No. 034-06 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sergeant Michael J. McMullen, 25, of Salisbury, Maryland, died at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., on January 10, 2006, of injuries sustained in Ramadi, Iraq on Dec. 24, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his position. McMullen was assigned to the Army National Guard's 243rd Engineer Company, Baltimore, Maryland.
A Maryland National Guard sergeant from the Eastern Shore has died of wounds he received Christmas Eve when a roadside bomb went off in Iraq, becoming the first Maryland guardsman killed in combat since World War II, officials said yesterday.
Michael J. McMullen, 25, who in civilian life was a firefighter and paramedic with the Salisbury Fire Department, died Tuesday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, said Major Charles Kohler, a National Guard spokesman.
Officials said Sergeant McMullen was one of three members of the Baltimore-based 243rd Engineer Company who were gravely wounded by roadside bombs December 24, 2005.
He was wounded in Ramadi when an explosive device went off as he tended to a fellow soldier who had been wounded minutes earlier in another explosion.
“This is the first combat fatality for the Maryland Guard since World War II,” Major Kohler said. Thirty-four Marylanders have died in military service since the Iraq war began almost three years ago.
Among them are three other members of the 243rd who were killed in October in a convoy accident.
Salisbury firefighters were told of their colleague's death Wednesday when they were called to the department's downtown headquarters.
“Here was a man who was using his training as a paramedic and gave his life trying to rescue another soldier,” Assistant Chief Timothy C. Keenan said yesterday. “It's exactly what you'd expect from Mike. Everybody knew he was a solid guy, someone you could count on.”
Sergeant McMullen, a native of Pennsylvania whose family moved to the Eastern Shore when he was a child, grew up south of Salisbury in the town of Princess Anne. He graduated from Washington High School there in 1999.
He loved to cook but turned down a scholarship to culinary school in New Jersey in favor of a career as a firefighter, said Stephen E. Dickerson, a spokesman for the Salisbury department.
As a teenager, Sergeant McMullen was a volunteer firefighter in Princess Anne before being hired at the 170-person Salisbury department four years ago.
His training as a paramedic, a diver and a hazardous materials specialist prepared him for a slot with the department's special operations team, officials said.
Chief David B. See recalled a “gung ho” firefighter who was well-liked throughout the department. “In my mind he is a hero. He was serving his country in the military, but he was really a firefighter at heart. We have all lost a great friend.”
Chief See said he had visited Sergeant McMullen and his family at the hospital Monday night. Sergeant McMullen, he said, was not conscious.
Sergeant McMullen was engaged and planned to marry when he returned from duty, he hoped by next August, fire officials said.
Yesterday, firefighters were torn between laughing and crying as Chief See told of an early meeting with Sergeant McMullen when he was a brash newcomer who pointed out that the chief's mustache was longer than the department's grooming rules allowed.
“Some of the guys thought he was nuts, talking to the chief like that. But what could I say — he was right,” Chief See said. “I always called him ‘mustache' from then on.”
Funeral arrangements were incomplete late yesterday. Family members have asked that burial be in Arlington National Cemetery after a joint funeral with full military and fire department honors in Salisbury.
In addition to his fiancee, Kimberly Mundorf, he is survived by his parents, David and Robin McMullen. All are of Salisbury, fire officials said.
Services set for Salisbury firefighter killed in Iraq
Bagpipes, Amazing Grace and 21 guns in salute will be among military and firefighter honors next Friday when a Salisbury Fire Department engine rolls Michael Joseph McMullen to Arlington National Cemetery to be buried.
“You get carried to your grave on the engine you serve,” Steven Dickerson, fire department spokesman, said of the Maryland National Guard Sergeant.
The Salisbury firefighter and paramedic died Tuesday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center from injuries he suffered when members of his 243rd Engineer Company came under attack Christmas Eve in Iraq.
A memorial service will be held Thursday at 7 p.m. at Emmanuel Wesleyan Church on Shamrock Drive in Salisbury.
An all-day fellowship and viewing will be Thursday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and on Wednesday, a three-hour viewing at the church begins at 6 p.m.
The Station 16 engine will arrive at Arlington for a 2 p.m. burial, routed Friday from Emmanuel Wesleyan into downtown Salisbury, past the station and onto westbound Route 50, Dickerson said.
“When we pass the station, the bell will ring 25 times for 25 years of his life,” Dickerson said Friday.
