D.C. Army Captain Dies In Attack
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Darrell C. Lewis had long astounded his family. He navigated one of Southeast Washington's toughest neighborhoods before earning a scholarship to a private high school and another for college.
After graduating from Wittenberg University, he joined the Army as an officer, rising to captain. From the start, his mother knew he had made the right choice.
"You can't express it in words; it was in his face," Hannah Lewis said last night. "Being in the military was the happiest I've ever seen my child."
Lewis, 31, was killed Saturday in Vashir City, Afghanistan, when his unit was attacked by insurgents using rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and small arms, the Department of Defense said yesterday. He had been in Afghanistan since February.
Lewis was raised in the Linda Pollin housing complex in Southeast, in an area known for drugs and violence. But his family described a natural leader who used an inquisitive mind to chase his dreams.
He showed no fear when walking down dangerous streets, and from an early age he rode buses across town to schools outside the neighborhood, his family said.
"He knew there was more to life," said Trina Lewis, a cousin.
Lewis was awarded a scholarship to Washington Ethical High School, where he excelled in track. He moved in with Trina Lewis to be closer to school and to enlist her help in preparing for college.
She recalled a teenager who attracted people from all walks of life, especially the young girls who called the house and forced her to install a second phone line.
"Everybody is just sad and shocked," Trina Lewis said. "This was not his destiny, to die in a desert in Afghanistan. . . . He just accomplished so much, and he had more to accomplish."
At college, Lewis learned Japanese and Chinese. After joining the Army, he served in Georgia and Washington state, then completed a two-year tour in South Korea.
In Afghanistan, Lewis called home Sundays, often connecting his D.C. relatives with his new wife, Elizabeth, and infant son, Rashawn, who live in San Antonio. Lewis also had a 7-year-old daughter, Taylor.
Last night, Hannah Lewis recalled her son's wedding reception in San Antonio in December. Shortly before midnight, she embraced her son for what would be the last time.
"I knew he was going away, and I just remembered the hug," she said. "He loved being in the military. He was doing a lot with his life."
Lewis, who was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan., is also survived by his father, Stanley Isiah Lewis, and his older brother, Stanley Jr.
Lewis will be buried next to his grandfather and great-uncle at Arlington National Cemetery on July 11, his family said.