Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

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

Army Staff Sgt. Jeffrey F. Dayton

27, of Caledonia, Mississippi.
Dayton died in Baghdad, Iraq, when a vehicle approached his unit and the driver detonated a bomb. He was assigned to 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany. Died on April 29, 2004.

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"20 Very long years my friend. Was a pleasure serving with you. May your family rest well knowing you left a very stellar legacy and path of greatness that others will follow."
SGT Zipperlen of McCook, NE

"Well let me say it was an honor serving with SSG Dayton. I knew him from being neighbors in Smith Barracks. Most of our conversation was passing each other through the hallway because we had a very busy schedule, however he was always an easy person to talk too. I can recall the last time we spoke I was on my way to the green zone and we saw each other in passing but never expecting to be the last time. SSG Dayton, you are a true Soldier that gave your all and you are truly miss. God Bless your family.."
1SG Curtis Singleton of Kathleen, GA

"It's hard to take in the reality of your life being put in a fast forward mode. That's the only way I can describe the way it's been for me. Like someone hit a button, skipped time here & there. It's been 9 years since we lost him. And, I still feel like I have a hole in my heart. I miss him still & will cherish my memories forever. I wish I had appreciated him more. You know that saying, "You never know what you have until it's gone.." He deserved so much better. He deserved to live a full, happy life... He was a son, a brother, a soldier, a husband, an inspiration to every one he met. Back in '96, when our paths crossed, after only a few dates, we were inseparable. And, he only had to say a few short sentences to get me back in school. The way he encouraged me & how much faith he put into me is unforgettable. I had dropped out of high school my senior year, you see. I never had that loving support at home. When he spoke to me, when his eyes looked at me, into my soul, & lifted my spirit, I knew that this was the one that was going to take me away. I went from feeling like a nobody, to feeling like i could do something with my life, feeling like maybe I Could make a difference. Because for the very first time in my life, here was someone that Believed in me.. He did nothing but support me. He showed me what true love & respect is. I don't recall ever shaking anyone's hand until I met him. I never thought about going places, seeing the world until I met him. He was the most humble guy, & the most giving. He gave his all in everything that he did. I have had my own battles in believing that there is a God in the world. How could He have let this happen? I felt that I didn't deserve him, & that's why he was taken from me.. But, he was also taken from a loving family... He was golden, he really was. It's just so hard to understand all the hate in this world. It's still hard to forgive that he should have been home when he died. And, it's still hard to fight the anger of HOW he died...
I have tried to be happy, have stumbled along the way. I often wonder how our lives would have turned out together. He loved me more than anything. We were planning on a family when he returned. Him not coming home was crushing. The way a husband loves a wife, I will never have that kind of love again.
I do have a beautiful 5 year old daughter. She has made life worth living. It is a precious thing. Life.
There has to be a heaven. This can't be it..."
Helen Dayton of Spanaway, WA

"It was an honor serving with Dayton. He didn't know me very well, but i was with them on that day. It has taken me this long to come to terms with it. He was well respected by me and others. God speed my friend."
Spc Dustin Dills of Houston Texas

"To the family of:Jeffrey F. Dayton
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 am proud you went out there and fought for our freedom. thank you"
orick brandie of dayton,tn

"March 27, 2010

Dayton Maynard Czajka
Born February 25, 2010 at 10:50am

In your memory and your sacrifice. Thank you for your service, your mentorship and the memories."
SGT Michael Czajka and Family of Garden City, MI

"To the family of Jeffrey. My brother James Becktrand was in Jeffreys unit when Jeffrey was taken from you and James was taken from us. We think of Jim always along with Jeffrey and the other 6 soldiers, Ryan C., Norman, Justin, Jeremy, Esau and Ryan R.We always smile knowing that the 8 of these amazing men are around us 24/7 for their job of protecting us has now gone from the war but to eternity. God Bless your family...
Lucy Mejia of Anaheim, Ca/USA

"”Honor and Remember” - “Project Compassion” We love our Soldiers! We love our country and we cannot express enough love and compassion to the families of our fallen heroes. War does not discriminate – It breaks our hearts to see the faces of the fallen. We want to give this gift to you. We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization! Over 1,800 portraits have been completed and shipped to the parents and or spouse - at no cost as this is a gift from one American to another!
Contact us directly at Projectcompassion@manti.com or go to www.heropaintings.com . If you have already had a portrait completed, we pray that you are enjoying the portrait and God Bless You.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Project Compassion - Kenna of Manti, Utah, USA

