QUANTICO, Va. — More than 650 people overflowed the U.S. Marine Memorial Chapel here Jan. 7 to mourn the loss and remember the lives of the six Airmen killed by a suicide bomber near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on Dec. 21.
The four Air Force Office of Special Investigations special agents and two security forces defenders were fatally wounded when their joint patrol was attacked by a bomber riding a motorcycle.
Brig. Gen. Keith M. Givens, the OSI commander called it “our command’s darkest day.”
During the memorial service, each of the fallen were eulogized by Givens for their bravery, patriotism and selfless sacrifice in supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
“What gives someone the courage to leave the confines of a defended base, travel into uncertain territory, understanding terrorists like the Taliban are lurking and dismount their armored vehicles to engage the population in order to find those terrorists intent on killing fellow Americans?” the general asked the chapel gathering.
Givens said the answer lies in the armed forces’ Code of Conduct. Its first article states, “I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.”
“To live under this code it takes a special person, a special American,” the commander said. “They lived under this code accepting their life was worth sacrificing for others … there is no greater calling.”
The OSI agents killed in the attack were:
• Special Agent Adrianna M. Vorderbruggen, 36, of Plymouth, Minnesota. She was assigned to the Air Force OSI, 9th Field Investigations Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
• Special Agent Michael A. Cinco, 28, of Mercedes, Texas. He was assigned to the Air Force OSI, 11th Field Investigations Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio, Randolph, Texas.
• Special Agent Peter W. Taub, 30, of Philadelphia. He was assigned to the Air Force OSI, Detachment 816 at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.
• Special Agent Chester J. McBride, 30, of Statesboro, Georgia. He was assigned to the Air Force OSI, Detachment 405 at Maxwell AFB, Alabama.
The agents will be permanently remembered in the Headquarters OSI Hall of Heroes here. The total number of OSI fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in the 67-year history of the command is now 14.
The two security forces defenders killed in the attack were:
• Tech. Sgt. Joseph G. Lemm, 45, of the Bronx, New York. He was assigned to the 105th Security Forces Squadron at Stewart Air National Guard Base, New York.
• Staff Sgt. Louis M. Bonacasa, 31, of Coram, New York. He was assigned to the 105th SFS, Stewart ANGB.
The pair served alongside the special agents at Bagram Airfield, supporting missions outside the wire.
For their ultimate sacrifice, they were named honorary OSI special agents by OSI senior leadership. It marked the first time active-duty security forces or Air National Guard brethren were bestowed that title. They will also be given a permanent tribute in the OSI Hall of Heroes.
Among the many distinguished visitors attending the memorial Givens introduced one in particular to be recognized.
“Three other team members were significantly wounded in action (on Dec. 21). They came home and are still with us,” he said. “One of those wounded heroes is with us today, Special Agent John Jackson.”
Jackson received a standing ovation.
The Marine Memorial Chapel service was part of the healing process for OSI headquarters personnel. Many knew the fallen. One of its members, retired Special Agent Richard Miller, delivered highlights from each fallen hero’s military career.
Givens concluded the eulogy by saying each fallen hero, “lived a life that mattered. Many warriors have said over time what is done in life, echoes in eternity. Their service will echo in eternity.”