Before joining the Salisbury Fire Department in 2001, McMullen volunteered at the Princess Anne Fire Department, colleagues said. The eldest of three children, he enlisted in the Guard in 1999, just after graduating from Washington High School near Princess Anne.
The Christmas Eve strike by an improvised explosive device, or “roadside bomb,” in Iraq wounded three members of the 243rd based at the Lieutenant Colonel Melvin H. Cade Armory, and McMullen died after pulling a fellow guardsman to safety, according to military and fire department officials.
At the burial, Major General Bruce F. Tuxill, Maryland National Guard Adjutant General, is expected to present an American flag to a McMullen family member — likely his mother — Guard spokesman Major Charles Kohler said Friday.
Firefighters who pinned on yellow ribbons when news of McMullen's injury arrived Christmas Day now wear black bands on their badges. City fire stations and apparatus are draped in customary black bunting, and for a month, flags throughout Wicomico County will fly at half staff.
Salisbury Fire Chief David See said McMullen's gear will remain in his Station 16 locker for 30 days.
The Army posthumously has awarded a Silver Star to a firefighter who was fatally wounded rescuing a fellow soldier in Iraq.
Sergeant Michael McMullen will be buried Friday at Arlington National Cemetery.
The 25-year-old soldier from Maryland also received a posthumous promotion to Staff Sergeant.
McMullen was wounded Christmas Eve when a homemade explosive device went off near his unit – the Baltimore-based 243rd Engineering Company.
He died last week at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The man he rescued — 36-year-old Sergeant Randal Divel — sustained second- and third-degree burns.
President Bush visited Divel on New Year's Day at the burn center of Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
McMullen also received the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
Funeral Today For Soldier Injured In Iraq
Several hundred mourners, including a soldier who Staff Sergeant Michael J. McMullen helped rescue in Iraq, paid their respects Thursday to the soldier and firefighter who died of wounds suffered in combat.
McMullen, 25, who worked as a paramedic in Salisbury for the fire department, was wounded Christmas Eve while caring for Sergeant Randal Divel, who had been injured in an earlier attack. McMullen died January 10, 2006, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington from injuries suffered near Ramadi when a homemade explosive device went off near his unit, the Baltimore-based 243rd Engineering Company.
Divel, 36, sustained second- and third-degree burns in the incident and is being treated the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. He attended McMullen's funeral in a wheelchair and spoke briefly at the service at Emmanuel Wesleyan Church.
Salisbury Fire Chief David See said McMullen's actions in the war zone were what he was trained to do, and remembered him as a dedicated professional.
“He couldn't wait to get on the job,” See said. “Firefighting was in his blood. He was a prankster, a straight shooter and a good guy. He was honest.”
Maj. Gen. Bruce Tuxill, adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard, presented military awards to his mother, Robin, and said they stood for McMullen's willingness to “put himself in harm's way to save the life of a comrade.”
The Army has awarded a Silver Star posthumously to McMullen, and promoted him posthumously to staff sergeant. McMullen was also awarded the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
U.S. Rep. Wayne Gilchrest and Salisbury Mayor Barrie Parsons Tilghman were among those who attended the service, which drew firefighters from around the region.
James Gladwell, captain at the Salisbury Fire Department and McMullen's friend, said his loss leaves a void.
“He touched so many people in such a short time. He may have been struck down, but he was doing what he did best,” Gladwell said. “The world was a better place with him in it.”
A funeral procession will leave the church at 9 a.m. Friday to carry McMullen to burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
Mourners are expected this morning along routes across the Eastern Shore and perhaps beyond as the funeral procession for hometown hero Michael J. McMullen journeys to Arlington National Cemetery for burial.
A 300-vehicle motorcade escorting the fallen Maryland National Guard sergeant is expected to be a mile long.
Burial in the Virginia cemetery is at 2 p.m. with full military and firefighter honors.
The procession includes Maryland State Police, the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office, the Salisbury Police Department, surrounding community fire companies and the military, said Dave Thompson, funeral coordinator at Salisbury's Holloway Funeral Home.
“It will be a rather long procession, with an estimated 20 official vehicles,” he said Thursday. “There are (traffic) arrangements all the way from here to Arlington so it will be a smooth flow.”
The motorcade will occupy the left lane of the westbound Bay Bridge span, MSP Sgt. Rob Moroney said.
In the Stevensville area, Gerry Waterson is coordinating viewing in Queen Anne's County. “I am a volunteer in getting people … to stand along the procession route with signs and flags,” Waterson said Thursday. “(We want) businesses to display sentiments on their marquees all in the county corridor.”