"June 11, 2009

Although I personally never met Jeffrey, I did meet his wife Helen. By the messages left on this page, I can imagine that he was as wonderful a person as she is. God Bless you both.
Jeffrey, thank you for your courage and your sacrifice.
Adela Dickson of San Antonio, TX/USA

"Jeff, its been a few weeks past 5 years and I just wanted to say that there is not a day that goes by that I dont think about you and the person you are. I know I will see you again one day, be on the lookout bro. Take Care and I will never forget you or that day! Talk to you later Sunshine!"
SFC Durgin, Don of Fort Stewart Georgia

"no matter how much time passes ill never forget that day. you have affected us all SSG D. "Iron Thunder""
Shields of Buffalo, NY

"There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of that day. I really wish that I could have done something to change what happened. I'm sorry.
SSG. Dayton I looked up to you"
Jason Hayden of St.Louis MO.

"SSG. Dayton was a great leader and mentor to all of us soldiers in Charlie Battery. Even though it is many years later he is still sorely missed by all. I will always remember Ssg. Dayton and all the other brothers we lost on that day. It was truly an honor to not only know him but to also work along side of him."
Todd Guden of Fort Polk,La(currently back in baghdad

"June 2, 2008
To the family of Staff Sgt. Jeffrey F. Dayton:
Jeffrey 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

"To the Family of the late SSG Jeffrey Dayton.
My name is Major Reginald M. Harris, Sr. and I had the distinct honor to serve with SSG Dayton in 4-27FA. I was the Commander of A Battery during the deployment to Iraq. I knew SSG Dayton very well, more professionally than personnally and I can say it was a true honor to know him and to serve with him. You talk about a true professional, it was SSG D, as I so often called him. As an Officer we often try to find NCO's that we can go talk to for guidance and leadership in certain task and skills. For me it was SSG D. With out hesitation he would stop what he was doing to assist me and ensure that I was "squared away" with whatever the issue was. A great NCO!!!
To the parents and family, although he has been gone from your lives for a while now, SSG D was a true man, professional, and friend. I thank God for you to allow me the opportunity to meet this great man and to serve with him on the battlefield. I know I am a better Officer due to him.

May God continue to strenghten you all."
MAJ Reginald M. Harris of Fort Gordon, GA

"I remember SSG Dayton from when he was stationed at Ft. Hood. We were in the same Battery. I am not surprised about his nickname because that is how I remember him. Though I am out of the service now, he is someone that I have always remembered because of his nature. I will never forget SSG dayton for making Ft. Hood so much better."
Spc. Mendoza, Oscar of San Antonio, Tx

"SSG Dayton",

Just wanted to say it was an honor to work with you and many other great soldiers in 4-27FA. You will always be remembered

"Iron Thunder"
Stubbs of Rochester,NY

"Hey Jeff I know that it has been awhile and I know that these people on here truely cared for you with all their hearts, I miss you everyday man!! I still remember the radio conversation that we all had going that dreadful day about 400 meters from each other, man I wish we could take back that day........Wel I look up to you and the rest that we all lost on that day and will never forget what it was like 5 mintues before the explosion.......Words can not describe the bond we all had nor would I want to try and exlain it......To the family of Jeffry Dayton, I wish you well and send my deepest gratitude for allowing such a great man to touch so many people!! Goodbye for now Jeff, but not forever."
SSG Don Durgin donald.durgin@us.army.mil of Fort Stewart, Georgia

"To the family and servicemembers: We keep you and yours in our prayers. Thank you for your service ad God bless all of you."
Frank Berns of Powder Springs GA

"Hello my name is Sgt Todd. I am deployed to Iraq right at the moment Second tour. I work corrections first at Abu Ghraib until we closed it and Now at Camp Bucca I was looking for a way to honor such a great NCO. So I would like to ask the family of SSG Dayton. If we could use his name for a Quad in Bucca Iraq that holds detainees. We are ready but I thought it would have been a great idea to ask first then to just proseed. We are going to do the memorial on Sept 11. Umm my email Address is anthony.louis.todd@us.army.mil for the Sunshine Nco a gift to the memory fromt the golden state Sgt Todd Anthony L Compound 16 B 2 - 185 Armor California National Guard"
Anthony Todd of Los Angeles CA

"To the Family of SSG Jeffery "Sunshine" Dayton: I was proud to be a member of Charlie Battery, 4-27 FA, 2nd Platoon with SSG Dayton. I will never forget how he lived up to his nickname and brought a ray of Sunshine in to the lives of all of the Cobras while we were deployed to Baghdad, Iraq. Over two years later and I am still feeling the pain of loosing such a great NCO, leader, and friend. He is a HERO that will not be forgotten"
SGT Terry Bullard of C Btry, 4-27 FA

