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Military: RI soldier died after saving Afghan girl

March 29, 2012
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PROVIDENCE, R.I.—A Rhode Island National Guard member struck and killed by an armored vehicle in Afghanistan last week had moved an Afghan girl to safety shortly before the accident, military officials said.

The National Guard on Wednesday released details of the March 22 accident that killed 29-year-old Sgt. Dennis Weichel Jr. of Providence and called him a hero.

Officials say Weichel's unit was in Laghman province when they encountered several Afghan children in the path of their convoy. They say Weichel saw a girl trying to retrieve an item under the armored vehicle and moved her to safety, then was struck.

"He would have done it for anybody," said Staff Sgt. Ronald Corbett, who was a mentor to Weichel and who deployed with him to Iraq in 2005. "That was the way he was. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it."

Weichel was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the NATO Service Medal Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon RI Star.

Visiting hours are set for 4 p.m. Sunday at Olson & Parent Funeral Home in Providence. He will be buried at the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery in Exeter.

He is survived by three children, his fiancee and his parents.

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