Saturday, July 4, 2009

Honoring a Soldier on this 4th of July

MORROW, GA -- One of three Georgia soldiers killed in Afghanistan Thursday was born and raised in Riverdale. Staff Sgt. John Beale's father, who lives in Morrow, says his son was born to be a soldier.

William Beale, who worked for 31 years for Delta Air Lines, says his son played with army men as a child. "He liked for me to bring home magazines from Delta's cabin service and he would clip out the military stuff in there," Beale said.

Staff Sgt. Beale graduated from Riverdale High School where he was on the drill team and in ROTC. He served in Desert Storm and then left the Army to raise a family. His father says as his children grew, his son got the itch to go back into the Army.

Last month, the Georgia Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 108th Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition Squadron left for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

William Beale says he noticed something different in his son this time. "He seemed like a little bit hesitant about going over there as he got closer to it," he said. This time his son was leaving a family behind. Staff Sgt. Beale lives in McDonough with his wife Crystal, his son Christopher, 13, and daughter Calye, 8.

Beale remembers telling his son something a marine once told him, "Do what you're told and your chances of coming back are real good." "John was not the type to not do what he was told, so I guess he just got unlucky," Beale said.

Staff Sgt. Beale, Maj. Kevin Jenrette of Lula and Specialist Jeffrey Jordan of Rome were killed according to the Georgia National Guard. "They died June 4 near Kapisa, Afghanistan of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device and small arms fire," said a press release from the Georgia National Guard.

William Beale's first wife, who helped him raise three boys, died. He remarried nine years ago. Dolly Beale is the boy's step-mother. "I got very close to him the last nine years," she said. "It fells like my kid, it hurts as much as if he was."

Beale says he has good moments and bad moments after an officer and chaplain came to his home. His son's wife and their two children flew to Dover, Delaware to meet his son's body when it arrives in the states. A full military funeral will be held in McDonough but arrangements haven't been made yet.

William Beale says he has one wish. "I hope he didn't die in vain," he said. "I think that's the main thing any father or a mother wants is to know that their son didn't die in vain."

What he wants people to know about his son is much simpler. "That he was just and all American boy," he said. "John was just a normal kid." What more can any parent ask of their son.

Honor SSG Beale and watch this video for a few moments.

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