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David R Staats


David R. Staats joined the military after graduating from high school in 1995. After an 18-month tour in Iraq, he left the service for a year but couldn’t stand it and signed up again. He was back in Iraq only six weeks when he died. The military was his life, said his sister, Bethany.

Staats, 30, of Pueblo, Colo., was killed Dec. 16 when his vehicle struck an explosive in Taji. He was assigned to Fort Hood and was on his third tour.

Born in Norfolk, Va., Staats graduated from high school in Glendale, Ariz. in 1995, and immediately enlisted in the Army. He was doing what he thought he should do, said his mother, Wanda. He was trying to take care of business and make the world safe.

He is survived by his wife, Meagan, and his son from a previous marriage, 8-year-old Tyler.

He was an amazing man, said Bethany. He was military first but he loved that little boy. That little boy idolized that man. He was his hero and still is his hero.

Staats was only a little over two weeks into his third tour of Iraq when he was fatally injured, said his mother, Wanda. She and her husband, Roger, who spent 23 years in the Air Force and retired in 1985 at Luke Air Force Base, live in Peoria.

“David was a hero,” she said. “He was doing what he thought he should do. He was trying to take care of business and make the world safe.”

Wanda and Roger Staats learned of their only son’s death on Saturday. Army personnel broke the news to David’s 8-year-old son, Tyler who lives in Glendale with David’s ex-wife.

Bethany said the news hasn’t really hit home yet with Tyler but that her 13-year-old daughter, Hayley was devastated by her uncle’s death.

“He was her godfather,” she said. “She is taking it tough. My brother helped me raise her for the first three years.”

Although David and Tyler’s mom had divorced, father and son communicated with each other weekly. Tyler spent 10 days with him in Texas just before David recently returned to Iraq, Wanda said.

David was born in Portsmouth, Va., and his family moved to the Valley in 1981. He played football at Cactus High School and served in the Reserve Officer Training Corps there.

“That was his first training with the military. He loved that,” said his mother. “He went into the service, thinking this was his job and that is what he wanted to do.”

David’s death is especially hard for Wanda and Roger, who were estranged from their son for three years due to family conflicts. Asked what she would say to her son if she had a chance to give him a last message, his mother replied:

“We love you and we are proud of you.”


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