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Family Remembers Final Conversations With Craven County Man Killed In Iraq

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HARLOWE, N.C. — A Craven County man is one of the most recent North Carolinians to die in Iraq. He was not a member of the military, but a civilian with the important job of trying to make the country a little safer for our troops.

Iraq is a long way from his hometown of Harlowe, where Butch Dyess' family is proud of its American hero.

A quiet dock on Adam's Creek was Butch Dyess' favorite spot to relax from a job that often took him far from home.

"He was always there when we needed him," Perry Dyess, Butch's son, said. "For graduations and things like that, no matter what he was doing, he always took a little time out."

After 20 years in the military, Butch took a civilian job as an explosives technician. He traveled to the world's hot spots to dismantle bombs to keep troops safe.

Two weeks ago, he left for Iraq and called his wife just before he boarded the plane.

"He told me: 'Eneida, this is the last time I will talk to you," Eneida Dyess said.

Last weekend, his convoy was attacked. Dyess was killed. He had e-mailed his son just nine hours before the attack.

"It was just pretty to the point," Perry said of the note. "'I'm in Baghdad. Still alive. Love, Dad.'"

When Dyess got the call to go to Iraq, Dyess' family said he was very proud to leave his home on the water again to serve his country. But first, he set aside plenty of time to call everyone he loved and say goodbye.

"It was just a different vibe in the air," Perry said. "You could feel it: 'that this is truly when there is a real good possibility I'm not coming home.'"

Dyess leaves behind his wife, three sons and a granddaughter who just turned 1. His family says it is proud of all he did in life.

He will be buried with full military honors in Craven County this weekend.

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