"I would like to thank all of you that have left these wonderful messages. I don't want my husband, nor his brothers, to be forgotten. It's hard to believe that it has been over 2 years since we lost him. He is always in my thoughts, every day. He will be forever in my heart. On long walks, I'll look up at the sky and talk to him. I can just hear him tell me to "hush."... I was so blessed to have him in my life. Not only was he an inspiration to all he met, he was an inspiration to me. He always encouraged and supported me, and made me so happy. He will always be missed and remembered, his life will be celebrated. I pray for our soldiers that are still in Iraq. Please be safe and come back home. Your families love you and miss you so very much. Bless you all !!"
Helen Christie Dayton of Steens, MS/USA

"Jeff Dayton was the best teacher, motivator and leader that I witnessed through 6 years of the Army...learning the ways through Smoke Butler, Big Chief, Jacko and many others I couldn't even begin to name...I had the complete honor of being the FDO in his unit where he always made me feel welcome around him and always made me WANT to be around him...he was that type of guy. Jeff had a way of mentoring his soldiers, not just in the small part of our jobs that is the military, but in life. He took these young 18-21 year olds and molded them into men...into good fathers and husbands...and into great American citizens. He made me laugh all the time, whether we were pulling pranks on SSG Peacock, Smoke and 1SG or we were making fun of each other for where we grew up...he was always in great spirits...I remember when I came up to see the unit after SSG Cease got hit...they were in shambles but SSG Dayton never let on to his soldiers...I never saw him again after that night...and when I got the news it destroyed me because we had become good friends....and he was such a good person.

To his family: Thank you for giving me the honor of knowing Jeff...

and To Jeff:...it was great knowing you...you were the best leader I was ever around and just a great person. I will miss you and never forget you.

Thank you."
Sean Gilfillan of Providence, RI

"To the Dayton family...Jerry will never ever be forgotten! He has touched the hearts of so many. Within his community, among friends, his military family (brother's and sister's), and his very loving family! Jeffrey not related an I miss you. For you had been a military brother to our son. Neither of you kne one another. You just understood military family. More so in war then the everyday soldier life. You watch and protect one another in war as brother's and sister's You have not died in vain! Thank you "son" for serving our country. you apart of fighting off terrorism and given those in the world HOPE! To one day live in peace without his or her leaders killing them. You unselfishly: risk everything for US. You are with Gregory our son! 4th of July in gatlinburg-tennesse will be the annual midnight parade. several fallen families entered a Float to the parade. To honour our wounded and fallen. we hope you family can come join us. You are not alone, we can never allow America to forget!"
leonard_wahl@hotmail.com of Texas

"Hi Jeffy,
Did you see the Sunflowers we left for you? We sure miss you and not a day goes by that I don't think of you and the other "boys" that have given so much. I am and always will be so proud that you and so many others gave so much. All are heros;you are mine.
Thank you, Jeff, for doing your job.
We love you."
Moms of Columbus, Ms

"Two years now brother....still in my mind...everyday....thinking of you down here...watchin us from up there...memory's gonna be always in my heart. Thanks again."
SGT Francisco of Vermillion SD

"Family of Staff Sgt. Dayton,
My name is Alicia Reed. My husband PFC Ryan Reed was also killed in action Apr.29,04. I believe they were in the same unit. I wanted to give my condolences. I never had the chance to meet Staff Sgt. Dayton, but I am thankful for his sacrafice each day and he will always be remembered as a hero.
***Bless You***"
Alicia Reed of Colorado Springs, CO


The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.

"Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?"

The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
"No, Lord, I guess I ain't.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.

I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny,
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills got just too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you soldier,
You've borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell.""
Sgt. Ross of Mississippi

"Merry Christmas From Heaven

I still hear the songs
I still see the lights
I still feel your love
on cold wintery nights

I still share your hopes
and all of your cares
I'll even remind you
to please say your prayers

I just want to tell you
you still make me proud
You stand head and shoulders
above all the crowd

Keep trying each moment
to stay in His grace
I came here before you
to help set your place

You don't have to be
perfect all of the time
He forgives you the slip
If you continue the climb

To my family and friends
please be thankful today
I'm still close beside you
In a new special way

