Sunday, August 19, 2007

Billy Edwards comes home

More than 100 people gathered under ominous skies in College Station on Friday as the body of a former Texas A&M student killed in Iraq was brought home to his family.

Pfc. William Lawrence Edwards, known as Billy to friends and family, was one of five soldiers killed south of Baghdad a week ago, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Rain began falling Friday morning on the crowd of family, friends, veterans and military service members who watched as Edwards' casket was unloaded from a small charter plane and carried to a waiting vehicle at Easterwood Airport. Members of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, U.S. military veterans and Boy Scouts saluted as the casket passed. Many carried U.S. flags and wore patriotic colors.

Marykay Edwards, Billy Edwards' mother, said supporters stopped their cars along the road to Caldwell to wave and salute as the group made its way to Strickland Funeral Home.

"It was an overwhelming sight - one that my son would have been thrilled to see," she said. "It made us feel so good that Billy was appreciated and that what he did was appreciated."

Edwards, who was 23, grew up in Houston, but his family moved to Somerville when he came to Texas A&M University after high school. While at A&M, Edwards was a member of the Corps of Cadets C-2 unit.

Edwards left school to join the Army in February 2006 and deployed to Iraq in May, his parents said. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga.

Among those gathered Friday were 22 members of Edwards' Houston Boy Scout troop who had traveled to College Station for the short ceremony. Walter Brookhart, scoutmaster for Troop 599, said Friday that Edwards' death hit close to home.

Edwards was ambitious, Brookhart said, earning Eagle Scout rank at 15. He was elected senior patrol leader by his fellow Scouts when he was 17 and supervised the 100 boys in his troop, Brookhart said.

Brookhart said Edwards spoke of going to law school and running for Congress - the biggest dreams Brookhart said he had heard from any Scout.

"I'm sure he was doing exactly what he wanted to do. He wanted to come to A&M and join the Marines or the Army," Brookhart said, emotion straining his voice. "He was where he wanted to be at this point."

Private funeral services are pending.

From the Eagle

Related Link:
Billy (William L.) Edwards dies 'of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire'