A holiday update on Martha’s Vineyard soldiers in service

HM2 Matt Bradley, USMC, in Afghanistan. — Photo courtesy of Matt Bradley

Many Island family members in military service, whether on duty stateside or overseas, did not get home for the holidays.

In appreciation for their service to their country and to let them know they are remembered, The Martha’s Vineyard Times invited their families and friends to provide an update on their whereabouts for the community. For those who missed the opportunity, please email The Times and the information will be added online.

Lt. Alex Baynes, USN

Lieutenant Baynes is stationed at the Naval Ship Repair Facility and Regional Maintenance Center in Yokosuka, Japan, where he works as an Engineering Duty Officer. He is responsible for managing the execution of depot and onboard intermediate level engineering, maintenance, and modernization for Forward Deployed Naval Forces, as well as visiting ships and submarines. The son of Leslie and Judy Baynes of Edgartown, Lieutenant Baynes is a 2000 graduate of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS).

PVT2 Joseph Baldwin, USA

Private Baldwin serves in the 66th Engineer Company, 2nd Stryker Bridgade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. He is stationed at Schofield Barracks, in the Wahiawa District of the island of Oahu, Hawaii, where he will remain for another year. Private Baldwin and his company returned home safely from a year-long deployment to FOB Warhorse, Iraq, in June. He and his wife Raquel are the proud first-time parents of son Hunter Gabriel Baldwin, born on September 5. Private Baldwin is the son of Marie Baldwin of West Tisbury.

Lt. Mason Berry, USN

Lieutenant Berry works as a flight instructor for the Navy at Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Ten. He also is working on a master’s degree in systems analysis through the Navy Postgraduate School. After a three-year stint in Guam that included two deployments to the South Pacific fleet and one deployment to Iraq/Kuwait as a medical evacuation pilot, Lieutenant Berry was assigned to San Diego for three years. He and his wife Rachel were married there on September 17. Lieutenant Berry, a 2004 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, is the son of Peyton and Andrew Berry of Vineyard Haven.

HM2 Matt Bradley, USNR

Hospitalman second class Bradley, an Oak Bluffs paramedic, deployed in May for a year-long tour on active duty in Afghanistan as a U.S. Navy reservist with the U.S. Marine Corps. He spent the first two and a half months in training at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in California. He currently serves in the Helmand province in southern Afghanistan where he performs security patrols and other missions. A 1996 graduate of MVRHS, Mr. Bradley joined the Naval reserves in 2003 and was assigned to the Marine Corps in 2004. On his first overseas tour in 2006-2007 he served as an advisor with a police transition team that set up a police force in Al Anbar, the largest province in Iraq. He is the son of Fran and Daniel Bradley of West Tisbury. Mr. Bradley has worked with the Oak Bluffs Emergency Medical Services for 12 years as an EMT.

MSgt Jason S. Canha, USAF

Master Sergeant Canha serves as a Special Agent in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. He and his wife Kimberly, son Dominick, and daughter Krista moved to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona this year. He spent the month of November on assignment in Dubai. Master Sergeant Canha graduated from MVRHS in 1992 and has served in the U.S. Air Force for 18 years. In May 2010 he received a Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service in Afghanistan, while engaged in ground operations at Bagram Airfield from April to October 2009. He is the son of Brenda and Mike Canha of Oak Bluffs, who own DP Canha Appliance Repair.

Lt. Elise M. Chapdelaine, USN

Lieutenant Chapdelaine is stationed in San Diego, Calif., where she serves as an Accessions Officer for the Civil Engineer Corps. In her current duty she travels through the western third of the United States interviewing and recommending prospective candidates, both college engineering students and professional engineers, who are interested in serving with both the Naval Facilities Engineering Command and the Naval Mobile Construction Battalions. Earlier this year she completed an eight-month tour in southern Afghanistan with NCMB-3, an expeditionary element of the U.S. Naval Forces that provides contingency construction, engineering, and security service in support of combat and humanitarian operations. She is a 2002 graduate of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and a 2007 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Her parents are Joan and Harold Chapdelaine of Vineyard Haven.

SSgt Randy Dull, USA

Staff Sergeant Dull of Edgartown was deployed for a nine-month tour in Afghanistan as an Army National Guard reservist in June. He is currently in the Ghazni Province as a Provincial Reconstruction Team squad leader. Staff Sergeant Dull enlisted in the Army after graduating from MVRHS in 2000. After a tour in Kosovo, he served two tours in Iraq, for a total of about two years. Although injured twice in wartime service, once while in a Humvee hit by a roadside bomb, he made a good recovery. With his active duty military commitment completed in 2008, he joined the Army National Guard two years ago while living and working on Martha’s Vineyard. Staff Sergeant Dull is the son of Steve and Mary Jane Laverty of Provo, Utah. His family members on-Island include his sister Janette Andrews and his Aunt Lela and Uncle Cooper Gilkes, all of Edgartown.

DC3 Alan Fortes, USCG

Third Class Damage Controlman Fortes is a team leader of a Fire Strike Team and serves aboard the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Cutter Alex Haley. He recently graduated from “A” school in Norfolk, Va., as number one in his class and chose Kodiak, Alaska, as his next duty station. Earlier this year while stationed in Wrightsville Beach, Mr. Fortes received an achievement medal for his part in a rescue off Carolina Beach, N.C. He and three other Coast Guardsmen disabled an out-of-control boat by putting their own 25-foot response boat into its path and helped rescue a family of three that was thrown overboard. The crew received achievement medals in a ceremony on February 2. Mr. Fortes grew up in Tisbury and graduated from MVRHS in 2007. Before joining the Coast Guard in 2008, he attended Springfield College for a year, during which time he also served as a volunteer firefighter in Tisbury. He is the son of Barbara and Alan Fortes of Tisbury.

