Thank you Bill Waugaman for sharing this story with us! Our scholarship at Miramar College for Fire Tech students is in honor of Sgt Brian E. Dunlap.
As the weekend settles upon us and the enjoyment of a long weekend gets the motors running, I stop what I’m doing and reflect on all the guys I have served beside that are no longer here upon this Earth. And the stories are told of bravery, insane acts of lunacy….oh the stories.
Mine is of a Marine who was late for his own funeral.
Yes, this did occur in 2005 when Sgt Brian E. Dunlap didn’t make it in time. For a background, Brian was, well he was a show-off and a damn good one too. If there was a crowd, anywhere, he’d be in the middle of it and you’d know right where he was. If we were on a Fire, you’d know what Engine or Division he was assigned to, because he’d drive the Chiefs crazy. A damn fine dude!
Brian fell during an operation in Iraq, and was killed by a roadside bomb. During his actions that afternoon he saved the lives of many US and Iraqi troops by diverting them away from an intersection. He was right there in the middle of it again.
Let’s get to the tardiness of Brian. After his death, all of us in SDFD, CalFire and the Marines headed to Sacramento for his procession and burial. A 5 star production complete with Emerald Soc and Fire procession, when his Battalion Commander got a call that his DNA results were misplaced and his remains would not be moved from Dover. WTF was said all around, now what? What do we do now? Well, Brian had a cousin that was a one star General in the USAF who tried to intervene and was flatly denied as DoD policy would not be disregarded. She in turn contacted General Peter Pace, USMC who was the Joint Chief and Brian’s old CO. On his order the remains were released (would have paid to be listening to that phone call).
When is he coming? 0100 tomorrow was the answer. So here we are ready to go the day before and no Brian. The call was made to continue on and we held a full mass, procession, presentation of flag and graveside honors….no Brian. He made it home, late as always, making things difficult and being the center of attention in his own way. I told my crew that I have now seen it all, to include a man who was late for his own funeral.