There may be some who think that the post 9/11 wars are over, but they are not. Not by a long shot. Most Americans may not realize that we still have nearly 10,000 soldiers in Afghanistan providing training for the Afghan Army and Police Forces and who are still very much in the fight against the Taliban insurgents. This is especially true now that the “fighting season” has begun again.
Though active American combat missions ended on January 1st of this year, we have signed an agreement with the newly elected President of Afghanistan, Mr. Ashraf Ghani, to keep a substantial residual force of American troops in Afghanistan to continue training and assisting the Afghan Army and Police Forces in their continuing effort to defend the country from the Taliban and Al-Qaeda insurgent forces. As Mr. Ghani has reported, there is evidence that these insurgent forces are now being aided and supported by ISIS fighters.
[content-ad-vert-1 align=”left”]On April 8, 2015, American troops from our advise-and-assist mission command suffered their first casualties since the “official” end of our active combat mission in Afghanistan as the result of an ambush by an Afghan Army turncoat. Specialist John M. Dawson, a combat medic, with First Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, Third Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, was part of an escort detail providing security for a meeting at the local provincial governor’s compound in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. When the meeting was ending, one of the Afghan Army soldiers in the detail started shooting his weapon at his fellow escort detail members. Dawson and several others were wounded by the gunfire before the traitor could be neutralized.
Dawson later succumbed to his injuries and became the first U.S. soldier to be killed in action since the advise-and-assist mission began on January 1st of this year.
According to the Boston Globe, John M. Dawson was born and spent his entire life in the small Massachusetts town of Whitinsville. He graduated from Blackstone Valley Regional Technical High School in neighboring Upton, Massachusetts. After high school he attended the Massachusetts Maritime Academy for one year before enlisting in the Army in 2012. 22-year-old Dawson was remembered by his 67-year-old cousin, James F. Baxendale as, “the kind of kid anyone would be proud to have as a son. He was proud to be an American and proud to be in the military. He wanted to serve, and he made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.” According to the Defense Department, Specialist Dawson received his military and combat medic training at Fort Sill (Oklahoma), Fort Sam Houston (San Antonio), and Fort Campbell (Kentucky). Like all combat medics and Corpsmen, he was affectionately known by his fellow team members, as “Doc.” “Doc Dawson.” Doc Dawson’s military awards include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal with V Device, the Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and the Combat Action Badge.
His funeral mass at St. Gabriel the Archangel Church in Upton, Massachusetts, had “dozens of soldiers and veterans with the Patriot Guard Riders who stood in the rain…clutching towering poles topped with drenched American Flags.”
Some of Specialist Dawson’s fellow servicemen, “gave Dawson’s family his personal belongings, which included a dog tag that read, ‘Greater love has no other than this, than to lay down your life for your friends.’ The back of the dog tag read, ‘In memory of an American hero.'”
The Veterans Site wishes to add its condolences to the Dawson family for the loss of their son. His father, Michael Dawson, said of him at his funeral, “You will always be loved and missed. Thank you for giving your life for us all.” We honor your son for his duty to God and country and we will not forget him and the sacrifice he made for all of us. Rest in Peace, good soldier. Rest in Peace.