SA Johnathon Goeckel, USCG

Seaman Apprentice Goeckel currently serves on the buoy tender Marcus Hannah, based in South Portland, Maine. The Marcus Hannah regularly sails the waters from Boston up to the Maine coast. In June he and Jennifer Reekie of West Tisbury were married and the couple now live in South Portland. Mr. Goeckel grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS in 2005. He joined the Coast Guard in July 2010 and graduated from boot camp at Cape May, N.J., that September. He is the son of Hans Goeckel and Judith Pfeiffer of Edgartown.

SPC Whitney Hyde, USA

Specialist Hyde of West Tisbury is serving as an infantry member assigned to the Provincial Reconstruction Team Ghazni, Task Force White Eagle, in Afghanistan. He is the son of Robin Hyde of West Tisbury.

Col. Andre L. Mercier, USMC

Colonel Mercier assumed command of the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Three One (VX-31) at the Naval Air Weapons Station in China Lake, Calif., on June 9, after serving as its chief test pilot. The son of Larry and Doris Mercier of Edgartown, Colonel Mercier graduated from MVRHS in 1985. He joined the Marine Corps after graduating from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and was designated a Naval Flight Officer in July 1991. After flight school he was trained as an EA-6B “Prowler” electronic countermeasures officer. Colonel Mercier was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in 2000. From June 2004 to June 2006 he flew 48 combat missions in Afghanistan, providing electronic attack support to coalition ground forces. Colonel Mercier was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal in 2009 for distinguished service on a project to build the Joint Strike Fighter for the Marines, Navy, and Air Force.

SPC Wender S. Ramos, USA

Specialist Ramos is now stationed at Fort Rucker, Ala., where he was recently accepted at Warrant Officer Candidate School. Upon graduation from the school in January, he will attend flight school at the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, also at Fort Rucker. Specialist Ramos previously served a year in Germany as a mechanic whose specialty is the service and repair of Chinook helicopters used in Afghanistan and Iraq. He graduated from MVRHS in 1999 and earned a B.S. degree in aviation sciences from Bridgewater State College in 2006. Specialist Ramos is the son of Geralda Silva of Oak Bluffs, who works at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, and the brother of Viviane Ramos.

MK2 Ryan D. Rossi, USCG

Machinery Technician 2nd class Rossi is currently stationed at Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet, N.C., a motor lifeboat station, where he works as an engineer and a boarding officer. In September he and Ellen Hughes O’Donoghue of Oak Bluffs were married and the couple lives in Hatteras. Mr. Rossi, the son of West Tisbury Police Chief Daniel Rossi and his wife Jane, graduated from MVRHS in 2005. He attended UMass-Dartmouth for one year before joining the Coast Guard. He previously served aboard the Greenbriar, a 95-foot cutter used to monitor and maintain aids to navigation on the lower Mississippi River, based out of Natchez, Miss., and the Morgenthau, a 378-foot high endurance cutter, based out of Alameda, Calif.

SPC Tim Silvia, USA

Specialist Silvia is stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he continues his training in artillery and airborne as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne. He is a 2002 graduate of MVRHS and the son of Cindy LaMay of Vineyard Haven and TM Silvia of Oak Bluffs.

Maj. Sean M. Smith, USA

Major Smith recently completed a 14-month assignment as the Executive Officer/Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. His next assignment is at the Pentagon as a Department of the Army Systems Coordinator in the Office of the Secretary of the Army. His primary duty will be to serve as the spokesman for the justification and defense of various Army acquisition program budgets before the White House Office of Management and Budget, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Congress. Major Smith also plans to complete his final class in the spring towards a master’s degree in acquisition and contract management. He is in line for a promotion to lieutenant colonel in early 2012. Major Smith is the son of Michael and Lucie Smith of Edgartown.

Welcomed home

Since the publication of the 2010 Islanders in Service update, the Martha’s Vineyard community welcomed several soldiers:

Sgt. J. N. Christopher (Chris) Brown, USA

Sergeant Brown returned home on July 26 after a one-year deployment with the Army 181st Infantry as part of a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. It was his second deployment to Afghanistan since he joined the Army National Guard as a college freshman. Prior to his departure, he worked as a temporary Chilmark police officer and graduated from the police academy. In August Mr. Brown was appointed a special police officer in Tisbury. A graduate of MVRHS in 2003, he is the son of Deb and Jim Brown of Oak Bluffs.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Willis, USA

Staff Sergeant Willis returned to the Vineyard on August 5 following his fourth overseas tour of duty since 2002. His most recent yearlong deployment was with the C Co., 1st Battalion 181st Infantry Regiment, in the Paktika Province of Afghanistan. Staff Sergeant Willis grew up in Oak Bluffs and graduated from MVRHS in 1998. His mom and stepfather are Gail and Gregory Hines of Oak Bluffs. After an Island visit with family and friends last August, he returned with his wife Joanna Ruskin and their daughter Micaeh “Mika” to their home in Hartsdale, N.Y.