DEERFIELD TWP. (AP) – A soldier from western Michigan who was looking forward to watching his four young children grow up has been killed in an insurgent attack in Afghanistan, authorities and his family said Tuesday.
Army Sgt. Robert J. Billings, 30, died Saturday of wounds from an improvised explosive device blast in Spin Boldak, according to the Defense Department.
Billings graduated in 2001 from Morley Stanwood High School in Deerfield Township, about 40 miles northeast of Grand Rapids. He later moved to Virginia, where he met his wife, Christy, said his grandmother, Elaine Billings. He later enlisted in the Army and had one previous combat posting in Iraq in 2009 and 2010.
His grandmother said he and his wife have four children, ages 3 to 10.
“He was going to make this his last tour so he could be with his children and watch them grow up,” she told Mlive.com. “They were just all over him when he’d come home.”
Billings came from a military family. His father spent 20 years in the Navy, and his grandfather served in the Army.
“It was just kind of in his blood,” Elaine Billings said.
Former teacher Tim Paczewski said Billings made a strong impression during his time at Morley Stanwood.
Billings showed “a lot of determination. He was very goal oriented when he was a student here; very likable always had a smile on his face, got a long very well with his classmates as well as staff,” Paczewski said.
Billings was part of the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.
His remains were flown back to the U.S., arriving Monday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
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