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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.

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