Thursday, March 01, 2007

B.J. (William J.) Beardsley dies of injuries from I.E.D.

TULSA, Okla. — A soldier with Minnesota ties who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq this week was a native Oklahoman who lived briefly in Coon Rapids, Minn., where he worked as a landscape contractor.

Army Sgt. William "B.J." Beardsley, 25, a Muskogee native, was seven months into his first tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed Monday, according to the Defense Department. He was due back home next month on leave, family members said.

"At 25, you got the rest of your life ahead of you, why not enjoy it, right?" said Beardsley's aunt, Charlotte Guinn of Tahlequah.

Enlisting in the military at 18, Beardsley was planning to become a career soldier, his family said. He spent three years stationed in South Korea and at Fort Campbell, Ky.

He left the Army briefly in 2005 to work as a landscape contractor with his father in Coon Rapids but decided the military life was for him, said his mother, Lavonna Harper. So he re-enlisted last May and eventually shipped out for Iraq.

At first, he believed the U.S. cause in Iraq was just, Harper said. But just a few weeks ago, Harper received an e-mail from him that said he couldn't make sense anymore of why he was over there.

"I wrote him back and told him to be careful and keep his head down and his butt covered," Harper said. "I asked him what he needed me to send and when he was coming home."

She never got a response.

Beardsley was born in Muskogee. When he was 5, he moved with his mother and stepfather — a career military man himself — to Germany and Georgia. He returned to Oklahoma when he was 16, moving to Tahlequah.

He was married at 20 and recently divorced, his family said. Harper said her son was a devoted father to his two kids, enjoyed weightlifting and riding motorcycles.

"I'll miss talking to him, hearing his voice, touching him, just hearing me say the words 'I love you, son,"' Harper said. "When they're gone, it's like 'Oh my God."'

Beardsley was assigned to the 260th Quartermaster Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Troop Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division of Fort Stewart, Ga. He was the 52nd person with strong Minnesota ties to die in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From the Tribune