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Tucson salutes a fallen warrior

Citizen Staff Writer



David L. Hurt was building rock walls in the heat of summer here for Martin Rock Works when his buddy Sam Martin – one of the owner’s sons – told him, “You need to move on,” Martin recalled Monday.

And Hurt did. He joined the Army and became a Green Beret.

Martin and others spoke at a memorial service here for their friend, who died Feb. 20, on his fifth tour of Afghanistan, after his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device.

Alexander McKenna, a friend of Hurt, said he tried to talk Hurt into joining the Marines but Hurt chose the Army.

Over the years, the two men “lost contact but we never forgot each other,” McKenna said. McKenna, a Marine, also served in Afghanistan, he said.

“In talking to his mother, I found out we had been (in Afghanistan) at the same time, spittin’ out the same dust,” McKenna said.

“You may not understand what it means to put yourself out there for something bigger than yourself, to sacrifice yourself for this country, but that’s what Dave did.

“I can almost guarantee he would not change a thing.”

Charlie Martin, one of several Martin brothers who worked with Hurt in the Martin family business after high school, said he was a real pal who once gave up his lunch money so Charlie could buy cigarettes.

Hurt, 36, who was born in Illinois and grew up in Tucson, was a Santa Rita High School graduate. He enlisted in the Army in 1992. He was a master sergeant at the time of his death.

After basic and advanced training, he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., and later to the 20th Engineer Brigade.

Although he lived among Tar Heels in North Carolina with his wife, Kelly, and children Avery, 11, and Wyatt, 5, he wore University of Arizona caps and jerseys and was a proud UA booster, his wife told friends.

Hurt went to Afghanistan in January 2009 as part of a Special Forces Operation Detachment, assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group.

He was killed along with Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy E. Bessa, 26, who grew up in Apache Junction. Bessa is survived by his wife, Lindsey, and son, Carson, born Dec. 4, both of Fayetteville, N.C.

At the memorial service Monday at VFW Post 10188, 345 E. Roger Road, Alexander McKenna said Hurt was “very humble in every way. He didn’t talk much. He was always a cool head.”

McKenna’s brother, Michael McKenna, said Hurt was “just like one of our brothers. He was always willing to give “his last beer, his last chew.”

Whatever he had, Michael McKenna said, “he was ready to give it up.”

“Who knew it would be his life for his country?”

Hurt and Bessa were honored with a rifle salute and a lone bagpiper, who played “Amazing Grace” for the 80 or so mourners at the VFW hall.

Hurt was conducting a reconnaissance patrol near Khordi in Oruzgan province when an IED struck his vehicle. He was taken to Kandahar Airfield for treatment but died from his wounds.

Hurt earned his Green Beret in May 2000. His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters.

In addition to his wife and children, he is survived by his mother, Bonnie Hurt, and sister, Deborah Hurt, both of Hope Mills, N.C.; and by his father, Joe Hurt of Memphis, Tenn.

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