Thursday, August 02, 2007

Stephen R. Maddies dies 'of wounds suffered from enemy small arms fire'

A Tri-Cities family says their soldier was just 18 days from coming home when he died Tuesday.

Stephen Maddies was 41. He was from Elizabethton, TN. He was serving his second tour in Iraq. Maddies was there the first time with the 278th Regimental Combat Team.

His family says he was in a Baghdad tower when it came under gunfire.

Stephen Maddies’ friend Timothy Parsons knew him more than a decade. He went to war with him the first time.

"I remember one night...he was watching some kind of Diane Sawyer special about tanks and he said 'I want to do that.' So he joined us up here in Bristol," SGT Parsons said.

And so Stephen Maddies came to know Troop F.

"Out of the 85 guys who went to Baghdad with us...all 85 cared for him deeply and thought a lot about him." SSG John Spears said. "You could be in the middle of Baghdad and he could be making friends."

Maddies friends remember him as always having a smile on his face.

"He had a pair of the ugliest Puma blue slip-on shoes,” SGM John Cartwright said Tuesday.

Stories about Maddies and his slide-ons filled Bristol’s armory Wednesday as friends came by to recount their favorite tales of the soldier some called their “teddy bear.” The days when they returned from war to Camp Shelby, MS, to get processed back in were part of those.

“I swore I was going to burn them,” Cartwright continued. “In fact, the night we had the bonfire back in Mississippi...that's where the shoes would've ended up. (In Baghdad) He'd put those shoes on...he wouldn't pick his feet up and he'd just slide across the floor. I could hear him coming all the way across the palace to where my room was."

"It really hasn't sunk in yet that he's not here…that we're not going to get a phone call from him," SGT Timothy Parsons said. "He died doing what he believed in. What he thought was right."

Maddies spoke with News Channel 11 before he went back to war in May.

“I feel, with me going, that means someone else doesn’t have to go so that’s my purpose,” he said.

From the Herald Courier