OEF-OIF-WPPS Memorial Honor Roll. . . . . Today, 26 July, 2015
OEF-OIF-WPPS Memorial Honor Roll. . . . .  Today, 26 July, 2015

In connection with the release of Indestructible Armor: Operation Desert Sand in August 2015 I have created a daily memorial posting to honor the souls lost while working as PMCs on OEF, OIF and WPPS. We honor these American patriots and their allied brothers and treasure their memories. Their commitment, valor, and individual sacrifices will be forever remembered and never forgotten. Today we mourn a warrior who lost his battle with PTSD and God has welcomed him home.

“Fair Winds and Following Seas to all who have passed before us.”

26 JULY 2015 One American, a former sergeant with the U.S. Army 75th Ranger Regiment, passed away unexpectedly at his home near Phoenix, Arizona.
✞ Antouine “LIPS” Castaneda, 32 – Phoenix, Arizona

Angry, confused, devastated – an unbelievable pain that only those of us that knew and loved him can understand. As I read all of your posts it gives me comfort that he was loved by so many yet adds to my confusion as to how all of our love and his deep love for his girls could not relieve the pain that he felt only death would allow him to escape.

How do we escape the pain? Trying to console my sister while at the same time Sharon is trying to tell my beautiful great nieces that their Daddy is gone. No more Mexican manicures, trips to the water park or snuggles and kisses with Dad. It isn’t fair to any of us left behind. I have 4 sons which idolized Antouine as the “Super Hero Bad Ass” of the family. So much so that 2 of my sons followed in his footsteps into the military and the other 2 still in high school are likely to follow as well.

Some of you posted that this needs to stop. Too many of our soldiers are losing their battle with darkness and seeking suicide as the answer. Tell me how to stop it!! I wish this on no family to have to experience this pain and confusion of questions unanswered and what did we miss what could we have done to save this amazing man to make him feel and know that he was more than a soldier, more than a Ranger. He was a son, grandson, brother, nephew, father, uncle, cousin and friend to so many who loved and adored him that he was worthy of a beautiful and happy life here on this earth with all of us. I love you Antouine with all my heart and we will all miss you deeply every day. I hope you have found your peace my sweet nephew now I hope we can find ours. RIP.

If anyone of you are struggling or know someone else who is…PLEASE REACH OUT! Help them, hold them tight because suicide is not the answer. ~ Andrea (Aunti Andi) Demory

I never worked with Antouine, and was only acquainted with this former brother-in-arms through social media posts and photos. Nonetheless, he was every bit a Blackwater brother as any of the men I deployed with and he will be always remembered, never forgotten. Comments from his fellow warriors today summed up a ever-growing, yet eerily quiet phenomenon among American veterans and PMC’s – suicide as a result of PTSD:

“Fucking lips… RIP Ranger!! Antouine Castaneda one more that we couldn’t fucking save…”  

“Just a straight beast. Always positive, smart, tactical, funny…. How could PTSD end you when nothing could break you……. Fuck!!”

“When I woke up this morning, there was a message waiting for me telling me you were gone. I haven’t seen you in over 10 years…..  know your attitude was infectious and I always felt happier when you were around….. I know I loved you as a brother and you are on a list of people that I wish I could have around me for the rest of my life. As a father of a little girl myself, with whom I can be silly and who just loves me SO MUCH, my heart breaks for your little girls! I’m so sorry I didn’t say happy birthday, sorry I’ll never see you again (real life or Facebook, even), and most sorry for those closest to you. You were a great person, ‘Antouine (J) Castaneda’.”

“Not sure what to say….Early this morning I got a call from a brother. A call full of emotion. Anger, sadness, confusion all balled into one. My first Team Leader in battalion lost the battle. Why? 22 too many….1 is too many!”

“Remember the good times. Remember that he thought about this for a very long time. Most of all remember that men like that make a decision and they execute it. Generally there is nothing you could have done to prevent this. If he had children embrace them and let them know that you and the community of brothers will always be there for them.

