NANGARHAR PROVENCE, Afghanistan — On June 24, Army 1st Lt. Dimitri Del Castillo was 24 years old, a newlywed, and just starting his career as an infantry officer.
On June 25th, the 2009 West Point graduate was killed when his unit came under small arms fire in the Watahpur District of Kunar Province, Afghanistan.
Del Castillo was on patrol during a massive counter insurgency operation in the mountains of Kunar Province when his unit was attacked, sparking the intense firefight.
The news of the firefight reached his bride, Army 1st Lt. Kathleen Pulliam, just minutes after Del Castillo’s death. Pulliam was a few miles away at a forward operating base in Jalalabad. The couple had been assigned to different operating bases about 30 minutes apart by helicopter.
Del Castillo, a rifle platoon leader, was on the radio trying to coordinate help for his unit when he was mortally wounded, said retired Lt. Col. Nate Pulliam of Conyers, Ga., his father-in-law.
“He continued talking on the radio to get support,” the elder Pulliam said. “He died soon after getting hit, while remaining on the radio attempting to get fire support for the attack coming from multiple directions.”
Nate Pulliam said he was told 28 other soldiers were wounded in the attack. Also killed was Marine Sgt. Marlon E. Myrie of Jacksonville, N.C., according to military reports.
A budding romance
Kathleen Pulliam, or Katie as her friends know her, met Del Castillo during summer training after their freshman year at West Point. The U.S. Military Academy wasn’t the most conventional place to start their story, but there was nothing conventional about them.
“Katie liked Dimitri instantly, but I remember her playing hard-to-get,” said Army 1st Lt. Theresa Todd of Norman, one of Pulliam’s friends. Todd also is deployed to an outpost in Kandahar Province.