Bagram honors fallen airmen

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The deadliest attack in Afghanistan since 2013 killed six U.S. troops on Monday, including a family man from Long Island, New York; a South Texan; a New York City police detective; a Georgia high school and college athlete; an expectant father from Philadelphia; and a major from suburban Minneapolis with ties to the military's LGBT community.

They were killed when their patrol was attacked by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle near Bagram Air Base, the Defense Department said.

Wednesday, more than 200 service members representing multiple branches crammed into a packed clamshell tent in Bagram for a chance to grieve before getting back in the saddle to continue the mission.

“How do we honor these six heroes?” asked Lt. Col. David Kelley, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing chaplain. “We honor them by pressing on with the mission. The same mission they were willing to give their lives for.”

Here is more about the fallen victims:


Bonacasa, 31, of Coram, Long Island, was a member of the Air National Guard. He was assigned to the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York.

He enlisted in the Air Force two days after graduating from Newfield High School in 2002, his family told Newsday. He also met his wife in the Air Force.

Bonacasa had served four tours in the military and was four months away from returning home, family members told the newspaper. "He said this was going to be his last tour, and he was going to retire in a couple years," said a sister, Raquel Bonacasa, of Edgewater, New Jersey. He'd been pre-approved for a home mortgage and wanted to start a business, a smoke shop.

Bonacasa leaves behind a wife and 5-year-old daughter.

His brother, Vincent Bonacasa, called him a "humble man who took pride in what he did."


The 28-year-old from Mercedes, Texas, was assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, 11th Field Investigations Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas.

As a teenager, Cinco played football at Mercedes High School. John Vela, now an Air Force staff sergeant based in Anchorage, Alaska, was on the football team with Cinco and they were in band together. He said they'd been friends since the seventh grade.

"It looked like he was having a really good time," in the military, Vela told KRGV-TV. "He had a really good head on his shoulders. He had a lot of ambition."

He said Cinco's death has left him shaken. "It's still unbelievable," he said.


Lemm, 45, a 15-year veteran of the New York Police Department, was on his third tour of duty in the Middle East. He was assigned to the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York.

Lemm lived in suburban West Harrison, New York, with his wife and two children, a teenage daughter and a young son.

He was beloved in his hometown of Beemer, Nebraska, the Omaha World-Herald reported Tuesday.

Although he left the town of less than 1,000 residents decades ago, a message board in front of the village hall proclaimed him "Our Hometown Hero."

Shirley Lemm said her son, as an NYPD officer, spent weeks searching for survivors at ground zero following 9/11 and rejoined the military as a reservist so he could better provide for his family.

"He loved what he did. He was proud of what he did," she told the newspaper.

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said the police detective "epitomized the selflessness we can only strive for: putting his country and city first."


McBride, 30, of Statesboro, Georgia, was assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

He was a football standout at Statesboro High School, where he played defensive back on the team that won a 2001 state championship. An uncle, Kenneth McBride, said his nephew also played football at Savannah State University before he joined the military.

He said they often hit the gym to lift weights together when his nephew would come home on leave.

"He was real strong and had just a great positive attitude about what he was doing," Kenneth McBride said. "He loved the military."

Ken LeCain, principal of Statesboro High School, said in a statement posted on the school's Facebook page, "I will always remember him as a young man of high character with a great smile."


A 30-year-old Air Force sergeant from Philadelphia, Taub was assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Detachment 816 at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. He'd been in the service for eight years and had recently re-enlisted.

He grew up in Wyncote, a Philadelphia suburb, and graduated from Cheltenham High School.

His father, Joel Taub of Philadelphia, said his son didn't tell his family he was in Afghanistan because he didn't want them to worry about him. He said they learned his actual location when military officials notified them he'd been killed.

Peter Taub was married and the father of a 3-year-old girl. His father said the couple has another child on the way.

Taub's mother, Arlene Wagner, runs a Washington, D.C., restaurant, where her son Jonathan is the chef. She announced Peter Taub's death on her restaurant's Facebook page.

"He loved his family, he loved his daughter -- the apple of his eye," Joel Taub told Philadelphia's WCAU-TV.


The 36-year-old from Plymouth, Minnesota, in suburban Minneapolis, was assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, 9th Field Investigations Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

Her father, Joseph Vorderbruggen, told The Associated Press his daughter "loved life" and "loved the military." He said, "Whatever goal she had, she found a way."

Military Partners and Families Coalition, a group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military families, issued a statement Tuesday mourning Vorderbruggen's death and praising the legacy she left behind.

It said Vorderbruggen, her wife and their son had been a part of the group "nearly from its start" and took "great pride in being members of the military community."

Vorderbruggen "lived for her family and for her country," the statement said.

Information from the Department of Defense and Associated Press was used in this report.