' Honor Winery - Faces of Honor

Faces of Honor

LCpl Travis Nelson
Marjah, Afghanistan

Travis was one-of-a-kind. He was comical and inquisitive. He was a leader and completely fearless. His excitement and determination in life was contagious. Travis knew that it was the simple things in life that mattered most and that made him such a pleasure for his Dad and I to raise. Always, wanting everyone to smile and laugh, he was such a joy to be around. He possessed it all - every quality imaginable. Now, because of those qualities, Travis is everybody’s hero. As a young man, Travis had a deep commitment to serving his country.  He was just a little boy as we watched the events of 9/11. Yet he vowed to protect his country when he grew up. His drive to serve his country never faltered during the next nine years. He began four years of service with the Young Marines of Pensacola at age 14 and served consecutively for four years as a member of the Pace High School N.J.ROTC program joining as a freshman in high school. Upon his graduation from Pace High School in 2010, Travis enlisted in the Marine Corp. He would have enlisted when he was sixteen if they would have let him.  It truly was his dream.

Having retired Navy, I encouraged my strong willed, head-strong son to follow his dream to become a Marine.  I will never forget, standing in the kitchen, March 2010, looking into my son's eyes, tears rolling down my face, "Trav, don't you realize that we are fighting a real war over there? This is not a Call of Duty game that you can just put down the controller whenever you want and come eat a bowl of cereal.”  I read the Marine Times weekly, and knew there were literally hundreds of young infantryman being killed from all branches of the military, but enlisting as a rifleman skyrockets your chance of being killed. “Travis, if something happens to you, they will have to put me in a rubber room, you are my everything,” I said to my son. “You don't have to be a hero, just make sure you come home to me."  Travis put his arms around me, looked me in the eyes and said, "Mama, it can't always be somebody else's son. I know the risk, and it's a risk I have to take to protect our country. I have the strongest Mama ever, and she knows how much I love her."  There was pride in my heart at that moment and I could not deny it. Seeing him become a Marine was the proudest moment of my ENTIRE life.  Watching him board the bus leaving Camp Lejeune with his Unit to fight a war that he stood behind from the beginning.....heart wrenching...a memory that is forever embedded in my mind, heart and soul....Forever nineteen years old.....

Our son, now LCpl. Travis M. Nelson was killed Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011 in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, five weeks after being deployed as an infantry rifleman with the First Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Second Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejuene, N.C. and only 13 days after celebrating his 19th birthday on foreign soil.
He was laid to rest Aug. 26, 2011 at the feet of his grandfather, the late Daniel Sanspree, an Air Force veteran, in Oak Hill Cemetery in Atmore, Ala.

Because of Travis’ courage and commitment in life and to his country - our country, he is an American hero deserving of such an honor, but at the same time this stoic Marine Corporal remains our young son, brother, fiancée, grandson, nephew, uncle, cousin and friend so many will always grieve for.  Today, because of the child he was and the young man he grew into, we as a people can be proud of the duty Travis felt toward his country, but at the same time his death need not be in vain and we as a country need to remember that our freedom is not free.   Travis is not the first and will not be the last young life lost while fighting for the freedoms we as a country take for granted. Let’s not forget the young men and women’s courage and commitment to defend our great country and the families and friends left behind.

Every Breath, I Miss My Son/My HERO

Beckie Nelson


Dillion was born July 2nd 1987. Growing up on the family farm in Iowa Dillion and his friends would play army men. He was known to get into his mother’s makeup and camoflauge himself to look like an army man. On March 25, 2005 Dillion, his junior year in highschool, joined the Iowa Army National Guard,. He graduated from basic training and returned home continueing with his senior year in highschool, graduating in 2006. Then off he went to military training at Fort Benning GA for Advanced Individual Training. He insisted he wanted to be an Infantryman!! While his mother urged him to choose something else not so dangerous he would laugh and tell her “Mom, you know I have to be up front where the action is!”

Dillion served two tours overseas. First in Iraq from June 2007 until May 2008. He served in Afghanistan from August 2010 until Sept 2011. He was a proud member of the Iowa National Guard's 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment (1-168th Inf.) and 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment (1-133rd Inf.). Both are units of Iowa's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.),34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division. He was proud to be a Red Bull Infantryman!

