U.S. Army – War on Terror
Some high school graduates know exactly what they want to do. David Wallace didn’t. Through the summer after graduating from Sharpsville in 2002, he was exploring his options. Maybe technical school. Maybe the U.S. Marines.
“He came home one Friday,” said his mother, Carol Wallace McKay, “and said he was leaving on Monday. He had joined the Marines.”
David and a friend, Mike Kulka, had decided to sign up on the Marine Corps “buddy program,” through which friends go through boot camp together. That didn’t work out, because they didn’t go in at the same time.
Once he joined, Carol said, David knew he had found his calling. “He became very dedicated,” she said. “It was wonderful for him.”
Sgt. Wallace served two tours of duty in Iraq – from September, 2004, to April, 2005, and from July, 2007, to January, 2008. On November 5, 2008, he left for his final tour in Afghanistan.
There, as a combat engineer with the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, part of his job was to locate Improvised Explosive Devices, and to mark or destroy them. He not only did that himself; he also built a training facility to teach others how to do it.
But regardless of how much one knows about IEDs, there always remains the unpredictable element that makes them so dangerous. On January 27, 2009, while Sgt. Wallace was off duty, others from his unit were having problems with their IED sweeper. After he fixed it for them, he voluntarily went out with them in search of IEDs. One exploded, killing him and another Marine, Sgt. Trevor J. Johnson of Forsyth, Montana.
Sgt. Wallace was the first Mercer County soldier to die in Afghanistan in the global war on terror. Besides his mother and his brother Steven, Sgt. Wallace left behind his wife Erica, from Jacksonville, North Carolina, five-year old stepson Landon, and two-year-old daughter Brooklyn.
He also left behind what his mother calls his life-long friends: the community of Sharpsville, PA. “Sharpsville has supported us before and after his death,” Carol said.
The community erected a monument to him in Riverside Cemetery, named a bridge after him, and wrote many personal tributes to him on a Facebook page, “In honor of Sgt. David Wallace.”
For his valor, Sgt. Wallace was awarded a Bronze Star, but that probably means less than the honors given to him by those who knew him personally.