List of Northland vets who lost their lives in Iraq

The News Tribune compiled the following information on Northland residents who died while deployed to Iraq between March 19, 2003, and Dec. 15, 2011, from Associated Press files.

Remembering Northland vets

The News Tribune compiled the following information on Northland residents who died while deployed to Iraq between March 19, 2003, and Dec. 15, 2011, from Associated Press files.

If we left off any military member from the Northland who died while serving in Iraq, please send information to , along with your name and phone number.

Dale A. Panchot, 26, Northome

  • Staff Sgt., U.S. Army
  • B Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.
  • Date of death: Nov. 17, 2003
  • Panchot was on patrol when hit by hostile fire south of Balad, Iraq.
  • Bio: Some people are lucky enough to know what they want to do with their lives at a very early age. Staff Sgt. Dale Panchot was one of those people. "He wanted to be a soldier from the time he could pull on a pair of camouflage pants, from the time he was 3 years old," recalled his mother, Karen Panchot. "He wore those every day and his friends would always be out in the fields, playing Army."

    Panchot, 26, was killed in an ambush on his patrol. He is survived by his mother and his father, Arland Panchot. He grew up in Northome, playing baseball, football and basketball in high school. He joined the Army Reserves at 17, following his father and grandfather into the military.

    Days before he died, Panchot told his parents he had signed up for his last three-year tour. Having fulfilled his dreams of military service, he had new ones. "He wanted to be a history teacher and raise a family," his mother said.

    Matthew G. Milczark, 18, Kettle River

  • Pfc., U.S. Marines
  • 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
  • Date of death: March 8, 2004
  • Milczark died of a non-combat gunshot wound in Camp Victory, Kuwait.
  • Bio: When Marine Pfc. Matthew G. Milczark graduated from his Moose Lake high school, the homecoming king left an impression on his teachers and classmates. "He was a leader here, one of those kids you would see in the hallway who automatically had that respect from others," said Tim Caroline, superintendent of Moose Lake Community Schools. "He was a good kid, happy-go-lucky and always smiling."

    But the 18-year-old from Kettle River shot himself inside a Kuwaiti chapel, according to a Marine investigation.

    When he was home on leave, Milczark had dinner with Sherman Liimatainen, his hockey coach since he was 8. "That night he told us, 'Don't worry,'" Liimatainen said. "Matt was a kind and caring person. He worked very hard. He had a lot of love. And he was excited about being a Marine."

    Milczark followed his grandfather, three uncles and a cousin into the military.

    Moises A. Langhorst, 19, Moose Lake

  • Pfc., U.S. Marines
  • 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
  • Date of death: April 5, 2004
  • Langhorst was killed by hostile fire in Anbar province, Iraq.
  • Bio: In high school, Moises Langhorst played sports. He did theater and music. He was a star of the Knowledge Bowl team. "He was a talented young man, that's for sure," said Tim Caroline, school superintendent in Moose Lake.

    Langhorst went to the state Knowledge Bowl six years in a row, competing against high schoolers even when he was in junior high, Caroline recalled. "The team was just phenomenal and he was a big reason," he said. "He was just a warehouse full of knowledge."

    Survivors include his parents, George and Judy Langhorst.

    Levi T. Angell, 20, Cloquet

  • Lance Cpl., U.S. Marines
  • Combat Services Support Group, 1st Force SSG, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
  • Date of death: April 8, 2004
  • Angell died of injuries suffered when his Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Anbar province, Iraq.
  • Bio: Hunting, acting and karate were all part of life for Angell, one of eight siblings. "He was just a nice kid," high school Principal Warren Peterson said. "Kind of a quiet kid, kind of a quiet sense of humor."

    In high school, Angell was involved in drama and choir and was passionate about deer hunting, fishing and karate, in which he earned a purple belt, Peterson said.

    He was the son of Loretta and Gordon Angell Jr. Grandmother Lila Angell said her grandson was a religious young man who "just loved" his church. When he had come home for Christmas, he had "just smiled from ear to ear," she said. "He was so proud of what he was doing," she said.

