Charles Kirby Wilcox Honorees

ckwEach year, we at the Northeast Ohio Foundation for Patriotism call attention and honor to a patriot who has given the ultimate sacrifice.

Our annual award is named for a man who gave his life for country not long after his only son was born. Charles Kirby Wilcox, whom many knew simply as Kirby, was fiercely patriotic. He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and upon graduation, married his high school sweetheart, Linda, and moved with her to Germany. But Germany was not where he should be in 1967, Kirby believed, and so he volunteered to go to Vietnam, even after several of his good friends had died there. “He was a focused man,” his widow, Linda Lindsay, said during an interview in February 2012. “He believed in his country. He was very dedicated.”

Their son, Curt, was six months old when in January 1968 military personnel knocked on the door of Linda’s parents’ house, where she was living. Nothing could have prepared her for this devastation: After only two weeks on the new job, Kirby had been killed Jan. 9, 1968, by an enemy grenade while leading his company on a search and destroy mission near Bong San.

Curt Wilcox Lindsay is 45 today. He was raised by his mother’s second husband, but learned at the age of seven that his biological father died in war. In recent years, he’s talked to dozens of people in a quest to know Kirby better.

“The fact that he begged his commanding officer to let him lead a troop through the jungle, he didn’t have to do that,” Curt said in a recent interview. “To me, that just adds to the demonstration of his belief in patriotism.”

Kirby would have been honored and humbled to have NEOPAT’s annual award named for him, Linda and Curt believe. Linda, too, feels honored.

“For those of us who have lost someone that we love … this is a recognition that they gave their life,” she said. “It’s a recognition that we went on and lived without them.”

“Of course, he’s a hero to me,” Linda added. “There were a lot of heroes in that war that were never even noticed. To single out Kirby for an award, I just think he would say that it’s not necessary because there were too many other heroes in that war and in every war.”

“But I understand you can’t recognize them all.” That may be true, but this year and into the future, NEOPAT aims to recognize as many of America’s heroes as it can, one by one.

This year, we are honoring U.S. Army Spc. Adam S. Hamilton, 22, of Kent, Ohio.

Our Honorees

    2017 Christopher R. Thibodeau

    Presented to the family of Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christopher R. Thibodeau
    October 3, 1982 - May 26, 2011

    Army Chief Warrant Officer 2, Christopher R. Thibodeau, 28, of Chesterland, was killed on May 26, 2011 in Naka Bowl, Paktika province, Afghanistan from injuries sustained when his helicopter crashed during combat operations. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, in Fort Hood, Texas.

    Christopher was born on October 3, 1982, to Bob and Doreen Thibodeau. He was born in Massachusetts, but grew up in Marlborough, New Hampshire. It was Chris’ dream to play for the Boston Red Sox, until he saw the Blue Angels, and his dream was replaced with his desire to fly. Chris thought his dream would never come true when he found out he would need glasses, until he learned that the U.S. Army accepted pilots who received Lasik eye surgery.

    Chris lived in New Hampshire until he was a sophomore in Keene High School. His family moved to Chesterland, Ohio, where Chris graduated from West Geauga High School in 2000. After high school, Chris attended Case Western Reserve University and graduated with a degree in political science and a minor in sociology in 2004.

    Chris joined the Reserves and attended boot camp in 2002 and traveled to Egypt in 2003. His graduation present from his family was Lasik eye surgery, giving him perfect eyesight for flying.

    Chris enjoyed sports, spending time with his dogs, brewing beer, woodworking, camping and hiking. Serving in the U.S. Army was one of his favorite parts of life. After the attack on 9/11, Chris was inspired to fight to make sure the war would not touch foot on our home soil. in 2009 Chris graduated from flight school as an Apache helicopter pilot and moved to Fort Hood, Texas.

    Chris lived to make every moment special for his “one true love,” LeeSandra, who he married on June 12, 2010. He took his bride on their honeymoon in Mexico after a 9-month deployment. Chris and LeeSandra loved being outdoors and were often accompanied by their dogs, Nolan and Moony.