I love you all dearly
now don't shed a tear
Cause I'm spending my
Christmas with Jesus this year"
Vangi & McKaLyne Lunsford, wife & daughter of the late Sgt. Audrey Daron Lunsford of Batesville, MS

"Your loved one was remembered on 27 May 2005 in Bicentennial Memorial Chapel General Protestant Worship Service in Fort Gordon, GA. His life and your sacrifice are not forgotten. Thank you. We are praying for you.
Chaplain (Major) Alva Ray Bennett"

"Thank you Jeff for serving our country and serving it well. But most of all...thank you for being a good husband to Christie. She learned alot from you.I've seen her blossom because of your encouragement."
Holly of Caledonia,Mississippi


Rest in Peace Brave Soldier."
Mary & Ray Dickson of Gautier, MS, USA

"I would like to say thANk you for your sacrifice. I would like to get a bracelet"
Tom McGreevy of Jacksonville Fl U.S.A.

"We never met Staff Sgt. Jeffrey F. Dayton but his is the name on the Hero Bracelet that we received when we ordered one from www.herobracelets.org. This bracelet will be worn every day and Sgt. Dayton will be remembered in every prayer we offer. Thank you, Sgt. Dayton, for your bravery and your sacrifice for all of your fellow countrymen and women."
Rick & Terri Bogart of Westchester, Illinois

"To my Chief and mentor. I met SSG. Dayton in iraq when i was sent to his section to be his gunner. I did not know him long but it was enough to trust him with my life and the lives of our soldiers. I now feel bad for not staying with him after he kept telling me everyday to extend for the remainder of our tour. He was always there when anybody needed him. He is the bravest person i have ever met. SSG. Dayton, the Dog-Pound misses you"
Sgt. Dimas De Leon of Houston Texas

"Jeff you will surely be missed. You were a great leader and a great man. I can close my eyes and picture you smiling at me brother. You will never be forgotten..."
Charles Wilkerson of Fontana, CA

"My friend Sunshine, I will miss you and I will never forget the spirit and energy you have shown me. I was sationed with Jeff and he was my best friend. He was a brother to me when we both needed one in Iraq. I can always rely on him to keep me laughing cause he always had a smile on his face. I hoped that I could talk to him again. I know he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice at any moment. He was a inspiration and a friend to all. I will miss my friend and brother. I will never forget him. To my extended family in the Dayton's I say Jeff was my HERO too. I hope these words help in the loss of a great man. I know that he will never be forgotten by anyone he knew or ever met, because that was the kind of person he was. Jeff my friend,never forget you and I will see you later."
Matt (BIGCHIEF) of Casa Grande, Arizona

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

"To the great people who have left these beautiful comments-
My name is Jeremy Dayton, I am Jeff's younger brother. I would like to deeply thank you for such loving support, it means more than I could ever explain. I'm not sure that we'll ever be able to explain why God takes some of the best people this world has, all that I know is that one day we will all see Jeff again and he will live on in my heart for eternity. Once again, thank you for understanding and for realizing what an outstanding man my brother will always be. Peace to all"
Jeremy of Nashville, TN

"To the Family & Friends of Staff Sgt. Jeffrey F. Dayton
I share your pain and loss as my son Spc. Justin B. Schmidt died while defending his country along side your loved one. I have been told that SSgt. Dayton was a mentor to Justin, and for that I will always be thankful that he found a HERO to model himself after.
May God Bless and keep you in his heart."
Lenore C. Roberts, mother of Spc. Justin B. Schmidt of Bagley, MN

""I'm truly saddened by your loss, though i did not know Jeffrey. I was there on site once it happened, it makes you feel like you knew him. I was completely shocked. Everyday i think of those soldiers that made the ultimate sacrifice, and then i think of you. Even though we maybe be strangers you're in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless mfrancis@usd.edu""
Spc. Mark Francisco of Estelline SD

"To Jeffrey'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 his bravery and sacrifice.


The Family of Capt. Ernesto M. Blanco-Caldas, 82nd Airborne, KIA Iraq 12/28/2003.

Gloria Caldas (his mom) of San Antonio, TX"

"Dear Jeffrey,
Thank you for showing your courage and honor by serving the USA. Not many people have the guts to serve our country, let alone in a hostile fire situation. It is very sad to have people like yourself dying all the time in Iraq, but I hope the world is safer because of your actions. Your death is not in vain; America will always remember you."
mark reif of winchester, VA

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

"To Jeffrey'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 Jeffrey Dayton, 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. Jeffrey Dayton:
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 Jeffrey 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. Jeffrey Dayton:
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 Jeffrey, 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