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Army Spc. Donovan D. Witham

Died August 21, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

20, of Malvern, Ark.; assigned to the 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Aug. 21 near Baghdad of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

2 82nd Airborne soldiers die in Iraq bomb blasts

The Associated Press

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Two 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers died following bomb blasts this week in Iraq, the military said Aug. 22.

Staff Sgt. Sandy R. Britt, 30, of Apopka, Fla., and Spc. Donovan D. Witham, 20, of Malvern, Ark., died from injuries they sustained Aug. 21 near Baghdad. Britt’s patrol was attacked with an improvised explosive device, and Witham’s vehicle detonated a roadside bomb, according to written statements from the division.

Britt was an infantry squad leader with the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Britt was in the Navy before joining the Army in October 2003 and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division two years later.

“His willingness to serve his country and lead great soldiers [are] just two examples of the type of soldier Britt was,” said Staff Sgt. Larry Coburn, Britt’s former team leader.

Britt’s wife, Valorie, and son, Taylor, live in Raeford. He is also survived by his parents, Sarah Arnold and Terry Britt.

“I got a call from his captain at Fort Bragg about how much he will be missed,” Arnold told the Orlando Sentinel. “He said he was an exemplary soldier who always tried to do more.”

Arnold said she last spoke to her son Aug. 19. She planned to send him his specially requested toothpaste and several magazines he wanted to read.

Witham was a military police officer and was a member of the 1st Squadron of the 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

Witham, who joined the Army in 2005, is survived by his mother, Martha Launius, and stepfather, Richard Launius, of Malvern, Ark.

Witham loved hunting, fishing and football, and was a friend to everyone he met in his hometown of 12,000, his family said.

“He is going to be missed dearly, but he is gone to be with his Lord,” his mother told The Fayetteville Observer.

Witham has three older sisters. He played football, ran track and was a member of the choir at Glen Rose High School before graduating in 2005, his family said.

“Specialist Donovan Witham represented everything good about our paratroopers,” said Maj. Mark Lastoria, his commander. “He chose to join the Army when it was fully engaged in the global war on terrorism, which is courageous enough in its own right.”

The men’s units will hold memorial services in Iraq.

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