Rest In Peace

This section is in memory of friends, or people who are important to friends of mine who have passed.

Reagan Scott Burke - March 30, 2009 - January 11, 2010

Reagan Scott Burke was born fighting for his life. I have never met him, nor his family, but his dad Kevin is a member on the Lightfighter Tactical forum of which I'm also a member. Reagan was born with tracheoesphageal fistula (TEF) and a double-outlet ventricle. TEF is a condition where an abnormal connection between the esophagus and trachea exists; where they are normally two separate tubes that are not connected. Liquid can therefore get into the lungs when swallowing, from which complications like pneumonia can arise. A double outlet ventricle (DORV) is a congenital heart condition in which both the pulmonary artery and aorta arise from the right ventricle (the aorta normally arises from the left ventricle). Both conditions usually have to be corrected by surgery.

When Reagan was born, Kevin started a thread on the forum, asking for prayers, and many answered. From that time on, he would update the LF community periodically with status on Reagan's battles. Like many other members, I checked the thread frequently, hoping for good news or no news. As with some other things, no news was often good news, and it meant that Reagan was still fighting his battle.

When my own son was born in Dec '07, he was back in the hospital within the first week with a serious infection. The doctor told us that if we had waited a couple of days more before bringing him in, it could have been fatal. My wife and I spent the next 10 days in the hospital, sick with worry (and her trying to recover from the birth), with our week-old son hooked up to tubes, needles and monitors. It was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting, and I found out that the fear that you have for the life of your child is much greater than you have for your own. My own experience can only give me the slightest hint of what Reagan's family endured for nine whole months. I'm not sure I'd have had the spirit, energy or inclination to update people I didn't know on a forum, but Kevin did, because he knew that we cared, and had a whole community of folk pulling for his family and his little guy with prayers, hope, good vibes and offers of support.

Reading Kevin's updates was a roller-coaster ride with highs, lows and a lot of scares in-between. I know that each time I read Kevin's updates, I hugged my son afterwards just a little bit harder, and sweated the small stuff a little less. In the short time he spent on Earth, little Reagan went through 6 major surgeries and a number of minor procedures. Of his nine+ months, seven were spent in the hospital. He was able to spend two months at home, where he was happy. Many a time, Reagan showed his fighting spirit when he defied the doctors by pulling through when hope was almost lost.

On Jan 11, 2010, Kevin posted the update all of us hoped would never come. Reagan passed away in his parents' arms at 4:48 pm from heart failure. He almost came back in the end, but the internal damage was just too much. Reagan left just like he had arrived - fighting.

Reagan is survived by his mom (Shirley), dad (Kevin) and brother (Colin). I know that I am not alone when I write that while my family has not shared the Burke's loss, we, along with many others share in their grief.

Rest In Peace, sweet child.

Photo: copyright Kevin Burke

Dan Kohlstrom - April 19, 1971 - September 10, 2009

Dan first introduced himself via email in either late 2002 or early 2003, when he ran 'gogetemgear.com'. He was a Staff Sergeant in A CO 1/1 SFG(A) in Okinawa, and wrote to ask about gear after finding my website. Dan was very down to earth from the very beginning. He'd ask for my opinion, and listened seriously (which surprised me at first), even though he was a Special Forces Soldier, and I was...just an average Joe civilian with gear. He explained "I have seen great ideas come from the civilian world and shitty ideas come from the military side. Just because I'm in SF really shouldn't let that keep me from searching out good info." And so we started our correspondence. Dan was very active on the internet, and on various forums discussing tactical gear, knives, tactical medicine etc. I'd see his familiar posts as 'Javahed' or 'Javahedz/s' on many of them, or his gear reviews on backpacking and camping websites. I think that he was more of a geardo than I was. The difference was that he actually used his for 'real'. Even so, he'd connect me to manufacturers that he thought would be interested in my site, or that I'd be interested in looking at.

We also found that we shared similar interests besides guns and gear (hobby for me, work for him); photography, hiking, fitness and motorcycles were also subjects that he wrote about enthusiastically. One thing that stands out in my mind is that he'd often sign off with a 'Have fun! Dan'. And that's what he seemed to be doing to the fullest. He had a fun-loving personality, a great sense of humour and energy that was conveyed through his writing. We finally met in person at the 2005 SHOT show in Vegas, where we walked the aisles, checking out the gear. He was both warm and humble, with a bit of cheeky rascal thrown in.

When he got out of the Army, he'd send sporadic emails with pictures taken in exotic locales, or Mel from Kifaru would hear from him, and tell me 'Dan's in Africa now' etc. Dan was also part of the Lightfighter.net community from early on, and was a frequent poster there. His posts contributed a lot of information, hilarity and enjoyment to the forum, and his presence was missed when his posts dropped off. He'd jump in from time to time, and each time would be greeted like an old friend.

It was to my shock and dismay when I read on Lightfighter yesterday, that Dan had passed away suddenly in his sleep, working as a medic with a government contracted company in Afghanistan, on September 10, 2009, leaving his wife of only 8 months, Tiffany (Kovitch) Kohlstrom, his two children, Zachary (who shares Dan's eye and talent for photography) and Sydney, and his mother, Beverly Kohlstrom of Princeton (MA).

