Another Mississippi Soldier Dies in Iraq

Tragedy in Iraq continues to hit close to home. A Mississippi Army National Guard Unit from Philadelphia has lost yet another soldier in the war in Iraq. Second Lieutenant Matt Stovall was killed by hostile fire over the weekend. The 25 year old soldier left last September with the 367th Maintenance Company but later transferred to another unit.

Now the people he leaves behind are remembering the life of one of our nation's heroes.

It was on this little league baseball field where Philadelphia's mayor got to know a young boy named Matt Stovall.

Mayor Rayburn Waddell said, "He and my son were on the same team. He just enjoyed playing sports."

Stovall later traded in his baseball uniform for a National Guard uniform, keeping a good attitude all the while.

Waddell said, "Whatever he did he put his best foot forward."

Stovall left in September with the 367th maintenance company and later attached to another unit.

He paid a visit to the place he worked as a high schooler before he left.

Store owner Steve Wilkerson remembers Matt serving his customers well with the ultimate dream of one day serving his country.

Wilkerson said, "He loved the military. When people would come in the store, if he had an opportunity to talk shop about the military, he'd talked shop. He loved it."

Waddell said whether on a baseball field or in a combat zone, Matt Stovall always gave his best. He said because of that, Stovall will always be remembered in the game of life as a true champion.

"He was a hero," Waddell said.

Wilkerson said, "He would've fought to the bitter end for his country and that's...I really believe that Matt qualifies that hero status."

Stovall leaves behind his wife and two year old boy. Although he was raising his family in Southaven, the residents of this small town will always remember where he learned to be so selfless.

Waddell says he's making plans to hold a memorial service in the city, pending the Stovall family's approval.

Stovall is the 16th Mississippian killed in the war with Iraq.

He's the second soldier from Philadelphia to die this year. Sergeant Joshua Ladd of the 367th was killed in May. He and Stovall grew up together in the same church.

Davis Brister