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Read & React: U.S. Soldier Dies Saving Girl in Afghanistan

by Richard Nance   |  April 2nd, 2012 34
Dennis Weichel

Photo provided by the U.S. Army

According to ABC News, last week Rhode Island National Guardsman Sgt. Dennis Weichel, 29, made the ultimate sacrifice to save an Afghan girl from being run over by a (MRAP) Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle, which is designed to protect U.S. troops from roadside bombs and can weigh up to 16 tons.

Weichel was part of a convoy in Eastern Afghanistan, when a group of children were spotted in the road collecting spent shell casings, which are recycled for money in Afghanistan. Weichel and other soldiers exited their vehicles and moved the children to clear a path for the convoy of heavy military vehicles.

After the children were out of the way, a girl darted into the path of a heavily armored truck. Weichel was able to reach the girl and lift her to safety but he was run over by the truck and later died of his injuries.

Lt. Col. Dennis Riel of the Rhode Island National Guard said, “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.”

Weichel was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant and awarded the bronze star. Wiechel is survived by his children, fiancée, and parents.

This story makes me truly proud to be an American, and serves as a perfect case in point that some things are worth not only fighting for but dying for. It appears that Weichel recognized the risk and, in true hero form, made a conscious decision to save that little girl. In this case, doing the right thing cost Weichel his life but it was still the right thing. It’s tragic that his family will no longer have him in their lives. Hopefully his act of heroism will be of some comfort in the trying times ahead.

I’ve never served in the military but I have been a police officer for the past 15 years. As you might have guessed, police work is inherently dangerous. Adhering to established “officer safety” protocol such as wearing a ballistic vest, using proper tactics and maintaining a high level of proficiency with a firearm can go a long way toward keeping you safe.

Some argue that “officer safety” is the absolute most important aspect of policing. As a defensive tactics and firearms instructor, I can see their point. But if that were really the case, officers would run away from the sound of gunfire, not toward it! Officer safety is tremendously important but when it comes right down to it, a police officer’s job is to protect others, even when that means going into harm’s way. This is a heavy burden to bear and may explain why a career in law enforcement or the military isn’t for everyone.

Thankfully, there are those who are willing to protect others even if that means sacrificing their own life. Thank you for your service, Sgt. Weichel. May you rest in peace.

Richard Nance
  • joeytranchina

    Not much to be said. Some great people there doing a tough job in a terrible place.

    Sgt. Dennis Weichel was what we raise our kids to be then hope they'll survive it… sad that he didn't.

  • jason davis

    It's heart breaking, the cause of conflict in our lives and the one that took his. Thank you solider.

  • ArtoMar1

    Everyone, if they haven't already, should take time to watch National Geographic's "Inside the Green Berets" from 2009. Deals a lot with humvee episodes. – @ArtoMar1

    • Mark G

      What date and time please

  • J.R. Verdugo

    As a veteran, I also ran into a near death situation where we were ordered to move to another position. One of the soldiers froze for some reason that I don't know why. Having some sense of heroism, I went back to drag him where he should've gone. That was a big mistake, because it was just sheer luck that a 55 gallon drum of "phu" gas didn't explode that we were next to. If you can't do what you told to do, you shouldn't be there.

    • MotoJB

      Agreed but what does that have to do with this story?

      • fuzznarf

        Nothing.

  • John

    Spent my first 3 years as a Military Policeman, then the almost next 39 years in civilian police, retiring as a Master Trooper. My heart goes out to his family and friends, and I know words cannot, and will not ease the pain. But, remember what Christ said to the second thief, "Tonight you will be with Me, in Paradise". Blessed are the peacemakers. Rest in Peace. To the family, know and live in peace, for that is his legacy.

