Army Capt. Daniel Whitten
Died February 02, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
28, of Grimes, Iowa; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device Feb. 2 in Zabul province, Afghanistan. Also killed was Pfc. Zachary G. Lovejoy.
(Taken from http://dmjuice.desmoineregister.com of Feb. 10, 2010) An Iowa soldier who grew up in the Des Moines area and graduated from West Point has been killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb, the U.S. Department of Defense said today.
U.S. Army Capt. Daniel P. Whitten, 28, of Grimes, was a 1999 graduate of Johnston High School. He died Tuesday in Zabul Province along with Pfc. Zachary G. Lovejoy, 20, of Albuquerque, N.M., when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device, military officials said.
Their unit had been conducting a patrol in Zabul province, which is in southern Afghanistan along the border with Pakistan. It is considered a strategic place in the coalition forces' battle against the Taliban.
Whitten is survived by his wife, Starr Whitten, and his parents, Dan and Jill Whitten, and a sister, U.S. Army Capt. Sarah Whitten Frederickson, who is currently deployed to Afghanistan, military officials said.
Whitten played football at Johnston High School, also working on the student newspaper. In addition, he participated in the ROTC program at Hoover High School in Des Moines.
Johnston High School Associate Principal Jerry Stratton got to know Whitten well as a student during the years that he taught history and government and while he coached football. He said Whitten would also return in the years after his graduation to visit. They had many conversations about about foreign policy and the military and Stratton said he always looked forward to talking with the quiet, thoughtful young man.
"He was the kid who was always doing the right thing. He always stood by his values, and was true to his family and himself. He was the kind of young man who you hoped your own kids would grow up to represent," said Stratton, who acknowledged he was struggling today to come to grips with Whitten's death.
" When I think about kids who are thinking about going into the military, the one thing about Dan is that I always trusted his character as a person who I would want representing our country," Stratton said.
Whitten and Lovejoy were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, of Fort Bragg, N.C. Lovejoy had enlisted in the Army in August 2008 and served as an assistant machine gunner.
“Capt. Whitten and Pfc. Lovejoy were beloved members of the task force. The lived their lives to the fullest extent possible in everything they did. Their lives inspired us, and their memories will drive us to honor them,” said Lt. Col. David I. Oclander, commander of the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Regiment.
Whitten is the 73rd person with Iowa ties killed in Iraq, Afghanistan or other places from combat, illness or accident since the Iraq war began in March 2003.
The Iowa House and Senate both paused for moments of silence today in Whitten's honor.
Whitten was a 2004 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., where he received a bachelor’s degree with a double major in mathematics and English. He spent one semester at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis during his junior year.
Army Col. Rick Kerin, head of the U.S. Military Academy's Department of English and Philosophy said today that faculty members recalled Whitten "as a bright and thoughtful student, a most personable cadet.
"He clearly demonstrated to us the qualities that we rightly celebrate in those graduates who proceed from West Point to the Army to lead soldiers and care for their families during these challenging times," Kerin said.
Whitten was the first West Point graduate who received a major from his department to have died in the global war on terrorism 'and the loss is profound on many levels," Kerin said.
Whitten was commissioned a second lieutenant in May 2004. He was assigned to Fort Bragg in March 2005 and subsequently served a four-month deployment in Iraq. In 2007, he was sent to Afghanistan for a 15-month tour, and he returned again to Afghanistan in last August as commanding officer of Company C, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Regiment.
“Dan and Zachary will be missed by all of C Company,” said First Lt. Scott Haran, a platoon leader in Company C. “We will dedicate ourselves to their memory and to their legacy. To Starr and Mr. and Mrs. Lovejoy, you are in our thoughts and prayers.”
Funeral services are pending in the United States for both soldiers.
Army officials said a memorial in their honor will be held in Afghanistan.