Saturday, April 21, 2007

Adam (Joseph A.) McSween remembered by grandparents

COOSADA -- Marvin and June Stringer thought the Navy was the safest branch of the service their grandson could join. But Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Adam McSween, 26, died on April 6 during his second deployment to Iraq.

McSween, an explosive ordnance disposal specialist, was killed near Kirkuk, a city in northern Iraq about 156 miles north of Baghdad.

A memorial service will take place Saturday in Valdosta, Ga., where he spent most of his formative years. His body was laid to rest earlier this week in York, Neb., the same town where he attended York College and met his wife, Erin.

"I try not to be bitter, but I am," June Stringer said. "Not just for my grandson, but for mothers and wives and little children who will grow up without their parent, and the wives having to take on the burden of rearing their children. It's just hard not to be bitter."

She said she supports the military, but not the current war.

It's a view that's developed as she's read growing reports of children who have lost parents in the war, she said, and has solidified since her grandson was killed.

McSween and his wife decided before he returned to Iraq that should something happen, he would be buried in York so that Erin and their two daughters, Lilly, 5, and Gwyneth, 3, could visit him, June Stringer said.

McSween was born in Montgomery, while his father, an Army and Air Force Exchange Service employee, was assigned to the Maxwell Air Force Base exchange. The family lived in the Crossgates subdivision in Millbrook.

The Stringers, who have lived in Coosada for 35 years, remember a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy who was "into everything," and loved his grandmother's apple pie. It didn't surprise them that he would undertake one of the war's most dangerous jobs.

"He brought a lot of brightness into our lives," June said. "He was just very brave and he wanted to do his part."

McSween, who had hopes of one day becoming a minister, had been in Iraq for about a month, Marvin said.

"If they were looking for volunteers, he would've volunteered," said Marvin, who served in the Navy during the Korean War. "He was that type of person."

Two other sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit 11, based at Whidbey Island, Wash., also were killed in the incident. They are Chief Petty Officer Gregory J. Billiter, 36, of Villa Hills, Ky.; and Petty Officer 2nd Class Curtis R. Hall, 24, of Burley, Idaho. It is believed the incident occurred when an explosive device destroyed their vehicle, but at this point the family is still unclear about many of the details. All three men were specialists in identifying explosive materials and disarming them.

In addition to his wife and two daughters, McSween also leaves behind his parents, Florence Elkins of Hiram, Ga., and Robert McSween of Newton, and three older brothers and sisters.

From the Montgomery Advertiser

Related Link:
Adam (Joseph A.) McSween dies of injuries from I.E.D.