Islanders in Service
As part of The 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, ALEC/Boat Crew TPO, USCGC Bertholf
Boatswain's Mate Baptiste, who grew up in Vineyard Haven and graduated from Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS), is stationed in Alameda, Calif., as part of a pre-commissioning crew aboard the Cutter Bertholf, the largest cutter being built as part of a fleet upgrade. As the advanced law enforcement competency instructor, Boatswain's Mate Baptiste is responsible for training the entire crew in law enforcement operations. He also serves as the small boat training petty officer, responsible for training, operation, and navigation of all small boats attached to the Bertholf. In January 2008 he and the Bertholf crew will move to Pascagoula, Miss., for training to prepare for the ship's delivery, followed by a public relations patrol en route to the ship's home port in Alameda, Calif.
Specialist J.N. Christopher Brown, U. S. Army (National Guard)
Specialist Brown arrived home on the Vineyard on Tuesday, after an 18-month tour of duty with the A Company 1-181 IN/TF Red Dragon in Kosovo on a peacekeeping mission with United Nations' forces. A 2003 MVRHS graduate, he plans to enjoy some time at home in Oak Bluffs before resuming his studies in criminal justice at Westfield State University in January.
Specialist Daniel Blake II, U.S. Army, 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry, 82nd Airborne Division
Specialist Blake grew up in Oak Bluffs and graduated from MVRHS. Last month in Afghanistan he was injured when a rocket-propelled grenade struck a vehicle in a convoy he was riding in. He was transported and treated at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Tex., where he is currently undergoing outpatient treatment. A collection box for cards is located at the Boys and Girls Club off Robinson Road in Edgartown. A fund has been set up at the Bank of Martha's Vineyard. Checks should be made out to Mallory Fauteux FBO Daniel Blake and mailed to the Bank of MV, P.O. Box 1226, Edgartown, MA 02539 or to Mallory Fauteux, P.O. Box 2074, Edgartown.
Staff Sergeant Michael Blake, U.S. Army, 7th Squadron 10th U.S. Cavalry, 4th Infantry Division
Sergeant Blake, the brother of Spec. Daniel Blake, graduated from MVRHS in 1996. He has served two tours of duty in Iraq and will be returning for a third in December.
Corporal Christopher Leigh Clark, USMC, MWSS 372 C Co., Unit 42020
Corporal Clark, the son of Richard Clark and Nancy Gardella of Vineyard Haven, is stationed in Iraq. He joined the USMC in 2003 after graduating from MVRHS and has been trained as a military police officer. He is taking college courses online from Iraq at Park University. His wife, Cpl. Librada "Lilly" Garza Clark, and two sons, Corbyn Garza, 3, and Dominic Leigh Clark, 9 months, are living in Rockford, Ill., during his deployment. Ms. Gardella said Chris sends thanks to all Islanders, family, and friends who have remembered him and the troops.
Staff Sgt. Howard Ditson, USMC, Recruiting Station, Seattle, Kent, Wash.
Sergeant Ditson currently serves in recruiting and also is affiliated with the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 41. The son of Margaret and Randy Ditson of Oak Bluffs, Sergeant Ditson graduated from MVRHS in 1994 and has served in the Marine Corps for 13 years. In 2005 he was stationed in Iraq for 10 months at Al Asad Airbase working on helicopters and airplanes. His wife, Capt. Jessica Ditson, USAF, works in administration for the 313 Airlift Squadron at McChord AFB, Tacoma, Wash. They have a two-and-a-half-year-old son, Sean Alexander.
Staff Sgt. Randy Dull, U.S. Army, B Company Z-23 INF
Sergeant Dull grew up on the Island and graduated from MVRHS in 2000. After serving a tour in Kosovo, he is now on his second tour of duty in Iraq with an Army infantry branch. Although injured twice in wartime service, once in a Hummer hit by a roadside bomb, he made a good recovery. Sergeant Dull's sister Jeanette Andrews said he is scheduled to come home to the Island on leave very soon.
