Thursday, October 14, 2004

Army Spc. Bradley S. Beard

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Bradley S. Beard, 22, of Chapel Hill, N.C.

Spc. Beard was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Casey, Korea; killed Oct. 14, 2004 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle as he was doing reconnaissance for explosives at Camp Ramadi, Iraq.

Family remembers slain soldier as bright, funny
Associated Press

PITTSBORO, N.C. — Spc. Bradley S. Beard built his own computer once and entertained friends with jokes and impressions.

But the former engineering student at North Carolina State University took service to his country seriously. Beard, 22, dropped out of school a few months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 to enlist in the Army.

He was one of three soldiers killed Thursday while hunting for explosives in Iraq when a bomb exploded near their convoy in the city of Ramadi.

He was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, a unit based at Camp Casey, South Korea.

He’d only recently requested to be moved to Iraq because “he thought it was important,” his father, Randall, said Monday.

Randall Beard and his wife, Betsy, live in Chatham County. Their dining room table was filled with pictures of their only son in camouflage uniform as friends and family gathered to remember Beard.

Beard landed in Iraq in September. While there, he was charged with escorting contractors to their jobs and monitoring radios. He later volunteered to find explosive devices in the field.

“He could have easily made the decision to be in the field and take intelligence, but he chose to be in the field and do reconnaissance work,” said George Arroyo, a longtime family friend.

Randall Beard said the job fulfilled his son.

“He was more upbeat in Iraq than he was in Korea,” he recalled. “He wanted to be there. He felt it was the right place to be and the right thing to be doing.”

Beard came home for a week in June to spend time with his family. He and his family spent one day together at Wrightsville Beach.

“It was just a day trip, but it was time we will be forever grateful for,” Randall Beard said.

At 6 foot, 3 inches and about 230 pounds, Beard was a fan of football and video games. His friend Arroyo remembers an excellent student who did well on his SAT exam, and who at age 16 was his best resource for computer advice.

In Iraq, Bradley Beard kept in touch with calls to his parents once or twice a week. The last time they heard from him was two weeks ago. They chatted for an hour and a half.

Randall Beard always knew his son was at risk.

“We knew it was a possibility; he knew it was a possibility,” Beard said. “I was broad-sided with this. I was confident he was going to come home.”

Beard was scheduled to return next September.

In addition to his parents, Beard is survived by his younger sister, Staci.

Randall Beard said his son will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Army Spc. Bradley S. Beard was killed in action on 10/14/04.

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