Army Pfc. Duncan Charles Crookston, 19, of Denver
Pfc. Crookston was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.; died Jan. 25, 2008 in Brooke Army Medical Center, Texas, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in Baghdad.
Denver Post -- A Denver West High School graduate — one of two men to survive a deadly roadside blast along one of Baghdad's deadliest roads — has died from complications that resulted from his injuries, the Department of Defense and the soldier's family said Sunday.
Pfc. Duncan Charles Crookston, 19, an airborne infantryman who enlisted after graduating from West High School in 2006, died Friday at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. He had been fighting for his life since an improvised bomb exploded near the humvee he was in Sept. 4. He was severely burned and underwent multiple amputations.
"He was very intelligent, very into science and was able to teach himself things about things, especially electronics," his mother, Leesha Crookston, an animal control officer with the city of Lakewood, said in a phone interview from San Antonio. "He ended up being placed as a radio-tech operator in his unit because he was so good with electronics.
Crookston was riding in the rear of a humvee carrying Sgt. Joel Murray, 26, the truck commander, Spc. David Lane, 20, the driver; Pvt. Randy Shelton, 22, the turret gunner and Pfc. Joseph Mixson, 22, when they were hit by a roadside bomb, according to Stars and Stripes newspaper. All of the men were with the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, based in Fort Riley, Kan.
Three of them — Murray, Lane and Shelton — were killed in the blast or died a short time later.
One of the men in his unit told the newspaper that Crookston was soft-spoken and well liked.
"He was always helping us with our computers cause he knew about everything digital," Staff Sgt. Welby Richardson, 31, from Gonzales, Texas, told the Stars and Stripes.
Crookston was badly burned over 50 percent of his body. Both of his legs were amputated, along with his right arm and left hand, his mother said.
He had slipped in and out of conciousness these past few months at BAMC, but recently developed an infection followed by a fever, his mother said.
His family decided to remove life-support, and he died the day before his 20th birthday.
"Everyone hoped for the best, but he was always just kind in and out and kept getting infections," said Estevan Ruiz, 20, of Denver, a longtime friend of Crookston.
"He was a really great guy, and he helped everyone out whenever they needed him," Ruiz said. "And he knew everything about anything — music, computer games, books. And if he didn't know it, he was sure to learn it because that was just the way he was."
Ruiz said Crookston started dating his wife, Meaghun, their last year in high school.
While serving in Iraq, Crookston had been in frequent touch with family in the Denver area. He was home on leave for a few weeks last summer, his mother said.
"It was kind of hard to tell (how he was adjusting) to being there," Leesha Crookston said. "He kept a lot to himself and didn't talk about a lot of stuff that went on there. If anything, he was more interested in what was going on here."
His unit was scheduled to return from Iraq in April, she said.
Crookston leaves behind a wife, his parents and five brothers.
Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Feb. 2, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 2710 S. Monaco Pkwy. His mother said that the last surviving member of the explosion, Mixson, who lost both lower legs in the blast, would try to attend the services.
Army Pfc. Duncan Charles Crookston was killed in action on 1/25/08.
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