted to sit around and shoot the sh#t . He was never to busy to listen to your problems, or questions about pretty much any thing, he always gave good advice but he was never afaid to say " he didnt know " . I remember how me him and Kyle and Dicky used to sit in the security platoon room and play Conflict Desert Storm for Xbox and in between the missions in the story line it would say what was going on in the war and sgt C used to tell use what he was doing that day in real life when he was with 545th MP CO. (God he loved wearing that CAV combat patch) Then when we'd get to playing again his guy would get waxed by some Repubican Gaurd Iraqi and he would compain about his control not working right " the f#cking buttons are sticking again " he'd say. I remember having heated Red Sox and Yankees arguments with him, how the curse would never be lifted , they did it seargent , they did it.
There is no way you could possibly figure out how many people he touched from Iraq to Ft Hood,Ft Riley to Korea , but I know this, the people he touched , friends and family will be forever changed for the better becuse of his prescence in thier lives . I remember the day of his memorial thinking that every soldier that new him in Baghdad was there and hundreds of Iraqi police and government officials. I was on the firing line out side the palace, it was a good thing too because i never would have been able to sit threw the role call part of the service with out breaking down . Things were never the same for me again after that , all i know is on the morning of september 30th 2004 , a cowardly attack by homocideal religous lunatics ,hiding some where among the civillian populace of Baghdad took the life of the 89th MP BDE's finest sons and took the bigger brother from 2nd squad IPS security platoon. I know that he'll be watching over use for the rest of our lives, and one day we will meet again and shoot the sh#t and we'll be able to smile again
My deepest condolences to his family most sincerely and respectfuly yours
Operater 8 D/G"
SPC Will Jones of 178th MP Det Ft Hood Texas

"I'll never forget you man. I check up on you at least once a month at Arlington. I'm sure you know though. I bring my girls and let them run around and spread a little joy :)"
Former SGT David Dodds of Washington, D.C.

"There's not a day that dont go by that I dont think of you and I smile. I remember the laughs, the tragedies, the vacations and those crazy nights at the dinner table. Yes big boy could eat. But I so miss everything about you. But until we can be together again my friend and my brother-GODSPEED, I love you!!"
Tammie L Smith(Holland) of Texas

"The happy-go-lucky guy!!! Darren and I spoke the night he lost his life about his upcoming retirement and the new stuff he ordered for his jeep and the time he looked forward to seeing his family. We spoke for about an hour on his previous 20 years in the military and how my soldier's heads were getting to big (hung up on themselves). But you followed it up with positive comments about us as you always did throughout our deployment. My platoon was proud to provide security for you throughout Baghdad on your missions supporting the Iraqi Police. You had and still have a an impact on the soldiers of the 89th Military Police Brigade, Security Platoon "Operators! NO FEAR" and we are better soldiers and most of all better people since serving with you! You were the talk of the Iraqi Police Academy (Baghdad) every day after you were lost, the Iraqi Police had a great deal of respect for you. That was a givin after anyone met you. It has been over a year since you were lost, and there isn't a day that goes by that you aren't thought of. My best wishes and prayers to Darren's family.

SSG Michael Rindorf
Platoon Sergeant
89th MP BDE, Security Platoon
"Operator 7""
SSG Michael Rindorf of Fort Leonard Wood, MO

"My Big Brother. I met Darren at Ft. Hood in 98. He just adpoted me from that night on. I was so happy when we ended up in Korea together. I knew if he was around everything would be alright. He was one of the greatest men that you could ever hope to meet in this world. He loved his Family and friends very much. I wish that he could of met my daughter. I could always count on him if I needed something. I feel great sorrow for his family. I will always remember his laughter and wrestling that no matter how hard I tried I couldn't take him. He was one of those special people you meet once in a lifetime and I just got lucky. I miss you Big Bro!"
Engebretson, Courtney of Montana

"I have recieved my first commerative bracelet that has SSG DARREN J. CUNNINGHAM's name on it. After looking here and reading so many Incredible things about him I can say without a doubt that he is a TRUE HERO in every since of the word! I will be honored to wear my bracelet with SSG CUNNINGHAM'S name on it, and when people stop me and ask me about it, I will have to privilege of telling them just what I've read here today; HE IS AMERICAS BEST!! God Bless His Family and Friends and keep SSG CUNNINGHAM'S spirit and rememberence known for all who live under the umbrella of Freedom in which soldiers like him provide for us with honor and dignity! THANK YOU !!

" Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. " 2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-4"
Raphael Martinez of Dallas, TX USA

"Ah, Darren...I can still see you.