    On May 26, 2011, Chris was killed in a helicopter crash while serving in Operation: Enduring Freedom. He is survived by his parents, Bob and Doreen Thibodeau, siblings Nicole and Michael, his wife LeeSandra, and his son Liam Christopher, whom Chris never got the chance to meet.

    Chris’ mother described Chris as “friendly, loving and caring,” and his wife described him as “the definition of true love, goofy, and a true best friend.”

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    2016 David A. Mendez Ruiz

    Presented to the family of LCpl. David A. Mendez Ruiz
    May 26, 1985 - November 12, 2005

    LCpl. David Alberto Mendez Ruiz was born on May 26, 1985 in Guatemala City, Guatemala to Maximiliano and Miriam Mendez.

    The youngest of nine children, David immigrated to the United States in 1991, at the age of six. His family originally lived in New Jersey where he attended Oliver Street School; and, in the summer of 1992, moved to Cleveland, Ohio. As a six year-old boy, he was captivated by Marine Corps television commercials. David would even say, “I will be one of them some day.”

    As a junior in high school at Greater Cleveland Christian Schools, he took it upon himself to contact a recruiter from the U.S. Marine Corps and sure enough, a Sgt. Smith answered his inquiry and helped him achieve his dream.

    David joined the Delayed Entry Program, which involved committing to training on weekends and keeping up with good grades and behavior for an entire year. He kept his commitment without fail and graduated from Greater Cleveland Christian Schools in 2003. On June 30, 2003, David was on his way to Parris Island, South Carolina to begin his training to become a United States Marine and fulfill his childhood dream.

    On September 26, 2003, David graduated and earned the title he had desired since he was six. David continued training at the School of Infantry and in early 2004 he was deployed to Iraq for the first time. That deployment lasted lasted nine months, and David returned home for the holidays.

    He began training at 29 Palms in January 2005 in preparation for a second deployment. David left once more for Iraq on July 4, 2005.

    On November 12, 2005, David was killed by an IED in Fallujah. David was brought home and buried at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, Ohio. He is survived by his father, Maximiliano, his mother Miriam, his siblings Sandra, Byron, Laura, Mynor, Miriam, Edgar, and Nydia, sixteen nephews and two great nephews. He was preceded in death by his sister Brenda.

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    2015 Adam S. Hamilton

    Presented to family of U.S. Army Specialist Adam S. Hamilton
    January 21, 1989 - May 28, 2011

    U.S. Army Specialist Adam S. Hamilton was born on January 21, 1989 and graduated from high school in 2007 from Theodore Roosevelt in Kent, Ohio. 

    Adam grew up loving sports and was a gifted athlete.  He was a four year starter in lacrosse & hockey.  Adam holds Kent Roosevelt’s career scoring record in hockey with over 100 goals.

    In Lacrosse, Adam led the State of Ohio and set a school record for assists and was named the Offensive Player of the Year in Northeast Ohio his Senior year.   In his sophomore year, he led Roosevelt to the State Championship game.  In Adam’s senior year, he decided to join the football team where he was named an All PTC Conference Tight End.  Adam was best known for his leadership, determination and heart and was greatly respected by coaches and players from both his team as well as his opponents.  

    It was only fitting that Adam joined the Army shortly after graduation, because he wanted and loved being part of a team.

    “He enjoyed camaraderie,” his mother, Nancy Krestan, said. “He wanted to do something that would make him feel like he was doing something for others.”

    Adam enlisted in the Army as a 19D (Calvary Scout) and attended Basic Training and Military Occupation Specialty School at Fort Knox, Kentucky. His military assignments include Alpha Troop, 4th Squadron, 4th Calvary, Fort Riley, Kansas; and, Delta Troop, 5th Battalion, 15th Calvary Fort Knox, Kentucky. SPC Hamilton deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Adam was killed at the age of 22 on May 28, 2011 in Haji Ruf Afghanistan from injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device (IED) after his unit was attacked on a night mission. He was assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. Adam was a top marksman in his unit, assigned to sniper.

