from his Facebook page






A 22-year-old man from Evergreen Park was among seven soldiers killed by a single roadside bomb this week in Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense.


Army Spc. Jared Stanker died Tuesday of injuries suffered when the improvised explosive device hit the soldiers' vehicle in the Arghandab Valley.


His father, Kevin Stanker, said he and Stanker's mother were on hand to receive their son's body at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Wednesday night. The family declined to comment further.


According to military records, Stanker's brigade was sent to Afghanistan in July. It was his first deployment since enlisting on Oct. 12, 2006, in Chicago.


Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton said Stanker was the first soldier from the community killed in Afghanistan.


"We're all saddened by his death, and the Evergreen Park community will be thinking and praying for his family," he said.


All the soldiers killed in Tuesday's explosion were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.











Just three weeks ago, Susan Stanker spoke to her 22-year-old son, Jared, for the first time since his July deployment to Afghanistan.


"He said, 'We need help over here. There aren't enough troops,'" she said Thursday evening. "I was so worried about him and he told me 'Don't watch the news, don't read the papers, don't focus on that, Mom. People come home.'"


However, Army Spc. Jared Stanker, a 2006 Brother Rice High School alum, was one of seven soldiers who died Tuesday in Arghandab Valley, Afghanistan, after enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device, according to the U.S. Defense Department.


The troops were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, out of Fort Lewis, Wash. It was Stanker's first deployment.


"He told me it was just so horrible for the women and children there. But they have a right to life, too," Susan Stanker said. "This is what he wanted to do. He believed in what he was doing."


He is survived by his parents and sister, Jordan Brandl, 29. The family recently sent out a box of goodies to mark Stanker's 22nd birthday on Oct. 13.


"He was there to help," his father, Kevin, said.


Stanker enlisted the day before his 18th birthday - while his mother was out of town and shortly after graduating from Brother Rice. He completed basic training in Fort Benning, Ga., and in March 2007 was assigned to the 5th Stryker Brigade.


Army Spc. Jared Stanker talks with his mother, Susan Stanker, during Jared’s graduation from basic training in Fort Benning, Ga., in March 2007.



All his life, Stanker was fascinated by the military and would spent hours watching films about war, his mother said.


"All that kid did when he was little was watch 'Kelly's Heroes' over and over and over, and that's a four-hour movie," she said.


Among his awards and decorations are the National Defense Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon.


"The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing," Stanker posted on a prominent spot of his Facebook page.


His girlfriend, Abbey Oman, maintained a Facebook page called Southside Supporting Troops, where she kept tabs on Stanker's unit, including how many were killed and wounded.


After she got word Tuesday of the explosion, she pleaded with him to contact her and posted, "If you see this, please CALL OUT baby!!!!! I love you!" on his Facebook wall.


Thursday evening, Oman stayed close to Stanker's mother as the two recalled his devotion to the military. Many of Oman and Jared Stanker's friends have died in uniform.


"We've lost all our friends (to war)," Oman said as she choked back tears on Thursday evening. "The only ones who are alive are on R&R, and they have to go back, too."


The couple knew each other their entire lives and hoped to marry someday, Susan Stanker said.


"It shatters everyone's dreams," she said.


Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton said Stanker is the first military casualty in Afghanistan for the village, which has about 20 to 25 soldiers overseas.


"Everybody here is praying for his family and for the rest of the troops out there keeping us safe," Sexton said.


On Tuesday, two separate bomb attacks in Southern Afghanistan killed eight American troops, making October the deadliest month for U.S. forces since the 2001 invasion.


Stanker was patrolling in an armored vehicle, U.S. forces spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Vician said. Six other American soldiers and an Afghan civilian were also killed in the attack.


The eighth American was killed Tuesday in a separate bombing elsewhere in the south, also while patrolling in a military vehicle, Vician said.


The military issued a statement saying the deaths occurred during "multiple, complex" bomb strikes. It said several troops were wounded and evacuated to a nearby medical facility but gave no other details.


Stanker and the other soldiers killed Tuesday were among 18 Americans whose remains were saluted by President Barack Obama during a dignified transfer ceremony early Thursday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.


