Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Army Pfc. Willington M. Rhoads

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Willington M. Rhoads, 23, of Las Vegas

Pfc. Rhoads was assigned to the 173rd Brigade Support Battalion (Airborne), Vicenza, Italy; died July 16, 2008 in Bagram, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident.

Paris Beacon News -- Family members and friends of Private First Class Willington M. “Billy” Rhoads were joined the morning of July 24 by the military, the Patriot Guard Riders and community members to pay final tribute before laying the soldier to rest in Edgar Cemetery.

Pfc. Rhoads, 23, died July 16, in Afghanistan, while serving his second deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan as a member of the HHC, 173rd Brigade Support Battalion (Airborne).

Receiving a military escorted from Afghanistan to the his hometown of Paris and finally to the cemetery for military graveside services, PFC Rhoads was honored throughout the entire journey.

Master Sergeant Lewis H. Mikulecky escorted the soldier’s remains which were flown to the Coles County Airport earlier this week.

Upon arrival at the airport the family was met by the military honor guard who removed the flag draped casket from the jet for the trip to Paris.

The family and the soldier’s remains received a police escort from the airport to Templeton Funeral Home for funeral services.

Several military officials, including Brigadier General Gregg F. Martin, MSG Mikulecky and Chaplain Jon Prain, participated in the funeral service, as well as PFC Rhoads’ best friend Kurtis Allen.

MSG Mikulecky presented family members with several medals honoring the soldier for his service with the United States Army.

Among those medals presented were the Gold Star Lapel Pins which signify that a family has lost a loved one while serving this country.

His father Mitch Rhoads, wife Sarah Rhoads, and three brothers Jacob Allen Rhoads, Augustus Michael Parrish and Wyatt Mitchell Parrish all received replicate sets of the soldier’s U.S. Army identification tags.

In addition his father and wife also received a medal set which included three medals PFC Rhoads had earned. They included the U.S. Army Commendation medal, U.S. Army Afghanistan Campaign medal and the U.S. Army Global War on Terrorism Service medal.

Led by the Patriot Guard Riders the procession included an ornate horse-drawn hearse escorted by soldiers from Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo.

Lt. Governor Pat Quinn made a special trip to Paris Wednesday evening to attend the visitation service for Pfc. Rhoads prior to heading to the Lt. Governor’s National Convention.

"Billy Rhoads dedicated his life to defending our country, and we owe him and his family a permanent debt of gratitude,” said Quinn. “He had a servant's heart, and we ask God to bless his immortal soul."

Pfc. Rhoads enlisted in the U.S. Army on July 31, 2003. He first served in Operation Enduring Freedom Iraq. He was a member of the Otterbein United Methodist Church and as a young teen participated in Boys Scouts and enjoyed basketball and baseball. He attended Paris High School through his junior year.

Army Pfc. Willington M. Rhoads died 7/16/08.

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