A Memorial Day message from one of the fallen – Sgt. William Stacey


Sgt. William Stacey and girlfriend, Kimmy Kirkwood

Gen. John Allen, a top US commander in Afghanistan, marked this Memorial Day by reading the words of Sgt. William Stacey – a Marine who, on his fifth deployment, lost his life when a homemade bomb exploded while on a foot patrol in southern Helmand province on January 31st. He was 23.

Like most, if not all, soldiers on the battlefield, Sgt. Stacey carried a letter to be read if he was KIA. This Memorial Day, I can think of no one better to speak to us on behalf of the fallen warriors than one of the fallen themselves.


“My death did not change the world; it may be tough for you to justify its meaning at all. But there is a greater meaning to it. Perhaps I did not change the world. Perhaps there is still injustice in the world.

“But there will be a child who will live because men left the security they enjoyed in their home country to come to his. And this child will learn in the new schools that have been built. He will walk his streets not worried about whether or not his leader's henchmen are going to come and kidnap him. He will grow into a fine man who will pursue every opportunity his heart could desire.

Reprinted in The Seattle Times, with permission by parents

See a photo slideshow of this exceptional young man at ABC News.

I send prayers for our military families, and humbly honor the courage and heroism of their sons and daughters so that I may remain free.

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Thank you Mata, these few words from a humble man should serve to humble all of us.

Where do they find these men? They walk as giants, may we always be sure to remember and honor them.

More about Stacey:

William Chapman Stacey (Will) was born in New Haven, CT, on March 1, 1988, but grew up in Seattle, WA, where he moved with his parents when he was four months old. A gifted baseball player from a young age, he could hit a pitched wiffle ball over a two story house when he was only two years old. He continued to play baseball until he joined the Marine Corps, rising through the Little League ranks as a perennial all-star, and finishing his high school baseball career as an All-Conference Honorable Mention second baseman for the 2006 Roosevelt High School baseball team in Seattle.
As a child, he was a voracious reader, with a particular interest in military history. The American Civil War held a special fascination for him; at six years of age, he could (and did) talk knowledgeably for hours about tactics and troop dispositions at the Battle of Gettysburg with the tour guides at the Gettysburg battlefield. By age ten, his interests had shifted to the Second World War, about which he displayed, to the surprise of his teachers, a remarkably detailed knowledge. His energy and enthusiasm, combined with his concern for others, made him a natural leader amongst his classmates, who generally followed him wherever his interests led him.
When he was eight years old, his sister Anna was born. Will was Anna’s favorite person from the moment she was born, and she was his. They adored each other, and their pride in each other knew no bounds.
Middle school was a difficult period for Will, but he put himself back together in high school, becoming one of the most widely-known and well-liked members of the 2006 graduating class at Roosevelt High School. Academic work, however, remained a struggle for him, despite his undoubted intelligence. And so, after a few unsuccessful months in junior college, he joined the Marine Corps in the fall of 2006, entering the Corps officially on January 3, 2007. When asked why he chose the Marine Corps, his answer was simple: “I wanted to do something that was really, really hard.”
His pride in what he accomplished with the Marines was well-deserved. In five years, he served five overseas
deployments, including four that took him to Afghanistan. An 81-mm mortarman, he was also a qualified Forward
Observer, a Rifle Expert with training as a sniper, and an intelligence analyst. He rose to become a Sergeant and squad leader, and was under consideration for promotion to Staff Sergeant at the time of his death (a fact he never knew). On January 31, 2012 he was killed in action by an IED while leading his squad on a mission in the district of Now Zad in Helmand Province, where he had served as a volunteer combat replacement on an earlier tour of duty in the fall of 2008.
He also had a lot to come home to. In August 2008 he had begun dating Kimmy Kirkwood, the woman to whom (as he told a friend the weekend before he died) he planned to propose upon his return from deployment.
As he requested, he will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on March 13, 2012, where he will rest amongst his comrades-in-arms.
He is survived by his parents, Robert and Robin Stacey; his sister Anna; and the love of his life, Kimmy Kirkwood.


This son of teachers who never loved school but in the Marines he thrived, was just weeks away from coming home after five deployments.

His letter was weighing what would make dying worth it.

“…there is a greater meaning to it,” he writes. And obviously he has seen a lot of kids during his time in the Marines, because he then says: “there will be a child who will live.”

He wrote because of the sacrifice he made, “this child will learn in the new schools that have been built. He will walk his streets not worried … He will grow into a fine man. He will have the gift of freedom … ”

In a way, Stacey was writing about a child free to become the man he himself became. And with all the pain this is causing his parents today, these are Stacey’s parting words near the end of his letter, meant to comfort them:

“If my life buys the safety of a child who will one day change this world, then I know that it was all worth it,” he writes.

Words of promise. And those worlds don’t die, they live and wait for the outcome the one Will Stacey died for.

And check out the squad flag.

Cofer Black:

My mission was not to ensure that little girls go to school in Afghanistan. My mission was not to establish, you know, a legal system in Afghanistan. Was not my mission. My mission was to destroy al Qaeda. And to do that, we had to overthrow the Taliban.

And of course many have grown weary of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; especially when it comes to Afghan soldiers shooting our soldiers in the back, anti-American protests and rioting, complaints about ROE and not taking the gloves off, unappreciation for the expense of American blood and treasure, domestic problems back here at home, etc. All of this works to demoralize.

We can’t save the world…and the cynics and disillusioned may scoff at Stacey’s idealism…but isn’t it still in our self-interest to do what we can to prevent a Taliban resurgence, if it remains within our power to try and do so? Cut our losses or persevere? Will the ultimate costs outweigh the benefits? Or will the ultimate benefits outweigh the costs? What is in America’s best self-interests at this point, after pouring in over 10 yrs worth of war effort?

Not everyone shares in Stacey’s “hearts and minds” commitment:

No matter what anyone says about the military, they made a choice to help and whether or not they succeeded it will always be in the history of this nation that we make the attempt while the rest of the world looks on.

But there will be a child who will live because men left the security they enjoyed in their home country to come to his. And this child will learn in the new schools that have been built. He will walk his streets not worried about whether or not his leader’s henchmen are going to come and kidnap him. He will grow into a fine man who will pursue every opportunity his heart could desire.

The real pity in this man’s death will be realized when the Taliban, and their AQ friends, come back to power in Afghanistan after we pull out.

It will all have been in vain.


I have shed some tears for this fallen HERO….my heartfelt condolences go out to his family…friends, and Kimmy..I am so sorry… God Bless…