Monday, May 28, 2007

James (Allen J.) Dunckley laid to rest

PHILADELPHIA — Young and in love, Allen James Dunckley and his wife, Jen, often prayed that they might die together. But the God who brought them together in a Christian youth group had very different plans for their future.

Army Sgt. James Dunckley was killed last week in Iraq.

His wife sat weeping Thursday in a church parking lot.

In trembling hands, she carried his white officer’s cap, a folded American flag and the thanks of a grateful nation.

The third Bucks serviceman killed in Iraq in the last month, Dunckley, 25, of Bensalem leaves behind a 22-year-old wife and two children, 3-year-old Joshua and 2-year-old Hannah.

A memorial service for Dunckley drew more than 300 mourners to the Calvary Chapel in Philadelphia.

As they remembered Dunkley, his wife stretched her body over the open casket, whispering words of goodbye.

To the crowd she read the sweet words of her late husband preserved in his love letters from Baghdad.

"I will see you in my dreams," he wrote to her. "I would sacrifice my life to lay down beside you just one night and feel your lips pressed to mine. The memories of you and I run through my mind like the reels on a projection screen."

Dunckley was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed by gunfire near the town of Salman Pak, according to the Defense Department.

Dunckley enlisted in the Marines shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. And his second tour of duty was with the Army. Prior to the attacks on America, he planned to become a minister.

The couple married secretly only days after he proposed. They went on their honeymoon after he returned from his first tour in the Middle East.

Military pride was present in the red, white and yellow flowers laid around Dunckley’s coffin. Yet the bitter politics of the Iraqi conflict were as ever present as the volunteers outside, shielding the mourners from war protests that never materialized.

"We’re here to honor James, our hero, no matter what our politics, no matter how we might debate the war. We have the freedom to disagree because of James and his sacrifice," said Calvary Chapel Pastor Joe Focht.

Jen Dunckley said she wore a yellow dress to her husband’s funeral to support the men and women in active military service.

"I know it’s customary to wear black," she said. "But James was an unusual man and he was not going to have a typical funeral. I wore a yellow dress for the men and women in the military who served with him."

James’ mother, May Dunckley, saluted his body. "James, you are my hero," she said, crying. "Semper Fi."

From the Bucks County Courier Times

Related Link:
James (Allen J.) Dunckley dies of 'wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using an IED and small arms fire'