“Today is a very sad day. I just lost one of my best friends to PTSD. Antouine Castaneda ‘LIPS’ you was a great warrior and one of the best friends I ever had. I’ll see you on the other side. I love you brother and only wish there was something I could have done.”

My thoughts and prayers are with Antouine, as well as with his family and friends, as we pray for his eternal peace. I pray that he will be welcomed into God’s Kingdom and prepared the way for those of us to follow. To my friends, my former Blackwater co-workers, and to all our brothers-in-arms, I offer these words:

Suicide only appears like an option when the devil has hidden all your other options. Allow the Bible to open your eyes. You will have to work at it. You will not feel like it. Do it anyway, your life depends on it, and contrary to what you are feeling, YOUR LIFE IS WORTH IT. Suicide is a permanent solution to an intense but short term problem. Don’t do it! ~ Wayne E. Hunt

“Do not be a fool–why die before your time? Ecclesiastes 7:17”

Read more about PTSD and suicide by clicking here or on any on the links below…..

National Center for PTSD

PTSD – Kristin Brooks Hope Center – Hopeline

Veteran Emergency PTSD and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) Resources

Veterans Crisis Hotline

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5 Comments
  • by Willem Greeff ( Bones) Posted July 27, 2015 2:45 am

    RIP Brother, I had the opportunity to work with you for a short period in Baghad and I remember you as the guy that was always smiling…it was always a pleasure to see you….we do not always understand why things happen to our warrior brothers…..but I know in my heart God loves you and he welcomes you…..

  • by Eddie Posted July 27, 2015 4:15 pm

    Is there a fund we can contribute for his family?

  • by Stephen German Posted July 27, 2015 5:38 pm

    I’m struggling to find the words to express my feelings right now. I don’t know where to begin. Antouine Castaneda was a good friend, his spirit lifted me and gave me support when we both needed it desperately. I only wish that he knew that I thought of him often and with great fondness, he affected my life in ways that I didn’t yet know and will not yet realize. I recall many stories and events that we shared together. You will be greatly missed Ranger Buddy. You were a part of me, I only wish that I could have shared your pain, been there with you. I’m so sorry. ~ Stephen German

  • by Maurice Roaming Posted July 27, 2015 5:41 pm

    Fellow warrior Antouine Castaneda succumbed to the burden of survival and took his own life yesterday. He will be joined by another 21 veterans, who will also have committed suicide that day. I met Antouine in Bagdad and worked with him several times. He stood out in my memory because like me, he was another one of the few young GWOT Rangers working for BW. This week while reading Leo’s book “Lest We Forget” I remember seeing his picture prominently displayed in association with the Operation RedWings recovery and thought, “I know that guy!”….. Fucking tragedy, RIP Ranger ~ Maurice Roaming

  • by Jamie Allen Posted July 27, 2015 5:44 pm

    I found this quote long ago and thought it described death and the memory of a loved one so beautifully! Little did I know, I would be applying this to someone so close to me.

    “Death is nothing at all.
    I have only slipped away to the next room.
    I am I and you are you.
    Whatever we were to each other,
    That, we still are.

    “Call me by my old familiar name.
    Speak to me in the easy way
    which you always used.
    Put no difference into your tone.
    Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

    “Laugh as we always laughed
    at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
    Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
    Let my name be ever the household word
    that it always was.
    Let it be spoken without effect.
    Without the trace of a shadow on it.

    “Life means all that it ever meant.
    It is the same that it ever was.
    There is absolute unbroken continuity.
    Why should I be out of mind
    because I am out of sight?

    “I am but waiting for you.
    For an interval.
    Somewhere. Very near.
    Just around the corner.

    “All is well.

    “Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before only better, infinitely happier and forever we will all be one together with Christ.” ~ Henry Scott Holland

    I will think of you every single day. — feeling heartbroken with Antouine Castaneda and Natalie Elyea. ~ Jamie Allen

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