BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - On Thanksgiving Day, the Donnelly family received the news that every military family fears. They learned their son, Will, had been killed in action in Afghanistan.
Will had spent much of his youth growing up in Picayune. His family no longer lives there, but Jeff Lawson of WLOX News had a chance to speak with Will's father on the phone.
"He was always a humble guy," is how William Donnelly III, described his only son. "He was a good man."
Will's humility is part of what made him such a good Marine. His dad said his only son always wanted to follow in his footsteps and serve our country.
It was early September of this year when his family last saw and talked to Will, on his wedding day. That's the day Will's dad told him something he will always remember.
"I just told him how proud I am of him, how I have always been proud of the man he was," William Donnelly said.
Will was leading his fellow Marines in a fire fight when he died on Thanksgiving Day.
"They became engaged with a large Taliban force," his father said. "We understand the fire fight lasted over two hours. It involved several other squads that came to assist. We also understand it was early in the fire fight when he was hit. He died quickly and did not suffer, which we are very grateful for."
The family knew he was serving in a very dangerous province of Afghanistan, but no family can ever be prepared for the death of their child. Mr. Donnelly told us he thinks his son would want to be remembered as a Marine who gave everything he had for his fellow Marines.
Lt. Donnelly will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery December 14th.