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Army Pfc. Henry G. Byrd III

Died June 24, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom


20, of Veguita, N.M.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; died June 24 in Landstuhl, Germany, from a non-combat-related illness sustained June 18 while in Iraq.

Governor orders flags at half-staff for soldier

The Associated Press

SANTA FE — Flags around New Mexico will fly at half-staff in honor of a New Mexico soldier who died after collapsing while on patrol in Iraq.

Gov. Bill Richardson ordered the flags to be lowered July 2 and 3 for Army Pfc. Henry G. Byrd III, who died June 24 at a hospital in Germany. Byrd’s parents had traveled to Germany to be with him as a priest gave him last rites.

“The thoughts and prayers of the people of New Mexico go out to his family as well as a heartfelt thank you for his courageous service,” Richardson said in the order signed June 29.

Byrd’s family said the 20-year-old soldier was standing in formation watching for activity while other soldiers repaired a tank track earlier this month. When his fellow soldiers turned around they found him on the ground with a temperature of 109 degrees.

The U.S. Defense Department said it was investigating Byrd’s death.

Byrd graduated from Belen High School in 2004 and joined the Army in January 2006. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Byrd is survived by his father, Henry J. Byrd II, of Veguita; his mother, Yolanda Lopez of Albuquerque; two sisters, Erica Byrd of Belen and Della Canamar of Albuquerque; and a stepbrother, Robert Vallejos of Los Lunas.


New Mexico soldier laid to rest

The Associated Press

BELEN, N.M. — Army Pfc. Henry G. Byrd III knew he wanted to serve in the military, like his father and grandfather.

“He was proud to follow in his father’s footsteps,” said the Rev. Stephen Schultz of Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church.

“He had a dream to drive tanks,” Schultz said. “What young boy doesn’t dream of driving tanks? Henry lived that dream.”

Family, friends and community members gathered July 3 to remember the 20-year-old as someone who always smiled and wanted to make a difference and whose concern for others outweighed concern for himself.

Byrd died June 24 in Landstuhl, Germany, almost a week after he suffered an apparent heatstroke during a mission in Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

The 2004 graduate of Belen High School has been awarded the Purple Heart posthumously.

Schultz said Byrd’s memory will live on through pictures and stories, adding that he never will be far away, even in death.

“Never forget his sacrifice or the sacrifice of so many others who have given their lives,” he said.

Byrd was buried at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.

His father, Henry J. Byrd II of Veguita, is a Vietnam veteran, and his grandfather was a Marine who served during World War II.


Family, friends remember soldier killed in Iraq

The Associated Press

Army Pfc. Henry G. Byrd III loved hunting, camping, fishing, swimming, riding horses and bringing smiles to friends’ faces.

Louise Ortega, Byrd’s aunt, recalled the time she saw Henry wearing two cell phones on his belt. Ortega said with a laugh that “Henry said if he got two phones it was cheaper than one. Then he wouldn’t miss a call.”

Byrd, 20, of Veguita, N.M., died June 24 in Germany after apparently suffering heatstroke in Iraq. He was a 2004 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Stewart, Ga.

Byrd also had a very close relationship with Rick and Belinda Gonzalez and their children. They met him through their daughter, Maranda, who knew Byrd from JROTC.

“He’s a really great person with a big heart,” Rick Gonzalez said. “He was always happy. He considered my wife and me like a mom and dad. It’s a great loss.”

“He was like my protector almost. He always called me his little brat. In his letters, it was ‘hey, brat.’ Nobody expected him to die. He was like my big brother,” Maranda said.

He also is survived by his mother, Yolanda Lopez, and father Henry J. Byrd II.

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