A 2005 Tecumseh High School graduate killed this week in Afghanistan will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, his wife said Wednesday.
Staff Sgt. Wesley “Wes” Williams, 25, died Monday in Kandahar of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his Army unit with an improvised explosive device, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
A veteran of two tours in Iraq, Williams deployed Nov. 15 to Afghanistan as a squad leader. He served with 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
“The soldiers are doing what they’re doing because they believe in it,” his wife, Krista Williams, said.
As she boarded a plane Wednesday morning to pick up her husband’s body from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Krista described her demeanor as calm and collected — the very nature of her husband.
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“It’s him,” she said. “This is exactly how he handled things.”
A funeral service will be held in New Carlisle, but arrangements are pending, said Krista, a 2006 graduate of Tecumseh High School.
Tecumseh Local Schools also will do something to honor Wes Williams, Superintendent Jim Gay said, but the district first needs to coordinate with the Williams family before details can be announced.
Jim Hogan understands firsthand what the Williams family is experiencing.
His stepson, Shawnee High School graduate and Marine Sgt. David Christoff, was killed in May 2006 by a roadside bomb while on foot patrol in Iraq.
“It’s almost like an out of body experience at this point,” Hogan said. “You’re aware that it’s always a possibility, but you convince yourself it’s not going to happen to your family.”
He said the Williams family likely is feeling a range of emotions, from pride to disillusionment.
“There’s a sense of regret, even sometimes some significant pessimism,” he said. “Was it worth it? Did the people in Washington use his life the way it should be used? You have those feelings also.”
He and his wife, Amy, met with then-President George W. Bush in the Oval Office, which provided some degree of comfort.
But the pain still lingers.
“Both of us feel for those folks,” he said of the Williams family.
Williams, who grew up in Park Layne, joined the Army right after high school. After completion of airborne school, he was assigned to a regiment in Vilseck, Germany, in March 2006.
He first deployed to Iraq as a radio telephone operator from August 2007 to October 2008, according to the Army.
In February 2009, Williams was assigned to his current unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, and deployed to Iraq a second time as a rifleman from September 2009 to August 2010.
His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal with four Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star, Iraq Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge and Parachutist Badge.
Krista Williams said the experience of losing friends in Iraq had an impact on her husband.
“It definitely changed him,” she said. “I don’t really know how to put it into words.”
Ultimately, she said, “He handled everything really well.”
The two were high school sweethearts who married after his first deployment to Iraq. Together, they have a 1-year-old daughter, Faith, and Krista is pregnant with their second child.
Today marks the couple’s fourth wedding anniversary, and Krista noted they’ll be together this anniversary.
“I think we only spent one anniversary together,” she said. “It goes with the territory.”
She recently sent Wes his first care package of this deployment, containing his beloved PayDay candy bars and energy drinks, and pictures of a visibly frightened Faith with Santa.
“We can go to bed tonight and be comfortable in our own beds, and that’s exactly what they want for us,”
Krista Williams said. “Every soldier fights for their family.”