Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Gwilym J. Newman killed by 'enemy small arms fire while on dismounted patrol'

His son was born on his birthday, and 1st Lt. Gwilym J. Newman could not have been more proud. The baby, who will turn 2 on April 27, was given his father's name -- which is Welsh for William -- and looked a lot like him.

This April, the family is in mourning: The proud father and Army officer who spent his high school years in Waldorf was killed Thursday after he came under small-arms fire while on patrol in Tarmiyah, Iraq, according to the Pentagon. Newman would have turned 25.

"He had a very, very good sense of humor, and family was the most important thing to him," said his sister, Brittany Newman.

A platoon leader in Iraq, Newman was dedicated to his men and to leading them as his unit was deployed in October, his sister said. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

"He was ready to go," she said. "He wanted to go with his guys and make sure they were okay and be there with them."

In December, Newman was quoted in an Army news story about his unit's work in Tarmiyah -- catching insurgents who set up roadside bombs in the darkness. It was work that he and other soldiers thought would help save troops.

The officer had joined the military after graduating from college with hopes of becoming a doctor, his sister said. His father, Peter Gwilym Newman, had been a research physicist who worked for the Army. His mother, Christine, was a nurse.

Born in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Newman spent part of his childhood in New Jersey . His family moved to Waldorf when he was in high school and lived there for seven years, his sister said.

Newman was an honors student who graduated ahead of his class from Westlake High School in Waldorf in 1999. He went to Frostburg State University, where he majored in psychology and minored in biology and received his diploma in December 2003.

He and his wife, Samantha, married in June 2004, and in a matter of days Newman headed to basic training.

His son was born while he was stationed at Fort Knox, Ky. Most recently, Newman was stationed at Fort Hood in Texas. The child shared his father's birthday but was also born within days or weeks of the birthdays of Newman's wife, his sister and his brother, Patrick.

"He was very big on holidays because it was all about family," his sister said, also recalling him as "a goofy guy. He could make anyone smile when they were upset. He could just cheer you up."

Now, his young son, Gwilym Alexander, "is looking more and more like him," she said.

From the Washington Post