William A. Long – Corporal, United States Army

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 625-05

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died on June 18, 2005, in Baqubah, Iraq, from injuries sustained on June 17, 2005, in Buritz, Iraq, when they were conducting a mounted patrol and their HMMWV was attacked by enemy forces using rocket-propelled grenades.  Both soldiers were assigned to the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Georgia.

Killed were:

First Lieutenant Noah Harris, 23, of Ellijay, Georgia
Corporal William A. Long, 26, of Lilburn, Georgia

For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.

A local family is finding comfort in their son’s bravery in Iraq. They are the second family to learn news a soldier with local ties was killed in Iraq in recent days.

Corporal William Long, 26, was killed after an attack on Friday in Buritz, Iraq.


Long’s mother, Susan Cordner, lives in Knoxville. Her son and another soldier were conducting a mounted patrol when their Humvee was attacked with rocket propelled grenades.

Both soldiers had been stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, before deployment to Iraq.

Long’s stepfather says the soldier wanted to be in the military and wanted to serve his country in Iraq.

“It’s too bad you have to be a hero at 26 and not at 70, but he’s a hero like few other people can be,” said Lee Cordner.

Long leaves behind a fiancee. Services will be held Friday morning at Fort Benning. He’ll be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Earler Tuesday, the defense department announced that Master Sergeant Michael L. McNulty, 36, was killed Friday during a battle in Al Qaim, Iraq.

Two with Knox ties killed in Iraq
Long, 26, was from Halls; McNulty, 36, listed hometown as Knoxville

An East Tennessee soldier who helped bury at Arlington National Cemetery some of the first troops killed in Iraq will be laid alongside the men and women he once honored.

Corporal William “Billy” Long, 26, died Saturday in Iraq, the U.S. Department of Defense said Tuesday.


Also Tuesday, the department announced that Master Sergeant Michael L. McNulty, 36, and identified as being from Knoxville, was killed last week in action in Iraq.

Long will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, by his former comrades. He spent several years on the Armed Forces Honor Guard, a Washington, D.C.-based unit that takes part in ceremonies at Arlington, at national memorials in the Washington area and throughout the world.

Long took part in 600 funerals, his mother said Tuesday.

He died a day after his Humvee was attacked by rocket-propelled grenades near Buritz, Iraq, according to the Defense Department. The 3rd Infantry Division soldier was six months into his tour in Iraq, his mother, Susan Cordner, said in an interview at her Halls home.

She said he requested a transfer from his honor guard duties in Washington so he could deploy to Iraq.

“He was ready to go and felt that’s what he needed to do,” Cordner said. “I didn’t like it, but I supported him.”

Cordner said she and her son lived in Knoxville for a few years in the early 1990s. She said he attended middle school in Knoxville. Many members of his family still call East Tennessee home, she said.

Cordner described her son as “fun and comical” and said his father and military leaders have been inundated with phone calls from old friends and military comrades wishing the family well and inquiring about his funeral service.

The outpouring of support, however, hasn’t diminished her heartache.

“He was very well thought of, but just so young,” Cordner said as she held back tears.

She recalled her son having a watershed year when he was 17.

First, his interest in the military grew more intense.

“I had to run recruiters away from the house, he had so many over,” she said.

He was baptized that same year.

A Bible verse would one day become a sort of motto for him: “Better a poor man with integrity than a rich man who distorts right and wrong.”

He included the message at the end of every e-mail he sent. His mother said the verse sums up the way he lived his life.

“His passion was for us to be free,” she said. “He truly believed he was doing the best for all of us.”

Details for Long’s Arlington service were not complete as of Tuesday, but his mother said soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia, have scheduled a memorial service for Friday.

She said the family would hold another service in Knoxville following the funeral at Arlington.

The Defense Department said McNulty died Friday when his unit was attacked by small arms in the Qaim region, where the military has been fighting what it describes as insurgents.

He listed Knoxville as his hometown when he enlisted in the Army, but the News Sentinel was unable to contact any family or friends in East Tennessee.