  • Annie Friedman

    Enough already of American Boys sacrificing their young lives in a war that makes absolutely no sense. You cannot legislate a fundamentalist Muslim country to become Democratic. It goes against their belief and especially against Islam.Bring our boys home. Let the Afghanis fend for themselves. Believe you me if this was the other way around no muslims will come to the rescue of Americans in trouble. The US cannot be the policeman of the world.

    • MotoJB

      Stupid and disrespectful…would you say that at his funeral? There is a time and place to share such an opinion. You missed the mark doofus.

      • Alan_T

        Amen MotoJB …. Amen .

    • prentice

      Annie Friedman, I'm with you it's time to bring our soldiers home to their families.

    • David

      Bottom line is we are in it. Bitching about it isn't going to change that. All it does is diminish the ultimate sacrifice this soldier and his family have made. In this case keep your opinion to yourself and vote.

      • Anishinabi

        Too many people are keeping their opinion to themselves while the best of America is bleeding for a corrupt Afghan regime that stocks the world with heroine while our troops prop up a bum like Karzai. Since NATO is in charge everything is gone downhill. We went there to kick butt on Al Qaeda and to punish the Taliban. Now it is the longest engagement in US history with only 25% of the US supporting remaining. Time to shake the dust of ungrateful Afghanistan off our boots and come home. I believe BHO would be pulling out now, but he doesn't want hundreds of thousands of troops home and unemployed before the election. You know darn well he will betray our brave soldiers and screw them out of medical care, employment and family benefits when all this is done. It will be RIF time.

        This is 2012, not 2002. At this time in history, I would not want my sons sent to Afghanistan to risk their lives for ungrateful backward Muslims that may just as likely knife our soldiers in the back as appreciate what we tried to do. Afghanistan will not be a civilized country in the lifetime of our youngest soldier or marine. Time to end it now. No more gung-ho for this lost cause, at least from me.

        And stop attacking the messenger and telling people to keep their mouth shut. They have as much right to comment as you do.

  • Mark G

    As an Army brat of an career infantry officer, I can tell you the hole in his childrens heart will never go away even though they know their dad was a true heroe. I never prayed so hard as I did in 68-69 when my dad was with the 2/16 1st Division in Vietnam. A friend of mine's dad was KIA and reality hit this 7th grader that his pop might not make it back. It wasn't till I grew up that I realized how hard it was on the wives/mothers and in their own way were heroes themselves.They were the pillar of stone that held the family together by never showing their fear to the children and being strong for us. "Truth Justice and the American Way" that's what makes us American's the greatest country in the world!

  • McNamara

    This act of valour is what the professional soldiers of the free nations are noted for.
    None finer. God Bless his family.

  • ROBERT AUGERI

    This solider made the ultimate sacarfice. Unselfish this is what the American solider is all about. Going to a foreign and giving. The media should be broadcasting this about him and his family. True American values.

  • Damien Hebert

    It is a shame that events such as this supreme sacrifice that SGT Weichel knowingly made isn't broadcast on NPR and by other news agencies with the same zeal and ferver that they broadcast any (and all) mistakes or wrongdoing by our troops.

  • Metalchemist

    This man made the ultimate sacrifice, all to save a little girl. A true hero.
    You hear a little about his sacrifice, but the lame stream media passes over the real news that is worthy to be reported on. But instead they keep droning on about the Florida shooting. Journalism is truely dead in America.
    My thoughts and prayers are with Sgt. Weichel, and his family. May he rest in piece with his family knowing that he died a TRUE HERO.

  • MotoJB

    WOW. That is a hero. I feel for him and his family. Now if only the Muslim world will acknowledge this act and use it to temper their opinion of the US soldier accordingly….wait, never mind. Won't happen. They only want to see the bad so they can hate us.

    • BJC

      I agree but you've missed one big point, "temper their opinion of the US soldier accordingly" the Muslim world even the good one's over there would think what Sgt. Weichel did was stupid to risk his life to save a young girl. They consider females as no more than slaves and absolutely valueless, to them he did the wrong thing.

