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Army Pfc. Heath K. Pickard

Died October 16, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

21, of Palestine, Texas; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; died Oct. 16 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds sustained when he received indirect fire in Baqubah, Iraq.

East Texas soldier killed in Iraq

The Associated Press

PALESTINE, Texas — A 21-year-old soldier from Palestine is being remembered by friends and former teachers as someone who could be counted on and loved his job.

The Department of Defense said Tuesday that Pfc. Heath K. Pickard died Thursday in Balad of wounds suffered from indirect fire in Baqubah, Iraq.

“He was proud of where he was, his occupation with the military,” Frankston High School counselor Cindy Owens said in a story in Tuesday’s online edition of The Palestine Herald. “It was like he had finally gotten what he had worked for. He wanted a family, honor and respect and he had gotten that.”

Pickard graduated from Frankston High School in 2006. He played football and was a member of the marching band.

Jacob Whitehurst, who had known Pickard since age 5, said Pickard was someone who could be counted on. “He was always there,” Whitehurst said. “If you needed something, he would try. He really cared.”

Richard Hamilton, Frankston Middle School principal, said Pickard seemed to have his priorities in order on a recent visit home.

“It took him getting into the service to grow up, but after he grew up, the time he spent being a man was more than most people get in a lifetime because, to figure out why we’re here, he did it in a short period of time. I think that’s what I’ll always remember about Heath — he knew why he was here, he knew what was important in life and there’s a lot of folks who don’t figure that out their entire lives.”

Pickard was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. He was married and had a 4-month-old son.

Soldier remembered for his uncommon strength

The Associated Press

Heath K. Pickard was physically smaller than many other soldiers, but had excelled in football while in high school and consistently scored high in Army physical fitness tests. Still, he wasn’t afraid to joke about his small stature.

“Heath was not a large man by any means,” said chaplain David Neetz. “One soldier made fun of him for being small, and he said that he was actually the largest leprechaun in the world.”

Pickard, 21, of Palestine, Texas, died Oct. 16 in Balad of wounds suffered from indirect fire in Baqubah. He was a 2006 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Wainwright.

“The way he approached any challenge was to put his mind to and do it,” Neetz said. “And he could do it better than you.”

He was an outdoorsman who loved fishing, hunting and paintballing. “He brought happiness. He brought sunshine. He brought laughter and a lot of love,” said his mother, Paula Pickard. “He was always really strong and really brave as a kid.”

He also is survived by his wife, Sara, and a 5-month-old son, Ethan.

“He was a very, very kind guy,” said former classmate Nikki Dunlap. “He was always there for anybody.”

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