Michael Dawson did what no parent should have to do: Inside a suburban Boston church, he gave the eulogy for his 22-year-old son, a U.S. Army Medic shot dead in Afghanistan by yet another of that country’s traitorous soldiers.
To his fellow warriors, Cpl. John Dawson was “Doc,” or “Doc Dawson.”
To his dad, he was a “kind, caring, thoughtful, smart, witty, and fun kid,” a moving Boston Globe report on the service, reveals.
And while loved ones of anyone who wears the uniform know that death is sometimes a sad reality of military service, the murder of Cpl. Dawson cuts extra deep.
He is the first U.S. service member killed as part of the “advise-and-assist” mission President Barack Obama authorized when on Dec. 28, 2014 he declared that the more than 13-year-old combat mission was over.
“For more than 13 years, ever since nearly 3,000 innocent lives were taken from us on 9/11, our nation has been at war in Afghanistan,” said Obama on Dec. 28, 2014. “Now, thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, our combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, and the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion.”
“At the invitation of the Afghan government, and to preserve the gains we have made together, the United States — along with our allies and partners — will maintain a limited military presence in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist Afghan forces and to conduct counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al Qaeda,” Obama added .
It was one of those Afghan National Army soldiers, trained with American tax dollars, who opened fire April 8 at the provincial governor's compound in Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. Dawson was one of eight military personnel hit and the only fatality. The gunman was killed, the Army Times reported.
"We remain committed to assisting our Afghan partners in achieving sustainable security and stability," according to the statement from the Resolute Support mission headquarters. "This attack will not weaken our resolve."
The Army Times reports:
The attack is the second insider attack this year. An Afghan soldier killed three American contractors on January 29. The shooter was also killed in that incident. The number of insider attacks spiked in 2012, when 53 coalition troops were killed in 38 attacks, according to AP.
In 2013, there were 16 deaths in 10 insider attacks. The number of attacks has since decreased as the U.S. and coalition withdrew forces from Afghanistan, but the threat remains as troops work side-by-side with their Afghan counterparts.
Among the personal effects the military delivered to Michael Dawson and the corporal's mom, Rhonda Dawson, at the family’s Whitinsville, Massachusetts, home, was an extra Army dog tag, inscribed with a line from John 15:13 in the Christian Bible.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Michael Dawson read those words to the packed pews last Monday, April 20, inside St. Gabriel the Archangel Church in Upton, Mass.
From the flip side of the dog tag: “In memory of an American hero.”
“You will always be our hero, John,” Michael Dawson, said, his voice cracking. “Thank you for the 22 years you provided us.”
“If you knew John, you knew a respectable, kind, caring, thoughtful, smart, witty, and fun kid,” his dad said, The Boston Globe reported.
He was as an “old soul . . . old school,” Maj. Gen. Steve Townsend of the 18th Airborne Corps said.
And a true Massachusetts son, who The Globe says loved the Patriots, the Bruins, flip cellphones, cigar magazines, the stock market and conspiracy theories.
Dawson ran life-saving blood drives and helped his fellow soldiers deal with their own emotions, whether it was trouble at home or the death that surrounded them on the streets of still-terror scarred Afghanistan.
“Some people say sports stars are heroes, some say movie stars are heroes. . . . My heroes are the 20-something-year-old Americans who wear the uniform of American law enforcement,” Townsend said. “He was doing what he loved.”
Dawson was a combat medic assigned to 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. He was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He joined the Army in 2012.