Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sean Diamond : One of the Chosen Ones

Today is Sean Diamond's birthday, but instead of a birthday celebration there will be a memorial service for this precious hero.

Staff Sgt. Sean D. Diamond, 41, of Dublin, Calif., died Feb. 15 in As Salam, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 610th Engineer Support Company, 14th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, Fort Lewis, Wash.

A soldier, husband and father of four from Dublin was killed [Sunday] in Iraq when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle, defense officials reported Tuesday.

Staff Sgt. Sean Diamond, a 41-year-old heavy construction equipment operator on his third tour in Iraq, was due home next month for a break before he was killed in As-Salam, said his mother Sally Wiley, a former Danville,CA resident who now lives in Gardnerville, Nev.

Diamond had left the military in 1987, then rejoined the Army in 2000. He was stationed in Germany when the Iraq War started. Diamond volunteered to go, his mother said, then re-upped for a second tour. When his unit broke up, he was assigned to the 610th Engineer Support Company, 14th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade out of Fort Lewis, Wash. The unit deployed to Iraq last March.

"When I saw him before he left last year I thought, 'Aren't you a little old to be going there?' But he had a lot of young guys that had never been there. He didn't want to turn them loose over there," Wiley said.

He was with engineering and we thought he wouldn't get hurt," Wiley said.

The battalion was building a rifle range in As-Salam in southern Iraq and traveled along a road checked daily for IEDs, she said.

"He was in the second Humvee, and their third day on the road, they hit one (IED) that blew up right under his feet," she said. "He was the only one hit. Everyone else just got scratches.

"You always ask, 'Why him?'"

"I'm sorrowful and sad, and so proud. That was his choice and his desire. The only thing he hated was he was away from his family. He loved his family and his wife beyond anything."

Diamond leaves behind his wife, Loramay, and their four children, ages five to 13.

He loved his family more than anything in the world," his mother said. "He wrote letters to each of his children individually and he called them regularly."

"You won't see a picture his whole life he wasn't smiling," his mother said.

Wiley and Barbara Clark, also of Gardnerville, are active members of the Sierra Nevada Blue Star Mothers. Wiley called Clark after Army officials said they were coming to visit. A handful of Blue Star Mothers went to Wiley's house to offer support.

"It was very painful for all of us," Clark said. "We've done a number of ceremonies, but this is the first time we've lost from the inside. There is a lot of numbness in the group right now."

An identical twin born on St. Patrick's Day, Diamond grew up in Oakland and Berkeley before moving to Newport Beach, Florida, then Colorado, where he graduated from high school and attended a year of college before first joining the military, said his stepfather, Michael Wiley. After leaving the service, Diamond attended flight school in Oakland for a while but soon returned to the Army.

Among several honors that he earned in Iraq was the Bronze Star Medal, awarded for bravery or meritorious achievement.

Diamond was scheduled to return to the states on Feb. 27 to celebrate his 42nd birthday on March 17 in Dublin with family, said Ruth Villar sister of Diamond's wife, Loramay Diamond, 36.

The family chatted with Diamond via video hookup within the last couple of weeks.

"He was a great father ... his kids were his life," Villar said.

One of Diamond's other passions was flying, according to Villar. For several years he had been studying to obtain a pilot's license.

Diamond was on his third tour as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom; all told he spent about five years there, Villar told The Chronicle in a phone interview from Fort Lewis.

"When he would come home, he hoped he wouldn't have to be deployed again, but he viewed it as his job," she said. "It's what he had to do."

She described Diamond as "a man with vibrant blue eyes and a smile that could light up a room."

She said Diamond was a devoted family man who missed the birth of his fouth child because he was in Iraq.

His mother said Diamond kept returning to Iraq becaue he felt a responsibility to help guide all the young people serving over there.

Villar remembered him as a devoted family man whose love for his wife, Loramay Diamond, never faltered.

"He will always be a hero to his family and loved ones," Villar said.

The sergeant's wife Loramay, and their children, Taylor, 5; Madison, 8; Sean Riley, 9; and Athena, 13 live at Fort Lewis.
Services will be in Livermore, Calif., where most of his wife's family lives,

"We try to prepare ourselves for this, but it's different when it really happens to you," Wiley said. "He loved his country and he loved his family."

A memorial service is planned in Gardnerville on March 17, on what would have been her son's 42nd birthday, she said.

Sean Diamond is survived by his mother,Sally and stepfather, Michael; wife Loramay and their four children, Taylor, Madison, Sean Riley and Athena; his twin brother Michael; brother Jason, and father Jerry...(courtesy Living Legend team Soldiers' Angels)

Snapshots tell story of fallen soldier’s life

Sally Wiley holds up a photo of her son Staff Sgt. Sean Diamond before he was in the military. Diamond was killed Feb. 15 in Iraq by an improvised explosive device.
Sally Wiley holds up a photo of her son Staff Sgt. Sean Diamond before he was in the military. Diamond was killed Feb. 15 in Iraq by an improvised explosive device.
Kurt Hildebrand/The R-C

Each of the more than 100 snapshots neatly laid out on the floor of Sally Wiley’s study prompted a story about her son, Staff Sgt. Sean Diamond.

“Sean loved flying,” Wiley said. “This is his son, Taylor, who is now 13, watching a plane.”

Wiley went through the photos in preparation for the March 17 memorial service for Diamond, who was killed Feb. 15 in Iraq by an improvised explosive device.

“These are the twins when they were baptized in Berkeley,” she said.

Diamond was one of twins, born on St. Patrick’s Day 1967.

“He got confused with his brother all the time, so he got a perm in high school, otherwise no one could tell which brother was which.”

It didn’t work. When brother Michael’s date came to the door on prom night, she kissed Sean and put his boutonniere on.

“Wrong kid,” Wiley said.

Wiley was going through the photos so she could give them to a friend, who would scan them in and produce a slideshow.

Wiley is a native Nevadan, who was born in Churchill County Hospital. Her father was a district range manager for the Bureau of Land Management in Winnemucca from 1942 to 1954. His service is memorialized by Nevada cartoonist Lew Hymers, who drew the Carson Range appearing in The Record-Courier’s banner.

What people here know about Diamond they learned through his mother, who has been enthusiastic in her support of the troops, and active in the Blue Star Moms, to support the mothers of those who are serving overseas.

Diamond never lived in Carson Valley. He was born in the Bay area and grew up in California, Florida and Colorado. Before Wiley moved here, he’d joined the U.S. Army and started his own family.

“I had the first grandchildren, two boys born on St. Patrick’s Day, these photos were in Mom’s wallet all of her life,” Wiley said. “They had two girls and adopted a third. They always wanted a boy, and I hit the jackpot with twins.”

Until they were 8 years old, Sean, Michael and their younger brother were mistaken for triplets.

Wiley and the boys’ father were together for five years before they separated. She was on her own for five years before she married a steel executive and moved around the country with the boys.

Diamond became a young man in Colorado and joined the Army in 1987 after college failed to pan out after two years.

“He didn’t know what he wanted so he dropped out of college,” Wiley said.

He served until 1989 on active duty and then in the reserves. In the interim, he met his wife Loramay, and they had the first of their four children. He returned to the service in 2000.

“When I had my back surgery, I had ‘Sgt. Sean Diamond’ with the symbol for his unit on the cast,” Wiley said holding up another picture....

While the photos are important, they are not the only mementos Wiley has of her son’s service.

She has the receipts for every package she sent to Sean while he was serving his three tours in Iraq in a neat pack in her desk.

“He was important to me,” she said. “I felt anything I did for him I had to do everything perfect and he would be safe.”... (source)

Soldier ... remembered as ‘selfless and rugged’

His family, friends and fellow Soldiers remembered Diamond in a Feb. 25 memorial service at the North Fort Chapel.

“Only days away from his return from Iraq on R&R, and hours after Valentine’s Day, the news of his death struck home with incredible force,” said Capt. Corey Warren at the memorial service.

“What a cruel shock this was to both his family and fellow service members.”

Warren read the words of Lt. Col. Pete Helmlinger, the 14th Engr. Bn. commander, spoken at a memorial service held for Diamond Feb. 19 at Contingency Operating Base Adder.

“He made a huge and lasting impact on the security capabilities of Iraq,” said Helmlinger, who noted numerous engineering projects on which Diamond worked. “

"This is truly a better place because of his actions. He always took the harder right instead of the easier out. He was a noble warrior.”

Part of that difficult path Diamond followed was returning to active duty from the Army Reserve after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

“He was so committed to serve his country in its time of need that he readily accepted the active-duty grade of private,” Helmlinger said.

“He was a Soldier and epitome of what our Army stands for — hard working, steadfast, selfless and rugged.”

Helmlinger remembered that Diamond showed what he was made of last Father’s Day, when an MRAP in his patrol was hit by a powerful, buried IED.

“Staff Sergeant Diamond was one of the first to respond,” Helmlinger recalled. “The patrol leader was hit. He took charge as the senior noncommissioned officer on the ground and immediately organized security.

“He stayed on the scene for over eight hours assisting vehicle recovery and area sterilization. He did it thoroughly, calmly and professionally.”

“I know first-hand what kind of person Staff Sgt. Diamond was,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Simao, a former 610th NCO who once had Diamond in his squad. “He always set an example for other Soldiers to emulate by being ready for every mission, no matter what it was, and by leading by example.”

“Staff Sergeant Diamond was a great man,” said Helmlinger, “a tremendously dedicated NCO, a strong and experienced leader, a highly skilled equipment operator, a patriotic American, a loving husband and a caring father of four.” (source)

Please take the time to follow the links and spend some time with Sean and his family. I TRULY believe that love NEVER dies. It is my promise to always honour our fallen, and to NEVER forget them or their families.

Rest in Peace, Sean, oh Noble Warrior. You ARE one of the chosen ones.


Anonymous said...

You will always be a hero to me, too, Sean Diamond. You will not be forgotten. Rest in peace, Brave Warrior.


Sally Diamond Wiley, Gold Star Mom of Sean said...

Yes, Sean is indeed a hero to many as he should be, he is certainly a hero to his family, who misses him very much, feel sad at his loss, see him in his children and know for sure Sean is in Heaven and watching out for everyone he loved sooo dearly. Love, Sean's Proud Gold Mom