The other 10, including three Drug Enforcement Administration agents, were killed Monday when a U.S. military helicopter crashed returning from a firefight with suspected Taliban drug traffickers in western Afghanistan.,103009soldier.article





from his Facebook page





Posted to the Jared Stanker forum of the PGR website:


Thank you to all in The Patriot Guard. I pass this along as Jared's Uncle Bob. (Bob1950) To everyone. Spc. Jared Stanker, killed in action is Afghanistan on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 is our nephew. He is my brother Kevin's son. He will certainly be missed. We all loved him very much. As you probably all know, President Obama was at the Dignified Transfer at Dover AFB in Delaware. I attended with Kevin. We met President Obama and received his condolences. Basically he passed from one family member to another - very dignified. I could not pass up a short, respectful conversation with the President. We supported Jared's efforts in Afghanistan and STILL DO. He should not die in vain. Here is a summary of that particular segment with President Obama:


President Obama attended the Dignified Transfer of Spc. Jared D. Stanker in the early morning hours of Thursday, October 29, 2009 at Dover AFB, Delaware. He personally and individually expressed his condolences and great appreciation for the service of each soldier coming home. As he approached Jared’s father, Kevin, and me, our military escort introduced Kevin to the President. The President extended his hand and shook Kevin’s hand and the President expressed the condolences and appreciation of a grateful country. Kevin and he then talked for a minute or two about Jared.


Kevin then turned towards me and introduced me to the President as Jared’s Uncle Bob. Once again the President extended his hand to shake my hand and he likewise expressed the condolences and appreciation of Jared’s sacrifice. I shook the President’s hand and simultaneously reached out with my left hand and took hold of his right forearm. I accepted and said thank you to the President for his expression of condolences. I continued to hold his hand in a handshake and continued holding his right forearm with my left hand for the following discussion. As I can best remember, this is what I said:


With all due respect, Mr. President, I feel that you should support our troops in Afghanistan now since YOU decided to send additional troops to Afghanistan in March of this year. If you feel that you cannot give them the support that they need, then I think you should withdraw all troops from Afghanistan NOW since you must feel that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness cannot be attained in that part of the world. President Obama responded by saying that we will always fight for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


At this point I felt that the President thought that the conversation was over. However, I continued holding his right hand and his right forearm. I responded with this simple question. “When will that decision be made?” President Obama responded by stating that “that decision will be made in the near future based on wise considerations.” I simply responded by stating “You’ve had ten months.” At which time I broke the handshake that I had maintained throughout this brief conversation and released his right forearm. Both of which I had maintained throughout this entire conversation. The President then went on to the next family.


I also heard a radio interview on WLS radio this morning. ABC had interviewed the mother of Sgt. Dale Griffin of Terre Haute, Indiana. The reporter asked Dona Griffin what if anything she said to the President. She said “Mr. President, please don’t leave our troops hanging.” See that brief interview at  We are not the silent masses. We do make our voices heard and we do support our troops. Bob Stanker


This is the President’s “Vietnam moment”.





from his Facebook page







A 2006 graduate of Brother Rice High School killed last week in Afghanistan will be honored Saturday with a funeral Mass in his hometown.


Army Spc. Jared Stanker, 22, died Tuesday after enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device, according to the U.S. Defense Department. The troops were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, out of Fort Lewis, Wash. Six other soldiers were killed, making October the deadliest month for coalition forces in Afghanistan in more than a year.


Stanker's visitation will be from 2 to 9 p.m. Friday at Blake-Lamb Funeral Home, 4727 W. 103rd St., Oak Lawn.


Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Queen of Martyrs Church, 10233 S. Central Park Ave., Evergreen Park. Burial will be in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.


Stanker spoke to his mother, Susan Stanker, by telephone three weeks before the attack. Stanker told his mother more troops were needed in Afghanistan. He left for his tour of duty in July.


He is survived by his parents and sister, Jordan Brandl, 29. The family recently sent out a box of goodies to mark Stanker's 22nd birthday on Oct. 13.


"He was there to help," said his father, Kevin.,110209soldier.article















As friends and family continue mourning the death of U.S. Army Spc. Jared D. Stanker, a neighborhood is rallying to show support for the fallen soldier.


Stanker, below, of Evergreen Park, was one of seven soldiers killed last week in Arghandab Valley, Afghanistan, after enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device.



