Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Doonewey White dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations'

Army Spec. Doonewey White called home from Iraq as often as he could. The last time he spoke with his fiancee, Sourisone Sananikone, he asked about their baby, due in October, and talked about what they would do when he came home.

A few hours later, on May 28, a roadside bomb exploded near White's vehicle in Baghdad. White, who grew up in Milpitas and attended Andrew Hill High School in San Jose, was fatally wounded and died the following day.

"He wanted us to have a good future," his fiancee said Monday. In their last conversation, she recalled, the 26-year-old White talked with her about finding an apartment where they could someday live as a family.

"He said he was going to be going out on patrol in a few hours, and that he was going to get some rest," said Sananikone, 22, who lives in Fremont. "But he wanted to know how I was doing and how things were going with the baby."

White's smiling face was all over Sananikone's MySpace page Monday. A mosaic of photos showed the young soldier beaming in his dress uniform, crouching in Army fatigues, mugging with a bottle of beer and hugging his fiancee while both of them wore Mickey Mouse hats from Disneyland.

A naturally cheerful and gregarious young man, White had struggled a little to find a focus for his life after dropping out of high school as a teenager, Sananikone said. But he had begun to buckle down and earned his high school degree before joining the military two years ago because he saw it as a way to improve himself.
Hoping to get training and money to finish school, White enlisted in the Army "to make something out of himself and to do something for his country," his fiancee explained.

The young recruit knew he was likely to serve in combat, but thought he could help make a difference, she added.

White was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas. The battalion is a "mechanized infantry" group that uses Bradley Fighting Vehicles in combat.

Although White spent a year in Texas before shipping out to Iraq last November, other units in his battalion had already served in some of Iraq's most dangerous areas since the war began. In 2004, they patrolled the Sadr City slums of Baghdad.

While he was stationed in Texas, White flew home several times on leave. That wasn't so easy when he went to Iraq, but Sananikone said he called her every week. And when he wangled a visit home in February, they were together for two weeks.

Less than two months later, Sananikone told him she was pregnant. Their baby is due in late fall.

"He was really excited. He always wanted to have a family," she said. "He was just full of life."

In his recent phone calls, the couple talked about planning their wedding and finding an apartment in Texas. White always assured her that he would come home safe, even when his scheduled return was postponed for three months.

In recent weeks, however, he told her that "more of the crazy people were coming out" when his unit was on patrol in the streets of Baghdad.

More than 116 U.S. service members were killed in Iraq last month, including 10 on the day that White was wounded. More than three dozen troops from the Bay Area have died in Iraq since the war began.

Although the Army said White has relatives in the Bay Area, a spokesman said White's brother and other family members live in Oceanside, north of San Diego. They could not be reached for comment Monday.

From the San Jose Mercury News