Wednesday, June 07, 2006

TOP STORY >> Funeral services today for fallen Beebe soldier

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Black and yellow ribbons were tied around a tree near the home of Army Spc. Bobby West who was killed May 30 in Iraq. His funeral will be 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. today at the First Baptist Church in Beebe for Army Spc. Bobby West, killed May 30 in Baghdad.

West, 23, enlisted in the National Guard after the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon and joined the regular Army two years later.

He was killed halfway through his second tour in Iraq, and though friends and family are mourning his death, they say he was a soldier because he very much wanted to be one.

Beebe Police Officer Zack Dix-on, 27, who will be leading the funeral procession, considers himself among West’s friends.
The two young men were in the National Guard at the same time and served together in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

“He was a great guy, a young guy with the world on his shoulders,” Dixon said.

He was usually in a good mood and he joked a lot, Dixon said. But the characteristic that stood out the most was his competitiveness.

“Once when we were in the Sinai, him and me and Jimmy Simons were all playing basketball,” Dixon said.

“It was about 125-135 degrees and the gym was a tin building. It was hot.

“Bobby was tall, about six foot four,” Dixon said. “He played a lot of basketball and he was good. But he told me if we had to stay there through two shifts in desert BDUs (battle dress uniforms), we weren’t leaving until I beat him.”

After the tour in the Sinai with the National Guard, West joined the regular Army. Dixon said he told him that he really liked military life and since he wasn’t married there was really nothing to hold him back.

He was killed when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated while he was on foot patrol with his unit.

He was part of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas. His unit was scheduled to leave Iraq this fall.

Dixon said he ran into West at Fort Hood after his first tour in Iraq and he was still happy to be in the Army.
West’s older brother Patrick West, 25, was just 45 miles away from Baghdad when his brother was killed. He is with the 101st Airborne.

An Army spokesman at Fort Hood said last week that Bobby West has earned these medals: Army Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Me-dal, Global War on Terrorism Ser-vice Medal and National Defense Service Medal.

West is survived by his father, Ricky West of Carlisle; his mother, Linda Wiggins West of Beebe; his brother Patrick West; grandmother, Syble West of Carlisle; aunts, Marge Liddle of North Little Rock, Marcella Wiggins of Little Rock, Marie Smith of Alabama and Jan Anderson of Carlisle; and uncle, Leonard Wiggins of Searcy.

Burial will be in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens by Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.

Memorials may be made to National Guard Family Assistance, 6402 Missouri Avenue, Bldg. 6402, North Little Rock, Ark. 72199.