Saturday, December 10, 2005

Army Sgt. Julia V. Atkins

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Julia V. Atkins, 22, of Bossier City, La.

Sgt Atkins was assigned to the 64th Military Police Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas; killed Dec. 10 when an improvised explosive device detonated near her Humvee during patrol operations in Baghdad.

By John Andrew Prime
The Shreveport Times

A family who remembers Julia Atkins as a fun-loving young woman proud of her new car and planning for the future will attend a memorial in her honor Sunday while they wait for her body to return home for a funeral and burial.

Atkins, 22, died Saturday when an improvised explosive device detonated under her military vehicle in Baghdad, where she was serving with the 64th Military Police Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, based at Fort Hood, Texas.

"I'm proud of her," her distraught stepbrother, Larry Thomas, said Tuesday at the family home in Bossier City. "She was doing something she wanted to do."

Thomas, who served with the Louisiana Army National Guard's Shreveport-based 1/156th Armor Battalion's Bravo Compnay until early 2004, just before it deployed to service in Iraq, will attend the memorial for Atkins on Sunday at Fort Polk. With him will be their two sisters and his stepfather, Billy Atkins, a staff sergeant with the 1st Battalion's headquarters company. Atkins returned with other unit members in September after an 11-month deployment to Iraq, which followed months of training at Fort Hood and at Fort Irwin in the high desert of California.

Atkins was overcome with grief Tuesday. Larry Thomas said since his stepsister served in the active-duty Army and her dad was in the National Guard, their units' paths didn't cross in Iraq.

"Her dad didn't see her for a year while they were over there," Thomas said.

"But they spent a lot of time together at Fort Hood, as much as they could."

He said her dad was disappointed that their leaves home this summer saw the two just miss one another. "They were trying to set up their leaves, but they didn't mesh."

When Julia Atkins came home this summer, Thomas said, she was proud of her new car, a bright red 2004 Oldsmobile Alero. "She would get her nieces and nephews and get in that car and go.

"She loved to shop and she loved to eat. She was ... she was just Julia, and I was looking forward to my sister coming home in February."

The family, while small, remains tightly knit. Thomas' mother, Johnnie Bell Atkins, died in July 1996. A sister, Tawanna Thomas, lives in Bossier City. Another, Shiri Thomas, lives at Fort Hood with her husband, Ricky Selby, who also is in the Army.

Julia Atkins planned to return to school and get married, Larry Thomas said. Atkins' fiancé also is in the Army and remains on duty in Iraq, where a memorial for her also will be held Sunday.

Army Sgt. Julia V. Atkins was killed in action on 12/10/05.

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