I learned of his death from a newsletter written by one of his 'brothers' in Iraq. I have linked to the newspaper articles about his death below, but I think it is fitting to allow his 'brother' to tell his story ~ no one could ask for a more loving and beautiful tribute.
"It is with deep sorrow that I now inform you, SPC Douglas Desjardins, was Killed in Action the morning of the 5th. Born December 16th 1981, he was the epitome of a soldier and a friend. I can't say the details of the event and honestly I don't care to recount them even if I were allowed. We take small comfort knowing that his passing was instantaneous, that he did not suffer. He is in a better place, though knowing so doesn't help too greatly. A silence has overcome our entire building, throughout the company of men who knew DJ. A brother to all.
"Everyone gathered around as the Commander informed those in the company who did not already know. My platoon was informed to stand down from current mission and that another platoon would finish what we had begun. We went upstairs and gathered as a platoon to talk amongst ourselves. For hours we all remained in the room, at times saying nothing as we all sat there, other times helping each other, clinging to each other to find strength in our bond. Grown men cried unashamedly.
"We spoke of our times with DJ, reminiscing on the man he was. A steadfast and laid back comedian with a trademark smile only he could pull off. Full of comments such as 'Friends don't let Friends watch Friends'. DJ always motivated people to better themselves. He was the hub of the enlisted members of the platoon, especially for SPC and below. The first guy to put a boot in someones rear when they became complacent. The peacemaker who would step between tow joes quarreling. A Lover of Jim Beam. I could sit here and type for hours of DJ. The most amazing thing was that even though he has passed, he still retained his ability to cheer us up. As we spoke of him he reached out to us and turned our tears to smiles and even laughter as we spoke of times with DJ.
"Sleep eventually came to us all. A troubled and restless sleep for many. When I awoke I lay there wanting to believe that when I got dressed and walked next door that I would find DJ watching an episode of Smallville (we were both Smallville Junkies!) Perhaps if I were to head out to the tank line I'd find him hard at work on his tank. He took pride in all he did.
"Less than a month ago he had suffered an injury to his hand when the loaders hatch slammed onto his fingers. Even stitched up and unable to move his had much at all, he still tried to head out with his crew. When informed he could not got, I lent the LTs crew one of my soldiers to plus them up for mission. DJ informed my joe that there could be only one White 1 Delta (the driver) and not to get too comfy in that spot. It became a running joke in the platoon. In theme with the Highlander movies. There Can Be Only One.
"White 1 Delta is gone. I entered the room to assist in clearing his personal belongings so that they could be inventoried and shipped to his family. A difficult but necessary task. After we finished and his belongings moved out of the once vibrant spot he occupied seemed so barren.
"His memorial service is still being planned out. We are making a slide show with pictures of DJ and will write of the man we all knew. I am going to play Jordan Leighs song Soldier I Thank You as his service to honor my friend.
"So many times I have been to these services. Too many times. The role call announced and the 21 gun salute, the mournful sound of taps played upon a bugle. Standing there looking upon the helmet adorning the rifle, dog tags hanging silently in remembrance. As we march one at a time to pay honors to our fallen brother, a short distance but such a long walk within. Kneeling to say words of farewell and a prayer for him, standing to attention and rendering salute. A Farewell.
"Many days I wonder how I can drive on after so much loss. While there are many reasons both patriotic and personal I think back to DJs words to me that day in the hall. Of how I have his approval. Even with a heavy heart and a hurting soul, I drive on for the men I serve beside and all those who have fallen at my side.
"I ask that you keep DJ and his family in your thoughts and prayers. Remember his and the many others before him who have given the ultimate sacrifice."