His visitation will be from 2 to 9 p.m. Friday at Blake-Lamb Funeral Home, 4727 W. 103rd St., Oak Lawn.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Queen of Martyrs Church, 10233 S. Central Park Ave., Evergreen Park. Burial will be in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.


Oak Lawn Trustee Tom Phelan (6th) sent an alert to neighbors in his southeastern district encouraging residents to line the streets as the funeral procession passes. From Phelan's letter:


Let us ALL gather with at 9 am Saturday with our families, friends, and neighbors along 103rd Street between Cicero and Central Park. Bring your American Flags and wave them proudly. We live in the greatest country in the world because of men and women like Jared who are willing to give their lives for the continuing freedom of this country.


This would be a great way to show our support, and please remember to keep Jared, his family, and all our military personnel and veterans in your thought and prayers.





Friday:  “F H” on the map below marks the location of the Funeral Home, stage at 1300


Saturday:  “Ch” on the map below marks the location of the Church, stage at 0845









Arrival escort:



Escort from Midway home to Evergreen Park.

(3000 showing respect and 51 PGRiders.)


Jared’s remains were landed at Midway and were escorted to Evergreen Park.  He returned to his hometown about noon on a Thursday.  About 90 minutes later, a devout Muslim started shooting at unarmed soldiers in a crowded room on the Fort Hood army base.  He fired about 100 rounds, killing 12 soldiers and a civilian.  He shouted “Allahu Akbar!” as he fired.








from his Facebook page
















One week after 9/11 the Christian Science Monitor published:


On Sunday, September 16, 2001, Bush warned Americans that "this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take awhile." He and other US officials have said that renegade Islamic fundamentalist Osama bin Laden is the most likely suspect in the attacks.


His use of the word "crusade," said Soheib Bensheikh, Grand Mufti of the mosque in Marseille, France, "was most unfortunate", "It recalled the barbarous and unjust military operations against the Muslim world," by Christian knights, who launched repeated attempts to capture Jerusalem over the course of several hundred years.


Bush sought to calm American Muslims' fears of a backlash against them on Monday by appearing at an Islamic center in Washington. There he assured Americans that "the face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about."


I stopped at Jared’s high school on the way to staging.  Their team is called the Crusaders.  I wonder what the Grand Mufti thinks about that.



It was windy.  I had to hold onto the flagpole with both hands.



I was glad to meet Uncle Bob (see photo directly below (he is shown talking to me) and see comments “posted to the Jared Stanker forum of the PGR website” above) and he told me they had only 20 minutes of notice before they met the Commander-in-Chief, but that that was plenty of time to formulate his message.  He was quoted again in the story related to the photo of us, as was our Ride Captain, saying "Some vets, like myself, are still reeling from how we were treated when we returned some 30 years ago, others have their own reasons. The bottom line is, it's just the right thing to do."



photo from SouthtownStar



The 2nd ID insignia ia an Indian head inside a star.  Jared was 2nd Infantry Division.  So is Wally.  You can see the insignia on his cover.  He and his wife attend many PGR missions.  Wally was fighting in Korea before I was born.



Cindy is a Soldiers’ Angel and angelic generally.



Not as angelic, but Godly.



And then it got dark and I went home.














Before I returned I read in the paper where Fred, our Ride Captain, had said the day before, “Some vets, like myself, are still reeling from how we were treated when we returned some 30 years ago…”


I was to stage at the funeral home because Fred wanted the 5 by 8 flag on my bike to be part of the small escort.  Most of us would stage at the church.  So I stopped at the church to see what was there.  Fred was there.



Then this woman stopped to ask me questions.


It seems her husband was an active Marine for 31 years – another Korean War veteran.  She wanted to find a good location where he could stand as the funeral procession passed without having to walk far.  We conversed and she told me about the homecoming her family had returning from Vietnam.


These stories have become cliché.  I was recently told, “Well, that’s what they say.”  How do you respond to that?


She was holding her two year-old daughter when her daughter was spat upon.  She told me her daughter remembers the incident, while I’m not sure I even remember this nice woman’s name.



I hope she will correct me if I’m got her name wrong:


         Sorry about that homecoming, Mrs. Floyd.