    In words read from a letter during Adam’s funeral, he spoke of being in a better place and told his mourners to gaze up at the sky when they go out at night — because he’d be the brightest star, “looking down on you.”

    “Stay well, my friends,” he concluded. “Until we meet again, I’ll see you in the stars.”

    Specialist Hamilton’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan (ISS), the Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, and the Combat Action Badge.

    On a trip home during Christmas before going to Afghanistan, Adam visited the locker room of the Kent Roosevelt hockey team to speak to the players before a game. Adam delivered an unforgettable speech, as recounted by his coaches and friends:

    “One thing you have to always remember is you are all a family. Every time you put on that jersey you look out for one another. Great teams are structured with great relationships on the ice, on the bench, and in the locker room. Life moves by fast, men, but one thing you will always have are the brothers next to you.”

    Adam looked at his unit as his family and every time he put on his uniform he looked out for his country as his family. He truly did live by his words. To Adam, “family” was his most important “mission.”

    Adam is survived by his father J. Scott Hamilton of Kent and mother Nancy Daczko-Krestan of Mantua; step-mother Connie Hamilton; his two sisters Shawney and Taya; and his two brothers, Brandon Hamilton and Nicholas Krestan.

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    2014 Brad Davis

    Presented to the family of Corporal Brad Anthony Davis
    December 30, 1987 - April 22, 2009

    Corporal Brad Anthony Davis was born on December 30, 1987 in Garfield Heights, Ohio. In August of 2006, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and attended Basic Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He graduated in November of 2006 and was assigned to Alpha Company, 58th Transportation Battalion, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri where he completed advanced individual training (AIT). In March of 2007, he was assigned to Fox Company, 82nd Brigade Support Battalion, attached to 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment that was forward deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    Upon arrival, Corporal Davis was assigned as a driver and conducted countless logistical patrols in the Salah ad Din province. In December of 2008, Task Force 2 Panther was called upon again to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While serving as a gunner with Fox Company, 82nd BSB, Corporal Davis distinguished himself in multiple Battalion, Company and Platoon Combat logistical patrols.

    Brad was killed during a combat logistical patrol on April 22, 2009. Corporal Davis’ awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal (1 Oak Leaf Cluster), the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Parachutist Badge and the Combat Action Badge.

    He is survived by his mother, Theresa Davis, of Garfield Heights, Ohio and his father, Robert Davis, of Strongsville, Ohio.

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    2013 Daniel Patron

    Presented to family of Sergeant Daniel James Patron
    April 30, 1985 – August 6, 2011

    Son. Husband. Brother. Uncle. Hero. Sgt. Daniel James Patron, USMC understood the concepts of honor and duty as he modeled them in every facet of his life.

    Dan was born in Canton, Ohio on April 30, 1985, the 10th anniversary of the end of the war in Vietnam. He was the second of two sons born to Frank and Kathleen Patron. Daniel graduated with the Perry High School class of 2003, where he was the star of his high school musical and excelled as a drummer in the marching band. Dan began his career in the United State Marine Corps immediately following graduation.

    Dan completed recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island in October 2003; he completed his Marine Combat Training (MCT in November of 2003 and proceeded to check into The School of Music (MCT) in Norfolk, Virginia. Dan completed SOM in May 2004, and he joined the Second Marine Aircraft Wing Band, Cherry Point, NC, where he traveled and performed as a drummer in the Marine Corps band.

    In May 2005 Dan volunteered to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; he deployed with the 2nd LAAD. When Dan arrived home from his first deployment, he submitted a Lateral Move package into Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), and he attended the Naval School/Explosive Ordnance Disposal at Eglin AFB in Florida. In February 2008, Dan graduated EOD School and shortly thereafter reported to the Second Marine Logistic Group, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

    In July 2008, Dan was attached to 1st Battalion 4th Marines where he deployed again, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In April 2011 Dan voluntarily deployed a third time with 4th Platoon, 2nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. On August 6, 2011, Dan was killed in action while conducting combat operations in Sangin, Afghanistan in the Helmand Province. Dan was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star with Valor. In addition to his parents, Dan is survived by his wife Cody, his brother and sister-in-law Matt and Meagan, his niece, Mia, and his nephew, Daniel James Patron II. Danny will forever be remembered for his dazzling smile and his quirky sense of humor; He is the hero of our hearts.

