TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
A childhood friend, Ryan Carmen of Alexandria, Va., fondly remembered David A. Wieger for “soccer and trouble.”
A former supervisor, retired Master Sgt. Peter Depue, recalled a first meeting more than 10 years ago, when Wieger, a staff sergeant and special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment 303 at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., blurted, “Hey, bubba, how ya doin’?”
Another former co-worker, retired Tech. Sgt. Ricky Griswold recollected that Wieger was “fun-loving, a no-nonsense person, and did not seek a lot of applause. He just wanted to do his job.”
And Wieger did his job until Nov. 1, 2007, when, at age 28, he and two other Air Force Special Agents were killed by a roadside bomb near Balad, Iraq, for which Travis officials on Nov. 1, 2017, dedicated in Wieger’s honor the Special Investigations building on the sprawling base south of Vacaville, Calif.
Delivering some of the ceremony’s opening remarks, Chief Master Sgt. Karen Beirne-Flint noted Wieger, 10 years ago to the day, “made the ultimate sacrifice” and that he had “a passion for the Air Force and its mission.”
In bright sun and standing at a lectern in front of the detachment’s building, “His legacy,” she added, looking out at members of Wieger’s family, friends and a mix of base personnel in crisp blue and utility uniforms or civilian clothes, will be one of “courage and sacrifice,” serving as “an enduring example for all of us.”
Her statements were preceded by equally somber ones by AFOSI Special Agent Michael Panguay, who opened the 30-minute ceremony, quoting President Theodore Roosevelt and saying that heroes, like Wieger, are those serve on the front lines for “the sacred cause of freedom.”
He characterized Wieger’s sacrifice, recalling a statement by President Abraham Lincoln, as “the last full measure of devotion” and that the ceremony could serve to inspire others to re-dedicate themselves to the cause of freedom.
Cheryl Johnson, of the 60th Communications Squadron, read Wieger’s biography printed in the ceremony program.
She noted that he graduated from Norwin High School in Irwin, Pa. in 1997, then joined the Air Force in 1999, working as a visual imagery and intrusion detection system apprentice. He was later recruited into the AFOSI tech program in 2004 and eventually assigned to Det. 303, where he worked general criminal investigations at Travis. Deployed to Iraq, he was killed — along with Master Sgt. Thomas Crowell, 36, and Nathan Schuldheiss, 27, a civilian — when his vehicle struck and detonated an improvised explosive device, or IED.
Wieger’s brother, Michael Wieger Jr., 42, momentarily choked up at the outset of his remarks, but, regaining his composure, remembered annual condolence calls from (then) Brig. Gen. Dana Simmons, AFOSI Commander, who assured the family that their son “would not be forgotten.”
If his brother were alive, said Michael Wieger — as jet planes taxied on the runway in the distance and roared into the sky on takeoff — he would not believe “a building dedicated in his honor.”
At one point, Wieger’s parents, Michael and Lori, called to the building’s main entrance, pulled on release ropes to unveil the formal name above the doorway, the AFOSI SA David A. Wieger Facility.
Moments later, Griswold, who had escorted family members to their seats just before the ceremony began, pointed to a plaque with David’s likeness on it, affixed just to the right of the building’s main entrance.
Later, Michael Wieger Jr. reflected on some fond memories of his brother, saying, “We grew up playing soccer together. We were always on the soccer field. He was captain of the soccer team in high school.”
In the years after his brother’s death, family and friends would “always come together” every Nov. 1 to remember David, times that were full of laughter, stories, “and some crying,” said the elder brother.
Inside the newly dedicated building, Michael Wieger, pointing to a framed photo collage of his late son, said David was a “dedicated type of person — that’s what led him to this kind of work.”
In his son’s communications home, he recalled, David would ask for “soccer balls and air pumps” to give away to Iraqi children, taking on the role of informal goodwill ambassador. A photo included in the collage showed him armed and in uniform, posing while on patrol with a group of smiling, excitable Iraqi children.
During and after the ceremony, more than one person commented on David Wieger’s infectious smile.
Johnson, in her remarks, said it “could light up the world.”
“The smile,” added childhood friend Carmen. “Yes, it radiated — that’s the perfect word.”