Dan was only 38. Three years younger than I am now. Too soon, way too soon. I just couldn't believe it. He should have been climbing mountains for decades to come. I looked at some of the photos that Dan had taken on his travels in his online album, and got a glimpse into the world that Dan saw, and his appreciation of the natural beauty and people around him. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family.

Dan, Rest In Peace. You'll be missed.

Photos: copyright Dan Kohlstrom

Steve Holtgrefe - Aug 11, 1964 - Dec 8, 2007 Former U.S. Navy

Steve was a friend, motorcycle riding buddy, and part of the extended family at the Torrance Airsoft Extreme store where I met him through the owner, Andrew Ho. Steve was a fellow who loved his hobbies - airsoft, motorcycles, shooting, scale and R/C models, and his classic Lotus 7 car. Always easy going and amiable, he had a quiet, friendly nature and wry sense of humour. He'd sometimes communicate with a nod of the head and raised eyebrow rather than words. I don't think I can recall a time when I saw him without a smile on his face, or the hint of one. He was always quick to help anyone in need, and enjoyed being around the people he shared his hobbies with.
He rode his motorcycle erratically, and those who followed him were wise to keep a safe distance as he'd speed up or slow down for no apparent reason. It'd definitely keep you on your toes (or brakes). I'll miss the sight and sound of him on his Honda RC51 with the one pipe higher than the other, giving the bike a slightly lop-sided appearance from behind (he's dropped it on one side). When I got my Ducati 996, we compared the throaty growl of our bikes' V-twin engines exhausts side-by-side, and he said "I still think mine's louder". He was wrong, of course.
He loved driving his Lotus 7 car as much as riding his motorcycle in the twisty mountain highways, and that was a fun car to watch when I was on the bike.
It was while doing something he loved that he passed, and for that he is lucky. He passed away during an airsoft game, surrounded by friends and fellow hobbyists alike. We could only hope to be as fortunate to be amongst those we love when we die, but for Steve, that time came too soon and unexpectedly.
My wife had just given birth to our son on Dec 2nd, and a few days later he had a serious infection that put him back in the hospital for a week. The doctor told us that if it had been allowed to spread a couple of days more, it could have been fatal. It was during that stressful time that Andrew Ho called to tell me about Steve the evening of the day that he died. I was in disbelief, and it hit me hard as I had just been contemplating the fragility of us humans all week while spending day and night in the hospital, watching over my week-old son hooked up to needles and wires. One day we're here, the next we're gone. But ever since Steve died, he's been on my mind daily, as I reminisce about conversations we've had or replay scenes in my mind. As I do so, I realize that Steve lives on in my memory, as do others that have passed, and to some extent, will always be here with me. RIP, Steve. You are missed.

For more about Steve from the words of his other friends, please visit Steve's Memorial Page on the AEX website.

Andrew Ho has received many emails and calls in the past week from many people, some of whom do not even know Steve, to express their condolences. Their wish to show support for Steve's family and friends include offers of financial contributions which the family has declined. With the family's permission, Andrew has set up this memorial page with the American Heart Association for Steve's friends and fellow hobby enthusiasts so you can make a contribution in Steve's honor and, just as importantly, leave a message in the guestbook to share your thoughts with Steve's family and friends.

Click here to view the Fund Page for Steve Holtgrefe.
If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:


Michael 'Mac' McInnis (posted for a friend - I did not know Mike personally). Former Navy SEAL, warrior, friend and loving father. This is the trust fund for Mike's daughter, Sarah:

By mail:

Account Name: The Sarah Michael McInnis Trust Fund
Account Number: 3010059149

Navy Federal Credit Union
P.O.Box 3100
Merrifield, VA 22119-3100

Direct deposit:

Navy Federal Credit Union
Account Name: The Sarah Michael McInnis Revocable Trust Fund
Account Number: 3010059149
Routing Number: 2560-7497-4

Larry Bullock, the owner of Buffer Technologies lost his life in a tragic automobile accident on 11-12-05, leaving behind his wife and two daughters. He was a great contributor to the shooting industry and a supporter of our men and women in the military; always making sure they got what they needed if he had anything to do with it. He was a kind and generous man - a genuine 'great guy'. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him. A scholarship fund has been set up to help his girls through school.

Please send contributions to Mary Wilson at Jefferson Bank of Missouri, 700 Southwest Blvd. P.O. Box 600, Jefferson City, MO 65102-9930. The account is titled The Abby and Grace Bullock Scholarship Fund. The account number is 0144784. Rest in Peace, Larry.

Elijah Wong - Former owner of assultvest.com and a really great guy. Eli was KIA in Iraq 2-9-04, while serving with the Arizona National Guard, 363rd Explosive ordnance Company (EOD). He is survived by his wife and three children. No trust fund information available.
More information here and here.


The above photo is of bracelets commissioned by 'Duke' on Lightfighter.net to honour and remember members and friends of the Lightfighter forum who gave their lives in the service of their countries in the fight against terror.



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