Thursday, May 03, 2007

Dale Peterson remembered

BEND -- Earlier this month, Lance Cpl. Dale Peterson's wife made a plea on the MySpace page of a friend who died last summer in Iraq.

"Thank you for your sacrifice," she wrote. "Please watch over Dale while he is over there, teach him a few things maybe . . . Semper Fi, brother."

But nine days later, Peterson was killed when a roadside bomb struck his light-armored vehicle in Iraq.

On Wednesday, his wife, Regina "Reggie" Peterson, herself a Marine based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., planned to gather with her husband's family in Burns to mourn his loss.

Dale Peterson, 20, had been in Iraq less than a month. He was a member of the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion of the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune and was working as a translator and combat engineer.

"Dale believed 100 percent in what he was doing, and he had a lot of pride in being a Marine," said his sister, Melissa Davies of Boise.

The friend who died last year was Lance Cpl. Randy Newman of Bend, killed in the same way in the same Iraqi province of Anbar as Peterson.

Like many of the nearly 100 military men from the region who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, Dale Peterson came from a rural, working-class background. He grew up in Harney County, the only boy among three sisters. He loved to hunt and fish or just be in the outdoors.

"My brother and I would take him hiking and backpacking along the Malheur River when he was still in diapers," said his father, Greg Peterson of Redmond.

Dale Peterson attended high schools in Corvallis, Stayton and Redmond before gaining enough credits through classes at the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council's education program to earn a diploma from Redmond High School in 2005.

"There was always a lot of humor in his writing and a lot of detail. It was work that was very interesting to read," said his instructor, Georgia Hendricks.

In one of his essays -- titled "My Own Person?" -- Peterson wrote about how his parents and regular church attendance instilled values in him at a young age that continued to guide him as an adult.

The essay offers some hints of the Marine that he would become, a young man of principle with a deep sense of duty.

"When I was growing up . . . I didn't like to be led around and told what to do by my peers," he wrote. "If they were going to do something illegal or damaging to a person's feelings or property, I had the willpower to stand up and leave."

His father recalled Peterson's "huge heart" and compassion. "Dale was not a perfect child by any means, but he definitely knew the difference between right and wrong," he said.

While taking high school classes, Peterson worked for a commercial builder and at the Feed Barn in Redmond, where he spent a year loading hay and grain into customers' pickups in the warehouse, said manager Charlene Robinson.

Peterson and his two friends were perennial jokers, always goofing around and smiling while they worked, she said. "All the girls, all the high school girls, used to come when he worked just to flirt with him," she said.

Robinson recalled Peterson's pride and joy when he got his big red Ford pickup and how he got in trouble when he later wrecked it in an accident.

While at the Feed Barn, he began discussing with friends the idea of joining the military, and he entered the Marines shortly after graduation, his father said. He recalled watching his son mature and become more disciplined as a Marine.

In one of his last e-mails to his family, he told his dad that he had never felt closer to God, the family said in a statement.

"And now he's with him," they said.

From the Oregonian

Related Link:
Dale G. Peterson killed 'while conducting combat operations'