The local military community formally said goodbye Wednesday to the last of the 37 reported fallen soldiers from a Stryker brigade that returned this summer from a year of hard duty in Afghanistan.
Pfc. Jacob A. Dennis, 22, died July 3 at Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany from injuries he had suffered three days earlier in a weapons system accident at Forward Operating Base Lane, in Zabul province.
Dennis, who was raised in Marietta, Ga., was a member of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. He worked as a mortar platoon gunner in the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment.
He reported to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in 2007. This was his first deployment.
He is survived by his wife, Allysha; parents, Tony and Renee Dennis; brother Sam and sister Molly.
Dennis had options other than serving on the front lines of an infantry unit in Afghanistan, but he wasn’t interested, his brother told the CBS news affiliate in Atlanta.
“They gave him a nuclear submarine offer, they gave him a pretty good offer for a desk job,” Sam Dennis told CBS Atlanta. “But that’s not who he is, he’s a doer.”
The seriously injured soldier was airlifted to Germany for treatment, and by the time his family arrived, he was being kept alive by machines.
“We were able to be there with him and that was huge for us,” Sam Dennis said. “To be able to hold his hand, I could feel him breathing.”
The June 30 accident that killed Dennis is still under investigation, a spokesman said.
The spokesman said Dennis’ memorial ceremony was held nearly two months after his death because the brigade was in the midst of going home at the time he was injured. Then the unit’s nearly 4,000 soldiers were released for several weeks of block leave.
Dennis will be on the minds of comrades from his brigade again Thursday as they gather for a homecoming salute, barbecue and the dedication of a monument at Pioneer Park in Puyallup.
The 5th Brigade was reflagged as the 2nd Brigade at its redeployment ceremony in July.