William Joseph Beardsley – Sergeant, United States Army

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense

February 28, 2007

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sergeant William J. Beardsley, 25, of Coon Rapids, Minnesota, died February 26, 2007, in Diwaniyah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.Beardsley was assigned to the 260th Quartermaster Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Troop Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia.

For more information in regard to this release the media can contact the Fort Stewart public affairs office at (912) 767-2479.

A mother’s grief: Son’s death, Army’s silence
By Teddye Snell
2 March 2007

It’s said the most difficult experience in life is the death of a child.

It gets worse if you can’t fulfill your dead child’s final wishes.

Tahlequah resident Lavonna Harper must now deal with the reality of one, and the possibility of another.

Harper’s son, U.S. Army Sergeant William J. “B.J.” Beardsley, 25, was killed in Iraq Monday by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in an unarmored Humvee in Iraq. He was a member of the 260th Quartermaster Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Troop Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia.

Harper learned of her son’s death Tuesday afternoon when his estranged wife, who lives in Indianapolis with his two children, called her.

According to Harper’s sister, Charlotte Guinn, Harper fainted.

“It’s a good thing she wasn’t driving or something,” said Guinn. “She collapsed right there in the floor of my shop.”

Tuesday evening, Harper received official notification of her son’s death when an Army Sergeant and Chaplain visited her home. She was told a military casualty assistance officer would arrive soon to counsel her, answer questions and help her with her son’s final arrangements.

Wednesday came and went with no visit, which concerned Harper.

“His [Beardsley’s] wife received two visits from officers in Indiana,” said Harper. “His father, who has had nothing to do with him, received two visits from the Army in Minnesota, and his stepdad, who lives in Georgia, also received two visits from the Army.”

Harper got a phone call Thursday morning from the Fort Sill casualty affairs officer, who told her any business Fort Sill had with her concerning her son would be conducted by telephone.

“They told me if he had a will, they couldn’t find it, and that since his [estranged] wife is his next of kin, the body would be shipped to Indiana,” Harper said.

Before deploying to Iraq, Beardsley had separated from his wife and had filed for divorce but was unable to finalize the action before leaving the country.

Thursday morning, Harper was visibly shaken, still in shock from the news. But she firmly believes she has an important message to convey to other parents of soldiers.

“I know I’m not the only momma who’s lost a baby in Iraq,” said Harper. “But I don’t want another parent to have to go through this. I know he wouldn’t have wanted his soon-to-be ex-wife handling his funeral, but since he didn’t have his divorce final and there was no will, I have no choice. It’s OK, though, because he has two children, and they need to be near their daddy.”

Harper’s sister, with whom Harper has been staying, was incensed at her sister’s treatment by the U.S. Army at Fort Sill.

“They [Fort Sill representatives] told my sister there’s no law that says they have to make a personal visit, and the trip is two and a half hours one way just to get here,” said Guinn. “They told her personal visits were a common courtesy, not a law. Evidently it’s not a courtesy they can pay to her.”

As Guinn related the course of events, Harper began to tremble and cry, while holding photographs of her son.

“[I received] just a phone call for the life of my son,” she said. “I just hope other parents – mothers – aren’t treated the way I’ve been treated. It’s just a real slap in the face.”

Fort Sill representatives told Harper the Army would pay her expenses to attend the funeral, but not those of his 21-year-old sister, Amber Graw.

“They told me she wasn’t his next of kin, and would have to pay her own way to Indiana,” Harper said. “She’s his sister!”

According to Harper, Beardsley had been discharged from the Army, but he re-enlisted so he could serve in Iraq.

“He was in for three years before,” said Harper. “He really wanted to go back, so he re-enlisted and was looking forward to going to Iraq to serve his country.”

The Daily Press contacted District 2 U.S. Representative Dan Boren’s office to ask about Harper’s ordeal. Boren is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Constituent Services Representative Vivian Loving in Boren’s Muskogee office took the information and began making phone calls. By Thursday afternoon, Loving had some answers.

“This issue has been kicked up to the Pentagon,” said Loving. “They have been provided with Ms. Harper’s telephone number and are checking into why Fort Sill was reluctant to help.”

Later Thursday, Nick Choate, Boren’s press secretary in Washington, D.C., indicated changes were being made to accommodate Harper.

“According to officials at Fort Sill, [Harper] was not designated as a person to receive benefits in her son’s paperwork,” said Choate. “However, she has since been assigned a casualty assistance officer out of Tulsa who, if he hasn’t already, will be in touch with her shortly.”

Thursday evening, Guinn confirmed her sister will be receiving help.

“It’s just amazing how much has happened just this afternoon,” said Guinn. “Fort Sill contacted us and immediately apologized for the way Lavonna had been treated, and arranged for an officer to come here to the house at 6:30 this evening.”

2 March 2007:

Sergeant William J. Beardsley is the third Fort Stewart soldier to be killed this year in Iraq.

