Local News

Iraq Action Claims 2 N.C. Guardsmen

Posted March 24, 2008
Updated March 25, 2008

— Two North Carolina Army National Guard soldiers died in Iraq over the weekend, officials announced Monday.

Sgt. Thomas C. Ray, 40, of Weaverville, and Sgt. David Blake Williams, 26, of Tarboro, both members of the 1132nd Military Police Company, were killed near Baghdad when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device while on patrol on Saturday, officials said.

Spc. David S. Stelmat, 27, of Littleton, N.H., a member of the New Hampshire Army National Guard assigned to the company, also was killed in the incident, officials said.

The 1132nd Military Police Company is based in Rocky Mount.

Williams joined the National Guard in July 2003 and was on his second tour of duty in Iraq – the first was with the N.C. Army National Guard's 105th Military Police Battalion, which operated a large detention facility in southern Iraq.

Williams is survived by his mother and sister, who spent Monday remembering his commitment to military service.

His sister recalled that the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd prompted him to join the National Guard.

"He felt like he had a calling to serve," Mary Beth Williams said.

Coming from a family rich in military service, "He wanted to follow in his brother's footsteps," she added.

Williams' late brother, John (Chris) Williams, served in the Army for four years.

According to his sister, Williams had initial apprehension about returning to Iraq.

"After he met some of the people over there this time, he knew he needed to be there, he was making a difference," she said.

Ray was born in Asheville and joined the Navy in 1985, serving three years on active duty as a Navy medical specialist.

His mother remembered when he wanted to join the Navy, "He begged me to sign the early enlistment waiver."

Ray joined the National Guard in May 2006.

"I'm incredibility proud of my son," she said. "He gave his life doing what he wanted to do, and I can live with that."

Ray was married with one teenage daughter. His wife said he went to Iraq hoping to make a difference.

"He wanted to save lives and bring back the younger guys," Linda Ray said. "He's a loving husband and father who is irreplaceable and will be greatly missed."

The 1132nd Military Police Company deployed last June, with about 120 soldiers, and is scheduled to return to North Carolina this fall.

Seven N.C. National Guard soldiers have been killed in Iraq.


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  • thelewisclan Mar 25, 2008

    Well, I can honestly say my husband didn't join for "the college education and free insurance". He's served for 24 years, been on multiple deployments, lost a job because of his most recent one - with an email that said "you couldn't expect us to hold your job for two years" and is now serving on yearlong orders at a time..each renewal we don't know if he'll have a job or not. Yes, we get insurance now, but try finding a doctor that will take government insurance on a continual basis in a decent driving distance - general doctors are easy to locate, but look for a specialist and good luck. And, no, he hasn't had a chance yet to use those "education benefits" you speak so highly of. Yes, there are some that sign for the benefits, but not a huge majority of them are in the Guard - it takes a lot more dedication that one might think. A good number of Soldiers with the 1132nd were volunteers for this deployment - would you do the same for college tuition?

  • wstarhawks Mar 25, 2008

    rev rb,you need to get a clue,they joined so they could get money for college to better themselves......very few was a calling,and the free medical insurance

    Actually, if you will check with a lot of the National Guard soldiers, the college fund was not the major reason they joined. Medical insurance is not free for traditional guard soldiers.

  • 050462 Mar 25, 2008

    rev rb,you need to get a clue,they joined so they could get money for college to better themselves......very few was a calling,and the free medical insurance.check your stats at cnn.com/survey.besides,you can always become a missionary,lot other countries besides iraq that need our help.

  • yeah Mar 25, 2008

    Bush's war has nothing to do with Al-Qaida, Bin Laden, 9/11 or WMD - these points have been proven but unfortunately, there are so many ignorant Americans (how else could Bush get re-elected?) that they don't want to believe the truth.

    I am sorry for the lost troops and their families but when the full story is revealed, history will be written that it all was in vain to satisfy the vanity of the cowboy president.

    Believe me, I wish it weren't true but there are now countless books and documents out there - get your heads out of the sand and read...

  • wildervb Mar 25, 2008

    I'm so glad we sent our troops to Iraq to get Al Qaeda, hunt down Osama Bin Laden and end Saddam's WMD program. None of these deaths were in vain.

  • Adelinthe Mar 25, 2008

    grant and reelhillbilly, etc. - Do you not understand??? These soldiers were not drafted, they were called by something that touched them deep within their hearts and souls.

    And do you know what they were called for? To serve and protect YOU so that you could continue to go on about your normal meaningless lives unharmed.

    Do something meaningful for them there...support them or shut up.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Adelinthe Mar 25, 2008

    tarheelblue - AMEN, AND AMEN!!!

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Adelinthe Mar 25, 2008

    blackdog - "...the National Guard should never leave U.S. soil."

    That's what some of the National Guard troops are for, to support and help sustain troops of the regular military. sigh

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • 050462 Mar 25, 2008

    i commend anyone who is in the military.when you sign up,there is the possibility that you may have to go to war,and make the ultimate sacrifice.i served in the military,and wished that america was this kind when we get back home,you cannot buy beer until 21,but you can kill someone in iraq at 18.my friend just returned from iraq,and has no job.where is the american spirit now?i pray for all the families of the military,and the soldiers,but wherever it is,some are going to die,not being critical,just a fact of life.let us not forget those who got killed in iraq,or afgaanistan,like we forgot about 911.

  • Adelinthe Mar 25, 2008

    yeah - "you are absolutely right and any opportunity to blast that moron cowboy Bush is the right time!"

    Read the words from "theendoftheroad" and take your politics elsewhere. They are not welcome nor is it human to share them where people are grieving and sending prayers of condolence.

    You know folks, sometimes I am ashamed to call myself a "human" when I see some of the acts of others, then I realize it's ok because they are less civilized than others and belong in a cage with other ignorant beasts.

    Praying for those suffering the loss of loved ones, praying for those still in harm's way...answering a greater calling than most can understand, and praying for their loved ones here at home, trying to understand but supporting them nonetheless.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

    USMC Sergeant


    Semper Fi!!!