    Daniel James McConnell, 27, Duluth

  • Spc., U.S. Army
  • 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii
  • Date of death: Nov. 16, 2004
  • McConnell died in a vehicle accident in Kirkuk, Iraq.
  • Bio: Daniel McConnell was working odd jobs and trying to be a good father to his two young girls when he joined the Army. "I think he did it out of his love for his whole family," said his sister, Becky. "He wanted us to be proud of him. And all he ever talked about was how much he loved his daughters."

    Becky McConnell described her brother as "a handful" in his youth, but said he later thrived in a foster home. He had wanted to be a social worker, but set those hopes aside when his high school girlfriend became pregnant and they had a daughter, she said. Three years later, McConnell had another daughter. But he never married and floundered in finding work, Becky McConnell said.

    Then he joined the Army.

    "He was a changed man," she said. "He was doing something he felt we could be proud of."

    Dwayne J. McFarlane Jr., 20, Cass Lake

  • Spc., U.S. Army
  • 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.
  • Date of death: Jan. 9, 2005
  • McFarlane was killed when his patrol was hit by an explosive in Baghdad. He was on foot when a roadside bomb went off.
  • Bio: Dwayne McFarlane Jr. had seen soldiers die all around him in Iraq, but he put on a brave face for the aunt and uncle who raised him. "He was always on the upbeat. He'd say, 'Don't worry about me,'" said his uncle, Don Bellanger.

    Bellanger began raising McFarlane when he was 6, after his parents gave him up. He ran track and played basketball in high school and was a well-liked, humorous student who had it together.

    "Dwayne was somebody who always just did what he was supposed to do," said guidance counselor Jennifer Voge. Bellanger said McFarlane joined the Army to get money for college.

    "He liked school," Bellanger said.

    He said after the military McFarlane wanted to move to California for college, maybe to learn to work on computers or design cars.

    Matthew Scott Lourey, 41, Washington, D.C.

  • Chief Warrant Officer, U.S. Army
  • 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne, Fort Bragg, N.C.
  • Date of death date: May 5, 2005
  • Lourey and another soldier died of injuries suffered when their OH-58 (Kiowa Warrior) helicopter came under small-arms fire and crashed in Buhriz, Iraq
  • Bio: As a child in Kerrick, Minn., Matt Lourey played with toy helicopters and dressed up as the Red Baron for Halloween. His dream of flying was so strong that he left the Marines when he didn't get to fly with them and trained as a private pilot. "For Matt, it was all or nothing, whether running a marathon, learning to fly, collecting military artifacts or simply loving life," said Maj. Randy Wendt, a National Guard chaplain.

    Lourey was the homecoming king of his 1982 high school class. He served with the Marines before going to Vermilion Community College, earning his pilot's license and joining the Army.

    His mother, former Minnesota state Sen. Becky Lourey, and other family members opposed the Iraq war, but Lourey volunteered for a second tour of duty. Lourey's wife, Army Capt. Lisa Lourey, said her husband loved British military tradition and read Rudyard Kipling because of Kipling's respect for the predicament of the junior soldier.

    "Matt was a cavalryman in the war as well as a loving husband," she said.

    Scott T. Modeen, 24, New Hope, Minn.

  • U.S. Lance Cpl., U.S. Marines
  • 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.
  • Date of death: Dec. 1, 2005
  • Modeen was one of 10 Marines killed by an explosive while they were conducting combat operations in Fallujah, Iraq.
  • Bio: Modeen was born in Duluth and spent his early years there before his family moved to New Hope. Before he returned to Iraq for another tour, he and his buddy, Chris Hayne, went to their favorite bar and made a promise to each other. "He reached into his pocket and pulled out a $20 bill. And he ripped it carefully and clean right down the middle. He signed half of that bill and gave me the other half, and I signed it and wrote him a little letter on it. I told him not to read it until he got to the sands of the desert," said Hayne.

    "He gave me the other half and he said, 'When I get back, and I promise I'm gonna come back, we're going to tape this back together and we're having shots with it right here.'"

    Modeen, a 2000 high school graduate, asked frequently for letters, Vikings scores and care packages with Oreos and Snickers bars.

    "If he was needed in any situation, any situation at all, he was always the first to react, to be there, and try to help someone out," said Hayne.

    Modeen is survived by his parents, John and Kimberly.

    A new VFW Post 137 in Duluth was named after Modeen and Spc. Daniel McConnell.

