Tulsa soldier remembered

Monday, October 6th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

With war comes loss. And the family of Army Specialist Dusty McGaugh is feeling that first hand.

McGaugh was looking forward to coming back home to Oklahoma, after serving since April in Iraq. His family received word from the Army last week that Dusty died outside of Balad, the victim of a "non-combat gunshot wound."

The McGaugh family is struggling to deal with their loss. News on 6 anchor Tami Marler has more.

"He was wonderful, happy smiling. He's always been really happy." James McGaugh says his son Dusty never changed. From the time he was a little boy, through his years in Hale High School's JROTC program, to his enlistment in the United States Army, Dustin Knight McGaugh had a happy-go-lucky spirit, and he'd do anything to help anybody. "He wanted to benefit others more than himself. We need more people like Dusty who was willing to sacrifice their life and their self on the line to help keep others happy and help others as much as Dusty was trying to do."

We've heard the stories about coalition troops building friendships with Iraqi children. Katrina McGaugh says that was one thing about the war Dusty enjoyed. "Dusty had gotten off of the vehicle, and was standing there with kids just piled up all over him, and the PC guy who was sitting next to the driver had to yell, 'McGaugh, get on the ship, we gotta go,' you know?"

Like many young men, Dusty entered the Army to straighten out his life, and then found himself fighting a war in a desert, during the heat of summer, defending people who could turn on US forces in an instant.

Still, the McGaughs say Dusty was talking about re-enlisting. "He kind of was having doubts at first of being in Iraq, but he's like well this is what I think I want to do; I'm really considering re-enlisting." Now, they're fighting their own sadness, to bring honor to the young man who brought them such pride. "I have what I have. And I have to accept that. Dusty was wonderful and that's what I have.”

The Army is investigating the circumstances surrounding Dusty's death. The McGaugh family says Dusty's funeral is open to all who loved him. They say he'll be buried with military honors next week in Arkansas.