Tuesday, April 3, 2012





Hero: noun, plural -roes;
1. A man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
2. A person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal: "He was a local hero when he saved the drowning child."

   "Hero" isn't a big enough word.
   First Sgt. Nicky Peppe, who served with Sgt. Dennis Weichel, in Iraq, said: "He was a big kid at heart. He always had a smile on his face and he made everyone laugh. But as much as Weichel was funny, he was also a professional. When it was time to go outside the wire for a combat patrol, he was all business."
   "When I first heard, I kept expecting him to jump up and say, 'Oh, I got you guys.' The last few days have hit me hard," said Staff Sgt. Ronald Corbett, Weichel's former colleague, who served with him in Iraq in 2005, "He would have done it for anybody. That was the way he was. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He was that type of guy."
   A U.S. Army website press release reports spokesman for the Rhode Island National Guard, Lt Col. Denis Riel, extolled Weichel's virtues, saying: "I have heard nothing but incredible stuff about this kid, selfless beyond our core values that we live up to. As I hear more from family and others, he was the living embodiment of the Army’s core values: courageous, selfless and loyal. All values we expect from our soldiers. We mourn all combat deaths, but this one is a significant loss."
   He had been a member of the Rhode Island National Guard since 2001. Dennis was an infantry man mobilized with Company C, 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment, 56th Troop Command, to Camp Atterbury, Ind. in November 2011, and then deployed forward to Afghanistan in early March, so had only been in Afghanistan for a few weeks before he died saving the life of an Afghani girl he didn't know, had not previously met, and would never meet again.
   He was just 29 years old.
   On March 22nd, a Thursday, Dennis was riding in a convoy in the Laghman Province of eastern Afghanistan when a group of young children were seen on the road ahead picking casings up for recycling, for which they would receive money. Weichel and some other soldiers got out of their transports and moved the kids out of way of some approaching heavy military vehicles.
   But one of the girls suddenly ran back to the road to pick up some casings in the path of a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected Vehicle (MRAP), a huge armored truck weighing more than 16 tons used to deflect Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and other roadside bombs.
   Disregarding his own personal safety, Dennis rushed to her and managed to push her out of the way of the fast approaching vehicle, which saved her life, but unfortunately he was unable to get out of the way himself and was crushed when the MRAP ran over him.
   He later died of his injuries at the Jalalabad Medical Treatment Facility.
   One can't help but wonder how this came about. Why was this MRAP traveling so fast it couldn't stop, and what the hell was the driver of said vehicle doing that he couldn't avoid the deadly collision? Reading Playboy?
   No matter what the answers to these questions turn out to be, if they are indeed ever brought to light, the answers are moot as the damage has already been tragically done.
   This a time to celebrate the life and memory of a true American hero, one who embodies the real values cherished in this country, those of selflessness, courage, altruism, and honor. And that's what this post is designed to do.
   On the last day of March, last Saturday morning, a military honor guard, family members and politicians stood in the cold rain on the tarmac at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, to watch the return of Sgt. Dennis P. Weichel Jr.
   "Today is an extremely solemn day," said Kevin McBride, Adjutant General of the Rhode Island National Guard. "It's a solemn reminder that there we still have military men and women in combat."
   Dennis Weichel was posthumously promoted to Sergeant, awarded the Bronze Star, and NATO Service Medal Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon RI Star.
   A memorial service was held yesterday for Dennis at the Swan Point Cemetery in Providence. Following the service, Sergeant Weichel was buried with full military honors at the state Veterans Cemetery in Exeter.
   As of the 26th of March, 2012, there have been 2,852 coalition deaths in Afghanistan as part of ongoing operations since the invasion in 2001.
   The decade-long War in Afghanistan has caused the deaths of thousands of Afghan civilians directly from insurgent and foreign military action, as well as the deaths of possibly tens of thousands of Afghan civilians indirectly as a consequence of displacement, starvation, disease, exposure, lack of medical treatment, crime and lawlessness resulting from the war. -Wikipedia
   This is the true cost of war.
   According to a CNN/ORC poll taken over March 24th and 25th, 2012, of 1,014 adults nationwide, 72% oppose the war (occupation) in Afghanistan. 25% approve, with 3% with their heads up their butts.
   A New York Times/CBS News poll taken March 26th (of 986 adults nationwide) indicated 69% of Americans disapproved of the war.
   With so many Americans having an unfavorable view of the conflict in Afghanistan, and casualties continuing to mount, why are we still there?
    "It’s because President Obama wants to stay in Afghanistan," Cenk Uygur, of The Young Turks says.
   President Obama... It's time to leave.
   Dennis Weichel is survived by a fiancee, his parents and three children.

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