Monday, February 26, 2007

Army Sgt. William J. Beardsley

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. William J. Beardsley, 25, of Coon Rapids, Minn.

Sgt. Beardsley was assigned to the 260th Quartermaster Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Troop Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; died Feb. 26, 2007 in Diwaniyah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

Muskogee native killed in Iraq

By D. E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer

A Muskogee native was killed Monday by an improvised explosive device while serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq.

Family members in Tahlequah received notification of Sgt. William “B.J.” Beardsley’s death Tuesday. Beardsley, 25, was about eight months into his first tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed.

Lavonna Harper, Beardsley’s mother, said her son enjoyed serving in the military, re-enlisting in May after already serving three years. During his first three years, Beardsley was stationed in South Korea and Fort Campbell, Ky.

Harper, who moved to Tahlequah to care for her ailing mother at about the same time her son was transferred to Iraq, said she corresponded regularly with Beardsley by e-mail.

“He loved what he was doing — he loved the military,” Harper said of her son, who worked on a refueling team in Iraq. “He didn’t quite understand the purpose of all this, and I’m at the point now where I don’t really understand it either.”

While Harper was unclear about where her son was in Iraq when he was killed, a media release issued by the public affairs office of the Multi-National Corps in Iraq reported only one American casualty Monday. Facts described in the notice coincide with the few facts Harper knows about her son’s death.

According to the written statement, a 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldier was killed and two others were wounded in an improvised explosive device attack on their up-armored Humvee Monday night while driving near Ad Diwaniyah in southern Iraq.

One wounded soldier was transported to the 28th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad for treatment. The other was treated and returned to duty. The incident remains under investigation.

The 13th SC(E) is based out of Fort Hood, Texas. According to the U.S. Army, the unit provides combat support and combat service support in the areas of supply, maintenance, transportation, field services, medical, general engineering & construction, smoke generation, biological detection and decontamination.

Harper said Wednesday it has been tough trying to deal with the death of her son.

“You can never prepare yourself for this,” Harper said as she tried to choke back her tears. “It hurts to see that he is not coming home.”

Beardsley and his mother moved from Muskogee to Georgia when he was 5 years old. When he was 16, he moved to Tahlequah, where he attended high school.

Harper said her son enjoyed hunting and riding motorcycles. But most of all, she said, Beardsley loved his two children: Chance, 5, and Alexis, 2. Both children live with their mother in Indianapolis.

In addition to his children, Beardsley is survived by his sister, Amber Graw of Lufkin, Texas; two aunts, Cathy Fielder of Muskogee and Charlotte Guinn of Tahlequah; and his maternal grandmother, Ruby Sheppard of Tahlequah.

A soldier with Minnesota ties who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq this week was a native Oklahoman who lived briefly in Coon Rapids, Minn., where he worked as a landscape contractor.

Army Sgt. William "B.J." Beardsley, 25, a Muskogee native, was seven months into his first tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed Monday, according to the Defense Department. He was due back home next month on leave, family members said.

"At 25, you got the rest of your life ahead of you, why not enjoy it, right?" said Beardsley's aunt, Charlotte Guinn of Tahlequah.

Enlisting in the military at 18, Beardsley was planning to become a career soldier, his family said. He spent three years stationed in South Korea and at Fort Campbell, Ky.

He left the Army briefly in 2005 to work as a landscape contractor with his father in Coon Rapids but decided the military life was for him, said his mother, Lavonna Harper. So he re-enlisted last May and eventually shipped out for Iraq.

At first, he believed the U.S. cause in Iraq was just, Harper said. But just a few weeks ago, Harper received an e-mail from him that said he couldn't make sense anymore of why he was over there.

"I wrote him back and told him to be careful and keep his head down and his butt covered," Harper said. "I asked him what he needed me to send and when he was coming home."

She never got a response.

Beardsley was born in Muskogee. When he was 5, he moved with his mother and stepfather -- a career military man himself -- to Germany and Georgia. He returned to Oklahoma when he was 16, moving to Tahlequah.

He was married at 20 and recently divorced, his family said. Harper said her son was a devoted father to his two kids, enjoyed weightlifting and riding motorcycles.

"I'll miss talking to him, hearing his voice, touching him, just hearing me say the words 'I love you, son,"' Harper said. "When they're gone, it's like 'Oh my God."'

Beardsley was assigned to the 260th Quartermaster Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Troop Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division of Fort Stewart, Ga. He was the 52nd person with strong Minnesota ties to die in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By Justin Juozapavicius, Associated Press Writer

Army Sgt. William J. Beardsley was killed in action on 02/26/07.

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