Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dale G. Peterson killed 'while conducting combat operations'

A Redmond man who recently lost his 20-year-old son in Iraq said Tuesday that pride in his son is mingled with his grief.

"I couldn't ask for a better son," Greg Peterson said.

Marine Lance Cpl. Dale Peterson, who grew up in Burns, enlisted shortly after he graduated from Redmond High School in 2005, according to an older sister. He had been deployed to Iraq for less than a month when they received word that he had been killed. The Associated Press reported he was killed in action by an improvised explosive device.

Peterson was close to his tight-knit family, which gathered at his mother's home in Burns to grieve Tuesday.

Peterson enlisted in the Marines shortly after he graduated in 2005.

He was part of the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion of the 2nd Marine Division, based in Camp Lejeune, N.C., according to The Associated Press.

"That was something he wanted to do," Greg Peterson said. "He wanted to be a Marine."

Peterson's father said words cannot express how much he loves and misses his son. The two shared a special bond, heading into the wilderness in Central and Eastern Oregon to hunt and fish together ever since Peterson was small enough to ride along in a backpack.

"He loved the mountains and the forests here in Oregon," Greg Peterson said.

Peterson also played football and baseball and participated in wrestling, Greg Peterson said, though he did not play for Redmond High School teams.

And while Peterson was not overly fond of school, he had a very strong work ethic, holding down a steady job near the end of his high school years, his father said. Later on, in the Marine Corps, Peterson graduated at the top of his class for combat engineers.

"Once he set his mind to something and set a goal, he would achieve that goal," Greg Peterson said.

He added that Peterson had a tender heart and a mischievous streak that came out around his siblings. His sister said she will miss Peterson's sense of humor and upbeat outlook.

Greg Peterson said his son made the decision to enlist on his own, but said he supported and respected his son's choice.

Friends had begun leaving messages of support on a family member's MySpace page Tuesday evening.

Although the family has received preliminary information about the circumstances of his death, they declined to comment on specifics before official word was released.

Peterson is survived by his mother, father, three sisters and his wife, the AP reported.

From the Bend Bulletin