Local News

Former Coach: Fallen Guardsman Had a Lot of Heart

Posted March 25, 2008 4:31 p.m. EDT
Updated March 25, 2008 11:38 p.m. EDT

— A National Guardsman killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq over the weekend dreamed of serving his country when he wasn't on the baseball diamond, his former coach remembered Tuesday.

"I think Blake felt what his calling was, (and it) was to do that, also," said Patrick Miller, Tarboro High School's baseball coach.

A 2000 graduate of Tarboro High, Sgt. David Blakely Williams, 26, was one of three members of the 1132nd Military Police Company killed near Baghdad when an improvised explosive device struck their vehicle while on patrol on Saturday.

"(He) never ever crossed anybody. (He) always wanted to please his friends, his teachers, his coaches. (He) always had a smile on his face," Miller said.

Williams wore the number 14 and played third base and pitched. He wasn't known as a standout, Miller said, but he was a young man with a lot of heart.

"(He) didn't get a lot of playing time, but he enjoyed putting on the uniform and being a part of the team," Miller said.

That same feeling led him to join the National Guard in July 2003. He was on his second tour of duty in Iraq.

"I distinctly remember … I said, 'Blake, please be careful. Be safe,'" Miller recalled of a conversation with Williams shortly before his second deployment.

"(He told me) 'Oh coach, I'll be fine,'" Miller said. "That was the last thing I remember him saying to me."

In honor of Williams' memory, his jersey will hang in the dugout during every home game for the rest of the season, Miller said.

Miller said he hopes to retire the number to honor Williams' service.