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Bill (age 37) was killed in action January 5, 2006 in Najaf, Iraq. A career Army officer, Bill was also a literary scholar, the author of numerous articles and the editor of Private Perry and Mister Poe: the West Point Poems, 1831. Born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Bill grew up the oldest child in a military family, living in such diverse locations as Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, Albuquerque New Mexico, Heidelberg, Germany, and McLean, Virginia. He thrived on the adventures and opportunities such a lifestyle provided. From a very young age Bill expressed a desire to go to West Point and be in the Army like his dad. He set his goals and never wavered. Active in Boy Scouts of America, Bill obtained the rank of "Eagle Scout." He attended Boys State and participated in many sports. Bill graduated from Northern Virginia's McLean High School in 1987 and accepted an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. He is a graduate of the Class of 1991. From 1991 to 1998, Bill served in various field artillery assignments at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in Germany, and Bosnia. In 2000, he earned a master's degree in English at the University of Oregon and returned to West Point where he served as an assistant professor of English, and enjoyed teaching and mentoring the cadets.
Bill's scholarly interests were wide-ranging; he published articles and spoke about subjects as diverse as Mark Twain, baseball, and theories of rhetoric at many academic conferences. In June 2004, Bill presented a paper at the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, arguing for the connections between patriotism, the army, and baseball. Private Perry and Mister Poe, Bill's facsimile edition of Edgar Allen Poe's 1831 West Point poems, was published by the LSU Press in Spring 2005.
Bill completed Command and General Staff College in 2004 and was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Hood, Texas. He deployed to Iraq in November 2005 as the Operations Officer of the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery. While traveling in a convoy to inspect the progress on a school that was under renovation, an explosive device was detonated along side his humvee, killing Bill and four other brave soldiers.
Bill is remembered as a man of great depth and many passions. He loved his country, the Army and West Point. He enjoyed good literature, good wine and good coffee. A baseball fanatic, he was a huge fan of the St. Louis Cardinals. But Bill's greatest passion was his love for his wife Richelle and their four precious children, Allie, Torie, Lillie and Billy. Some of my fondest memories are of Bill, surrounded by his children on the sofa, reading with great emphasis a nightly chapter of "Little House on the Prairie." Whether tossing a ball with Billy in their backyard, or taking each of his girls out individually for a special breakfast with Dad on a Saturday morning, it was clear to us that Bill was completely happy and content with his life. A wonderfully unique individual, Richelle often referred to Bill as her "Renaissance Man." He on the other hand took great pleasure in describing himself as "slightly eccentric." In truth, Bill was a truly exceptional husband, father, son, brother and friend. One of America's best and brightest; we will remember him always with great love and pride! Well done, my son! Be thou at peace!
Written by Nancy Hecker, Proud American Gold Star Mother of Army Major William F. Hecker III