  • Bob Rosanna

    our men and woman serving this country are among the bravest in the world and should treated as such.

  • Alan_T

    Hero is a term too often used in our society today , but , it is the only one that applies here . You are a hero Sgt. Weichel . God bless you and keep Sargent , our world is diminished by the loss of you .

  • Col J Jacob (Vet)

    Words cannot reduce the pain of the family of Sgt. Dennis Weichel. Pain cannot bring him back. We all know he did right as he, for ever, is a SOLDIER, like many before and many more to follow. We pray for his soul and the for the family. God Bless you

  • Airdrop

    A Bronze Star and promoted to Sgt. Is all he got? He is a U.S. Soldier and if anyone here is a soldier we all know anyone who goes to war gets a bronze star. But, he died in war wether from a bullet or friendly situation and i think he should have not gotten promoted but got a medal of honor or a silver star dying while saving a life! Well thats what i feel anyway!.

  • Peter C

    Annie Friedman put it perfectly – bring the U.S. guys home, and let the foreigners sort their problems out. One would think that the Viet Nam war would have brought a lesson home, but no! Politicians, politicians, politicians! Give O' Bummer a rifle, send him over there, and let him sort everything out – the dumb prick that he is! The U.S. government needs to stop digging around in other countrie's affairs at the cost of lives such as this one lost! This was a total waste. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Sgt. Weichel; he had guts – something the politicians know nothing about! R.I.P. soldier.

  • RICK Y

    AIRDROP IS RIGHT THIS MAN SHOULD GET THE MEDAL OF HONOR……..SAVING A LIFE IN A COMBAT ZONE WHILE LOSEING HIS LIFE……….ISN'T THAT WHAT THE HIGHEST MEDAL OF DECORATION IS ABOUT………IT TIME WE START STANDING UP FOR OUR VETERANS………THEY HAVE SACRAFICED ENOUGH……IT'S TIME WE STARTED SHOWING THEM SOME OVER DUE RESPECT……MAY GOD BE WITH SGT. WEICHEL'S FAMILY…….

  • Dr. C. E. DeLeon

    Ms Friedman is living close to REALITY as, we all, should! The News did not mention the Afghan gov't sending their apologies nor condolences to the Sargeant's family ! So how come we do??… everytime an Afghan trips and breaks a toe-nail we send Mrs. Clinton to kiss the boo-boo and apologize for the Good O'le USA!!
    Our economy, health care systems and standard of living is going straight to hell… while we dump billions of money and countless loss of lives… FOR WHAT?? The world is laughing at us… we have been emasculated by bible pounding politicians who keep exposing our "cheeks" for more slapping. To Motormouth JB and Alan T, to be able to make usefull comments and criticize others who make sense, you must, first, get your heads out of your colon.

    • Alan_T

      I will refrain from commenting considering that this is about Sgt . Weichel and not me . But you really should be ashamed of yourself .

      • old vet

        Alan T, this time I'm with you man!

  • Dr. C. E. DeLeon

    Your, so called, comment, was not about the Sargeant … it was more of you venting your distorted views!!! I have nothing to be ashamed of!!! shame comes from a guilty feeling, you moron, stay on earth! What good is any medals or folded flag going to do for the widow and the children, Alan T.??

    • old vet

      Back in the late '60s we had the hippies throwing crap ( literally) at us when we came home. Can't expect much I suppose from the new crop of no honor lows. This mans deed was beyond brave, all that needs to be said on the matter, take your soapbox to a different venue.

  • chris

    The greatest sacrifice a person can give is that of their life and to do that for a perfect stranger then need anyone say more. He in a split second made a decision that could have and did take his life but his thoughts where not of himself, this I am sure of I did it once and was lucky enough to live. I am sure he was only thinking of the child. God bless him and his family, I know this will not bring him back but I would like to think he IS the best of us. Our family’s deepest sympathy and prays.

    • old vet

      So true

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