I knew SSG Cunningham while stationed in Korea. In my mind's eye, the picture I will always have of him in my mind is that big smile, MP brassard, hearty laugh (full of jokes) - he was just loaded with personality and humor. He was such a joy to work with and so very knowledgeable. We worked together as NCOs at a heavy caliber weapons range at Jun Pyong during December; it was absolutely miserable - cold as the dickens, windy and icy. Darren was one of the high points of that horrible couple of days because that he kept everyone motivated, spirits up and above all, laughing. I was stunned a year ago to hear of his death and at this anniversary junction, felt drawn to him. I just wanted his family to know that even though I was MI and he was an MP, he had a great impact on me and I will certainly never forget him. We were the same age, joined the army the same year, and would have retired at the same point, as well. We shared the camaraderie of soldiery. I will never forget him; his big, silly grin; and most of all, his supreme professionalism as a non-commissioned officer. Thank you for affording me this opportunity to share my memories of him. God bless Darren and all of the other soldiers who have made the supreme sacrifice in the name of humanity and for the security of the United States."
1SG Krista M. Munyon (USA, Ret.) of Fort Huachuca, AZ

"Hello,thank you all for the kind things you wrote about my dad.I'm very surprised that Dad has all these friends around the world, he must've been very popular.I've been doing fine,eventhough it's still hard to accept the fact that he's gone.Thanks alot for keeping us in your prayers.He was an awesome Dad,and I'll really miss him."
Kaitlyn Cunningham of Copperas Cove,TX

"I had the priviledge of knowing Darren in Korea. He was a great friend and looked after me like a big brother. He will be sorely missed. My heartfelt condolences go to his family, especially his daughter, who would talk about all the time."
Kim Dunbar (Verbanick) of Bowie, Maryland

"Darren and I were stationed in Korea 99-2000. He was the best friend that I have been looking for all my life. A great soldier and one of my best friends. His spirit remains through all of us. He is sorely missed but he is in good hands now. My prayers to his family."
WO1 Robinson, Joshua S. of FT Rucker, AL

"To the family of SSG Cunningham-
SSG Cunningham's memory is alive in all of us who served with him. We all remember him for his professionalism as well as his wit. My heart goes out to his family, especially his daughter. No matter how many times he left Fort Hood, he always came back to the Cav. We all remember him as First Team's Finest. I bet ST Peter heard a good joke when Darren Cunningham got to the gates."
SGT Burnhauser, Suzanne of Patchogue, NY

"I shared a beer or two, a joke or two with Big Cunningham. I had to give up my room in Korea because he was signing in to the unit. Didnt like it at first, but he turned out to be a cool dude. Really sorry to hear about him this way, and so late. Great Guy......."
SSG Marshall of Balad, Iraq

"Military Police Corps Regimental Prayer
By Chaplain Michael Yarman

Heavenly Father - We approach You today because You have called us to be a people of prayer.

We praise You because You are our Creator, our Redeemer and our Provider.

We acknowledge our great need for You as we fulfill our mission as soldiers.

We have been called to serve our nation as Military Police and we are proud of the honored heritage of the Regiment and our motto: Of the Troops and For the Troops.

Whether we are fighting an enemy, securing as area, patrolling the streets, or helping someone in distress, help us, O Lord, to always be men and women of integrity who can be counted on to do the right thing.

Give us the strength to stand for what is right and to oppose those who would do harm to our nation and the people we serve.

May we always be truthful in Word, Deed and Signature, and bring honor through our service to the memory of those in the Regiment who gave the supreme sacrifice for their country.

Guide us now, Father, by giving us wisdom and knowledge from on high, that as Military Police we will always be prepared to Assist, Protect and Defend."
CPT Glidewell


53rd IN BDE"
Ranger Mac of Pinellas Park, Florida

"I worked with SSG Cunningham in several capacities at FT Hood. All comments made here are true, but what they fail to say is that SSG Cunningham was always quick with a stinging quip. His infectious sense of humor rankled some, but I never felt there was malice intended and he always brightened the spirits of those around him.

Professionally, he was second to none. He led from the front and developed his soldiers beyond other’s expectations. SSG Cunningham was the epitome of an NCO and it was my honor to have known him.

I learned of his sacrifice when visiting the 545th MP Company and welcoming home the First Team on the 22nd of February, 2005. They asked mi if I remembered him and my chest tightened at the thought of his passing.

SSG Cunningham, You are missed.

MSG David K. Burton of 545th MP Co 93-95

"It was my honor to work with SSG Cunningham at the Fort Hood PMO from 2000 to 2002. He the Traffic NCOIC and me as a Watch Commander. I remember when ever things got a little hectic; around the station he would always smile and crack a joke. I miss you old friend and will always remember our talks and time together. To his children and family, I send my sincerest condolences, we lost a great worrier."
SSG Leon E. Johnson, HHD 720th MP BN of Fort Hood, Texas

"This message is in memory to S/Sgt.Kenneth Arrent,my Platoon Sgt.at LZ Two Bits,545th.MP Co.he was killed in action on Highway #1,just South of LZ Uplift in Nov.1967. Vietnam."
Richard Maloney of Glastonbury,Ct.

"I had the privilege of serving with SSG Cunningham in the 545 MP Co. from '95 to '97. I was his platoon leader, he my squad leader, but like all good officer/NCO relationshipss - and Darren was the epitome of a great NCO - he was the teacher and I the student. Like no other soldier I ever had the honor of serving with (and I'm fortunate to say that I worked with some great soldiers) Darren took terrific care of his soldiers. His focus on training, mentoring, and looking out for them was unparalleled.

