Spc. William McMillan III is pictured with his wife, Elizabeth, at Schofield Barracks on Dec. 7, the day he left for Iraq.
Isle medic slain in Iraq earned respect of peers
The Kentucky resident received a Bronze Star on his first tour of duty
Family members of a decorated Schofield Barracks soldier say they still do not know just how he died in Iraq. But they had warned him to be careful.
"We had told him, 'One Bronze Star is enough, start ducking,'" said Marge McMillan, mother of Spc. William "Bill" McMillan III, a medic with the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment. "He must have really gotten hit hard. He was a really strong kid."
Specialist William McMillan III was killed yesterday on his first tour of duty in Iraq.
McMillan, 22, of Lexington, Ky., was killed Tuesday when his patrol was hit by a homemade bomb.
Assigned to the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, he was the unit's ninth casualty since it arrived in Iraq in December. The Associated Press reported that five other soldiers were wounded during the bombing incident, but the Army did not identify them.
McMillan's wife, Elizabeth, has been living in Kentucky since he left for Iraq.
He attended high school at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. As a senior he was captain of the wrestling, lacrosse and football teams, winning the school's Athlete of the Year Award. He loved the water and in his free time enjoyed wake-boarding and boating on Lake Cumberland with his family, Marge McMillan said.
"He was always the star athlete," she told the Lexington Herald Ledger.
He attended Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va., for a year before deciding to go straight into the Army. He was stationed in Hawaii for a year before deploying to Iraq as a combat medic, his father said.
After his first few months in Iraq, Marge McMillan asked her son if the U.S. military should be there.
He told her pulling out now would be wrong, she said.
"He was a good medic," she said. "He got lots of compliments on the stuff that he did."
Indeed, a two-star general recently pinned the Bronze Star on him, Marge McMillan said.
His family did not have the details of what led to the medal during his first tour of Iraq. "I know he had saved some lives," his mother said.
McMillan was due home on leave in September. Elizabeth McMillan, a student at the University of Kentucky, said she talked to her husband just hours before he was killed. His mother talked to him the day before.
Marge McMillan said her son -- who is also survived by sister Lauren and brother Brad -- always managed to get to the phones. His family talked to him two or three times a week.
Elizabeth McMillan said she had been looking forward to talking to her husband yesterday, 18 months since their wedding.
Of their last conversation, she said, "He was happy and himself. They were switching him from night shift to day shift patrol, and he was on day patrol when this incident occurred. About 12 hours later he died. The last thing he told me was he loved me. I'll always have that."
McMillan's family said he will be buried at Camp Nelson, 20 miles south of Lexington. No date or details have been set.