MERRILL, WI, USA U.S. Army SPC, COMPANY B, 1ST BATTALION, 8TH INFANTRY, 3 BCT (101 AA), FORT CARSON, CO BALAD, IRAQ 05/15/2006
Private First Class Grant Allen Dampier wanted to do something special for his three young daughters -so he joined the U.S. Army. He joined so his kids would look up to him, his wife Heidi Dampier said Tuesday. He wanted to be their hero.
Dampier was deployed in December 2004 and was expected to return home in September 2005, said his sister, Rae Ann Dampier, 22. Heidi Dampier said before his first daughter, Alexis, was born five years ago, the former wrestler from Merrill High School mostly hung out with his friends.
After his second daughter, Starr, was born a year later, nothing brought her husband more joy than taking the girls fishing on the Wisconsin River. And after his daughter Kylee was born last year, he decided to join the Army. He really loved his kids, Heidi Dampier said. Right now they know that they’re not going to see him but I don’t think they know yet for how long.
Grant Dampier was born in Wisconsin Rapids, where he wrestled in grade school, and came to Merrill when his family moved as he was beginning high school. Before the Army, Grant Dampier worked for Marathon Electric in Wausau and enjoyed the Green Bay Packers, hip-hop music and the Crandon Brush Run off-road truck races in Forest County.
Dampier took an interest in and spent time with his wife’s 7-year-old cousin, Justin Peterson whom he treated like a son. He would take him places and they would play video games and wrestle and do all the boy stuff.
Grant Allen Dampier loved tattoos. He had the footprints of his two older daughters tattooed on his back. He planned to get the footprints of his youngest upon his return. He used to say they walked all over him anyway, so he might as well carry that with him forever, said his mother, Karen Goulee.
Dampier did everything for his family. He wanted to help everyone, said Conrad Gabler, a friend since they were about 7 years old. He’d give you the shirt off his back. He always put himself last.