Wednesday, October 03, 2007

James D. Doster dies 'of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive devise and small arms fire'

A U.S. Army soldier from White Hall, Sgt. First Class James Doster, 38, was killed Saturday in a roadside bombing and gunfight in southern Baghdad. He was a convoy commander.

The family was eagerly awaiting an October visit home from the soldier, said his mother, Billie Doster of White Hall.

Doster, a White Hall High School graduate, is also survived by his wife, Amanda, and two young daughters, Kathryn, 6, and Grace, 3, who are currently living at Fort Riley in Wamego, Kan.

“Kathryn was counting down the days until he was supposed to be home,” the mother said. “She doesn’t really understand. All she says is ‘It’s not fair.’ They had so many plans for when he came home.”

Doster had talked by telephone to his wife and daughters the day before he died.

The soldier was deployed to Iraq in February. He had joined the Army 17 years ago during his second year at Hendrix College in Conway and served mostly as a recruiter.

Doster served in the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, before the unit was deployed to Iraq.

His mother said she was at her White Hall home when her front door bell rang at about 9 p.m. Saturday. She opened the door to find two military liaisons in full dress who broke the news that her son had been killed in the line of duty.

“It’s so easy to read ‘an American soldier was killed’ in the papers. You don’t really make the connection,” she said, quietly weeping. “When it’s your own, you find it a lot harder.”

His wife is devastated, she added, but is clinging to the knowledge that “...he died doing something he believed in.”

The soldier also served in the first Iraq war, Desert Storm, and was in one of the first tanks to cross the battle line, his mother said.

“He was young and didn’t have a family then,” said Billie Doster. “He was less gung ho this time. He had two young girls and a very happy marriage to leave behind.”

His father, Charles Doster, died a year and a week to the day before his son.

The soldier was quiet and very organized, his mother said. She laughed when recalling how he and his brother Rob cleaned out the garage after his father’s death last year.

“He even made labels for the keys,” she said. “He and Rob had been wonderful in helping me out. They cleaned out his closets, the garage, everything. He came in and said ‘Mom, did you know dad never threw anything away even if it were broken?’”

Silence overtook her as she remembered the birth of their “miracle child” 38 years ago. The couple had tried for years to conceive a biological child when they adopted their older son Rob.

“Then we found out I was pregnant with James,” she said. “He was very much wanted and loved.”

It will be at least a week before Doster’s body will be released to his family. A full military funeral is being planned and will be held at Lakeside United Methodist Church in Pine Bluff.

“My heart goes out to the family and loved ones of Sgt. First Class James D. Doster as we honor his bravery and service to our military,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Ross. “Sgt. Doster selflessly gave his life to serve our country and he will forever be remembered as a hero, a son, a father and a husband. I will continue to keep his family in my thoughts and prayers.”

From the Pine Bluff Commercial