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    2012 Joseph Andres Jr.

    Presented to the family of Master Sergeant Joseph J. Andres Jr
    April 5, 1971 – December 24, 2005

    Joe was raised in Seven Hills as the only son of Joseph and Sandra Andres’ six children. While attending St. Columbkille Elementary School, Padua Franciscan High School, and the University of Cincinnati, he participated in many activities. He played the drums in Padua’s concert band and Cincinnati’s marching band and also wrestled for Padua and was a member of their riffle club. Joe also enjoyed skateboarding, and later, snowboarding. While at Cincinnati, he joined crew.

    After he joined the Army, he started playing rugby. Joe loved to spend his down time with friends and family at his family’s cottage on Put-in-Bay. During these years he developed the strength of character that would lay the foundation for his impressive military career. He set his sights on an elite group within the Army and through hard work and determination was able to realize his goal and become one of “The Best of the Best”.

    Master Sergeant Andres’ awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the 3rd Award of the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary and Service Medals, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral Three, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Special Forces Tab, the Ranger Tab, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge, Expert Field Medic Badge, the Military Freefall Badge, the Parachutist Badge, and the Driver and Mechanics Badge. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device and the Purple Heart, and the United States Army First Special Forces Group dedicated a building in his name at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Washington State on August 26, 2011.

    Master Sergeant Joseph J. Andres Jr. was killed in action on Christmas Eve, while participating in combat operations in Iraq, fighting for a cause he believed in, and protecting our freedoms.

    One of the previous scholarship winners summed it up perfectly. He wrote in his winning essay, “Master Sergeant Andres gave his life to keep us safe and free, but he will only be truly dead when he is forgotten…I know that through the hearts of all those who were honored to know such a great man, and all those who hear about him, he shall live forever. The American spirit lives on in his memory and in the members of our communities and in all of us. We can show it every day, in everything we do.”

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    2011 Brad Squires

    Presented to the family of Corporal Brad Squires
    February 21, 1979 – June 9, 2005

    Cpl. Brad Squires was born in Parma Heights, Ohio on February 21, 1979. He began life in Strongsville and grew up in Middleburg Hts., Ohio. He was fun loving, always looking for a way to keep smiles on everyone’s face and always looking for an adventure. Anyone that met Brad had their day brightened and their life was enriched because they were guaranteed a smile.

    He graduated in 1997 from Berea High School and accomplished many goals in his life. He joined the Marines in 1999 and spent his 21st birthday on Parris Island in Marine Boot Camp. He served as an active reservist out of Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Akron, Ohio.

    In 2004 Brad aspired to become a firefighter. He began taking classes at Lorain County Community College. In November, 2004 he married Julie (Brandyberry) Squires.

    He was deployed to 29 Palms, CA in January, 2005 where he went through extensive training. In February, 2005 his Marine infantry division was sent to Al Anbar Providence, Iraq, where he served four months with his battalion. Throughout the many farewell events and the going away parties, Brad always seemed to hold up strong and kept that smile on his face, he showed the world how proud he was of himself. Brad excelled in being a Marine in every way possible and had received the following awards: Purple Heart, Expert Marksmanship Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Global Award on Terrorism Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Navy Achievement Award, Certificate of Commendation and the Certificate of Excellent Performance.

    Brad gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to his country when he was killed in action June 9, 2005 after his vehicle hit an explosive device while conducting operations near Haqlaniyah, Iraq. Brad lived life, loved life and regretted nothing. Brad’s priorities in life were his love for his family, his love of our country, his commitment to the Marine Corp. and his mission at hand. Brad is the beloved husband of Julie; loving son of Donna Squires and Bruce Squires; brother of Chad (Sharon) Squires and Jodie (Mike) Bogdan; uncle of Chad and Cassidy Squires and Alexis Bogdan; nephew, cousin, and friend to many, and an American hero to all who have heard his story.

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