A 3rd Infantry Division soldier who was killed in Iraq was a father of two and spent some of his high school years in Jesup as an ROTC student.

Sergeant William J. Beardsley, 25, of Muskogee, Oklahoma, was killed Monday in Diwaniyah, Iraq, when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle.

Beardsley is the third Fort Stewart soldier to be killed this year in Iraq. He deployed with the 260th Quartermaster Battalion in August.

Beardsley served three years in the Air Force ROTC program as a member of the color guard at Wayne County High School in Jesup. He was among 5 percent of the student corps to receive an achievement award and was recognized for his academic excellence, said Sgt. Lenard Melton, the school’s ROTC recruiter.

Beardsley moved from Muskogee, Oklahoma, to Jesup when he was 5. He returned to Oklahoma when he was 16 and finished high school in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, according to a report on KOTV, a Tulsa television station.

Beardsley’s mother, Lavonna Harper, told the station she couldn’t wait to see her son, who was due to return home on leave next month.

“Something’s not right in this system. It’s not right,” she said. “These young men and women are over there dying for the country that we’re trying to help, and they’re the idiots that are blowing up our sons and our daughters.

“That’s the sad part.”

Harper said her son loved the military and his country.

“My son was so excited to be going. He wanted to serve his country,” she said. “And he served his country with his life.”

Beardsley, an avid motorcyclist, maintained a MySpace.com page on which he posted pictures of his two young children: 4-year-old Chance and 2-year-old Alexis.

On Thursday, family members had begun to leave messages memorializing Beardsley. A headline on the site was revised to read “Rider, soldier, father R.I.P.”

“I’m in the Army and I’m about to deploy to Iraq for a whole freakin year … that sucks,” Beardsley wrote as part of his personal description.

His sister, Amber, said she would miss Beardsley “more than words could ever explain” in a message posted on his site.

“Just know we love you and admire what you’ve done in the 26 years you were here,” she wrote.

KOTV reported that funeral services for Beardsley would be held next week. He’ll be buried in Indianapolis, where his wife and children live.

Latest Minnesotan to die in Iraq, Sergeant William J. Beardsley, had ties with Coon Rapids
by Peter Bodley
Managing editor
Courtesy of ABC Newspapers
6 March 2007

Jim Beardsley is proud of his son and describes him as a hero.

Sergeant William J. Beardsley, 25, known as B.J., died February 26, 2007, while serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq when an improvised explosive device exploded near his vehicle in Diwaniyah, south of Baghdad.

wjbeardsley-photo-01 Sgt. William J. Beardsley

Beardsley was assigned to the U.S. Army’s 260th Quartermaster Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, based in Fort Stewart, Georgia.

Beardsley lived with his family in Coon Rapids for three years, working for his father’s excavating business, before signing up for his second stint in the U.S. Army.

He had joined the U.S. Army right after high school and served 39 months, including a tour of duty in Korea, then re-enlisted in the Army late 2005 with the idea of making it his career.

Liked military structure

“I think he liked the structure of the military,” said Jim Beardsley.

“He did not have to re-enlist and he knew he would be sent to Iraq. He did not have to do it. To me, that makes him even more of a hero.”

Beardsley had been in Iraq for eight months.

Funeral service for Beardsley was planned for Thursday, March 8, 2007, in Indianapolis, Indiana, where his wife, Stacey, and their two children, Chance, 4, and Alexis, 3, now live.

A memorial service for Beardsley will be at Horizons Church on Highway 65 in Ham Lake Tuesday, March 13 with social time from 5-6 p.m., service from 6-7 p.m. and food and refreshments from 7-8 p.m.

Beardsley was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, but moved to Georgia with his mother and her second husband, a U.S. Army sergeant, who was stationed at Fort Stewart, when he was five years old.

While at Wayne County High School in Jesup, Georgia, Beardsley served in the Air Force ROTC program.

But when he was 16, he and his mother, following a divorce, returned to Oklahoma to live in Tahlequah, where he completed high school.

His mother, Lavonna Harper, continues to live in Tahlequah.

Enlisted at age 18

As soon as he turned 18 he enlisted in the U.S. Army.

Beardsley met his wife while in the Army and when he finished his stint in 2002, he and his family moved to Minnesota and Coon Rapids where he began a job working for his father’s company.

“My wife and I lived in Coon Rapids for 20 years and moved to Blaine a little over a year ago,” Jim Beardsley said. His excavating business is in Ham Lake.

Beardsley, Stacey and their children first lived with Jim Beardsley and his wife Dianna in their Coon Rapids home, but then they moved into a townhome before he re-enlisted in the Army in December 2005, according to Jim Beardsley.

As a member of the 260th Quartermaster Battalion, Beardsley did many different things, including providing security for convoys, his father said.

He spoke to his son often by phone while Beardsley was serving in Iraq.

Their final phone conversation took place February 23, 2007, only a few days before his death.

