Michael's Dispatches

In Memory of SPC David Lee Leimbach

CSM Jeff Mellinger is out there still "Walking the Line." He did the longest continuous tour in Iraq that I have ever seen: 33 plus months without a break except for normal leave. And he was seriously out in the red zone. I drove about 4,000 miles with him within Iraq checking on our servicemen and women, Walking the Line, and that was a tiny fraction of the work he did. And so he came back to the United States and is stationed in Washington D.C., but CSM Mellinger's duties have taken him back to Iraq and Afghanistan. I got an email from CSM Mellinger this morning from Afghanistan. He was remembering SPC David Lee Leimbach, the latest Great American to give his life in Afghanistan fighting dark forces that wish to do us great harm.
CSM Mellinger had written a private tribute to SPC Leimbach, and I immediately asked if I may publish it so others may see. Just a few minutes ago, I spoke with CSM Mellinger on the phone. He's in Afghanistan Walking the Line right now, and says we are taking the fight to the enemy.

And so here is the private tribute written by CSM Jeff Mellinger in honor of our latest fallen warrior, SPC David Lee Leimbach, who gave his life in our defence:


This morning at 0600, we paid final respects to SPC David Lee Leimbach, a Taylor, South Carolina, National Guard soldier killed yesterday in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Just before 0500, an announcement came across the Bagram Airfield PA system for everyone to dress in their combat uniforms and assemble along the road which cuts through the middle of Bagram Air Base.

Little by little, troops from all services and many coalition countries began lining the main street of the base. They stood literally shoulder to shoulder on both sides of the road for nearly a mile.

At about 0530, a USAF C-17 landed (ironically from Charleston, SC), taxied, pulled into a space in front of the formed troops, turning its tail towards them. The ramp dropped, the engines shut down, the crew disembarked and lined up in front of the plane. All down the flight line, warriors stood at parade rest; talking and whispering stopped.

At 0600 on this bright, sunny day, the vehicle bearing the casket, having completed its drive from the mortuary to the airfield, turned onto the airfield. A single soldier walked in front of the vehicle to lead the way.

Along the road leading to the airfield, the troops that lined the road were standing at attention and saluting. On the airfield you could only hear the birds flitting around. In the distance were the sounds of aircraft flying their missions.

Now, the troops on the airfield came to attention and saluted as a bagpipe played Amazing Grace. The color guard moved into position, and those of us assembled near the plane came to attention and saluted.

Two cameramen ran ahead of the vehicle, recording the entire procession, and now the unloading and movement of the casket.

The casket, carried by soldiers of the unit, moved forward to the plane. The band played My Country, Tis of Thee. The casket was loaded on the plane, the senior personnel present (to include five general officers) walked onto the plane behind the casket, and final prayers and remarks were made, then those leaders and casket bearers disembarked.

As the assembled began to move from the site, the crew embarked, the ramp closed, the C-17 taxied and took off, and the fight continued.

I hope the family of this warrior knows that we loved him, too.
From every mountain side, let freedom ring!
Happy Memorial Day.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Chris Pugrud · 13 years ago
    During the nine months my wife and I worked at Bagram, nothing brought tears to my eyes more fiercely than standing at attention along Disney to honor our fallen comrades. Every time the big voice rattled our b-hut, I crossed my fingers and hoped it was not time again, that another had fallen. I hope I never forget the sound of those bagpipes, the sound that echoed across the valley in honor of our fallen friends, though it will forever bring a tear to my eye.

    Thank you for sharing
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Richard Shipley · 13 years ago
    On this day, I am thinking of the friends I lost in Vietnam. Our wonderful, talented, and committed young people continue to give their all in defense of our great country. We must prevail in this, the most important war our nation has ever fought. I am enjoying your new book. It should be required reading for every American, especially our elected officials! God bless you and the work you continue to do so well.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Wynnell Nowell · 13 years ago
    I want to thank you for these mailings, Michael. i also want to thank you for the one recently on the progress in Iraq. keep up the good work.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Susy Raybon · 13 years ago
    On behalf of those that have gone before and for those that are sure to follow, I thank you, Michael Yon, for telling the hard stories, honoring the sacrifices and bringing the war home. Stay Safe, we need you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bob Sawyer · 13 years ago
    Michael thanks for sharing and a special thanks to CSM Jeff Mellinger. Obviously we all share in the loss of another hero, SPC David Lee Leimbach; our prayers are with his family in this sad time. These Great Americans, also those highlighted in your recent book, stand for tradition and honor of our way of life and shout out to the entire world, we will not fail our country or her allies.
    My grandfather served in WWI, my father in WWII, I served in Vietnam and my oldest son spent 15 months in Iraq. Today I reflect on all which has been given by so many families, and thank God for the opportunity to be counted among those men and women who served with grace, dignity, honor and courage, just as David Lee Leimbach did.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Hardtack · 13 years ago
    Thank you for posting this tribute. My heart and prayers go out to his family, and to his brothers, who experienced this loss. We, as a country, have lost another American, another of the newest Greatest Generation.

