‘The Moral High Ground': Rhode Island National Guard Sgt. Dennis Weichel Dies Saving Afghan Girl’s Life
A US Army sergeant with three children of his own gave his life saving the life of an Afghan child.
ABC News reports that Dennis Weichel, a 29-year-old sergeant in the Rhode Island National Guard, was riding in a convoy in Laghman Province in eastern Afghanistan when he spotted some children picking up shell casings on the road. Spent casings are recycled for cash in Afghanistan.
Weichel and his colleagues exited their vehicles to move the children from harm’s way, but one girl ran back into the road to collect more casings that were underneath a 16-ton mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle (MRAP), a massive truck designed to protect soldiers from roadside bombs and other booby-traps.
The selfless soldier managed to removed the little girl from danger, but the MRAP ran him over and he later died from his injuries.
Rhode Island National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Dennis Riel called Sgt. Weichel “the living embodiment of the Army’s core values.”
“I have heard nothing but incredible stuff about this kid, selfless beyond our core values that we live up to,” Riel is quoted in ABC News. “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.”
Staff Sgt. Ronald Corbett, who served with Weichel in Iraq in 2005, said, “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.”
The engaged father of three was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for his heroic act, and Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee has ordered flags in the state to be flown at half-mast until Weichel’s burial on Monday.
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