Gulf War Era Memorial

The Memorial

This virtual memorial to Manatee County’s fallen Gulf War-era servicemembers was a project begun by the Veterans Services Department in May 2019 as part of a broader initiative to honor our resident veterans and their families for their service in the Gulf War, the Iraq War, and the War in Afghanistan, the three major wars which currently compose the Gulf War era.

This online component is designed to eventually accompany a broader initiative to all those who served in our wars in the Middle East—that project is currently under development. Any updates will be incorporated into this page.

Below, accompanying the war in which they lost their life, are listed the nine servicemembers with direct ties to Manatee County that perished in the line of duty in the Gulf theater. Each name links to an in-depth biography, which also contains audio recordings of the servicemember’s family and friends discussing their fallen loved one's life both here at home and abroad in the service.

The criteria for inclusion in this memorial are:

  • The servicemember must have been a resident of Manatee County at some point in their life.
  • The servicemember must have perished on active duty overseas in the Gulf theater in the period 1990-present, or they must have perished as a direct result of wounds received during active duty in the Gulf theater in the period 1990-present.
  • The servicemember’s military career must have been characterized by honorable service.

If you believe that there is a servicemember not currently listed who is eligible for inclusion, please contact the Veterans Services Department at (941) 749-3030. Family members of memorialized servicemembers are also invited to reach out at any time.

The Gulf War

The Gulf War began on August 2nd, 1990, when the Iraqi Army invaded and occupied Kuwait, and ended on February 28th, 1991, after a 100-hour American-led ground campaign liberated Kuwait and invaded Iraq, culminating in a ceasefire. Also known as Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the war featured some of the largest tank engagements in American history and one of the largest coalitions built since the Second World War.

A total of 382 American servicemembers died in the Gulf theater during this conflict. Many more were wounded or experienced psychological trauma.

To our knowledge, no Manatee County residents lost their lives during the Gulf War. If you believe you know a deceased servicemember or veteran who is eligible for inclusion, please contact the Veterans Services Department at (941) 749-3030.

The Iraq War

The Iraq War began on March 20th, 2003, when an American-led coalition invaded Iraq with the objective of removing Iraq’s authoritarian leader Saddam Hussein from office under the code name Operation Iraqi Freedom. An extensive and protracted military presence was required to establish a new government in Iraq and to ensure that new government’s stability amid insurgencies and sectarian violence; as a result, American troop commitments peaked at approximately 170,000 servicemembers during the course of the conflict.

The war proper ended on December 18th, 2011, upon the conclusion of the Obama Administration’s troop drawdown under Operation New Dawn. However, a sizable United States military presence remains in the country, and U.S. forces have seen combat in the region against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, which is still ongoing.

Over 4,400 American servicemembers have died in the Iraq theater since March 2003. Many more were wounded or experienced psychological trauma.

Six Manatee County servicemembers lost their lives on active duty in Iraq. A map marking the locations at which each servicemember was mortally wounded or killed in action is included below. Their names are listed in the chronological order of their passing as well, with each name linking to a more detailed interactive biography.

Map of locations in Iraq in which Manatee servicemembers were mortally wounded or killed. Those locations are Ramadi, Fallujah, Mosul, Mahmoudiya, and Baghdad.

Marine Private First Class Christopher R. Cobb

Army Specialist Justin B. Schmidt

Marine Lance Corporal Scott E. Dougherty

Army Staff Sergeant Paul C. Mardis, Jr.

Army Staff Sergeant John L. Hartman, Jr.

Army Specialist Christopher M. North

The War In Afghanistan

The War in Afghanistan began on October 7th, 2001, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, when the Bush Administration invaded the country to depose the Taliban and eliminate what had been a safe base of operations for Al Qaeda.

Working with Afghan partners and a NATO-led coalition, U.S. forces conducted a thirteen-year-long mission, Operation Enduring Freedom, intent on dismantling the infrastructure of terror groups like Al Qaeda and establishing a democratic government in the country while securing it against a protracted Taliban insurgency. The end of Operation Enduring Freedom was marked by the conclusion of an American troop drawdown on December 28th, 2014, but American and NATO forces remain in the country as a residual force under Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Over 2,300 American servicemembers have died in the Afghanistan theater since Operation Enduring Freedom began. Many more have been wounded or experienced psychological trauma.

Three Manatee County servicemembers lost their lives on active duty in Afghanistan. A map marking the locations at which each servicemember was mortally wounded or killed in action is included below. Their names are listed in the chronological order of their passing, with each name linking to a more detailed interactive biography.

A map of Afghanistan marking the locations at which each servicemember was killed or mortally wounded. Those locations are Kabul, Gardez, and Kandahar.

Army Staff Sergeant William E. Hasenflu

Army Specialist Patrick L. Lay II

Army Sergeant James M. Darrough