Military Veterans Mourned As Las Vegas Victims, Praised As Heroes

Community

The victims of America’s worst mass shooting in modern history came from all walks of life — and so did the heroes who were praised for preventing further loss of life. They were nurses, special-ed teachers, lawyers, and small-business owners. And some were veterans of the military services.


At present, several veterans at the Route 91 Festival concert have been identified as eyewitnesses and responders to the hail of gunfire that ripped through the crowd on the Las Vegas strip Oct. 1. Two veterans have been identified among the 59 people killed.

"All branches have reported back to us that there have been no active-duty service members killed or wounded in the Las Vegas tragedy Sunday night,” Army Maj. Dave Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, told Task & Purpose on Oct. 3.

But, Eastburn added, more casualties were possible once unit accountabilities were taken: “The Nevada National Guard and Reserve Units are currently doing recalls to collect that information, but because the majority of the troops in Las Vegas are part-time guardsmen, it will take significantly longer than the active force."

Here is what we know about the veterans killed in the Las Vegas tragedy, as well as those vets who rendered assistance to their fellow concertgoers. Task & Purpose will update with more information as it becomes available.

The Fallen

Charleston Hartfield

Charleston HartfieldCourtesy Walter Lowell via Telegraph

Hartfield, 34, was an off-duty Las Vegas police officer and youth football coach known to many as “ChuckyHart.” Earlier in the summer, he wrote and published Memoirs of a Public Servant, a 208-page account of his policing career.

But he was also a 16-year military veteran. A 2013 Nevada National Guard newsletter identified Hartfield as a sergeant 1st class assigned as staff to the Guard’s 421st Regional Training Institute, after serving with the 82d Airborne Division. He also was a heavyweight co-champion in the Nevada Guard’s first internal combatives tournament, in 2012.

“I don’t know a better man than Charles,” longtime friend Troy Rhett told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. They say it’s always the good ones we lose early. There’s no truer statement than that with Charles. … Our hearts have just been very heavy since hearing the news.”

Hartfield, who leaves behind a wife, a son, and a daughter, asked friend Walter Lowell to take a photo of him in his Army ACUs during a 2015 trip to Hawaii, saying, “I don't have any good photos of me in uniform,” according to Lowell. His friend posted that photo, shown above, on social media as a tribute to Hartfield.

“There’s really no solace to this other than we know Charles, and he was probably doing his best to make sure others were safe and being helped,” Rhett told the Review-Journal. “He was just so special. He’s going to definitely be missed by many.”

Christopher Roybal

Navy veteran Chris Roybal downrange in AfghanistanPhoto via Chris Roybal/Facebook

Roybal, a veteran of the Navy from Corona, California, was a master-at-arms who deployed as an individual augmentee with the 25th Infantry Division in Afghanistan. Last July, Roybal published a post on Facebook answering the old question combat vets are so often asked: What’s it like to be shot at?

Related: ‘What’s It Like Being Shot At?’ Navy Vet Killed In Las Vegas Leaves Powerful Final Facebook Post »

“As the fights continue and as they as increase in numbers and violence, that excitement fades and the anger is all that’s left,” Roybal wrote. “The anger stays, long after your friends have died, the lives you’ve taken are buried and your boots are placed neatly in a box in some storage unit. Still covered in the dirt you’ve refused to wash off for fear of forgetting the most raw emotions you as a human being will ever feel again.”

Roybal was in Las Vegas last weekend to celebrate his 29th birthday with mom Debby Allen, 49, she said in an interview with the New York Daily News. They had relaxed poolside Sunday afternoon and planned to meet at the music festival later that night. But when the shooting began, Allen was pulled out of the field of fire by fellow concertgoers before she could find Roybal.

A first responder later told Allen’s daughter that he had tried to save Roybal’s life after he was hit in the hail of small arms fire. "He said he rendered first aid but saw the life go out of my son. I wouldn't believe it, but I got confirmation today. The coroner told me. It sounds like he got shot pretty quickly," Allen told the Daily News. "I feel like I'm living in a nightmare, I want to wake up so badly."

Related: ‘No Way To Really Protect Yourself’: Veterans Describe The Horror Of The Las Vegas Shooting »

Bearing witness, saving lives

Other veterans survived the onslaught and witnessed — or committed — acts of bravery while the gunfire persisted.

Taylor Winston, 29, a Marine veteran of the Iraq war, stole a truck at the concert grounds to ferry as many as two dozen critically wounded bystanders to a local hospital in multiple trips. “We went back into the gunfire and started looking for priority victims, people with the most serious injuries, to get to the hospital,” he said in an interview with ABC 10 News. You can read his full story here.

Robert Ledbetter, 42, a former Army Ranger and scout sniper, shoved his wife under cover and set out to find the shooter. Instead, he found wounded fellow concertgoers, fashioning a tourniquet for one man who was legshot out of a bystander’s flannel shirt, he told the Los Angeles Times. As he and his family fled the scene, they picked up his brother, who was shot through the arm and chest, and ferried him to first responders. But Ledbetter denied his actions were heroic. “I’m a retired vet. There were five surrounding me that were combat medics doing the same thing I was doing,” he told the Times. “Army veterans helping other veterans, helping people out.”

Colin Donahue, an Iraq veteran and Army reservist, spent much of the assault pulling people out of the line of fire, he told Fox News. "I just did what I was supposed to do and what I was trained to do, and I was trying to take care of people," he said.

When an anchor asked if he'd ever seen a firefight like the one that unfolded in Las Vegas that night, Donahue replied, "No sir. We had a little, we had a little bit up towards Mosul, but nothing… nothing comparatively. That was the worst thing… words can’t describe what was going on at the time. And there was nothing I could do."

For more on veterans who witnessed the Las Vegas attacks and helped with the response, read Task & Purpose’s full story here, and watch this post for updates.

Photo illustration/Facebook

On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.

Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.

In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Army/Pvt. Stephen Peters)

With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.

After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.

Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.

McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Andrew Ochoa)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.

The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.

They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.

It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.

Read More Show Less
(Reuters/Carlos Barria)

WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.

Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."

"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.

Read More Show Less