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Army Staff Sgt. Sean Diamond, 41, Dublin

Soldier on third tour killed by roadside bomb

March 29, 2009|Raja Abdulrahim

Every March 17, Sally Wiley would call her son Sean Diamond at 7:38 a.m. and his twin Michael five minutes later -- the moments of their births -- to sing them "Happy Birthday."

Some years, the twins couldn't answer, letting their mother's song go to voice mail.

In the last few years, when Sean, an Army staff sergeant, was stationed in Iraq, Wiley couldn't call him. Instead, she would look at the clock on March 17 and feel something missing, then call Michael.

"We'd laugh because [Sean] didn't have to get the early morning call," she said of the ritual that began during the twins' first year at college.

This month, Wiley still made two calls, but both to Michael -- one to his home and the other to his cellphone.

Sean Diamond was killed Feb. 15 when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in As Salam, , south of Baghdad. A heavy equipment operator with the 610th Engineer Support Company, 14th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade at Ft. Lewis, Wash., he was 41.

When Michael Diamond, 42, heard the birthday songs last week, both of which went to voice mail, "I thought, 'Now she's only got one son to sing it to; she used to have two.' "

On her sons' birthday, Wiley held a memorial for Sean in Gardnerville, Nev., where she now lives. She called it a celebration of his life and showed photos of him as a child with his two brothers, with his four children and him as a pilot.

Those who knew him best say Diamond loved two things in life: family and flying.

When he lived with his twin brother in Berkeley in the early 1990s, he got his private pilot's license and would rent a single-engine plane and fly around the Bay Area. On Diamond's first date 15 years ago with his future wife, Loramay, he took her flying.

When he and his wife settled in the Northern California community of Dublin, east of San Francisco, and started a family, he found less time to fly.

On Feb. 19, Diamond's body was returned home from Iraq on a private flight that landed at Livermore Municipal Airport, the same one where more than a decade earlier, he used to practice landings, his brother said.

Diamond first joined the Army in 1987, spending two years on active duty and six years in the Army Reserve. After a brief break, he reenlisted in 2000 and returned to active duty in late 2001.

For several years, Diamond and his family lived in Germany; he was deployed from that country to Iraq before they moved to Ft. Lewis in 2006. He was on his third tour when he was killed.

In addition to his wife, mother and twin, Diamond is survived by his four children, Taylor, 13, Madison, 10, Sean Riley, 8, and Athena, 5; his father, Gerald Stump; and a younger brother, Jason.

Wiley visited her son last year before he began his last tour and remembers telling him, "Why are you doing this? You're getting kind of old."

"Because they still need the help, Mom," Wiley said he told her. "He cared about what he was doing, and he was good at what he was doing."

Michael Diamond said his brother loved the Army and was proud of the roads and buildings his unit was constructing in Iraq.

"Don't listen to all this stuff you hear on the news," he said his brother once told him. "We're actually doing really great things over here."

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raja.abdulrahim@latimes.com

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