Motorcyclists from MSP, U.S. Park Police and other agencies will lead the procession from Emmanuel Wesleyan Church off Beaglin Park Extension at 9 a.m. The motorcade continues across Route 50 to Salisbury Fire Station 1 in the area of City Park and to South Schumaker Drive.
From there it turns right onto South Schumaker, then right onto Route 12, before winding left to Carroll Street at Route 13 and on to Division Street and Fire Station 16, where 25-year-old McMullen was a career firefighter and paramedic.
The station bell will ring 25 times —- once for each year of his life.
Salisbury motorists can expect delays around City Park and downtown, said Salisbury Police Department Captain Ray Ulm.
Streets along the route will remain open until the motorcade passes, with no detours, he said.
“People with business or appointments by 9 or 10 a.m. should go early, very early,” Ulm said Thursday. “The tie-up will be pretty intense.”
The procession will pass Parkside and Parkwood apartment complexes shortly after 9 a.m. in communities along Beaglin Park and Schumaker drives and Indian Village off Route 50, he said.
Moroney cautions motorists to not join in along the way.
“We dissuade people from jumping in at points,” he said. “There certainly is not a problem with people paying respect 0n the roadside, but they should do so in a safe manner.”
Salute to a fallen comrade
Funeral procession honors Sergeant Michael J. McMullen
A long line of fire trucks crowded the narrow roads of Arlington National Cemetery on Friday as hundreds of firefighters, soldiers, neighbors and friends gathered to say farewell to Michael J. McMullen.
The 25-year-old National Guard sergeant and firefighter lost his life while trying to protect a fellow soldier in Iraq.
As the mournful strains of “Taps” drifted over the rows of marble headstones on the unseasonably warm January day, a Marine honor guard fired a seven-gun salute.
“He was a son, a brother, a comrade in arms and a true American hero,” said Maryland National Guard Major General Bruce F. Tuxill, who presented the folded flag from McMullen's coffin to his parents. Robin and David McMullen gently stroked the fabric as a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.”
With them at the graveside were McMullen's sister, Jeanette; brother, Brian; and his fiancee, Kim Mundorf, whom he'd planned to marry when he returned from active duty.
McMullen's grave lies in one of the newest areas of the cemetery, surrounded by other casualties of the Iraq war on a rolling green slope that faces the Potomac River and the Pentagon, with the spire of the Washington Monument just visible through the trees. A few of the city's famed cherry trees had begun to blossom as temperatures topped the 60s.
“Let not your hearts be troubled,” the chaplain told the mourners. “Pray that the Lord gives us faith to look to the future with hope and confidence.”
The funeral procession — half a dozen fire engines, police and rescue vehicles and hundreds of friends and supporters in vans and chartered buses — left Salisbury at 9 a.m., reaching Arlington a little before 1 p.m. Along the back roads, family spokesman Steven Dickerson said, firehouses tolled their bells 25 times for the 25 years of McMullen's life. People lined the road to wave American flags and salute the engine that carried his coffin.
In Washington, the mourners paused at RFK Stadium to transfer McMullen's coffin from his old fire engine to a hearse, in keeping with Arlington's strict protocol.
McMullen's actions under fire earned him the Silver Star for gallantry and a posthumous promotion to Staff Sergeant.
It was Christmas Eve outside Ramadi when McMullen and fellow members of 243rd Engineer Company hit a roadside bomb. McMullen, a trained paramedic, pulled a wounded soldier from a burning vehicle, extinguished the flames and then protected the injured man with his own body when a second explosive device detonated. McMullen died of his injuries January 10, 2006.
The man he saved, Randal Divel of Middletown, Maryland, attended the funeral services in a wheelchair, still recovering from second- and third-degree burns. McMullen's parents embraced him, smiling through their tears.
Beside a flag-draped coffin in Arlington National Cemetery, a pale young man in a wheelchair embraced the parents of the man who died while saving him from a roadside bomb in Iraq.
It was a hero's funeral for Maryland National Guard Sergeant Michael McMullen, a 25-year-old firefighter from Salisbury, who died Jan. 10 of wounds he suffered while rescuing fellow guardsman Sgt. Randal Divel, of Middletown, Maryland.
Still recovering from second- and third-degree burns, Divel left a rehabilitation center in San Antonio to attend the funeral.
McMullen received the Silver Star for gallantry under fire and a posthumous promotion to staff sergeant. His body was carried to Arlington in a firetruck in a long, solemn procession that wound through the back roads of Maryland. Along the way, family spokesman Steven Dickerson said, firehouses tolled their bells 25 times for the 25 years of McMullen's life. People lined the road to wave American flags and salute the fallen soldier.