    I thank God for providing and raising such men and women who carry the fight to an enemy that wants to destroy not only us but also all that we believe. It is humbling to realize that men and women consider it important enough to fight for this country, as as SPC Leimbach has shown, to die for this country. We owe a debt to these men and women we can never repay. Let us never forget the ones who have suffered, the ones who have died, the ones who are serving now. They, and their brothers and sisters, are the ones who keep us free.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Reverend Liz Wold · 13 years ago
    On May7th 2008 Staff Sergeant Kevin casey Roberts was killed when an IED blew up the truck in which he and fellow soldiers SPC Gullet, LT Bannen and PFC Price and a civilian contractor were traveling. Gullett was killed, the contrator was killed and the other 2 soldiers are at Walter Reed - they are amputees. To all our men and women in service to our nation I say thank you. I also thank the families of those who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq and pray that there is some bit of comfort and hope in their lives as they tip toe now through life in their most fragile times. God bless and keep everyone together. Respectfully, Rev. Liz
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Denny Madison · 13 years ago
    5/26/2008 Denny Madison dennmadi@yahoo.com
    Subject Memorial Day 2008
    My wife Sandy and I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our military men and women that have served, or now are serving to preserve Freedom for all of us in the USA and the free world!! Your personal and family sacrifices are the most important thing that has ever been done for our country and your countrymen and women! God bless all of you. For those who have been seriously wounded, or paid the supreme sacrifice of your life, we pray that you will have the medical attention you require and that your comrades and David Lee Leimbach, will rest in peace. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bill Smith · 13 years ago
    Thank You Mr. and Mrs. Liembach, and Thank You God, for giving us David Lee Leimbach.

    Thank you CSM Mellinger, and thank you, Mike for this.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tommy Barrios · 13 years ago
    As a veteran and an honorary life member of the Vietnam Veteran of Brevard County, I had the honor of serving on their Honor Guard and Rifle Team. I spent many Memorial Days marching in parades and serving at events honoring our military heroes both living and deceased. I never thought at that time that our country would have to call on our young men and women to confront another vicious enemy. Yet here we are fighting an enemy that has a deep rooted brainwashed enmity for our country and our life style. The bagpipes playing Amazing Grace always brought tears to my eyes and still does.

    I was asked recently when I felt the most spirituality and I have to say it was not ever in any church but in the presence of these great men and women and esteemed military heroes, spirituality goes down to the bone. I have the greatest sympathy for the families of all our fallen heroes and I wish them solace and comfort on this most important of American holidays. One of the motto's of the Vietnam Veterans is: All gave some, Some gave all! This applies to all veterans who have honorably served their country and we should never forget the sentiment.

    The quote from the Book of John is most appropriate on this day.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Susan · 13 years ago
    To America's Fallen, your indomitable spirit forever remains in my heart as the reminder of God's precious freedom. May God bring comfort and love to the famiiles and loved of those who gave their all so that I may sleep peaceably at nite.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jack Poller · 13 years ago
    Thanks for a moving tribute to our fallen...

    And thanks to all of you who serve to keep us free
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Da Goddess · 13 years ago
    And a special thank you to CSM Jeff Mellinger and the other men and women who serve.

    Thank you, too, Michael.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Craig Knight · 13 years ago
    I sat in church yesterday and we honored and prayed for those who have provided us the freedom to worship God with out fear. I thank SPC Liembach and his family for their sacrifice.

    My thanks and my love go to all who are serving. May God bless you!

    Thank you Michael for all that you are doing.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sarah · 13 years ago
    I can't help but cry everytime I hear a story about another life that has fallen in this war. Its a shame for the youth of our nation to die in foreign lands.

    But on another note, if you look at the Afghanistan in general you can see that the country is struggling especially with the Taliban activity increasing in the southern boarder with Pakistan. I'm not sure if anyone in the states heard but, the "Pakistani Taliban" had issued a decree stating that they were no longer going to bomb, oppress, destroy, or kill on Pakistani soil but insead they were going to carry out their unholy activities in Afghanistan more so. And to think that some of the Pushtun tribal areas support them. Truly sickening.

