Dennis James Flanagan – Sergeant, United States Army

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense

The Department of Defense announced today the death of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  They died in Al Huwijah, Iraq on January 20, 2006, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV during patrol operations.

Killed were:

Staff Sergeant Rickey Scott, 30, of Columbus, Georgia
Sergeant Dennis J. Flanagan, 22, of Inverness, Florida
Specialist Clifton J. Yazzie, 23, of Fruitland, New Mexico
Specialit Matthew C. Frantz, 23, of Lafayette, Indiana

Scott, Flanagan and Yazzie were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Frantz was assigned to the 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

INVERNESS, Florida – A soldier from Florida was one of four killed when a roadside bomb exploded near their Humvee in Iraq, military officials said.

Sergeant Dennis J. Flanagan, 22, of Inverness, FLorida, was killed in the attack Friday while patrolling near Hawijah, the Army said Monday. The others killed were Staff Sergeant Rickey Scott, 33, of Columbus, Georgia, Sergeant Clifton J. Yazzie, 23, of Fruitland, New Mexico, and Specialist Matthew C. Frantz, 23, of Lafayette, Indiana. A fifth soldier was injured.

All were members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Flanagan was inspired to join the military by the September 11, 2001, terrorists attacks, his mother said.

“It was his life and we weren't going to stop him,” Patricia Flanagan told the St. Petersburg Times. “We just wanted to be sure that was what was in his heart. There's no doubt. In fact, we would have been surprised if he hadn't joined.”

Flanagan graduated from Lecanto High School in spring 2001 and enrolled at Central Florida Community College before joining the military.

A January 31, 2006, funeral is planned at Arlington National Cemetery.

Besides his mother, Flanagan is survived by his father Dennis Flanagan.

Courtesy of the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times
Knowing the risks, soldier gave his all
Lecanto High graduate Dennis J. Flanagan's friends and former teachers say
he understood the dangers of war but served with pride anyway.

LECANTO. FLORIDA – The last time several Lecanto High School teachers saw Dennis J. Flanagan, a 2001 graduate, he resembled the teenager they remembered but exuded the maturity of a soldier.

In full Army uniform, Flanagan had just returned from his first tour of duty in Iraq. Although he shared stories of the suffering he witnessed abroad, Flanagan maintained an unwavering commitment to military service.

“We've had several students return, and they realize real quick that bravery is different in real life than in actual definition, and he knew,” said Freddie Bullock, a physical education teacher. “He wasn't scared.”

Flanagan was killed Friday along with three other soldiers when their vehicle was blown up by a roadside bomb in Hawijah, Iraq. He was 22.

On Tuesday, Flanagan's friends and former teachers came to grips with the fact that this young man, a military buff with a keen appreciation for American history, wasn't coming home.

“I just broke down,” said Ankoor Patel, 24. “I couldn't even stand.”

Lecanto High observed a moment of silence in Flanagan's honor. An enlarged yearbook photo was on display in the front office, and a memorial was dedicated to him by the Junior ROTC.

In high school, Flanagan was actively involved with the JROTC, moving up the ranks to become a First Lieutenant his junior year, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Harmes said.

Harmes described Flanagan as a “super student” who entered the JROTC with a military bearing, which he gained during his involvement with the Civil Air Patrol squadron. Unlike other freshmen, Flanagan already knew how to march and how to wear a uniform, earning Harmes' recommendation to a summer program at Camp Blanding, near Starke.

Harmes said he will never forget how the sole of Flanagan's shoe became detached, but Flanagan completed exercises including marching and rifle firing without complaint.

“I said, “Why didn't you tell anybody?”‘ Harmes said. “He said, “I didn't want to tell anybody. I didn't want to make waves.”‘

After high school, Flanagan initially attended Central Florida Community College but enlisted with the Army a week after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“He said he just couldn't stand around and let this stuff happen to our country,” said Ken Crandall, who graduated with Flanagan. “He didn't feel comfortable just sitting back, which I think is admirable.”

Flanagan was part of the air assault infantry that invaded Iraq in 2003. He returned to Iraq in September for his second tour of duty.

The death reminded Bill Hartley, a Lecanto High history teacher, of losing his father in the Vietnam War almost 40 years ago.

“I know some of what the family is going through,” Hartley said. “There's always going to be an empty place at the table.”

Many educators said they hoped Flanagan's death will have meaning and that there will soon be an end to the conflict in Iraq. They agreed that Flanagan was doing his duty and knew the dangers of military service before he enlisted.

