William Robert Newgard – Private First Class, United States Army

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
January 2, 2007

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died December 29, 2006, in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations.

Killed were:

Sergeant Lawrence J. Carter, 25, of Rancho Cucamonga, California He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.

Private First Class William R. Newgard, 20, of Arlington Heights, Illinois. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.

Soldier killed in Iraq doing the job he sought

Video: Local soldier killed in Iraq
By John Keilman
Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune
Published January 3, 2007

Will Newgard grew up with an insatiable interest in the military. He read endless volumes of war history and strategy, attended a Wisconsin military academy for a year and asked question after question about his grandfathers, both of whom had served.

When he graduated from Hersey High School in Arlington Heights in 2005, the potential danger of Army life was clear. But he signed up anyway, and was soon in Iraq, assigned the important and risky job of driving high-ranking officers around the lethal streets of Baghdad.

On Friday the private first class was killed in Iraq when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle, the Pentagon said. He was 20.

His death has been a terrible blow to his family and friends, but they have taken comfort in the knowledge he found a deep satisfaction in serving his country.

“When I knew he wanted to join up, I was very scared,” said his mother, Kaki Newgard of Palatine. “But in my heart, I knew that was something he had wanted to do for a long time. As long as he was following his dream, I was OK with it.”

Newgard's sister Holly, 24, remembered that her brother, even from age 4, seemed destined for the military. He wore camouflage constantly and loved “G.I. Joe” cartoons.

His interest took him to Delafield, Wis., for middle school at St. John's Northwestern Military Academy, but he returned to Arlington Heights to finish high school.

Joe Krajacic, Hersey dean of students, said Newgard had been a very friendly and polite kid, quick to flash a roguish grin when questioned about an absence.

But when Newgard returned for a recent visit, Krajacic said, he was obviously no longer a scruffy youngster but a squared-away soldier.

“He looked very confident,” Krajacic said. “He definitely had aged. You could tell that he had grown up.”

Newgard was assigned to the 1st Armored Division, stationed in Germany. He came home for a two-week leave in December, and visited Sanborn School in Palatine, where his mother is the secretary.

He thanked the pupils for a care package they had sent him filled with everything from letters to toothbrushes, and spoke to children as young as kindergarten age about his days in Iraq, winning them over with his kind and gentle nature.

“It helped them make a connection between what they see on the media and the life of a soldier,” Principal Michael Carmody said. “He knew how to respond to [questions] and bring it to their level of understanding.”

He also spent a good deal of time with his girlfriend, Samm Gercken, 17, a senior at Rolling Meadows High School. She said he remained mostly silent about his time in Iraq, not wanting to worry her.

“He tried to protect me in a way,” she said. “All he said is that it was a really bad place, and he didn't want to be there anymore. He wanted to be home.

“But he really loved [the Army]. It was his dream.”

Newgard's family said that arrangements for a memorial service have yet to be made, but that he will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

“We will remember his smile, his eyes, the love he had for everybody around him,” Gercken said.

“He was a really good person.”

Residents line suburban street for fallen soldier

January 16, 2007
Courtesy of thePioneer Press

Residents who didn't even know Will Newgard lined both sides of his father's street Monday in Arlington Heights.

They came out to show respect on the morning of his funeral at St. James Catholic Church.

U.S. Army Private First Class William “Will” Newgard, who grew up in the northwest suburb, was killed December 29, 2006, by an explosive device while he was serving in Iraq.

Before Will Newgard came home on leave in December, residents had tied red bows and ribbons on parkway trees in welcome.

When they learned of his death, they added small American flags to the ribbons.

On Monday morning, they held flags and signs as the funeral procession, on its way to the church, passed along the street where his father, J. William, lives.

Emily Graziano, 9, was in a group of children holding signs that read, “Thanks for freedom” and “Thanks, Will.”

She said she was there “because we live close to him and to show respect.”

“Everybody has different political views here, but everybody comes together to show support for the family,” said Gail Yalenti, who lives on the street.

“This is where the war gets personal,” said another neighbor, Ray Giese, whose brother served nine months in Iraq. “That was personal, too.”

“This is about being in America,” said Tarry Hoskins. “We should all be out here, whether we support the war or not.”

Three Cub Scouts, along with Ron Cimo, their leader, held the Pack 269 banner. Newgard once was a member of the pack

The Rev. James Hearne, who spoke at the funeral, said that Arlington Heights “seemingly had gone unscathed, we had not lost anyone” in the Iraq conflict. “If we hadn't been connected before with what's going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, [this] connects us,” he said.

‘I felt God's pain'

He said the Newgard family's loss spreads out to “communities within communities,” to include St. James Parish, Patton and Thomas middle schools, which Newgard attended, and Sanborn School in Palatine where his mother, Kaki Newgard, works and her son visited on Dec. 5 to thank the students for the care packages they had sent to him.

Newgard also graduated from John Hersey High School in 2005.

Hearne said he had taken Newgard's photo with him on a walk through the neighborhood to help him find a meaningful message for the eulogy.

At first, he noticed only the “big, beautiful homes,” lit up and warm inside.

“Then it started to drizzle, and I felt God's pain over this.”

Hearne saw the American flags displayed outside the houses. “For a brief moment, I felt Will in those raindrops.”

Newgard will be buried Friday in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Besides his parents, survivors include his sister, Holly M. Newgard, and his grandmother, Margaret Armstrong.

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