Saturday, March 18, 2006

Army Sgt. Dale G. Brehm

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Dale G. Brehm, 23, of Turlock, California

Sgt Brehm was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Lewis, Wash.; killed March 18 when he came under small arms fire by enemy forces during combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq. Also killed was Staff Sgt. Ricardo Barraza.


One: The number of Bill Brehm's children.

Two: The number of weeks left before his only child, an Army Ranger, would return from war-ravaged Iraq after enduring a half-dozen missions there.

Three: The number of months remaining in Sgt. Dale G.M. Brehm's enlistment. Although he loved the Army's elite forces, Brehm had decided to leave for another life, his stepmother said Tuesday.

Zero: The number of people who expected him to leave this life altogether.

"We thought, 'He's made it this far; he's going to survive this,'" his stepmother, Linda Brehm of Turlock, said Tuesday, which would have been Dale Brehm's 24th birthday. "We got used to him going back, coming home, going back, coming home. So we're just blown away. It's devastating."

Brehm and Staff Sgt. Ricardo Barraza, 24, of Shafter, near Bakersfield, died Saturday after they "came under small arms fire by enemy forces during combat operations" in Ramadi, Iraq, according to a brief Department of Defense statement released Tuesday.

Brehm's widow, Raini, a Modesto native, said Army Special Operations "don't like to Hollywoodize what they do." She spoke in a brief telephone conversation from her home near Fort Lewis, Wash., where her husband's 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment is based.

The Bee was unable to reach Dale Brehm's mother, Laura Williams of Riverbank.

Memorial services, initially slated for later this week, have been put on hold, Bill and Linda Brehm said. Details will be shared as they become available.

An additional service is to be scheduled at Fort Lewis, the Brehms said, and Dale Brehm is to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.

Bill and Linda Brehm had celebrated the wedding of her daughter March 12, she said. A week later, they were enjoying the Sunday morning newspaper and coffee when two uniformed officers approached their Turlock home.

"It was our normal morning routine," she said, "except that morning we had some visitors. I looked out the window and saw these guys walking up, and as soon as Bill opened the door I knew."

Dale Brehm graduated from Turlock Adult School in 2000 and joined the military the next year.

Bill Brehm, in a 2002 letter to The Bee, described himself as "apprehensive" about the war but "very proud of my son for he is well-trained, ready and willing."

"His ultimate goal in life was to be an Army Ranger," Linda Brehm said. "The Army was his life; he was very proud of what he did and he fulfilled his dream."

Army Sgt. Dale G. Brehm was killed in action on 03/18/06.

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