Many teachers also said Flanagan was wise beyond his years and, unlike his peers, could step back and see the big picture.

He understood that victory could not be attained without taking action. He refused to sit back and allow terrorism and brutality to takeover.

Harmes shared Flanagan's story with students but said many still think they are invincible and too far removed from Flanagan to understand the vulnerabilities of a military soldier.

Harmes was sure Flanagan was aware of the risks. In fact, Flanagan wrote a poem in high school, “A Soldier's Prayer to His Son,” in which the speaker, in a final prayer to his son before dying, asks him to seize the moment, love family and friends, and remain in good standing.

The fourth stanza reads: “And now, my son, I pray to thee. Never ever forget me; that I died a soldier's death, to keep you free with my last breath.”

Student of History Left His Own Mark
Soldier Buried at Arlington Was Quiet but Created ‘Lasting Impression'

Sergeant. Dennis J. Flanagan's appetite for military history was insatiable.

Before his final tour of Iraq, he borrowed a 2,000-page novel on the Civil War from his high school history teacher.

He had made plans to visit the Memphis Belle — a B-17 bomber made famous during World War II — with a friend upon his return.

And shortly before his death, he told family members that he was thinking of returning to school to become a history professor.

Yesterday, more than 50 mourners gathered under a pale gray sky to honor Flanagan, 22, as he was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. He was killed January 20, 2006, when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee in Hawijah, Iraq.

Also killed in the explosion were Staff Sergeant Rickey Scott, 30, of Columbus, Georgia; Specialist Clifton J. Yazzie, 23, of Fruitland, New Mexico; and Specialist Matthew C. Frantz, 23, of Lafayette, Indiana, according to the Department of Defense.

A strong breeze bristled the bare trees as pallbearers carried Flanagan's flag-draped coffin. The Rev. Joseph Goudreau delivered the homily, made the sign of the cross and blessed the coffin with holy water.

Flanagan, who is survived by his parents, Dennis and Patricia Flanagan of Inverness, Florida, is the 222nd person killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom to be buried at Arlington.

On Monday, teachers at Lecanto High School in Citrus County, Florida, remembered Flanagan as a quiet but affable young man with a sense of patriotism and wisdom beyond his years.

“Even having him in one class, he made a lasting impression,” said social studies teacher Brian Donovan. “He was one of those young men who, prior to September 11th, had a strong patriotism and a greater understanding of what America went through and what it stood for.”

Flanagan ran cross-country in high school and joined the soccer team as a senior. His fervor earned him a team player award. “He came to every practice, he didn't complain, and he played his heart out,” said Bruce Sheffield, his soccer coach.

Flanagan graduated from Lecanto High in 2001 and enrolled in Central Florida Community College. He enlisted in the Army a week after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“He said he wasn't going to stand by and watch this happen to our country,” said Lieutenant Colonel Mike Harmes, his Army ROTC instructor.

Flanagan was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. His first tour of duty in Iraq was in 2003, and he returned there in September.

Friend Kristin Kenney kept in touch with Flanagan online, and she drove to Arlington from Edison, New Jersey, yesterday to honor him. She remembers him as a loyal friend who was proud of his Irish heritage. He gave her a Celtic cross and a picture frame engraved with the words “Love, Loyalty, Friendship.” They were words he lived by, she said. “He was a protector — protective of his friends, family and country.”

In recent days, other friends have expressed similar feelings in an online guestbook.

“Dennis was a great friend of mine. One of my best. . . . I will never forget him,” wrote Heather Todd of Colorado Springs. “I'm proud of him and he made the ultimate sacrifice and for that I am thankful.”

The social studies department at Lecanto High is considering creating a permanent memorial to Flanagan. It would recognize his place in U.S. history — befitting such a scholar, said Bill Hartley, head of social studies.

“Dennis won't be forgotten,” Hartley said. “He believed in what he was doing, and he died doing what he wanted for his country. And in that sense, his sacrifice was not in vain.”


Buried in Honor Major General. Guy C. Swan III presents a flag to Dennis and Patricia Flanagan, parents of
Sergeant. Dennis J. Flanagan, at Arlington National Cemetery









Kristin Kenney of Edison, New Jersey, places a flower at the grave of her boyfriend, Army
Sergeant Dennis Flanagan, at Arlington National Cemetery Thursday, May 25,
2006. Flanagan died in Iraq Jan. 21, 2006

DATE OF BIRTH: 05/08/1983
DATE OF DEATH: 01/20/2006

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