Miss. National Guard unveils memorial to fallen soldiers

Published 7:51 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Mississippi National Guard, in a weekend ceremony at the Lucedale armory, unveiled a monument honoring four soldiers killed while serving in Iraq.

The monument honors Master Sgt. Sean M. Cooley, 35, of Ocean Springs; Sgt. Terrance D. Lee, 25, of Moss Point; Staff Sgt. Larry Arnold, 46, of Carriere; and Sgt. Robert McNail, 30, of Meridian.

The four were members of Company B, 150th Combat Engineer Battalion. The Lucedale unit went to Iraq as part of the 155th Combat Brigade Team.

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The monument included the names of each of the unit’s soldiers who served in Iraq surrounded by pictures of the four slain soldiers.

“It makes me know that he hasn’t been forgotten,” said Stephanie Lee, Terrance Lee’s widow. Stephanie Lee, who was four months pregnant with their third child when Lee was killed, said it has been difficult since her husband’s death. She said she hoped the monument will help her speak to her new daughter about her father.

Kathryn Cooley, mother of Sean Cooley, said she was grateful her son’s other family — the Guard — was honoring him. Cooley hoped the ceremony would help her find closure with her son’s death.

Cooley was the unit’s first casualty. He was killed by a roadside bomb in Northern Babil Province Feb. 3, 2005.

Lee and Arnold were killed four months later, also by a roadside bomb, on June 11, 2005.

McNail was killed Feb. 11, 2005, when his Humvee collided with another vehicle in Iskandariyah, Iraq.

Sgt. Kirk Dyer said the unit decided to honor the four soldiers during their rotation in Iraq.

“They were family,” said Dyer. “They will always be family members.”