Sunday, June 24, 2007

Stephen J. Wilson dies 'while conducting combat operations'

When Beaverton resident John C. Wilson saw two Marines through the peephole in his door last week, he knew immediately. His son had died while serving in Iraq.

Stephen J. Wilson, 28, was on his third tour with the Marines in Iraq, working as an explosive ordnance disposal technician. Wilson, who had been stationed at Camp Pendleton in California, was one of two Marines killed Wednesday during operations in Anbar province, according to the Department of Defense.

Wilson joined the Marines in 1997 after graduating from high school in Brentwood, Calif. He served in Okinawa, Helsinki and the Ivory Coast before going to Iraq, said his brother, Scott Wilson of Beaverton.

In high school, he played soccer and hockey, winning the MVP award for soccer his junior and senior years, his father said.

"I thought he would either go pro-soccer or pro-hockey, but he decided to go with the Marines," said John, 59, who works for VWR International in Tualatin.

Wilson volunteered for duty in Iraq for his first two tours, but he was ordered to go the third time in May. His father and brother said he was excited the first two times, but they could tell that things were different this summer.

In the last e-mail Scott Wilson, 24, received from his brother, he said Stephen was unusually sentimental, ending the e-mail by thanking him for "being a good little brother."

"We never heard that from him in the 28 years of his life," his brother said.

But Stephen Wilson seemed hopeful and excited about his return. He told his brother that he wanted to look for a house in Beaverton so they could live together. They planned to go to some Portland clubs and to work on a 69 Pontiac GTO together.

"It's tough right now because I know he wanted to do a lot of things with me when he got back," said Scott Wilson, who works for Ralph Parker Concrete in Hillsboro.

The father and son said life will be much different without Stephen, but they plan to remember him and honor what was most important to him.

"I'm just going to keep the flag up and support the country," his father said.

From the Oregonian