GREENVILLE, SC, USA
SGT, COMPANY B, 1ST BATTALION, 118TH INFANTRY, FOUNTAIN INN, SC
BALA BALUK, AFGHANISTAN 05/25/2008
A 38-year-old soldier from South Carolina who volunteered to remain behind in Afghanistan after his unit returned home was killed during hostile fire, officials said Tuesday.
Sergeant David Lee Leimbach, of Taylors, was killed Sunday while assisting in the recovery of a stolen vehicle. His unit was hit with small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, according to a statement by the Department of Defense.
Leimbach had served four years with the South Carolina Army National Guard. He spent the past year with the 218th Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan, officials said.
“He was a brave soldier who served his country with honor and valor,” Guard commander Maj. Gen. Stanhope Spears said in a statement. “I am saddened by the news.”
About 1,800 members of the South Carolina National Guard deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 to train members of the Afghan military and police force. It was the state’s largest National Guard deployment since World War II.Most members of the unit returned home earlier this month after completing their deployment.
However, about 120 soldiers from the unit opted to remain behind. Some remained in Afghanistan, while others were redeployed to units in Iraq, said Guard spokesman Col. Pete Brooks.
Sergeant Scott Sorgee said David L. Leimbach was all business when it mattered most.
“No matter what task he was given, he was always there and always gave it 100 percent,” he said.
“He was a good one,” said Sergeant 1st Class Dain Donze. “We’re all rather shook up. He was a good kid. He would do anything you ask.”
“He would do anything you asked him to do and more,” said Lieutenant Derek Hawkins. “He did for the Afghan people as well as his fellow soldiers.”
Sorgee said Leimbach – who also served the Marines from 1996 to 2000 – was a soldier’s soldier, teaching guys what he knew.
“There wasn’t a lot of downtime,” he said. But when there was, he was teaching the soldiers “hand-to-hand combat.”
When most of the state’s Guardsmen returned in early May, Leimbach stayed behind in what was to be an extended tour of six months, soldiers he served with said.
“It’s what he loved,” Sorgee said. “Other than his family, it’s what he loved to do most.”
He is survived by his wife, Dawn.