SADLY HIS WORLD CHANGED……upon returning from war, the horrors of war took its toll in the form of Post Traumatic Stress. The nightmares and flashbacks took over. His world became upside down and as hard as he tried to cope with the BEAST of war, on December 10th,2012 Dillion took his own life. Through Dillion’s pain and family heartache many soldiers have gone on to get help for their own PTSD. DILLION’S LEGACY…TO URGE OTHERS TO REACH OUT FOR HELP….TO SAVE EVEN ONE MORE LIFE!


Specialist Justin W. Pollard was born on October 12, 1982.  He grew up in Southern California where he loved participating in sports and body boarding in the ocean.  He attended Eastshore Elementary School and lakeside Middle School in Woodbridge, and was active in Irvine Pony Baseball and Irvine Charger Football.  He attended Trabuco Hills High School where he lettered in Varsity Football and Varsity Baseball.  He later attended and graduated from Silverado High School.

Shortly after September 11, 2001, Justin left college to join the Army.  He attended basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he trained as an Army Scout.  After completion of his training at Fort Knox, he was assigned to Grim Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Carson, Colorado.

Justin was deployed to Iraq with his unit the first week of April 2003.  During his time in Iraq he was the driver of a Bradley fighting vehicle, on which he logged over 4,500 hours of driving across the Iraqi terrain.  He later became a gunner on the Bradley vehicle and eventually became adept at spotting IED’s planted the Iraqi insurgency.  He has been credited with saving over 150 of his fellow soldiers.

Specialist Pollard was killed in Iraq on December 30, 2003.  For his outstanding service, bravery, and commitment to his country, Justin was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star.  He is buried at Pacific View Cemetery in Newport Beach overlooking the ocean he loved.

My Son Travis is a Treasured Gift from God, born Memorial Weekend May 26th, 1984 swaddled in Red,White,and Blue.  Travis has Lakota, Sioux Heritage in him, from his Father's side. As Travis grew up, he was comfortable in his own skin, and always wanted to learn more about his American/ Indian blood.

Travis loved playing street hockey, Little League Baseball, and High school football. Travis always excelled in everything he did, even tho he had a heart mur-mur ( hole in his heart ) from birth, but it never slowed him down. At age 10 he joined a Navy Cadet program with some friends, and he loved it ,and was a natural. His Grandfather Harry, was a Navy Seabee  in WW II. Travis was in the program for 3 yrs. ,loved it and did very well. Travis was always concerned about everyone, at dances he made sure the wall-flowers dance, and have fun, too. His heart was huge, along with his gorgeous blue eyes, he loved all he met, and those who met him loved him too. In high -school Travis decided to go into the Marines, instead of the Navy. He said he wanted to be the best of the best. in June 2003' he Graduated, and 10 days later joined the Marines, and was off to Boot Camp. 3 months later Travis was elated, to become a  USMarine. WE were all very Proud of him too, when we went to his Graduation from Bootcamp. Then In Feb.  2004' Travis got deployed to Kuwait, for more training, before going into Iraq of March 2004'. In those few short months Travis had moved up and became a LCpl, and also a radio operator.

Tragicly, on April 6th 2004' Travis volunteered to go out on a Mission that early morning. They were sent into an Ambush, unfortunately we lost 10 Marines, and 1 Navy Corpsman, in that blood bath. Our lives were changed forever , after having 3 Marines come to me in my carport with the Horrific news that Travis was KIA. The Void is Etched in my Heart forever more. Travis once again, was draped in Red, White, and Blue.

2 and a half yrs. after Travis ' death we found out he had a son, he never knew he had. DNA was done, and yes Dylan is my Grandson, and Travis Legacy lives on. Dylan  is such a Blessing in our lives, we are very thankful, and Proud of  Dylan, who just turned 13 yrs. old. this past June.

GSM Dianne
Proud Mother of LCpl Travis Layfield
KIA April 6th, 2004
Our Fallen Warrior



What we do here is not always of our own choosing, for sometimes it has been forced upon us.

We do what we are told and are good at what we do.

Evil now runs through our veins.

We do not hesitate and never second guess ourselves.

Sleepless nights and rationless days are now a part of us.

We crave it…we cannot get it out of our heads.

Always looking over our shoulders, we are always on guard.

We want it more than anything, but we dread the very thought of it.

We avenge our fallen brothers by any means necessary.

We think not of the risks or consequences of our actions. We simply do and deal with what is to come at a later time.

We learned their ways. We learned how to move better than them to maneuver around their traps.

We are even better armed and trained. But how can we fight a war, when we cannot see the enemy?

There is no peace of mind. Not for us…

For peace left us a long time ago with the last breath of the first brother who fell to them.

We are not gentle. We do not show mercy.

