MESA, AZ, USA U.S. Army SPC, COMPANY C, 2D BATTALION, 37TH ARMOR, 1 BCT, (1 MEF), GIESSEN, GERMANY AR RAMADI, IRAQ 11/05/2006
A son of Scio, Oregon – a son of Mesa, Arizona – one of America’s finest – a brother of the 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division – Specialist Douglas Desjardins was all of these, and more. Known as Douglas, Dougie, and DJ, it is evident that he enlivened the world he walked through. He lost his life when an IED detonated near his M1A1 Abrams tank during combat operations.
I learned of his death from a newsletter written by one of his ‘brothers’ in Iraq. I think it is fitting to allow his ‘brother’ to tell his story ~ no one could ask for a more loving and beautiful tribute.
“It is with deep sorrow that I now inform you, Specialist Douglas Desjardins, was Killed in Action the morning of the 5th. Born December 16th 1981, he was the epitome of a soldier and a friend. I can’t say the details of the event and honestly I don’t care to recount them even if I were allowed. We take small comfort knowing that his passing was instantaneous, that he did not suffer. He is in a better place, though knowing so doesn’t help too greatly. A silence has overcome our entire building, throughout the company of men who knew DJ as a brother to all.
“Everyone gathered around as the Commander informed those in the company who did not already know. My platoon was informed to stand down from current mission and that another platoon would finish what we had begun. We went upstairs and gathered as a platoon to talk amongst ourselves. For hours we all remained in the room, at times saying nothing as we all sat there, other times helping each other, clinging to each other to find strength in our bond. Grown men cried unashamedly.
“We spoke of our times with DJ, reminiscing on the man he was. A steadfast and laid back comedian with a trademark smile only he could pull off. Full of comments such as ‘Friends don’t let Friends watch Friends’. DJ always motivated people to better themselves. He was the hub of the enlisted members of the platoon, especially for Specialist rank and below.
The first guy to put a boot in someones rear when they became complacent. The peacemaker who would step between tow joes quarreling. A Lover of Jim Beam. I could sit here and type for hours of DJ. The most amazing thing was that even though he has passed, he still retained his ability to cheer us up. As we spoke of him he reached out to us and turned our tears to smiles and even laughter as we spoke of times with DJ.
“Less than a month ago he had suffered an injury to his hand when the loaders hatch slammed onto his fingers. Even stitched up and unable to move his hand much at all, he still tried to head out with his crew. When informed he could not go, I lent the LTs crew one of my soldiers to plus them up for mission. DJ informed my joe that there could be only one White 1 Delta (the driver) and not to get too comfy in that spot. It became a running joke in the platoon. In theme with the Highlander movies. There Can Be Only One.
“White 1 Delta is gone. I entered the room to assist in clearing his personal belongings so that they could be inventoried and shipped to his family. A difficult but necessary task. After we finished and his belongings moved out of the once vibrant spot he occupied seemed so barren.
“Many days I wonder how I can drive on after so much loss. While there are many reasons both patriotic and personal I think back to DJs words to me that day in the hall. Of how I have his approval. Even with a heavy heart and a hurting soul, I drive on for the men I serve beside and all those who have fallen at my side.
“I ask that you keep DJ and his family in your thoughts and prayers. Remember his and the many others before him who have given the ultimate sacrifice.”