UNITED STATES NEWS

Army Reserve soldier killed in Jordan mourned by family and Georgia governor at funeral

Feb 12, 2024, 10:05 PM | Updated: Feb 13, 2024, 1:04 pm

FILE - This combination of photos provided by Shawn Sanders, left, and the U.S. Army, center and ri...

FILE - This combination of photos provided by Shawn Sanders, left, and the U.S. Army, center and right, show from left to right, Sgt. Kennedy Sanders, Staff Sgt. William Jerome Rivers and Sgt. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett. The three U.S. Army Reserve soldiers from Georgia, all of whom received posthumous promotions in rank, were killed by a drone strike on Jan. 28, 2024, on their base in Jordan near the Syrian border. The first funeral service was scheduled Tuesday morning, Feb. 13, for Rivers at a Baptist church in Carrollton, west of Atlanta. (Shawn Sanders and U.S. Army via AP, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Shawn Sanders and U.S. Army via AP, File)

CARROLLTON, Ga. (AP) — The flag-draped casket of Staff Sgt. William Jerome Rivers stood at the front of a church Tuesday as Georgia’s governor joined the Army Reserve soldier’s family, uniformed military officers and his pastor from New Jersey who made the trip to say farewell.

More than 100 mourners gathered at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton west of Atlanta as funerals began for three Georgia reservists killed last month in a drone attack on a U.S. base in Jordan. Two more funeral services will he held this weekend.

A 46-year-old Pennsylvania native, Rivers served in uniform for more than a decade after enlisting as an electrician. The Army said his overseas deployments included a nine-month tour in Iraq in 2018. Before moving to Georgia, he lived in New Jersey and attended the church of the Rev. James Betner, who remembered Rivers as “a faithful man who gave all.”

(asterisk)I thank God for Will,” said Betner, who traveled from Willingboro, New Jersey, to preside at Rivers’ funeral. “I Ioved it when I saw him. He’d come in and his smile just lit up the room.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and his wife sat in the church’s front row along with military officers. Across the aisle, Rivers’ wife, Darlene, sat in a hat and sunglasses with their son and Rivers’ two stepchildren.

Rivers’ uncle, Larry Jenkins, said after the service that his nephew was loving and supportive with a good spirit — “a person who just has a calming effect.”

Outside the church, police cars and Georgia State Patrol cruisers stood by to escort the funeral procession to Georgia National Cemetery, where Rivers was to be buried alongside fellow military veterans in Canton just northwest of Atlanta. An honor guard of Army soldiers served as pallbearers.

A Jan. 28 drone strike on a U.S. military outpost in Jordan killed Rivers as well as Sgt. Kennedy Sanders and Sgt. Breonna Moffett, who all received their ranks in posthumous promotions. They were assigned to the Army Reserve’s 926th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, based at Fort Moore in west Georgia.

Funerals for Sanders and Moffett are scheduled for Saturday. The service for Sanders will be held at Ware County Middle School in her hometown of Waycross, while a large Baptist church in Savannah will host Moffett’s funeral.

A photo slideshow played during Rivers’ church service showed him working with fellow Army engineers in hardhats. He was a skilled engineer who served selflessly, said Brig. Gen. Todd Lazaroski, commander of the Army Reserve’s 412th Theater Engineer Command.

“Staff Sgt. Rivers was more than a fellow soldier,” Lazaroski told those attending the funeral. “He was a friend, a confidante and a beacon of positivity. In the darkest of times, his infectious smile and wisdom were a source of comfort and inspiration to his fellow soldiers.”

President Joe Biden met with the families of the fallen soldiers when their remains were returned to U.S. soil earlier this month at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Friends, former classmates and co-workers have gathered to remember the slain soldiers while awaiting their final homecoming in Georgia.

In Waycross, where 24-year-old Sanders worked at a pharmacy and helped coach children’s basketball and soccer teams, residents gathered at a downtown park for a moment of silence shortly after the overseas attack.

Moffett, who turned 23 barely a week before she died, has been honored in Savannah with a ceremony at Windsor Forest High School, where she was a drum major and JROTC cadet before graduating in 2019. A candlelight vigil was held by Moffett’s employer, United Cerebral Palsy of Georgia, where she helped teach cooking and other skills to people with disabilities.

The deaths were the first U.S. fatalities blamed on Iran-backed militia groups after months of intensified attacks on American forces in the region since the Israel-Hamas war began in October.

More than 40 troops were also injured in the drone attack at Tower 22, a secretive U.S. military desert outpost that enables U.S. forces to infiltrate and quietly leave Syria.

___

Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia.

United States News

Associated Press

What to know about the latest court rulings, data and legislation on abortion in the US

A judge in Montana rejected abortion restrictions, the attorney general in Missouri is accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally transporting minors for abortions and new data shows how the way abortions they’re provided continues to shift in a nation where some states have bans and others are protecting access. More than a year and a half […]

1 hour ago

FILE - National Urban League president and CEO Marc Morial speaks at the National Urban League Annu...

Associated Press

Black Americans’ significant economic and civil rights progress threatened, report says

WASHINGTON (AP) — Black Americans have endured considerable injustices and barriers to prosperity and equality throughout U.S. history. But their social, economic and political advances in the 60 years since the enactment of major civil rights legislation have been unsatisfactory, according to a new annual study on racial progress. The “ State of Black America […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

With trash bins now required in NYC, only the rats are sorry to see the garbage piles go

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s tradition of piling garbage bags on the sidewalk for pickup is going the way of the dinosaur. As of Friday, all 200,000 businesses in the Big Apple are required to put out their bags of trash in garbage bins, as communities across the county and world have long […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Authorities search for father and 2 young children in New Hampshire after mother found dead

MEREDITH, N.H. (AP) — Authorities were searching Friday for a father and his two young children after the children’s mother was found dead in a New Hampshire apartment. Authorities issed an Amber Alert just after 4 a.m. for the abduction of 4-year-old Elowyn Duren and 1-year-old Vaelyn Duren from the city of Berlin. Authorities said […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Gaza doctor says gunfire accounted for 80% of the wounds at his hospital from aid convoy bloodshed

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — The head of a Gaza City hospital that treated some of those wounded in the bloodshed surrounding an aid convoy said Friday that more than 80% had been struck by gunfire, suggesting there had been heavy shooting by Israeli troops. At least 115 Palestinians were killed and more than 750 […]

3 hours ago

A "vote here" sign sits outside a Phoenix polling place in 2022....

Associated Press

Judge rules Arizona’s new voting laws requiring proof of citizenship aren’t discriminatory

An Arizona district judge has ruled state legislators didn't discriminate when passing new voting laws that require proof of citizenship.

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Army Reserve soldier killed in Jordan mourned by family and Georgia governor at funeral