“He acted so old,” Jim Beardsley said. “He talked about what he called his ‘kids’ serving under him who were 18 and 19 years old and could not drink.”

Always a kid

“But to me, B.J. will always be just a kid.”

In that last phone conversation, Beardsley asked his father to make sure that Chance and Alexis knew who he was if anything happened to him, Jim Beardsley said.

“I will certainly do that,” he said. “His kids were his life.”

Jim Beardsley first heard of his son’s death February 27, 2007, when his daughter-in-law called him about 1 p.m.

He was at work at the time and rushed home where two members of the military came by later in the day to tell him and his wife the news, according to Jim Beardsley.

It never really occurred to Jim Beardsley that his son would die in the service of his country, although he was always aware of the dangers, he said.

“You always think it will be someone else,” Jim Beardsley said. “You don’t think it will happen to your son.”

“God has a plan. We don’t know what it is, but God has a better plan than we do. We will get to see him soon.”

Passion for his children

Besides his passion for his children – he had a MySpace.com page on which he posted photos of Chance and Alexis – Beardsley was an avid motorcyclist.

His father, too, is a motorcyclist. “We would ride together,” Jim Beardsley said.

Beardsley also enjoyed softball, baseball, golf and hunting, his father said.

He was the 52nd person with Minnesota ties and the second from Anoka County to die in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and he was the third Minnesotan to be killed so far in 2007.

Sergeant Berdsley was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on 23 May 2007.

The couple went to D.C. to bury their son, who was killed in Iraq, and gained a surprise audience.
By Jim Adams
Courtesy of the Star Tribune
13 June 2007

As Jim and Dianna Beardsley tried to sort out the details of burying their slain soldier son at Arlington National Cemetery, Dianna Beardsley had a bold thought: They should try to get in to see President Bush to tell him of their continuing support of him and the war.

An e-mail and a phone call to the White House got stock answers, but an operator did recommend contacting their senator.

So, Beardsley got Senator Norm Coleman’s receptionist on the line. Beardsley explained that they were coming to Washington for the burial of their son, Staff Sergteant William J. Beardsley, 25.

He was killed February 26, 2007, in Iraq.

One thing led to another, and a tour of the White House and a front-row seat on the South Lawn were arranged.

The morning of May 25, 2007, the Beardsleys of Blaine, Minnesota; their daughter-in-law, Stacy Beardsley, and Stacy’s mother, Jacki Norman, waited on the South Lawn to see the president — and maybe shake his hand — as he walked to his helicopter.

Instead, an aide led them to the Oval Office and President Bush himself invited them in.

The President had tears in his eyes when he hugged and shook hands with them, Dianna Beardsley said.

“He said, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss,’ ” Beardsley said. “We told him how much we supported him and wanted him to know that our son felt that way and he didn’t die in vain. He died honorably for a reason, for a cause, for our country.”

Beardsley, who says she is quite a talker and often interrupts conversations, said Bush talked for about 10 straight minutes. “My husband was looking at me, like ‘Don’t cut the President off!’ ” Beardsley said. “So I held my tongue. I had a good grip on him [Bush] and he had his arm around my shoulders. Finally he said, ‘Tell me about you guys,’ and I said, ‘Actually I had a Bible verse I wanted to share with you.’ ”

When she couldn’t remember it all, Bush pulled his Bible out of a desk drawer and helped find the verse in Ephesians 3, which, in part, asks that God grant his strength and love. “I put my hand on his lapel and said … ‘that is our prayer for you.’ He said how much our faith strengthened and encouraged him.”

The President gave them presidential medallion coins and coloring books for their son’s widow and two young children. Then Bush heard the helicopter arriving and he hugged them goodbye.

beardsley-family-at-white-house-photo-01 Stacey Beardsley, Bonnie Harper, James Beardsley

The wife of Staff Sergeant William Beardsley, Stacey Beardsley, fourth from right, and his the parents, Dianna Beardsley, step-mother,  third from right, and James Beardsley, second from right, watch as an Army honor
guard folds the American flag over the cremated remains of Staff Sergeant Beardsley, during funeral services, at Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday, May, 23, 2007. Beardsley of Coon Rapids, Minnesota,died February 26, 2007, in Diwaniyah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle

Iraq Arlington Funeral

An Army honor guard passes the folded American flag that draped the casket of Staff
Sergeant William Beardsley during the funeral services, Wednesday, May 23, 2007, at Arlington National Cemetery

Stacey Beardsley, Raymond Carpenter, Bonnie Harper, James Beardsley

Major General Raymond Carpenter, left, presents a folded American flag to Stacey Beardsley, wife of Staff Sergeant William Beardsley, during funeral services, Wednesday, May 23, 2007, at Arlington National Cemetery.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 05/23/1981
  • DATE OF DEATH: 02/26/2007

wjbeardsley-gravesite-photo-july-2007-001 wjbeardsley-gravesite-photo-01

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