- NATO Kosovo Force
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Freedom’s Sentinel
- Operation Inherent Resolve
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation New Dawn
- Operation Octave Shield
- Operation Odyssey Lightning
- Operation Spartan Shield
- U.S. Africa Command Operations
- U.S. Central Command operations
- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Army Staff Sgt. LeRoy O. Webster
Died April 25, 2009 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
28, of Sioux Falls, S.D.; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died April 25 near Kirkuk, Iraq, after being shot while on a dismounted patrol.
Webster wrestled, played golf and baseball in high school
By William Petroski
Des Moines (Iowa) Register
A soldier from northwest Iowa who was serving his third combat tour overseas has been killed in Iraq, the Department of Defense said April 27.
Army Sgt. LeRoy O. Webster, 28, of Hartley died April 25 after being shot near Kirkuk while on patrol, military officials said.
Webster was a 1999 graduate of Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn High School, where he wrestled and played on the golf and baseball teams.
He leaves behind a wife, Jessica, who was his high school sweetheart, and three young daughters, Natasha, Kaydence and Jadyn.
“He was a good guy. He had a lot of friends. He liked to have fun,” recalled Jim Thomas, a social studies teacher and the athletic director at Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn.
The Webster family had recently moved to Hartley from Texas, where LeRoy Webster had been stationed prior to being deployed to Iraq. Both the fallen soldier and his wife are from families who are well-liked and have deep roots in the area, Thomas said. His parents, Donald and Crystal Webster, still reside in Hartley.
“In a close-knit community like this, it hits everybody pretty hard,” Thomas said.
Two of the Webster children attend Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn schools — one is in third grade, the other is in kindergarten — and the third is a preschooler, said Lynn Evans, the district’s superintendent. He said a counselor would be available for the district’s students.
Webster was born in June 1980 in Spencer and grew up in Hartley. He joined the military as a member of the Iowa Army National Guard, and in 2002 he was called to duty with an Algona-based National Guard unit that provided security at a Department of Defense installation in Newport, Ind.
In 2004 and 2005, Webster served in Afghanistan with a Council Bluffs-based National Guard unit of the 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry. After that deployment, he moved to Sioux Falls, S.D., and transferred to the active-duty U.S. Army in 2006, said Lt. Col. Gregory Hapgood Jr., the Iowa National Guard’s public affairs officer. From October 2006 to January 2008, he served with the Army in Baghdad.
Webster’s last deployment to Iraq began in January, Hapgood said. He was serving with Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, of Fort Hood, Texas.
Webster’s family issued a statement April 27:
“LeRoy was a wonderful husband and terrific dad to his three beautiful daughters. He was proud to serve in the United States Army. He will forever be deeply missed by his family and friends.”
Webster received about a dozen awards and decorations during his military career, including the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal.
Dedicated soldier from Hartley is praised during funeral
By William Petroski
Des Moines (Iowa) Register
HARTLEY, Iowa. — Army Staff Sgt. LeRoy Webster, who was killed during combat in Iraq, was remembered Saturday as a good father and husband and a dedicated soldier who never forgot his commitment to duty.
More than 700 people gathered for Webster’s funeral at Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn High School. He was laid to rest in a cemetery on the edge of this northwest Iowa community on a gentle spring afternoon with a bright blue sky overhead.
A bagpiper played “Amazing Grace” and seven soldiers fired their rifles overhead three times before “Taps” was sounded.
“This is a loss for everyone here. This is a loss for many beyond here,” said the Rev. Tim Hogan, pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Hartley, who officiated at Webster’s service.
Webster, 28, died April 25 after being shot near Kirkuk while on patrol with a unit from the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division. He leaves behind his wife, Jessica, who was his high school sweetheart, and three young daughters, Natasha, Kaydence and Jadyn.
This was the second time in four years that Hartley, an O’Brien County community of 1,733 people, has buried one of its native sons after he was killed during combat duty. Army Staff Sgt. Shane Koele, 25, of Hartley died in 2005 when his Humvee struck a land mine just a week after he arrived in western Afghanistan.
Webster, the son of Don and Crystal Webster, grew up in Hartley and was a 1999 graduate of the high school here, where he played football, baseball and golf. He joined the Iowa National Guard in August 2001 and enlisted in the regular U.S. Army in 2006. He had served a tour of Afghanistan with the National Guard and was on his second Army deployment to Iraq at the time of his death.
He was the 71st person with Iowa ties to die in Iraq or Afghanistan since March 2003.
Webster was saluted Saturday as a hero who sacrificed his life for the freedom of Americans.
More than 100 patriotic motorcyclists from Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska and Minnesota each stood with an American flag outside the funeral service. Dozens of northwest Iowa firetrucks, with their emergency lights flashing, formed a cordon along the streets of Hartley for the procession of the fallen soldier’s hearse to the cemetery.
A country song, “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful,” was played as his flag-draped casket was brought into the school’s gymnasium for the service. About 50 soldiers in Army uniforms attended, along with more than 100 area military veterans who were seated as a group.
Army Maj. Gen. Abraham Turner, who is chief of staff of the U.S. Strategic Command, expressed sympathy to Webster’s widow, his children and his parents. Turner said Webster was known among his fellow soldiers as fine person who embraced the Army’s values of putting his mission first and never accepting defeat.
“He was unwilling to live in a world where wrong rules over right,” Turner said.
Brig. Gen. Tim Orr, who recently was appointed adjutant general of the 9,400-member Iowa National Guard, was in Iraq a week ago visiting Iowa troops when Webster was killed. However, Orr was in a different area of Iraq and didn’t learn of the Iowa soldier’s death until he was flying back home.
Fellow soldiers described Webster as friendly and outgoing and someone who liked to make other people laugh. But when it came time to work, he was ready, Orr said. He said Webster was representative of the best that Iowa has to offer the nation.
“He loved being a soldier, and he was doing what he wanted to do,” Orr said.
Webster’s wife and children had recently moved back to Hartley from Fort Hood, Texas, where he had been stationed prior to his deployment. His oldest daughter, Natasha, a third-grader, wrote an essay that was placed near his casket prior to Saturday’s service.
Natasha told how her dad was there when she needed him, and how he loved to play basketball and board games and engage in other activities with her and her two sisters.
“We love you, Dad,” she wrote.
Wife says soldier loved golf
The Associated Press
After getting to know LeRoy O. Webster, his eventual wife knew she had to start playing golf.
“I soon realized if I wanted to see him in the summer, I was going to need to learn how to golf. Because if I didn’t know how to golf, I wasn’t going to see him in the summer. So I learned to golf,” Jessica Webster said.
Webster, 28, of Sioux Falls, S.D., was fatally shot April 25 near Kirkuk while on a dismounted patrol. He was assigned to Fort Hood.
Webster joined the Iowa National Guard in 2001 and enlisted in the Army in 2006. He had served a tour of Afghanistan with the National Guard and was on his second Army deployment to Iraq.
Jessica Webster described her husband as “Strong. Always there for you. He’d go out of his way to help anybody. Best father. Loved his kids. Love of my life.”
He also is survived by three young daughters, Natasha, Kaydence and Jaydn.
Natasha, a third-grader, wrote an essay that was placed near his casket. She told how her dad was there when she needed him, and how he loved to play basketball and board games and engage in other activities with her and her two sisters.
“We love you dad,” she wrote.