Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sammie E. Phillips dies 'of injuries suffered from a vehicle rollover'

Laura McGray always saw a smile on the face of Sammie Phillips during his days as a student at North Hardin High School.

It didn’t matter if he was just arriving for school or was at a crowded lunchroom table among friends.

Phillips, of Vine Grove, had a look of contentment, McGray said.

“The thing I remember about Sammie the most was his smile,’’ McGray said of the 2006 graduate of NHHS. “He was an outgoing young man and was always ready to help someone. He would go out of his way to help someone.

“His eyes stood out,’’ she added. “In some people their whole souls shine through their eyes. That was Sammie.’’

Phillips, a private first class with the Kentucky National Army Guard, was killed Monday when his vehicle overturned while conducting a traffic control mission on a highway near Rustamiyah, Iraq. Two other soldiers were injured in the accident.

Phillips, 19, was assigned to the Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery unit based out of Carlisle.

Kentucky adjutant general Maj. Gen. Donald C. Storm called Phillips “a tremendous young soldier that had just tremendous potential.’’

Storm, speaking to reporter after a ceremony commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, said Phillips was riding in a military vehicle headed to a traffic control point when a civilian vehicle swerved into its path. The military vehicle struck a culvert and overturned.

“He was just a good kid,’’ said McGray, who served as a teacher and assistant principal at NHHS and currently is the principal at Radcliff Middle School.

Phillips is the third National Army Guard soldier killed in action within the last two weeks and the second from Hardin County killed in less than three weeks. Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Edward Miller of Rineyville was killed Aug. 24 in Afghanistan.

“He was a fine young man,’’ said Sgt. Maj. Paul Gray of the North Hardin ROTC program. “He always seemed to have a smile on his face and he was one of those kids who seemed to enjoy life and enjoyed being at school.’’

Phillips joined the National Guard last year and deployed with his unit in August in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Capt. Robert S. Mattingly, commander of the unit Phillips served in, said via e-mail, “Pfc. Sammie Phillips was an excellent soldier who had unlimited potential. I rode with Sammie while training in Mississippi. He was one of our best gunners, the absolute cream of the crop. He was always ready to go, which is one of the best traits a soldier could possess…. I never met a person that didn’t like Sammie Phillips.’’

From the News Enterprise