Friday, April 09, 2010

Army Sgt. Sean M. Durkin

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Sean M. Durkin, 24, of Aurora, Colo.

Sgt Durkin was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, Fort Carson, Colo.; died April 9, 2010 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device near Forward Operating Base Wilson, Afghanistan, on March 27.

Mary Ann Durkin thought her son, U.S. Army Sgt. Sean Michael Durkin, 24, was doing OK despite losing both legs when his vehicle was struck with an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan on March 27.

However, Durkin, who grew up on South Side Easton and also lived in Bethlehem Township, Pa., contracted a fungal infection and died from the injuries Friday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center outside Washington, D.C.

“He was doing really good,” said Mary Ann Durkin, now of Arizona. “He even told me about what happened to him.”

Childhood friend Joseph Anastasi, of Easton, remembers playing war games with Durkin in their Easton neighborhood. His family couldn't have imagined anything other than a military career for him. “He was a very strong person,” Anastasi said. “He died doing what he wanted to do. He fought and died defending his country.”

Sean Durkin will be buried alongside his father, Vietnam War veteran William Durkin, in Hays Cemetery on South Side after services at the Phillipsburg Alliance Church.

Army Sgt. Sean Durkin of Aurora was born to be a soldier, his mother said Monday evening. "Whenever he drew or did anything for school when he was a child, it was always about the Army," said Mary Ann Durkin of her late son. "That's just who he was."

The 24-year-old died Friday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., from injuries sustained in a roadside attack in Afghanistan on March 27, the Defense Department reported Monday. He was stationed at Fort Carson.

Durkin's convoy was rocked by an initial blast near Forward Operating Base Wilson. As Durkin and two other soldiers got out of their vehicle to inspect the damage, a second bomb went off, Mary Ann Durkin said. The sergeant lost both legs and died from complications of an infection. His fellow soldiers had lesser injuries, his mother said.

The day before he was injured, he had sent her a message on Facebook about a mission he could not elaborate on. "He said, 'We'll be out for a week and a half, and when I get back, I'll tell you when I'm coming home,' " his mother recalled.

On Tuesday night, a Colorado newspaper reported that President Obama personally delivered a Purple Heart to Durkin the day after the explosion.

The commander-in-chief presented the honor during his visit to a hospital in the Afghan capital of Kabul, where Sgt. Durkin was located.

He had been recuperating at Walter Reed after losing both legs to amputation, and his family and doctors were cautiously optimistic about his recovery, said Michael Yount, pastor of Phillipsburg Alliance Church, where the Durkins were active before moving from the area.

But Durkin's condition rapidly worsened from an apparent fungal infection, said Yount, who visited Durkin last week.

''Up until Thursday, it looked like he was going to make it,'' the pastor said.

Yount said Durkin had to repeat basic training because he broke his foot during his first effort. Then, at the end of his second go-around, he broke it again. Those injuries never quenched his ambition to serve.

Yount said his church will hold a memorial service in about 30 days. It hasn't yet been scheduled because Durkin's sister is expecting a baby.

Durkin joined the Army in February 2006. He had grown up in Pennsylvania but completed his senior year at Eaglecrest High School in Centennial in 2004, then attended Denver Auto Diesel College, his mother said. He loved to work on two Honda Civic hatchbacks he owned. After he found out that he lost his legs, "the first thing he asked was whether he would still be able to drive his car," she recalled.

According to Fort Carson, Durkin had been in Afghanistan since August. He was deployed in Iraq from March to November in 2007, according to the base. He received numerous commendations and medals, including the Expert Infantry Badge, the Driver Mechanic Badge and the Parachutist Badge.

Army Sgt. Sean M. Durkin died 4/9/10 of wounds received in action on 3/27/10.

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