He was assigned to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

He enlisted in the Army in 1986 after his high school graduation. He served a stint with the 2nd Infantry Division out of Fort Lewis, Wash. He later served with the 327th Infantry Regiment out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

He has been awarded three Bronze Stars, including one with Valor and three Army commendation medals. He was considered a master parachutist and also had a combat infantryman’s badge.

He is survived by his wife, Paula, and their four children, Cyle, Eric, Rebecca and Katie, of North Carolina, as well as his parents Davis and Ann Marie McNulty.

The family released a statement Tuesday through the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office at Fort Bragg, N.C.

“Michael was a loving husband, a dedicated and proud father of four and a caring son. He was also a soldier who unwaveringly placed our country before himself,” the statement read. “Michael was honored to served with his fellow soldiers, proud to serve in the United States Army, grateful to be an American.”

McNulty was the third soldier from Knoxville and the 36th soldier from Tennessee to be killed since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom in April 2003.

Gwinnett GI buried at Arlington Cemetery
Had served in Old Guard there before going to Iraq

William A. Long’s fiancée treasures his letters, keeping them in the plastic sleeves of a photo album that she thought they would one day share with their children.

In one of the early letters, written longhand on lined notebook paper, the Lilburn man notes that they’d only known each other for five months and eight days, “but I’m certain that you’re the one I want to be with.”


The casket of Army Corporal William A. Long is carried to the gravesite at Arlington
National Cemetery Monday, followed by his mother, Susan Corder (on the arm
of Brigadier General John A. MacDonald). Behind them is Long’s fiancee,
Elizabeth Jackson, on the arm of Lee Corder, Long’s father.

The night before his funeral, Elizabeth Jackson paused and confided that the first time Long told her he loved her was June, 17, 2001. Exactly five years to the day before his Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq, killing him and another Georgia soldier.

“I loved him very, very much,” Jackson, 28, said quietly. “I still do.”

Long, 26, was buried Monday morning at Arlington National Cemetery, among several rows of fresh gravestones for people killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Before signing up for an Army unit headed for combat, Long spent two years with the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), a ceremonial unit based in Washington. Long took part in 600 to 700 funerals at Arlington, serving as a pallbearer, presenting American flags to next of kin and serving as a driver for Chaplain Major Douglas Charles Fenton.

On Monday, Fenton said the eulogy for the young man he had come to know as a friend. The two had played tennis most weekends and when Long couldn’t get leave to be with his family on holidays, he would be with Fenton, often spending time playing — and losing — video games to Fenton’s 10-year-old son. Fenton was supposed to officiate over Long’s wedding.

Army officials presented Long’s mother and stepfather with the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Good Conduct medal awarded to him posthumously. A company of Old Guard soldiers was also there to pay their respects.

Long’s stepfather, Lee Cordner of Lilburn, talked last week about how proud he was of the young man. The Army, Cordner said, had taken an aimless youth and helped him find a purpose in life.

Cordner, an Army veteran, said he never talked to his stepson about where he would want to be buried if he died in Iraq. But Long had given him a tour of Arlington once and they watched a funeral together from a distance, with Long explaining the rituals. “It just seems like he’s a hero and this is the right place for him,” Cordner said last week.

Long, who was a gunner, was pronounced dead June 18 in the attack near Buritz, Iraq. Long’s platoon leader, 1st Lt. Noah Harris of Ellijay, was also killed. Harris, 23, was honored Saturday in a community celebration in Ellijay. Both were assigned to the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.

Long was born in Falls River, Mass., but grew up in Georgia, attending Shiloh and Berkmar high schools in Gwinnett County.

When Long’s fiancée met him in the spring of 2001, he was already planning to enter the Army. She was in graduate school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and working at a Victoria’s Secret store where Long’s mother, Sue Cordner, was the manager.

Sue Cordner, who is divorced from Lee Cordner, played matchmaker, making sure that her son visited the store on a day when Jackson was working. Jackson, 28, said she was drawn by his good looks, and they spent a month talking for hours on the phone before they went on a date.

“Bill just sort of commanded the room. He was always smiling, very charismatic,” Jackson said.

