It was a decision that was hard on his parents, Brian and Laura, but they supported him — as they always did. That support came easier with the knowledge Dain truly believed he was doing his part of the make the world a better place.
Even when Dain came home to Port Henry, he did his part to help others. A member of the Port Henry Fire Department he was honored last year for heroism after he rescued several stranded victims during Tropical Storm Lee.
Dain served a tour of duty in Iraq, which only made him more determined to continue his service. At every step family and friends were proud, but nervous — knowing Dain would never back down from doing the right thing regardless of the consequences. Those same traits displayed while sledding as a child — fearlessness, kindness, humor — made Dain a role model for his community and soldiers under his leadership.
He was actually scheduled to be home on leave Nov. 3, but Dain decided to stay in Afghanistan rather than have his unit short-handed. That day Dain was killed along with Specialist Brett E. Gornewicz and Specialist Ryan P. Jayne by an improvised explosive device in Paktiya Province, Afghanistan.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the men were combat engineers protecting comrades by conducting “route-clearing” duties for a convoy when an IED blasted their vehicle.
Since the Afghan War began in 2001 2,146 American soldiers have died there, 282 this year. Every one has been a son, daughter, sister, brother, friend. Every one has been a hero.
Tributes are pouring in for Dain. The governor, elected leaders, community leaders, former teachers and coaches — everyone has something good to say about Dain. Those who knew him best speak in broken voices, wiping away tears. That’s the way it should be.
Those accolades will soon be gone, though, and family and friends will be left to deal with the grief and loss. Fortunately, Dain left an amazing legacy to comfort his family and community. Others talk about service, Dain lived it. While the pain of his loss may never fade, neither will the love and pride he generated.
May God bless Dain and his family.
Fred Herbst is Times of Ti editor. He can be reached at email@example.com