    Adam J. VanAlstine, 21, Superior

  • Lance Cpl., U.S. Marines
  • 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twenty Nine Palms, Calif.
  • Date of death: Feb. 25, 2006
  • Died from an improvised explosive device in Ramadi, Iraq.
  • Bio: He was a 2003 graduate of Superior High School. With only 15 days of active combat duty left in Iraq, VanAlstine was killed by a roadside bomb, said his sister, Dawn Meyers of Cottage Grove, Minn. Another sister, Jennifer VanAlstine, said her brother's dream was to serve in the Marines.

    "He had wanted this since he was a little boy," she said. "He lived and breathed to be in the Marines."

    Both of VanAlstine's parents are dead.

    He loved to hunt, fish and spend time in the outdoors, and his skills with a hunting rifle helped him earn marksmanship honors in the Marines. He also was an active boxer.

    Gym owner Chuck Horton remembered a skinny boy with biceps the size of ping pong balls showing up one day wanting to learn how to box. He worked himself up to 150 pounds -- but often got sick to his stomach before bouts. Horton recalled one fight in which VanAlstine accidentally vomited on his coach, then rinsed out his mouth, went into the ring and won the fight.

    "That was Adam. Rinse out my mouth, and I'm good to go," Horton said.

    Kenneth M. Cross, 21, Superior

  • Spc., U.S. Army
  • 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.
  • Date of death: Aug. 27, 2006
  • Died during combat operations when his M1126 Stryker Vehicle came in contact with enemy forces using an improvised explosive device and small-arms fire near Baghdad.
  • Bio: Cross had been stationed in Baghdad for two months as a driver of a Stryker tank. His parents said Cross was the type of person who knew what he wanted in life.

    "He was a fun kid -- always smiling, laughing, joking -- you never knew what he was going to do," father Michael Cross said.

    His mother, Elizabeth Cross, said her son dropped out of high school and earned his general education diploma because he wanted to go right into the service. She also said her son loved children and wanted to be a soldier since he was a small boy.

    "He was up to mischief most of the time," she said.

    He met his wife, Heidi of Steilacoom, Wash., through an online dating service and the two were friends for a time before deciding to get married quickly after they began dating.

    Cross liked to play guitar and video games, watch horror movies and jog. He got used to doing push-ups in basic training because his sense of humor often got him in trouble.

    Cross's brother, Cliff Hoyt, said he was a character. "A great little brother," he said. "I used to chase him around the yard but I could never catch him."

    Chad M. Allen, 25, Maple Lake, Minn.

  • Sgt., U.S. Marines
  • 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
  • Date of death: Feb. 28, 2007
  • Died while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq
  • Bio: Chad M. Allen joined the Marines the day after the 2001 terrorist attacks with a mission, said his mother, Deborah. "He was going to save his family from harm," she said. His parents, who live in Dairyland in southern Douglas County, said he volunteered for a second tour of duty to take the place of an injured fellow Marine. His father, Steve, said his son had just told him that he had been promoted to sergeant.

    Bart Kilgo, Allen's friend since kindergarten, said: "He was an all-around great person, the best friend I ever had." The two played high school football together -- Allen played guard on offense and linebacker on defense -- and remained close friends even throughout their military careers.

    Allen worked for a car wash and a landscape company before joining the Marines. He loved to fish, ride his motorcycle, and was homecoming king in high school, his mother said.

    "He was awesome, he was the coolest kid," she said. "He was very happy, very outgoing, never could sit still for a minute."

    Harry H. Timberman, 20, Minong

  • Lance Cpl., U.S. Marines
  • 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twenty Nine Palms, Calif.
  • Date of death: March 17, 2007
  • Died March 17 from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq.
  • Bio: People weren't surprised when Harry H. Timberman joined the Marines: He always wanted to help people and had served as a volunteer for his high school's peer helper program. "What a wonderful kid. He had a real big heart. He was always excited about helping," said Rosemary Doyle, his former counselor.

    "He had a great sense of humor and was a little counter-culture at times," Doyle said. "He was one of those kids you really come to appreciate."

    Timberman was willing to look goofy, sometimes wearing an oversized earring to spark comment from his fellow students.

