SAVANNAH, Ga. - A 3rd Infantry Division soldier who was killed in Iraq was a father of two and spent some of his high school years in Jesup as an ROTC student.
Sgt. William J. Beardsley, 25, of Muskogee, Okla., was killed Monday in Diwaniyah, Iraq, when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle.
Sgt. Beardsley is the third Fort Stewart soldier to be killed this year in Iraq. He deployed with the 260th Quartermaster Battalion in August.
Sgt. Beardsley served three years in the Air Force ROTC program as a member of the color guard at Wayne County High School in Jesup. He was among 5 percent of the student corps to receive an achievement award and was recognized for his academic excellence, said Sgt. Lenard Melton, the school's ROTC recruiter.
Sgt. Beardsley moved from Muskogee to Jesup when he was 5. He returned to Oklahoma when he was 16 and finished high school in Tahlequah, Okla., according to a report on KOTV, a Tulsa, Okla., television station.
Sgt. Beardsley's mother, Lavonna Harper, told the station she couldn't wait to see her son, who was due to return home on leave next month.
"Something's not right in this system. It's not right," she said. "These young men and women are over there dying for the country that we're trying to help, and they're the idiots that are blowing up our sons and our daughters.
"That's the sad part."
Ms. Harper said her son loved the military and his country.
"My son was so excited to be going. He wanted to serve his country," she said. "And he served his country with his life."
Sgt. Beardsley, an avid motorcyclist, maintained a MySpace.com page on which he posted pictures of his two young children: 4-year-old Chance and 2-year-old Alexis.
On Thursday, family members had begun to leave messages memorializing Sgt. Beardsley. A headline on the site was revised to read "Rider, soldier, father R.I.P."
KOTV reported that funeral services for Sgt. Beardsley would be held next week. He'll be buried in Indianapolis, where his wife and children live.