Local Marine dies during combat

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - A small South Mississippi town is in mourning. It's lost yet another of its native sons in the war to keep our country safe. Since the War on Terror began, Picayune's mayor said about half a dozen servicemen from its community have been killed in the line of duty.

The latest killed is First Lieutenant William Donnelly. The 27-year-old died in combat on Thanksgiving Day in Afghanistan. Now people in his hometown are coping with the news.

The names of the war dead are inscribed in a monument in front of Picayune City Hall to make sure these heroes are never forgotten. Picayune's mayor wants the Donnelly family to know his courage will also be remembered.

"We will roll out everything we can do to make this family as comfortable as possible," said Mayor Ed Pinero. "If they choose to have Lt. Donnelly buried in Pearl River County, we will have a first class escorts support. The patriot riders, our police and sheriff's office will be here to support. What you'll see is our citizens will line the streets in support of a fallen hero."

Reverend Keith Warden said the Sunday's sermon at First Baptist was about what to do when hope seems lost.

"I think for places like Picayune, even though it's heartbreaking and it takes a toll on families, it also is a real point of pride for us," said Rev. Warden. "Because you'll find in the citizens of this community that we love this nation. We love what we stand for."

"So we believe when the cause is just. We have men and women who are standing up for what is right and giving their lives for the cost of freedom. Even though we're heartbroken over that loss, we know that those losses are not in vain. "

While war has taken several of Picayune's native sons in the last few years the tight-knit community hasn't lost faith.

Rev. Warden said, "God is able to use that for His purpose and His glory. We might not even see it on this side of our lives, on this side of eternity. But we know that He is in charge. We take great comfort in that."

Marine Corps officials said Donnelly joined in 2008. This was his first combat deployment.

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