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In Memory of SPC David Lee Leimbach

CSM Mellinger had written a
private tribute to SPC Leimbach, and I immediately asked if I may
publish it so others may see. Just a few minutes ago, I spoke with
CSM Mellinger on the phone. He’s in Afghanistan Walking the Line right
now, and says we are taking the fight to the enemy.

And so here is the private tribute written by CSM
Jeff Mellinger in honor of our latest fallen warrior, SPC David Lee
Leimbach, who gave his life in our defence:


This morning at 0600, we paid final respects
to SPC David Lee Leimbach, a Taylor, South Carolina, National Guard
soldier killed yesterday in the mountains of Afghanistan.

before 0500, an announcement came across the Bagram Airfield PA system
for everyone to dress in their combat uniforms and assemble along the
road which cuts through the middle of Bagram Air Base.

Little by little, troops from all services and many coalition
countries began lining the main street of the base. They stood
literally shoulder to shoulder on both sides of the road for nearly a

At about 0530, a USAF C-17 landed (ironically from Charleston, SC),
taxied, pulled into a space in front of the formed troops, turning its
tail towards them. The ramp dropped, the engines shut down, the crew
disembarked and lined up in front of the plane. All down the flight
line, warriors stood at parade rest; talking and whispering stopped.

At 0600 on this bright, sunny day, the vehicle bearing the casket,
having completed its drive from the mortuary to the airfield, turned
onto the airfield. A single soldier walked in front of the vehicle to
lead the way.

Along the road leading to the airfield, the troops that lined the
road were standing at attention and saluting. On the airfield you
could only hear the birds flitting around. In the distance were the
sounds of aircraft flying their missions.

Now, the troops on the airfield came to attention and saluted as a
bagpipe played Amazing Grace. The color guard moved into position, and
those of us assembled near the plane came to attention and saluted.

Two cameramen ran ahead of the vehicle, recording the entire procession, and now the unloading and movement of the casket.

The casket, carried by soldiers of the unit, moved forward to the
plane. The band played My Country, Tis of Thee. The casket was loaded
on the plane, the senior personnel present (to include five general
officers) walked onto the plane behind the casket, and final prayers
and remarks were made, then those leaders and casket bearers

As the assembled began to move from the site, the crew embarked,
the ramp closed, the C-17 taxied and took off, and the fight continued.

I hope the family of this warrior knows that we loved him, too.
From every mountain side, let freedom ring!
Happy Memorial Day.

Michael Yon

Michael Yon is America's most experienced combat correspondent. He has traveled or worked in 82 countries, including various wars and conflicts.

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