DALTON – Berkshire County residents paid their respects Wednesday morning as a motorcade procession carrying the body of United States Army Specialist Mitchell K. Daehling, 24, made its way to Dery Funeral Home in Pittsfield.
Daehling, a Dalton resident, died May 14. He was killed in action while serving his country in Afghanistan.
He was born on July 6, 1988, in Kemmerer, Wyo., the son of Kirk W. and Brenda Sander Daehling of Dalton. He was educated in Pocatello, Idaho, schools and graduated from Wahconah Regional High School in Dalton in 2006. He continued his education at Daniel Webster College in Nashua, N.H., from 2006-2010, where he was a Homeland Security major.
He attended Infantry Combat School at Ft. Benning, Ga., where he received his Blue Cord at "Turning Blue" ceremonies, which signifies entry as an infantryman. He graduated from Ft. Benning on Dec. 16, 2010, with ceremonies at the National Infantry Museum.
After graduation, he was stationed at Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas, with A Company, 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. He was promoted to specialist in June of 2012 and deployed to Afghanistan in December of 2012.
He was a team leader and squad designated marksman-expert level shooter while deployed in Afghanistan. He was the recipient of the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat and Special Skills Badge and the Basic Marksmanship Qual Badge-Expert.
He will be posthumously awarded on Friday with the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and the NATO Medal at services to be held at St. Agnes Church.
He enjoyed all sports, motorcycles, hunting, fishing, paintball and playing his guitar. He was also a licensed pilot. While at Wahconah Regional High School, he was a member of the varsity soccer team. At Daniel Webster College, he was a member of the lacrosse team.
Besides his parents of Dalton, he leaves his wife, the former Samantha J. McNamara of Westford, Mass., whom he married on June 14, 2012, at St. Catherine Church in Westford; a brother, Adam K. Daehling, of Dalton; a sister, Kayla M. Daehling, of Dalton; his maternal grandmother, Mary Sander of Lewiston, Idaho; his paternal grandparents, William A. Daehling and Violet J. Daehling, of Clarkston, Wash.; his father- and mother-in-law, John W. McNamara III and Sharon M. McNamara; a sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Jennifer M. and John W. McNamara of Westford; his aunts and uncles, Bernard and Carla Sander of Lewiston, Idaho, Steven Sander of Lewiston, Paul and Kimberly Johne of Redmond, Wash., and Mike and Darci Monsos of Missoula, Mont. He also leaves his many cousins and friends.
He was predeceased by his maternal grandfather, Kenneth J. Sander, a Purple Heart recipient who served his country in the United States Army during the Korean War who died in 2009.
Funeral services with Full Military Honors for Specialist Daehling will be held Friday, May 24, at 11 a.m. with a Liturgy of Christian Burial at St. Agnes Church, celebrated by Father Christopher Malatesta, St. Agnes’ pastor. Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell also will participate in the funeral Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick, numerous dignitaries and dozens of veterans from outside Berkshire County also are expected to be in attendance at the funeral.
Full military honors will be conducted by the United States Army outside the church following the service. Burial will take place at the Lewis-Clark Memorial Gardens in Lewiston, Idaho, where his grandfather, Kenneth J. Sander, is buried. Calling hours will be held Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. at St. Agnes Church, 489 Main Street, Dalton, MA, 01226.
In lieu of flowers, the Daehling family requests that donations in memory of Mitchell may be made to the USO or the Military Friends Foundation in care of the Dery Funeral Home, 54 Bradford Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201.