Dale G. Brehm – Sergeant, United States Army

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
March 21, 2006

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  They died in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on March 18, 2006, when they came under small arms fire by enemy forces during combat operations.  Both solidiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Lewis, Washington.

Killed were:

  • Staff Sergeant Ricardo Barraza, 24, of Shafter, California
  • Sergeant Dale G. Brehm, 23, of Turlock, California

Turlock Army Ranger killed in Iraq
By Brandon Bowers
Courtesy of the Turlock Journal
Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Tuesday would have been Dale Brehm's 24th birthday. But instead of a party, the Army Ranger's family was mourning his death.

Brehm was killed Saturday while serving in Iraq.


“He wouldn't call himself a hero, but I would,” said his father, Bill Brehm. “He was my hero. I was very proud of him.”

Details surrounding his death were not provided by his family and the military has yet to announce any casualties. Brehm is the third soldier from Turlock killed in the last six months. Army Captain Raymond D. Hill, 39, died October 29, 2005, in Baghdad and Army Sergeant First Class Chad Gonsalves, 31, was killed in Afghanistan.

Flags were placed in Brehm's memory at many of the homes in the Peacock Estates neighborhood where Bill and Linda Brehm live.

Dale Brehm graduated in 2000 from Turlock Adult High School and joined the military nearly a year later. He was stationed with the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Lewis, Wash., and lived in the nearby city of Steilacoom with his wife, Raini. The couple met as high school students and were married in 2003. Brehm was scheduled to finish his second term with the Army in July and was looking forward to returning home and starting a family, his father said.

Brehm attended Turlock Christian Elementary School and spent several years at Turlock High. His interest in the military began in his teen years. With his father's encouragement, he joined the Army after graduation.

“I encouraged him because it could make him excel,” Bill Brehm said. “The Army really transformed him. He was good to the Army, and the Army was good to him.”

On September 10, 2001, he called his father to tell him he accomplished his goal of becoming an Army Ranger – elite soldiers that make up the military's special forces.

“Being a Ranger was his dream,” Bill Brehm said. “He would want to be remembered as a good Ranger. He would be extremely proud of that, being remembered for doing a good job. When you have a dream and you conquer it, what else is there?”

A day after that phone call, everything changed. Terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., ushering in a new era for the military.

Brehm's unit was sent to the Middle East a number of times. His parents knew little about his experiences overseas, but remained proud of their son.

“He was very private about his military experiences. It was all so secret, and he didn't want to worry us,” said Linda Brehm.

Brehm was a jumpmaster, a soldier who has received special training for jumping out of airplanes and helicopters during combat.

“He said there was nothing better than being in a plane and watching the ground go by. He loved the rush,” Bill Brehm said.

Brehm's faith kept any fears at bay.

“He was at peace in his heart. He said if his time came, it was God's will. He was never scared,” his father said.

Bill Brehm said his favorite memories of his son include watching him play with friends as a child and participating in Little League baseball.

“I enjoyed seeing him mature, growing up to become a good citizen,” Bill Brehm said.

Brehm's parents said he would be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. A public memorial service is pending. His survivors include his wife, Raini; father and stepmother, Bill and Linda Brehm of Turlock; mother Laura Williams of Riverbank and two sisters.



April 1, 2006
Services for soldier open to the public

Today's service for Sergeant Dale Gregory Michael Brehm, an Army Ranger killed in Iraq, will be open to the public, his wife, Raini, said. Friday's Bee reported that the service would be closed. The family has closed it only to the media. The funeral will be held at 1 p.m. at Monte Vista Chapel in Turlock. Brehm was shot and killed March 18,2006,, just three days before his 24th birthday and two weeks before he was expected to return home. Brehm was the 14th service member from the Northern San Joaquin Valley to be killed since the war on terrorism began. He will be buried Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, outside Washington, D.C.

Staff Sergeant Ricardo Barraza, 24, and Sergeant Dale Brehm, 23, died together in the same combat operation in western Iraq on March 18.

They will rest a continent apart. Barraza was to be buried Friday morning in his hometown of Shafter, Calif. Brehm, of Turlock, Calif., will be buried Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery near the nation's capital.

The two Army Rangers, members of Fort Lewis' 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, an elite special-operations unit, made up the March death toll of members of the armed forces with ties to Washington state serving in Iraq. They were the sixth soldiers with state ties to be killed this year, the 199th and 120th since the invasion of Iraq

Their families were notified of their deaths March 19, the third anniversary of the invasion.

Brehm was killed two days shy of his 24th birthday. He had two weeks to go before he could return to the United States, and three months left on his enlistment.

“We thought, ‘He's going to survive this,' ” the slain Ranger's stepmother, Linda Brehm, said this week. The family was accustomed to his leaving and coming home from combat deployments. “It's devastating,” she said.

Brehm was married for two years to his high school sweetheart, Raini, 22, of Modesto, California. She made a home in Steilacoom near Fort Lewis for them while he served his sixth combat tour. He had previously served not only in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan.Barraza, who like Brehm served three deployments to Afghanistan and three to Iraq, was engaged to Maghan Herrington, 22, of Yakima.

Raini Brehm has declined interviews. Herrington could not be reached.

“Raini is a pretty tough cookie, a wonderful young woman. She's pretty strong, but she has a lot on her shoulders right now,” Linda Brehm said.

