Leader Blues

Friday, June 02, 2006

TOP STORY>> Dead soldier from Beebe comes home

BY JOAN McCOY
Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Bobby West is the second one to die from his hometown in recent combat.

A second soldier from Beebe has been killed in the war on terror in less than a year.


Army Spec. Bobby West, 23, was killed in Baghdad on Tuesday, when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated while he was on foot patrol with his unit.


West, a graduate of Beebe High School, had been in Iraq five months when he was killed. His unit was scheduled to leave Iraq this fall.


He was part of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas.


Lance Cpl. Steven Valdez, 20, was killed Sept. 26 at Camp Blessing in Aghanistanís Pesh Valley. A machine gun operator assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
Valdez was running to his post when shrapnel from a mortar round struck him in the neck.


To date, 33 Arkansans have been killed and 278 wounded in both wars.


A total of 2,749 American military personnel have died and 19,001 have been wounded, according to information put out by the Department of Defense.


At press time, Westís body had not arrived in Beebe, and no funeral arrangements had been made at Westbrook Funeral Home in Bee-be, which will receive the body.


It also is unclear whether the IED that killed West was detonated by pressure when he walked on it or was set off by a cellular phone by someone close enough to see the results.


An Army spokesman in Fort Hood said Friday that the incident is under investigation.


Family members are referring questions to the Army so they may grieve in peace, but Margie Little, Westís aunt, said it is frustrating that so many thousand American service people are in harmís way, fighting an enemy who by Ame-ricaís standards seem cowardly in their war tactics.


Westís older brother Patrick West, 25, was just 45 miles away from Baghdad when his brother was killed, Little said, adding that he tried to call his mother, Linda West of Beebe, but a blackout because of the death prevented calls in or out.


Both Bobby and Patrick West enlisted after the terrorist attack on New York and the Pentagon.


Patrick, with the 101st Airborne, is supposed to be home in time for his brotherís funeral.


The army spokesman at Fort Hood gave this list of medals Bobby West has earned: Army Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal.