While his peers were clamoring for “Sesame Street” and Disney movies, Patrick Callahan wanted to watch “Hamburger Hill,” a movie centered on one of the Vietnam War’s bloodiest battles.
“The youngest of five children, I was raised in a household in which my parents instilled in us the importance of service and pride for our country along with gratitude and appreciation for servicemen and women was strongly prevalent,” the 24-year-old Marine sergeant told a Memorial Day crowd gathered in Cedar Grove Cemetery on Monday.
Callahan was a sophomore at Catholic Memorial High School when he saw the World Trade Center towers fall. “There was nothing I wanted more than to join those fighting for our country,” he said. “Ever since he was a little boy he wanted to be a Marine,” said his father, Robert “Sauce” Callahan, a former Marine himself.
State Rep. Marty Walsh (D-Savin Hill) coached Patrick, who went to the former St. William’s Grammar School, in Little League. “Patrick’s a special kid,” Walsh said, walking with him through the cemetery before the speech. “He always was.”
The younger Callahan served two tours of duty as a field radio operator in Iraq’s Fallujah and Ramadi communities. As part of the security team for Col. Richard Simcock, he toured other parts of the country.
The elder Callahan noted that usually a colonel is asked to give the Memorial Day speech. “They’re trying to get the younger generation involved,” added Patrick’s mother, Katie.
Patrick was joined at the ceremony by two friends from the battlefield: Chris Saunders, a corporal, and Shane Burke, a staff sergeant. Both, like Patrick, grew up in Dorchester.
“It was a small comfort to see anyone or anything you could associate with home while deployed. Hanging out at Camp Fallujah with these guys made us feel closer to home, just like we were hanging down the corner,” Patrick said. “The number of young people from Dorchester who have courageously entered the service is something everyone in this area should hold their heads high about.”