Dennis M Williams
Federal Way, Washington
August 25, 2009
Killed in southern Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device.
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September 10, 2009
|From The Seattle Times seattletimes.com 08/29/09
One family reels at the loss of Fort Lewis soldier, 24
Originally published August 29, 2009 at 12:01 am Updated August 28, 2009 at 11:46 pm
By Maureen O'Hagan
Kathy Anderson feeds her great-grandson formula from a bottle, shifting him from one arm to the other as relatives descend on her Federal Way home. In and out, all day long. The phone’s ringing; the TV’s on; the room gets hot.
Baby Grant eats, oblivious to the chaos. He is 2 months old, and he already lost his father.
Pfc. Dennis M. Williams, 24, was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday, one month into his first deployment. The details are sketchy. He, along with three others from Fort Lewis’ Stryker Brigade, was killed by an improvised explosive device.
“I feel robbed,” said David Williams, Dennis’ older brother.
“I’m so confused, I don’t hardly know my own name,” Kathy said.
It is a scene that’s played out all over the country — that’s been played out over and over, for nearly eight years — as families reel from the wartime loss of loved ones. Over the past 11 days, six soldiers from Fort Lewis have been killed in Afghanistan.
In living rooms like this one, families gather, share stories, and grieve.
Kathy’s clan is particularly close-knit. The family is everywhere in this maze of cul-de-sacs not far from Interstate 5. Dennis lived here with his wife, Maria, and two kids, Grant and 18-month-old Alaina. David and his family live here, too. So does their dad, and an aunt. Dennis’ mother, Cindy Teifke, lives in Buckley, Pierce County.
Friday afternoon, there were kids galore huddled on Kathy’s living-room floor.
“That’s all I have left of my little brother,” David said. “Grant and Alaina.”
Dennis graduated from Federal Way High School in 2003, got a job in the IT department of Poulsbo RV and then became a security guard at Fisher Plaza in Seattle.
“He was very proud of that job,” David recalled. “He looked sharp in his uniform. That’s when it started to grind on him.” Denny, as his family called him, really wanted to enlist.
His father had been in the Army, and his grandfathers had been Marines. Denny had always pictured himself as a military man. He aimed to go into law enforcement after discharge.
“We had him about talked out of it 10 times,” David recalled. “But he went. He wanted to provide for his wife and kids.”
He enlisted in October 2007.
In Denny’s official Army picture, he looks serious. But he was the family clown. Everybody talks about the eyebrow.
Denny would come in, straight-faced, then all he’d have to do was arch his eyebrow and he’d send everyone into stitches. His grandfather, Vern Anderson, said Denny loved to call them as a goof, putting on a fake voice and feeding them some kind of crazy story. They fell for it every time.
“He was mischief,” Kathy said.
Grant starts to cry. “Your mama’s going to be back tomorrow,” Kathy tells him.
She and Denny’s dad have flown East, to retrieve his body.
More relatives arrive. Baby Grant spits up. Someone changes his diaper.
David gets back after taking off down the street for a mini-emergency: His 5-year-old daughter was screaming bloody murder. She had got her thick legs stuck in a baby swing set.
David realizes that a care package had been on its way to Denny when the family got the news that he was gone. Other packages were ready to go. A Superman shirt, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters memorabilia, his favorite soups and popcorn and hot chocolate.
Denny loved the military, but doubts could creep in.
“Not because he was scared,” David was quick to say. “He wanted to know, what and why? Why are we here and what are we doing?”
As he left for deployment a month ago, Kathy saw the doubts surfacing.
“As he backed out of the driveway, he said, ‘Grandma, I might never see you again,’ ” she recalled. “I said, ‘Denny don’t be silly.’ “
Kathy said she feels dizzy. She woke up Friday morning and felt she didn’t have any tears left. “Since I’ve quit crying, I’m heavy,” she said. “My head is full of webs. My body feels numb.”
She thinks about the other times when her house is chaos: Christmas.
“Denny always put up my Christmas lights,” she said, choking back tears.
“Don’t worry, Grandma,” David said. “I’ll put ’em up for you.”
|Wash. soldier among 4 killed in Afghanistan
The Associated Press
FORT LEWIS, Wash. — The Army says a 24-year-old soldier from Federal Way, Wash., was among four members of a Fort Lewis-based Stryker brigade who were killed in southern Afghanistan.
Killed Tuesday was Pfc. Dennis M. Williams. Fort Lewis says Williams enlisted in Seattle in October 2007. This was his first deployment.
Also killed were: 30-year-old Capt. John L. Hallett III of California; 30-year-old Capt. Cory J. Jenkins of Arizona; and 38-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Ronald W. Sawyer, 38, of Trenton, Mo.
All died of wounds suffered when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device.
They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
|Followed father’s footsteps into Army
The Associated Press
Dennis Williams, pictured in his military uniform with a serious, stoic look, was really “mischief” and a clown around his family, said his grandmother Kathy Anderson.
He was helpful, too, she said.
“Denny always put up my Christmas lights,” she said, choking back tears after her grandson’s death. “I’m so confused, I don’t hardly know my own name.”
Williams, 24, of Federal Way, Wash., and three others were killed Aug. 25 when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle in Afghanistan. He was based at Fort Lewis, Wash.
When he left for deployment a month ago, he told his grandmother he might never see her again.
Anderson remembers responding, “Denny don’t be silly.”
Williams graduated from Federal Way High School in 2003. Before enlisting in October 2007, he was a security guard at a building in Seattle.
“He was very proud of that job,” his older brother David Williams said. “He looked sharp in his uniform. That’s when it started to grind on him.”
It was then that Dennis Williams decided to serve in the military, his brother said. Williams’ father had been in the Army and his grandfather was a Marine.
“We had him about talked out of it 10 times,” David Williams said. “But he went. He wanted to provide for his wife and kids.”
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