Schweinfurt honors three fallen soldiers
SCHWEINFURT, Germany — The front Humvee in an April 6 convoy through Baghdad was hit by a roadside bomb, taking the lives of Capt. Anthony Palermo Jr., Spc. Ryan Scott Michael Dallam and Pfc. Damian Lopez Rodriguez.
They died as they had lived — leading from the front. The military community in Schweinfurt came together to honor them in a ceremony Thursday at the Ledward Barracks chapel.
All three were members of the “Road Warriors” Support Platoon of 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, known as Task Force Vanguard in Iraq. The Task Force Vanguard commander, Lt. Col. George A. Glaze, back from Iraq on midtour leave, spoke of their sacrifice at the ceremony.
“Being the first vehicle on any road in Baghdad is not for the faint of heart,” Glaze said.
He spoke of how the support platoon as a whole — truck drivers and ammunition handlers by trade — had also received training as infantrymen.
The convoy that Palermo, 26, Dallam, 24 and Rodriguez, 19, were leading carried concrete barriers to be used as protection against enemy fire at the forward outposts that task force members call home.
Out on patrol just two weeks before the due date of his first child, Palermo was scheduled to fly to Germany on leave to be with his wife, Kristin, who serves as an Army captain in Würzburg, Germany.
Remembered during the ceremony as “a soldier’s soldier … charismatic, tough and strong,” Palermo, of Brockton, Mass., was the kind of man who commanded respect, and to whom people would stand for when meeting, said Lt. Col. Robert Whittle, commander of Task Force Guardian in Schweinfurt.
A third generation soldier, Dallam was remembered by members of his unit as always having a funny story to tell, someone who would rather his family and friends focus on happy memories while grieving.
“(Dallam) gave (his) life to protect all those on the road who followed (him) that day,” said Staff Sgt. Jason R. Vickodil, during the ceremony, reading the words one of Dallam’s comrades read during an April 13 ceremony in Baghdad.
A native of Norman, Okla., Dallam is survived by his father and stepmother, Scott and Leslie Dallam of Norman, mother Laura Dallam of Showlow, Ariz., and a younger brother and sister.
The youngest soldier in the unit, Rodriguez was so proud of serving his country, he made sure to travel home to Pueblo Magnet High School in Tucson, Ariz., in uniform before deploying. He had been with 1-18 for seven months before heading to Iraq and is survived by his mother, Anna B. Scott, and father, Raphael Lopez, both of Tucson.
Rodriguez and three of his fellow soldiers formed a group called the “e-z” riders, because their names all ended with the same letters. To them, he’ll always be remembered as the toughest e-z rider of them all, said Staff Sgt. Donald B. McHattie on Thursday, also recounting words spoken in Iraq.
Palermo, Dallam and Rodriguez’s battalion has lost nine men in combat since deploying as part of 2nd “Dagger” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, in August and September.