Matthew G. Axelson, 29
I asked him 'If this had happened before you joined, would you still have done it?' and he said, 'Absolutely, because the world is a more dangerous place. If I can work [fighting terrorism] and get rid of some of the bad guys, I'll be happy.'
— Donna Axelson, mother, on Sept. 11 attacks
Axelson, a Cal State Chico graduate, was part of a four-person team ambushed in Iraq. His body was not recovered for more than week. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor.