An Army staff sergeant from Rising Sun died last week of undetermined causes while on patrol in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said yesterday, a loss the eight-year soldier's wife says will leave his squad without one of its finest mentors.
Staff Sgt. David L. Paquet, 26, a 2000 graduate of Rising Sun High School in Cecil County, died Wednesday at Combat Outpost Vegas. His wife said that he collapsed and that she was awaiting autopsy results.
"He always gave advice, told them what to do," Katie Paquet said of her husband and his soldiers. "He had a big heart and was there for people when they needed him. And then, on the other side, he was a completely funny guy."
Sergeant Paquet was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas. He joined the Army after graduating from high school.
A year after he joined the service, Sergeant Paquet and his future wife were set up on a date by a friend. Katie Paquet said she was drawn to her future husband's blue eyes and that they enjoyed watching sports and traveling. The couple married in 2002.
"As for his personality, all that I can say is he's one in a million," she said. "There'll never be another Dave."
Sergeant Paquet's death has not been ruled a casualty, and the Department of Defense said the incident is under investigation.
"He didn't suffer, he didn't have breathing problems. It was just his time," Katie Paquet said. "The Army has done everything possible and is answering my questions. But it's just hard for me to understand why he just collapsed."
Plans for services are incomplete, but a public memorial is expected to be held within the next week in Lansdale, Pa.
In addition to his wife, Sergeant Paquet is survived by his parents, Fern and Dawn Paquet of Colora; two brothers, Fern Paquet Jr. of Greenwich, N.Y., and Michael Paquet of Havertown, Pa; and a sister, Jennifer McKenna of Deerfield Beach, Fla.