Darrell Cornelius Lewis
Captain, United States Army
Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 808-07
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Captain Darrell C. Lewis, 31, of Washington, D.C., died June 23, 2007, in Vashir City, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when his unit was attacked by insurgents using rocket propelled grenades, mortars and small arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas.
For more information related to this release,
the media may contact the Fort Riley public affairs office at (785) 239-3410.
Darrell C. Lewis had long astounded his family. He navigated one of Southeast Washington's toughest neighborhoods before earning a scholarship to a private high school and another for college.
After graduating from Wittenberg University,
he joined the Army as an officer, rising to Captain. From the start, his
mother knew he had made the right choice.
"You can't express it in words; it was in his face," Hannah Lewis said last night. "Being in the military was the happiest I've ever seen my child."
Lewis, 31, was killed Saturday in Vashir City, Afghanistan, when his unit was attacked by insurgents using rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and small arms, the Department of Defense said yesterday. He had been in Afghanistan since February.
Lewis was raised in the Linda Pollin housing complex in Southeast, in an area known for drugs and violence. But his family described a natural leader who used an inquisitive mind to chase his dreams.
He showed no fear when walking down dangerous streets, and from an early age he rode buses across town to schools outside the neighborhood, his family said.
"He knew there was more to life," said Trina Lewis, a cousin.
Lewis was awarded a scholarship to Washington Ethical High School, where he excelled in track. He moved in with Trina Lewis to be closer to school and to enlist her help in preparing for college.
She recalled a teenager who attracted people from all walks of life, especially the young girls who called the house and forced her to install a second phone line.
"Everybody is just sad and shocked," Trina Lewis said. "This was not his destiny, to die in a desert in Afghanistan. . . . He just accomplished so much, and he had more to accomplish."
At college, Lewis learned Japanese and Chinese. After joining the Army, he served in Georgia and Washington state, then completed a two-year tour in South Korea.
In Afghanistan, Lewis called home Sundays, often connecting his D.C. relatives with his new wife, Elizabeth, and infant son, Rashawn, who live in San Antonio. Lewis also had a 7-year-old daughter, Taylor.
Last night, Hannah Lewis recalled her son's wedding reception in San Antonio in December. Shortly before midnight, she embraced her son for what would be the last time.
"I knew he was going away, and I just remembered the hug," she said. "He loved being in the military. He was doing a lot with his life."
Lewis, who was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kansas, is also survived by his father, Stanley Isiah Lewis, and his older brother, Stanley Jr.
Lewis will be buried next to his grandfather
and great-uncle at Arlington National Cemetery on July 11, his family said.
The journey of Darrell C. Lewis took him from Southeast Washington across the United States and around the world to South Korea and Afghanistan. The journey ended yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from where he was raised.
Captain Lewis, 31, was killed June 23 in Vashir City, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and small-arms fire, according to the Department of Defense. He had been in Afghanistan since February.
Yesterday, more than 90 mourners braved the stifling heat to follow the horse-drawn caisson that carried Lewis's flag-draped coffin to his final resting place. He was buried near a grandfather and a great-uncle. He was the 54th service member killed in Operation Enduring Freedom to be laid to rest at Arlington.
Lewis was a member of the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan. Services for Lewis were held Tuesday at the John T. Rhines Funeral Home in the District.
"Everybody is just sad and shocked," his cousin Trina Lewis told The Washington Post in June. "This was not his destiny, to die in a desert in Afghanistan. . . . He just accomplished so much, and he had more to accomplish."
Family and friends described Lewis, who was raised in a tough neighborhood in Southeast, as a natural leader with an inquisitive mind. He was awarded a scholarship to Washington Ethical High School, where he excelled in track.
He went on to win a scholarship to Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, where he learned Japanese and Chinese. After graduating from Wittenberg, he joined the Army and was commissioned as an officer.
His military service took him across the country, from Georgia to Washington state, and included a two-year tour in South Korea.
"You can't express it in words; it was in his face," his mother, Hannah Lewis, told The Post shortly after his death. "Being in the military was the happiest I've ever seen my child."
At the funeral, folded American flags were presented to Lewis's mother; his father, Stanley Lewis; and his widow, Elizabeth, whom he wed in December in San Antonio. He is also survived by an infant son, Rashawn; a 7-year-old daughter, Taylor; and an older brother, Stanley Lewis Jr.
"He loved being in the military," Hannah Lewis said. "He was doing a lot with his life."
On her MySpace page, Elizabeth Lewis posted a tribute to her husband titled, "Darrell Your Love Shines Down." "DARRELL YOU ARE MY HERO," she wrote.
After the military service, friends and relatives remained at the grave site, where there was a poster-size picture of Lewis, for another ceremony. When it was over, three white birds were released into the sky.
Photo Courtesy of Holly, August 2007
Photo Courtesy of Holly, July 2007