Saturday, March 15, 2008

Army Cpl. William D. O’Brien

Remember Our Heroes

Army Cpl. William D. O’Brien, 19, of Rice, Texas

Cpl. O'Brien was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.; died March 15, 2008 in Baghdad from wounds sustained when he was attacked by small arms fire during combat operations.

Corsicana Daily Sun — Flags flew at half-mast in Rice Monday, in honor of the loss of Cpl. William David O’Brien, 19, who died Saturday in Baghdad, Iraq. He is the son of Thomas O’Brien of Mabank and Dawn O’Brien of Rice.

He was killed two weeks before his 20th birthday.

O’Brien joined the Army at the age of 17, and had been deployed in Iraq for a year. He was assigned to the First Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, Fourth Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan., according to the Department of Defense.

He was the third son in the family to join the Army, after his older brother, John, and a half-brother, Daniel O’Brien. John O’Brien was recently stationed in Alaska, having returned from a tour of duty in Iraq.

“We’re a very patriotic family,” John O’Brien explained. “He was just doing his duty.”

Will O’Brien attended Rice Elementary School, but was home-schooled as a teenager, and was able to finish high school early as a result, John O’Brien said.

“He talked my parents into signing the release so he could join early,” John said.

The younger O’Brien wanted to serve his country, and then go to college to figure out what to do with his life, according to family members.

Will wasn’t a “lifer,” someone who would spend his entire working life in the military, John said.

“He was looking forward to finishing his tour and getting back,” he said.

Thomas O’Brien, Will’s father, works as a travel agent. His mother Dawn owns Mom’s Meal Vault, a small cafe in a former bank in downtown Rice. The windows and doors of the cafe were hung with flags and photos of her soldier son Monday. A red, white and blue flower arrangement stood on the ground in front of the closed and locked doors.

When he wasn’t working, Will O’Brien enjoyed golf, and was a junior PGA player, John said.

“Golf was his passion,” he said.

Will was also a source of joy and strength to his family and friends.

“He was a goofball. He was a very unique individual,” John said, grinning at the memory. “He was very brilliant. He’d come off as kind of a joker, he liked to make people laugh, but down inside he was a very insightful person. He was very wise for his years.”

The Department of Defense confirmed O’Brien’s death Monday afternoon. He died of wounds suffered when he was attacked by small arms fire during combat operations, according to the Department of Defense press release.

“He died a warrior’s death,” John said. “There’s no greater death than to die for your country.”

Funeral arrangements haven’t been made yet. The family is waiting to receive Will O’Brien’s instructions regarding burial, John said.

This week will mark the fifth anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, which began March 20, 2003. Nearly 4,000 Americans have been killed in the war since then.

==Additional story==

North Texas mourns another soldier killed in the Iraq war.

Spc. William O'Brien, 19, was killed Saturday in Baghdad after being wounded by small arms fire during combat, the Defense Department said Monday.

O'Brien grew up and was home schooled in Rice, which is just north of Corsicana. He was also born into a family with a history of service and sacrifice.

"He's a good Christian man and he's with our God, Jesus," said John O'Brien, William's older brother. "And I know he's in a better place now."

O'Brien said he and his little brother joined the Army together, even though William was really too young.

"They were asking for volunteers to join the Army," he said. "He had our parents sign the waiver so he could join at 17."

While the brothers were sent to different units, one day in Baghdad, they got a rare chance to be together.

"It was crazy," O'Brien said. "We got pictures, amazed to see each other. [We] hadn't seen each other in over a year."

Another O'Brien brother, a first sergeant, is on his was home to help the family before both brothers have to return to continue their serve for their country. It's the same thing their dad did during the Vietnam era, which was when he flew B-52s.

"As hard as it is for our family, I can't say enough good words about my brother - a great man, a great American, a true hero," O'Brien said.

They haven't scheduled the funeral yet, but O'Brien is already scheduled to serve in Afghanistan next year.

==Additional story==

Flags flew at half-mast all over Rice Monday, in honor of the loss of one of their own. William David O’Brien, 19, died in Baghdad Saturday, a rifleman in the 128th infantry, Charlie Company out of Fort Riley, Kansas, according to family members.

O’Brien joined the Army at the age of 17, after finishing high school early. He was home-schooled, although he attended Rice Elementary, according to his older brother John O’Brien, who is also in the Army.

The younger O’Brien loved golf and his country, John O’Brien said.

“He was looking forward to finishing his tour and getting back,” John O’Brien said of his brother.

His mother, Dawn O’Brien, runs a small cafe in downtown Rice, and has closed the cafe until further notice.

Army Cpl. William D. O’Brien was killed in action on 3/15/08.

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