The funeral procession — half a dozen fire engines, police and rescue vehicles and hundreds of friends and supporters in vans and chartered buses — left Salisbury at 9 a.m., reaching Arlington a little before 1 p.m.
“He was a son, a brother, a comrade-in-arms and a true American hero,” said Maryland National Guard Major General Bruce F. Tuxill, who presented the folded flag from McMullen's coffin to his parents.
Robin and David McMullen gently stroked the fabric as a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.” With them at the graveside were McMullen's sister, Jeanette; brother, Brian; and his fiancee, Kim Mundorf, whom he'd planned to marry when he returned from active duty.
For his family, the greatest proof of McMullen's heroism may have been the man in the wheelchair.
It was Christmas Eve outside Ramadi when McMullen and members of the 243rd Engineer Company hit a roadside bomb. McMullen, a trained paramedic, pulled a wounded soldier from a burning vehicle, extinguished the flames and then protected the injured man with his own body when a second explosive device detonated.
McMullen died of his injuries weeks later.
At the graveside, Divel pushed himself closer to the coffin and stared at it silently. Then he turned to McMullen's parents, who rushed up to hug him, smiling through their tears.
An honor guard fired a seven-gun salute over his grave as taps was played and the sound drifted over the rows of marble headstones.
McMullen's grave lies in one of the newest areas of the cemetery, surrounded by other casualties of the Iraq war on a rolling green slope that faces the Potomac River and the Pentagon, with the spire of the Washington Monument just visible through the trees.
“Let not your hearts be troubled,” the chaplain told the mourners. “Pray that the Lord gives us faith to look to the future with hope and confidence.”
A week has passed since we laid our departed brother, Staff Sergeant and Firefighter Paramedic Michael J. McMullen, to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. During this time each of us has attempted to return to our normal busy lives — a task that has been difficult at best for many of us.
On behalf of the members of the Salisbury Fire Department, I want to convey our sincerest expression of appreciation to members of our community, the fire service family of Wicomico County, the state of Maryland and our great nation for the emotional, physical and spiritual support afforded us during this difficult time.
To the fire department members who provided service so our members could attend services in Arlington — thank you. A sincere thank-you goes out to each and every member of various law enforcement agencies, including the Salisbury Police Department, Wicomico County Sheriff's Office, Maryland State Police, Anne Arundel County and Metropolitan police departments and the National Park Police for their escort from start to finish during the funeral procession to Arlington.
The department certainly owes each of these agencies a huge debt of gratitude for their assistance. To members of the military services who worked with and provided assistance to us along the way, thank you. I know we have forged lifelong friendships as a result of these trying times.
I believe one of the highest honors paid to McMullen during his final journey was the transfer of his casket from our fire engine to the funeral hearse. Members of the Washington, D.C., Fire Department arranged for this to occur at RFK Stadium in a fitting and honorable ceremony that included their department's Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Corps. For this we are eternally grateful.
I must also thank each and every member of our community — and every community, town, city and county we passed through on our journey to Arlington. Never before have I witnessed such unselfish respect for a family grieving the loss of a loved one.
From Salisbury to Arlington, literally hundreds of people lined Route 50 as the funeral procession made its way across the state. Once we crossed into Anne Arundel County, every overpass on Route 50 had fire service brothers and sisters standing at attention beside or on their apparatus out of respect for our fallen comrade. Numerous law enforcement agencies were represented along the way as well.
These sights moved many of us to tears repeatedly along the way to our destination.
Finally, I must thank each and every member of our department. Each of you answered the call to perform — no matter the nature or magnitude of the task — during this difficult time without hesitation or reservation. You truly banded together to get the job done. Residents of the community we serve should be extremely honored and proud that such a workforce of dedicated professionals who are ready to serve at a moment's notice protects them.
It is moving that people who never even knew McMullen took a few moments out of their busy lives to pay their respect to a son, a brother, a warrior, a firefighter and a hero who died doing what he was trained to do — protect and save lives.
We offer our thanks to each of you for honoring him with us.
David B. See, Salisbury
The honor guard prepares to fold the flag during the burial
of Sergeant Michael McMullen on Friday
Robin McMullen, mother of Sergeant McMullen, hugs Sergeant Randal Divel
during her son's funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery.
Special visitors for Michael Joseph McMullen, 11 November 2006
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard