KIA December 28, 2006
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Assigned to 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska
Army CPL Dustin Donica was killed by sniper fire on December 28, 2006, as he ran to the aid of another parachute platoon that had come under fire while restoring fortifications at a base abandoned by Iraqi forces at Karmah in Iraq’s al-Anbar province. CPL Donica was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for his heroic actions that day.
Dustin was the typical middle-class teenager of his generation. He preferred soccer to football and spent what appeared to be every spare moment playing video games. When he left the University of Texas at Austin to enlist in the Army in 2003, he told his parents he had lived a privileged life growing up in Spring, which meant something different to him than it did to others. “When most people of my generation are asked to do something, their first thought is ‘how will this benefit me’,” Dustin told his parents. “I need to do this so that my first thought is ‘how does this benefit others’.”
In 2008, in Dustin’s memory, a game room was dedicated at Fort Sam in Houston, Texas. During the dedication, emotions were strong in the 800-square-foot game room, with four 50-inch high-definition screens for watching television or playing video games—including an Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Wii—and a giant screen for movies. Part of the room’s cost was funded with $18,000 that David Donica collected in a memorial fund for his son, Dustin. “One of the soldiers asked if there would be any way the gaming room could be open 24/7,” said Dustin’s mother, Judy Donica, “Lots of luck with that request! I don’t think we could have picked a more fitting benefactor for Dustin’s memorial fund. I think Dustin would have approved wholeheartedly with the way the funds have been used. This place is simply amazing.”
CPL Dustin Donica was 22 years old from Spring, Texas
Original portrait was presented October 29, 2011, to his parents and sister during a special event held in Washington, D.C.