Thursday, May 25, 2006

Army Capt. Douglas A. Dicenzo

Remember Our Heroes

Army Capt. Douglas A. Dicenzo, 30, of Plymouth, N.H.

Capt. Dicenzo was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany; killed May 25 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Baghdad. Also killed was Spc. Robert E. Blair.

Interview For NHPR News, by Shannon Mullen.

Plymouth is a pretty small town.

There aren’t too many people here who haven’t heard of Doug Dicenzo.

Downtown on Main Street, a few days after his death, it was obvious, talking to the people who live here, that Doug made a lasting impression.

Axa: people that knew him said he was a great kid, very intelligent, a polite person, respectful, so it’s very sad, you know?

At Plymouth high school, former teachers and coaches remember him as Douggie.

"He stood out as a gentleman, even when he was 8, 9 years old. He was one of those kids. And he did it just so naturally, so gracefully, you knew he was going places, that he was going to have high hopes and aspirations."

That’s guidance councilor Norm Leblanc.

He was Doug’s little league baseball coach and watched him grow up to become a model high school student.

"I picture a kid that never stopped smiling, bundle of energy, not a big kid, probably 5’7, i don’t even think he knew he was small. Everyone loved Doug. He had a lot of poise, character, humility. He had all those great characteristics that make people great, and he had ‘em at a young age. This is so tragic."

Dicenzo was senior class president, captain of his football and wrestling teams, and a strong student who took mostly Advanced Placement classes.

When he graduated in 1995, his classmates voted him teacher’s pet and most likely to succeed.

Dicenzo’s stepfather, Mark Burzynski, says after high school, Doug went on to become an even better man.

"Everything they knew just got better, a lot better, each and every year. So what you hear here in town, it’s just the beginning."

Doug’s mom, Cathy Crane, says West Point was her older son’s first choice when they were looking at colleges.

"He liked Annapolis, but when we got to West Point, he was like, 'this is it' and he was hooked, would not apply to one other school, even though we tried, just apply to a few, then you’ll have a choice. December first he got this beautiful big package in the mail, saying I’m accepted, and he was very happy, and it never went any further, he never went anyplace else."

Dicenzo graduated from west point in 1999, and he rose up the ranks quickly.

When he got married, his mom says the couple came home to New Hampshire for their wedding.

For their honeymoon, Doug took his new wife Nicole, hiking in the presidential mountain range.

"He said, Nic, it’s not hard, and he goes, it’s just hoppin on rocks. That’s when she started swearing, i’ve never seen so many freskin’ big boulders in my whole life. He said it was going to be a walk in the park, kind of walk in the ridge!"

Doug’s military career took him from a brief stint in Alaska, to Germany, where he became company commander in the first armored division.

One of his mom’s favorite stories about Doug comes from a recent trip to Germany to meet her new grandson Dakin.

"We went to visit, and he says we’re going to walk to dinner, it’s just over the hill, we were in downtown Heidelberg, little bit of snow on the ground, we trapsed three miles at least, up side of mountain, over fields to this farmhouse that was this unbelievable restaurant. It was off the charts. That was so Doug, and we just laughed about that. Gee Doug, let’s go out to dinner. It’s just a little hike…"

That was one of the last visits Cathy and Mark had with Doug.

They saw him again last August, before he shipped out to the Middle East… where they waited on ready reserve for three months.

Cathy says Doug was anxious to get to Iraq, where he was in charge of about 130 enlisted men.

When he called home, he only talked about the positive things he was seeing and doing.

"He’d say we’re doing so much good over here, he goes, you should see it, what’s been built, and he felt they were making a difference with the kids, that the kids are the future of Iraq."

Mark: "And he said most of Iraq is not what you see in the news. He says that’s Baghdad, the slums of Baghdad. Most people are supportive, they like the troops."

"The only thing he didn’t like about being in Iraq was being away from son/wife… it was being away from them."

Cathy says Doug thought of himself as a professional, who did his job no matter what.

He didn’t say a lot about his personal politics.

And regardless of their beliefs, his family stood behind him.

Cathy: "You bring your kids up to make their own choices and you support them in what they do, no matter what they choose. And along the way you might disagree with them, and you might not think it’s the best choice at the time, but you support them 120 percent."

Cathy says the support her family has received from the community has been overwhelming.

"It’s just unbelievable, people have been at our doors for 3 days, the phone’s been ringing off hook. Governor Lynch called, Judd Gregg called, giving home phone numbers, so it is overwhelming, I guess the sad part is, couldn’t we feel that support while the soldiers are over there doing their jobs every day versus after the fact. I mean, it’s making us feel wonderful, it’s just one of those things you say, ‘I hope they felt that.'”

Cathy says Doug wanted to be a career soldier.

But he was also a home-body, and he eventually hoped to move his family back to New Hampshire.

"He said i’m going to do twenty years, then probably come home and teach, that was going to be his next life."

"Teach what?"

"Probably would have been high school history, think of this, he’s been all over world, he’s been gone from here ten years, and where does he want to come back to? Here."

Doug’s family got the call about his death last week.

They’re planning services for Sunday in Plymouth, according to what Doug said requested.

"He wanted a military sendoff, rifle salute, taps, then he wanted a celebration of his life, wanted people to get together and have a party. So we’re celebrating him through a memorial. We’re having diff people speak from diff points of his life."

Doug liked to brew beer, so after his service, he wanted everyone to meet someplace fun, have drinks, and share memories.

Doug Dicenzo was 30 years old.

He is survived by his father Larry.

His mother Cathy and step father Mark.

His brother Dan…

His wife Nicole, and their 16 month old son Dakin.

Before he died, Doug also videotaped himself reading stories, so his son will always be able to see him, and hear his voice.

Army Capt. Douglas A. Dicenzo was killed in action on 05/25/06.


Anonymous said...

I tried to paste some pictures of Doug at West Point with me. We were in the same company at WP (H-3) and both became Infantry officers. Doug is and will always be a great American. I am lucky to have known him.

Rich Harding

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you today Doug and all that you did to make this country what it is. Thank you for your sacrifice. You are missed so much.

Anonymous said...

This is Doug's wife. I just wanted to let everyone know I recently published a book about Doug. Its title is Revelations: A Survivor's Story of Faith, Hope, and the Coming Kingdom. You can get it through my website or on Amazon. I wanted to post here because I know Doug is loved. This book may answer a lot of questions everyone has. My website is Please e mail me if you need to contact me at Thank you all for supporting Doug. You mean a lot to me and Dak. Thanks for all your support.

Nicole DiCenzo