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Funeral Sunday in Enterprise for state soldier killed in Iraq

PHIL CAMPBELL (AP) — Army Sgt. William Edward Brown, who died in a mortar blast in Iraq, will be buried Sunday in Enterprise.

At an impromptu memorial service Friday, many recalled Brown’s days at Phil Campbell High School in North Alabama. In tears, Myrl Ergle could barely speak as she described Brown’s high school days.

“I can’t sleep, and this is all I can think about,” Ergle said. “He was real good friends with my grandson when they were in school, and I don’t know one bad thing about him.”

Mortar attack

Brown, 25, based at Fort Carson, Colo., had been in the Army since he graduated from Phil Campbell in 2002. He died June 23 from wounds he sustained during an insurgent’s mortar attack on his unit near Taji, Iraq.

Ergle was one of about 75 people at Friday’s memorial service in Phil Campbell.

“I didn’t know him,” said George Rives, of Phil Campbell. “But here we are, this close to Independence Day, and this is why we have that. People like him who have died for our freedom.”

Brown’s mother, Theresa Kyser, of Daleville, in an earlier interview said her son and two other soldiers were doing a routine check on a helicopter when the mortar fire hit.

Kyser said she was told that when the mortar hit, her son pushed another soldier out of the way. She said the soldier credits her son with saving his life.

Sgt. Tim Pennington, of the 115th Signal Battalion, lowered the American flag outside the Phil Campbell school to half-staff Friday morning in Brown’s memory.

Pennington was deployed to Iraq from March 2004 to March 2005.

“To me, it could have been my son, or it could have been one of our fathers,” he said.”They are fighting a war where they don’t know who the enemy is.”

Second tour

Brown was in his second tour of Iraq serving as a crew chief on a Blackhawk helicopter. He was scheduled to return home in October.

He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Carson, Colo. His unit was stationed near Taji, which is 12 miles north of Baghdad.

Phil Campbell Police Chief Merrell Potter taped the memorial service and is sending a copy to Rachel Brown who will then forward it to her husband’s company in Iraq.

Brown, whose father was also in the military, moved to Franklin County when he was a freshman at East Franklin Junior High School. He then moved on to Phil Campbell High School.

‘A hero’

“He will forever be a hero in the town of Phil Campbell,” Potter said.

Brown is survived by his wife, Rachel, and two sons, 6-year-old Ethan and 2-year-old Tyler. The family, now living in Enterprise, was notified of Brown’s death last Sunday.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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