    I still can help but feel that we are slowly losing Afghanistan to these warlords and drug traffickers...

    Good Luck Michael! As an aspiring journalist myself, I hope to have as much bravery as you exhibit in your dispatches.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tim Thomas · 13 years ago
    Having come from a military family with many generations of Service to this country from the revolution and into today, stories like this always make my heart stop if just for a minute. Young men like this make us all want to stand at attention to pay our respects. I see in my business service men and woman almost daily and nothing makes me prouder of this country then when I here other customers from all walks of live thanking those brave individuals. Our country has an obligation to honor all of them, and to those that give all and their families we owe a debt that can never be fully repaid. We should never forget that.
    Thank You Michael for this story and so many others you have shared, keep up the good work.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dori Medina · 13 years ago
    Thank you & may God keep you safe, Jeff Mellinger. God bless the family of SPC David Lee Leimbach. I hope somehow our military personnel know this...I think of our military virtually everyday and I pray for them...all of them wherever they are in the world.

    I am deeply thankful for their service -- words don't suffice but they're the best I can do for now. Thanks to you, too, Michael!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Thad H Bolton · 13 years ago
    Thanks Michael for sharing this moving tribute to David. Our Nation should be proud of the young men and women who volunter to serve in our armed forces. To David's family I thank you for the life your son lived and died for a cause he believed in. I pray that God will put a hedge of protection around each of our troops. God Bless America.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rich Timm · 13 years ago
    Thank you for this moving posting. I pray that God will ease the grief that of his family memebers, his friends and brothers in arms. SPC David Lee Liembach was asked to give the ulimate sacrifice and he did so with out regret.

    As many of us celebrated Memorial Day, we honor those who have given their lives in defence of our great Flag. Napolean once said, "A Soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of ribbon". Those of us who have served know that call.

    Thank you CSM Mellinger for caring too much for your Soldiers. May God lay his soothing hand on your troubled heart and keep you and all our troops safe.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Josh Reis · 13 years ago
    Thanks for posting that. Those days standing on Disney, or on the airfield at KAF are days I will never forget. I still tear up when I think about the Fallen Comrade ceremonies for brothers and sisters that were lost. As painful as they were though, I never saw a single person avoid going.

    Thanks to all of those still serving and those that have served. Stay safe.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    SSgt Mike Carl · 13 years ago
    While I spent Memorial Day barbecuing, my friend and co-worker SSG Dan Markle was on patrol in Afghanistan. On his last leave he brought home a U.S. flag that he would display in the window of his humvee on each patrol. Yesterday I flew that flag in his honor. I am thankful for young men like Dan and SPC David Lee Leimbach for stepping up and being counted when their country called them. I'm thankful for my father 'Bud' who fought his way across France and Germany and then the 8th Parallel to bring freedom to the oppressed. I'm thankful for all who have put on the uniform past and present. God bless their families each and everyday and God bless you Michael for your dedication our men and women in harms way.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    twolaneflash · 13 years ago
    In my memory they live as they were then:
    In sunshine bright, their faces alight.
    They move with grace across my mind,
    Their voices laughing, hearts in flight.

    So sad the days and nights of thought
    Of loved ones pained, of life drained
    On ground so far away from where we trained
    To end the lives of who dare kill freedom.

    Memory, my altar and prayer to The Trinity,
    For they who swore the oath of allegiance freely,
    And bore the battle's brunt with bravery.
    Give them Peace. They died for Liberty.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dennis Delcamp · 13 years ago
    Thank you for the service you are choosing to take upon yourself to do. I will pray for you as well as our troops.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    CW4 King · 13 years ago
    May God bless Michael and his family, as one of your brothers in arms we will continue to beat the drum for Freedom from every mountain top and keep you and your family in our prayers, stand tall and know that you will be missed by your family and brothers of arms.

    CW4 King
    Army Sustainment Command
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pamela Husted · 13 years ago
    SPC David Lee Leimbach, this Memorial Day and every day hence, I will remember your sacrifice, I will honor your courage and I will not forget you or your brothers and sisters; now, nor those that have gone before you, in the name of freedom. To the family of SPC David Lee Leimbach: May God give you the strength and courage to walk through this difficult time together, though you will never forget. I humbly thank your son for his sacrifice as he now waits with His Son among all our troops who served with honor and grace until we meet again.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bob Casavant · 13 years ago
    As an ex-marine, i am always saddened when i hear stories of our brave young warriors being killed or maimed in this latest conflict. Words can never sufficiently express the gratitude i feel for these young men and women who selflessly sacrifice their lives in order to fulfill the dreams of freedom for all peolples the world over. It is truly an uncommon valor that only a select few ever experience and i think about the last words uttered by William Wallace, "Freedom"!