         Thank you for your service COL Jerry Floyd.


Then I went on to the parking lot across 103rd from the funeral home.



Tim Haggarty was crossing 103rd with his two boys.



Anyone who is fixin’ to do some flag wavin’ is welcome among us.



This was the happy time.  We have not yet begun our somber work and we could still bask in the flags and the sun.



It was festive.  Bright and colorful.  The smile on the left belongs to a Cub Scout leader.  The smile on the right belongs to an army mom.



But, of course, we all knew why we had gathered.  When the time came, we would put on our game faces.



It was hard not to think about Jared.



I was walking back and forth, looking for photo opportunities.  I didn’t need a watch – the hearse was parked across the street.  When I saw activity there, I would know the time.


Bikes rolled past the funeral home, eastward toward the church.  One after another after another.  The PGRiders knew the spectacle we would create but the family probably did not.  That thought pleased me more and more as more bikes passed.







I was a Boy Scout 45 years ago, so when I became a Cub Scout leader one year ago I was glad to have that familiar khaki shirt again.  And for some reason I am glad to see it on other people.



…or whatever the uniform of the day would be.



As the bikes kept rolling in, so did the people keep walking in.



Most had probably purchased a flag of the occasion.



Some took the flag down from their home or flagpole.



Windy 103rd was awash with Old Glory.



Then two soldiers took places facing the funeral home doors.  Soon cops and PGRiders had crossed the street and lined-up behind them.



The police cars, the PGR bikes, Jared and the family paraded down 103rd.  The 4-lane street had been closed.  The many neighbors had lined both sides with their flags.  It was almost incongruous – a Fourth of July parade without the cheering.



As we approached the church, the crowd became more dense but just as quiet.  Then the procession moved between two columns of PGR bikes with the dismounted riders in salute and the neighbors crowding-in from behind.  It was made a wonderful feeling.





How did that one flag get so high up over the soldiers?



The pole was too short to rest on the ground so he did it the way Big Joe does it.



Get this kid some black leather.  Clearly he is one of us.



The army detail stood in front of the church waiting for the hearse.  The PGRiders formed two ranks facing the soldiers.



The Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts had the front positions along the walk to the doors of the church.



Marshmallows over a campfire were for another day.  This is exactly what these scouts should have been doing this morning.



Scouts have many flag ceremonies, but it is important for them to know that they are not just for kids.  It is important for them to realize that nearly every American adult knows the Pledge of Allegiance and takes it seriously.



And then Jared was moved inside, under the protection of the church.  Most of us remained outside, under the protection of the flag.



22 months before an IED in Afghanistan killed Jared and six other 17th Infantry Regiment soldiers, another IED in Afghanistan killed two 2nd Infantry Regiment soldiers.  SGT Joshua L. Rath’s aunt waited with the PGRiders outside the church during the funeral of Jared Stanker.  Both Josh and Jared saved lives.  They both understood that confronting Evil means that you must walk toward the fire.



Exactly one week after Jared’s funeral, we will bury Michael Pearson at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.  He is one of the 12 soldiers killed at Fort hood.  Five of the twelve claim hometowns within 130 miles of my home.  Francheska Velez is 30 miles south.  Russell Seager is 30 miles north.  Allahu akbar.


This is Police Chief Michael Saunders and Deputy Police Chief Dennis Odowd.  They are the guys who shoot back if Evil visits Evergreen Park, Illinois.



Five feet tall, Civilian Police Sergeant Kimberly Munley was wounded three times in the arm and legs and barely survived the blood loss.  She is the one who ended the Fort hood shooting.  “She walked up and engaged him.  If you act aggressively to take out a shooter, you will have less fatalities.”


So says Lieutenant General Robert Cone, base commander.  And apparently Sergeant Munley understood that.  Hours after the shooting she said that she wished she could have acted even faster and saved more lives.  Cops must be warriors at heart:  She didn’t wait for back-up.  She walked toward the gunfire and was struck repeatedly.  But she kept shooting until she was no longer being shot at.  And that is how she saved lives.


Kimberly Munley trained on “active shooter” scenarios after the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech University.  The Fort Hood shooter was a student there, so they both took inspiration from the 32 people executed that ugly April 16th.


