Islanders in service
Our Nation observed Veterans Day on Tuesday, a day set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military, in wartime or peacetime.
As part of The Martha's Vineyard Times continuing coverage of the Vineyard's active duty service men and women, we invited family members and friends to provide an update on their whereabouts for the community:
BM1 Jordan E. Baptiste, U.S. Coast Guard
Boatswain's Mate Baptiste currently is deployed in the Eastern Pacific Ocean onboard the USCGC Bertholf on its first operational patrol since being commissioned last August as the nation's first national security cutter. The Bertholf is part of the Coast Guard's Deepwater modernization program, which ties into the Rescue 21 system that utilizes radio towers such as the one that will be installed on Peaked Hill in Chilmark. Petty Officer Baptiste is the lead training petty officer onboard the Bertholf responsible for the training and qualification of sailors in law enforcement and small boat operations. He grew up in Vineyard Haven and graduated from Martha's Vineyard Regional High School.
Photo courtesy of Lt. Berry
Lt. Mason Berry, U.S. Navy
Lieutenant Berry, a 2004 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, is stationed in Kuwait as the tactical officer for the 2515th Naval Air Ambulance Detachment (NAAD). As the only Navy detachment serving in support of operations for the ground services in Iraq, the NAAD's unique mission is to provide continuous medical evacuation coverage for Kuwait, southern Iraq, and the Northern Arabian Gulf to help relieve the burden on U.S. Army medevac crews. Lt. Berry pilots an MH-60S helicopter used in medevac missions on both land and sea. The lieutenant is the son of Peyton and Andrew Berry of Vineyard Haven.
Sgt. Travis Bissey, U.S. Army
Sergeant Bissey of Vineyard Haven was deployed for a second tour in Iraq last April as a member of the Massachusetts National Guard, and shipped out in June with his long-time friend, Sgt. Jared Meader, also of Vineyard Haven. Sergeant Bissey currently is carrying out support missions for public safety in Iraqi towns. He and Sgt. Meader met while serving in the Marine Corps together and he moved to the Vineyard after getting out of the Marines. The two of them signed up for the Guard at the same time and were deployed together to Iraq in 2004 for 14 months. They both will be home on leave for Thanksgiving on Martha's Vineyard.
Staff Sgt. Michael Blake, U.S. Army
Sergeant Blake started his third tour of 15 months in Iraq last February, assigned with an infantry division of the U.S. Army's 1st Brigade Combat Team, Multi-National Division in Baghdad. On March 25, he was traveling as a scout section sergeant in a convoy bound for port operations in Kuwait, and helped save a critically injured U.S. Army civilian contractor involved in a head-on collision on a main supply route in the Udairi Desert.
Spc. Justin P. Cusick, U.S. Army
Specialist Cusick, a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), completed a one-year tour in Kuwait as a member of a transportation terminal battalion and returned to Fort Bragg, N.C., last June. Since then, he completed his commitment to the Army and has joined the U.S. Air Force to pursue his interest in intelligence work.
Photo by New Bedford Police Department Marine Unit
Sgt. 1st Class Kevin M. Devine, U.S. Army
Sgt. Devine, stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y., will be deployed for a year-long tour in Afghanistan after Christmas. He grew up on Martha's Vineyard and began his 16-year military career after graduating from Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. Island family members include his sister Stephanie Devine, mother Wendy Oliver, and aunt Janet King. His dad, Herbie Devine, lives in Randolph. Sgt. Devine and his wife Tabitha have four children, two daughters aged 19 and 4, two sons, 16, 14, and a one-year-old grandson.
1st Lt. James Hagerty, U.S. Marine Corps
Lt. Hagerty, an Infantry Platoon Commander, is on his second tour of duty in Iraq for a year. He grew up in Edgartown and graduated from Martha's Vineyard Regional High School in 2001. Lt. Hagerty joined the Marines and attended Officers Candidate School after graduating with highest honors from Northeastern University. He is the son of Barry Nevin of Edgartown and Robert Hagerty of Vineyard Haven.
Cpl. Duncan MacMullen, U.S. Marine Corps
Corporal MacMullen is stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he serves in a maintenance battalion performing engine diagnostics. From February to September 2007 he was deployed to Camp Al Taqaddum (also known as "Camp TQ" by military personnel) in Iraq, located approximately 46 miles west of Baghdad. A 2004 Martha's Vineyard Regional High School graduate, Cpl. MacMullen is the son of Nancy MacMullen, who owns the Cobbler Shop in Oak Bluffs.
Staff Sgt. Jared A. Meader, U.S. Army
Sergeant Meader of Vineyard Haven shipped out to Iraq last June, deployed as a member of the Massachusetts National Guard along with his friend, Sergeant Bissey. During Sergeant Meader's first 14-month deployment starting in March 2003, he served in a water purification unit in Iraq in Ramadi for nine months, and then went to Habinyah where he was in charge of a site. He currently is assigned to a support battalion as part of a military transition team working with Iraqi soldiers and also in the communities. As a civilian, he works as a Deputy Sheriff with the rank of sergeant in the Dukes County Jail and House of Correction. His wife Julie and their three children are counting the days until he comes home on leave for Thanksgiving.
Lt. Col. Andre L. Mercier, U.S. Marine Corps
Colonel Mercier grew up in Edgartown and graduated from Martha's Vineyard Regional High School in 1985. He joined the Marine Corps after graduating from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He has served for more than 18 years as a navigator and flew in the EA-6B "Prowler." His tours of duty included service in Afghanistan and Bosnia. Currently Colonel Mercier is working in Crystal City, Va., on a multi-service project to build the Joint Strike Fighter for the Marines, Navy, and Air Force.
FN Ryan D. Rossi, U.S. Coast Guard
Fireman (FN) Ryan Rossi continues to serve aboard the USCGC Morgenthau, a 378-foot high endurance cutter, at its homeport in Alameda, Calif. FN Rossi returned back to the States in September after a five-month deployment aboard the Morgenthau to Southeast Asia, where the ship's mission was to provide law enforcement and search and rescue training to six countries - the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. FN Rossi, a 2006 Martha's Vineyard Regional High School graduate, is the son of Daniel and Jane Rossi of West Tisbury.
Lance Cpl. Anthony M. Sullo, U.S. Marine Corps
Corporal Sullo is stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. An infantry squad leader, recently he has been in Virginia training in preparation for a 9- to 10-month deployment to Afghanistan in February 2009. Last May he finished a seven-month tour in Kuwait where he patrolled along the Iraq/Syrian border. Corporal Sullo is a 2006 graduate of Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. He will be home on leave for Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to his father, Peter Sullo, co-owner of Rocco's Family Style Italian Restaurant in Tisbury Marketplace.