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Army Staff Sgt. Darris J. Dawson

Died September 14, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

24, of Pensacola, Fla.; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; died Sept. 14 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds sustained in a non-hostile incident. Also killed was Sgt. Wesley R. Durbin.

Soldier remembered as quick learner, true leader

The Associated Press

When he wasn’t leading his squad on patrol, Army Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson liked to challenge his men to pick-up basketball.

“Dawson liked joking around with the soldiers. He was a friendly guy. He would take them out on the basketball court and say stuff like, ‘When y’all get old enough to play me, come play me,”’ said Sgt. 1st Class Xaver Perdue.

Dawson, 24, of Pensacola, Fla., was shot and killed by a fellow soldier Sept. 14 in Tunnis. He was a 2001 high school graduate, was on his third tour of duty in Iraq and was assigned to Fort Stewart.

Dawson, 24, had recently re-enlisted during his third combat tour in Iraq. Just two months ago, he was asked to take charge of an eight-man squad whose leader had been wounded.

“The thing about him that impressed me most was he picked things up like he had been in the company for the entire deployment,” said Capt. Eric Tisland.

Within his first week as a squad leader, Dawson had discovered two caches of enemy explosives and helped an Iraqi village set up a water purification system, said Perdue.

He is survived by his wife, Latasha, and four young children.

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