David Michael Unger
Company C 1-22 Infantry
4th Infantry Division (Mechanized)
KIA October 17, 2006
CPL David M. Unger was born on
31 October 1984 in Leavenworth, Kansas.
CPL David M. Unger entered the United States Army on 21 August 2003. He graduated from Basic Combat Training
and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Upon graduation he was assigned to 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company,
1st Battalion 66th Armor, 4th Infantry Division in April 2004. Later he was reassigned to Charlie Company,
1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry, 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Hood, Texas. He deployed to Iraq in December 2005
in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
CPL Unger is survived by his
wife Laura Unger, his son Gage in Leavenworth, Kansas,
as well as his parents Matt Unger and Diana Pitts of Leavenworth, Kansas.
"David was a
bright and witty young man with so much ahead of him in his life.
His example of selfless service to his Nation has been an inspiration to us all.
He is sorely missed by those who knew him and served with him."
Richard A. Beal
The above is from Fallen Heroes Wall Hangings
Laura Unger watches as her husband's
casket is loaded onto a horse-drawn hearse.
Laura served in the Army at Fort Hood with David, and instead of re-enlisting,
she stayed out to raise their son Gage.
Photo from the Basehor Sentinel
Unger mourned as local hero
By RACHAEL BOSSOW, Times Staff Writer
Published: Friday, October 20, 2006 9:49 AM CDT
Family members are still reeling over David Ungers sudden death in Iraq. The 2003 Leavenworth High School graduate enlisted in the military
shortly after graduation, with dreams of someday opening a mechanics shop where he could work on cars.
I dont know what to say, Laura Unger, Ungers widow, told the Leavenworth Times. Im not doing very good, like everyone else.
Im probably not going to be okay for the rest of my life.
Unger, a 21-year-old U.S. Army corporal, died Tuesday near Baghdad, along with two other soldiers with Task Force Lightning,
assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division of Fort Hood, Texas.
Unger was deployed last year and was scheduled to return from Iraq on Dec. 14.
He was posthumously promoted from the rank of specialist.
As of press time Thursday, the U.S. Department of Defense still had not released the names of all the soldiers killed Tuesday.
Its a massive shock, said Caitlin Sullivan, Ungers cousin. Its hard to be anywhere without expecting him to just walk in.
We still have that little ray of hope that this is a mistake that its just not happening.
Sullivan, who was only four months older than Unger, remembered Unger as a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan.
Because they were so close in age, the two grew up together, spending time at Ungers Bakery,
hunting for snakes and frogs and playing war in the backyard.
He was always the hero in every situation, Sullivan recalled. His younger brother Jeremy would trap me and David would rescue me.
As the oldest of five children, Unger was close to his mother, Diana Pitts. Sullivan said he called her last Thursday at 4 a.m.,
because he didnt want to wake his wife and young son, Gage. Unger had been deployed throughout much of Gages life.
Its amazing how passionate he was about being a father, Sullivan said. He was anxious to get home.
Sullivan plans to speak at Ungers memorial service. Kurt Torkelson with Belden-Sexton-Sumpter Funeral Chapel
said funeral services are pending until the release of Ungers remains.
It will be within the next 10 days, Torkelson said. His remains could be back in the country tomorrow, but we dont know.
Torkelson said when a soldier is killed overseas, the remains are taken to a local mortuary before being transported to a mortuary office
in Dover, Del. The remains are again prepared for travel before transfer to a local funeral home, where the remains are dressed
and prepared for the memorial service. Torkelson is working with the family to create a celebration of Ungers life.
Sullivan said tentative funeral plans are a memorial service at Leavenworth High School,
with the funeral at the Fort Leavenworth Main Post chapel, where Ungers mother worked.
Everyone at the chapel is just like family, Sullivan said.
Burial will be at the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery with full military honors.
He is the first soldier from the Leavenworth-Lansing area to be killed in Operation Enduring Freedom.
As his father said, were honoring a local community hero, Torkelson said.
Were going to miss him, thats for sure, Sullivan said. I cant think of anyone who didnt love him.
Sgt. Maj. Matthew Unger, right, and his
son, Jeremy Unger, embrace Friday during services for their son
and brother, Cpl. David Unger,
at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Cpl. Unger was killed Oct. 18, in a Baghdad attack.
Keith Myers/The Kansas City Star
Corporal David Unger's decorations
Published Saturday, October 28, 2006
Leavenworth buries homegrown soldier
Flag-lined funeral procession in military town honors young soldier who was killed by IED in Iraq
By Bill Blankenship
FORT LEAVENWORTH -- Cpl. David M. Unger took his place of honor Friday.
Unger, who was killed in action Oct. 17 in Iraq when an improvised explosive device struck his armored Humvee,
was laid to rest under a gray sky in the green fields of Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.
His casket was placed in the rich brown earth amid row after row of white limestone markers bearing the names of service members who,
like him, made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Near the freshly dug grave of the young soldier -- he would have turned 22 on Halloween -- are buried veterans of the Persian Gulf War,
Vietnam War, Korean War and World War II.
Older parts of the cemetery contain remains of military men from World War I, the Spanish-American War, the Civil War
and even earlier as Fort Leavenworth is one of the oldest continuously active military posts located west of the Mississippi River.
Bill Blankenship/The Capital-Journal
Mourners walk behind a horse-drawn hearse carrying inside it the flag-draped casket of Cpl. David M. Unger
to his final resting place in Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.
Hundreds turned out Friday to honor Unger, who
grew up in Leavenworth and was killed in action Oct. 17 in Iraq.
Among his survivors are a wife and toddler son.
While Unger wasn't the first casualty of America's current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq to be buried in the cemetery,
the attention given his funeral was different.
He was a hometown boy.
Unger grew up in the area, graduating in 2003 from Leavenworth High School. As a teenager, he worked baby-sitting children
as their parents attended services at the fort's Main Post Chapel, where his mother also worked.
His father, Matthew Unger, is an Army sergeant major.
Also, Leavenworth is a military town.
So townsfolk turned out with American flags to pay their respects as the hearse bearing Unger's casket made its way
from the funeral home onto the military reservation.
There, hundreds of enlisted men and women, officers, military retirees, veterans and civilian employees lined the roads
from the main gates to the Main Post Chapel.
Jana Harrison, who retired as a command sergeant major after 30 years of service with Kansas Army National Guard,
was among those "to pay our respect for a fallen comrade," she said.
"It's the right thing to do. He was fighting for our freedom here," Harrison said.
Marine Lt. Col. Brandon McGowan, who is assigned to one of the interservice agencies at the fort, was there in uniform.
The Iraq war veteran said: "It's important for all military personnel to stand out here and show respect for this young man. I'm happy to do it."
Mourners filled the large chapel after an honor guard carried into it the casket, upon which was place a large color portrait of a smiling Unger.
From a Bible that Unger used as a boy, Sonya Jones read the passage from Ecclesiastes about there being a season for all things,
including "a time to heal, and a time to kill" and "a time of war, and a time of peace."
Josh Shockey sang Collin Raye's song, "Love Me," which ends with a promise of one spouse to another to be waiting to greet them in the next life.
Unger's widow, Laura, who he married on Valentine's Day 2004, said that was the song she heard just before she received news of her husband's death.
Soldiers fire a salute at burial services for Cpl. David Unger.
Photo from the Basehor Sentinel
Bill Blankenship/The Capital-Journal
Through tears, Jeremy Unger, told of how empty he felt upon learning of his older brother's death
and how he struggled accepting it and searched for a reason why it happened.
"He died protecting us and our freedom, and that is a reason I could live with," he said.
Nearly every speaker talked about Unger's sense of humor and how he would be the one who would inevitably provide needed comic relief.
Maj. Samuel Godfrey, one of the chaplains at the service, said he believed that might have been Unger's biggest contribution
to his comrades in Iraq -- "making the unbearable bearable."
Godfrey encouraged the congregation to keep alive their memories of Unger, not just for their sake,
but for the sake of the slain soldier's toddler son, Gage.
"He loved Gage, and Gage needs to hear about his Daddy," the chaplain said.
Godfrey noted this wasn't the homecoming Unger planned, noting he had called his mother, Diana Pitts, at 4 a.m. a week before he was killed
to reassure her that he would be home by Christmas and out of the Army by February or March.
From the chapel, Unger's body was carried in a horse-drawn hearse to a shelter house in the cemetery.
A gun salute was fired, and "Taps" was blown as the honor guard folded the U.S. flag that had covered the casket.
Brig. Gen. Mark O'Neill presented the flag, a Bronze Medal, Purple Heart and other medals to the young widow,
expressing condolences "on behalf of a grateful nation."
O'Neill also made presentations to the soldier's mother, stepfather and siblings and to Unger's father, who stood in uniform.
The general reached out a hand to comfort him and his now oldest son.
Then it was one more procession.
This one was to the open grave, and once again the way was lined by flag-carrying mourners welcoming home one of their own.
Bill Blankenship can be reached at (785) 295-1284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Unger in uniform
Birth: Oct. 31, 1984
Death: Oct. 17, 2006
Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery
Plot: Section K, Site 151
The grave marker for David M. Unger
Photo by Ed n Edna Lane from the Find A Grave website
The commemorative quilt presented to David Unger's son Gage, by Freedom Quilts
Quilt photo from the website Freedom Quilts
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