God bless his family. I am blessed that my life crossed paths with that of Darren's, and thank God every day that men of his caliber are protecting us all.
CPT/Mr. Mike McDonnell of Forest Park, IL

"Knowing Darren personally was a huge honor for me, even before his death. He always had a smile on his face and could find good in almost anything. Working with him at the PMO was one of the best jobs I've ever had and part of that was due to his sunny disposition :-) Seeing him outside of work at happy hour was a hoot! In fact, I don't think I can think of anything negative about him - he was an honorable man, an asset to the ARMY and the USA and his life was not given in vain. Darren, I will think of you everytime I see a jeep. I pray that your children will grow up as proud of your life, as they are of the ultimate sacrifice that you paid doing what you loved to do. From me personally - Damn Stop Loss!!! You had so much more to give my friend.

Of the troops, for the troops
Kathryn Weakley of Fort Hood, TX

"I ordered an Operation Iraqi Freedom Memorial bracelet a couple weeks back. It came today, It has Darren's name on it. I looked him up on the web and read a few articles. He sounds like someone I would have truly enjoyed, if I would have had the chance to know him. I will wear his name on my arm with pride, gratitude and utmost respect, and I will pray for him and his family every day. I am grateful for the sacrifices Darren and his family have made for this country, its citizens, my family and myself. God bless you."
Cassandra Hendrix of Fresno, CA USA

"Big dog, i looked up in the sky christmas night and thought of you and your family. katie is a beautiful young lady, who knows the sacrifice you made for others, and she knows you did it your way. my prayers go out to your family, for i know that their life,as well as my life will never be the same without you. i miss you, and hope to see you at the gates of heaven when my time is up. rest easy brother for you fought the good fight...godspeed...."
Carl Smith of Houston,texas

"SSG Cunningham,
It was an honor and a priviledge to call you my Squad Leader in 3rd Platoon, 545th MP Co. I know I wasn't the model soldier and I caused you a lot of headaches and paperwork. I want your family to know that because of the professionalism and leadership you displayed, when I got my life back on track, you were the mold I chose to make of myself! I am now an E5(P) serving with the 1-14th Infantry (reclassed to 92Y) in Kirkuk, Iraq with the 25th ID(L). I have a beautiful wife and son back in Hawaii. I'ma better man today because I know you! My heart goes out to your family and your legacy of professionalism will carry on in me and in every soldier that has had the honor of serving with you!
SGT Jason Dunn of FOB Warrior, Kirkuk, Iraq

"I served with SSG Cunningham for only a short time at Ft. Hood in 1998, and was very saddened when I learned of his death. I have only fond memories of him even though I only knew him a few months.

My condolences to his children and his family. He was a good man."
Michael Viola of Cranston, RI.

"I am deeply saddened to find out my old boss from Korea is gone he was a good friend of mine while there in 1997 in the 728th MP BN he taught me alot and I will miss him. I always thought I would get in touch with him later. I should not have waited. God Bless you all."
SSG Cary Brown of Indianapolis, IN

"My name is Jim Sullivan, a close friend of Everett- I'm from Groton. I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your son. I'm sure you are very proud of him. I pray that the Lord will give you peace in your heart."
Jim Sullivan of Leominster, MA

"Darren was a really great guy. I first met him while attending the police academy in Killeen back in 96. He was definately one of the good guys and all of us who knew him feel the loss. God bless you"
Scott Smith of Michigan

"Just wanted to say that my deepest heartfelt sympathy goes out to the loved ones and friends of Darren. I had the privelege of serving with him in the 545th MP CO back in 1996. For the next eight years it seemed like we always ran into each other. Mostly because we both seemed to return to Fort Hood. I have been out of the Army for about a year now but can still remember SSG C and his dedication to the Army. He is one of the best NCOs I ever had the privelege of serving with. Godspeed Darren! First Teams Finest!"
Randy Lambert of Las Vegas, NV

"To the family of Darren;

Our sincerest condolences for your loss. Darren is a true American hero and will always be remembered for his bravery and sacrifice he gave to our country. Our family has also suffered the loss of my nephew in this battle for freedom. May God bless you during this difficult time."
Vic and Tammy McClain--azquail@att.net of Tucson, AZ

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

"To Darren'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.


The Family of Capt. Ernesto M. Blanco-Caldas, 82nd Airborne
KIA Iraq 12/28/2003.
Gloria Caldas (The Big Ern's Mom) of San Antonio, TX

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

"My deepest sympathy, our family has also suffered the loss of a precious life in this battle for freedom. May God bless you and help you through this time. Forever in our hearts a HERO Darren J. Cunningham."
Amy & Aaron Monier of Waterford, MI.

"To Darren's Family:
There are no words to express 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 Darren Cunningham, 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 Staff Sgt. Darren Cunningham:
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 Darren 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. Darren Cunningham:
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 Darren, 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