Sunday, July 01, 2007

Daniel A. Newsome dies 'of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device'

He came home only a month ago, on leave from his second tour of duty in Iraq, arriving just in time to celebrate his son’s first birthday a month early.

This week, 27-year-old Staff Sgt. Daniel A. Newsome will come home to Chicopee in a flag-draped coffin.

His mother’s only child, Newsome was killed last Wednesday by an improvised explosive device in Baghdad, according to a Defense Department statement from Fort Hood, Texas, where he had been assigned.

“He was a great kid,” said his uncle and godfather, Kenneth Willette. “He loved his family and wasn’t afraid to tell them that.”

In his senior year at Chicopee Comprehensive High School, he joined the Army under its delayed-entry program before graduating, Willette said, and for Newsome it became a second family.

“He was a squad leader, and he realized how important it was to look out for his soldiers,” his uncle said. “You knew if he said, ‘I’ll take care of it,’ he would.”

He served in Kosovo, Willette said, and after his first tour of duty in Iraq returned to Hawaii, where he’d been assigned, but he was lonely. He e-mailed his friends in Chicopee asking if any would come visit him. And one - a woman he’d known in high school - did.

“She said she loved him from the moment she met him in high school and knew that one day she was going to marry him, and she did,” Willette said.

In January, when Newsome’s tour was scheduled to end, he planned to quit the Army and put his talent for souping up his 2004 Acura RSX to use by enrolling in technical school to become an auto mechanic, his uncle said.

He is the third soldier from Chicopee to be killed in the last two years, said Mayor Micael D. Bissonnette, whose own godson narrowly missed an Iraqi sniper’s bullet. Army Spc. Christopher M. Wilson died on March 29 of injuries suffered in an explosion in Afghanistan. A few weeks later, on Memorial Day, officials dedicated the field behind Chicopee High in the memory of Marine Capt. John W. Maloney, who was killed on June 16, 2005, when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Iraq.

“The only result I’ve seen in the so-called ‘surge’ in Iraq is in the number of caskets,” Bissonnette said yesterday, a day after visiting Newsome’s wife and infant.

“President Bush should come here and look this young widow in the eyes and explain to her the rationale for being in Iraq, because I sure can’t,” he said. “There’s a cost behind our being there. And that cost can be seen in her eyes.”

From the Boston Herald