Monday, May 28, 2007

Robert E. Dunham dies of 'wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'

Pfc. Robert Dunham, who left his extended family in Baltimore nearly 19 years ago for a career in the Army, was killed in Iraq Thursday when the Humvee in which he was riding was hit by an explosive device near Baghdad, according to his family.

Dunham, 36, a married father of five boys, was stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia and had been serving in Iraq since January, said his brother, Charles Dunham of Parkville.

"I believe he really liked what he did," Charles said. "He loved to serve. He was a giving person, real loving, and the Army was good to his family."

Dunham was concerned about the danger in Iraq, particularly after a truck in a convoy he was in recently was heavily damaged by an improvised explosive device, his brother said.

The Department of Defense had not publicly confirmed Dunham's death Friday night, but family members said they were notified on Thursday.

Dunham grew up in the Park Heights area and graduated in 1988 from Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School, where he studied industrial electronics, his brother said.

He was an honors student who loved playing basketball in community leagues.

He joined the army the same year he graduated and trained at Fort Dix, N.J. to work with communications equipment. He was stationed in Germany, Kansas and Arkansas before his family settled in Georgia.

He served in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, in Bosnia and in Somalia and had received training in special forces operations before his latest tour in Iraq, his brother said.

Dunham met his wife, Kimberly, in the Army, according to the brother. She left the service to raise their boys, who are between the ages of 2 and 14.

He also served as a minister of music for churches wherever he was stationed, including in Georgia. He was a skilled piano and organ player and directed his church choir.

"His passion really was for ministry," Charles Dunham said.

The brother recalled Robert's last visit to Baltimore for a couple of weeks last June and July. He said his brother asked for big, home-cooked breakfasts and the two enjoyed going to McDonalds for cheeseburgers and time to talk.

Charles said Robert also sought out their grandparents, uncles and other friends and family during that trip.

"He made it a point to go to everybody he could, to talk to them, and he really had a sense of urgency about it," Charles said.

In addition to his brother, wife and sons, Robert Dunham is survived by his mother, Doris Mooring, of Baltimore and his father, George Robert Dunham Jr. of Decatur, Ga.

From the Baltimore Sun