Born: September 1, 1982
Fallen: March 22, 2012
Army Sergeant Dennis P. Weichel Jr, from Providence, RI, was assigned to 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment, 56th Troop Command, Rhode Island National Guard in East Greenwich, R.I. He became a RI fallen hero at the age of 29 on March 22, 2012 while in Jalalabad, Laghman province, Afghanistan, from injuries suffered in a noncombat incident.
Sergeant Dennis P. Weichel Jr was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment, 56th Troop Command, Rhode Island National Guard in East Greenwich, R.I. He had been a member of the National Guard since 2001 and was deployed to Iraq in 2005.
Dennis is remembered by his colleagues as “a fun loving guy yet a model Soldier.” They further state that “he was a big kid at heart. He always had a smile on his face and he made everyone laugh.” As much as a Sgt Weichel was funny, he was also a professional. His seniors said that “when it was time to go outside the wire for a combat patrol, he was all business.”
On the morning of March 22, Weichel and members of his unit were leaving the Black Hills Firing Range in Laghman province, Afghanistan, when they encountered multiple Afghan children in the path of their convoy. Weichel was among several Soldiers who dismounted to disperse the children away from the vehicles. As one child attempted to retrieve an item from underneath a U.S. Army mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle, known as an MRAP, Weichel moved her to safety and was struck by the MRAP in the process. He became a hero from the injuries he sustained from the armored truck.
The circumstances of Weichel’s death speak to his character, said a Staff Sergeant at the time, Weichel’s mentor who deployed with him to Iraq in 2005. “He would have done it for anybody,” said the soldier. “That was the way he was. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He was that type of guy.”
“Specialist Dennis Weichel’s life was marked by bravery, selflessness, and commitment to others — and unfortunately it was in demonstrating these remarkable characteristics that it was lost,” Governor Lincoln Chafee said at his funeral ceremony. “And he will be remembered, and mourned, by people across our state as a great Rhode Islander.”
Sergeant Weichel was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the NATO Service Medal Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon RI Star. He is survived by three children, his fiancée, and his parents.
Videos highlighting Sergeant Weichel’s story: