Army Staff Sgt. William S. Jackson II, 29, of Saginaw, Michigan
SSgt. Jackson was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 16th Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Giessen, Germany; died Nov. 11 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq. Also killed were: Staff Sgt. Misael Martinez and Sgt. Angel De Jesus Lucio Ramirez.
A Saginaw Township father of four who had survived a tour of duty in Afghanistan was killed on Veterans Day by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
Army Staff Sergeant William S. Jackson II, known to friends and family as Jack, died along with two of his comrades when their vehicle was blown up Saturday in Ramadi.
Jackson is one of three soldiers who died from an explosive detonated near their vehicle in Ramadi, Iraq, November 11, 2006. All were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 16th Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, in Giessen, Germany
Jackson, 29, was a native of Maine who moved to the Saginaw area after he met his Michigan-born wife, Katie, said his mother-in-law, Kathy Layer. The couple had met at Northland Baptist Bible College in Dunbar, Wisconsin.
"He just lived to get home and be back with his family again," Layer said. "He was just a great husband and a great father."
Jackson's last visit home came after the birth of his only daughter six months ago. His death leaves the children, all younger than six, to be raised by his widow.
"Her family is here, so she does have the support of her family and certainly her church family, as well," said Pastor Mark Hazen of Immanuel Bible Church in Saginaw.
Jackson was serving in the Marines when he fought in Afghanistan. He left that branch of the service after returning to the United States, his mother-in-law said.
"He was out for a time, and then he went into the Army," Layer said. "He comes from a very military family, and this was a goal his whole life. It was a mutual decision, though" between him and his wife "when he went back in."
Jackson was serving in the 1st Battalion, 16th Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, based in Giessen, Germany. Funeral arrangements are pending.
"They're just a wonderful family," Hazen said of the Jacksons. "Certainly Jack loved the Lord and loved his family. He loved his wife, and he loved his country. He was a wonderful man, and we'll dearly miss him."
"It's very difficult," she said. "But Jack was a Christian. He knew the Lord was his savior, and we believe he's in heaven today. And that's a great comfort to us."
FAMILY SAYS GOODBYE TO SLAIN SOLDIER COURTESY OF THE SAGINAW, MICHIGAN, NEWS
More than 300 people paid tribute to another fallen soldier Saturday during an hour-long service commemorating U.S. Army Staff Sergeant William S. "Jack" Jackson II of Saginaw Township, Michigan.
The memorial featured tearful eulogies, a photo album presentation and memories of a 29-year-old man who "seemed to know a little about everything."
Jackson died in Iraq on November 11, 2006 - Veterans Day - with two fellow soldiers when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations.
His family plans to bury the Thomaston, Maine, native at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia during a 9 a.m. Wednesday funeral.
Saturday's service at First Baptist Church of Bridgeport, 2400 King, began with a eulogy by Rev. Mark Hazen, who told the crowd about Jackson's worldly, friendly nature via a letter sent by one of the soldiers stationed with Jackson in Iraq.
"Jack was awesome at everything he did," Hazen read from a letter authored by James O'Connell.
O'Connell wrote about Jackson's overseas efforts to learn Arabic and musical instruments such as the penny whistle and ukelele. "Our neighbors preferred his ukelele to the penny whistle," O'Connell's correspondence continued, getting a laugh from the audience.
The letter went on to paint a picture of a man who loved the coast of Maine and often told tales of the industry associated with the port. "It was expected that every night there was fish on the menu, we would hear another fish story," the letter continued.
O'Connell described Jackson's prankster streak, which he exercised by writing "ridiculous" entries in other people's journals, setting mouse traps on the floors of sleeping bunkmates and convincing one fellow soldier with Irish lineage that his family actually descended from Wales.
A musical photo presentation followed, setting the soft strumming sounds of a guitar alongside a video montage of Jackson's life -- from a childhood playing across Maine's coastline to his last visit to Saginaw in April for the birth of his daughter, Hannah S. Jackson.
His other children are Zachariah W. Jackson, 6; Levi D. Jackson, 4; and Samuel M. Jackson, 2.
Jackson's brother-in-law, Benjamin E. Layer, delivered the day's final eulogy.
He compared Jackson's life to the white gold band that made his wedding ring. "When white gold is mined, it has no value," Layer said. "It has great potential. First, it has to be heated up, filed, then a jeweler can make it into something very valuable."
Jackson lived life trying to make the most of it, Layer said: "Jack didn't die in vain."
The service ended with a 21-gun salute from soldiers outside the church.
Jackson served in the U.S. Marines for four years -- 1998-2002 -- before joining the Army. While in the Marines, he served in Afghanistan.
He supported Operation Iraqi Freedom in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, as a member of the 1st Battalion, 16th Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, headquartered in Giessen, Germany, military records show.
He was in Iraq since the beginning of the year.
Jackson met his future wife, Katie M. Jackson, 31, while both were attending Northland Baptist Bible College in Dunbar, Wisconsin. Both joined the military.
The couple later relocated to the Saginaw area so they could live closer to her relatives.
With a growing family, Jackson left the service after his eight-month tour in Afghanistan and was thinking about returning to college to study marine biology.
Army Staff Sgt. William S. Jackson II was killed in action on 11/11/06.