KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Comrades and leaders of Army Spc. Dennis C. Poulin described the fallen warrior as a hero who was committed to his family and always put the needs of others ahead of his own, during a memorial ceremony at Forward Operating Base Wright, Afghanistan, April 9.
Poulin, a native of Pawtucket, R.I., was a gunner with the Massachusetts National Guard's Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, assigned to the Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team.
Poulin died March 31 after suffering injuries from a vehicle accident while conducting a mounted combat patrol near Chowkay, Afghanistan.
Army Spc. Kirby Williams is also with Alpha Co. assigned to the PRT. Williams was Poulin’s closest friend in the unit and spoke at the memorial ceremony. Afterward, Williams reflected on his battle buddy’s life.
“He looked out for everybody. He always put people first,” Williams said. “I’d tell his mom that her son’s a hero. He died for his country, and he died doing what he loved.”
Another unit member and close friend of Poulin’s, Army Spc. Antonio Richardson, recalled Poulin’s close bonds with family. Those bonds, Richardson added, extended to Poulin’s comrades in arms.
“He always talking about his son; whenever he talked about him, his face lit up. He was always about his family,” Richardson said. “We were fortunate enough to be in that same fold; he treated us all like brothers out here, and everyone that was a part of his life was lucky, lucky to be able to say that, and he’s going to be missed.”
Army Lt. Col. Anthony Couture, commander of the 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, noted Poulin’s deep commitment to both his son and his unit.
“He had a young son about 5-years-old and was really dedicated to his son,” said Couture. “So he was a true family guy and always looking out to do the right thing, not just by his family, but for all the Soldiers of the PRT.”
Army Capt. Ryan Oliver is the operations officer for the PRT and oversees the PRT’s security forces. He praised Poulin’s professionalism.
“He was a Soldier’s Soldier,” Oliver said. “He was the best battle buddy any of these guys could have asked for.”
The civilian team lead for the PRT, Bert Braun, emphasized the critical role Poulin played in the PRT’s mission, and thanked Poulin’s family for their sacrifice.
“We rely every day on the security force to keep us safe; we couldn’t do anything without them, and this is very tragic,” Braun said. “Spc. Poulin was obviously very well loved here and very much a part of the team, and I very much appreciate all he did to keep us safe. We’re very grateful to his family. It’s a terrible loss to all of us.”
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ed Stallworth, the PRT’s executive officer, remembered Poulin as “one of those individuals who gave all of himself to make sure that the welfare of others was secure and safe.”
Stallworth also had a message of condolence and gratitude for Poulin’s family.
“I just wish that his memory is carried on through his son, and that his family cherishes the fact that he gave all for us, and that we appreciate it, and we’re sorry for their loss,” Stallworth said.
Poulin’s awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal and Combat Infantry Badge.