Friday, July 27, 2007

Charles E. Bilbrey Jr. reported killed in Iraq

OWEGO -- An Owego family was devastated Friday after learning their son and brother -- U.S. soldier Charles E. Bilbrey Jr., -- was killed in action in Iraq earlier that day.

"He was a good boy," said Bilbrey's mother Barbara Bilbrey. "He always wanted to be in the Army, since he was 12-years-old."

The family now is left trying to cope with their loss, as well as the logistics involved in bringing her son home, she said.

Her son loved the Army and those he served with, Bilbrey said, and her hope now is that those soldiers will safely return to their families.

"Those guys he was serving with," she said, "they loved him."

Bilbrey was a 2005 graduate of Owego Free Academy, where he was involved in sports, clubs and student government, with football being one of his favorite pastimes, Barbara Bilbrey said.

"He loved that game and the guys he played with," she said.

OFA Principal said Charles Bilbrey left a lasting legacy of patriotism, respect and leadership at the school.

"I just think of him as just one of the most patriotic students I've ever met, and so full of respect," he said. "If there was anybody you wanted on your team," Pierce said, "it would be Charlie. He'd give you 100 percent on anything he ever did."

His dream was to be an Army Ranger, he said, and enlisted in the Army in 2005. He began basic training after his 2005 high school graduation.

"He did exactly what he wanted to do," Pierce said.

The eldest of four children and a former Boy Scout and youth church group member, Bilbrey always spoke to school faculty members with respect, he said, using 'Yes sir' and 'Yes ma'am' regularly.

"He was so positive," Pierce said. "Just a great, great young man. He's going to be sadly missed."

From the Press and Sun-Bulletin