Armory to be dedicated for two fallen soldiers

Published 4:34 pm Thursday, November 30, 2006

As youngsters, Matthew Stovall and Joshua Ladd attended the same church in their small Mississippi hometown. They grew up to be soldiers in the same unit, and both lost their lives in Iraq.

Another connection between the two men will be forged this weekend when the Mississippi National Guard hosts a ceremony to name its Philadelphia armory in their memory.

The Ladd-Stovall Army National Guard Readiness Center will be home to the 298th Corps Support Battalion and the 367th Maintenance Company, the unit to which both soldiers belonged, according to Lt. Col. Tim Powell, a Guard spokesman.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Ladd, 20, became the third Mississippi Army National Guard soldier to die in Iraq, killed by a rocket-propelled grenade on May 1, 2004. In civilian life, he had worked as a tactical officer at Chamberlain-Hunt Academy, a military boarding school in Port Gibson, Powell said.

Stovall, 25, became the fourth Guardsmen from the state killed in the conflict when he was caught in a roadside bomb attack while on a humanitarian mission on Aug. 22, 2004. He left behind a wife, Natalie, and a son who was two years old at the time.

Stovall and Ladd both were raised in Philadelphia, a central Mississippi logging town of fewer than 8,000 people, and were friends growing up despite their age difference. Both were graduates of Neshoba Central High School and had attended Coldwater Baptist Church.

Janice Payne, a Philadelphia alderwoman, said that with Neshoba County’s population being less than 30,000, residents often share in the good times and the bad. She said it was fitting that the armory be named for both men.

“They were outstanding, outstanding citizens,” Payne said. “The deaths of these men had a tremendous impact on our community. They did a great thing by giving their lives for our freedom.”

Powell said Maj. Gen. Harold A. Cross, the state adjutant general, has ordered that Guard armories and other buildings be named for soldiers who have given their lives while serving their state and nation.

The dedication ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday.