DOD identifies Okinawa Marine killed by blast in Afghanistan
October 31, 2011
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — An Okinawa-based Marine charged with disarming bombs was killed by a blast in Afghanistan on Thursday, according to military reports.
Staff Sgt. Stephen J. Dunning, 31, of Milpitas, Calif., was an explosive ordnance disposal technician attached to an infantry battalion in the restive Helmand Province, his family told the L.A. Times.
Dunning, who served in the Marine Corps for 11 years, moved to Okinawa in 2009 and was attached to the 9th Engineer Support Battalion under the 3rd Marine Logistics Group. He was less than two months into his second deployment to Afghanistan, according to his family.
On Monday, fellow Marines on Okinawa were planning a memorial service but no date had been set because the battalion was waiting for some members to return from Afghanistan, officials said.
“SSgt Dunning is the ultimate example of a professional Marine, talented EOD technician and a fine man,” Capt. Donald Pilcher, Dunning’s company commander, said in a statement from Okinawa. “He was a respected member of our EOD family and proved to be a Marine to emulate for all those he worked with.”
His father, Robert, said his son focused on living a “selfless life” and volunteered for the dangerous job of defusing bombs for that reason.
“He was originally in the high-tech field but that wasn’t what he wanted,” his father told the L.A. Times. “When he got into EOD, he absolutely loved it. He thought that by taking bombs apart, he was saving the lives of others.”
Dunning was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart for his service, the Marine Corps said.