    Tall and thin, Timberman looked "all grown up" in his uniform in December, Doyle said, but he looked equally spiffy in a dress, part of a Student Council "switch day."

    "He didn't take offense when the kids teased him, which they did that day," said Doyle. "He jumped into everything with both feet."

    He is survived by his father, Harry, and mother and stepfather.

    Randy W. Pickering, 31, Bovey

  • Spc., U.S. Army
  • Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Vilseck, Germany
  • Date of death: Dec. 9, 2007
  • Died in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries sustained in a noncombat-related incident.
  • Bio: Pickering was a computer game and video fan. He'd even been drawing a comic book for the past several years. "He did his computer thing. He loved video games. Video games and comics were his life," said his brother, Chris Pickering.

    He grew up in Pleasant Hill, Mo., in the Kansas City area and later lived with his grandparents for several years in Liberty, Mo., his relatives said. Randy didn't graduate from high school but earned his equivalency certificate and had a college degree in computer programming.

    Pickering called himself "randymonki" on the Internet sites YouTube and MySpace, and recently posted a video on YouTube of him horsing around with his buddies. On MySpace, he described himself as "A young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless, in a world of criminals who operate above the law."

    He is survived by his parents, Bruce and Sheila Pickering.

    Matthew I. Pionk, 30, Superior

  • Sgt. 1st Class, U.S. Army
  • 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Vilseck, Germany
  • Date of death: Jan. 9, 2008
  • Died of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated during combat operations in Sinsil, Iraq
  • Bio: Pionk is the son of Duane and Sandy Pionk of Superior. The Pionks have another son still serving in the military, Marine Special Operations Petty Officer First Class Jeremy Pionk. Pionk is a native in Oliver. He was killed along with five other soldiers when they entered an explosive-laden building.

    A 30-year-old father of three, Pionk was on his second tour of duty to Iraq.

    "We will never forget our son," Duane Pionk said. "He's in our thoughts every day. I think we, as a nation, need to remember all our fallen the same way."

    Jeremy D. Vrooman, 28, Sioux Falls, S.D.

  • Staff Sgt., U.S. Army
  • 2nd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Vilseck, Germany
  • Date of death: July 15, 2008
  • Died of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated while his unit was conducting combat operations in Kn'an, Diyala Province, Iraq.
  • Bio: Bruce Vrooman of Superior said the structure of a military environment helped his younger son, Jeremy, mature. "All the cliches you heard about the military being positive were what Jeremy loved," Bruce Vrooman said. "He loved knowing he was making a difference."

    Vrooman served his first tour in Iraq in 2003, driving an ammunition truck. He then spent a few months as a recruiter in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, before deciding to join a Stryker unit in Germany.

    "He was what every man should aspire to be, what every husband should aspire to be and what every father should hope to be," Bruce Vrooman said.

    Lori Donahue recalled her son loved to laugh and had an infectious smile. He loved playing with his kids, military vehicle models and fishing. He wanted to be remembered in true cavalry tradition -- that meant displaying his Stetson instead of a Kevlar helmet at his memorial ceremony.

    He was survived by his wife, Latrecia, and two children, Xavier, 5, and Jade, 1.

    Philip E. Windorski, 35, Bovey

  • Chief Warrant Officer, U.S. Army
  • 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.
  • Date of death: Jan. 26, 2009
  • Windorski was one of four soldiers who died when two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters crashed in Kirkuk, Iraq.
  • Bio: As a father, Philip E. Windorski Jr. spent time with his children and helped coach football and baseball. His wife said that he was famous for his home-brewed beer and it was his hope to open a microbrewery after retiring from the military. "My husband was proud to be in the military, but he loved being an aviator," Karin Windorski said. "But once he was out of that uniform, he was all about his family. He loved us and he was a devoted husband and my best friend."

    Windorski was a 1991 high school graduate. He was on his third tour of duty in Iraq and had also deployed to Bosnia for five months following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    His mother, Ruth Windorski, said that being in the Army "was all he ever he wanted to do, and he died doing what he truly loved."

    He married his wife, a fellow soldier stationed at Fort Hood, on July 4, 1998. He also is survived by his two children, Austin, 9, and Emmalyn, 6; and stepdaughter, Miranda, 14.

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