Father of Seven Killed in Action in Iraq Army Sgt. First Class Stephen J. White was a 20-year soldier, the father of seven children and wed to a soldier on active duty. As Tanya Ott of member station WBHM reports, White died along with three other soldiers on his fourth tour of duty in Iraq.
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Father of Seven Killed in Action in Iraq

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Father of Seven Killed in Action in Iraq

Father of Seven Killed in Action in Iraq

Father of Seven Killed in Action in Iraq

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Army Sgt. First Class Stephen J. White was a 20-year soldier, the father of seven children and wed to a soldier on active duty. As Tanya Ott of member station WBHM reports, White died along with three other soldiers on his fourth tour of duty in Iraq.

SCOTT SIMON, Host:

Talladega, Alabama has laid to rest its first soldier to die in Iraq. Sgt. First Class Stephen White and four other soldiers died January 5 in Najaf. A roadside bomb destroyed their vehicle. Sgt. White was a 20-year army veteran who had planned to retire. From member station WBHM in Birmingham, Tanya Ott reports.

TANYA OTT: Stephen White was a man truly blessed with family, he and his wife and seven children, and 20 brothers, 11 sisters, scores of cousins, nieces, and nephews. At his funeral, it was standing room only in Kelly Springs Missionary Baptist Church

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SIMON: Friends and family all say Stephen White was an easygoing man. Eula Morris was a cousin and White's first grade teacher.

EULA MORRIS: He was a smart little boy. He was a sweet, kind of shy, pleasant, just a lovable little boy who was loved by all the children.

SIMON: Ricky Swain was a high school classmate at Talladega High. They served together in the ROTC. Swain says even then White was a leader.

RICKY SWAIN: Well, he was quiet, you know. He didn't talk that much, you know, and stuff, but he was a good person and stuff.

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SIMON: While he may have lived his life in a quiet way, at his funeral, the crowd, some 500 strong, celebrated his life.

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SIMON: Talladega City Councilman Eddie Tucker is part of White's extended family.

EDDIE TUCKER: The last time he was in Iraq, a dud hit his hooch where he was staying, and when they woke up in the morning, they looked up there, and they saw that they had an ordinance that didn't explode. He took that as a sign that it was time for him to get out of the military.

SIMON: For NPR News, I'm Tanya Ott.

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