The Catholic Church in Rantoul features a tribute to heroes that reads, “Memorial to all the men and women of this community who have laid down their lives for the love of their country.”  The monument at the Catholic Church in Evergreen Park reads, “In honor of all the police, fire and military personnel who serve, protect and defend God’s beloved people.”






The festive feeling did not return.  I usually go into the church during the service, at least for a while.  I didn’t this time.






And then we lined-up again.





Major General Scott West took this time to award a challenge coin to a 2nd ID soldier.  General West wears the 82nd insignia now but earlier in his career he held a staff position with the 2nd ID.



There is the Indian head on the star, same as on Wally’s cap.



And then the army brought Jared out of the church.  We traveled in procession the 5 miles to the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.  That again reminded me of the Rantoul mission 12 days earlier.  I was told that COL Rudzinski attended.  His son was 28, 6 years older than Jared.


We formed our Circle of Comfort.  The army performed.




The institution of the USA was represented by General West; the humanity of our army was represented by the soldiers of the Honor Guard who were the same age a Jared.  And Josh Rath.  And Chris Rudzinski.









Staff Sergeant Matt Frederick rendered Taps slowly and beautifully.  With so many WWII guys dying each day, the army authorized use of a player that looks like a bugle.  You just switch it on and then pretend.  (Be sure to check the batteries ahead of time.)


Infantrymen are not button-pushers.  Infantrymen throw their whole selves into their work.  Infantrymen have earned true buglers.  It is a shame there are not enough Matt Fredericks to go around.



And then it was done.  Jared had given his last full measure of devotion.  His army, his church and his neighbors had honored him.  The Circle of Comfort melted away.  A few of us indulged in the great pleasure of shaking a few soldier’s hands.



General West had been everywhere these two days.  His eyes were constantly alert.  If a thought crossed your mind, he read it in your face from across the room and came over to ask you about it.



So I watched him as he slowly moved toward his car.



The soldiers who walk toward the fire are ordered forward by men like Scott West.  It is absolutely necessary that such officers be devoted to their country and their culture.  They must be compassionate and still decisive.  And they must be moral.



To lead fine men they must be fine men.  And they must be leaders.



The current rumor is that the Commander-in-Chief will increase our troop level in Afghanistan by 34 thousand.  The increase will begin next Spring but will not be fulfilled for a year.  I don’t know if that is good or bad – time will tell.  I do know that more will die and I have confidence that our fine army will spend those lives wisely.



I left the big flag up for the trip home, as I do.  I took Cicero.  I stopped at Midway Airport for this image.  Today they were half-staffed for Jared.



Tomorrow and through Veterans Day they would remain at half-staff for the Fort Hood dead.










photography:       visit


















Two U.S. Secret Service armored vehicles used to protect Vice President Biden struck and killed a pedestrian in Temple Hills early Wednesday morning, authorities said.


The vehicles were traveling together from Andrews Air Force Base at about 2:30 a.m. when the pedestrian was hit at the intersection of Suitland Parkway and Naylor Road in Temple Hills, U.S. Park Police said.


The drivers stayed on the scene and rendered first aid until police and rescue officials arrived, said Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan.


The pedestrian, an adult male, was transported to Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly with multiple critical injuries, police said. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.


The armored sport utility vehicle and limousine were occupied only by Secret Service employees and were not carrying the vice president or any other dignitaries, said Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan.


The vehicles, part of a fleet used to protect the vice president, were used to whisk Biden during his trip to Fort Lewis, Wash., and were heading back to a garage at the time of the incident. The armored cars were transported to and from Fort Lewis on military planes. The vice president was there to speak at a memorial service Tuesday for seven soldiers who were killed Oct. 27 in Afghanistan when their vehicle exploded after being struck by an improvised explosive device.


Biden returned to Andrews much earlier and was already at his residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington at the time of the incident, Donovan said.


Police have not released the pedestrian's identity pending notification of family. Park Police were still investigating the incident and had not determined a cause.







Second Footnote:





On New Year’s Eve, Michael Yon reports from the 1/17 IR that Jared is remembered:







Third Footnote:


Seven months later, another Brother Rice graduate and fellow soldier would die just a seven-mile drive away.  Thomas Wortham preceded Jared in school by 8 years.