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People Are Awesome: The Soldier Who Died So an Afghan Boy Could Live

In the wake of the Afghan civilian slaughter, Dennis Weichel proves virtuous servicemen are still working hard in the Middle East.

Just last month, U.S. soldier Robert Bales was accused of slaughtering 17 innocent civilians in Afghanistan, outraging Americans and Afghans alike. Now there's more shocking, sad news out of Afghanistan. Blessedly, though, this story is about virtue, not vice.

At the end of last month, less than two weeks after Bales allegedly killed Afghan men, women, and children for sport, 29-year-old Spc. Dennis P. Weichel Jr. did exactly the opposite, giving his life for the sake of an Afghan boy. Weichel was out on a routine convoy with other members of his unit when he noticed children collecting shell casings in the tracks. Most of the kids ran away when they saw the convoy coming, but one little boy leaped directly into the way of a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle, a nearly 16-ton armored truck. Weichel was able to lift the boy out of the way in time to save his life, but he was struck in the process. He died a week later from his injuries.

Weichel leaves behind a fiancée and three children of his own, who will be awarded their father's posthumous Bronze Star. He will also serve as proof that there is plenty of kindness and decency in even the ugliest of circumstances. When you think of Robert Bales, think of Dennis Weichel too.

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