FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq – For the Soldiers of Battery B, 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery, Nov. 25 was not a day to look forward to Thanksgiving, it was a day to look back.
Two days earlier, their comrade, Staff Sgt. Briand T. Williams, was killed by a sniper while providing security during a U.S. State department Provincial Reconstruction Team in Numaniah, located in the Wasit Province of Iraq.
To honor and remember their fallen brother-in arms, the 1-10 FA Regt. held a memorial service in his honor at Forward Operating Base Delta.
On one side of the auditorium, commanders and command sergeants major from all six of the 3rd HBCT's battalions sat with Ambassador Christopher Hill, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq; Maj. Gen. Kahlif, the Wasit Provincial head of police; Brig. Gen. Kahlif, a federal police commander; and Brig. Gen. Abad, the 32nd Iraqi Army commander.
The rest of the large auditorium was filled to standing room capacity with William's battery sitting on the first few rows surrounded by their fellow Soldiers serving at FOB Delta.
During the service, William's leaders, subordinates and friends spoke about his leadership, confidence and loyalty.
Williams, a stand-out high school athlete from Sparks, Ga. before he joined the Army in 2002, was a well-liked leader in Battery B. Lt. Col. Shaun Tooke, the 1-10 FA commander, described Williams as having "a certain swagger about him, an ever present smile and he always maintained a positive attitude that was simply contagious throughout the unit."
The ceremony's speakers made similar observations about the man many Soldiers referred to as "Sergeant Will".
"In all the conversations I have heard about him, our brother has sounded more like a superhero than a man," said Chaplain (Capt.) Timothy Griffis, 1-10 FA Regt. "He sounds like an American Soldier; a man who cares about those he leads and serves along side; a man who understands and executes all the implied tasks of being a friend."
According to Col. Pete Jones, the commander of the 3rd HBCT, Williams death was a bitter loss not just for the Soldiers of the 1-10 FA Regt, but for the entire 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
"Sgt. William's death makes us realize that Iraq is still a dangerous place," said Jones. "Contrary to reports on the news, there are still people willing to attack U.S and ISF forces and try and undo all the progress that has happened here."
Tooke reminded his Soldiers that they needed to stay focused on the mission their fallen teammate died performing.
"We are in a position to potentially write one of the last chapters in a book that began with the Marne Division, the Sledgehammer Brigade and the Rock's Support Battalion back in 2003," said Tooke. "In partnership with our Iraqi Security Force brothers, the Provincial Reconstruction Team and the Wasit Provincial Government we stand ready to be a part of something much larger than ourselves…This is exactly what Staff Sergeant Williams, his teammates in 3rd platoon Bravo Battery and the PRT were doing on November 22 and what he'd want us to continue to do in his absence."
In a show of solidarity and support, both Ambassador Hill and all three ISF generals paid respect to Williams' memorial stand and gave their condolences to Jones, Tooke and the Soldiers of Battery B.
"His enthusiastic support of the soldiers under his charge, his commitment to the mission and the safety of the PRT, and his friendly camaraderie, all marked him as a leader of the finest caliber," said Hill. "It is the dedication and commitment of Soldiers like Staff Sergeant Williams that enable us to carry out our important work in Iraq."
Despite Williams passing, his friends and comrades still treasure the memories they have of him.
"Whatever faith or belief you have, if there is a better place after death, believe me, he is there," said Sgt. Kevin Behling, a fellow non-commissioned officer in Battery B. "His legacy will never be forgotten."
Williams is survived by his wife, Atiyhia; his daughter, Briana; and his son Antonio Godbold.