Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Day 179 - I Will Fear No Evil

When I woke up yesterday morning, my Inbox was flooded with news alerts from Karbala, Iskandariyah and Babil.

Before I went to bed last night, I read Kevin Kelly’s calming answer to Lauren’s question why we had not heard from Wayne as scheduled: “I’m sorry that I couldn’t write to you last night but the phones and internet were cut of for security reasons for a period of time. Everyone here at FOB Dogwood is fine and nothing to worry about.”

2:00 p.m. - Today, we heard from SFC Kelly’s church recap, “…We then had announcements and prayer request. It was announced in church to pray for the family of a 2/114th soldier that was killed yesterday. I had not heard that news and not sure if it is correct. If so, our hearts truly go out to his family.”

5:30 p.m. - Just now, we got this news alert:

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2005 – Two American soldiers in Iraq were killed by improvised explosive devices July 16. Another two soldiers were wounded.

In the first incident, a soldier assigned to the 155th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), died July 16 of wounds received July 15 from a car-bomb attack. The incident reportedly occurred during combat operations near Iskandariyah...(More)

Times like these are hardest times for families. It’s like some horrible kind of lottery nobody wants to win. Everybody knows somebody is going to get a call, but nobody knows who it will be.

Someone has already posted the news release on the family discussion board. The posting room has been tensely quiet for an hour now.

This is the part I hate most.

9:12 p.m. - A newer post has been made now, identifying the latest fallen soldier from Mississippi National Guard.

Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. - A Mississippi Army National Guard soldier stationed in Iraq was killed over the weekend by an improvised explosive device, officials confirmed Sunday.

Sgt. Travis S. Cooper, 24, of Macon died Saturday from injuries he sustained the day before, according the Department of Defense.

Cooper, a member of the 2nd Battalion, 114th Field Artillery Regiment headquartered in Starkville, was injured by a bomb that exploded near a vehicle he was searching.

We extend our prayers and sympathy to the Cooper family. LTC Huffman's wife, after having visited with Cooper's family said, "He was an amazing young man with an amazing family. His mother was killed in a car accident in 2003 when his step father was in Iraq with the 223rd Engineers. The family was gracious; they made the visit easy."

6:30 a.m. Monday - We did receive an Instant Message from Wayne during the night explaining in part why he has been unavailable. He is safe and well.