    Truly, i beleive in my heart the God has a special place reserved in heaven for every man and woman who give their lives for others in the pursuit of freedom for all.

    May God bless you, David Lee Leimback and may God bless your family and loved ones and give each one the abundant grace needed to walk through these dark days and know that you are in the Savior's arms and are at peace.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Barbara Mooney · 13 years ago
    There are no words that will ease the pain for the loss of this brave young soldier. To this soldier's family we say, thank you for for his committment to the mission. As the mom of a young recruit, I was so touched by this story. In just a few days, we will travel to see our son/brother graduate from BCT. This young man lived the Seven Army Values. He volunteered to serve his country. We must not forget his and other men and women's Selfess Service...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Charlie Mosher · 13 years ago
    I was speechless when I learned of the death of David, he is the brother of a good friend of mine. This loss feels very close to home. I can't imagine the grief the family must feel. My thoughts and prayers will be with the Leimbach family & the brave men & women with the courage to make a difference in the world by protecting freedom & others who they may not even know.

    Thank you for the posting area & the opportunity to express my heart felt sympathy to the family.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Just Another Chuckle · 13 years ago
    I know not the sacrifices made by those in uniform who do so to protect the unwilling, un-informed, undeserving and ungrateful. Hence, I can not say that I truly understand what they endure. Yet I stand in awe of those who have so served, and am forever in their debt.

    I know not the pain of losing a loved one to combat. Hence, I cannot say that I understand SPC Liembach's loved-ones' grief. Yet I grieve for each of these service personnel for their passing.

    John 15:1 : "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Although I doubt that I ever met you, David Lee, I will consider you my friend.

    May God bless and keep you David Lee. And bless you as well Michael Yon, CSM Jeff Mellinge, and the rest who walk the line and fairly tell their stories.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tracie Phifer · 13 years ago
    My prayers go out to the entire Leimbach family. I went to school with Jeff Leimbach, David's brother. My family appreciates everything that our troops are doing for this Country, and we will continue to keep each and every one of them and their families in our thoughts and prayers. Let's bring them all home safe.
    God Bless!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dennis Lyons · 13 years ago
    I had the honor of meeting David on a couple of occasions - and I know his brother Jeff and family... my deepest sympathy to David's family... thank you for his life and the sacrafice he has made.. may God bless and keep you each!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rob Holliday · 13 years ago
    This past Memorial Day, I reflected on my comrades-in-arms who never made it home, particularly one for whom I served as a Casualty Assistance Officer. I can say that over my brief 10 years in the Army, I had no greater privelege. David is safely home now, although his loved ones still grieve here. God bless and comfort them each day, for they grow closer with each day to their eventual reunion. I'm always reminded when we lose one of our Great Americans of the song, "Mansions of the Lord":
    To fallen soldiers let us sing
    Where no rockets fly nor bullets wing
    Our broken brothers let us bring
    To the Mansions of the Lord

    No more bleeding, no more fight
    No prayers pleading through the night
    Just divine embrace, eternal light
    To the Mansions of the Lord.

    Where no mothers cry and no children weep
    We will stand and guard though the angels sleep
    Through the ages safely keep
    The Mansions of the Lord.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Momma · 13 years ago
    How do I express the feelings Lynn and I have for our son? He is the new brightness in our daughter's eyes and a treasure in our hearts. He is our hero, a true man of GOD, wholly dedicated to his calling, to be a light to the world and a defender of freedom. Our love for and pride in Dave is endless.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Robert W. Anderson · 13 years ago
    My thoughts and prayers go out to David family and to all the families who have made the supreme sacrifice in this world war on terror.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John P Byrne · 13 years ago
    Please contact me if anyone is interested in attending a golf outing being held to help Davids Family the weekend of 20 march in Hilton Head. If anyone is interested please contact me...Thanks John
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Arflin · 10 years ago
    I served with David in the SCARNG, and during the deployment with the 218th. He was an outstanding soldier, man, and friend. Always smiling even when circumstances sucked, and I will never forget him. RIP Brother.

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