2nd Lt. James Hagerty, USMC
Lieutenant Hagerty, a Marine Corps infantry officer, recently returned home to the Island after a seven-month deployment to Iraq as a rifle platoon commander.
Capt. Ron MacLaren, U.S. Naval Reserves
Captain MacLaren, the Wampanoag health director for past two years, is serving as the Commander of the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group Forward GOLF to assist the U.S. Army in a shore-type mission to provide customs and cargo handling in Kuwait. He expects to return home on May 15.
Cpl. Duncan MacMullen, USMC
Corporal MacMullen, a 2004 MVRHS graduate who grew up in Oak Bluffs, returned in September from Iraq. He was deployed last February to Camp Al Taqaddum, located approximately 46 miles west of Baghdad. After a brief visit home with his mother Nancy, who owns the Cobbler Shop in Oak Bluffs, and other relatives on the Island, Corporal MacMullen returned to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he resumed his duties as a mechanic in the General Service Maintenance Platoon, 2nd Maintenance Battalion, (-) (Reinforced).
Lance Corporal Owen Mercer, USMC, 1st FAST 3rd PLT
Corporal Mercer grew up in Vineyard Haven and graduated from MVRHS in 2005. Currently he is stationed at United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, training with a Marine Corps Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team (FAST) and available to deploy on short notice.
Lt. Col. Andre L. Mercier, USMC
Colonel Mercier grew up in Edgartown and graduated from MVRHS in 1985. He joined the Marine Corps after graduating from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He has served for 18 years as a navigator and flew in the EA-6B, the "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.
Sgt. Richard Monaco, U.S. Army, 448th CA Battalion, Fort Lewis, Wash.
Sergeant Monaco, a reservist for more than 27 years who works for Tisbury's department of public works, was deployed to Kuwait this week to work in civil affairs. He also spent a year in Iraq from 2005 to 2006 with a Massachusetts-based reserve unit in the 220th Transportation Company stationed at Balad Airbase, and Al Asad Airbase. His wife Muriel, who works at Martha's Vineyard Hospital, said her husband is scheduled to return in September or October 2008.
Seaman Apprentice Ryan D. Rossi, USCG
Seaman Rossi grew up in Chilmark and West Tisbury, and graduated from MVRHS in 2005. After working at Menemsha harbor for three summers, he became interested in the Coast Guard. He joined up after attending UMass-Dartmouth for one year. Seaman Rossi graduated on Oct. 26 from eight weeks of boot camp in Cape May, N.J., and will be stationed in Alameda, Calif., aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau, a 378-foot high-endurance cutter.
Lance Corporal Anthony Michael Sullo, USMC, 32 Lima Co 1st PLT, Unit 73110
Corporal Sullo, a 2006 graduate of MVRHS, has been deployed to patrol along the Iraq/Syrian border.
Sgt. Christopher Willis, U.S. Army, 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry, B Company
Sergeant Willis grew up in Oak Bluffs and graduated from MVRHS in 1998. He joined the Massachusetts Army National Guard prior to enrolling in college, and was called up in 2002 to serve as a military policeman (MP) in Afghanistan for a year. In July he was deployed to Iraq with an Army National Guard unit out of Cambridge to serve in the Baghdad area for 400 days.
Other active-duty Island military personnel currently serving in Iraq include PV2 Jared Wardell, HHC 2/505th PIR Mortars, and Sgt. Daniel Dunlap, 1132nd MP Company. Cpl. Christopher L. Clark is stationed stateside with the Marine Wing Support Squadron 372 C Company, Unit 42020.
Due to security concerns, the Department of Defense asks that the addresses of military personnel, especially those who are deployed overseas, not be published. However, Islanders who would like to send a note can call Dukes County Veterans Agent Jo Ann Murphy at 508-693-6887 for addresses and contact information.