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Westmoreland Neighborhoods
'Great soldier' laid to rest in Delmont

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

By Jack Kelly, Post-Gazette National Security Writer

"He was a great soldier," said 1st Sgt. Mark Pileggi, fighting back emotion.

Christine Dooley bids farewell to her husband, Sgt. Micheal Dooley, following graveside services this afternoon at Twin Valley Memorial Park in Delmont. Click photo for larger image. (V.W.H. Campbell Jr., Post-Gazette)

Pileggi was with Bandit Troop, Tiger Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, when Sgt. Micheal Dooley joined the unit last fall.

Dooley, 23, was killed in an ambush at a checkpoint near the Syrian border June 8.

After a memorial service yesterday at Holiday Park United Methodist Church, the church where Dooley married Christine Garard of Murrysville this year, he was laid to rest in Twin Valley Memorial Park in Delmont, with full military honors.

An honor guard of seven soldiers from the Coraopolis-based 99th Regional Support Command fired three volleys into the gloomy sky in honor of their fallen comrade.

Retired Master Sergeant Julius Falcon, 81, plays "Taps" for Sgt. Micheal Dooley. Click photo for larger image. (V.W.H. Campbell Jr., Post-Gazette)

Retired Master Sergeant Julius Falcon, 81, played "Taps" on his trumpet, for the 3,455th time. "I made a promise in combat that if I was spared, I would do this," the WWII vet said. "But it's sad when they die so young."

Col. Joseph Orr, deputy commander at Fort Carson, Colo., where the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment is based, presented the flag that had been draped over Dooley's casket to his widow.

"Micheal was my hero," Christine Dooley, five months pregnant, said in brief remarks. "Micheal and I completed each other. We had the type of love people search for, and some people never find. Even though my heart has been shattered ... if I had to do this all over again, knowing how it would end, I would do it. I know that I am the luckiest woman on Earth to have been his best friend and to be having his baby."

Sgt. Micheal Dooley's mother, Ann Davis, and half-brother Jacob Ward, 11, walk with his casket at Twin Valley Memorial Park in Delmont. Click photo for larger image. (V.W.H. Campbell Jr., Post-Gazette)

Ten days ago a car with three Iraqis approached the checkpoint Dooley was manning with other soldiers. The Iraqis said one of the car's occupants was very sick. Dooley was the first soldier to go to help. But it was a trap.

The Iraqis pulled out pistols and shot Dooley. One of his assailants was killed, another captured. The third escaped.

Orr presented Christine Dooley with the medals her husband was awarded posthumously: the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Army Commendation Medal.

Jack Kelly can be reached at jkelly@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1476.

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