Saturday, January 20, 2007

Army 1st Sgt. William T. Warren

Remember Our Heroes

Army 1st Sgt. William T. Warren, 48, of North Little Rock, Ark.

1st Sgt. Warren was assigned to the Arkansas Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 185th Aviation Regiment (Air Assault), 77th Aviation Brigade, Camp Robinson, Ark.; died in Baghdad on Jan. 20 when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter he was in crashed.

Warren’s wife, Doris Warren, said Jan. 23 that her husband was a strong, quiet presence. He was the first sergeant of Bravo Company, commanded by Taylor, of the Arkansas National Guard’s 77th Aviation Brigade. The 77th has been in Iraq since early September.

Doris Warren said her husband died doing what he loved — flying a helicopter.

“Other than family, aviation was Tom Warren’s heart and soul,” she said.

A senior military official said Jan. 22 that investigators have found evidence the Black Hawk may have been shot down — a tube that could be part of a shoulder-fired weapon that may have been fired at the aircraft. An al-Qaida-linked coalition of Iraqi Sunni insurgents called The Islamic State in Iraq claimed Jan. 22 that its fighters shot down the helicopter.

The crash occurred during good weather in Diyala province.

Jacksonville Patriot -- Last Saturday, First Sgt. Tom Warren of North Little Rock volunteered to fill in as door gunner on one of the the Army National Guard’s Blackhawk helicopters that he was in charge of maintaining in Iraq, sitting in for a fellow soldier who had a problem.

That eventful decision meant that he was aboard an ill-fated helicopter which went down northeast of Baghdad in Iraq on Jan. 20, killing not only the 48-year-old Warren but also another North Little Rock resident and the pilot of the craft, Maj. Michael Taylor, 40, Sgt. 1st Class Gary Brown, 43, of Little Rock, and nine other soldiers. While some news agencies have reported enemy fire was responsible, the Army National Guard had not announced an official cause by press time.

William Thomas Warren — or "Tommy," as he liked to be called — grew up in the Amboy neighborhood, the son of Bill and Billie Warren who operated a service station at the corner of MacArthur Drive and Military Road, just down the street from the entrance to Camp Robinson. He graduated from North Little Rock High School’s Ole Main campus in 1976. After six years active duty in the U.S. Army, he returned home to find a job as an aircraft technical inspector at the Arkansas National Guard’s flight facility at Camp Robinson. Warren logged a total of 27 years military service for the country he loved so much.

"My Dad cherished his family and he loved what he did," his oldest son, Zachary Warren, said Tuesday. "He will be greatly missed. Thanks to e-mail we were able to stay in touch during his tour in Iraq. Usually he answered Mom first because he was so busy, but last Friday I e-mailed him and he instantly e-mailed me back. I am so thankful he did. All his best friends are still in Iraq."

His current pastor at Lighthouse Christian Fellowship and best friend growing up, the Rev. Ken Bunch, said that he and Warren spent weekends swimming and fishing at Lake Nimrod on camping trips with their parents. They grew up together, attending the youth group at Amboy Baptist Church and often made trips to Ashley County to go hunting for deer or squirrels.

Both Warren’s and Bunch’s fathers were clowns with the Shriners’ Scimitar unit in Little Rock, and as kids they enjoyed traveling with their dads all decked out in the Shriner clown uniform, just tagging along for fun. The clown outfits, special clown vehicles and motorcycles left their mark upon Warren; friends say that they seldom saw him without a smile on his face, and he also developed a love for motorcycles.

Warren was also a Mason and served in 1999 as Past Master of Big Rock Lodge #33 in Levy, the same leadership position his late father held twice. He was a deacon and former Sunday school director at Lighthouse Christian Fellowship on MacArthur Drive. According to Bunch, Warren was very faithful and committed to his church, but what really impressed him was the way Warren treated every kid like his own.

Warren and his wife, Doris, celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary three days before he was killed in action in Iraq. He was able to call her that day and again later the same week, which was unusual for him. Doris Warren said that her husband loved his country and supported his president.

For Christmas, he had sent a special letter to his 9-year-old son Jordan telling him how proud he was of him. Thanks to family friends, that letter now hangs framed over Jordan’s bed.

Fellow church member Lynne Holley said that Warren was "a really neat guy who loved his wife and family very much. He led devotional and Bible study every Wednesday at my home for awhile."

Ron Treat attended church with Warren and knew him very well. He recalled when Warren’s mother was trying to get a variance from the city of North Little Rock for the property they owned on MacArthur Drive. When the City Council voted the ordinance down without a public hearing, Treat said his friend surprised him.

"I thought I knew Tommy well, " he said. "But when he got up during the public comment period I was shocked at how eloquent he spoke to the council, shaming them for not giving the public a chance to be heard. His pleas were so impassioned that the council immediately retracted what they had done and gave us a chance to be heard."

Treat said that Warren was always happy, an exceptional father who was devoted to his wife and a very religious man. A retired military officer, Treat said that he and Warren talked about his tour of duty in Iraq and that Warren told him he wasn’t afraid to go or to be sent in harm’s way, and that it was just part of wearing the uniform and his duty to the community and nation.

In addition to his wife of 24 years, Warren is survived by five children — Zachary and Jordan Warren of North Little Rock, Denise Day of San Antonio, Texas, Dorreen Hill of Bellview, Fla., and Desire Willingham of Bryant — as well as his mother Billie Warren of North Little Rock, and 13 grandchildren.

Army 1st Sgt. William T. Warren was killed in action on 1/20/07.


Christina said...

Mr. William Warren was a wonderful man with a big heart. We will all miss him.

Anonymous said...

Never Forgotten >>Tom was a great man we will always remember.Still thinking about you all...

...Luke Fletcher