The third man in the roll call didn’t stand up.
“Staff Sgt. David Dunlap,” the sergeant major called a second time.
Dunlap, the third man in his company’s alphabetized roster, didn’t respond with a: “Here, sergeant major.”
“Staff Sgt. David Clarke Dunlap,” the sergeant major said. The name resounded in the chapel where Dunlap’s friends, family and comrades in arms gathered Wednesday to mourn his death.
Dunlap, assigned to Fort Carson’s newly formed 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, was slain last week in a way that no soldiers envision when they enlist, Maj. Michael Colburn said.
Dunlap, 37, and his wife, Whitney Butler, 35, were killed on a Monday afternoon in their home at 222 Bassett Drive in central Colorado Springs after they surprised a burglar. Four days later, Colorado Springs police arrested 17-year-old Macyo January on suspicion of killing the couple. Both husband and wife, who was three months pregnant, died of gunshot wounds.
The Dunlaps seemed to be starting a new chapter, or a new beginning, their friends said Wednesday. They got married in Las Vegas in September, bought the Bassett Drive home in late October and moved to Colorado Springs, where Dunlap was assigned to the new brigade. They were so newly married that Whitney had not had time to change her name on documents from Butler to Dunlap.
At Fort Carson, Dunlap worked for longtime friend Master Sgt. Molly McCray, and in November he told her that, now that they were married, Whitney wanted a baby. A few days passed, and Dunlap came back to McCray with an announcement, she recalled.
“In true Dunlap fashion, she was pregnant a week later,” she said.
Dunlap was intense yet compassionate, McCray said. He was a Crossfit fanatic, a friend said, and he pushed his best friends to keep up with his workout ethic. Three of Dunlap’s close friends who spoke at Wednesday’s memorial service on Fort Carson used similar adjectives to describe him, but McCray felt compelled to sum it all up.
“Plain and simple, Staff Sgt. David Dunlap was a badass,” she said with a wry smile.
Dunlap had expected to remain single, he told his friend Sgt. 1st Class Bryant Macfarlane, who served with him at Fort Eustis in Virginia. While at Fort Eustis, Dunlap met Whitney — remembered by his friends for her dazzling smile — and fell in love.
Later, when the couple learned that Whitney was pregnant, they did a conference call with Macfarlane and his wife; together, the foursome popped bottles of champagne and screamed with delight over the phone, Macfarlane recalled. In the weeks following, Dunlap chatted with McCray about what kind of father he’d be — a great one, his friends were all certain.
But instead of watching the Dunlaps’ first child grow up, McCray is adopting another small part of the Dunlaps’ family, their two dogs, Mojo and Buddha. She took the dogs after the couple died and has decided to keep them, she said.
“I know he’d do the same for me,” she said. “He’d do the same for me.”
Contact Ryan Maye Handy: 636-0261