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Everyday Heroes: SGT. DENNIS WEICHEL JR.

March 31, 2012

Sgt. Dennis Weichel Jr. died “from injuries suffered in a noncombat related incident,” according to a U.S. Army press release. But there is a great deal more to this story than what these few words would lead one to believe. Dennis Weichel, 29, of Providence, Rhode Island, the father of three small children, died saving the life of a little girl. An Afghani girl.

Weichel was in a convoy March 22 with his unit in Laghman Province, in northeast Afghanistan. Some children were in the road in front of the convoy, and Weichel and other troops got out to move them out of the way.

One little girl went back to pick up some brass shell casings in the road. Afghan civilians often recycle the casings, and the girl appeared to aim to do that. But a 16-ton Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle was moving toward her.

Weichel saw the massive truck bearing down on the girl and grabbed her out of the way, saving her life. But, in the process, the armored truck ran him over. Sgt. Weichel died a short time later.

“He was a big kid at heart. He always had a smile on his face, and he made everyone laugh,” 1st Sgt. Nicky Peppe, who served with Weichel in Iraq, is quoted as saying in an Army story.

“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.”

(Read more here.)

Remember that this American soldier had three children waiting for him back in Rhode Island. His sacrifice cost those children a father . . . and cost our country a man of great courage, a true Everyday American Hero.

Where do these men come from? What makes them do the things they do? Well, they come from America. That much we do know. What makes them do what they do? No one can answer that question with absolute certainty. My best answer is that they just naturally do the right thing. Everyday Heroes make sacrifices – sometimes the ultimate sacrifice – to assist someone in danger, someone in need.

Sgt. Weichel’s act of self-sacrifice says a lot about the American soldier. I wonder if any Afghan leaders have publicly spoken out about Dennis Weichel’s sacrifice. I wonder if President Karzai has written a letter to Weichel’s children to thank them for their father. I wonder if our own president will speak out about Sgt. Weichel’s heroism.

Too often, we hear about the rare incidents that embarrass America, that speak of what our country and our servicemen and servicewomen are not. Having served in Vietnam and observed numerous acts of courage and self-sacrifice by American service people, and having watched Everyday Heroes – American civilians and soldiers — all across our nation and the world perform amazingly courageous and unselfish acts, I know what our country and its people are made of.

We should celebrate Dennis Weichel’s bravery and sacrifice. We should celebrate what he stands for and the example he has given us all. We should pray for his children, and hope they will find some solace in their father’s example and courage to counter their unspeakable grief.

(See a news report here.)

Joseph Badal is the author of the suspense novels  The Pythagorean Solution, Terror CellThe Nostradamus Secret and Evil Deeds.  His next novel, Shell Game, will be released in May 2012.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2012 11:14 am

    What a moving story, truly heartbreaking. Some people are moral giants…And yet, one feels so sad for his family and children. But as they grow up there’s one thing they can always rely on, the knowledge that their father is a hero. A pity that the news media always give out the bad stories, the embarrassing incidents and never give out the truly beautiful, uplifting stories, stories one can be proud of and that renew one’s confidence in human nature…A bad story makes news, a good one doesn’t and that’s terrible!

    Thanks Joe for giving us such an important story!

  2. April 2, 2012 1:30 pm

    Touching story…and you wrote it so well. Thanks for sharing.


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