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Our Fallen Heroes
Pride Month Memories

June 2012

During this Pride Month in America, we delve into the past back to WWII and work our way forward, recognizing a few of our fallen heroes who served, some of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice, and others who went on to devote their lives to our freedom in our long battle for equality.


World War II

PFC Frank Kameny, USA
1925 - 2011

Franklin Kameny, PhD, served in combat in Europe as a teenager in WWII.  He earned a doctorate degree in astronomy at Harvard.  In 1957 he was fired from a government job when he was found to be homosexual.  He spent the next 50 years fighting for gay rights.  Read more about Frank Kameny here.


Korean Era
LTJG Harvey Milk, USN
1930 - 1978

Harvey Milk served in the US Navy aboard a submarine and in San Diego during the Korean War Era. Later, in NYC he worked on Wall St.  He was assassinated after having been the first openly gay elected official in San Francisco and CA, courageously leading the fight for our rights.  Read more about Harvey Milk here.


Vietnam

SSG Leonard Matlovich, USAF
1943 - 1988

Leonard Matlovich served 17 sterling years in the Air Force, earning a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his courage and valor in Vietnam.  He sacrificed his career for our freedom when he came out publicly in a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force in 1974.  He was dishonorably discharged, sued and eventually won.  He died of AIDS in 1988.  His gravestone at the Congressional Cemetery is inscribed, "A Gay Vietnam Veteran.  When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men, and a discharge for loving one."  Read more about Leonard Matlovich here.


Iraq
MAJ Alan Rogers, USA
1967 - 2008

The first 'known' gay casualty in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Alan Rogers, buried at Arlington National Cemetery, was killed in action by an IED while on foot patrol with his troops.  Although his life was compartmentalized, as were those of other LGBT volunteers serving under DADT, he was also an officer of the DC Chapter of American Veterans For Equal Rights, the national LGBT veterans and service members VSO,  unafraid to serve his country and share pride in who he was.  Read more about Alan Rogers here.


Afghanistan
CPL Andrew Wilfahrt, USA
1980- 2011

Andrew Wilfahrt sacrificed his freedom, and ultimately his life, in order to give meaning and purpose to his life as a gay American.  He never hide who he was, not from his family, not from his fellow troops.  Killed while on foot patrol outside Kandahar, he is the first 'known' gay casualty of Operation Enduring Freedom.  Read more about Andrew Wilfahrt here.

There are so many others, known and unknown, whom the above five patriotic heroes represent, for us to remember in this Pride Month as we celebrate the freedom we have gained and dedicate ourselves to demanding full equality.

  2012 Gay Military Signal