We do what we have to do to protect our country. But, in time, we hope to become better men. Time alone will grant us our freedom and let us live our lives the way we can only dream of.

We never give up. We will never give in. We would do anything, just to see our fallen rise again.

Written By:
LCpl. Zagham Bhatti


LCpl. Christopher Phoenix-Jacob Levy

November 23, 2011

BORN: JANUARY 24, 1984

When he joined the Army at 19, Eric was a wild young man struggling to find his way in life.  He was first stationed at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California as a mechanic.  During his 5 years at Fort Irwin, Eric deployed twice, one to Kuwait and one to Afghanistan.  After his second deployment, Eric returned to Fort Irwin and volunteered for Explosive Ordinance Disposal, the joint service occupation whose purpose is to render safe explosives, including IEDs, chemical weapons, biological, weapons, and nuclear weapons.  The training for EOD is a year long and Eric graduated first in his class.  He spent 2 years in Germany, training and providing EOD services to the Secret Service (who does not have explosive experts).  The 720th EOD Company deployed to Afghanistan in February 2011.

Early the morning of March 10, 2011, his team performed a post blast analysis, of an IED explosion that had severely injured a soldier the previous evening, and began clearing the rest of the area.  At about 8:00, Eric stepped on or near a pressure-triggered IED that his equipment did not detect.  Despite the best efforts of the members of his team, Eric died shortly before the medivac helicopter arrived.  He is buried next to his paternal grandfather in Laramie, Wyoming.  His name was added to the EOD Memorial in May 2012.

Of the many badges and medals Eric had been awarded, he was particularly proud of three: the Combat Action Badge, EOD Badge, and Air Assault Badge.  Among many other medals, he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with V device from his second deployment and, posthumously, the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.  

Eric was a big personality, a friend to everyone, would give you the shirt off his back, and hated to be the center of attention.  He worked harder than most and partied even harder.  Many times he has been described by as a great EOD technician, but the best NCO with whom they had ever served.  Eric would like that description.  He loved EOD, but for him, being an NCO was the real part of the Army.  

One of Eric’s friends described him as:  
"Some men are destined to live forever. Whether it be through achievement, heroism, fame or circumstance. Some men live forever because of all four. The stories of Eric Trueblood are told far and wide. His name is recognizable to many. The way he touched his friends is uncanny, and without equal. He was a star amongst his peers, and a beam of light to his family. Eric Trueblood's name will forever be uttered in the company of great men who did amazing things for their country." - Kyle Yarbrough

SSG. Jesse Lee Williams

Aug. 21, 1983 - Dec. 17, 2013 ELKHART - SSG. Jesse Lee Williams, 30, U.S. Army, was killed in the line of duty on Tuesday, December 17, 2013, in the Shajau district of Zabul Province in Afghanistan when he and other fellow soldiers were involved in a crash of an American Black Hawk transport helicopter. Staff Sergeant Williams was recently deployed to Afghanistan with his unit, Headquarters Company, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, based in Vilseck, Germany. He was born August 21, 1983, in Elkhart, to Thomas I. Williams and Deborah M. (Bussard) Passerallo. T. Lyman Williams. Jesse attended Elkhart Central High School and in 2006 completed the U.S. Army Basic Training Course at Fort Jackson, SC, while attached to Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry. SSG. Williams' first assignment was in Illesheim, Germany,
with D CO, 412th ASB from Jan. 2007 to Feb. 2009. He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and worked in the Electronics Warfare shop at the Divisional level from Jan. 2009 to Jan. 2012. During this time he attended and graduated from Air Assault School. SSG. Williams was deployed 3 times, once to Iraq with the 412th ASB from 2007-2008, once to Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne from 2010-2011, and once with the 2CR starting in July 2013. The United States of America will be forever indebted for the honorable and courageous service SSG. Jesse L. Williams willfully gave to his country.

