HAMILTON, Ill. -- Dustin Andrew Whitaker, 27, of Hamilton, died Sunday (April 1, 2012) in Keokuk, Iowa. He was born Jan. 22, 1985, in Carthage. Dustin was a staff sergeant in the Iowa Army National Guard. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom 2004-2005, and Operation Enduring Freedom, 2010-2011. He went through air assault school and was on the Governor's 10. While serving, he received the Combat Action Badge and a Purple Heart. He loved being a combat engineer in the National Guard so much that he occasionally brought his work home with him. He also loved his military family and all of the brothers he gained on his deployments. He was an amazing mixed martial arts fighter. He had a record of 13-1 and had three light heavyweight belts. Dustin graduated from Hamilton High School in 2003 and was one semester away from earning a degree in animal science with a minor in biology at Western Illinois University. Dustin was a passionate person who lived life to the fullest. He was never one to sit around and wait for something to happen, he went out and made things happen, and made sure there was never a dull moment. He loved being outdoors fishing with his grandfather, hunting and boating with his friends, gardening with his grandmother and mother, and riding mules and motorcycles with his dad and brothers. Dustin loved spending time with his brothers and sister, whom he shared an unbreakable bond with. He enjoyed bon fires and pond parties at his parents' house. He was the life of every party he attended. He loved music and loved to sing, especially "Wagon Wheel." He also loved to cut a rug on the dance floor. Dustin loved spending time with his family and friends, and was very protective of them, as many people know. He was especially protective of his little sister, and did an excellent job making sure that every guy around was terrified to talk to her. He had a way of lighting up a room, and he could make everyone laugh and smile with his witty sarcasm and ornery grin. He was there whenever anyone needed him and would do anything to help a friend in need. He made friends everywhere he went, and more often than not left an unforgettable trail of destruction behind him. He loved going to Daytona Bike Week every year, driving down the beach, meeting new people and spending time with his family. Above all, Dustin loved spending time with Jessica and his son. Dylan was the most important thing in his life, he loved teaching him new things and watching him grow. While in Afghanistan, Dustin carried a picture of Dylan with him everywhere he went and counted down the days until he could make it back home to his boy. Dustin left behind an unforgettable legacy and countless memories that will be shared with his son in the years to come. Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave in a well-preserved body, but rather to slide in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, "What a ride!" Survivors include a son, Dylan Andrew Whitaker; girlfriend, Jessica Baum of Keokuk, Iowa; grandparents, Melvin and Marlene Cameron Whitaker of Hamilton; parents, Ron and Deborah Hinton Whitaker of Warsaw; three siblings, Beau, Lance and Erin Whitaker of Hamilton; aunts and uncles, Bob and Nancy Hinton of Kankakee and Terry and Barb of Watseka; and four cousins, Logan, Andy, Tara and Anna. Dustin was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Morris and Betty Hinton. SERVICES: 2 p.m. Saturday at the Hamilton High School gym. Burial will be in Oakwood Cemetery in Hamilton with full military honors by Iowa National Guard. Patriot Riders will be escorting the procession to the cemetery. VISITATION: Family will meet with friends 3 to 8 p.m. Friday in the Lamporte-St. Clair Funeral Home in Hamilton. MEMORIALS: An education fund has been established for Dustin's son, Dylan Andrew Whitaker, in lieu of flowers. ARRANGEMENTS: Lamporte-St. Clair Funeral Home, Hamilton. WEBSITE: www.lamportefuneralhomes.com. Condolences may be expressed online at www.whig.com.
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Published in Quincy Herald-Whig from Apr. 4 to Apr. 6, 2012