Friend honors Alaska veteran who was killed during Operation Desert Storm
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Nearly 400 Operation Desert Storm veterans walked side by side in the National Memorial Day Parade in the United States Capitol on Monday.
Almost every veteran carried a patch with the name of one of the 375 military members who lost their lives during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. An Alaska man, Sgt. David Douthit, was one of them.
Douthit died on Feb. 27, 1991, in Desert Storm, while serving in the first infantry division with Patrick Debiel.
In a tradition that occurs every Memorial Day, Desert Storm veterans gathered to march down Constitution Avenue like the active soldiers they once were. They all remember the comrades who are no longer with them and walk with those they’ve served with.
“It’s almost indescribable, the feeling of pride, the feeling of comradery and friendship. It truly is an honor,” said Patrick Dubiel, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm.
It’s part of the annual National Memorial Parade in Washington D.C. One of the new experiences this year was the opportunity to carry a patch with the name of a soldier who lost their life during Desert Storm.
Dubiel held up a patch with Douthit’s name on it, showing off what he considered so priceless.
“I was amazed because I didn’t have to look very long,” Dubiel said.
Dubiel says it was an honor to carry Douthit’s patch with him.
“I was amazed that I found it — actually I might even welled up a little bit,” Dubiel said. “My wife could tell that I was excited that I found it, because, again, David — his name is read at all of our reunions for the first infantry division, along with the other 25 soldiers that we lost along Desert Storm, so David has never been forgotten among us.”
“David and the 374 — their sacrifice is never going to be forgotten, along with the almost 600,000 that deployed, their service is never going to be forgotten,” said Scott Stump, the CEO and President of the National Desert Shield and Desert Storm War Memorial Association.
According to Dubiel, the incident that took Douthit’s life was one of friendly fire. When Douthit passed in 1991, many in his unit knew that he had a wife at home who was expecting.
“The sad part of it was we knew the implications after that happened in February that his daughter would never know (her) father,” Dubiel said.
Dubiel said it was really special when he found the patch and it felt like it was meant to be. He hopes to be able to give it to Douthit’s daughter one day.
The permanent National Desert Shield and Desert Storm War Memorial is in the works to begin construction soon, with a scheduled completion date of spring 2024.
“The great news is for David’s family members — his daughter and all of the others — their family members will be able to go to this place and know their loved ones, their sacrifice, will forever be remembered,” Stump said.
For those who served by their side, it will be a place to come back to remember them.
“I surely will never forget this,” Dubiel said.
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