The above is the official version
Here is what I wrote last week, for his birthday on 8/21: 
31 years ago. I remember. I remember not having a clue what it meant to be a mother, to be completely responsible for another life. I remember the moment you were put into my arms. I remember, at once, knowing what real, true love for another was all about. I remember all of the funny times, those growing up years, I remember the things that made you laugh, made you tick, that made you Jesse.  I remember you running into the house to be first on Tuesday’s to warm up the big, crappy console TV so that that the picture tube would be ready at seven o’clock for Rescue 911 and a frozen pizza. I remember you and friends in grade school playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and later in junior high, performing WWF, hiding holes in the walls with posters of Hogan and Caretaker and the Ultimate Warrior. I remember the broken bones, the stitches, the sprained ankles, the gym class injuries – teenage clumsiness and some just sheer, dumb teenage decisions.  I remember it all with love, and heart gripping longing. I remember how you hated doing book reports at Pinewood, and I would coax and cajole you through them on the front porch in the evenings. I remember those tough years, you struggling to belong, to become independent, challenging us to let you grow.  The times I lay awake at night, crying for you to find your way. I lay awake at night now and just cry for you. I remember when you introduced me the world of lattes at The Daily Grind Coffee House on a cool, drizzly spring day in 1997. I remember how proud, how heart swelling proud, I was the first time I saw you in uniform. I remember the awe, the love, the sheer wonder in your eyes the first time you held your little girl. I remember how you would do anything for her, buy her anything she wanted, your gentle, but firm discipline with her given with unwavering, unconditional love. I remember never being as proud of you as I was when you became her father.

I remember the fractured moments we were able to spend together, treasured bits of time before you had to go back to another world. I remember waiting and counting down until you could come home again. I remember making sure you always had a good supply of Starbucks and creamer wherever you went in this world. I remember searching until I found a pair of sized 13 Crocs because you mentioned they would be handy. I remember sending enough Halloween treats for your entire unit and sending cases of baby wipes when the water supply ran out in the desert. I remember how you didn’t whine or complain or groan about your lot in life. You tackled it head on, doing what you needed to do in your work, your relationships and your ambitions.  You always had what it took to complete everything that was thrown your way. I remember, now, that I never told you enough how proud I was. I never told you enough how much I love you. I never took enough time to do everything I wanted to with you. I never had enough of you. I remember, now, at the start of each day, what I don’t have anymore. You.
Happy birthday in heaven, my Jessers Lee. I know God has given you good work to do and you will stay on mission. I miss you with every breath. Every moment awake I long to feel you somewhere in the world. Every night, when laying down, I pray that I will see you in my dreams. I love you, baby. 

As you love Madison, I love you, forever and a day, from here to eternity, you, my beautiful son, are always a part of me. 


Someone phrased this “journey” as like the ocean, waves that come and go. That sure is what it feels like. Some days I can tread water okay, and others, I am drowning.  I can tell you, I truly believe our beautiful children are part of God’s army. My prayers at night are for us broken parents left behind.  We are all part of a new family now.


Nicholas Jan Manoukian the only child of Mary Manoukian Calhoun and the late lsaac Manoukian was born on August 31, 1984 in Westland Michigan. ln 1986 the Manoukians moved to their home in Lathrup Village and Nicholas attended Mclntyre Elementary School. He was an outgoing child and made friends easily. He developed a love for swimming and played hockey for the City of Southfield and Berkley. Nick was also a very creative child and loved to draw and had an interest in many types of musical instruments. He would later become an accomplished drummer on one of his most prized
possessions, the set of Pearl drums that his father bought him for his 12th birthday. Only one month later, on September 28, 1996, Nick and his Mother would face the unimaginable loss of Nick's father, lsaac. Even with all the struggles that followed after the death of his beloved fathen Nick continued to persevere and tried to stay focused and positive. Nicholas had a special talent for making people laugh and feel welcome. He was thoughtful, loving, loyal and generous with both his love and possessions, ready to loan his car, money, or whatever was needed to make a difference for those he cared about. He was a creator of ad, poetry music, and "mischief" and had many friends. Nick attended Southfield Christian for grades 5 thru 8th and graduated in 2003 from Royal Oak Kimball High School. He planned to go to college and pursue a career in ad and also wanted to own his own business one day; however, after 911 and the commencing of the war in lraq, he felt the calling to "serve his country in a more meaningful and direct way." He told his mother that he wanted to become a Marine, one of the "Few and the Proud". Nick left for Parris lsland Boot Camp in June of 2004. After graduating he went to 29 Palms for his training in Communications. While he was home on leave in December of 2004 he was excited that he had a chance to wear his "Dress Blues" for the first time when his mother married his stepfather, Gary Calhoun. Nick's first deployment would come very shoftly after when he was sent to Fallujah, lraq with the 1/6 Marines in March, 2005. When he came home in October, 2005 he reunited with his high school sweetheart Danielle and married her on July 08, 2006. At that same time Nick would also become a loving Stepfather to Danielle's 2 year old son Nico who he planned on adopting when he came home again. They would only have 2 short months together as Nick was redeployed to lraq on September 08, 2006. This time he knew he was facing a very difficult and dangerous deployment to Ramadi, lraq, one of the most hostile areas in lraq at that time. Nick was very proud he was chosen to be the Lt's radioman with Weapons Company for this deployment. Upon their arrival his unit would immediately encounter numerous firefights, ambushes, and roadside bombs. On October 21, 2006, Marine Corporal Nicholas Manoukian was killed when his Humvee was struck by an IED while conducting combat operations in Ar Ramadi, lraq. He was 22 years old.

