COLUMBUS, GA, USA U.S. Army SFC, B COMPANY, 2D BATTALION, 69TH ARMOR, 3D INFANTRY DIVISION, FORT BENNING, GA BA’QUBAH, IRAQ 02/14/2005
Even after 17 years in the Army, David J. Salie maintained a playful appetite for mischief. He loved to wrestle his children and engage them in french-fry sword fights at McDonald’s. As a soldier, he relished the adrenaline rush of explosions.
“My husband said he was the ultimate Dennis the Menace,” said Salie’s wife, Deanna. “His job was wonderful because he got to blow up stuff, break things and do things that he got spanked for as a kid.”
Salie, 34, of Columbus, Ga., died Feb. 14 when a bomb hit his Humvee in Baqouba. He was based at Fort Benning. Salie’s father recalled an early sign that David wanted to be a soldier: While serving in Vietnam, the elder Salie received a photograph of 2-year-old David, naked in the bathtub, saluting the camera.
David served in the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989 and the 1991 Persian Gulf War. When he deployed to Iraq, he left videotapes for his wife and their three children – Chyna, 11, Luke, 6, and Hunter, 2.
“He made videos for my children for every important event in their life – their wedding days, birthdays,” Deanna Salie said. “That’s the kind of father he was.”
From a close friend:
All of America should join in mourning the death Monday of David J. Salie. Sergeant Salie was killed on Valentine’s Day on a mean street in the Iraqi city of Baqouba, and I’m grieving the loss of my friend along with his wife, Deanna, and their three children. I met David Salie in 1995 in the town of Mirabalais in Haiti. He was a tall, lanky, three-stripe buck sergeant. His battalion had been sent up from Port au Prince, the capital, to do some patrolling with the Special Forces A Team that I was reporting on.
He sat down on the curb beside me and asked me what I, a civilian of advanced years, was doing in such a place. I explained that I was a reporter who covered military affairs and gave him my name. He had read my book on the Vietnam War, and he did a double take.
We sat and talked for half an hour, waiting for the commanders to get it together for a patrol into the voodoo highlands. David told me about his jump into Panama with the 82nd Airborne Division. He was earnest, straightforward and sincere. He remained in our Army for all the right reasons.
His wife told me that David had a premonition of his death, that he told her two months ago he felt that he would not be coming home alive.
Deanna said, “We spent eight and a half beautiful years together. He was and will always be the love of my life. To be honest with you, I don’t know how I will live without him. I don’t know how to do that. How do you live when the very thing that makes your heart beat and makes you lungs take in air is gone? I don’t know how. I wish someone could tell me that.”
They had three children, Chyna, 11, Deanna’s child from a previous marriage whom David adopted, Luke, 6, and Hunter, 2. David carried a photo of the three of them and said: “That’s what I am fighting for.”
He was the best of the best that our country has to offer. All America should mourn his loss.