David Michael Veverka
Staff Sergeant, United States Army
RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 434-06 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 12, 2006
Media Contact: Army Public Affairs - (703) 692-2000 Public/Industry(703)428-0711
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died in Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq, on May 6, 2006, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their M1083 cargo truck during combat operations. Both soldiers were assigned to the Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry (Mountain), Brewer, Maine.
Staff Sergeant Dale J. Kelly Jr., 48, of Richmond,
For further information related to this release,
contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.
PORTLAND, Maine --Two Maine Army National Guard soldiers were killed and a third was seriously injured in an attack in Iraq on Saturday, Governor John Baldacci said Monday.
Sergeant. Dale James Kelly Jr., 48, of Richmond, and Staff Sergeant David Michael Veverka, 25, a University of Maine student from Jamestown, Pennsylvania, were killed. The soldiers were members of B Company, 3rd Battalion of the 172nd Infantry regimen based in Brewer, Maine.
The third soldier, Private Christopher Fraser, 19, of Windsor, was seriously injured in the attack and was transferred to medical facilities in Landstuhl, Germany, Baldacci said. He was a member of the 1136th Transportation Company and was attached to B Company.
Fraser's injuries are not life-threatening, said Baldacci, who spoke to the injured soldier's mother and members of the victims' families.
Other than an attack by a suicide bomber in Mosul in December 2004, the two deaths were the worst single incident for a Maine guard unit in Iraq. The Mosul attack killed two Maine soldiers and injured another 13 from the Maine guard's 133rd Engineer Battalion.
"These tragedies, though raw and painful, remind us of the everyday sacrifices made by the men and women who serve overseas, as well as the family members left behind," Baldacci said.
U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and U.S. Representatives Tom Allen and Michael Michaud offered their sympathies.
The Department of Defense and the Maine National Guard didn't disclose any details about the attack. The unit was deployed from Brewer in January to provide security operations in Iraq.
Kelly was an employee at Bath Iron Works, where he had worked for 14 years, and is survived by his wife and three grown children.
Veverka's family told The Herald newspaper in Sharon, Pennsylvania, that they were awakened early Sunday by state police and an Army officer who brought them news of Veverka's death.
"They just stood there. I said, 'Please tell me my baby is all right,'" said Carol Polley, Veverka's mother. That is when the Army officer got down on one knee and told her that her son had been killed.
Polley said she and Veverka's stepfather, Jeff Polley, were told that that her son died in military hospital near Baghdad a few hours after the blast that targeted his convoy.
Veverka graduated from Jamestown High School in 1999, where he was a standout basketball player. His father and stepmother, Ronald and Judi Veverka, live in Sharon. The Polleys live in West Shenango Township in Crawford County.
Veverka joined the Army to help pay for college and joined the Maine National Guard while studying for his bachelor's degree in wildlife ecology at the University of Maine in Bangor, his family said. University officials said they will pay tribute to him during Saturday's commencement ceremony.
"He wasn't afraid, he was excited to go," Carol Polley said. "He said, 'Mom, I'm OK, everything's cool.'"
Ronald Veverka said he never thought about having to deal with his son's death.
"He told us before he left that this was his
calling," Veverka said.
A fallen soldier returned home to Jamestown, Pennsylvania on Friday, and nearly the entire town turned out to honor him.
Staff Sergeant David Veverka died while serving with the US Army in Iraq.
The streets were shut down, businesses were
closed, and schools let out early. The result? Hundreds of citizens of
Jamestown, young and old, lined the streets holding American flags as the
hearse carrying Veverka's body proceeded through town. Visitation will
be held Monday at the Randall Funeral Home on Liberty Street. Mass and
burial, followed by a 21-gun salute, will be held Wednesday at the Arlington
National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
May 19, 2006
Former Old Guard Soldier buried in Arlington
by Specialist Nancy Van Der Weide
Old Guard Public Affairs
A former member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), died from injuries sustained in a roadside blast in Iraq May 6, 2006.
Staff Sergeant David M. Veverka, 25, of Jamestown, Pennsylvania, left the Old Guard in March 2003 to attend the University of Maine in Bangor, where he majored in wildlife ecology. While attending college, he joined the Maine National Guard.