She said he was a perfectionist, always making sure his uniform was flawless. He ate pizza with a knife and fork and always arrived early. He loved Georgia Tech football and basketball, and she put “Dragonball Z” stickers on the letters she wrote him because he loved the cartoon.

Jackson said Long was protective of his friends and his mother, and he was somebody who would not back down if he believed in something.

When Long went to Iraq in January, he wouldn’t tell her much about his duties, saying he didn’t want her to worry. But she said he felt strongly about what he did.

“He was very proud of what he did,” Jackson said.

Soldier killed in Iraq returns to Arlington for final time
Corporal with ET ties left honor guard ‘to do his part’

About 60 extra Army honor guard members bused in Monday for a final salute to their former co-worker, Corporal William A. Long, who had traded military cemetery detail for action in Iraq.

Long, 26, killed two weeks ago when his Humvee was hit by enemy rocket-propelled grenades, was assigned to Grave 8193, Section 60, in the southern end of Arlington National Cemetery. Only 200 yards away, a bulldozer and other heavy earthmovers buzzed back and forth to slope a hilly area for future graves.

A middle school student in Knoxville in the early 1990s, Long had returned to the city periodically to visit his mother, Susan Cordner, in the Halls community. Military officials Monday gave his mother the triangle-folded flag that had covered his brown coffin, and his new awards: a Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, and Good Conduct Medal.

“Arlington National Cemetery is probably the most sacred ground in the country,” his stepfather, Lee Cordner of Lilburn, Georgia, said in an interview. “A lot of important people are buried there,” including former Presidents John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft.

Long, 26, received the standard honors military burial: six military pallbearers in dress uniforms, a U.S. flag-draped coffin, seven soldiers firing simultaneously three times each, a bugler playing “Taps.” The flag was precision-folded in midair by 12 hands and presented to his mother.

Beyond that, about 60 other members of the 3rd Infantry Division, the highly disciplined honor guard, attended. Many lowered their heads, a couple wiped their eyes. All saluted during “Taps.”

Also, Chaplain Douglas Fenton, formerly assigned to Arlington cemetery with Long, made a special trip to the burial. He read a Bible verse and shared some personal memories of Long. Then he hugged Long’s mother, stepfather and Elizabeth Jackson of Raleigh, N.C., Long’s fiancee.

Long was among the first 150 soldiers who died in Iraq to be scheduled for burial at Arlington, a cemetery spokesman said. Families may choose cemeteries closer to home. More than 1,700 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq since 2003.

He could have remained at Arlington National Cemetery’s military honors unit and kept away from danger in the Middle East. But he re-enlisted last year so he could see active duty in Iraq, his stepfather said. He went to Iraq in January.

“I think he just wanted to be where the action was. He is patriotic. He had done a lot of burials” of soldiers sent home, Lee Cordner said. “He just wanted to go do his part.”

By night, the 6-4, 210-pound soldier often went on patrols in armored vehicles aimed at prompting armed insurgents to fire and reveal their locations so backup units could destroy them, he told family members.

By day, he enjoyed giving candy and Beanie Babies to Iraqi children, Lee Cordner said.

“He said he felt he was doing something that was good for the country.”

Long joined the Army after a series of post-high school jobs did not excite him, his stepfather said. He knew the Army would pay for college expenses. “He was looking for something to do with the rest of his life.”

Army life was satisfying him.

“He was good at it,” Lee Cordner said. “He really kind of found his niche. He was at one point talking about staying in” for his career.

In Georgia and in Iraq, Long was friends with another Fort Benning, Ga., soldier, 1st Lt. Noah Harris, 23. They were on patrol June 17 near Buritz, Iraq, when their Humvee was hit with rocket-propelled grenades. Both were severely injured and died the next day.

Their commanding officer in Iraq later told Lee Cordner that Long and Harris “were both kind of natural-born leaders. They were always positive.”

Long’s stepfather said he would never forget the day that an Army chaplain and a sergeant came to his house at 6:30 a.m.

“That’s when my world went upside down – seeing those two guys,” Lee Cordner said. “The second you see two soldiers and you have a kid in the war, you know what it is.”



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