MARTIN, TN, USA U.S. Army SGT, 913TH ENGINEER COMPANY, 46TH ENGINEER BATTALION, UNION CITY, TN RAWAH, IRAQ 08/02/2006
Tennessee National Guard member from Martin was killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb, his family said Wednesday.
Specialist Dustin Laird, 24, was killed Tuesday when an improvised explosive device detonated under the vehicle he was driving, the family said in a story in the Union City Daily Messenger. His father, Billy Laird, was told of the death Wednesday. Dustin deployed to Iraq in September with his unit, the 913th Engineer Company based in Union City.
While on leave in May, Laird returned to his high school alma mater, Westview High School in Martin, to see his brother Derek’s graduation. During his leave, he also visited fourth-grade students at Ridgemont Elementary School in Obion County. The students in Caroline Coleman’s class had been writing him letters while he served in Iraq. He stopped by the classroom for a surprise visit and answered questions about everything from disassembling bombs to how to take a shower in the desert.
During his visit, Laird told the students that the worst part of the war was missing home. Laird explained the meaning of the flag patch that he wore on his right shoulder. The flag is representative of how the United States is constantly moving forward and never in a state of retreat, Laird said. I feel proud to be a part of that.
Dustin Laird was an outstanding person with musical talent and a unique sense of humor. He played the guitar for more than ten years and was a member of a band. During his deployment for OIF, Laird wrote several songs that showcased his comic abilities. He was close to his family and spoke of them often. Dustin Laird was especially proud of his brother Derrick who joined the Air Force. He planned on finishing college after returning home and pursuing a career in Nursing or Medicine.
He is survived by his father, Billy, and mother, Linda. His longtime girlfriend, Nicole Davidson, was waiting on him to return. He said he was going to come home and ask her properly to marry him on one knee, according to her mother, Cynthia.