Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Donovan Witham remembered

A paratrooper from Malvern is one of the latest Arkansans killed in Iraq. Specialist Donavan Witham died Tuesday in an IED attack near Baghdad. His family members want him to be remembered not only as a soldier, but as a loving brother and son.

Witham grew up in a house full of women, his mom and three older sisters who say since there was only five-and-a-half years between all of them, they were closer than most siblings.

There were two sides to Witham. There was the star athlete at Glen Rose High School who played football and baseball and ran track. Then there was the baby brother. "When we were young, we would dress him up. We would make him, " says sister Virginia Bennett.

Living with four women until mom Martha married in 2000, they say Witham grew up fast. "His humor almost seemed like it was immature, but he was very mature, " says sister Jaime Witham.

He was also their strength. "There was four of us, and he was a quarter of that and he completed us, " adds Bennett.

They were about to add a fourth sister. Bennett played matchmaker with one of her college friends. "I said hey Julie, oh my goodness, it never dawned on me, but you and Donavan would be great together."

Witham was about to get engaged. "He was going to come home and take her mom and her sisters out and go ring shopping, " says mother Martha Launius.

He last visited in April when their grandpa was sick, but he kept in touch over the phone. His last conversation with his mom was Sunday night. "It hurt him every time he called because he's that sensitive. But, yet, he did it because he wanted to make mama know that it was alright, " says Launius.

"He's made sure that he told each and every single one of us what we meant to him. So we have that in written form, and you know, always in our memory, " says Bennett.

One thing is certain, his parents are proud of him for choosing to serve his country in 2005 when we were already at war. "I can not, I could not do that as a person. But he did and I really respect him for that. He got my respect on that one, " says stepdad Richard Launius.

Witham's girlfriend is in Michigan now. She is also member of the Army Reserves, but his family made special arrangements to fly her to Arkansas for the funeral, which is set for Saturday, September first at the Benton First Assembly of God Church. A time is not set yet.

From KASN 38

Related Link:
Donovan D. Witham dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'