Junction City community saddened by latest Army casualties

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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JUNCTION CITY, Kan. -- When news reached Fort Riley that five soldiers from the post were among the six U.S. soldiers killed in the crash of a helicopter in Afghanistan Tuesday, it hit the Junction City community hard.

"It affects everybody one way or the other," George Heard said.

Almost anyone on the Thursday night bowling league Heard was watching at Junction City Bowl who is not an Army veteran himself or herself comes from an Army family. The same is true for most of the town, so bad news from nearby Fort Riley is tough on everyone, Heard, an Army veteran, said.

"It hurts everybody because it's one big community," he said. "Everybody gets to be one big family because you start knowing everybody because the town's so small."

Denver Oliver, another Army veteran bowling a few lanes away, agreed.

"It makes everybody feel bad and we wish them all the best that we can wish them," Oliver said.

Cheif Warrant Officer Randy Billings, 34, Hanover, Okla., Chief Warrant Officer Joshua Silverman, 35, Scottsdale, Ariz., Sgt. 1st Class Omar Forde, 28, Marietta, Ga., Sgt. Peter Bohler, 29, Willow Spring, N.C., and Specialist Terry Gordon, 22, Shubua, Miss., died when a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan Tuesday. Sgt. Jesse L. Williams, Elkhart, Ind., who was stationed in Germany, also died.

Being veterans, Heard and Oliver said they immediately thought of the soliders' families.

"We feel sorry for the families, mostly, because we know what they're going through from past experience," Oliver said.

The retired soldiers said they also have all deployed soldiers in their thoughts, especially this time of year.

"I just wish everybody overseas a lot of happiness and a safe trip back home," Oliver said.

"I hope everybody has a happy new year and a Merry Christmas. That's the only thing we can do," Heard said.

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