Monday, August 27, 2007

David A. Heringes dies 'of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit '

Army Sgt. David A. Heringes was supposed to return home from Iraq this month, so his parents scheduled a trip to Disney World for him and his two young children last week.

When his recovery mission in Tikrit was extended until November, the parents went to Orlando anyway, collecting pamphlets for when 36-year-old Heringes finally returned.

But as they sat down to watch a show at Sea World on Friday morning, Heringes' father received a call on his cell phone. Ronald Heringes learned that his only son had been injured by an improvised explosive device. He later died in a hospital.

"God, it was terrible," Ronald Heringes said from his Spring Hill home Saturday evening. "The realization comes and goes. You keep wanting to hear that it's a mistake."

David Heringes, who moved from Ohio to Tampa in the 10th grade, was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He graduated from Leto High School in 1989 and entered the military two years later.

He was later assigned to the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd. In October, he would have been in the military for 16 years.

"He loved the military and loved what he did," Ronald Heringes said. "He was very easygoing."

He also loved working on cars and riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, which he rode from his Fayetteville, N.C., home to Tampa and back twice.

Heringes is survived by his father and mother, Joyce Heringes, and 27-year-old sister Melissa Rhone. He had two children, a 5-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter, who live in Fayetteville.

Heringes' family hopes he will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in a full military funeral service. It could take up to a month for the service to happen, Ronald Heringes said, because of a backlog of veteran and soldier funerals. The Army has an honor guard of Harley-Davidson riders whom the family hopes will escort the casket after it arrives in the United States.

"Our main concern was for our grandchildren" who live with their mother in Fayetteville, Ronald Heringes said. "Logan knows his dad is gone, but how do you explain death to a 5-year-old? He won't take off his little military fatigues."

From the St. Petersberg Times