Veverka's unit was activated in January and he went to Iraq in March. He was riding in a convoy towards Mosul when his truck came upon a man and two small children, said Private Chris Fraser, who was in the truck with Veverka. The man threw a bomb at the truck, which exploded as Veverka pulled Fraser down to safety.
Staff Sergeant Dale Kelly, Jr., 48, of Richmond, Maine, was also killed in the blast. Fraser suffered burns and lacerations in the attack; he is recovering in a hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.
When he was in the Old Guard, Veverka was a member of Company C for 1 1/2 years, where he performed memorial services for funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. He also participated in Department of Defense and Department of the Army ceremonies throughout the Washington, DC area.
In January of 2001 Veverka was selected to join the Army Drill Team. As a member of the drill team, Veverka traveled nationally and internationally, performing in large crowds and in front of presidents, heads of state and visiting dignitaries.
Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Merriman, a senior drill soloist with the team, went through the rigorous training cycle with Veverka and was on the team with him for 1 1/2 years until Veverka left the Old Guard. As a Soldier, Veverka was dedicated to his mission at the Old Guard and proud to be a member of the unit, said Merriman.
"He loved [being in the Old Guard]," he said. "He was really proud of the stuff he did here. He enjoyed it."
Although Veverka valued and enjoyed the opportunities the drill team afforded him, paying respects to his fellow American Soldiers meant a lot to him, said Merriman. "There were some funerals he'd talked about with me that he was very glad to have been a part of," he said.
On Wednesday Co-mpany C held funeral services for Veverka at Arlington National Cemetery. Although the Soldiers Veverka knew in Company C are no longer in the unit, the standards Veverka practiced as a member of the company were maintained at his funeral.
Captain Fred Tanner, commander of Company C, led Veverka's full honors funeral. "It says a lot when a former member of The Old Guard requests to be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery," Tanner said. "If Staff Sergeant Veverka was here today, he wouldn't recognize many faces, but he would recognize the standards that have been continually upheld and I imagine that played a factor in his decision to be buried here."
Colonel Bob Pricone, commander of the Old Guard, commented on how the global war on terrorism has affected Soldiers. Soldiers from the Old Guard, past and present, honor their fallen comrades on a daily basis, he said. But now more often, because of the war on terror, they are rendering honors to Soldiers from their own generation.
"Staff Sergeant Veverka is a great example
of a Soldier who upheld the great tradition and standards of the Old Guard
and later deployed as a Soldier in the global war on terrorism," said Pricone.
"Now his fellow comrades ... render him the honors he deserves as he is
interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
29 May 2006:
Among the first to set foot each day on the sad sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery are the soldiers of the army's Old Guard, who have the honorable task of burying fallen soldiers.
They're brushed and polished from the soles of their shoes to the top of their hats, arriving ready for their special duty.
"This is the oldest United States infantry unit and it's a great honor to be here," said Sergeant First Class Jody Penrod.
They are soldiers who bury soldiers, holding up to six funerals a day. Staff Sergeant Joshua Gaston said being able to honor fallen comrades was the "attraction to come here."
The Old Guard was set up in 1784 and has always involved more than ceremonial soldiers. Today the unit includes veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Because I am a veteran of war I understand … what these people have been through," Gaston said.
"From being over there and actually being a part of the war and then coming here … it teaches you to appreciate everything very much," Penrod said.
They've buried nearly 300 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan at Arlington National Cemetary, but when they buried Sergeant David Veverka it was different, because he was also a veteran of the Old Guard.
Veverka, 25, of Jamestown, Pennsylvania, was killed on May 6, 2006, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his cargo truck during combat operations.
"It was a great honor to bury someone that has done this job," Gaston said.
VEVERKA, DAVID MICHAEL
Posted: 13 May 2006 Updated: 18 May 2006 Updated: 21 May 2006 Updated: 29 May 2006 Updated: 24 June 2006 Updated: 7 July 2006 Updated: 17 April 2010
Photo Courtesy of Eileen Horan, April 2010
Photo Courtesy of Holly, 24 June 2006
Photo Courtesy of Holly, July 2006