Ketchikan Gateway Borough
|Death: ||Feb. 27, 1991, Iraq|
LAST RESPECTS FOR ALASKAN KILLED IN GULF "SOLDIER'S SOLDIER' LAID TO REST ON KASILOF BLUFF
Anchorage Daily News (AK) - March 13, 1991
Author: Richard Mauer Daily News reporter ; Staff
With stiff military ritual and the tears of friends and family, Sgt. David Douthit was given a soldier's burial Tuesday, two weeks after he was slain on an Iraqi battlefield. Nearly a thousand people turned out to say farewell to Douthit in the packed auditorium of his old high school here, and hundreds later followed in a slow-moving cortege through the falling spring snow. The procession led to a cemetery on a forested bluff near Kasilof, where he was laid to rest in the frozen earth with generals and buddies, his parents and his pregnant wife, standing at attention.
Douthit , the only Alaskan among the 123 Americans killed in combat during the Persian Gulf War, was eulogized as a hero who gave his life while trying to rescue soldiers in a Bradley armored personnel carrier disabled by enemy fire. Douthit was the exposed gunner in his own M-2 Bradley that struck out across the battlefield toward the disabled vehicle during a pitched night-time firefight.
His commanding officer, Maj. Gen. Thomas Rhane, said Douthit was struck by enemy fire directed by the Iraqi Republican Guard and died at his position.
In letter read during the service by Douthit 's closest Army friend, 1st Lt. Kevin Doski, Rhane, who is still in Saudi Arabia, recommended that Douthit be honored for valor with a Silver Star.
Adopting a stiff voice that would later give way to tears, Doski stood before the flag-draped coffin as he summed up the 24 years of Douthit 's life: born in Ketchikan in 1966, graduated from Soldotna High School in 1984, joined the Army in 1986. "He graduated (military school) on the fifth of June, 1986, and was awarded the military occupation specialty of 19-Delta, cavalry scout."
Douthit served in Germany, where he met and married Ida Jessica Douthit , then returned to Fort Lewis, near Tacoma, Wash. Their baby is due in about two weeks.
"In December of 1990, Sgt. Douthit was reassigned to the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor, in Fort Riley (Kan.), for an appointment to Operation Desert Storm. Sgt. Douthit was killed in action on the 27th of February 1991."
In his letter, Rhane described Douthit as "a soldier of the first magnitude, a soldier's soldier."
" David was everything you'd want in a non-commissioned officer. He was energetic, enthusiastic and a self-starter," Rhane wrote.
"Because of these qualities, David was selected to become a platoon leader's gunner, a position awarded only to the best of the scout sergeants, and one at which he took great pride. It was while serving in this position during the early morning hours of February 27th that David so bravely gave his own life in the cause of freedom for others.
"You should know the circumstances surrounding David 's death that dark morning in the Iraqi desert, for he brought great credit upon himself, his unit and his country.
"Taking part in a night attack on enemy positions, David 's scout platoon came across a motorized light battalion of the Iraqi Republican Guard. A direct fire battle ensued and a Bradley fighting vehicle in David 's platoon was hit and damaged by enemy fire. Disregarding their own safety and concerned only about helping their fellow soldiers, David 's Bradley raced across the battlefield in a valiant effort to reach the damaged vehicle.
"In doing so, his vehicle took a direct hit on the turret by an Iraqi anti-armor round. David , as the vehicle gunner, was killed instantly."
Doski was followed by state Sen. Paul Fischer, who spoke briefly, and presented Douthit 's widow with the flag that flew at half staff over the state Capitol last week.
William Reeder, the vice-mayor of Soldotna and father of Douthit 's best friend, Spencer Reeder, struggled through the reading a brief proclamation. Spencer drowned in the Kenai River in 1988, and Douthit was buried in a plot beside him.
After prayers, hymns and patriotic songs, the auditorium stood at attention. Six pallbearers from Fort Riley picked up the coffin in their white-gloved hands, and carried it from the room. The silence was broken only by the muffled cries of an infant.
Among the people honoring Douthit were soldiers of other wars ponytailed Vietnam veterans, and graying vets from Korea and World War II wearing lodge hats.
Warren Crosby of Wasilla, wearing a leather vest with the colors of the Viet Nam Vets Motorcycle Club, was carrying a wad of bills $547 raised at a Palmer restaurant for Douthit 's widow and unborn child.
Crosby, whose two-year tour in Vietnam ended the same year Douthit was born, said he was there to show the kind of support that the country failed to provide the soldiers of his generation.
Crosby's friend, Mike Henman, another Vietnam vet, agreed. "It's important to show respect for a fallen brother. We didn't have the opportunity to do this for our own. We just want to show support for the ones coming back."
At the cemetery a half-hour later, a lone bugler played taps, an honor guard fired its guns in the air, a prayer was spoken, and then people began drifting away through the falling snow.
Long after Douthit 's family left, about 20 friends from high school stood together in a tight knot, and one by one, they placed a flower on his casket. Then the pallbearers lowered him into the ground.
Lt. Doski returned for a moment. He gave a slow, agonized salute, then kneeled at the foot of the open hole. Another soldier, Chaplain David Dail, put a gentle arm on Doski's shoulder, helped him up, and the two walked silently away, leaving two gravediggers to finish the task of burying Sgt. David Quentin Douthit , the 24-year-old war hero.
Spruce Grove Memorial Park
Kenai Peninsula Borough
Created by: Linda Carole Mustion
Record added: Jan 14, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 23951931
Added: Jul. 2, 2014
I often think of my friend. I was sitting her today at my computer and for some reason the thought came to me to search for anything about my friend. I'm very thankful to find something honoring my friend since I was not able to attend his funeral.It was ...(Read more)|
Added: Feb. 4, 2012
Rest in Peace, beloved soldier. See you in Heaven.|
Added: Jan. 1, 2011
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