Thursday, August 23, 2007

Michael Fielder remembered

Janet King wasn't expecting the call.

Her son, Capt. Michael Fielder, was an Army veterinarian who took care of bomb-sniffing dogs in Iraq.

He spent his days caring for dogs on the compound in Baghdad and he had it better than the other troops in the field, he told his mother.

But on Sunday, King and her family got the call.

Her 35-year-old son had died of natural causes.

"It's hard to process," King, of Lexington, said.

Fielder, of Holly Springs, had called his wife, Mary, late Saturday. It was early in the morning in Iraq and he told her he was headed to the shower after a run.

He was found dead in his quarters later that morning.

Fielder, a health-conscious runner, had no history of medical problems, King said.

A military autopsy is expected to be performed at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware within the next few days.

Fielder lived in Texas until he was 13, when he moved to North Carolina. He considered North Carolina his home, King said.

He spent his high school years in Rockingham and then joined the Navy. After four years in the Navy, he attended N.C. State to obtain his bachelor's degree and attend veterinary school.

An Army scholarship paid for veterinary school, as long as he served three years with the Army's Veterinary Corps, his mother said.

Fielder always had a love of animals, King said. Stray animals always seemed to follow him home, she said with a laugh. His gentle and compassionate nature made becoming a vet a perfect fit, she said.

"He knew from the time he was 8 years old he wanted to be a vet," she said.

He was dedicated to his work and his fellow soldiers in Iraq, where he had been for a year.

"He and his men were proud of what they were doing," King said.

Based at Fort Bragg, his tour of duty in Iraq was due to end in November. After that, Fielder and his wife were moving to Boone, where he already had a job lined up with a private practice.

"He's the kind of son you just feel honored you were a part of his life," King said. "He will be missed."

Fielder's body will be flown to Raleigh after an autopsy. Funeral arrangements have not been completed.

His unit in Iraq plans to hold a memorial service on Saturday. The family plans to establish a veterinary school scholarship in Fielder's honor.

From the News Record

Related Link:
Michael S. Fielder dies 'of injuries suffered from a non-combat related incident'