Sergeant Brehm's father, William, is a pharmacist; his mother, Laura Williams of Riverbank, California, works at Stanislaus State University.

Brehm was described by his stepmother, who came into his life when he was a teenager, as “a good kid” who attended an evangelical school as a child.

After high school, Brehm wasn't keen on college and thought the military was a good choice to learn something and grow.

“It put a lot of discipline into his life, which he thrived on,” Linda Brehm said. “He loved it and fulfilled his goal to be an Army Ranger and enjoyed his job. He worked hard for it, and we were all very proud of him.”

Brehm's family last saw him when he came home on leave in early November. Everyone met up at his mother-in-law's home in Modesto for an early Thanksgiving dinner because he was slated to return to Iraq before the holiday.

The family had celebrated the wedding of one of Brehm's stepsisters March 12, 2006. On March 19, Linda and Bill Brehm were sipping coffee and reading their Sunday paper when two uniformed Army casualty officers approached their house. “I knew as soon as Bill opened the front door,” she said.

In addition to his parents and stepparents, Brehm is survived by two stepsisters and two half brothers. Barraza left behind his parents, Francisco and Nina of Shafter; four siblings, including a sister and brother in Sunnyside near Yakima; and his fiancee. None could be reached for comment.

On a Legacy.com Web site remembering him, Janice Lovett of Duncan, Arizona, wrote to Barraza's parents: “Your son was my son's best friend. They started boot camp together and have been together ever since. … I loved him like a son.

“We e-mailed back and forth when he was out of the country. He wrote to reassure me that he and my son were both OK. I can never express the comfort those e-mails gave me.”

Brehm's family wishes to have a private funeral in Arlington. Barraza's family invited the public to attend his wake over three days earlier this week in Shafter as he lay in uniform in his flag-draped casket.

Barraza, a squad leader, was shot and killed as he helped to evacuate a building during a combat mission in Ramadi. Brehm, too, was cut down by small-arms fire, though details of his death were slow in coming to his family.

Shafter police Chief John Zrofsky, a Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran speaking on behalf of the family, told The Bakersfield Californian newspaper, “We want to make sure that Ricky's sacrifice is not forgotten or minimized. This isn't just a number. This is Ricardo Barraza, staff sergeant.”

Army Sgt. Dale Brehm, 23, Turlock; Ranger Killed by Small-Arms Fire
April 9, 2006

Sergeant Dale Brehm's thoughts were turning away from war in the desert last month toward a new home and the beginnings of a family.

The Army Ranger was on his sixth tour of duty in the Middle East, three in Afghanistan and three in Iraq. He had only two weeks to go before he was scheduled to rotate out of Iraq and only three months before he left the military behind and returned to civilian life.

On March 18, Brehm, a native of Turlock, California, and other members of his unit were attacked with small-arms fire in the town of Ramadi, about 70 miles west of Baghdad.

Brehm, 23, and Army Staff Sergeant Ricardo Barraza, 24, of Shafter, Calif., were killed in the fight. Both were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Brehm died three days short of his 24th birthday.

On Thursday, Brehm, with much of his immediate family in attendance, was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

“He was due to get out in July,” said his stepmother, Linda Brehm of Turlock. “He came to the decision that he was ready. In 2 1/2 weeks, he would have been home from his tour. He was starting to plan to build a house.”

Brehm graduated from Turlock Adult School in 2000 and was a five-year Army veteran, joining on February 15, 2001.

His stepmother said he was a popular high school student without a great deal of direction before he began to think of the Army as a career path. “He saw a recruiter and was really excited about it,” she said. “He planned to be a Ranger almost from the get-go. It was a dream for him, and he fulfilled his dream.”

After Ranger training at Fort Benning, Georgia, Brehm was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. His first three tours were in Afghanistan. One member of his 2nd Battalion was Corporal Pat Tillman, 27, a former National Football League star killed by “friendly fire” in Afghanistan in 2004 after giving up a lucrative career with the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army.

Linda Brehm said her stepson and his wife, Raini, a Modesto native, would visit between his assignments, though little was said of what he did in the Middle East in his role as a rifleman, grenadier and team leader. But she said she could see a gradual, positive change in him with each visit.

“Everyone got to see the changes as he went from a boy to a man,” she said. “It was fun to be with him. He liked to have a good time, to have a beer and relax.”

Linda Brehm said that she and Dale's father, Bill, were having coffee one Sunday morning last month when they saw two uniformed officers approaching the front door. She said she knew that something was wrong.

The Army gave little information about what happened in Ramadi the day that Brehm was killed. But it was, and is, a dangerous place for an American soldier to operate. U.S. troops occupy rooftop positions, from which they watch the alleyways and streets below for suspicious movements. Men wearing ski masks routinely fire on American troops in the town.

In the aftermath of his death, Brehm's company commander, Major Jasper Jeffers, described him as someone who “demanded that the men around him give nothing less than 100% with every task.”

Besides his numerous awards and decorations, Brehm was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and two Army commendation medals.

In addition to his wife, of Steilacoom, Wash., his father and stepmother, he is survived by his mother, Laura Williams of Riverbank, California.

Another memorial service will be held at Fort Lewis upon the return of Brehm's unit from Iraq.




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