Corporal Manoukian's Awards and decoration include: The Purple Heart Medal with One Gold Star for wounds received in action against the enemy, The Navy Achievement Medal with Combat V for Valor The Combat Action Ribbon, The Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, The lraq Campaign Medal, The National Defense Service Medal, The Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and The Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with One Bronze Star.

David J. Warsen – Special Warfare Operator Second Class (SEAL)

Petty Officer Second Class David John Warsen was killed in a helicopter crash northeast of Kandahar, Afghanistan on August 16, 2012. David died fighting for what he believed in, among his brothers-in-arms. David was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on July 1st 1985. He was big brother, to three younger brothers whom he loved and protected (DARK 4 Life). He was a wonderful example of how to love and accept everyone for who they were. He was friend to all. He brought many together, including family and friends in love. He was a example of what a true man should be. All you needed to do was meet him to understand his genuine, kind and loving personality. He was full of fun and mischief and could make everyone around him smile with ease. He was one of a kind, in a wonderful way.

He graduated from East Kentwood High School in Kentwood, Michigan in May of 2004. While attending East Kentwood, he focused all of his athletic career on soccer. David was always very athletic, and he thrived at any sport he tried. He was a beast of a man with a loving heart and whatever he set his mind to, he accomplished it with ease.
David enlisted in the United States Navy on March 10, 2009. He graduated from Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois on May 8 2009. He then graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL School in Coronado, California on March 26, 2010 with Class 279. David was assigned to a West Coast based SEAL team in October 2010. This is where he met his wonderful fiancée Karlyn Deveau, who he planned to marry on December 8th 2012.

In December 2011, he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

David's awards and decorations include Bronze Star with Valor, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Valor, Combat Action Ribbon, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Sea Service, Deployment Ribbon, the NATO Service Medal, Expert Rifle Marksmanship Medal and the Expert Pistol Marksmanship Medal.

David never took life for granted and he viewed life in a way that not many people, young or old, can do. Soaking up the moments and living in love were at the heart of David's existence. He took advantage of every opportunity that he was given. He put love into everything that he did and everyone that he knew. If he was going to do something, he was going to do it with love and compassion out of the goodness of his heart. He could see past people’s faults and flaws, and capitalize on their strengths. He was the motivation that people needed to make changes in their lives. David lived as a very selfless person. There were times where he could have been more selfish, but he wanted the best for others even if it was to his disadvantage. He brought out the best in everyone that he was around. His laughter and smile were contagious. You could just sense the feeling of love when he was in your presence. I have heard on countless occasions how when David would be talking to you, you felt that you were the only person in the room. He took pride in being an honest person with morals that God would love for all of us to have. David was comfortable in his own skin and he had a confidence that most will never have. He was the first to admit when he was wrong and he was the first to try and fix things. David took pride in those he loved the most and took the opportunity, when given, to share their stories. Most people will never know the challenges and struggles that he faced, but that is because he was a silent champion. He did not use his triumphs to gain other people's respect; instead he used his triumphs to push himself further in this world.

SO2 David John Warsen (SEAL)

July 1, 1985 – August 16, 2012

David John Warsen was born in Grand Rapids Michigan in the summer of 1985. David joined the Navy in 2009 and graduated from SQT training and became a Navy SEAL in October 2010. David was a new team guy with a big heart, and Amazing role in life. His nickname was SMASH – a cool name not readily given to new guys. He earned it in the short time he was in the teams with much respect. David lost his life while on a mission on August 16, 2012. He, along with 10 other souls was lost when the helicopter they were in was shot down over Kandahar Afghanistan.

David’s smile and laugh were one of a kind. His sense of humor was infectious and his short shorts were amazing! His short time on this earth was lived with honor, integrity and an amazing inner strength. He affected many with his zest for living as well as magnificent ability to accept and love unconditionally. He lived as a true warrior and loved equally as strong. He was friend to all and brought many together in lasting love.

His presence is forever missed by all, but never forgotten! He lives on pulling us forward, to do better and be the Love in the world that is much needed.