Monday, August 06, 2007

Dustin S. Wakeman dies 'when the vehicle he was in struck an IED during combat operations'

Sgt. Dustin S. Wakeman wanted self-discipline.

After graduating from Everman High School in 2000, he took some college classes, but he didn't apply himself like he thought he should.

The solution, he decided, was the U.S. Army.

"He told me he had to start listening to somebody," said his father, David Wakeman. "It was something he felt like he needed to do to make a better life for himself."

Sgt. Wakeman, 25, was killed Saturday in Hawr Rajab, Iraq, when the vehicle he was riding in was struck by an improvised explosive device, according to the Defense Department.

Two other soldiers were also killed.

Before his death, Sgt. Wakeman seemed to find the discipline he sought, his father said. He was trained as a medic and spoke of pursuing a career in medical services.

"He liked helping people," David Wakeman said. "He found that fulfilling."

At Everman High School, Sgt. Wakeman was active in the band and the drama, math and science clubs. After graduation, he was interested in engineering and took classes at Tarrant County College and the University of Texas at Arlington.

His best friend had a rock band, and Sgt. Wakeman spent a lot of time listening to them play, David Wakeman said.

He enlisted three years ago and was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division in Fort Richardson, Alaska. Sgt. Wakeman was deployed to Iraq in October, his father said.

Because of the time difference, Sgt. Wakeman wasn't able to call home often, David Wakeman said. When he did, he rarely spoke of the danger in Iraq, except to occasionally say, "I've seen some stuff."

The last time he called was about a month ago. His parents weren't home.

"He left us a message talking about how disappointed he was we weren't there," David Wakeman said. "He was sorry he missed us. We were really sorry, too."

Since his death, Sgt. Wakeman's friends have filled his MySpace page with goodbyes. One was from another soldier, who wrote of seeing Sgt. Wakeman two minutes before he died.

"We were joking like always in the midst of chaos," the soldier wrote. "You were always there. I will remember the lunches, the nights out, and the conversations only we would get."

Another message was left by a woman, apparently the wife of another soldier.

"Thanks for being doctor to my husband," she wrote. "Watch over the guys left behind."

Sgt. Wakeman is also survived by his mother, Margaret, and brother, Zach, both of Everman.

From the Star Telegram