Saturday, June 02, 2007

Clayton Dunn remembered

SAN BERNARDINO - Army Sgt. Clayton Dunn was around the military from the time he was born in 1984 in the Navy hospital in Pensacola, Fla., to when he later served in the military.

His father's Army career took the family all over the world to bases in Germany, New York, Texas, Colorado and California.

So it wasn't too surprising that the son of a soldier chose to enlist in the Army after graduating from Rialto High School in 2003.

That military career ended May 26, when he was killed in Iraq.

"I wish he was here," said his young widow, Haidy Dunn, as she cradled the couple's 3-month-old daughter, Grace, in their San Bernardino home. "But I know he went away to do what he wanted to do."

Dunn, 22, and two other paratroopers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division died from injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated while they patrolled in Iraq's Salah ad Din province.

The two who died with Dunn were Spc. Michael J. Jaurigue, 20, of Texas City, Texas, and Spc. Gregory N. Millard, 22, of San Diego.

His death came five months before he was supposed to come home to his wife and daughter in San Bernardino and parents and brother in Moreno Valley in November.
Now Roy and Aminta Dunn have a memorial of a cross covered in flowers in the front yard of their Moreno Valley home, which will eventually have a permanent home in the backyard, and a prayer shrine inside the house.

"My son was a good soldier who did his job, so we have the memorial in the front yard as well as in the living room," said Roy Dunn.

Clayton Dunn liked to play Army and video games from a young age.

He and his brother also found ways to entertain themselves while the family was on the move, like tying their shoelaces together and walking around.

Dunn became an athlete early on, running with battalion formations on the bases.

When Roy Dunn retired in 2000 to Moreno Valley, his son ran track at Moreno Valley High School.

Dunn attended Rialto High School his senior year and became a standout in track.

In 2003, he set the Division I Citrus Belt League record in the 1,600-meter race, a record that still stands.

Haidy Dunn met her future husband when she was the cross-country manager.

She was at first impressed by the way he ran and later by his personality.

"He was easygoing, friendly, and his laughter was contagious," she said.

The couple were wed in July 2004.

After attending San Bernardino Valley College, he enlisted in the Army.

"He had his mind set on enlisting in the military," said his brother-in-law and fellow runner Mike Esparza. "He just always had that look down and definitely the discipline that goes along with it."

Dunn went through basic training and later jump school at Fort Benning, Ga.

From there he went to Fort Bragg, N.C., for special-forces training.

He did not finish the special- forces training because he wanted to see what the rest of the Army was doing, said his father.

He was deployed to Iraq in August 2006, leaving behind his pregnant wife.

In Dunn's e-mails, there were few signs of homesickness, instead he wrote about his devotion to the war effort.

He did express on his My- Space page there were two people he wanted to meet, the person in Haidy's tummy and the person who created the cavalry.

He met his baby girl when he came home on leave in April and was initially scared to death of holding her, said his father.

"He held her like a football," he said.

But he came around and after meeting his daughter, it was harder for Dunn to leave.

But the young soldier, who blew kisses to his wife and daughter as he boarded a plane back to war-torn Iraq, knew it was his duty.

"Anybody who knew Clayton would know he was patriotic from a young age," said Roy Dunn. "He was a true infantryman who was proud to serve his country."

From the Daily Bulletin

Related Link:
Clayton G. Dunn dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'