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19 year-old SPC Dane Balcon of Colorado Springs, Colo, ; died Sept. 5, 2007 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device. Dane R. Balcon was the type of student who paid attention to every detail of his uniform, and everyone else’s, to the point that he could distinguish whether they used starch. Becoming a soldier was something he seemed destined to do. Balcon could often be seen with his drumsticks, playing along to his own imaginary drum line. Though some teachers confiscated his sticks, he always charmed them into giving them back. Assistant Principal David Morgan recalled what Balcon told him after graduation. You all will be reading about me in the paper one day, Morgan said Balcon told him. And it’s going to be for something good. Friend Jamar Harrison said Balcon joined the school’s drumline in his senior year, even though he couldn’t read music sheets very well. Harrison, who plays on the line, said the six-member team became a close-knit family in the single year that Balcon was there. “We knew we wanted him on the drumline because we knew how positive he was and how enthusiastic he was,” said Harrison, a senior at Sand Creek. “He didn’t make anyone seem like an outsider. He liked to crack jokes, and if anyone was in a bad mood, he’d crack more jokes. He was just a person that brought a smile to your face.” Harrison said he remembers sitting around between performances during basketball games, chatting about anything, from television shows to music on each other’s iPods. “We were always swapping each other’s earphones,” he said. “We weren’t supposed to have them at games, but somehow me and Dane would have ours.” An announcement about Balcon’s death was made to the students at the school Thursday, followed by a moment of silence. Harrison said the mood in the halls was somber and reflective, and students and staff were trying to uplift each other. “You could tell everyone had respect for him, whether or not they knew him,” he said. “People could tell that it was very honorable, what he did.” “It’s been very hard for the staff and students who knew him,” Morgan said. “He was so well-liked.” Balcon was 3 when he told his mother he wanted to be a soldier. Sixteen years later, he tattooed that word on an arm before going to Iraq.