Fallen Soldier's Hometown Dedicates Street in His Honor
October 1, 2009
<b> CONWAY, S.C. </b> - A Soldier's name will live on, not just in spirit, as city council members of Conway, S.C., named a street after the fallen hero, Sept. 25.
On the one-year anniversary of his death, Fort Stewart-based Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team joined the Conway community to honor Staff Sgt. Ronald Phillips Jr. at a street dedication ceremony held at the Rosehaven Subdivision.
"This is a tribute the city council has been anxious to have, to honor such a hero as Ron," said Conway Mayor Alys Lawson during the ceremony. "While this is a tribute, we do realize that it does symbolize a tragic loss for the Family, and we are all truly sorry for your loss."
Staff Sergeant Phillips, 33, and Conway native, died Sept. 25, 2008, in Bahbahani, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his lead patrol vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.
"He always put himself at the most amount of risk, leading patrols in a very tense and confusing environment," said Capt. Ryan Daly, commander of Company E, 3rd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga., and Staff Sgt. Phillips' former platoon leader. "And when I say leading, he very literally led the patrols. He was in the first vehicle, which in our area was the most dangerous place to be because of the way the enemy chose to fight us.
"It was a time when our enemy was becoming more active and our Soldiers needed reassurance," Capt. Daly continued. "The men knew and trusted in Staff Sgt. Phillips, and he did not hesitate to take charge and lead the lead vehicle on any mission. He wouldn't have it any other way. There were many times when I asked him to switch and not be in the lead vehicle, and every single time he said, 'No, sir. This is my job, this is how I do business, and I'm always going to be in the lead vehicle. You can always depend on me.'"
Captain Daly explained that Staff Sgt. Phillips volunteered to lead the unit's patrols after the deaths of Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson and Sgt. Wesley Durbin, former Company A, 3/7 Inf. Soldiers who died in Iraq, Sept. 14, 2008.
"Losing Staff Sgt. Phillips was an incredible loss for our platoon in Iraq," Capt. Daly said. "Not many (noncommissioned officers) have the bravery or genuine concern for Soldiers that he embodied. He truly cared about them. He always put (Soldiers) first, ahead of himself."
One such Soldier was Sgt. Gregory Touzani, a fire team leader with A Co., 3/7 Inf., who was in the lead vehicle with Staff Sgt. Phillips during the explosion.
"I had oil and debris in my eyes, a partial torn meniscus in my knee, some bruising on my shoulder and burns to the stomach," Sgt. Touzani said, adding that the other two passengers in the vehicle sustained wounds as well. "I'll never forget September 25. It means a lot to be here on the one-year anniversary of the incident."
Sergeant Touzani said he looked up to his former section sergeant.
"He was really polite all the time; he was well spoken," Sgt. Touzani said. "He was most known for lightening up the occasion; he would always make everybody laugh. He was a pretty religious person, and he talked of God often. I know that his relationship with God is good, and I know where he is today. I know that he's not sad, and he wouldn't be sad today. He would be looking at the bright side of things."
Sergeant Touzani and other members of 3/7 Inf. bid farewell to their fallen comrade during a visit to Staff Sgt. Phillips' grave in Aynor, S.C., earlier that day.
"We're all thinking about him, and we all miss him," Sgt. Touzani said. "We wish we could have him back."
Captain Daly shared similar sentiments.
"His memory lives on in all of us, and we will always carry him with us wherever we go."
Staff Sergeant Phillips is survived by his wife, Tosha, daughter Destinee, 9, and son Jaalen, 8.