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Arkansas Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class William W. Labadie Jr.

Died April 7, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

45, of Bauxite, Ark.; assigned to Troop E, 151st Cavalry Squadron, 39th Infantry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Army National Guard, based in Marianna, Ark.; killed April 7 when his camp was attacked by rockets and small-arms fire in Baghdad.

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Soldier from Bauxite killed in Iraq

Associated Press

BAUXITE, Ark. — An Army sergeant from Bauxite died in fighting in Iraq, family members said Thursday.

Sgt. 1st Class William “Bill” Labadie, 45, was shot in the chest during fighting Wednesday, said his mother, Cheryl Winters.

He was the son of Carl and Cheryl Winters of Bauxite. He had been residing with his parents before his deployment 16 days ago, Cheryl Winters said.

The soldier is also survived by his wife, Sunnie, of Del City, Okla., and their son, Bryan.

Cheryl Winters told The Benton Courier she was notified by an Army chaplain and Winters’ commanding officer, who came to the family home Wednesday night.

“We don’t have many details,” she said. “We know that he was shot in the chest and died at the emergency room. Another soldier with him also was shot, but he survived, thankfully.”

He was killed south of Baghdad, Cheryl Winters said.

She said her son wanted to be involved in the action in Iraq. “It’s where he wanted to be. He was doing what he wanted to do,” she said.

William Winters had 22 years experience in the military; he was in the National Guard. He told his family he was carrying out what he was trained to accomplish, his mother said.

“We got to talk to him three times after he arrived there, and I’ve never heard him sound so happy,” Cheryl Winters said.

William Winters was an active member of First Presbyterian Church in Benton, his mother said.

“He loved the church and loved working with the elementary-age children. He had so many plans for becoming more active when he returned home,” she said.

“He was a very outgoing person. The only thing I’m hanging onto is that he sounded so happy. He got to do what he wanted to do, and we know that he was right with the Lord. You can’t ask for more than that, except that he would still be here,” she said.

— Associated Press

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William W. Labadie was a sergeant first class in the Army, but he was also a “real soldier” at work, earning the nickname “Wild Bill” because he was so enthusiastic about his job, raising money for nonprofit agencies. “He was just all over the place, enthusiastic and full of excitement,” said James Kelley, a manager at The Heritage Co. Labadie, 45, of Bauxite, Ark., was fatally shot during fighting south of Baghdad on April 7, just two weeks after being deployed. His mother said he was eager to serve in Iraq.

“This has honestly been his goal all of his life,” Cheryl Winters said. “He knew this was his last shot, at 45 years old. He told his commanding officer: ‘Give me a shot.’ It was like he was going to Disneyland.”

Labadie had been living with his parents for about a year and wanted to build a home nearby and move in his wife, Sunnie Labadie, of Del City, Okla., and their son, Bryan, 23, Winters said. “He had a lot of plans to get back and start a Boy Scout troop and lots of other things,” Winters said.

— Associated Press

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