|Birth: ||Dec. 2, 1977, USA|
|Death: ||Sep. 28, 2005, Iraq|
Before he left for duty last Father's Day, 27-year-old Staff Sgt. Daniel Arnold left several letters for his family to be opened should he not return. A letter for his two little boys. A letter for his wife. A letter for his parents and siblings.
Thursday, his sister shared one of those letters with nearly 200 friends and family members who gathered at Montrose United Methodist Church to mourn and then bury Staff Sgt. Arnold who was killed in Iraq on Sept 28.
"If you are reading this, I didn't make it home," read his sister, Sheryl Russell, to the tearful crowd. "You may not understand, but I assure you I died serving the great country we live in."
Staff Sgt. Arnold was one of five area soldiers belonging to the Scranton-based 1st Battalion, 109th Mechanized Infantry, who were killed when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device and came under enemy fire near Ramadi, Iraq.
His wife, Kimberly Arnold, chose not to share her letter, but she expressed her feelings in a statement Chaplain Dale Pepper read to the congregation.
"I never imagined in my worst nightmare I would have to open that letter," she wrote. "He wanted our children to not only grow up in a safe home but a safe country. He was out there protecting all our children."
Staff Sgt. Arnold and Kimberly were high school sweethearts, and Staff Sgt. Arnold graduated from Montrose High School, where he played varsity football, in 1996. He later earned a degree in diesel mechanics from Johnson Technical Institute.
He enlisted in the Army Reserve and served with distinction through 2002. In 2002, he transferred to the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
His awards include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Iraqi Campaign Medal and Combat Infantry Badge.
"Dan was good at everything he did," Kimberly wrote. "He excelled at two things: being a soldier and being a father."
In honor of Staff Sgt. Arnold, dozens of people emerged from downtown Montrose businesses and took a break from their workdays to watch the funeral procession as it passed.
Children held flags. A woman wearing hospital scrubs put a hand to her heart. A mechanic stood silently as the solemn parade wound its way through tiny downtown Montrose toward the Montrose Cemetery.
Once there, the cold autumn drizzle stopped long enough for a short service. Two doves were released only to settle on the dark, rain-soaked branches of a tree overlooking the grave site.
Family members tearfully passed the casket touching it one by one.
Earlier, the Rev. Deborah Rose reassured them that "death will not forever keep us from those we love."
Kimberly echoed the reverend's words in her statement.
"Dan will live on in our hearts," she wrote, "and in our two little boys."
Article as it appeared in The Times-Tribune
Thanks to Ellen, Geri Ellen, & Barbi Neumann for sponsoring this memorial.
Created by: Serenity
Record added: Oct 14, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 11999807