STAFF SGT. JESSICA M. WING
Died: Aug. 27 in Kuwait City, Kuwait
A member of the Maine National Guard for eight years, Wing had previously served on active duty in the Army for 11 years, including deployments to Haiti and Bosnia. This was her third deployment to the Middle East as a member of the guard. The cause of her death, which was not related to combat, is currently under investigation.
Wing was a Black Hawk crew chief for the Bangor-based 126th Aviation Medevac unit, known as the "Black Bears," which works to airlift soldiers out of combat. In addition to serving in the guard, Wing had a second job fixing and maintaining helicopters at the Army Aviation Support Facility. With two decades of experience in repairing military helicopters, colleagues described her as a "subject matter expert" and the unit's go-to person for maintenance questions.
Shortly before her fourth deployment in 2005, she told the Bangor Daily News, "It doesn't matter how many times you've been deployed, once or 100 times, it's all the same. You don't know what you're getting into."
PFC. PATRICIA L. HORNE
Died: Aug. 24 in Bagram
Horne had hoped to become a doctor after getting out of the Army and just a few weeks before her death, had called her mother to say she was planning to reenlist because "the Army would pay for her schooling." In the Army, Horne had worked as a human resource specialist, working to maintain soldiers' records for the elite 101st Airborne Division. The cause of her death has not been released.
In her hometown of Greenwood, Miss., Horne was remembered as ambitious and a perfectionist. "Everything she wanted to do, she wanted to do it perfect," her high school principal told the AP.
SPC. KRYSTAL FITTS
Died: July 17 in Kandahar
Fitts, of Houston, Texas, first joined the Army in 2009 as a chemical operations specialist. In Afghanistan, she volunteered to serve on a Female Engagement Team supporting the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team. The FETs are special units of female troops assigned to engage with local women who might be wary of male soldiers. Fitts studied Pashto in order to better communicate with locals.
"They have been the literal face of America to a host of Afghan women and children," Lt. Col. Timothy Gilhool, one her commanding officers, said. "Krystal was unafraid. Her presence made the difference." She had received numerous commendations, including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. She was killed by indirect fire when her base came under attack.
On the day of her death, Fitts posted a photo of a soldier's helmet with a bullet hole through it on her Facebook page, with the caption, "Remember so many have given of their lives that we have the privilege and the duty to make the most of ours. Let us do our best to live worthy of this freedom they fought and gave their all for us to enjoy."
SPC. ERICA P. ALECKSEN
Died: July 8 in Maidan Shahr
Alecksen was killed along with five other members of her military police company when the truck they were riding in ran over an IED in a restive city near Kabul -- one of the deadliest days in months for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. A native of the small town of Eatonton, Ga., Alecksen joined the Army in 2010 and was soon transferred to Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas, taking along the husband she had met back home. She then shipped out for a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.
Alecksen had decided to become a military police officer after asking a retired general for advice after services at her church. He told her that MPs were assigned protect soldiers and their families. Family members credited long shifts spent working in her father's garage for the toughness and stoicism that served her well in the Army.
"If there was something she didn't like, you never heard it from her," her grandfather told the Army Times. "If there was something she did like, she might say something but not dwell on it."